Science has determined that people need to know 7.5 things per day, on average, about the world of business. You can't argue with science. Lucky for you, the Huffington Post has an email newsletter, delivered first thing every weekday morning, boiling down the day's biggest business news into the 7.5 things you absolutely need to know. And we're giving it away free, because we love you, and also science. Here you go:
Thing One: Whole World Angry At AIG, Again: If AIG were a C-list celebrity instead of a company, it would be Donald Trump. It just has a special gift for pissing people off.
The board of insurance giant AIG, which got a $182 billion government bailout during the financial crisis, meets today to hear a pitch from its former CEO, Maurice "Hank" "The Grinch" "Assclown" Greenberg, who wants AIG to join him in suing the government for violating shareholders' human rights by giving them money. AIG's board will also hear pitches from the government about why it would be out of its cotton-picking mind to join said lawsuit.
The idea that AIG is even contemplating such a lawsuit, first reported by the New York Times Monday evening, caused heads to explode all over Washington like in a David Cronenberg movie. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are said to be "furious," Politico reports. Newly minted Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called the idea "outrageous." Anonymous Obama administration officials grumbled darkly to Politico, like they do. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, MarketWatch's David Weidner suggests maybe the government could charge AIG with treason.
The truly annoying thing is that AIG's bailout terms were actually fairly cushy, and the Obama administration made them easier as time went on, notes the NYT's Peter Eavis. But this sort of tone-deafness is par for the course at AIG, notes Quartz's Matt Phillips, who guides us through the progression of AIG's "mind-melting chutzpah" since the crisis. You have probably forgotten how newly appointed crisis-era CEO Robert Benmosche dallied at his Croatian villa for the Zinfandel harvest before moseying in to work. Perhaps you have forgotten the rage you felt when you learned that the stooges at the AIG financial-products division, which brought the whole company down, and the global economy with it, were getting giant taxpayer-financed bonuses. The outrage, it burns!
Fortunately for our blood pressure, there is probably not a chance in hell that even AIG would be stupid enough to sue the government. As Dealbreaker's Matt Levine points out, the despicable Greenberg has put AIG in a tight legal spot with his lawsuit. If it ignores the suit, then it could end up getting sued by shareholders. So today's meeting is all about humoring Greenberg as he hisses on about His Precioussss, much as you'd humor the person raving on the subway platform until you can get a safe distance away.
But don't worry: There's still reason for us to be mad at AIG: They could have made this lawsuit go away a long time ago by deciding not to join it, but they have delayed, letting Greenberg carry on with it, driving up legal costs for the government. And now the whole world knows about this and is infuriated. It's AIG's special gift.
Thing Two: Fossil Fuel Boom Totally Awesome, If You Ignore That We Are Roasting Alive: Hooray, everybody, the U.S. government estimates that American oil imports will be at their lowest in 25 years next year, the Financial Times writes. It was a really smart thing, buying all those electric cars and installing all those solar panels and wind farms. Oh, wait, no. We're actually not importing oil because we're producing it here, along with fracking for natural gas.
That means we are still as dependent on fossil fuels as ever, which is starting to become a bit of a problem. Last year was the hottest on record in the U.S., according to the National Climatic Data Center. Australia, meanwhile, is so hot right now that they've had to add new colors to their heat maps. It is on track for a record year, too.
The only thing slowing down the fossil-fuel boom right now is the limit of our ability to suck it out of increasingly dangerous places, such as the Arctic. The U.S. government has opened an "urgent" review of Arctic drilling after a series of mishaps there, the New York Times writes. What we may also need is an urgent review of climate change, which represents the most serious threat to the U.S. economy today, according to economist Joseph Stiglitz.
Thing Three: Moving On: Americans have started to move again, though not nearly as much as they did before the Great Recession. New Census Bureau data show that about 3.9 percent of Americans moved to another county in 2011, up slightly from 3.5 percent in 2009 and 2010, the Wall Street Journal writes. That was still a relatively low percentage, but the highest since before the recession. Such moves are signs of a healthy job market, the Wall Street Journal writes. Unfortunately, so far it looks like moves in 2012 were at about the same pace as in 2011, another sign the job market isn't robust yet.
Thing Four: Dreamliner A Nightmare, Again: Another day, another troubling problem with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. Yesterday there was a fuel leak on a JAL 787 trying to leave Boston. A day earlier there was an electrical fire on another JAL 787 in Boston. The ginormous Dreamliner is one of the most sophisticated planes in the world, but it has been dogged by problems and delays since its "launch" in 2004.
Thing Five: Iran Is Hacking All Of The Bank Sites: If you had trouble paying your mortgage online recently, blame Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A series of recent denial-of-service attacks on online banking sites was so sophisticated that American officials and security researchers have concluded that it must have been the work of Iranians, the New York Times writes. They say Iran has been fighting back against economic sanctions and a series of viruses (at least one of which was American made) that have hit its own networks in recent years.
Thing Six: Because There Are Not Enough iPhones Already: Apple is working on rolling out a lower-end iPhone possibly later this year, Bloomberg writes. The phone might retail for between $99 and $149 and may be smaller than other iPhones. Or you could just get a 4S for the same price. Meanwhile, Tim Cook is making his second trip to China in a year, Bloomberg writes. China is Apple's second-biggest market to the U.S., but it's losing share because it's been too slow to make phones available there, Bloomberg writes.
Thing Seven: Foreclosure Settlement Holdouts Come Home: This week's resounding wrist-slap of a robosigning settlement deal was missing four key mortgage servicers: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, HSBC and Ally Financial. All four are close to reaching settlements of their own, Bloomberg writes, which could bring the total amount of money being coughed up by the settling banks closer to $10 billion. That money will be meant to help homeowners, although as the Huffington Post's Eleazar David Melendez and Ben Hallman pointed out, the banks get to decide how they help, with not a lot of oversight.
Thing Seven And One Half: The Kraken, Captured: Japanese scientists have recorded the first ghostly live images of the elusive giant squid, with the help of a submersible that emitted no visible light and made no sound. The squid they filmed was relatively small for a giant squid, only 10 feet long -- the biggest specimen ever found was 18 meters (59 feet) long. It was, however, missing two of its longest tentacles, which might have stretched it to 26 feet long, the LA Times writes. Anyway, it was amazing, and only slightly terrifying. One Japanese scientist said, "it looked to me like it was rather lonely."
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Calendar Du Jour:
Heard On The Tweets:
No WAY should the government issue a trillion-dollar coin. Think of the hassle just retooling all the vending machines!
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) January 8, 2013
Wait, so some people think that I'm a "bad idea"?Coins have feelings, people.Clinky, clinky feelings.#mintthecoin
— Boehner Coin (@BoehnerCoin) January 8, 2013
I've recently started encountering buzz words in the workplace for the first time and it's hard not to laugh at things like "best practices"
— out of material (@JucheMane) January 8, 2013
Research suggests all men watch pornography. Research went on to say, "Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duuuuuuuh..."
— Carol Hartsell (@carolrhartsell) January 8, 2013
tearing up the club right now. destroying the club. come on mom i told you i hate these sandwiches
— adam (@adamochoa) January 8, 2013
*makes a delicious dinner, leaves out one herb* This dish is thymeless.
— sreegs (@ahuj9) January 8, 2013
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.