"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

World News!

  • The Group of Eight is meeting in Deauville to discuss their responses to the situations in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, to look into ways to improve global nuclear safety, and to determine how to and how much to regulate the internet.
  • A leaked report, dated June 2010, shows multiple well-known banks holding and investing Libyan state funds.  The banks include Societe General ($1 billion), Nomura ($500 million), Bank of New York ($500 million), HSBC ($292.7 million cash, with a similar amount in a hedge fund), and Goldman Sachs ($43 million in each of three accounts).  The banks in question have refused to say whether they held or currently hold the assets.
  • In a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama said that "Gaddafi and his regime need to understand that there will not be a let-up in the pressure we are applying."  He did not address questions about the legitimacy of that objective, given that the attacks are being conducted under a UN mandate to protect civilians.
  • Suleiman al-Khalidi, a reporter for Reuters, provides a first-hand report of what happens to people arrested by the Syrian security forces.  Be aware that, while it is not intensely graphic, it is still unsettling.
United States
  • Bank of America has agreed to pay $410 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the bank of manipulating debit transactions to maximize overdraft fees.  According to the plaintiffs' lawyers, BofA processed debit transactions from largest to smallest in order to deplete accounts faster and boost the total number of overdrafts, and then deceived customers by not disclosing that they could opt out of the overdraft plan (and just allow the debit to be denied) and by failing to clearly explain the payment hierarchy.
  • Jared Loughner, the man accused of killing six people and wounding 13 others (including Representative Gabrielle Giffords) on January 9th, has been found incompetant to stand trial.  He has been remanded to a federal mental facility in an effort to restore competency, at which point the trial will proceed.
  • The Wisconsin law restricting the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions has been struck down, on the grounds that the way it was passed violated the state's open meeting laws.  It is anticipated that the ruling will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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