Oct 25 2010


Monday Business Edition

H/T to letsgetitdone of Firedog Lake and Corrente for pointing out this 2 part piece by Bill Black and Randall Wray over at Huffington Post.

It’s rather long but well worth the read as is letsgetitdone’s commentary on it-

Democratic politicians profess to be puzzled about why people don’t recognize all the current Democratic Congress has done for them. But, if, in fact, they are puzzled, and not just lying about it, then this only reflects on how out of touch they are.

There is not one big issue area in which Congress has acted in the past two years where their legislative outcomes have been fair to the middle class and to working people generally. And that’s why people are so unhappy. Not because they’re stupid. Not because they’re ignorant. And not because their understanding of Washington is deficient.

It is just true that Administration and Democratic efforts in bailing out the banks, passing the stimulus bill, passing the credit card reform bill, passing its health care reform and its finreg bills, and continuing unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed, have all ended in unjust legislative outcomes. People know that. They can sense and see the basic unfairness of the system and its bias toward those who are wealthy and powerful at the expense of other Americans.

Foreclose on the Foreclosure Fraudsters, Part 1: Put Bank of America in Receivership

William K. Black and L. Randall Wray

Posted: October 22, 2010 02:08 PM

Our first proposition is this: The entities that made and securitized large numbers of fraudulent loans must be sanctioned before they produce the next, larger crisis. Second: The officers and professionals that directed, participated in, and profited from the frauds should be sanctioned before they cause the next crisis. Third: The lenders, officers, and professional that directed, participated in, and profited from the fraudulent loans and securities should be prevented from causing further damage to the victims of their frauds, e.g., through fraudulent foreclosures. Foreclosure fraud is an inevitable consequence of the underlying “epidemic” of mortgage fraud by nonprime lenders, not a new, unrelated epidemic of fraud by mortgage servicers with flawed processes. We propose a policy response designed to achieve these propositions.

This nation’s most elite bankers originated and packaged fraudulent nonprime loans that destroyed wealth — and working class families’ savings — at a prodigious rate never seen before in the history of white-collar crime. They created the worst bubble in financial history, echo epidemics of fraud among elite professionals, loan brokers, and loan servicers, and would (if left to their own devices) have caused the Second Great Depression.

Nothing short of removing all senior officers who directed, committed, or acquiesced in fraud can be effective against control fraud. We repeat: Foreclosure fraud is the necessary outcome of the epidemic of mortgage fraud that began early this decade. The banks that are foreclosing on fraudulently originated mortgages frequently cannot produce legitimate documents and have committed “fraud in the inducement.” Now, only fraud will let them take the homes. Many of the required documents do not exist, and those that do exist would provide proof of the fraud that was involved in loan origination, securitization, and marketing. This in turn would allow investors to force the banks to buy-back the fraudulent securities. In other words, to keep the investors at bay the foreclosing banks must manufacture fake documents. If the original documents do not exist the securities might be ruled no good. If the original docs do exist they will demonstrate that proper underwriting was not done — so the securities might be no good. Foreclosure fraud is the only thing standing between the banks and Armageddon.

The second piece deals with 3 objections.

Foreclose on the Foreclosure Fraudsters, Part 2: Spurious Arguments Against Holding the Fraudsters Accountable

William K. Black and L. Randall Wray

Posted: October 24, 2010 11:53 PM

Who is Guilty?

Let us deal with the “borrower fraud” argument first because it is the area containing the most erroneous assumptions. There was fraud at every step in the home finance food chain: the appraisers were paid to overvalue real estate; mortgage brokers were paid to induce borrowers to accept loan terms they could not possibly afford; loan applications overstated the borrowers’ incomes; speculators lied when they claimed that six different homes were their principal dwelling; mortgage securitizers made false reps and warranties about the quality of the packaged loans; credit ratings agencies were overpaid to overrate the securities sold on to investors; and investment banks stuffed collateralized debt obligations with toxic securities that were handpicked by hedge fund managers to ensure they would self destruct.

