Mark Gongloff is off the newsletter this morning so today's 7.5 Things are brought to you by Jillian Berman.
Thing One: BP's Fine Kind Of NBD: In the latest example of the government not holding companies accountable for major screwups, we have the settlement BP reached with the Department of Justice over the 2010 gulf oil spill. Yes, BP will pay more than $4 billion, a record criminal fine, and accept criminal responsibility for 14 workers that were killed as a result of the spill. But the penalty will hardly put a dent in the company’s profits, and as The Huffington Post’s Mark Gongloff noted Thursday, the company’s stock price actually rose one percent following the announcement. In addition, the deal will do little to offer closure to those still trying to rebuild businesses wrecked as a result of the spill, Chris Kirkham writes in HuffPost.
Though it’s probably no consolation to those still suffering in the Gulf, BP is likely far from done paying for the spill’s damages. The oil giant will probably end up paying even more to the government over civil penalties relating to pollution resulting from the spill, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In addition, a few company officials were indicted on manslaughter charges for 11 workers that died in the spill. Experts say the move may signal a turn to holding company bosses accountable for major accidents, which was more common in the 1980s and 1990s, instead of only blaming the companies themselves, according to The New York Times.
Thing Two: Walmart Facing Trouble Everywhere In The World: It looks like Walmart’s bribery woes aren't just limited to the Western hemisphere. The company may have violated the U.S. anti-bribery law in China, India and Brazil, according to an internal probe, on top of the Mexican allegations we already know about. The investigation indicates that Walmart officials are growing increasingly alarmed over the possibility that bribery may have corrupted its international business, The New York Times reports. The annoucement comes just one day after the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a 120-page report on the anti-bribery law or the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, just so companies are very clear on what exactly constitutes an illegal foreign bribe, according to the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, Walmart is facing trouble at home. A group of Walmart workers is planning strikes at 1,000 store locations on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, The Huffington Post’s Alice Hines reports. The workers’ concerns center mostly around claims that Walmart retaliates against employees’ attempts to organize.
Thing Three: Eurozone Not Done Suffering: Well, the Eurozone is back in trouble again, and it comes as a surprise to exactly no one. The region fell back into recession last quarter for the second time since the 2009 global financial crisis. Likely much to Angela Merkel’s disdain, Germany and France couldn’t do enough to cancel out the struggles of other countries in region.
Thing Four: Ben Bernanke Makes Everyone A Little Bit Sad: Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was a bit of a Debbie Downer Thursday, raining on the media’s the-housing-crisis-is-over parade. In a speech to the Operation HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit, Bernanke said that the housing market is “far from being out of the woods,” according to Reuters. The Fed chairman blamed strict lending standards in part for the slow recovery. He also noted that the still-ongoing housing crisis hit minorities and low-income Americans harder than other groups, according to CNNMoney. Bernanke highlighted the fact that black homeownership rates have fallen five percent over the last eight years, compared with a two-percent drop in homeownership rates for everyone else.
Thing Five: Poor Investment Bankers: Investment bankers may have to start adjusting to a new normal: Looking for a job. Banks have announced more than 160,000 layoffs since last year, and many won’t be hired back as the industry shrinks, according to Reuters. Investment bankers are on the front lines of the slashing, as banks suffer from a trading income drop and a lack of deals.
Thing Six: Illegal Prescription Drugs Delivered To Your Door: FedEx may soon face criminal charges over Justice Department claims that it helped illegal sales from online pharmacies over several years, according to the Wall Street Journal. UPS, America’s other largest shipping company, has also been swept up in the probe, which is part of a government crackdown on illegal prescription drug sales. A Fedex spokesman told the WSJ that the investigation is “absurd and deeply disturbing,” while UPS claims it’s cooperating. We’ll see who fares better.
And thanks to Europe, the rest of the world could be in trouble as well. Chinese exports to the area have slowed, helping to accelerate the country’s downturn, according to the Wall Street Journal. Japan’s economy shrank last quarter by the largest amount since the tsunami, and the crisis in Europe is keeping American companies skittish about investing and hiring.
Thing Seven: JPMorgan Can't Catch A Break: In the latest installment of Jamie Dimon’s fall from grace, regulators will likely formally accuse JPMorgan Chase of having a weak anti-money laundering system, according to the Wall Street Journal. The news comes just one day after regulators banned the bank temporarily from trading in a U.S. energy market, after JPMorgan allegedly misrepresented facts during a probe into market manipulation. Investigators are also probing the company’s risk controls after its huge trading loss in May.
Thing Seven And A Half: Warren Buffett Hearts Hillary: The Oracle of Omaha doesn’t have a prediction of who will be president in 2016, but he knows who he wants to win. The billionaire investor told CNN Wednesday that he hopes Hillary Clinton is elected president in four years.
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Calendar Du Jour:
9:15 a.m. ET: Industrial Production for October
Heard On The Tweets:
Sometimes I get this odd feeling that political pundits don't know what they're talking about. Then it passes.
— Eddy Elfenbein (@EddyElfenbein) November 15, 2012
People in Anchorage were so friendly! Fellow at airport changed all my US dollars for Alaskan currency so I wouldn't have to wait in line.
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) November 15, 2012
Still no responses to my Craigslist ad: “Hot Biographer Needed.”
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) November 15, 2012
NPR pledge drive hosts are all "we need you, we need you" on air, but they sing a different tune when you sneak into their bed for a snuggle
— Andy Richter (@Andy_Richter) November 15, 2012
I wish my wife didn’t wear so much makeup. And was my friend Ryan.
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) November 15, 2012
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.