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Germany Saves The World: Seven And A Half Things To Know

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Thing One: Germany Saves World: And what happened, then? Well, in Europe they say that Germany's small heart grew three sizes that day.

Germany, after years of playing the Grinch to Europe's Whoville, has abruptly returned the stockings and the roast beast and is now more enthusiastically helping Team Europe fight its debt crisis. Germany's highest constitutional court this morning rubber-stamped a giant European bailout fund, with a few conditions, sparking market celebrations around the world. The euro jumped to $1.29, its highest level since May. European stocks jumped to 14-month highs, with even Greek stocks up 4 percent. The spread between German and French bond yields shrunk to its smallest since July 2011. U.S. stock-market futures turned higher.

As the New York Times notes, the German court's decision doesn't exactly solve Europe's debt crisis. Not by a long shot. But the repercussions, had the court not approved the bailout fund, might have been a little scary. Now the threat of an imminent market collapse seems off the table, which can't hurt the global economy. President Obama is probably thanking Germany for giving a little boost to his re-election chances. Meanwhile, German chancellor Angela Merkel, known as "Frau Nein" for her resistance to showering the rest of Europe with cash, has shown a softer side in recent weeks, the Washington Post notes.

And in a quieter, but maybe more important, development for the future of the euro zone than the German court's ruling, the European Commission this morning unveiled a plan for centralized bank supervision. A banking union could, Reuters writes, finally break the chains that tie European banks and European sovereign debt together. It would also bring Europe another step closer to the stronger monetary and fiscal union it needs, the kumbaya moment when the Grinch and the Whos all hold hands and sing. We're not quite there yet, but Europe has taken some big steps today.

Thing Two: Speak, Bernanke: Now we wait for the Federal Reserve to throw more gasoline on the fire, with an announcement of more stimulus, possibly tomorrow. The Fed starts a two-day policy meeting today, culminating in a policy decision and always-exciting press conference with Ben Bernanke tomorrow. According to a Bloomberg survey, Wall Street expects the Fed to announce another round of bond-buying, known as "quantitative easing," along with a promise to keep rates at zero until 2015. It will take some political flak for this potential godsend to Obama's re-election prospects, but the Fed has acted in an election year before, notes the New York Times. That was in 1992, by the way, which did not work out so well for the incumbent.

Thing Three: Wet Your Whistleblower: The Internal Revenue Service said it will pay a record bounty of $104 million to a former UBS banker who blew the whistle on his employer's efforts to help U.S. clients dodge taxes in Switzerland. The New York Times notes that the banker's information dealt a severe blow to Switzerland's status as a safe haven, leading several tax avoiders to scramble for settlements that netted the IRS $5 billion.

Thing Four: Private Equity Firms Accused Of Collusion: Speaking of tax avoiders, let's talk about private equity for a second: A lawsuit accuses Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and several other PE firms of colluding to keep down the prices of companies they wanted to buy, the New York Times writes. And, as always, there are incriminating emails: "In Bain’s biggest acquisition, the $32.1 billion purchase of the hospital giant HCA in 2006, competitors agreed privately to “stand down” and not bid on the company as part of an understanding with Bain to divvy up companies targeted for leveraged buyouts, according to internal e-mails."

Thing Five: Moody's Blues: Oh, noes, everyone, Moody's has threatened to take away America's AAA credit rating. Been there, done that, watched U.S. borrowing costs plummet afterwards. The stock market yawned at the news, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing at its highest level in nearly five years. The Moody's warning was based on a fear that America's idiot Congress won't get its act together and avoid the "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax increases looming at the end of the year. And of course Speaker John Boehner (R-Oompaloompa) agreed that Congress very well might not avoid it.

Thing Six: Zuckerberg Needs Decaf, But Not Your Pity: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke publicly for the first time since his company's disastrous IPO, answering questions at a jargon-lousy TechCrunch conference. He spoke really, really quickly, notes the Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker, so you might have missed it, but he acknowledged that the botched IPO was not great for company morale. But he also said he would rather be underestimated and said the fundamentals of the US economy were strong. Or something like that. It all happened so fast.

Thing Seven: Humans To Join Forces Against Robots: U.S. stock exchanges, moving with lightning quickness, are finally getting around to hatching a plan to stop high-speed-trading robots from blowing holes in the space-time continuum every now and again, like they do, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Thing Seven And One Half: Put A Cage On It: Because why not, here are a bunch of pictures of people who have pranked other people with scary pictures of Nic Cage, via BuzzFeed. Go forth now and multiply.

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Economic Data:

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Corporate Earnings:

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Heard On The Tweets:

@fearlicious: dow went so high today it got a bloody nose and had to sit down for a minute

@pareene: Fun fact: pundits supporting test-based teacher evals work in a field with no professional consequences for making readers stupider

@NickTimiraos: Problem: Banks only want to originate zero-risk mortgages. The way to do that: do not lend.

@JeffMacke: When asked why he left $AAPL the Siri co-creator paused for three minutes then provided a list of area dry cleaners

@robdelaney: If I can't talk to my dead high school girlfriend Jessica on the iPhone 5 I will throw it right out the goddamned window.

You can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff

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