Macro Effects and Culpability

What is important to understand, however, is that the financial sector is largely culpable for the generation of speculative frenzy, the creation of the “financial weapons of mass destruction”, and the transformation toward financial fragility that finally collapsed in 2007. In the aftermath we lost 10 million jobs and millions of homeowners lost their homes. The “collateral damage” inflicted by the SDIs (Systemically Dangerous Institutions) is now endangering tens of millions of American families — most of whom played no role in the speculative euphoria. Almost half of American homeowners are already underwater or on the verge of going under. In short, it was Wall Street that turned our homes over to a financial casino — and so far virtually all the losses have been suffered on Main Street.

Can the Frauds be Foreclosed?

The assertion that the SDIs cannot be resolved because of their size is unsupported. Very large institutions have already been resolved both in this country and abroad. The “too big to fail” (TBTF) doctrine has always been unproven, dangerous, and counter to the law. An institution that is not permitted to fail faces obvious adverse incentive problems. It also destroys healthy competition with institutions that are not considered TBTF. It encourages risk-taking and fraud. And it subverts the law, which requires that insolvent institutions must be resolved.

Business News below.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 French govt warns strike threatens recovery

by Dave Clark, AFP

30 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government warned Monday that strikes against pension reform have cost up to three billion euros and threaten to derail France’s still fragile economy recovery.

Lawmakers are expected to sign a bill increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62 this week, but trade unions have called another strike for Thursday and ongoing protests around the country have triggered fuel shortages.

“Today, we shouldn’t be weighing down this recovery with campaigns that are painful for the French economy and very painful for a certain number of small and medium-sized businesses,” warned Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

2 Sarkozy hopes end in sight for French pension protest

by Dave Clark, AFP

Sun Oct 24, 3:38 pm ET

PARIS (AFP) – President Nicolas Sarkozy hopes to put his titanic battle to raise France’s retirement age behind him this week by signing the measure into law despite a new wave of strikes, rallies and fuel blockades.

With thousands of families heading off for school half-term holidays, and lawmakers expected to give the pensions bill their formal final approval on Wednesday, Sarkozy hopes the mass protest movement will die away.

But, with Sunday newspaper opinion polls showing the embattled president more unpopular than ever, trade unions and student bodies have declared at least two more days of action, and strikes continue in the key fuel sector.

3 Strikers restore blockade at French fuel depot


Mon Oct 25, 2:38 am ET

MARSEILLE (AFP) – The cat and mouse game between strikers and police continued in France early Monday, with dockers restoring their blockade on a big fuel depot in the south and a central depot being unblocked.

The oil depot at Fos-sur-Mer, the biggest in the south of France, was back in the hands of union members opposed to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to raise France’s retirement age, an AFP photographer said.

Some 200 demonstrators blocked off several petrol (gasoline) tankers as riot police looked on.

4 British PM launches growth and jobs strategy

by Roland Jackson, AFP

19 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday vowed to help businesses create jobs and spur growth, less than a week after his coalition government unleashed the biggest public spending cuts in decades.

“There is one question I want to answer today: Where is the growth going to come from — and where are the jobs going to come from,” Cameron said at the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

“Over the course of this parliament — and the next — I believe we can transform our fortunes,” he told the country’s biggest employers’ body, whose leader Richard Lambert has backed the cuts.

5 Singapore, Australia bourses in mega merger

by Philip Lim, AFP

30 mins ago

SINGAPORE (AFP) – The Singapore and Australian stock exchanges on Monday announced a multi-billion dollar merger that will create one of the world’s largest and most diversified financial trading hubs.

Singapore’s SGX offered 8.2 billion US dollars to take over Sydney-based ASX to form ASX-SGX Ltd in a deal combining Australia’s strength in resources with Singapore’s more international profile and robust links to the China market.

The merger is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2011 subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. ASX and SGX will remain separate legal and locally regulated entities after the combination of their operations.

