European Crisis Back From Vacation To Ruin Summer: Seven And A Half Things To Know

07/23/2012 08:00 am ET | Updated Jul 23, 2012
  • Mark Gongloff Managing Editor, Business and Tech, The Huffington Post

Thing One: European Vacation Over: Earlier this month, 7.5 Things went for more than a week without feeling compelled to ruin your morning with news from Europe. That was a modern 7.5 Things record. The streak is now broken. Europe is back.

Spanish bond yields are at record highs for the euro era this morning. Go ask Suze Orman if you don't believe us, but having to pay very, very high interest rates for debt is not exactly what you'd call a good thing. Why is Spain suddenly having to pay boatloads to borrow money? Because Spanish local governments are flat busted and going to the central government for help, Bloomberg writes. That's awkward timing for everybody, because Spain is currently in recession, and will be in recession until 2014, writes the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, Greece is getting ready to host representatives of the "troika" -- the trio composed of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank -- which has all of the money Greece needs to survive until its next bailout. Apparently they are skeptical for some reason that Greece is going to be able to make the budget cuts it needs to make to get that money, and Germany's Economy Minister yesterday all but said Greece is already gone from the euro zone. Easy to say, Mr. Minister Guy, but once Greece goes, everybody's going to start wondering who's next.

Thing Two: Let The Perp-Walking Begin: We could soon see us some arrests in the Libor scandal, Reuters reports. Which will be awesome for the banks, Reuters suggests, because then they can then just blame the whole thing on a handful of "rogue traders" and pretend it wasn't systemic and commonplace. Fat chance, banks.

Thing Three: You Can't Spell 'Not Freaking Paying Attention' Without 'NFA': So, funny story, the National Futures Association, the Keystone Kops, er, self-regulatory body charged with keeping an eye on commodities brokerage firms, totally missed the epic Peregrine Financial meltdown. And now it's going to start overseeing derivatives trades, too, the Wall Street Journal writes. What could possibly go wrong? "The alleged fraud, which authorities say left an estimated $215 million in customer money missing, has cast a spotlight on the agency's auditing methods and staffing and its well-paid leadership, whose top official received compensation of $687,000 in 2010, the most recent year for which information is publicly available."

Thing Four: OK, OK, The Fed Will Give You More Stimulus, If That's What You Really Want: San Francisco Fed President John Williams tells the Financial Times that the scrumtrilescent horribleness of the job market will probably eventually force the Fed to do more: "In an interview with the Financial Times, he forecast that unless 'further action' was taken, there would be a lack of progress in boosting the jobs market – where the unemployment rate has been stuck around 8.2 per cent since the start of the year – over the next 18 months."

Thing Five: Keep On Trucking: Here's a good sign, though, maybe: Pickup-truck sales are on the rise, which could be a sign of a slightly better housing market, the Wall Street Journal writes: "Auto makers are encouraged by the latest housing indicators. In June, the rate of new-home construction rose to the highest level in four years, on pace for 760,000 on an annual basis. A continuing recovery in home construction should translate into even faster growth in truck sales in the second half and in 2013."

Thing Six: Ingrate Workers Fail To Appreciate Caterpillar's Innovation: Caterpillar is a proud American leader in treating its work force like crap, The New York Times writes, and it's breaking new ground again: "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." Shockingly, its ungrateful workers have decided to take a few days off to complain about this.

Thing Seven: With Liberty And Ammo For All: The suspected shooter in last week's massacre in Colorado was able to access thousands of rounds of ammunition online as easy as if it were pornography or "a book from Amazon," writes The New York Times: "Mr. Holmes, a graduate student in neuroscience with a clean criminal record, was able to buy the ammunition without arousing the slightest notice from law enforcement, because the sellers are not required in most cases to report sales to law enforcement officials, even unusually large purchases."

Thing Seven And One Half: Penn State Sentencing: Today's the day, at 9:00 a.m. ET, that we find out whether the Penn State football program gets the death penalty. Here's hoping! Seriously, to hell with Penn State's football program, forever, amen. The university has already removed a prominent statue of Joe Paterno, the sainted coach who bravely looked the other way as children were being constantly raped at his university. All of which is terrible, terrible news for Paterno apologist Joe Posnanski, whose hagiographic book about Paterno is supposed to be coming out soon. The annoying reality about Paterno has suddenly made the book a much tougher sell, The New York Times writes.

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Heard On The Tweets:

‏@zerohedge: To those saying "Break up the banks" we have a simple question: who will do it? The politicians whose $$ comes courtesy of bank lobbies?

@sabrush: U.S. Office of Financial Research says regulators have 'significant gaps' in understanding financial system

@BorowitzReport: Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.

@neilbarofsky: Excerpt from the Afterword of Bailout -- Enjoy --Leaves Behind Righteous Anger via @BloombergView

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

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