Money Matters - Simplified


These Underdogs Are No Dogs

Short-sellers and hedge funds may be shadowy, but sometimes they are the smartest ones in the room. They've done their homework, and they're willing to bet their capital against the crowd -- an investing strategy that can be as lucrative as it is contrarian.

Markets mixed at the close

New York -- U.S. markets closed mixed Thursday after the U.S. Department of Labor reported first-time jobless claims fell by 17,000 in the week ending Dec. 4.

As expected, the Bank of England left its overnight lending rate unchanged at 0.5 percent Thursday. The leading index in Britain rose 0.4 percent in October, the Conference Board said.

In most of Asia and Europe markets rose. The dollar index, a pro-rated measure of the greenback against six major currencies, rose 0.32 percent to 80.26, climbing for the third consecutive trading session.

ECB says European banks still vulnerable

Frankfurt, Germany -- The European Central Bank said Thursday banks in Europe remain vulnerable due to sovereign debt issues, but they are healthier than six months ago.

In a biannual report on Europe's banks, the ECB said, "The overall economic and financial situation is still fraught with risks for financial stability.

"The main source of concern stems from the interplay between sovereign debt problems and vulnerabilities in segments of the euro area banking sector," the central bank said.

Economic growth, however, "is expected to further strengthen its (the banking sector's) resilience and profitability in the period ahead," the ECB said.

10 Things I Wish WikiLeaks Would Release

 Each morning, the world is greeted with new, fascinating, and potentially very dangerous disclosures on the WikiLeaks website. Abuzz with the possibility of what might be next and whose names might be exposed, politicos and plebeians alike are hooked.


Banks fail to pass on business loan funds

Brussels -- Billions of dollars in funding intended to help small businesses in Europe were held up by banks, a watchdog group said Wednesday.

European Union finance ministers approved the $20 billion aid for small businesses as credit began to dry up in 2008, the EUobserver reported.
But a watchdog group, Bankwatch, based in the Czech Republic, said the European Investment Bank has only handed out 74 percent of the funds to commercial banks and that only 69 percent of what was disbursed was distributed through small business loans.

Commercial banks, the figures indicate, held onto half of the $20 billion funds that targeted small businesses.

China lends support to grain futures

Chicago -- Grain futures closed higher Wednesday on the Chicago Board of Trade as China encouraged banks to increase lending for grain purchases.

Corn was up 10 1/4 to up 10 3/4, soybeans were up 16 to up 18 1/4, wheat was up 4 to up 5 1/2 and oats were up 1/2 to up 3/4.

Corn futures found support from China with the dollar index flat, falling 0.06 percent. Wheat futures lost ground to corn and soybeans as Tunisia rejected bids for a 25,000 metric ton tender. Beneficial rain in Argentina reportedly will encourage increased soybean planting, but concern over grain shortfalls in China pulled soybean futures higher before the Thanksgiving break.

The prices:

Fed orders second round of stress tests

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would put 19 large U.S. banks through a second round of stress tests.

The banks were told to submit financial plans early next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ohio: No foreclosure 'do-over' for banks

Columbus, Ohio -- Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said resubmitting affidavits on foreclosures would not help banks dodge responsibility on fraudulent paperwork.

In two letters, one sent to large U.S. lenders and one sent to judges in Ohio, Cordray warned, "It is not acceptable for a party who believes they submitted false court documents to merely replace those documents," The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
In a letter to Wells Fargo & Co., Cordray wrote, "Wells Fargo and any other banks are not simply allowed a 'do-over.'"

EU reviews bank bailout plan

Brussels -- The European Commission said it is reviewing a plan to have banks pay fees to offset future financial industry bailouts in the European Union.

EU Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michael Barnier said, "No bank should be too big to fail or too interconnected to fail," the EUobserver reported Thursday.

"We need a clear framework which ensures authorities throughout Europe are well prepared to deal with banks in difficulty and handle possible bank failures in an orderly manner," he said.

Under the proposal, international banks headquartered in Europe would be taken over by a series of "resolution colleges" comprised of bank regulators.

White House refuses blanket ban on foreclosures

The White House has declined to impose a nationwide ban on foreclosure following concerns about its possible effects on the recovery process going on in the housing sector.