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European Banking Union Now Just Short Years Away: Seven And A Half Things To Know

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EUROPEAN BANKING UNION
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker pauses before speaking during a media conference after a meeting of eurogroup finance ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. They reached an agreement marking a big step toward a European banking union. | AP
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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: What's The Hurry, Europe? American policy makers fighting over the fiscal cliff could learn a thing or two from European policy makers: Like, maybe, the value of hurrying up.

After three years of crisis and several months of preliminary debate, Europe's finance ministers hunkered down together for 14 hours yesterday and finally, in the wee hours of this morning, reached a landmark agreement to put Europe's big banks under the supervision of the European Central Bank. This is a big step, because it means struggling sovereigns like Spain and Italy might eventually be able to cross "prop up crappy banks" off their long to-do lists. It is a major concession for Germany, which has most of the continent's money and was never too thrilled with the possibility that it might end up on the hook to bail out those same crappy banks.

The agreement gives the ECB oversight of the most important European banks and the power to force them to raise more capital or even shut them down, the Wall Street Journal writes. Ah, but this is only the first of many painful steps on the road to a full and glorious European banking union, observe's Quartz's Stephanie Gruner Buckley. Still to be decided are: How will failing banks be taken down? Who will pay for all of this? Who's in charge here? Minor stuff like that. It should all get sorted out by 2014 or 2015.

In the meantime, the continent's crisis is still in full swing. New data show euro-zone factory output falling again in October, and recovery is still far off, Reuters writes. At least European finance ministers agreed to give Greece another round of bailout money, more than three years after it fell into crisis, kicking off this prolonged debacle.

Thing Two: QE Infinity: Back in the U.S., the Federal Reserve was in its own sort of crisis mode, with policy makers re-committing themselves to pumping cash into the U.S. economy indefinitely, or until the job market stops being horrible, whichever comes first. The Fed also, for the first time in history, tied its future interest-rate moves to a specific target for unemployment, 6.5 percent -- a rate it doesn't see happening until mid-2015. This approach was the brainchild of Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, the Wall Street Journal writes, now the most important man in America.

Thing Three: Cliff Watch! In a press conference after the Fed's rate decision, Ben Bernanke, the guy who coined the phrase "fiscal cliff," pushed back against haters -- like, for instance, a certain snarky morning newsletter -- who dismiss the fiscal cliff as so much hype. He warned that uncertainty about the cliff already seems to be hurting the economy and said things could get too ugly for the Fed to handle if politicians can't cut a deal soon.

And of course politicians don't seem to be much closer to cutting a deal soon, the Washington Post frets. That could all be so much posturing, but it is true that far-right Republicans in the House are giving Speaker of the House John Boehner a hard time about tax rates for high incomes, the New York Times writes. Our nation's true heroes, its CEOs, are doing their part, offering to let tax rates on the wealthy rise a little bit. But the Huffington Post's oh-so-cynical Benjamin Hallman seems to think that maybe these CEOs have ulterior motives, like a desire to pay even less in corporate taxes than they already do (which, in some cases, is no taxes at all).

Thing Four: Risky Housing Business? A study by the conservative American Enterprise Institute says the Federal Housing Authority is making overly risky loans to low-income borrowers, setting taxpayers up for maybe $20 billion in losses and putting vulnerable families at risk of default, writes Gretchen Morgensen in the New York Times. The FHA disputes the claim.

Thing Five: Cybersecurity Firm Warns Of Cybersecurity Risk: Hackers could hit 30 U.S. banks early next year with an attack designed to steal money in fake transactions, warns cybersecurity firm McAfee Labs -- which we can only guess has just the right software you need to take care of that. Meanwhile, the original McAfee, company founder John McAfee, is back in the United States today, having been deported from Guatemala, where he had fled after leaving Belize, where he was being sought for questioning in a neighbor's death. U.S. authorities say there is no warrant for his arrest here.

Thing Six: Another Day, Another Big-Bank Legal Headache: German authorities yesterday raided Deutsche Bank's headquarters in Frankfurt, the Financial Times writes, looking for information in "a probe into tax evasion, money laundering and obstruction of justice involving carbon trading." This is only the latest legal headache for Deutsche Bank, which has also been implicated in the Libor scandal and accused of hiding losses during the financial crisis.

Thing Seven: You Can Finally Download iOS6: Hallelujah, Google has finally launched a mapping app for Apple's new mobile operating system. Thus ends the long global nightmare that began when Apple forced users of iOS 6 to use Apple's own mapping app, which apparently reflected the world as seen through the eyes of the Ikea monkey on bath salts.

Thing Seven And One Half: Nirvanamaccapocalypse: In case you didn't stay up until the wee hours of the morning to see it, here, via NME, is the one song played by the Paul McCartney-Nirvana mashup for the 12/12/12 benefit concert for Sandy victims.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 a.m. ET: Initial Jobless Claims for the week of Dec. 8

8:30 a.m. ET: Retail Sales for November

8:30 a.m. ET: Producer Price Index for November

Corporate Earnings:

Adobe Systems

Heard On The Tweets:

-- Tweets and calendar rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.

And you can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff

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