Weil on Finance: U.K.'s Censorship Diktats

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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Happy Friday, View fans. Here is a look at my breakfast reading this morning.

This Libor story was banned in Britain

They have some odd ideas about press freedom in the U.K. From the Wall Street Journal: "A British judge ordered the Journal and David Enrich, the newspaper's European banking editor, to comply with a request by the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office prohibiting the newspaper from publishing names of individuals not yet made public in the government's ongoing investigation into alleged manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor." Here's the fun part: The Journal learned about the order yesterday evening London time. By then it already had published an article that divulged the names of traders and brokers that prosecutors expect to name publicly next week. The Journal pulled the article from its website, but it appears in today's print editions in the U.S. So it's not as if the names will stay a secret. Feel free to go buy a copy and tweet the names, as long as you live in America and not the U.K.

More from the banned-in-Britain department

And if that WSJ story wasn't enough, Jeremy Hodges of Bloomberg News has an article today about how the court proceedings of former News Corp. executive Rebekah Brooks also may be subject to media blackouts in the U.K. Her trial related to the company's hacking scandal is set to begin in 10 days: "Whether she's found guilty or not, the public may not know until next spring. The London judge hearing the case will consider forbidding the press from reporting the verdicts until all related trials are completed. The ban -- which also extends to social media -- is a result of British reporting restrictions meant to ensure that defendants receive a fair trial by limiting what news a jury can see. Anyone who breaks the rule could be jailed for as much as two years."

Goldman bonus pool takes a hit, for now

The Financial Times's Lex column notes approvingly that Goldman Sachs preserved its bottom line during a weak quarter by slashing compensation: "The willingness to be aggressive on costs in the face of a poor quarter is exactly what investors deserve," it said. "The question is whether Goldman is just managing around a weak quarter, or if bankers are really willing to take some losses so that investors -- also known as the bank's owners -- can avoid them."

This writer is very upset about the U.S. government shutdown

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph in London is especially crabby in this column: "The Republican climb-down on Capitol Hill ends the two-week government shutdown, but damage has already been done. Consumer confidence has suffered the worst slump since the Lehman crash in 2008. Investment has been delayed. Issuance of oil and licences has been frozen, and export finance held up. Standard & Poor's said the shutdown has shaved 0.6 percent off fourth-quarter growth. The country will now remain in limbo for another four months, with no solution in sight to the ideological war over the size and role of the U.S. government."

Edward Snowden is talking to reporters again

The National Security Agency leaker gave a wide-ranging interview to James Risen of the New York Times, during which he said he took no secret files with him to Russia. "There's a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents," he said. Hmmm. You'll have to decide for yourself whether to believe him.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net