Easy Street: April 8

Easy Street is Marketplace's morning roundup of the most interesting news stories and commentary about Wall Street, Washington and the world beyond.

Top Story

King of Anything: Everyone is a captive audience to the federal government's bickering over $7 billion, which could shave off a small percentage of U.S. GDP according to Jefferies. Politico's Morning Money also provides some fun historical perspective: colorful moments in shutdowns.

Related: Why don't other countries have government shutdowns? Foreign Policy explores what's up with America.

Banking

Too Big to Solve: The Dodd-Frank financial reforms actually encourage banks to get bigger than too big to fail, argues Karen Weise in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Achtung Banker: European banks, on the other hand, will be subjected to much more stringent tests of how strong they are.

Today in Jamie Dimon: Big cash bonuses are back at JP Morgan for the first time since the financial crisis, notes FINS' Kyle Stock after looking at the bank's federal filings.

Related: CEO Jamie Dimon got a 51% raise. But then, JP Morgan is also enormously profitable.

Baby Bankers: DealBook's Kevin Roose takes an interesting look at New York City high school students who are studying mergers and acquisitions, just like real live bankers. Most of them seem to want to open bake shops rather than structure CDOs.

The Tech Boom
Technology mergers and acquisitions are up 100%, according to Thomson Reuters. The two hottest sectors seem to be semiconductors and IT consulting.

Investing

Golden: Gold hit a new record high (again) because the markets are worried about inflation.
Related: Yesterday, Marketplace explained why the European Central Bank is panicked about inflation, while the Fed is not touching rates until we get more people in the workforce.

Stock Markets

A World Without IPOs: In a shutdown, the SEC won't be able to accept registrations for IPOs or other securities offerings, says John Carney at CNBC's NetNet.

Private Property: The SEC is reportedly considering ways to make it easier for companies like Facebook and Twitter to raise money in private markets without going public. The unacknowledged downside: if Facebook and Twitter aren't public, they don't have to disclose very much information about their business. Do investors really know what they are getting into when they invest?

Blame-shifting: Bernie Madoff, from prison, is still cycling through self-absolving narratives for his destructive Ponzi scheme. He already discarded the possibility that he's a sociopath with the help of his prison therapist; now he tells the FT in full Dostoyevskian manner that banks and regulators should have known what he was up to. Banks and regulators disagree.

Wall Street and Your Money

Retail Sales: BlackRock, the giant fund manager that is currently managing much of Uncle Sam's bailout money, wants to cut out the middleman: the firm is thinking of creating mutual funds for regular investors.

Rent-a-Broker: Several firms offer "portfolios to go" to help individual investors manage their retirement savings and college plans by offering brokers who cater to "self-directed investors."

Trimming hedges
: John Waggoner at USA Today talks about how individuals can use the same investing strategies as hedge funds. Tread carefully.

The Washington Matrix

Start your lobbying engines: Sheila Bair, who heads the FDIC, will step down on June 30. Congressman Barney Frank said it's "pretty clear" that her No. 2, Martin Gruenberg, will be nominated to take over.

Today in Questioning the Direction of Humanity

Email scams: Do you think email scams just happen? No! They are hard work.

Around the Web

Thanks to The Reformed Broker for our second shoutout. He runs a quality blog.

Erin Griffiths has only been writing for AdAge for one week but she already got a mention of Hollywood superagent Ari Emmanel (the model for Jeremy Piven's character in Entourage) in her first story.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.

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