The Service Employees International Union stepped up its toxic toys campaign in time for the holiday shopping season. The labour union organised a group of activists and mothers to protest outside Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' New York headquarters, with the goal of persuading the firm to adopt stricter quality controls for its portfolio companies, Toys “R” Us and Dollar General.

Upon trying to enter the building however, the protestors encountered the tough security measures in place at most Manhattan office buildings. A security guard met the group at the door and told them they would not be allowed entry. The following dialogue ensued:

Protestor: “This is America!” Security guard: “But it's not your building.” Protestor: “We have a right to go in here if we want.” Security guard: “No, you don't.” Protestors chant in unison: “We'll be back.”

The union says more than 800,000 tainted products were pulled off the shelves last year at KKR-owned stores due to unsafe lead levels. The group had already picketed more than 100 Toys “R” Us Stores in October to persuade KKR “to stop waiting for Congress to tighten regulations for toy safety and to enforce a strict code of conduct for suppliers and their manufacturers to eliminate the flow of toxic toys onto the shelves of their portfolio companies' stores”, the union said.

“People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off.” US Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, appearing last month on the Tonight Show the evening before he beat former Bain Capital head Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucus.

“With commercial mortgages and leveraged finance [unlike SIVs and CDOs], there is not an issue of transparency. There have not been underlying credit problems, it is mainly an issue of repricing… I think in leveraged finance and CMBS the market will resume normal levels more quickly and there are reasonably good prospects for 2008.” Brady Dougan, CEO of Credit Suisse, quoted in The Banker in January.

“We have put a full stop to that.” Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, telling Latvian public radio that his government had halted the sale of the country's fixed-line telecoms operator Lattelecom to Blackstone.

“The whole market for transactions has slowed down some and will continue to slow down until the big thaw takes place. We are seeing a slight thawing but credit markets are still tight. There's a lot of paper still not been priced yet.” Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jon Snow, chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, reflects on how a warming of the climate is needed before the buyout market can resume business as normal.