There was something oddly familiar about the settlement disclosed yesterday between Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch unit and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC had told Merrill several times before that it wasn't allowed to break the law again. That doesn't seem to have been effective.
Merrill agreed to pay $131.8 million to resolve the SEC's claims that it misled investors in some collateralized debt obligations back in 2006 and 2007. Per the usual custom, Merrill neither admitted nor denied the allegations.Read more »
On Feb. 3, 1966, the Soviet Luna 9 probe became the first spacecraft to land on the lunar surface. Four months later, the U.S. followed with Surveyor I. The American manned mission and landing on the moon came three years later. Yet curiously, no other country has ever managed or tried what the U.S. and Soviet Union accomplished 47 years ago.
On Saturday evening, Beijing time, the lunar duopoly probably will end. Jade Rabbit, the first Chinese lunar rover, is scheduled to land on and snap a photo of the lunar surface. Of course, nothing is guaranteed when making a lunar landing (the failures are numerous), but with a little luck, China will wake up Sunday morning as the third member of the lunar-exploration club.Read more »
Chinese President Xi Jinping must have felt pretty pleased with himself earlier this year, after he dispatched rival and former Politburo member Bo Xilai in a dramatic, humiliating show trial. When it comes to staging purges, though, North Korea's brash young leader Kim Jong Un has him beat.
Kim didn't just arrest his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, the second-most powerful man in the country. The boy-dictator appears to have had Jang brought out of seclusion in order to arrest him again at a televised leadership meeting, then tried and executed on the grounds of being ``an anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional element and despicable political careerist and trickster," according to the judgment of a secret military tribunal. No doubt.Read more »
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was certain that Democrats would maintain control of the chamber in next year's elections, though he added that his Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, might not be back in 2015.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, the Nevada Democrat said he wouldn't campaign against McConnell, in keeping with the usual Senate customs. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat who is running for the Senate seat, is tied in the polls with McConnell, who also faces a primary battle.Read more »
By early next year, all seven members of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors will have been appointed by President Barack Obama. Too bad that so far he hasn't taken advantage of the openings to pick someone with a background in markets rather than academia.
Not that there is anything wrong with two of the people he has recently selected, first Lael Brainard and now, according to Bloomberg News, Stanley Fischer. Both come with stellar backgrounds and important experience, and are eminently qualified to serve on the Fed. But a third appointment needs to be made in a few weeks and Obama should use it to nominate John Geanakoplos, who though he is an economics professor at Yale University has also worked in financial markets for more than two decades.Read more »
Would you buy high-end copper-clad cookware for Christmas if you knew that its enduring long-term legacy wouldn’t be family happiness, but rather a half-millennium of pollution monitoring at the mine where the metal was extracted? British Columbia-based PolyMet Mining Corp. is betting that you won’t care and is pushing forward with a proposal to mine in northern Minnesota that, if approved, will likely prove its case.
The NorthMet project, as it’s known, will be located in a scenic area within hiking distance of 1.3 million acres of federally protected wilderness and -- most crucially -- rivers that flow into Lake Superior. The mine will be big -- it’s designed to tap into the Duluth Complex, one of the world's largest unexploited nickel and copper deposits -- and it will have significant environmental risks. Specifically, the tailings (leftover rocks) brought to the earth’s surface during mining will leach acids when exposed to rain and melting snow. Potentially, that will be a lot of acid: PolyMet plans to mine 32,000 tons of rock per day. Similar so-called sulfide-mining operations in other parts of the U.S. have left expensive, polluting legacies that will last in perpetuity. PolyMet needs to do better, a fact it knows.Read more »