6 India, Japan PMs to confirm trade pact

by Miwa Suzuki, AFP

Mon Oct 25, 2:40 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – India’s prime minister kicked off talks Monday in Japan where the population giant and the high-tech nation planned to confirm a trade pact and push efforts for civilian nuclear cooperation.

Manmohan Singh, who arrived Sunday, and his counterpart Naoto Kan were also expected to stress the warm ties linking two of Asia’s biggest democracies at a time of high diplomatic tensions between Japan and communist-ruled China.

The two premiers were due to declare the completion of talks on an economic partnership agreement, with a formal signing expected early next year, under which tariffs on 94 percent of trade would be phased out within a decade.

7 Geithner in China for talks on economic ties

by Robert Saiget, AFP

Sun Oct 24, 12:43 pm ET

BEIJING (AFP) – US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner held talks with his Chinese counterpart Sunday on economic ties amid tensions over China’s currency, which Washington believes is undervalued.

Geithner met Vice Premier Wang Qishan in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao a day after a Group of 20 finance ministers meeting wrapped up in South Korea.

Washington has long argued that China’s currency, the yuan, is being kept grossly undervalued in order to help Chinese exporters.

Beijing counters that loose US monetary policy is driving down the dollar and causing a wave of capital to flood emerging markets in search of higher yields.

8 EU leaders wary of plan to re-open Lisbon treaty

by Roddy Thomson, AFP

Sun Oct 24, 8:20 am ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – A fractious European Union summit looms this week as the bloc heads for a hard hurdle — a fresh and risky rewrite of its treaty demanded by France and Germany to shore up the euro.

Leaders of the 27-nation bloc face the challenge at a two-day summit starting Thursday to turn the lessons of the 2008-2009 economic crisis into hard and fast rules tightening debt and deficit discipline.

But a controversial Franco-German proposal issued days ago, denounced by many as a “diktat”, calls for the rules to be enshrined in a new draft of the hard-fought Lisbon treaty, which came into force only last December after eight years of tough talks and failed referenda.

9 Rio targets Australia iron ore after BHP bid lapse

by Amy Coopes, AFP

Sun Oct 24, 5:57 am ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – Mining giant Rio Tinto said it is focused on a massive ramp-up of its Australian iron ore operations Sunday, following the “disappointing” collapse of a lucrative tie-up with rival BHP Billiton

Rio chief Tom Albanese said both companies had done “everything we could” to get the regulatory approval necessary to merge their iron ore projects in the mineral-rich Pilbara region — a deal they ultimately abandoned on Monday.

“Once we heard from the regulators we both recognised this is just getting too hard so we unfortunately — because I’m disappointed — terminated that agreement this week,” Albanese told ABC television.

10 Greek PM vows ‘no new cuts’


Sun Oct 24, 9:32 am ET

ATHENS (AFP) – Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou promised Sunday that the revival of the country’s ailing economy would require no new pay cuts and tax hikes after bringing in deeply unpopular austerity measures.

“Whatever happens, there will be no additional burdens on salary earners and pensioners, and no rise in tax rates beyond what we have pledged,” Papandreou wrote in an article in To Vima daily, two weeks before his Socialist party faces the electorate in local polls.

“Everybody, both inside and outside Greece, must understand that the sacrifices made by the Greek people are unprecedented,” the premier wrote.

11 China protecting strategic interests with rare earths policy

by D’Arcy Doran, AFP

Sun Oct 24, 6:07 pm ET

XIAMEN, China (AFP) – China’s restrictions on exports of rare earths are aimed at maximising profit, strengthening its homegrown high-tech companies and forcing other nations to help sustain global supply, experts say.

China last year produced 97 percent of the global supply of rare earths — a group of 17 elements used in high-tech products ranging from flat-screen televisions to iPods to hybrid cars — but is home to just a third of reserves.

The United States and Australia have large reserves, 15 and five percent respectively, but stopped mining them because of cheaper Chinese competition and domestic environmental concerns.

