A record-setting $13 billion settlement could be announced as early as today between J.P. Morgan Chase and the U.S. Justice Department. It would resolve multiple accusations and investigations of alleged bad behavior relating to mortgages and mortgage-backed bonds. These were pumped into the financial markets before the housing bubble burst -- both by J.P. Morgan Chase, and by Washington Mutual, the failing savings-and-loan that J.P. Morgan bought with government encouragement in the midst of the financial crisis.
The Dow is flirting with 16,000 again today and the S&P 500 flirting with 1,800. The S&P is up 29 percent in the last year and that's been the cause of some hyperventilating -- even though that measure of the stock market is up less than 3 percent a year on average since the peak before the great financial crisis.
This summer, residents of Chicago’s far southeast side noticed mountains of black dust growing in one corner of the neighborhood. It’s petroleum coke -- pet coke for short. That's what gasoline refineries produce as a byproduct of refining gasoline. It’s full of carbon, sulphur and heavy metals.