08/15/2012 07:56 am ET Updated Aug 15, 2012

Seven And A Half Things To Know: Largest Money Laundering Settlement In U.S. History

Thing One: It's Settled? Well it looks like that ‘rogue’ New York regulator won this one. Standard Chartered, the British bank accused of helping Iran launder at least $250 billion in transactions, and then hiding it from regulators, will pay the New York Department of Financial Services $340 million to settle the claims. As part of the deal, the bank won’t have to appear at a hearing that was scheduled for today to show why it should keep its banking license in the state of New York.

The fine is the largest that a single U.S. regulator has ever collected in a money laundering case, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But the victory for the 10-month old DFS may complicate things for federal regulators, who are also probing Standard Chartered, The New York Times reports. The bank didn’t admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement and bank executives have maintained that the violations in question were only worth $14 million. Still, Benjamin Lawsky, the head of the DFS, said in a statement accompanying the settlement that “the parties have agreed that the conduct at issue involved transactions of at least $250 billion.”

Thing Two: Things Are Bad In Europe Again: Today in not-so-shocking news, things in the eurozone aren’t going so well. The region’s economy actually shrunk last quarter, following a period during which the economy just stood still, according to The New York Times. The news has gotten economists all doom and gloomy, with many saying the region is at a heightened risk of entering a recession.

Even Germany, which has proudly thrown around its weight as the Best Economy In The Region, suffered as GDP growth in the country slowed, according to the Wall Street Journal -- indicating that the debt crisis is spreading. One way to help ease the pain could be to boost spending and bring down interest rates in countries like Germany that can afford it, argue (sometimes) reasonable people like those running the International Monetary Fund and U.S. lawmakers. But German leader and austerity lover Angela Merkel doesn’t look to be budging.

Thing Three: Facebook Tries To Get Advertisers To Like It: Executives at big brands are wondering whether it’s worth it to advertise on Facebook and apparently Facebook is wondering the same thing, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a meeting with ad executives from companies like Walmart and Coca-Cola Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to a question about how brands will know advertising on Facebook is worth the money by saying: "That's a great question and we should probably have an answer to that, shouldn't we?" Yes, Mr. Zuckerberg, you probably should.

One option the company is testing is letting advertisers place ads in a users’ newsfeeds on smartphones and computers even if they haven’t “liked” the brand, according to Bloomberg. Currently, people using computers only see the ads on the right of their news feed, while those using smartphones can see ads in their newsfeed if they or their friends have “liked” a company. Mercifully, the new service puts a limit on how many ads can appear in a user’s newsfeed, so those photos of your best friend at a party last weekend won’t be interrupted too many times.

Thing Four: The Elusive Romney-Ryan Tax Plan: Guys, Mitt Romney and his new golden-boy running mate Paul Ryan will talk about their tax proposals when they’re good and ready, thank you very much. Ryan said in an interview with Fox News that the Romney campaign will talk about the candidates’ tax plan "in the light of day," which apparently means after the election. What we do know so far of Romney’s tax proposals is that the plan is likely to slash taxes on the wealthy, which means that ordinary folk like you and I will likely have to pay more in taxes to compensate.

Thing Five: Hospital Chain Defies Money-Losing Trend: While all the other hospitals in the country were losing money one hospital chain was raking in profits hand over fist. Giant hospital chain HCA brought home huge profits during the recession, a time when other hospitals suffered as they treated a growing number of uninsured patients, The New York Times reports. HCA’s profits not only benefitted the company itself, they were also a boon to private equity firms, which bought the chain in 2006.

How did HCA manage to bring in the big bucks? There were a lot of ways, including reducing emergency room expenses and the cost of medical staff. But one of its most successful (and unsurprisingly controversial) tactics involved upping the number of patients that the hospital said needed more care netting the company more money from Medicare.

Thing Six: Fannie And Freddie Pick A Fight With The Banks: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are apparently getting a little bit tired of holding onto banks’ bad home loans. The government-sponsored mortgage giants are increasingly searching for crappy loans that they can force lenders to buy back from them, creating a wee bit of tension with the banks, according to Reuters. The search for bad loans focuses on the period during the housing boom and the lead up to the bust -- between 2005 and 2008 -- and could mean bigger mortgage losses for banks in the coming months.

Thing Seven: Aussies Get Tough On Tobacco: It’s not really a g’day for tobacco companies looking to sell their products in Australia. The country’s highest court upheld a law passed by parliament last year that will require tobacco companies starting in December to sell cigarettes in plain packaging with no logos, Reuters reports. Instead, the packages will feature graphic images of smoking-related diseases. Yum. Countries including Britain, Canada and New Zealand are watching the measure closely and considering implementing similar rules.

Thing Seven And One Half: U.S. Reaches Nerdy Milestone: Paging all nerds. The U.S. population hit exactly 314,159,265 yesterday at about 2:29 p.m., according to the Census Bureau. If that number doesn’t seem significant to you, it’s likely because you forgot all the math you learned in high school. Here’s a refresher: 314,159,265 is Pi times 100 million.

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Heard On The Tweets:

@umairh: If you want to build a prosperous, happy, thriving society, take Paul Ryan's plan. And then do the opposite.

‏@moorehn: What is the ratio of Groupon stories to actual social and financial importance of Groupon? At least 100 to 1, right?

@JustinWolfers: I don't get liberals getting excited about David Stockman's anti-Ryan tirade in the NYT. His complaint is that Ryan isn't right wing enough.

@zerohedge: BofA's upgrade of NFLX translated: They will lose money but at least it's the best they can do

@ezraklein: I really want Paul Ryan to respond to a question about his 2011 budget by saying, "When I was young and reckless,I was young and reckless"

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

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

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the amount of money that Standard Chartered bank was accused of laundering to Iran. The bank was accused of laundering $250 billion.