Tuesday, 7 Dec 2010 | 9:14 AM ET

Insider Trading Explained

Posted By: John Carney

Ira Stoll of The Future of Capitalism has put together a nice little video explaining the government's latest crackdown on alleged insider trading.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 4:56 PM ET

Google Throws Down the Gauntlet to Amazon—And Apple Too?

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Eurozone Bond Chatter Continues (Financial Times) "Proposals for common eurozone bonds have been around for as long as the euro itself. For years they made no progress. Germany understood that it would incur higher interest rates as a result of sharing bonds with Greece and other fiscal delinquents. In the end, German taxpayers would pick up the bill—an unacceptable proposition, whatever the notional attractions of European solidarity. These arguments were just as compelling in countries such as Austria, Finland and France whose bonds enjoyed top-quality status."

"Germany Reluctant to Expand Bailout Fund" (New York Times) What are the odds of the Germans going along with a pan-European bond issuance—if they're not even willing to kick more cash into the bailout kitty? (Think about it: If you aren't willing to lend your deadbeat brother-in-law the money to buy a new car, what are the odds of you cosigning on his auto loan? I'm going with very close to zero.)

"As ministers from the 16 euro-zone countries met in Brussels, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany dampened speculation that the bailout fund, worth $997 billion and now being used by Ireland, could be increased soon. 'I see no need to expand the fund right now,' Mrs. Merkel said in Berlin after talks with Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland, Bloomberg News reported."

"Gold Prices Rise on Bernanke Easing Talk" \(TheStreet.com\) Gold prices are up again. And it's the usual suspects driving them higher: "Fueling inflation sentiment, this announcement, coupled with ongoing uncertainty about the euro-zone's ability to contain its debt crisis, helped gold futures finish in positive territory." It's enough to make you wonder: Does a Fed chairman on 60 Minutes do more harm than good—no matter what he says—merely by reminding people that he may be called upon to lead the monetary component of an economic crisis intervention?

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 3:01 PM ET

Elaine Kaufman Remembered

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Elaine Kaufman, owner of Elaine's restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side, died last Friday afternoon at age eighty-one.

Elaine Kaufman
Getty Images
Elaine Kaufman

Elaine's death is the subject of a CNBC story because many of Wall Street's elite dine at her restaurant, and because it is a hub of New York City culture, and because she was my friend.

Charlie Gasparino, then a reporter for this network, introduced me to Elaine Kaufman. I met my current editor, John Carney, while standing at the bar. I also met many of my sources, often by pure chance, because finance guys always seem to be hanging around. For instance: One night I watched a famous financier itemize his dinner check—and though he was ranked in the top half of the Forbes 400, he split the bill with his dining companion, accounting for the cost of the appetizers.

On another jam-packed night, I ate dinner six inches away from a wildly bejeweled Ivana Trump. I once shared a table there with the editor-in-chief of the New York Post: He and I watched as John Travolta danced through the aisles in the dining room, with Travolta's beautiful wife beaming up at him from their table. The editor of The Post—who's seen a few things in his time—turned to me and said: "This is really something, isn't it?"

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 2:28 PM ET

Silver: Should You Help Inflate The Next Big Bubble?

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Let's say you incline toward the Ron Paul position on the Federal Reserve —that it, and other central banks across the world, require the kind of cleansing that can only be achieved through statutory abolition .

But, despite your instinctive distrust of paper currency, you believe it's possible that there may be a gold bubble (Though the article cited is from last month, the spot price of gold right now is at almost exactly its November high. But perhaps that's just a coincidence.)

So what are you to do in you search for greener?

Well, for one thing, you could search for the Next Big Asset Bubble—and get in on the ground floor. Bubbles are only bad—for you, at least—if you don't get out before they pop.

Never mind that most people don't get out before the bubbles burst—which is nearly, by definition, the nature of a price crash.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 1:35 PM ET

Uh Oh: The Government’s Printing Presses Have Broken Down!

Posted By: John Carney

The federal government has had to halt production of new high-tech $100 bills due to a significant flaw in the production process. At the height of the problem, as much as 30 percent of the new bills were flawed.

Sheet of US one hundred dollar bills
Don Farrall | Digital Vision | Getty Images
Sheet of US one hundred dollar bills

The bills, which are the first $100 bills to be signed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, total $110 billion—or more than 10 percent of the supply of US currency.

You can insert your own joke about the Fed, government printing presses and hyper-inflation here. For now the bills are being quarantined in huge vaults in Fort Worth and Washington, DC while the government attempts to sort out the flawed bills from the usable bills.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 1:00 PM ET

Operation Broken Trust: Over 500 Charged in $10.4 Billion Investment Fraud Sweep

Posted By: John Carney

Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Monday that federal authorities have charged more than 500 people as a result of what they are calling “Operation Broken Trust,” a nationwide crackdown on investment fraud.

The operation has resulted in criminal charges against 343 people, involving more than $8.3 billion in estimated losses from fraud. An additional 189 people have been charged in civil cases involving estimated losses of more than $2.1 billion.

The government claims that more than 120,000 people were harmed by the fraud.

"Operation Broken Trust was organized in August by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, an interagency body set up in November 2009 by President Obama.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 12:10 PM ET

WikiLeaks Reveals Powerful Chinese Government Official Admitted China's GDP Figures Are Unreliable

Posted By: John Carney

A senior government official widely believed to be in line to become China's next prime minister describes Chinese economic figures as "man-made" and "therefore unreliable," according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

The 55-year-old Li Keqiang, currently the country's executive vice premier with responsibility for macro-economic management, related his skepticism about China's official GDP numbers in a private conversation with the US ambassador back in 2007.

The cable was discovered among the WikiLeaks documents by Malcolm Moore, a reporter for the Telegraph based in Shanghai. \(Hat tip: FT Alphaville.\)

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 11:56 AM ET

Swiss Bank Freezes WikiLeaks Defense Fund Account

Posted By: John Carney

The banking arm of the Swiss Post Office has cut its ties with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, declaring that he gave false information regarding his place of residence when he opened the account.

Julian Assange
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
Julian Assange

WikiLeaks has promoted the account with PostFinance bank as a way to "donate directly to the Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks Staff Defence Fund.”

Earlier today, it seemed as if PostFinance was merely at an early stage of investigating Assange’s ccount.

"We have to find out if Julian Assange really does live in Geneva. In the process of checking we did not find his name in Geneva," PostFinance spokesman Marc Andrey told the news service AFP , confirming a report in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 11:16 AM ET

Get Ready for a Huge Crackdown on Stock Market Manipulation and Ponzi Schemes

Posted By: John Carney

A sweeping operation against stock market manipulation and Ponzi schemes that involves more than 300 criminal defendants will be announced by the Justice Department today, according to a Bloomberg report citing an anonymous "U.S. law enforcement official."

The operation began in August, according to Bloomberg. In addition to the 300 criminal defendants, there will be 180 civil defendants.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 11:05 AM ET

QE2: Beware the Perils of its Success

Posted By: Vitaliy N. Katsenelson

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen. The bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

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