Monday Morning Business Update

From Yahoo News Business

1 U.S. seeking up to 40 percent stake in Citigroup: report


19 mins ago

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The U.S. government may end up holding as much as 40 percent of Citigroup’s common stock, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website, citing sources familiar with the plans.

But Citigroup executives hope the talks with U.S. federal officials will result in a stake closer to 25 percent, the Journal reported.

The lender is discussing with U.S. officials a scenario in which a substantial portion of the $45 billion in preferred shares held by the U.S. government, amounting to a 7.8 percent stake in Citigroup, would convert into common stock, the newspaper said.

With Bonus Late Breaking News.

2 SEC missed numerous red flags surrounding Stanford

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

1 hr 8 mins ago

WASHINGTON – For years, there were red flags – so many they could have massed into a crimson blanket.

As with the Bernard Madoff case, the scandal surrounding billionaire R. Allen Stanford now seems clear and obvious in hindsight. Yet Stanford managed to run his alleged scheme even while the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators had him on their radar screens and investigated his businesses. Stanford wasn’t charged until last week.

From his tiny accounting firm’s office near a North London fish-and-chips shop to certificates of deposit promising outsized returns sold by a bank in Antigua, ample warning signs over the years suggested Stanford’s business wasn’t what it seemed.

3 US Airways reverses soda stance: won’t charge

By HARRY R. WEBER, AP Airlines Writer

8 mins ago

ATLANTA – In the ultra-competitive airline industry, it’s tough being out there alone as the only large network carrier to charge some passengers for soda, juice and coffee, especially in the middle of a deep economic recession that is sharply reducing demand for air travel.

US Airways is acknowledging as much, planning to announce Monday that free beverage service will resume on March 1 on board its planes.

The change, detailed in a memo to employees of the Tempe, Ariz.-based carrier sent Sunday evening by Chief Executive Doug Parker, reverses part of the a la carte business model the airline has trumpeted over the last year.

4 UAE federal govt throws Dubai financial lifeline

By ADAM SCHRECK, AP Business Writer

Sun Feb 22, 4:27 pm ET

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai’s finance department said Sunday it sold $10 billion in bonds to the United Arab Emirates’ Central Bank, alleviating some concern about the Gulf city-state’s finances, hit hard in the global financial crisis.

With the sale, the department said it will have “the necessary liquidity” to compensate for global funding sources that have dried up over the past year.

The funding agreement is part of a $20 billion long-term bond program launched Sunday.

5 Nothing but snake eyes for Atlantic City casinos

By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer

Sun Feb 22, 6:01 pm ET

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Uncertainty has always been a way of life for casinos who make their money on games of chance. But now, Atlantic City casinos are looking at their own futures with uncertainty.

Donald Trump quit as chairman of the casino company he once ran, and wants his name off the three casinos that have been synonymous with Atlantic City for decades, now that they’re in bankruptcy for the third time.

The Tropicana Casino and Resort will file for bankruptcy next month, and Resorts Atlantic City – the first casino in New Jersey – could also become the first to be foreclosed on.

6 Delphi salaried retirees fight benefit cuts

By BREE FOWLER, AP Auto Writer

Sun Feb 22, 4:47 pm ET

NEW YORK – Nancy Shade’s father and grandparents had enjoyed the security of General Motors’ benefits before they helped draw her to a job there, too. Now, the five-year breast cancer survivor is wondering how she’ll afford her own health coverage if GM’s spun-off parts maker, Delphi, terminates medical and life insurance benefits for salaried retirees.

Delphi Corp., which has been under bankruptcy protection since 2005, has asked a judge to allow it to cancel the benefits as soon as April 1, so the Troy, Mich., company can save more than $70 million a year and take more than $1.1 billion in liabilities off its balance sheet.

More than 75 Delphi Corp. retirees like Shade have written directly to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain, begging him to keep them from joining the ranks of the uninsured. Attorneys representing at least three groups of retirees have filed formal objections to the plan.

7 Truck traffic revives interest in marine shipping

By STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press Writer

Sun Feb 22, 2:11 pm ET

NORFOLK, Va. – An idea that dates to Lewis and Clark’s trek west is experiencing a rebirth thanks to the truck traffic that increasingly chokes highways: shift more of the nation’s freight burden to boats that can traverse rivers, lakes, canals and coastal waters.

