“Preventing future acts of terrorism” is the most critical foreign-policy goal for Americans. Next: proliferation of nuclear weapons, energy supply, trade policies, etc. Fighting off Soviet tanks rumbling towards Frankfurt didn’t make the list. Yet Congress, in its infinite wisdom, is still pushing weapons designed to do just that, whether the Pentagon wants them or not.
France is in upheaval. Arguments erupt live on TV, demonstrations block the streets, strikes shut down plants, and threats of mayhem are part of the show. The problem: an economy where businesses are suffocating under an obese public sector. Ever larger budgets have been the only source of economic growth. But now that model has run aground.
The announcement couldn’t have been more glorious in crisis-struck Italy: Ferrari booked records sales and profits in 2012. Dazzling in every aspect. Not a single cloud darkened the horizon. Except in Italy where sales collapsed. And in the rest of the world, where central-bank printer ink stained the records.
Last year, the government extracted $1.1 trillion in taxes from us individual taxpayers. But now it will pay, along with the states, $429 million of our taxes to the coolest Silicon-Valley beauty queen: Facebook. In net tax refunds! Part of a vast package of juicy corporate welfare programs. Facebook isn’t just hogging our data; it’s gobbling up our money.
Spain just can’t catch a break—a horrid economy with dizzying unemployment, a prime minister and ruling party tarred by corruption, collapsing banks…. Now a political espionage scandal blew up, scattering debris and money laundering allegations far and wide.
Russia’s booming underground economy with its dizzying flows of illicit oil money is at the core of an 84-page report by Global Financial Integrity. It advises the Russian government on how to tackle this problem. But buried deep inside is a gem: the flows and amounts of Russian “black money” into and out of Cyprus.
We’ve had an endless series of products whose ingredients have been cheapened in order to maintain the price. Consumers won’t be able to taste the difference, the theory goes. So, as the horse-meat lasagna scandal in Europe is spiraling beautifully out of control, we’re now getting hit where it hurts: Maker’s Mark is watering down its bourbon.
Prime Minister Ayrault himself presided over Monday’s meeting of the National Anti-Fraud Committee. “A first for a head of government,” he said at the press conference, to hammer home just how important this was. But he wasn’t worried about run-of-the-mill fraud that might fleece an old lady of her life savings. He was worried about people not paying their taxes. And he had a remedy.
“Former employees of the SEC routinely help corporations influence SEC rulemaking, counter the agency’s investigations, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, and win exemptions from federal law.” A damning report on how Wall Street insiders rotate in and out of the SEC—until Wall Street culture and personalities dominate the agency. Regulation and enforcement become a joke. A principle called, “Regulatory Capture.”
Friday evening when no one was supposed to pay attention, Google announced that Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt would sell 3.2 million of his shares in 2013, after having already sold 1.8 million in 2012—suddenly dumping 53% of his Google shares, though he’d sold practically nothing from 2008 through 2011. And Google’s reasons don’t make sense.