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It was a big week on Capitol Hill. First the Bush Tax Cuts were extended and the swine flu infected omnibus was pulled off the table in the Senate.
So now that Congress is wrapping up its session, what three-ring circus will Americans be watching next year?
Let's see, tax reform, fiscal reform and don't forget health care. Three huge issues that will surely be making headlines in 2011. I decided to catch up with incoming House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus.
Get ready to be blown away.
You know how in a lot of science fiction characters use a “universal translator” that instantly changes words from alien languages into their own.
Well, now that is read. Word Lens is an app for your iPhone that translates any Spanish or English text your camera can see. Instantly.
Here’s an amazing video showing how it works.
Here’s how LifeHacker , which discovered this for us, describes the experience:
Yesterday, I wrote about U.S. exposure —or the broad lack of U.S. exposure—to Spanish sovereign debt.
(I picked up on Tracy Alloway's piece in the Financial Times Alphaville blog, which commented on a new report out from Goldman Sachs , regarding the national distribution of eurozone debt among investors.)
From my piece yesterday: "According to the Goldman report: 'US holdings of Spanish debt securities were particularly small, accounting only for about $26 billion or 2.5 percent of all foreign holdings.' To put that number in perspective, 'That’s about a tenth of France’s holdings, which stood at 24.5 percent or $252 billion.' Calculated by GDP, the French economy is only about 20 percent as large as the U.S. economy. So that means, on a GDP basis, France has invested in Spanish debt at a rate fifty times higher than the U.S."
Google has just quietly introduced a paradigm shattering technology —called Ngram—that graphs how frequently words are used in books over the course of time.
But back to Sex & Death .
If you click on the link above, you see a graph. That graph shows how often those two words —sex and death—appear in print between the years 1908 and 2008.
The data source driving the graph is massive: The 15 million publications Google Books has scanned since 2004.
The Financial Crisis Primer published by the four Republican members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is pretty damn good.
Liberal critics of the Primer will be upset that it doesn’t mention their usual hobby-horses: no lambasting of pay structures, no tut-tutting about deregulation, no wailing about predatory lending, none of the tin-foil hat crowd’s worries about “shadow banking.”
Instead, the Primer gets right down to answering a few very basic—and very important—questions. The main questions are:
The Securities and Exchange Commission has begun digging into the earliest stages of the mortgage securitization process, according to Reuters .
Sources tell Reuters that the SEC is looking into whether loans were properly transferred to the trusts that issued mortgage-backed securities. The commission has sent Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and others subpoenas asking about their role as "master servicers" in mortgage securitization deals.
The latest probe is apparently an off-shoot of the probe into foreclosure practices.
The good news about yesterday's arrests is that federal authorities only arrested people who, if the allegations are correct, are truly bad guys.
There has been a lot of fear that the government was seeking to criminalize legitimate research that uncovered non-public information, which could affect the price of publicly traded securities. Much of the information we had about the nationwide insider-trading dragnet has come through leaks to The Wall Street Journal, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and paranoia. Did the government have some new theory of insider trading that could include a much broader range of conduct?
In a word, the message of Wednesday’s meeting between President Obama and a group of invited CEOs was: jobs. After the meeting, my job was to stand outside the appointed venue \(Blair House\) and target CEOs for commentary. Some of them stopped—here’s what they had to say:
Moody's Cuts Ireland Five Steps (New York Times) "Even as Europe’s leaders were praising the Irish government’s deficit-cutting efforts, the country received a dramatically different verdict Friday from a credit rating agency: a steep downgrade and a warning of more to come. Having pledged late Thursday to do 'whatever is required' to contain the debt crisis and defend their embattled currency, European Union leaders reconvened for the final day of a summit meeting. In the draft of a closing statement, the leaders welcomed the 'impressive progress' in Dublin toward meeting the stiff conditions set for its recent bailout, including adoption of steep budget cuts. Moody’s Investors Service had a different assessment, however. It cut Ireland’s credit rating by five notches to Baa1, with a negative outlook, from Aa2 and it warned further downgrades could follow. The rating remains investment grade but if it were to move down by three more notches, Irish debt would be classified as junk."
"Markets torn by EU debt deal, Irish downgrade" \(Yahoo Finance via AP\) "European stocks traded flat Friday after EU leaders agreed to create a system to solve future debt crises, but a sharp ratings downgrade of Irish government bonds underscored the scale of Europe's short-term problems. Outside Europe, sentiment was buoyed somewhat by upbeat U.S. economic figures and indications Chinese policymakers are reluctant to raise interest rates. Asian shares rose and U.S. pre-open futures pointed slightly up. Britain's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX were both flat, at 5,879.38 and 7,022.21. France's CAC-40 was 0.3 percent higher at 3,898.40. Asian markets closed mostly higher and Wall Street was expected to edge up on the open—Dow futures were 3 points higher at 11,434 and Standard & Poor's futures were up 0.1 point at 1,238.60."
CNBC's Patti Domm and Jeff Cox discuss the jobs report and the current dilemma of long-term unemployment.
CNBC's Patti Domm and Jeff Cox discuss the recent GDP numbers and what factors have been affecting it.
Investors give and investors take away, and nowhere has that been more true lately than in value stocks.