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Seven And A Half Things To Know: Paul Ryan Takes A Page From The Mitt Romney Playbook

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Thing One: Romney-Ryan: After much overhyped anticipation, Mitt Romney announced Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his vice presidential nominee Saturday, and it already seems as if Romney’s number two is following in numberone's footsteps. Ryan will only be releasing two years of his tax returns, despite turning over years worth of returns to the Romney campaign, he said during an interview with 60 Minutes. You may remember that Romney has received some, well, flack over his decision to only release his tax returns from 2010 and later. You, dear reader are surely waiting eagerly for us, The Media, to comb through Ryan’s returns for a Swiss bank account or something.

Ryan’s decision to be less than forthcoming with his tax returns isn’t his only source of controversy. This is the man who as chairman of the House budget committee proposed cuts on things that Americans have gotten kind of used to, like food stamps and health care, both in retirement and for the poor, according to Bloomberg. Despite his enthusiasm for slashing these programs all in the name of smaller government’s debt, Ryan has also proposed shrinking taxes on the wealthy -- another popular way to slice government debt.

For these reasons, it is perhaps not surprising that a whole host of progressive economists, from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder, have been critical of his budget proposals, as The Huffington Post’s Catherine New reports.

Thing Two: Return of robo-signing? Remember when the banks got in trouble for signing documents authorizing foreclosures without really reviewing them? Well, apparently they have sort of a similar process for collecting credit card debt. Major credit card companies like American Express, Discover and others are going to court to get customers to pay off their debts, but, amid a massive amount of bad loans, they’re using bad documents and their records are often incomplete, The New York Times reports.

“I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can’t prove the person owes the debt,” Noach Dear, a Brooklyn judge who says he sees about 100 such lawsuits a day, told the NYT.

Thing Three: Standard Chartered Says Uncle: After some tough talking and begging of Timothy Geithner. it looks like Standard Chartered is trying to settle with regulators over claims it broke U.S. sanctions on dealing with Iran, the Financial Times reports. If the settlement with New York’s Department of Financial Services goes through, the bank would hire an external monitor to make sure it meets American rules and would get to keep its banking license in New York.

The two parties have discussed an amount for the settlement, Reuters reports, even as Standard Chartered prepares for a hearing on the claims that is supposed to take place Wednesday. Still, the two sides are far apart, with the bank taking issue with the regulator’s claims that it laundered $250 million with ties to Iran.

Thing Four: The Latest Way To Fix The Housing Market: The housing market needs fixing and a Democratic Senator from Oregon has a way to fix it, at least according to two prominent economists. Joseph Stiglitz and Mark Zandi argue in a New York Times op-ed that Jeff Merkley’s proposal, which would work like a “potent tax cut” and free up borrowers who owe more on their homes than they’re worth to spend money on other things.

The two write that under the plan:

Underwater homeowners who are current on their payments and meet other requirements would have the option to refinance to either lower their monthly payments or pay down their loans and rebuild equity.

As theynote, this may be the government’s last, best hope to fix the housing market after top housing official, Ed DeMarco defied the White House in continuing to refuse to offer underwater homeowners principal reductions on their loans.

Thing Five: Libor's Long Reach: The Libor scandal has reached Alaska. New York-based lawyer Brian Murray has filed a lawsuit on behalf of investors in Alaska, Wyoming and 20 other states, claiming that Libor rigging violated those states’ antitrust laws, Reuters reports. No Alaskans have yet to sign onto the case, but Murray’s prowl for plantiffs indicates how eager lawyers are to get a piece of what is certain to be a lot of litigation.

One person definitely getting a piece of the scandal is Gary Gensler, the chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Gensler’s agency was once “the Rodney Dangerfield of the regulatory world, with a light touch and little respect,” as The New York Times describes it. But the CFTC’s recent settlement with Barclays and its probe into more than a dozen banks has brought the agency more attention and respect. Maybe the ego boost will prevent another MF Global from happening on Gensler’s watch.

Thing Six: Nothing Stands Between Banks And Profits: European banks aren’t going to let a pesky debt crisis get in the way of them making more money. Banks like Societe General, Commerzbank and others are buying back their bonds from investors at bargain basement prices, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move, which banks can log as an accounting gain, is a way for banks to get more money as more traditional avenues for raising capital -- like getting money from private investors -- are getting more difficult for European banks amid the debt crisis.

Thing Seven: JPMorgan Wants $1 Billion More: You know what JPMorgan Chase needs? A billion more dollars, according to JPMorgan Chase. The bank is looking to boost its pre-tax profit by $1 billion within five years, through a merger of its investment and corporate banks, according to the Financial Times. The move, announced last month, was part of a larger reorganization of the bank that some say may be designed to combine more of the banks’ investment-y business in one place and its retail-y business in another.

Thing Seven And One Half: Soros To Wed: Pass the courvoisier, billionaire investor George Soros is getting married! Soros announced his engagement to 40-year-old Tamiko Bolton on his 82nd birthday. Let’s just hope the marriage turns out better than his relationship with Adriana Ferreyr, an ex-girlfriend who filed a lawsuit against Soros last year claiming he went back on a promise to buy her an apartment.

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Heard On The Tweets:

‏@umairh: In an age where austerity is causing entire economies to implode, the choice of a figure like Paul Ryan is comically lethal.

@zerohedge: Can Merkel come back from vacation please? The financial media is going bankrupt and isn't unionized, so no bailouts.

@ReformedBroker: Paul Ryan: If there are two things that go together, it's 15% tax rates for billionaires and balancing the budget

@felixsalmon: THEORY: Romney picked Ryan just so that if he wins, Ryan wouldn't oppose his massive deficits from the House.

@wonkmonk_: "The fact that you know that markets are unpredictable doesn't mean that you can predict them." - lol w/ George Soros

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja

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