12 Fractious G20 confronts currency row, reforms IMF

by Nick Coleman, AFP

Sat Oct 23, 8:24 am ET

GYEONGJU, South Korea (AFP) – The United States won G20 backing Saturday to tackle groaning trade imbalances as the world’s biggest industrial nations vowed to avoid tit-for-tat currency devaluations.

After all-night talks among their senior officials, G20 finance ministers forged an agreement in South Korea to “refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies” and aim for “more market-determined exchange rate systems”.

South Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-Hyun said the two-day G20 meeting had laid to rest fears of a “currency war” between struggling debtors such as the United States and exporting powers such as China.

13 French families face holiday petrol shortages

by Charles Onians, AFP

Sat Oct 23, 11:57 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – French families faced fuel shortages at the start of half-term holidays Saturday, hit by strikes against raising retirement from 60 to 62 the day after the Senate backed the fiercely-contested reform.

Unions showed no sign of giving up and have vowed more protests in their months-long struggle against the bill whose passage into law expected next week the government hopes will end protests that brought millions onto the streets.

The vote late Friday all but sealed the reform, the centrepiece of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s agenda, and government expects the text to be reconciled with a lower house version before being definitively adopted on Wednesday.

14 LVMH takes 14.2% in Hermes, no takeover planned

by Marie-Noelle Blessig, AFP

Sat Oct 23, 11:59 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – LVMH, the world’s leading luxury retailer, said Saturday it had taken a 14.2 percent stake in Hermes but denied it wanted to take over the French luxury goods firm.

The company controlled by French businessman Bernard Arnault said it wanted to boost the stake to 17.1 percent at a total cost of 1.45 billion euros (two billion dollars) but was not seeking even representation on the Hermes board.

The move makes LVMH the largest Hermes shareholder after the heirs to the family share of around 70 percent.

15 G20 ministers agree global banking reform

by Jung Ha-Won, AFP

Sat Oct 23, 9:59 am ET

GYEONGJU, South Korea (AFP) – G20 finance ministers Saturday agreed tougher rules for big financial firms blamed for the global economic crisis as they tackled the problem of companies deemed “too big to fail”.

After a two-day meeting in South Korea, G20 ministers and central bankers said in a statement that the 2008-09 crisis laid bare the need for global cooperation on banking regulation.

“We are committed to take action at the national and international level to raise standards, so that our national authorities implement global standards consistently, in a way that ensures a level playing field and avoids fragmentation of markets, protectionism and regulatory arbitrage,” they said.

16 Diamond saucepan is hot item at Moscow fair

by Anna Malpas, AFP

Sat Oct 23, 7:45 am ET

MOSCOW (AFP) – A diamond-studded saucepan is attracting plenty of interest at Moscow’s top annual luxury fair, where a vast array of sparkly bling, fast cars and enormous price tags is on offer.

Displayed in a glass case, the saucepan has a handle and lid encrusted with 270 diamonds and is decorated with 18-carat gold, brand manager Natalya Oreshkina said.

Made by German cookware brand Fissler, the utensil is not really suitable for cooking, Oreshkina added, shuddering at the idea of putting it in an oven.

17 Japan’s September export growth slowest this year

by Harumi Ozawa, AFP

Mon Oct 25, 2:12 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s exports rose at the slowest pace this year in September, data showed Monday, as a strong yen and easing growth overseas continue to threaten a faltering recovery.

While the data was better than expected, it still pointed to increasing fears that Japan’s economy is facing a slowdown after the government last week downgraded its view of the economy for the first time since February 2009.

The Japanese currency has in recent weeks traded at 15-year highs, hammering the competitiveness of the crucial export sector, despite a yen-selling intervention by authorities last month.

18 Cities hold key to healthier GDP

By Emily Kaiser, Reuters

Sun Oct 24, 3:05 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The only question about the rate of U.S. economic growth right now is which adjective fits best: sluggish or slumping.

The answer may lie in city halls and governors’ mansions across the country, where budget constraints are forcing cuts that could be putting a bigger drag on national growth than many economists currently believe.

