TOP NEWS: Economy: July 23, 2012

Excerpts and more top stories

PERSONAL FINANCE: US poverty on track to reach 46-year high; suburbs, underemployed workers, children hit hard

Associated Press, Washington Post - The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

UNEMPLOYMENT/FED: Bleak jobs outlook raises heat on Fed

Robin Harding, FT - The US will make little progress tackling high unemployment before 2014 unless the Federal Reserve eases policy further, one of the central bank’s leading officials has warned in the run-up to a meeting next week where the option of “QE3” will be on the table.

LIBOR: Exclusive: Prosecutors, regulators close to making Libor arrests

Matthew Goldstein and Jennifer Ablan and Philipp Halstrick, Reuters - U.S. prosecutors and European regulators are close to arresting individual traders and charging them with colluding to manipulate global benchmark interest rates, according to people familiar with a sweeping investigation into the rigging scandal.

BANK REGULATION: Bungled Bank Bailout Leaves Behind Righteous Anger

Neil M. Barofsky, Bloomberg OPINION- The missteps by Treasury have produced a valuable byproduct: the widespread anger that may contain the only hope for meaningful reform. Americans should lose faith in their government. They should deplore the captured politicians and regulators who distributed tax dollars to the banks without insisting that they be accountable. The American people should be revolted by a financial system that rewards failure and protects those who drove it to the point of collapse and will undoubtedly do so again.

BANK REGULATION: Wall Street Is Too Big to Regulate

Gar Alperovitz, NY Times OPINION - The Barclays interest-rate scandal, HSBC’s openness to money laundering by Mexican drug traffickers, the epic blunders at JPMorgan Chase — at this point, four years after Wall Street wrecked the global economy, does anyone really believe we can regulate the big banks? And if we broke them up, would they really stay broken up?

BANK REGULATION: Into the Bailout Buzz Saw

Gretchen Morgenson, NY Times - Neil Barofsky, a former federal prosecutor, whose job it was to police the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), says that government officials eagerly served Wall Street interests at the public’s expense, and regulators were captured by the very industry they were supposed to be regulating. He says he was warned about being too aggressive in his work, lest he jeopardize his future career.

TAX BREAKS: Firms Pass Up Tax Breaks, Citing Hassles, Complexity

John D. McKinnon, WSJ - For years, politicians have used targeted tax breaks to try to influence corporate behavior, offering lower tax bills as an incentive to hire more workers, boost energy efficiency and buy more equipment, among other things. But executives, particularly at small and medium-size companies, complain that many of the tax deductions are either too cumbersome or too confusing. In some cases, the cost of obtaining the tax benefit is greater than the benefit itself.

VENTURE CAPITAL: Venture Capital Firms, Once Discreet, Learn the Promotional Game

Nicole Perlroth, NY Times - Sequoia Capital, the prominent firm behind such tech behemoths as Apple and Google, and several other top venture firms stopped accepting investments from public institutions like the University of California system just to avoid having their financials disclosed to the press.

US DEBT: Economic Growth Idea: Forgive or Restructure Debt U.S. Citizens Hold

Steven Clemons, The Atlantic - The highly tempestuous debates between Keynesians and deficit-hawks distract from the real cause of America’s Great Recession and from the solution. To stimulate jobs and economic growth, financial houses should take phased write downs of assets and give loan holders relief and debt forgiveness.

MARKETS/STRATEGY: In the stock market, defense is the new offense

Jonathan Cheng, WSJ - Investors are flocking to stocks of large, dividend-paying companies, particularly those seen as less vulnerable to a slowing economy or turmoil in Europe. But their popularity has pushed these so-called defensive stocks to their priciest levels in years—and raised questions about whether they have run too far.

MARKETS/TRENDS: BlackRock To Glenmede Seeking Safety In Corporate Bonds

Wes Goodman and Masaki Kondo, Bloomberg - The world’s biggest fixed-income investors, fed up with yields on benchmark government bonds that pay less than zero percent, say they’ve found a new haven from turmoil sweeping global markets: corporate debt.

MANUFACTURING/LABOR: At Caterpillar, Pressing Labor While Business Booms

Steven Greenhouse, NY Times - Despite earning a record $4.9 billion profit last year and projecting even better results for 2012, the company is insisting on a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for most of the 780 production workers at its factory here. Caterpillar says it needs to keep its labor costs down to ensure its future competitiveness. The company’s stance has angered the workers, who went on strike 12 weeks ago.

REGULATION/TECHNOLOGY: Google facing force of aggressive E.U. regulators

Craig Timberg, Washington Post - Europe may be a financial disaster and a faded military force, but in at least one arena it has emerged as champ: Regulators here are challenging the power of America’s technology titans. And they are winning.

FACEBOOK: All Eyes on Facebook Revenue

Shayndi Raice, WSJ - As Facebook reports earnings this Thursday for the first time as a public company, attention will focus on the pace of revenue growth at the social network.

COMMODITIES/ENVIRONMENT: US buyers turn to Brazil for cheap corn

Gregory Meyer, FT - This situation, analogous to Saudi Arabia importing oil, underscores how anxious buyers of corn, particularly the livestock, poultry and ethanol industries, have become, as 88 per cent of the domestic crop struggles in drought-hit regions.

WALL STREET: Why Dodd-Frank is necessary

Former Senator Chris Dodd, Politico, Opinion - Critics largely forget that U.S. tax dollars rescued the economy from the brink of collapse in 2008. Putting basic rules in place to prevent a crisis of this magnitude from being repeated was not only responsible — it was essential. This was a fundamental transformation of our regulatory structure, allowing regulators to keep pace with the 21st century’s global financial marketplace.

07/23/12 at 12:08pm