Agency Archives: SEC Was Wrong To Destroy Probe Files (WSJ)
The SEC "did not have authority to dispose of them per the Federal Records Act," the National Archives and Records Administration said Thursday in a statement, referring to files connected with SEC "matters under inquiry," or MUIs. These are the agency's preliminary looks into potential violations of securities laws.
Justice Department Joins Probe of S&P, Rivals Over Crisis-Era Ratings (WSJ)
The U.S. Justice Department has joined the Securities and Exchange Commission in investigating Standard & Poor's and other credit-rating firms for their role in developing mortgage-bond deals that helped trigger the financial crisis, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter. The probe by lawyers in the Justice Department's civil division appears to be centered on the actions of S&P, though that could change as the investigation proceeds, this person said.
Top 10 most promiscuous cities in the U.S. (CBS)
A real ranking.
Buyout Shops Get Mauled (WSJ)
Few shares are experiencing the kind of beating that big buyout firms are enduring. Firms like Blackstone Group LP, KKR & Co., Apollo Global Management LLC and Fortress Investment Group LLC have seen their shares fall between 19% and 27% so far this month, compared with a drop of 9.5% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. On Thursday, the carnage continued, as these stocks fell between 1.6% and 11%, while the Dow average fell 3.7%.
Jobs, travel, biscuits: costs squeezed at Europe's banks (Reuters)
Banks have rarely been battling harder to cut costs -- and even the most minor expenses are coming under fire. At a time of tepid revenue growth and tougher regulations, chopping back costs is one of the few levers banks have to boost profit. Lay-offs sweeping the industry are the most visible result, but those still in a job are also feeling the pinch...Bans on travel for a week each month and restrictions on colour photocopying and biscuits within offices were examples of banks stamping out more trivial expenses, he said.
Economist: US Can Recover, 'Extreme Action' Needed in Europe (CNBC)
"There are problems in the States, but the consumer's spending more money, they've got more income, they've got more jobs, the banks at least in the last survey were saying they're prepared to lend more money… it's not a strong recovery, but at the same time what I think we've got at the moment is excessive," he explained. "Look at Europe, we've got a far bigger issue there, we've got a monetary union which doesn't work and politicians that are about two years behind where they need to be at the very least," he said. "We've known that the euro was broken since 1996 when it became evident who was going to join it's been clear that it's broken. "The banking system's got problems… we need a fiscal union, we need an integrated banking structure and we need people like Stark of the ECB to shut up "If we can get that over the course of the next couple of years, then we can start thinking more positively on Europe," he added.
Foreign Banks Complain of 'Imperialist' US Tax Rule (Reuters)
A U.S. law meant to snuff out billions of dollars in offshore tax evasion has drawn the criticism of the world's banks and business people, who dismiss it as imperialist and "the neutron bomb of the global financial system." Conceived as a way to enlist the world in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading tax, it gives global financial institutions and investment entities a choice: either collect and turn over data on U.S. clients with accounts of at least $50,000, or withhold 30 percent of the interest, dividend and investment payments due those clients and send the money to the IRS. Foreign institutions and entities that refuse, or fail, to do so face bills for the taxes due, a draconian penalty of 40 percent of the amount in question and heightened scrutiny by the IRS. "FATCA is a blunt instrument for which foreign banks have no choice but to each spend tens of millions of dollars to help the U.S. enforce its own tax law," said Scott Michel, a tax lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C
Inflation May Embolden Foes of Fed Stimulus (Bloomberg)
Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in Toronto, said the inflation picture will likely stay the Fed’s hand. The core CPI was 0.9 percent on the eve of the Jackson Hole meeting last year and was expected to decline, Dales said. Now, it stands at an annualized 1.8 percent and may continue rising, he added. “We probably won’t get any more significant policy stimulus this year, but early next year once it becomes clear that core inflation begins to fall back, then QE3 could well be on the table again,” he said.
Tuscan friars ask God to deliver diarrhoea for basilica bible thief (Guardian)
A group of Franciscan friars furious at the theft of bibles from their church in Florence have taken the unusual step of praying for the thief to be struck down by diarrhoea. Friars at the 15th century church of San Salvatore al Monte, which was a favourite of Michelangelo, were irritated when a rare and expensive bible disappeared from the lectern, and they flew off the handle when a replacement bible donated by a worshipper also went missing and within a few hours. In a note, pinned up in full view of worshippers, the friars say they hope the thief sees the error of his ways. But in case he does not, they add: "We pray to God that the thief is struck by a strong bout of the shits." This turn of events will, they hope, "encourage him to carry out no further thefts".