The first look at third-quarter gross domestic product data on Friday is likely to show the economy expanded at a 2.0 percent annualized pace, according to the consensus view of economists polled by Reuters, slightly faster than in the second quarter but still not robust enough to put a dent in high unemployment.

19 G20 inks pact to avert trade war

By David Lawder and Yoo Choonsik, Reuters

Sun Oct 24, 11:47 pm ET

GYEONGJU, South Korea (Reuters) – The Group of 20 major economies agreed on Saturday to shun competitive currency devaluations but stopped short of setting targets to reduce trade imbalances that are clouding global growth prospects.

At a meeting in South Korea, G20 finance ministers recognized the quickening shift in economic power away from Western industrial nations by striking a surprise deal to give emerging nations a bigger voice in the International Monetary Fund.

A closing communique contained no major policy initiative after a U.S. proposal to limit current account imbalances to 4 percent of gross domestic product, a measure aimed squarely at shrinking China’s surplus, failed to win broad enough backing.

20 Dollar drops and commodities jump on G20 baby steps

By Kevin Plumberg, Reuters

Mon Oct 25, 3:15 am ET

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The dollar dropped on Monday after a Group of 20 meeting produced enough agreement despite discordant policies to keep the status quo on the trade of selling the U.S. currency and buying stocks and commodities such as copper.

Major European stock markets were up shortly after opening with the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3) index 0.40 percent higher.

While the G20 meeting did not reach a consensus on details such as numerical targets for a country’s economic imbalances, the group found common ground on the need for more “market determined” exchange rates and concluded with a shift in power to developing economies in the International Monetary Fund — enough to avert an all-out currency war, for now.

21 Stocks may dance to big swings, earnings

By Angela Moon, Reuters

Sun Oct 24, 12:06 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks could see big swings to the downside this week on any remotely “bad” news since volatility indexes are at levels considered too low.

Investors also will face a blizzard of earnings, which many analysts believe will continue to support the rally that began early this month. But any disappointments in either earnings or outlooks could, of course, trigger a sharp sell-off.

What’s more, the market is likely to continue to garner support from investors’ hopes that the Federal Reserve will take more steps to stimulate the economy, in what is known as “quantitative easing” or “QE2.” The Fed is expected to unveil its initial commitment under QE2 at its November 2-3 meeting.

22 Geithner says China engaged on forex: report


Sun Oct 24, 8:10 am ET

GYEONGJU, South Korea (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said China will continue to move toward exchange rate flexibility and is now actively engaged on global foreign exchange issues.

Geithner, in an interview with Bloomberg Television after Group of 20 finance leader meetings concluded here on Saturday, said China views a higher yuan rate versus the dollar as in Beijing’s interest because it does not want the U.S. Federal Reserve to control its monetary policy.

“They’re an independent country, a large economy. They need the flexibility to run their policies in a way that makes sense for China,” Geithner said.

23 Regulators close seven more banks in U.S.


Fri Oct 22, 9:32 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said on Friday that U.S. regulators closed seven more banks, bringing the total so far this year to 139.

The biggest was Hillcrest Bank of Overland Park, Kansas, which had approximately $1.65 billion in total assets and $1.54 billion in total deposits.

Regulators also closed First Arizona Savings, Scottsdale, Arizona; First Suburban National Bank, Maywood, Illinois; First National Bank of Barnesville, Barnesville, Georgia; Gordon Bank, Gordon, Georgia; Progress Bank of Florida, Tampa, Florida; and First Bank of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida.

24 U.S. foreclosure mess chills investors, clouds market

By Helen Chernikoff, Reuters

Fri Oct 22, 2:59 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors who have been snapping up foreclosed homes are backing off in the wake of the U.S. foreclosure fiasco, driven by sagging inventory and fears over legal title, and some economists say the trend could hurt the overall housing market.

With foreclosed properties accounting for a large portion of housing sales, and investors accounting for a large portion of buyers — particularly in some key markets with very high foreclosure rates — the implications for the broader economy could be serious.

Investors who would buy, rehabilitate and then sell or rent foreclosures were playing a “huge role,” in helping to clear the market, said housing economist Tom Lawler.

