The chairman of Barclays of London is quitting. The bank said today it's launching an independent investigation into the role of Marcus Agius in a interest-rate manipulation case. Last week the bank settled that case for the equivalent of $453 million. Twenty banks are under investigation for colluding on an interbank rate that affects loans around the world. Some British politicians are suggesting its time for Barclays' CEO to also step down.
There's news this morning that folks who do the ordering at factories are increasingly wary. The Markit U.S. Purchasing Managers Index was a disappointment, its worst showing since late 2010.
Wall Street professionals get criticized for thinking too short term , sometimes selling off a so-called "investment" a fraction of a second after buying it. So as a former history major, may I salute Michael Hartnett, chief Gglobal equities strategist at Bank of America. Hartnett's research report is called "The LONGEST Pictures" -- in which he takes a deep dive into, among other things, how the British bond market performed during the American Revolution. BusinessInsider.com looked at Hartnett's data and points out a spike in British interest rates at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Makes sense, when you think about it.
For the millions of Americans who lived to regret the mortgage they got stuck with, here's a steamy mug of schadenfreude. When Bank of America bought troubled mortgage lender Countrywide it seemed like a steal. Five years later, Countrywide has cost BofA about $40 billion in home loans gone bad, settlements with states, and legal fees. The Wall Street Journal quotes a University of North Carolina finance professor calling the Countrywide purchase "the worst deal in the history of American finance." Really? "Hands down," he says.
If you're feeling just a teeny, tiny bit of jet lag this morning, you can blame it on the "leap second" that was added to the world's official time over the weekend. World timekeepers do that every so often to keep the our atomic clocks in sync with the earth's rotation. It seems harmless, but in computer code every second really does count. A number of websites like Reddit and Gawker had technical problems related to the adjustment.
The European consortium that makes Airbus airliners has announced a $600 million assembly plant in Alabama. The factory will eventually employ a thousand people in the Mobile area and within five years could turn out four A320 planes a month. The 320 is a short to medium haul plane that will be equipped with a new, especially fuel-efficient set of engines.
The price of oil this morning fell below $84 a barrel, partly a snap backward after the big jump late last week when European leaders brought some stability to their financial system.
Finally -- it's the first weekday of a new fiscal year in many places, which means new laws go into effect today all around the country. In New York, the Dignity for All Students makes a "bullying-free" environment a right for all elementary and secondary students. Among other things, each school must appoint an anti-bullying coordinator. Massachusetts adds transgendered people as a protected class, in terms of the state's employment, housing, credit and hate crimes laws.
Indiana bans smoking in all public places. Arizona requires recycling for the first time for businesses, schools and apartment buildings. And in Seattle, single-use plastic shopping bags become illegal. It's a victory for the "bag-monsters," advocates draped in plastic bags who promoted the ban on YouTube and elsewhere. Retailers are allowed to use up their existing inventory, and there are exceptions for things like flowers, dry-cleaning and take-out food. In other words, the bag ordinance still has a few holes in it.