Thing One: Banker, Meet Axe:There are just a few subtle differences between the U.K. and the U.S. Over there, an elevator is a "lift." Many meals are referred to as "tea." And when banks over there screw up royally, top executives occasionally get what's called "the axe."
Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius this morning agreed to step down just days after his bank confessed to serial manipulation of a short-term interest rate called Libor, which affects borrowing costs throughout the economies on both sides of the pond. "The buck stops with me, and I must acknowledge responsibility by standing aside," Agius said in a press release. "I am truly sorry that our customers, clients, employees and shareholders have been let down." Barclays CEO Bob Diamond is likely not long for his job, either, according to the conventional wisdom. And all this is happening even though Barclays can shakily claim it thought it had the OK from regulators to bend the rules.
Compare and contrast this quick defenestration in the U.K. with the response to similar scandals in the U.S.: For example, Goldman Sachs a couple of years back agreed to pay $550 million -- even more than Barclays paid for its Libor scandal -- to settle charges it had misled investors when it sold them mortgage-backed securities stuffed full of subprime crap hand-picked by hedge funds betting against them. In a way, worse than the Libor scandal! And yet there was never any question of Lloyd Blankfein or other top Goldman executives losing their jobs.
Several other banks in the U.K. and U.S. are being probed for Libor manipulation, with Barclays just the first of many shoes to drop. It will be interesting to see if other top executives lose their jobs as quickly as did Agius.
Thing Two: Halfway Through: In the Wall Street Journal, Tom Lauricella writes that, while the first half of the year was marked by investors worrying about the confederacy of stooges in Europe, the second half will be marked by investors worrying about the confederacy of stooges here in the U.S. So, different, then! "With government policy playing a greater-than-usual role in driving financial markets, investors are nervously eyeing the November U.S. presidential election and the year-end expiration of tax cuts and economic stimulus that could drive the U.S. economy into recession should Congress fail to step in."
Thing Three: But don't worry, Europe, we haven't forgotten about you. European factory data came in lousy this morning, Reuters notes, with factories cutting jobs at the fastest rate in two and a half years. Asian factory data, too, are looking ugly, on account of weak exports to Europe. And U.S. corporate profits are likely to suffer Europe effects in the latest quarter, the Wall Street Journal writes. Markets are nevertheless higher this morning, still cheering last week's surprising European agreements to form a joint banking regulator and be a little easier with the bailout money. But doubts are starting to creep in about that agreement, the New York Times writes.
Thing Four: Skipping Wall Street: As if Wall Street -- the actual, New York City Wall Street -- didn't have enough problems, big banks are moving mid-level jobs away from pricey Manhattan to cheaper, more isolated locales to save money, The New York Times writes: "The shift comes even as banks consider deeper staff cuts here, which could undermine the state and city tax base long term."
Thing Five: Home Office In The Caymans: More than 9,000 hedge funds are headquartered in the Cayman Islands, The New York Times writes, and they employ locals to sit on their boards, which theoretically should help oversee the hedge funds' investment decisions. Some individuals in the Caymans sit on 24 or more hedge-fund boards at a time. How much guidance are these people really offering? "Major investors and others are starting to question the value of offshore directors, especially in light of recent hedge fund frauds, liquidations and missteps."
Thing Six: Facebook Sticks With Nasdaq: Facebook officials have decided to keep their stock listed on the Nasdaq, the Wall Street Journal reports -- even though Facebook is still pig-biting mad about how Nasdaq screwed up its IPO, The New York Times details.
Thing Seven: Lightning Strikes The Cloud: So in the future, all of our information will be stored on the cloud, which will free us from having to keep a bunch of stuff loaded up on storage devices because that is so annoying! One wee problem is that the cloud may not always be available to us because sometimes it's disrupted -- but only by super-rare phenomena, like lightning. The New York Times reports that last week's storms around DC took out part of Amazon's cloud for a little bit. Yikes?
Thing Seven And One Half: Who Gets The Thetans? The long national nightmare of the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise marriage is over at last. The only downside for Katie is that she signed a pre-nuptial agreement turning over her Operating Thetan to Tom, the Daily Mash reports, with which Cruise "will gain total dominion over the realm of thought-space." But Katie at least got $33 million for her troubles, according to the Mash.
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Calendar Du Jour:
10:00 a.m. ET: ISM Manufacturing Index for June
10:00 a.m. ET: Factory Orders for May
Heard On The Tweets:
@reporterboy: I'm Marcus Agius Commander of Barclays, loyal servant of Money, father to a murdered career and I'll have my bonus in this life or the next
@PattyEdwards: So does the winner of #euro2012 get to name the terms on their bailout?
@dragonjones: That's why the Spanish economy is in so much trouble...Everyone's playing football!!
@xtophercook: Don't worry, gag-writers! By the time of the World Cup 2014, the euro crisis will be global!
@Savan_Kotecha: Happy Canada Day Canadians!! Hope you have a lovely day celebrating saying "eh" having no guns and having free healthcare!!
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.
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