Increased concerns about fuel prices and global warming in recent years have revived interest in marine highways from the Erie Canal to the Chesapeake Bay to the coastal waters off Oregon, Massachusetts and Texas.

Proponents envision further expansion of the country’s 25,000 miles of navigational waterways by making greater use of the coasts and inland routes, such as the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

8 On Wall Street, sky-high payouts may fall to Earth

By SAMANTHA GROSS, Associated Press Writer

Sat Feb 21, 5:34 pm ET

NEW YORK – With the economy in the throes of a historic meltdown, financial workers everywhere fear layoffs. But even those who keep their jobs may face a far different future than they had imagined – one without the big payouts that have long made Wall Street a beacon for the ambitious and the acquisitive.

Those finance industry workers still standing after the brutal banking collapses of the past year had to contend with a major slash in bonus pay – with many losing as much as one-third of their total compensation. Then the Obama administration imposed a pay cap of $500,000 on certain senior executives whose companies receive substantial bailout money.

Now, analysts anticipate pay will sink even further, and some question whether the shift could permanently downsize the high-flying culture of Wall Street.

9 American drilling techniques may migrate overseas

By MARK WILLIAMS, AP Energy Writer

Sat Feb 21, 2:33 pm ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio – With one eye cast toward home, giant European energy companies are investing billions in U.S. natural gas and oil fields where huge, hard-to-get reserves have been unlocked with new drilling technology.

That technology is the prize in Europe, where gas production has declined and where an international utility dispute recently left people in more than a dozen European countries shivering in unheated homes.

Europe’s natural gas supply is routed through Ukraine from Russia. Russia supplies about one-quarter of the EU’s natural gas, with 80 percent of it shipped through Ukraine. A rift between the two nations left more than a dozen European countries with little or no gas for two weeks last month.

10 Chinese utility tries to join electricity pioneers

By JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer

Sat Feb 21, 12:14 pm ET

BEIJING – As companies abroad slash spending to ride out a global slump, China’s biggest utility is pouring money into the multibillion-dollar field of electric power transmission.

State Grid Corp. says it began operation in January of a 1 million-volt commercial power line, which is much more powerful than the 765,000-volt systems used in the United States and elsewhere. It said “ultra-high voltage” transmission systems will be able to link cities to distant hydroelectric dams from Brazil to Africa.

“This is a milestone in the history of the power industry,” boasted a State Grid vice president, Lu Jian.

11 Bank rescue details key to stave off bears

By Deepa Seetharaman, Reuters

Sun Feb 22, 10:54 am ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bears could have the upper hand again this week if Wall Street fails to get assurance that major banks can be rescued without being seized by the U.S. government.

The Dow breached a six-year low in the holiday-shortened week amid mounting fears that the White House would nationalize banks, thus wiping out shareholders.

Stocks pared losses in the final hours of trading on Friday after the White House said it strongly believed in a privately held bank system.

12 UBS chairman attacked over U.S. tax fraud probe: paper

By Emma Thomasson, Reuters

Sun Feb 22, 9:42 am ET

ZURICH (Reuters) – Pressure mounted on Sunday on the chairman of UBS (UBSN.VX) (UBS.N) to step down after the Swiss bank was engulfed in a storm of criticism over its handling of a U.S. probe into tax fraud.

The Sonntag newspaper said it had surveyed the 246 members of the upper and lower houses of parliament and 23 said they wanted Peter Kurer to go, while 16 of them also thought Chief Executive Marcel Rohner should step down.

“I am disappointed by the whole UBS leadership. Communication is lacking. The top management no longer feels what moves the people. Peter Kurer should take the consequences,” Thomas Hurter from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) told the paper.

13 Bernanke to reassure help is coming for economy

By Mark Felsenthal, Reuters

Sun Feb 22, 12:04 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week will offer assurance that help is on the way for the troubled U.S. economy and may offer clues on additional steps that could be taken to halt an ever-steepening dive.

With U.S. stocks closing at 6-1/2-year lows on Friday on fears big banks will be nationalized, Bernanke will likely be pressed on government plans to clean up the financial sector when he delivers the Fed’s semiannual monetary policy report to Congress in two days of testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In addition, the Fed chief will face the challenge of making the case that the U.S. central bank, which has chopped interest rates to near zero and flooded markets with hundreds of billions of dollars, still has the ammunition to pull the economy out of its worst downturn since the early 1980s.

