This will be the last Seven And A Half Things for this week, so today's seven and a half things are going to have to last you for two days. We've made them extra chunky for you:
Thing One: Turn Back The Clock: Are you sad that you missed a chance to blow all of your money on tech IPOs like Pets.com or Webvan back in the 1990s? Well, buck up, because happy days are here again.
President Obama this afternoon will sign into law an abomination known as the JOBS Act, something he pushed through Congress, an easy task given its wide bipartisan support. It's a terrible bill, as we and others have written in the past, and the rest of the world seems to slowly be catching on to the idea.
Wall Street banks are searching the bill, which strips away investor protections put in place after the dot-com bust, for holes they can exploit, report Susanne Craig and Ben Protess of The New York Times. According to the NYT, law firm Davis Polk calls the bill “the most significant legislative loosening in memory of restrictions around the I.P.O. process and public company reporting obligations.” A guy who's spent time in the hoosegow for bilking investors agrees, telling Bloomberg's Susan Antilla the JOBS Act "amounts to an open invitation for fraud."
But don't think the banks are satisfied with this. They are still crying loud and long over all the terrible regulations under which they're forced to toil, led by their Proselytizer In Chief Jamie Dimon, who did more such crying in a letter to JPMorgan Chase shareholders yesterday, in which he warned that our future alien overlords would look back at this time and write a book entitled "It Could Have Been Much Better" without all of this regulation. But don't worry, Jamie, you still have plenty of friends in Congress, where still more bills to water down the Dodd-Frank financial-reform act are slouching their way toward President Obama's desk to be born.
Thing Two: I Need A Fix 'Cause I'm Going Down: Speaking of dissatisfied, the stock market tumbled again on Wednesday, in even tumble-ier fashion than it did on Tuesday, in a second-day response to the Federal Reserve denying financial markets an immediate fix of monetary stimulus, bolstered by an equally unwilling European Central Bank, write Jonathan Cheng and Charles Forelle on Page One of the Wall Street Journal. The selloff was also fueled by the completely unexpected revival of the European debt crisis, which this time has bitten Spain. Along with some downbeat factory data out of Germany, that is hurting European stocks yet again this morning.
Thing Three: Foreclosure Fear: You may have heard that the housing market is in the process of finally turning around, nearly six years into its collapse. If so, then you'd better brace yourself for another wave of foreclosures that's about to hit the market, writes Reuters. Meanwhile, foreclosed homes in minority neighborhoods are sitting untended, according to a report by the National Fair Housing Alliance, which could make those homes, and the homes surrounding them, even harder to sell, writes The Huffington Post's Janell Ross.
Thing Four: One Way Or Another, You'll Pay: The good news: Oil prices may finally be responding to an oversupply of oil in the United States, which has helped drive prices to their lowest in nearly a month, the Financial Times writes. The bad news: Global food prices rose for the third straight month in March, according to a United Nations report.
Thing Five: Insurers May Need Adjusting: New York's top financial-services regulator is investigating claims that insurance companies overcharged people for homeowners' insurance, report Liz Rappaport and Leslie Scism in the Wall Street Journal: "Insurers issue such 'force-placed' policies to homeowners who miss mortgage payments or allow their homeowners' policy to lapse. Critics say that rates are often exorbitant, partly because of close ties between insurers, agents, mortgage servicers and brokers. Mr. Lawsky's investigation also is scrutinizing those relationships, these people said."
Thing Six: Chrysler's Shield: If your Chrysler van once caught on fire and you're thinking of suing, be warned that you'll only be able to sue the company for the cost of getting yourself patched up in the hospital, the Wall Street Journal reports, thanks to a nifty legal shield Chrysler managed to get along with its bankruptcy back in 2009. "The legal protection afforded Chrysler, now profitable for the first time in six years, allows the Auburn Hills, Mich., company to 'essentially get a free pass on some of their most egregious past mistakes,' said Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia law professor and punitive-damages expert."
Thing Seven: A Computer For Your Face: Is your iPhone too cumbersome a device for you? Tired of wearing out your fingertips looking stuff up? Well, Google is working on a solution for you, a set of glasses you can wear that will turn your eyeballs and head into a mobile device that will in no way make you look like The Terminator or a unit of The Borg.
Thing Seven And One Half: Shoot Down The Paywall, While You're At It: The art for what is actually a very good article in The New York Times Magazine by Sam Anderson about "dumb" video games is itself a very "dumb" video game, which allows you to shoot up stuff all over the page, including ads and NYT columnists' pictures, if you're so inclined.
Special Bonus Thing: See that tiny little box over there on the right-hand side of the page? Jammed narrowly between the ad and the "Social News" box? If you enter your email address in that slim box and click the button, nothing horrible will happen to you, unless you consider getting this story in your email inbox every day something horrible. With the imminent launch of this daily email -- coming soon -- we have also added a couple of new features: a daily calendar, and a small roundup of business-related tweets. Free of charge.
8:30 a.m. ET: Weekly jobless claims. Economists expect them to dip to 355,000 from 359,000 the week before, according to Briefing.com.
Before 9:30 a.m.: Pier 1 Imports
After 4:00 p.m.: WD-40
Heard On The Tweets:
@LaMonicaBuzz: Things I didn't hear from local businesses while on mini-vacation in Florida. "You know, tourists would spend so much more if Fed did QE3."
@TheStalwart: The great debate now is not bull v. bear. It's fundamentalistas v. liquidistas.
@ReformedBroker: I think it's great that private equity firms catch and release Burger King every 18 months. Creating so much value.
@zseward: "I think I'm one of the most underpaid executives in the history of executive payment," says man making $125 million
-- Tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.And follow us on Twitter, why don't you: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja