BUSINESS
12/10/2012 08:08 am ET

Euribor Scandal The Banking Mess Du Jour: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Science has determined that people need to know 7.5 things per day, on average, about the world of business. You can't argue with science. Lucky for you, the Huffington Post has an email newsletter, delivered first thing every weekday morning, boiling down the day's biggest business news into the 7.5 things you absolutely need to know. And we're giving it away free, because we love you, and also science. Here you go:

Thing One: The Banks Of Hazzard: The world's biggest banks are like the Dukes of Hazzard: Every day, they get themselves into a whole mess of trouble and scramble madly to escape the consequences. In this stupid metaphor, there is no Daisy Duke, and Uncle Jesse's farm is the global economy.

Today brings the news, by David Enrich on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, that banks are now under investigation on charges that they manipulate with every waking breath a short-term interest rate called Euribor. That is the European version of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, which we already know they manipulate with every waking breath, along with pretty much every other interest rate in the world, according to a recent study. All these interest rates do is establish borrowing costs all over the world, that's all, but you often can't believe them, because they are reported by banks on an "honor" system. You do the math.

Meanwhile on the front page of the New York Times, Jessica Silver-Greenberg points out that banks are under a barrage of new lawsuits over that time when they packaged crappy mortgages into bundles and then tried to sell them to us as fancy chocolate cakes. Gah, get over it already, the banks are responding, that was like five years ago, which just happens to be when the statute of limitations helpfully runs out on these actions. The banks hope a judge will agree.

It's almost as if banks can't help but get themselves into trouble, meaning we should maybe think about what to do the next time one of them threatens to bring down the financial system. Again. To that end, U.S. and British regulators this morning released a new plan designed to end the problem of banks being too big to fail. It calls for a failing bank's shareholders to be wiped out and top management to be removed, but it remains to be seen if it will really end the promise of widespread bailouts.

You can bet banks will work hard to water this plan down, just as they have already scrambled to delay or avoid the pain of new capital requirements set to take effect next year, Bloomberg writes. And those darn banks might just get out of that pickle, too, Bloomberg writes: This week, global regulators will decide how to respond to bank pleas that the European debt crisis makes it the wrong time to force them to hold more capital against another crisis.

Thing Two: No Bunga-Bunga Party For Bonds: Italian bonds are tumbling this morning, along with European stock prices, after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he would step down earlier than expected, raising the specter of a possible return by Silvio Berlusconi, writes Reuters. Italian bond yields are still well below their highs of this summer, meaning this isn't exactly a crisis yet. But this whole never-ending crisis thing, combined with an absolute lack of inflation anywhere on the horizon, has some European central banks wondering if maybe they should switch to a dual employment/inflation mandate like the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bloomberg writes.

Thing Three: Cliff Watch!!! President Obama and his Tang-toned sidekick John Boehner met at the White House on Sunday to talk fiscal-cliff stuff, their first face-to-face meeting in two weeks, the Wall Street Journal writes. There's only like a week left to work out a deal by the end of the year, the Washington Post notes, because of all the holidays coming up. You wouldn't want congress to be able to enjoy its holiday break from its very difficult doing-nothing all year, would you?

Today, President Obama travels to Michigan for another unnecessary effort to sell the public on his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy, which the public already overwhelmingly supports. Maybe he should make his pitch in the mirror. The Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to figure out how hard they should push for a change in cost-of-living adjustments that might curb government spending -- good! -- but also maybe raise tax revenue -- evil!

Thing Four: Cliff Watch, Consumer Edition! U.S. consumers are apparently keeping one eye on fiscal-cliff talks while checking their holiday shopping lists with the other, according to another front-page Wall Street Journal story. Consumer spending has been a bright spot in the economy for much of the year, but there are maybe some signs it is going wobbly, the WSJ notes, including last week's drop in the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, and a recent survey that says consumers are getting more worried about the "fiscal cliff." Something tells me consumers are maybe not quite as well-informed about the cliff as economists think they are.

Thing Five: China's New Leader Hearts Capitalism, Maybe: New Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping paid his first official visit to Shenzhen, a move fraught with symbolism that suggests he might be interested in further reforming China's economy, the Wall Street Journal writes. Here's hoping: A Chinese company this weekend won the auction for A123 Systems, the political football/battery maker that got U.S. government subsidies and then went bankrupt.

Thing Six: Let's Panic About Web Regulation: A proposal by Arab states to impose international regulation of the Interwebs has won some admiration from Russia, China and other countries that tend to enjoy censoring their Interwebs. But it has sown panic among everybody else at a global telecom conference this week, the Financial Times reports.

Thing Seven: Billionaire Considers Buying Thing: New York City Mayor-For-Life Michael Bloomberg is once again considering buying the Financial Times, the New York Times reports. He is apparently even reading the newspaper now, which might also make him hungry for bisque, according to the NYT.

Thing Seven And One Half: Tebow Inspires Formation Of Cups On Bench: Tim Tebow may have been on the bench against the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend, but that did not stop him from demonstrating his leadership, at least with empty Gatorade cups, the Onion reports.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

Nada.

Corporate Earnings:

Not much.

Heard On The Tweets:

Calendar and tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.

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

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