Thing One: Spain Will Be Ruining Your Fall: The Spanish really know how to do a financial crisis up right.
The European debt crisis, after a brief summer vacation, is back in full flower, this time popping up on the Iberian Peninsula. All the classic elements of the European debt crisis we have come to know and love over the last three-plus years of crisis-ing are here: Soaring bond yields? Si, Spanish 10-year bond yields were this morning back above 6 percent, an unsustainably high level, though not nearly as high as they were mid-summer. Riots in the streets? Yep, protesters stormed the Spanish Parliament in Madrid yesterday, protesting against austerity measures by the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. German intransigence threatening to undo bailout agreements? Check: Germany and its allies the Netherlands and Finland, a/k/a the Coalition of the Unwilling, have second thoughts a Spanish bank-bailout agreement that calmed everything down this summer, the Financial Times writes.
But Spain has added that extra little something to make its crisis especially unique and flavorful. How'd you like a little constitutional crisis with your debt meltdown? As if Spain didn't have enough problems, the northern region of Catalonia yesterday called for an election to decide whether to secede from the country after Rajoy refused to give the region -- Spain's richest, Bloomberg notes -- more autonomy.
At the same time, problems are starting to flare up again in other sunny, beautiful European locales. Greece expects another round of anti-austerity strikes today. The Italian economy is starting to feel the sting, and Bloomberg writes that Rajoy might wait to request a full-on Spanish bailout from Europe until Italy is also in the stew. That way, Spain doesn't stand out as a special case and Rajoy will have more bargaining power. Things could get awfully ugly before we get to that point, though.
Thing Two: Signs Of Life In The U.S. Economy: The European debt crisis threatens to throw a wrench in President Obama's so-far-smooth ride to re-election. Ironically, the one thing that was supposed to be his giant weakness, the U.S. economy, has lately shown signs of life. Yesterday brought more good news for housing, in the form of prices posting their best gains since 2005, The Wall Street Journal writes. Separately, the Labor Department reported that 2011 saw the biggest gain in consumer spending since 2006, the WSJ adds. Too bad so much of that extra spending was on ridiculously expensive cell-phone bills, according to the WSJ. People are giving up dining out just to pay for all their sexting and what-not, the WSJ writes.
Thing Three: Keystone Kops Investigate Bank: The U.S. government's investigation of money-laundering charges against HSBC has been slowed down and complicated for years by infighting between "at least 11 different U.S. departments, offices and regulators," along with the U.S. Senate," Reuters reports. The HSBC investigation is just a sample of the headaches involved in trying to bring sprawling global banks to justice.
Thing Four: Let's All Abandon Libor: The British Bankers Association said it wants to give up the job of overseeing Libor, the short-term lending rate that influences borrowing costs throughout the economy. Libor has been constantly manipulated by banks on the BBA's watch, to the point where nobody trusts it now. Christy Romero, the special inspector general of TARP, yesterday said she wanted Libor out of all remaining bailout programs.
Thing Five: Facebook Lawsuits Flourish Like Your Aunt's FarmVille Farm: If Facebook didn't already regret going public, it will soon have reason to do so: About 50 lawsuits and hundreds of arbitration cases have been filed arising from its botched IPO, Aaron Lucchetti of the WSJ writes. Facebook is not a defendant in all of them, and it says they are all without merit, but they could "drag on for several years," which is no fun.
Thing Six: Total Shocker: When even an oil company says that drilling in the Arctic might be a bad idea, maybe we should listen. Christophe de Margerie, the CEO of Total, told the FT the risks of drilling in the environmentally sensitive region did not outweigh the potential rewards: “Oil on Greenland would be a disaster,” he said. “A leak would do too much damage to the image of the company." His comments come after Royal Dutch Shell delayed drilling off the Alaskan coast due to problems with environmental protection equipment.
Thing Seven: The NFL Shrugged: One thing that has united the country in bipartisan rage is the ridiculously stupid National Football League, which on Tuesday declared that ludicrous Packers-Seahawks result A-OK. The NFL has locked out its referees and replaced them with a bunch of Foot Locker employees, resulting in spectacularly bone-headed calls that have cost gamblers hundreds of millions of dollars, Sports Illustrated reports. Here's the hilarious/sad thing: This whole thing could be avoided if the NFL's billionaire owners would just give up $3 million, the WSJ writes. The unnecessary and destructive dispute is an echo of the more serious tussle between employers and unionized labor all over the country, notes Salon's Paul Campos: "As improbable as it sounds, Ayn Rand’s lunatic brand of Marxism turned on its head is to a significant extent responsible for Lingerie Football League castoffs refereeing America’s most popular and profitable sport (with predictably catastrophic consequences)."
Thing Seven And One Half: Replacement Humor: The NFL's replacement-ref crisis has of course inspired lots of Internet humor, including the briefly amusing ReplacementGoogle.com, which shows you how well Google would work if it were run by the NFL.
Also, on this day in 1969, the Beatles released "Abbey Road," their last good studio album ("Let It Be" kind of sucked). The second half of "Abbey Road," starting with "Here Comes The Sun," all the way through "Her Majesty," is one of the best album sides ever recorded. Ask your grandparents what an "album side" is.
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Calendar Du Jour:
10:00 a.m. ET: New Home Sales for August
Heard On The Tweets:
@MatinaStevis: Trouble in Madrid, teargas in Athens, euro dropping, leaders disagreeing about bailouts. Welcome back to 2011. Or 2010.
@zerohedge: Rumor Tim Geithner is writing a book bashing Tim Geithner
@kellyoxford: I wish I could illegally download better health care insurance.
@agwarner: Watching Packers-Seahawks on NBCDelayed, no one tell me what happens
Once got lured into a van with the promise of piping hot Totino's Pizza Rolls. Once inside, they were lukewarm. #Traumatic
And you can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff