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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Libor Scandal

The U.K. Parliament turned up the heat on the country’s financial regulators after it appeared that Paul Tucker, Deputy governor of the Bank of England, had exchanges in 2008 with Barclays Capital then-President Bob Diamond that may have been taken as an encouragement to doctor the benchmark rate in an effort to stave off financial panic. While the BOE denied any knowledge of rate-rigging, there is some indication that the U.S. Federal Reserve was aware of the problem, and contacted British authorities about reforming the system that same year. Marcus Agius, Chairman of Barclays, told members of parliament that BOE Governor Mervyn King had forced Diamond to resign. Diamond had been promoted to Chief Executive Officer 18 months prior. By all accounts, rate-rigging was endemic. We’ll keep a close eye on this story as it unfolds.
Libor

2012 U.S. Presidential Campaign

Republican candidate Mitt Romney outraised President Obama in June for the second consecutive month. By half. Yep. Romney brought in $106 million. POTUS? A measly $71 million. The news came as Obama proposed a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people earning less than $250,000 per annum. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress geared up for their 33rd attempt at repealing the health care reform since it passed in March 2010. And this despite the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law two weeks ago. These guys are nothing if not persistent. The vote will be held tomorrow.

Egypt

On new President Mohamed Morsi’s orders, the newly-elected Egyptian Parliament convened today for a few minutes, just long enough to defy the country’s high court and the military. Senior generals closed the Parliament last month, after the court ruled that the new assembly must dissolve due to reports that members were elected unlawfully. Let’s be clear, the real problem was that voters chose Islamists parties to represent them. They also handed Morsi the presidency. Still, although he ran as the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, he distanced himself from the party once in office, vowing to represent all Egyptians. Today’s objective was to try and get this ruling thrown out, but the court wouldn’t have it. Despite recent elections, a democratic rule of law will be difficult to achieve with the army acting as a counter-power.

Libya

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Libyan faction, which did worse than expected at last Saturday’s parliamentary election, accused the National Democratic Alliance – its more secular rival – of unfair electioneering tactics. The election was the first since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, i.e., the first time in 48 years. Final results have yet to be reported, but it certainly looks like the NDA may have won this one.

Greece

Greece is descending into xenophobic hell as the country’s economic situation worsens. After years of living beyond its means, the Hellenic Republic (yes, that is its official name) has had to accept two bailouts from the European Union totaling 240 billion euros to stop it from defaulting on its debt. The biggest lender being Germany (read “reluctant, disciplined and no-nonsense”), conditions were tough. The government cut spending, the public sector shrank as a result and unemployment soared. Parts of the Greek population are resentful and far-right violence has been escalating. The scapegoats? Immigrants, of course.

Tour de France

French rider Rémy di Gregorio was suspended from the Tour after the French police detained him on alleged doping substance trafficking charges.

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