08/01/2012 07:47 am ET

Rest Of Earth Encourages Europe To Get With Program: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Thing One: Earth To Europe: Europe is sort of like Private Pyle in "Full Metal Jacket," the incompetent oaf that gets the whole platoon in trouble. In this case, that platoon is the rest of planet Earth.

The rest of the planet can't beat Europe with bars of soap, unfortunately. So instead it gently encourages the continent to polish its boots properly, put away the jelly donut and "be more forceful and creative" in dealing with its giant debt crisis, as Tim Geithner did yesterday. It convenes panels of deep-thinking economists to use "PowerPoint presentations and not a little guile" to propose fixes to European leaders, The New York Times writes.

All the while, Europe's interminable crisis is a drag on economic growth around the world. China, India and Japan all reported disappointing data this morning that reflected Europe's mess, the Financial Times writes. Back in the USA, the Federal Reserve is confronted with nervous companies that apparently pull their heads into their shells at the first sign of trouble, according to a Bloomberg story that for some reason asks Alan Greenspan for his sage advice.

As for the Fed, it wraps up its two-day policy meeting today, but is widely expected to once again to do nothing but promise that it's ready to help when it thinks it's needed -- meaning September, probably. What's the hurry, right? Well, part of the hurry is that, the longer unemployment stays high, the more damage it does to the economy's productivity. It leaves millions of people un-hire-able without re-training, and re-training workers is turning out to be much easier said than done, the Wall Street Journal writes.

Thing Two: One Less Thing: But, hey, at least Congress isn't going to have a big stupid debt-ceiling fight this year. Congressional leaders hammered out a deal to extend the government's funding until the end of March, meaning the government won't shut down as it nearly did last year. The deal does nothing about solving the "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax hikes coming at the end of the year.

Thing Three: Ed DeMarco Is An Insufferable Jerk: Federal Housing Finance Agency chief Edward DeMarco once again restated his stern opposition to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reducing the principal on underwater mortgages, as well as to puppies and the laughter of small children. This despite his own agency's finding that principal reductions could actually save the government money. DeMarco isn't buying it, citing "moral hazard" before he retreated to his lair on Mount Crumpit.

Thing Four: The One That Got Away: It's another flop for the government's "effort," if you can call it that, to hold individuals accountable for the financial crisis: A federal jury let off a former mid-level Citigroup executive, who the government had accused of knowingly selling credit derivatives stuffed with crappy subprime mortgages to gullible muppets. The jury, though, strongly encouraged the government to try harder next time, maybe with somebody a little less scapegoat-y.

Thing Five: Libor Liability: Massive European banks Deutsche Bank and UBS jacked up their estimates of how much they might have to pay in the Libor scandal, to a combined $900 million or so, the FT writes (using fancy Europe money). That neatly amounts to about twice what Barclays paid regulators in its recent settlement.

Thing Six: Money Back Guarantee: The bankruptcy trustee picking over the corpse of MF Global has some good news, though: Clients of the defunct brokerage firm may actually end up getting all their money back, the Wall Street Journal reports: "In written testimony submitted to the Senate Agriculture Committee for a hearing Wednesday, trustee Louis J. Freeh said farmers, ranchers, traders and other investors still owed an estimated $1.6 billion "eventually will be made whole," according to a copy of the testimony reviewed by the WSJ."

Thing Seven: No Money Back Guarantee: Possibly not getting its money back is Swiss bank UBS, which claims it lost a whopping $350 million in the debacle-tastic Facebook IPO. It blames Nasdaq's clumsy handling of the IPO for its loss and notes that the $62 million Nasdaq has set aside to pay damages won't quite make it whole.

Thing Seven And One Half: Gore Vidal died last night at the age of 86. The author and social critic left behind a mountain of work, including essays, plays, and novels such as "The City And The Pillar," "Myra Breckinridge" and "Burr."

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

All Day: Auto and Truck Sales for July

8:15 a.m. ET: ADP Employment Change for July

10:00 a.m. ET: ISM Manufacturing Index for July

10:00 a.m. ET: Construction Spending for June

2:15 pm ET: FOMC Rate Decision

Corporate Earnings:

Avon Products


Harley Davidson



Time Warner

Heard On The Tweets:

@ReutersJamie: a fragile jobs market, high unemployment, and a weakening economy ... so u.s consumer confidence rises. obviously.

@JustinWolfers: Today would have been Milton Friedman's 100th birthday. Whatever your politics, he was a truly brilliant intellectual.

@ObsoleteDogma: I hear Greece is asking if it can use wooden horses as ECB collateral.

@TheStalwart: So individual websites are dead. Twitter is killing itself and Facebook is collapsing. Sounds like the internet is just about over. NBC wins

@neilbarofsky: Let's be clear with the political theater. If Admin & Geithner wanted broad principal reduction, we would have it. I explain in Bailout

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

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