08/24/2012 07:44 am ET Updated Aug 24, 2012

Seven And A Half Things To Know: Regulators Scramble To Find New Way To Rein In Wall Street

Mark Gongloff is off the newsletter this morning. So today's 7.5 Things are brought to you by Jillian Berman.

Thing One: Regulators Scrambling For New Plan: After regulators backed down from their initial plan to rein in a practice that critics say is partially responsible for the 2008 financial crisis, they’re scrambling to find a plan B. Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Schapiro said Wednesday night that her agency would stop trying to change the rules for money market funds. After the announcement, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and others started looking for alternative ways to curb the popular funds, The New York Times reports.

The SEC’s decision to drop its plan to change the rules came after three commissioners blocked a proposal by Schapiro that had been in the works for four years, a move former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt called a “national disgrace,” according to Bloomberg.

Why did the commissioners decide to stop a plan that might help to prevent another financial meltdown? For one of the commissioners -- a former mutual fund executive -- Schapiro’s decision to give Congress a report on the risk of money market funds, which didn't exactly jive with Wall Street, was the straw that broke the camel's back, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Thing Two: Gawker Dumps Documents, Things Get Awkward For Romney: America, or at least the American financial media, is obsessed with Mitt Romney’s money. So when Gawker dropped about 950 pages worth of documents about Romney’s investments after he left Bain Capital, the internet buzzed with excitement.

The documents may not have been as exciting as many had hoped (or as enlightening as more tax returns from Romney would be) but they offer insight into the dark, mysterious world that is Romney’s finances, including links to some businesses that aren’t exactly in line with the beliefs of the Mormon church, as well as a tie to Las Vegas Sands, the embattled casino company owned by famed Republican donor Sheldon Adelson.

Hours after the document drop, Romney took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to defend his time as CEO of Bain. Of his controversial tenure at the private equity firm, he writes: "The lessons from that time would help me as president to fix our economy, create jobs and get things done in Washington."

Thing Three: Angela Merkel Will Never Back Down. Ever: In not-so-surprising news, German chancellor and austerity lover Angela Merkel says she will be taking a hard line on Greece’s bailout package. Ahead of talks with Greece’s Prime Minister, Merkel said she and Francois Hollande, the president of France, will encourage Greece to reform in a way that “demands a lot from the people,” according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, a top lawmaker in Merkel’s conservative party said neither the timing or the content of Greece’s bailout package is up for negotiation, according to Reuters.

Thing Four: Facebook IPO Continues To Ruin People's Lives: It’s rough out there for those affiliated with Facebook’s disastrous IPO. UBS criticized a plan by Nasdaq to offer $62 million to investors who lost out during Facebook’s public debut because of glitches on the exchange, calling it “inadequate," according to Reuters. UBS may have reason to be a little miffed, the bank claims it lost more than $350 million due to the glitches.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley-run mutual funds have disproportionately high investments in Facebook, putting investors at risk of losing big time due to the social network’s stock drop since its IPO in May, the Wall Street Journal reports. Though Morgan Stanley-run mutual funds invest in other technology companies, the bank was the lead underwriter for Facebook’s IPO, which may have influenced decisions about the mutual funds.

Thing Five: Samsung-Apple Fight Ends Somewhere: We got one verdict Friday in the Samsung-Apple lawyer, er, patent war, and it’s kind of a tie. A South Korean court ruled that both companies infringed on each other’s patents, according to the Associated Press, and banned them from selling certain products in the country, including Apple’s iPad 1 and 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S2. Neither country gained an edge in the battle, which is being waged in nine countries, but the decision may hint at what’s to come in future cases, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Thing Six: HSBC May Settle Those Awkward Money Laundering Charges: HSBC might just settle those pesky allegations of money laundering, according to Bloomberg. The bank, which is under investigation by regulators over claims it laundered money from countries like Sudan and Iran, is in settlement talks. The deal may come as early as September, but it’s progress was likely also slowed after a New York state regulator accused Standard Chartered bank of laundering money from Iran. If HSBC settles, it would follow in the mold of Standard Chartered, which reached an agreement earlier this month.

Thing Seven: We Didn't Really Recover: Some recovery. Americans are taking home less money today than they did when the recovery technically started in June 2009, according to data from Sentier Research cited by The New York Times. The group that suffered the most: Americans nearing retirement. Thanks to declining home values, many Americans may not be able to spend their golden years on a golf course in Florida.

Thing Seven And A Half: Armstrong Maybe Did Do That Whole Doping Thing: It looks like professional cycling just got a lot less interesting. Lance Armstrong, the winner of seven Tour de France titles and the only cycler most people have heard of, dropped his challenges to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s claims that he took performance enhancing drugs to win the titles. The decision means he’s banned from cycling for life. He’ll be stripped of his wins as well.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 a.m. ET: Durable Goods Orders for July

Corporate Earnings:


Heard On The Tweets:

@BorowitzReport: I fear that Paul Ryan's extremist views about rape & abortion will distract us from his extremist views about Social Security & Medicare.

@zerohedge: Pew actually had to do a survey to discover that there is no middle class left in the US?

‏@mattyglesias: In fact it's obvious that a "nobody can move to Chicago" law would devastate the Chicago economy.

@danprimack: I've had most of the "Bain files" Gawker published for a while. didn't publish them because there's really not much of interest in 'em

‏@moorehn: I love you @danprimack, as you know, but this is so misguided I don't know where to start.

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

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