A Week's Worth
• Humbug: Even as the Dow climbed smartly to new highs for the year, some mutual-fund companies weren't celebrating. Instead, Janus and Alliance announced they would pay back investors for losses incurred from questionable trading practices. Alliance also agreed to cut its fees by an average 20 percent for the next five years. Meanwhile, under a plea agreement, Merrill Lynch's former chief energy trader admitted stealing $43 million from the firm. The New York Stock Exchange also moved to clean up its image by picking John Thain of Goldman Sachs as its new chief executive. He replaces Richard Grasso, who was ousted because of his huge pay package.
• Holiday holdouts: With just a week to go before Christmas, consumers on average still had a third of their shopping to do, according to a National Retail Federation survey. Men and young adults were the biggest procrastinators.
• Unequal treatment: It costs a professional couple twice as much to maintain the median standard of living in Manhattan ($159,621) as in West Palm Beach, Fla.($77,769). But the New York couple will owe $30,506 in federal taxes this year - more than three times what the Floridians will shell out to Uncle Sam, according to a new Tax Foundation study, which criticized the inequity of tax burdens in areas with high and low standards of living.
• Christmas bonus: Texas-based SAS Shoemakers, which sells high-end footwear, surprised its employees with a holiday bonus of $1,000 for every year they'd worked for the company. Some workers qualified for $19,000.