14 Europe says all markets must be regulated

By Matt Falloon, Reuters

Sun Feb 22, 2:20 pm ET

BERLIN (Reuters) – Europe said on Sunday it was time to get tough with tax havens and strictly oversee all financial markets as part of sweeping reforms to avoid future meltdowns.

European Union leaders met in Berlin to forge a common approach to the global economic downturn that they can take to a meeting in April of the G20, a group of rich and big emerging economies charged with reforming the rules of world finance.

They backed a doubling of funds for the International Monetary Fund, which has spent billions of dollars in recent months shoring up economies in eastern Europe and elsewhere.

15 RBS to restructure and create non-core unit: source


Sun Feb 22, 7:21 am ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Bank of Scotland is to announce a restructuring this week to create a non-core division into which unwanted assets will be placed, a banking industry source said on Sunday.

The Sunday Telegraph also said the bank would establish a new division that would sit within RBS but which will be ring-fenced from the rest of the group. RBS declined to comment.

The Financial Times newspaper reported on Saturday that RBS would also unveil up to 20,000 job losses as it reports results on February 26.

16 ING reviewing U.S. businesses, options: report

By Reed Stevenson, Reuters

Sat Feb 21, 6:40 am ET

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – ING Group (ING.AS) is gauging the implications of the U.S. bank rescue aid plan announced earlier this month for its activities there, the Dutch banking and insurance group’s next Chief Executive said in a newspaper interview on Saturday.

Shares in ING, which has already received Dutch government aid, fell to a more than 16-year low on Friday on concern it might miss debt interest payments with traders citing talk that the group could be nationalized.

“ING has major activities in America,” Jan Hommen, who will take over the group in April, told the Financieele Dagblad newspaper. “On that basis, I would like to inquire about the current U.S. aid programs.”

17 Soros sees no bottom for world financial "collapse"


Sat Feb 21, 4:19 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Renowned investor George Soros said on Friday the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.

Soros said the turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union.

He said the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September marked a turning point in the functioning of the market system.

18 Opel cannot be allowed to fail: German minister


Sun Feb 22, 2:00 pm ET

BERLIN (AFP) – The collapse of struggling General Motors’ unit Opel could cost German taxpayers up to three billion euros and it would be better to rescue it instead, Germany’s finance minster said Sunday.

If 25,000 workers at Opel and a similar number at supplier firms lost their jobs, there would be a high price to pay in terms of unemployment benefits and loss of tax revenue, Peer Steinbruck told ARD television.

“Would it not be more logical to provide aid (to the company) so that these people can continue to earn their living?” he asked.

19 Mideast’s top arms show defies cash crunch

by Ali Khalil, AFP

2 hrs 20 mins ago

ABU DHABI (AFP) – The Middle East’s biggest arms show opened on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, covering a larger area than ever in defiance of the global credit crisis that has hit the weapons-buying power of Gulf states.

From handheld stun and smoke grenades to fearsome armoured vehicles, a full range of deadly armaments is on display in the International Defence Exhibition and Conference on a site the size of around 15 football pitches.

Nearly 900 exhibitors from 50 countries are taking part in the biennial event which has expanded since the last time it was held, in 2007, with extra features including a newly-dredged area of quay for warships and naval craft.

20 Australia’s Fairfax Media reports loss


Sun Feb 22, 7:13 pm ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s second largest press group Fairfax Media on Monday reported a first half net loss of 365.3 million dollars (237.4 million US) as it wrote down the value of assets.

Fairfax, which publishes the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Melbourne, said the result for the six months ended December 28 compared with a net profit of 196.0 million a year earlier.

It included a non-cash impairment charge of 447.5 million Australian dollars as the group wrote down the values of its mastheads, licences and goodwill across all its publishing and broadcast businesses.

21 Canada asks for more about Chrysler turnaround


Sun Feb 22, 5:27 pm ET

OTTAWA (AFP) – The Canadian government requires more details about how Chrysler would turn around its Canadian operations if Ottawa is to help bail out the company, Industry Minister Tony Clement said Sunday.

“If we’re talking about Canadian taxpayer dollars, we do want to have some specifics about what exactly is going to be going on in Canada,” Clement told broadcaster CTV’s Question Period.