25 Singapore bourse makes $8.3B offer for ASX

By ALEX KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 18 mins ago

SINGAPORE – The Singapore Exchange Ltd. said Monday it is making a $8.3 billion cash and shares takeover offer for the operator of the Australian bourse, aiming to vault from second-tier stock market to leading Asian finance center.

The combined exchange company would be the world’s fifth-largest by market value and rank as the second-largest stock market in Asia by number of listed companies, the two exchanges said in a joint statement. By other measures it would still rank behind Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The deal aims to give both exchanges a better chance of prospering amid increased competition within Asia and as cross-border trading platforms like Chi-X Europe usurp the dominance of established stock exchanges.

26 Focus on global currency pact turns to enforcement

By KELLY OLSEN, AP Business Writer

1 hr 17 mins ago

SEOUL, South Korea – Facing the risk of a dangerous trade war, top finance officials from the world’s leading rich and developing nations looked each other in the eye and vowed they wouldn’t use their currencies as economic weapons to boost exports.

The agreement the members of the Group of 20 reached the past weekend in South Korea, though vague on enforcement and long on promises, was hailed Monday by officials and analysts as a step forward in defusing tensions.

Still, it could turn out to be nothing more than a symbolic handshake unless the disparate forum that has become the board of directors for the global economy after the 2008 financial crisis can act on its words and build a viable enforcement mechanism.

27 Employers looking at health insurance options

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer

Mon Oct 25, 4:12 am ET

WASHINGTON – The new health care law wasn’t supposed to undercut employer plans that have provided most people in the U.S. with coverage for generations.

But last week a leading manufacturer told workers their costs will jump partly because of the law. Also, a Democratic governor laid out a scheme for employers to get out of health care by shifting workers into taxpayer-subsidized insurance markets that open in 2014.

While it’s too early to proclaim the demise of job-based coverage, corporate number crunchers are looking at options that could lead to major changes. Gov. Phil Bredesen, D-Tenn., said the economics of dropping coverage are “about to become very attractive to many employers, both public and private.”

28 Fiat CEO: We’d be better off without Italy

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 16 mins ago

ROME – Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne says the tradition-laden Italian automaker would be better off without Italy and its balky unions, provoking an angry reaction Monday from some labor and government officials.

Fiat has been in tense negotiations with unions over its plan to shut down a factory in Sicily next year. The company has also said it wanted to move back production of one of its models from Poland to Italy, but in exchange for labor concessions that one union rejected.

Fiat, which controls U.S.-based Chrysler LLC, has recently raised its 2010 forecasts, and Marchionne said that trading profit would be at least euro2 billion. But of that profit, he said, “not one euro … comes from Italy.”

29 As species rebound, skippers bemoan ‘underfishing’

By JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press Writer

Mon Oct 25, 2:10 am ET

BOSTON – Tales of huge haddock hauls were a few of the fish stories that came with the boat Chris Brown bought last year from a Canadian. To Brown, they were stories of missed opportunity.

The previous owner told Brown that for years the vessel trolled the edge of an area closed to U.S. fishermen for conservation. Because no one told the fish the Canadians hadn’t signed on, the fish grew undisturbed in U.S. waters, then swam east into the nets of waiting Canadians.

“They were incredibly grateful for our conservation efforts,” Brown, of Point Judith, R.I, said dryly.

30 Online TV spats mean fewer free shows on Web

By RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer

2 hrs 33 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – Broadcasters took a big step toward eliminating free TV shows on the Web after they blocked access to their programming online this month to enforce their demands to be paid.

Recent actions by Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS in two separate fee disputes suggest that after a few years of experimenting with free, ad-supported viewing, broadcasters believe they can make more money from cable TV providers if they hold back some programming online.

That could mean new limits on online viewing are coming: Broadcasters might make fewer of their shows available to begin with, or delay when they become available – say, a month after an episode is broadcast, rather than the few hours it typically takes now.

