06/21/2012 07:53 am ET

Germany Never Lets Europe Have Any Fun: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Thing One: You Can't Stop Angie Downer: Rachel Dratch's Debbie Downer act never got old. Angela Merkel's Debbie Downer act got old a long time ago.

Investors got all excited yesterday by talk coming out of Europe that the still-under-construction European Stability Mechanism, a warehouse full of bailout cash, could just straight-up buy sovereign debt. That would make life much easier for countries like Spain, which had to borrow more money this morning at fresh record-high interest rates. High borrowing costs will make it harder for Spain and other countries like it to survive in the long run. The ESM, which isn't even fully funded yet, could solve that problem.

Yeah, and then we could all ride our unicorns to Candy Mountain, said Angela Merkel (not an exact quote). She shot so many holes in the ESM bond-buying theory you could strain spaetzle through it. It's "not up for debate," she said. "I haven't heard about such things," she said. "There is no concrete planning that I know about," she said. European markets this morning are all hangdog again over it, and over another raft of bad European economic data, including surprisingly bad German numbers. But, hey, at least Greece has a new prime minister.

Thing Two: Fed Lifts One Finger To Help Economy, No More, No Less: Federal Reserve policy makers met yesterday to talk about a sluggish economy with too-high unemployment and too-low growth, under threat from Europe's debacle and an approaching "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts, and decided to leap into action -- by maintaining the status quo, doing the absolute bare minimum they could do. Markets responded with a big thumbs-down.

Thing Three: Tear Down This IPO Market: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was a busy guy yesterday. First he found Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Then he penned a letter on behalf of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee demanding the SEC reform the market for initial public offerings, in the wake of Facebook's IPO pooch-screwing, the Wall Street Journal writes: "Mr. Issa ... said the social-networking company's steep share-price decline since its May 18 offering is a sign that investment banks are able to 'dictate pricing while only indirectly considering market supply-and-demand.'"

Thing Four: What Is This High-Speed Trading Of Which You Speak? The Commodity Futures Trading Commission had an advisory meeting yesterday to figure out just what the heck is high-frequency trading, anyway, and what should be done about it. The meeting erupted into a dispute over the definition, with warnings from high-speed trading opponents that regulators might be casting their net too wide, writes the Wall Street Journal. Regulators could agree they were hopelessly outgunned by the high-speed traders, writes the Huffington Post's D.M. Levine.

Thing Five: China's Slowdown Hits New Ugly Mark: China's factory output shrank for the eighth straight month in June, according to preliminary data, the longest such streak since the Great Recession, according to Bloomberg. Export orders fell to the lowest level since early 2009. Not exactly what the global economy needs right now, with Europe and the U.S. flailing.

Thing Six: Everybody Still Hates Big Banks: In shocking news that will shock you, big banks are the biggest source of complaints to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Bloomberg writes. The complaints were mostly about the banks' credit-card services, and each bank's share of the bitterness pie is roughly consistent with its market share in credit cards, Bloomberg writes.

Thing Seven: Insider-Trading Dragnet Widens: Stephen A. Cohen, the fabulously wealthy manager of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors, is under investigation by the SEC for insider trading, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources. Last year, two former traders at the firm pleaded guilty to insider trading charges. Neither Cohen nor the firm have been charged with any wrongdoing. The reported probe comes amid a broader federal insider-trading dragnet that has already resulted in the convictions of former hedge-fund manager Raj Rajaratnam and former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta.

Thing Seven And One Half: Shame Of Thrones: I tell you, Citizens United has ruined everything, including Game of Thrones. Just look at this Mother Jones roundup of shameful attack ads, paid for with Super PAC money.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 a.m. ET: Initial Jobless Claims for the week of 06/16

10:00 a.m. ET: Existing Home Sales for May

10:00 a.m. ET: Philadelphia Fed Index for June

10:00 a.m. ET: Conference Board Leading Economic Indicators for May

10:00 a.m. ET: FHFA Housing Price Index for April

Corporate Earnings:

After Market Close:


Heard On The Tweets:

@goldfarb: New metaphor: Bernanke is saving the helicopters until we are falling off the cliff.

@ezraklein: Bernanke, translated: DO YOUR JOB, CONGRESS

@kevinroose: Is Ben Bernanke the most powerful man with a beard in the world?

@JustinWolfers: When the Fed forecasts unemployment still at 7-1/2% by late 2014, and inflation below target in 2012, 2013 and 2014, it's admitting failure.

@BCAppelbaum: Put differently, the Fed is basically treating investors like children. Which seems to be working fine, as far as the stock market goes.

@FGoria: Watching Apocalypse Now. The movie, not the Eurozone scenarios.

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

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