Fatster’s Roundup

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Good morning.

International Developments

? The UN General Assembly has finally approved “the first global arms trade treaty by 154 votes to three [Iran, North Korea, Syria], with 23 abstentions.”

? North Korea’s Kim Jong Un: We’re going to re-start our nuclear reactor.  UN’s Ban Ki-moon: This crisis has “gone too far”.

? “M16 ‘arranged Cold War killing’ of Congo prime minister:  Claims over Patrice Lumumba’s 1961 assassination made by Labour peer in letter to London Review of Books”.  This claim has been rejected, therefore  events surrounding Lumumba’s death remain cloaked in deep mystery.

? “Egypt Calls U.S. Criticism of Bassem Youssef Investigation a ‘Blatant Intervention’.”  (Teevee comic Youssef’s been charged with insulting President Mohammed Morsi and his religion.) The US State Dept is engaging in a verbal tit-for-tat with the Morsi regime and not just about Bassem Youssef.  More from Jon Stewart, and yet more.

International Finance

? Nourished by Austerity, “Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn goes global with political ambitions.”

? “Eurozone joblessness stays at record high“.  12% overall in February, up from 10.9% in 2012.

? Oh, how the mighty are falling.  “France’s former budget minister [in Francois Holland’s government] admits lying about secret offshore account” (€600,000 hidden for 20+ years);  “Cyprus finance minister quits after bailout concludes, investigation begins”.

Money Matters USA

? Big turn of the old revolving door as Mary Schapiro, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission joins Promontory Financial, whose founder says “Mary is an outstanding advocate for investors”.  While others are expressing some–ahem–concern,  Yves Smith lays it all out.

? Mary Jo White is now in charge at the Securities and Exchange Commission.  She previously worked for a Wall Street legal defense team, and earned $2.4m in her last year representing Jamie Dimon’s JP Morgan Chase.  Jamie described her as “the perfect choice” for the SEC position.

? “Fannie Mae swings to $17.2bn profit“.  Interesting dilemma for Congress since they want to “scale down government involvement in housing finance, but will now face a budgetary cost from lost dividends if they do.”

? Corporations love to talk about the US having the highest corporate tax rate in the world, thereby effectively obscuring the fact that “the U.S. collects less in [corporate] taxes as a percent of the total economy than every industrialized country in the world save Iceland.”

? Let’s hope this holds:  “State Surpluses Could Point to More Growth to Come“.  This is happening even in the Rust Belt.

? Factory orders in the US rose 3% in February, the most in 5 months.

? Citigroup wants to pay $590m to settle a “shareholder lawsuit accusing it of hiding tens of billions of dollars of toxic mortgage assets.”  The US district judge on the case wants lawyers on both sides to “address several issues at an April 8 fairness hearing” instead.

? “Why Mandate Disclosure [of political donations by corporations]?  Because [–gasp!–] Corporations Lie on Voluntary Political Transparency”.

? GOPers’ anti-labor temper tantrum continues in MI: they want to repeal a 1965 law guaranteeing “workers on state and public school projects are not paid below the prevailing hourly rate or benefits for construction projects” in local communities. [cont’d.]