The ark I'm building in the back yard will be 300 cubits by 80 cubits by 40 cubits. What's a cubit? I don't know. But I do know seven and a half things you need to know today. Here they are:
Thing One: Unfit to Lead: Apparently UK lawmakers aren't buying the Mr. Magoo act. Or don't think Mr. Magoo should be in charge of a major international corporation, anyway.
Global media overlord Rupert Murdoch, recently facing a UK government inquiry of charges of widespread hacking and bribery at his company, News Corp., tried to act like he had very little political power and even less knowledge of misdeeds happening on his watch. This morning a separate parliamentary panel delivered its own verdict on Murdoch, and to call it cutting might be to undersell it:
"If at all relevant times, Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindess to what was going on in his companies and publications. This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International. We conclude therefore that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."
Holy hanging, Batman. The panel was a little easier on Rupert's son James, deciding not to find that he had intentionally misled them. And some of James's former News Corp. frenemies are in hotter water. But the panel's bombshell statement about Rupert will send shock waves through the company, writes the BBC, with one possible result that the Murdochs lose control of News Corp.
Thing Two: Did It All For The Nook: Microsoft and Barnes & Noble are two names that have seen better days, but together they apparently hope they can fight back against their far more powerful rivals, Apple and Amazon. Microsoft has invested $300 million in Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader, ending a legal dispute between the two companies because, as Marketplace's Heidi Moore puts it: "Microsoft is mortal enemies with Apple and Amazon, and it's hard to see your enemies win."
Thing Three: Bucking Austerity: After years of having austerity crammed down their throats as the only cure for Europe's debt crisis, struggling European countries are fighting back, saying the medicine is only making the problem worse, the Wall Street Journal writes on its front page today. But Germany insists that you vill take zee austerity and you vill like it, writes the Financial Times. The FT's Gideon Rachman writes, more in sadness than in anger, that Europe has tried the Keynesian approach already to no avail, so belt-tightening it shall be forever more.
Thing Four: Banks Ease Restraints: U.S. banks loosened lending standards a smidgen in the second quarter, according to a new Federal Reserve survey. That should help the economy, if only a little, writes the Wall Street Journal: "Consumers found it easier to get credit cards and auto loans in the first quarter of 2012, but standards for home and business loans remained tight, the Federal Reserve said Monday."
Thing Five: BofA to Kill Goose After Retrieving Golden Egg: Bank of America, meanwhile, continues to shrink rapidly before our very eyes. In its own zeal for belt-tightening, the formerly biggest U.S. bank (now second to JPMorgan Chase) plans to cut 2,000 high-level jobs, the Wall Street Journal reports. Trouble is, it appears to be cutting muscle, not fat: "The reductions are significant because of whom they target: the high-earning employees whose efforts helped Merrill Lynch account for the bulk of Bank of America's profit since the financial crisis."
Thing Six: Up By Mitt's Bootstraps: Willard Mittens Romney, who wants to be your president, recently suggested that kids should just borrow $20,000 from their parents to start a new business, what the heck. As it turns out, his own son, Tagg, got a great deal more than that from Mittens to start his own business, including cash and political connections, The New York Times reports. See how easy it is, kids?
Thing Seven: New York Unfriendly To Wal-Mart: New York pension funds plan to cause trouble at Wal-Mart's shareholders meeting in June, writes Gretchen Morgensen of The New York Times: "Concerned about Wal-Mart’s reported cover-up of bribery in its Mexico operations, leaders of New York City’s pension funds said Monday they would vote their 4.7 million company shares against five directors standing for re-election to the retailer’s board at its annual shareholder meeting next month."
Thing Seven And One Half: Family Portraits: Ever wonder what the distant relatives of comic-book and sci-fi characters might have looked like? Me neither. But somebody did, and they painted fairly creepy old-school family portraits of Spider-Man, Darth Vader and more, for your viewing pleasure/displeasure.
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Calendar Du Jour:
10:00 a.m. ET: ISM Manufacturing Index for April
10:00 a.m. ET: Construction Spending for March
Throughout the day: Auto and truck sales for April
Before market open:
Archer Daniels Midland
After market close:
Heard On The Tweets, Special Paul vs. Paul Edition:
@conorsen: Ron Paul says the debt problem is worse than the unemployment problem. Is he secretly German?
@dandrezner: Dear Bloomberg: please, for the love of God, cut on occasion to Krugman's look of disbelief while Paul is talking
@alanbeattie: There's now a gold investor ad on Bloomberg. Fairness and balance demands the next ad be for paper.
@zerohedge: Krugman is the prime example of why when a man who has 0 understanding of markets, sets market policy, always results in catastrophe
@ObsoleteDogma: Someone please distribute this #paulvspaul video to college kids everywhere. Friends don't let friends become Austrians.
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.