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Late Night: Fatster’s Roundup

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It is so hot today my arms are sticking to the computer. So, here’s some hot news for you.

International Developments

? Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar have “urged their citizens to leave Lebanon amid signs that the conflict in Syria is spilling over into its western neighbor.”

? “‘Thirty dead’ in Syria air strike” on Azaz.

International Finance

? “Greece is seeking a two-year extension of is latest austerity programme aimed at improving the country’s debt sustainability and prospects for a return to growth . . ..” The Greek economy contracted by 6.2% in the second quarter, and “German politicians are now openly contemplating the country’s exit from the eurozone.”

? Austerity: who benefits? “Greece has always had one of the lowest suicide rates in Europe, but its economic crisis has triggered a disturbing increase in the number of people killing themselves.”

Money Matters USA

? Seems JPMorgan, Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and UBS “have been subpoenaed in the Libor scandal.”

? Democratic House Representatives Elijah Cummings (MD) and Henry Waxman (CA) have obtained internal documents they say “may point to evidence of tax evasion and money laundering” in connection with the bribery at Wal-Mart’s Mexico operation.

? Shades of Michael Milken, Enron and the mortgage scandal! SPEs, ‘special purpose entities’ are “an esoteric accounting mechanism”, created by business firms but legally separated from them. SPEs can hold assets and owe debt, though they don’t actually do any business; instead, SPEs are used to remove “assets and liabilities from the parent company’s balance sheet.”

? The US government’s auto bailout of 2007-08 cost about $25 billion, higher than earlier estimates, because Treasury “continues to prop up GM’s former financing arm, . . . Ally Financial, which lost $898 million in the second quarter mainly due to the bankruptcy of its home mortgage arm . . ..”

? “The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder confidence index rose to 37, higher than projected and the best showing since February 2007 . . ..”

Politics USA

? NJ Republican Gov Chris Christie took office in 2010 “when the state unemployed rate was 35th in the nation; it is now 48th. The NJ economy shrank by 0.5% during his tenure, too.

? Mark Thompson, who was director general of the BBC will be the chief executive of the New York Times come November.

? According to an article in the National Catholic Reporter, President Obama is more pro-life than Mitt Romney. [cont’d.]

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David Dayen

David Dayen