Thing One: How Dare You? Boy, New Yorkers sure are rude, aren't they?
Take New York's top banking regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, who had the utter gall to bring charges against U.K. bank Standard Chartered, accusing it of laundering $250 billion in dirty money for Iranian interests. This has absolutely crushed the bank's reputation and stock price, slicing $17 billion from its market value in one day. The bank is now furiously trying to settle with New York and federal regulators, the Wall Street Journal writes. It could be on the hook for $700 million, according to Bloomberg. The charge is also another black eye for the City of London, which everybody now generally agrees is a cesspool of money laundering and London Whaling, because of the "light touch" regulation for which it was once so proud, the WSJ writes.
But Lawsky is just as uncouth and rude as a Staten Island cop, apparently. Standard Chartered is fighting back against him, the Financial Times writes, claiming it was blindsided by Lawsky's complaint and saying he is wildly overestimating the amount of money that actually got laundered -- it wasn't $250 billion, they say, it was $14 million, mere pocket change. British politicians accuse Lawsky of trying to damage London's reputation for some reason, the FT writes.
And U.S. regulators, including the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, are so mad at Lawsky, too, phoning up The New York Times to whine that they had been quietly building a case against StanChart and openly questioning the strength of Lawsky's case, which has nothing going for it but a string of damning emails. Lawsky for some reason did not just want to go along with the usual modus operandi of reaching a nice, quiet settlement with the bank, instead choosing to publicly shame it, Reuters writes. That is contra the typical m.o. of U.S. federal regulators, who prefer to focus their energy on yelling at reporters. And no wonder they're mad: Those same regulators are "asleep at the wheel" when it comes to money laundering, writes the Washington Post, and Lawsky has come along and put them to shame.
Thing Two: The Wages Of Sin Is Meh: Maybe this is a reason companies refuse to stop committing fraud all the time: According to a New York Times report, top executives at banks, pharmaceutical companies and other job creators consistently get off scot-free, even when their companies pay millions of dollars in fines for fraud: "But while the collections are a boon to the government and taxpayers, they are resurrecting questions about the relative lack of charges against executives at the companies that are getting the stiffest penalties."
Thing Three: The Wages of Sin Is Meh, MetLife Edition: Speaking of getting off scot-free, the Fed fined MetLife a whopping $3.2 million for not doing anything to stop its mortgage-lending arm from abusing homeowners, the Washington Post writes. MetLife totally got a backache while bending over to lift couch cushions to find the money.
Thing Four: Happy Days Here Again: House prices are once again rocketing to the moon, the Wall Street Journal keeps saying, a theme I am totally on board with, as an underwater homeowner, even if I still don't entirely believe it: "Prices rose by 2.5% in June from a year ago, and by 6% from the previous quarter, said CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif., data firm. The quarterly jump was the largest since 2005." Housing bubble, here we come.
Thing Five: The New American Dream: Renting: Despite skyrocketing house prices, for some reason kids these days have no desire to dump all of their disposable income and immortal souls into money-sucking pits like houses and cars, Bloomberg observes. Here's what these communists are thinking: "Confronting a jobless rate above 8 percent since 2009 and student-loan debt hitting about $1 trillion, 20-to-34-year-olds are renting apartments, cars and even clothing to save money and stay flexible."
Thing Six: Starbucks Squared: Many of you have probably never heard of mobile-payment startup Square, but very soon you will not be able to throw a rock without hitting somebody that's using it. Starbucks announced it was going to start accepting Square payments at all of its 348,098,763,147 locations in the U.S. Starbucks is also investing $25 million in Square, making it worth $3.5 billion, or three and a half Pinterests.
Thing Seven: Softening Up The Germans: German industrial production fell in June, suggesting the country might be at risk of falling into recession. We don't wish that on anybody, of course, but maybe it will help cool Germany's austerity fever? A little? No?
Thing Seven And One Half: Happy Anniversary: On this day in 1968, shitty humanoid Richard Nixon accepted the Republican nomination for the presidency. On the same day six years later, he announced he was going to resign the presidency, on account of being an even shittier humanoid than people expected.
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Calendar Du Jour:
8:30 a.m. ET: Productivity for Q2
Heard On The Tweets:
@umairh: I know it's a shock, but a "financial system" isn't merely a device for a small number to get very rich.
@zerohedge: Thank you Ben for explaining that the taxpayer will bear the losses on student loans
@IanShepherdson: Bernanke is excited teaching the invisible hand to kids. Banks are excited by learning they have invisible regulators.
@ryanavent: Glad Bernanke's so optimistic about the kids. Maybe do something for their unemployed older siblings?
@BCAppelbaum: Bernanke should have invited Congress to his financial literacy seminar.
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja