Barclays

A number of commentators have wondered why the rigging of LIBOR—the most widely used interest-rate in the world—hasn’t caused the uproar in this country that it’s provoked in Britain. The easy answer is that no U.S. bank has fessed up or been outed over its role in manipulating LIBOR, unlike in Britain, where Barclays has agreed to pay nearly half a billion dollars in fines and fired its top three executives.  But, never fear, there’s every indication that American banks were up to similar hijinks, and that U.S. investigators are on the case. Names will be named here soon enough.

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If you haven’t been following that other British scandal—not Murdoch, but the interest-rate scandal that made heads roll at Barclays—then you really should be. As Matt Taibbi explains, it’s a neutron-bomb of a revelation that’s caused even hardened cynics to rethink their assumptions about the banking system.

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This is the second of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read part one.) Be sure to come back Monday for the third installment, which examines just how nasty negotiations got in Congress—bruised egos, threatened careers, the works.   Workhorses It was an intimate gathering at Ted Kennedy’s home in Washington—just the senator, his colleague Max Baucus, and three senior staffers who worked with them on health care.

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How They Did It

When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.

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The wall between The Wall Street Journal’s news division and its editorial page makes for a lot of good reporting and a fair amount of cognitive dissonance as well. For example, the November 24 edition featured an article, tucked away on A14, about Israel’s response to the economic crisis. In it we learn that the Netanyahu government raised taxes, avoided traditional stimulus measures, and ruled out government bailouts for banks and bondholders.

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Worth Reading

What recession? Wages are rising. (Or are they?) First firm to participate in toxic loans progam is selected. Lehman owes about $2 billion in back taxes. Barclays shows that accounting hijinks are alive and well. Scott Sumner: the Fed caused the crisis by printing too little money. Felix Salmon gets profiled.

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