31 Tribune Co. CEO resigns, new bankruptcy plan filed


Sat Oct 23, 1:21 am ET

WILMINGTON, Del. – Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels resigned Friday amid tales of raunchy behavior as the company looked to shift attention back to its efforts to emerge from bankruptcy protection. Hours later, the company filed its latest reorganization plan in court.

Michaels’ departure comes at a pivotal time for the troubled media company. After nearly two years operating under bankruptcy protection, Tribune Co. is drawing up a reorganization plan that it hopes a federal judge will approve before the end of the year.

Michaels, 58, joined Tribune Co. three years ago following an ill-fated $8.2 billion buyout engineered by real estate mogul Sam Zell in 2007. Michaels became Tribune Co.’s CEO late last year. Michaels, a former radio disc jockey, won Zell’s trust as CEO of a radio broadcast company that Zell owned, Jacor Communications.

32 7 banks closed in Fla., Ga., Ill., Kan., Ariz.

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

Fri Oct 22, 9:48 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Regulators on Friday shut down a total of seven banks in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas and Arizona, lifting to 139 the number of U.S. banks that have fallen this year as soured loans have mounted and the economy has sputtered.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over the banks, the largest of which by far was Hillcrest Bank, based in Overland Park, Kan., with $1.6 billion in assets.

A newly chartered bank subsidiary of Boston-based NBH Holdings Corp. was set up to take over Hillcrest’s assets and deposits. The new subsidiary is called Hillcrest Bank N.A.

33 Gone from NPR, Williams begins bigger role on Fox

By BRETT ZONGKER, Associated Press Writer

Sat Oct 23, 7:28 am ET

WASHINGTON – As listeners and angry citizens complained to NPR and public radio stations across the country over the firing of Juan Williams, the news analyst kept up his own criticism of his former employer as he began a bigger role with Fox News Channel.

As the guest host Friday night of “The O’Reilly Factor,” Williams, who was axed for saying he gets nervous on a plane when he sees Muslims, mentioned several remarks made by other NPR commentators that didn’t result in firings.

“My comments about my feelings supposedly crossed this line, some line, somewhere. That crossed the line?” Williams said. “Let me tell you what you can say on National Public Radio without losing your job.”

34 Health insurers help GOP after dalliance with Dems


Sat Oct 23, 4:46 am ET

WASHINGTON – Health insurers flirted with Democrats, supported them with money and got what they wanted: a federal mandate that most Americans carry health care coverage. Now they’re backing Republicans, hoping a GOP Congress will mean friendlier regulations.

They may get more than they’re wishing for.

The so-called individual mandate has provoked tea party conservatives, who see it as an example of big government interference in personal decisions. Now Republican candidates are running on platforms that include repealing the broader health care law. And attorneys general from some 20 states – mainly Republicans – are challenging the mandate as unconstitutional.

35 Burned Calif. mall hopes to reopen for holidays

By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 22, 7:56 pm ET

ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in a Sacramento suburb Friday after part of a regional mall was consumed by an arson fire that collapsed portions of the roof, destroyed 20 stores and caused at least $6.5 million in damage.

Yet city officials said unburned sections of the upscale Westfield Galleria at Roseville could reopen within weeks, in time for the holiday shopping season.

“I think you’re going to be surprised,” said Roseville city manager Ray Kerridge. “They’ve got to be online by Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally starts major holiday sales. The mall draws shoppers from a large portion of Northern California and generates $3.2 million in annual sales taxes for the city of nearly 116,000.

36 Shuttered Texas food plant awaits results from FDA

By BETSY BLANEY and PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press Writers

Fri Oct 22, 6:37 pm ET

SAN ANTONIO – The results of tests done at a Texas food processing company that was shuttered by state health authorities after contaminated celery was linked to four deaths will likely come next week, a Food and Drug Administration official said Friday.

Sherri McGarry of the FDA said the analysis of samples taken by the federal agency at SanGar Produce & Processing Co. on Oct. 15 isn’t complete. She did not know a specific day when the results would be available.

The company had hoped to receive the FDA’s results as early as Friday.

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