Chrysler was expected to submit a restructuring plan for its Canadian operations by a Friday deadline, but instead offered the same proposal previously handed to US officials, with a new cover letter.

22 Iraq invites France back to build nuclear plant


Sun Feb 22, 3:05 am ET

BAGHDAD, (AFP) – Electricity Minister Karim Wahid on Sunday invited France to help Iraq build a nuclear power plant, three decades after Paris constructed a reactor near Baghdad that was bombed by Israeli warplanes.

“We have had very good relationships with French companies,” the minister told AFP in an interview.

“I am willing to enter into contacts with the French nuclear agency and to start to build a nuclear power plant, because the future is nuclear,” he said. “This is my perspective.”

23 Banking secrecy needs to be redefined: Luxembourg


Sun Feb 22, 9:49 am ET

GENEVA (AFP) – Banking secrecy needs to be redefined, but abolishing it abruptly is not in Europe’s interest, Luxembourg’s deputy prime minister said Sunday, amid renewed debate over the concept sparked by a US tax probe of Swiss banking giant UBS.

“Old school Luxembourgers say that without banking secrecy, our country would not have gained such importance as a financial centre,” Jean Asselborn, who is also minister for foreign affairs and immigration, told the Swiss newspaper Sonntag.

“But in the 21st century, banking secrecy cannot be the only instrument with which Luxembourg drives its economy. Therefore, we need perhaps to redefine banking secrecy and little by little to expand on the advantage of competence,” he said.

24 Clinton urges China to keep buying US Treasuries


Sun Feb 22, 1:03 am ET

BEIJING (AFP) – Hillary Clinton urged China on Sunday to continue buying US Treasuries, saying it would help get the American economy moving again and stimulate imports of Chinese goods.

“By continuing to support American Treasury instruments the Chinese are recognising our interconnection. We are truly going to rise or fall together,” Clinton said at the US embassy shortly before leaving Beijing.

Clinton, wrapping up her first overseas trip as secretary of state, said continued Chinese purchases of treasuries were essential to financing the massive 787 billion dollar US stimulus plan.

Late Breaking

25 Stars give the Oscars the one-shoulder treatment


1 hr 21 mins ago

The big guns – Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet and Sean Penn among them – went with black at Sunday’s Academy Awards, but light colors and asymmetrical gowns topped the broader fashion trends.

Jolie and Brad Pitt looked very much the part of the red carpet’s golden couple at the Kodak Theatre in classic, almost retro, styles. She wore a black sweetheart-neck strapless gown by Elie Saab, accessorized with green drop earrings, and he wore a classic bow tie.

Penn, in Giorgio Armani, also perfectly matched his wife, Robin Wright Penn. Vanessa Hudgens, in a black Marchesa gown with black and white tulle flowers on the bodice and dangling platinum, diamond and vintage coral earrings by Cathy Waterman, and Zac Efron, in Dolce & Gabanna, were the next-generation supercouple.

26 Homemade Bomb in Cairo bazaar kills 1, injures 21

By OMAR SINAN, Associated Press Writer

49 mins ago

CAIRO – A homemade bomb exploded in a 650-year-old bazaar packed with tourists Sunday, killing a French woman and wounding at least 21 people, most of them foreigners.

Within an hour, police found a second bomb and detonated it safely. Security officials said three people were in custody.

“We were serving our customers as usual, and all of a sudden there was a large sound,” said Magdy Ragab, 42, a waiter at a nearby cafe. “We saw heavy gray smoke and there were people running everywhere … Some people were injured by the stampede, not the shrapnel.”

27 Fanfare as Vietnam opens first oil refinery

by Peter Stebbings, AFP

Sun Feb 22, 7:23 pm ET

DUNG QUAT, Vietnam (AFP) – Vietnam opened its first oil refinery on Sunday after more than a decade of delays, with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung declaring the complex was vital for “national energy security.”

Dung inaugurated the more than 2.5-billion-dollar Dung Quat refinery live on evening prime-time television, an indication of its importance to the country’s communist leaders.

“It’s a key project of national importance,” Dung told more than 1,000 guests at the facility in central Quang Ngai province amid much fanfare and tight security.

28 Heavy security as Tibetans prepare for new year

By Royston Chan, Reuters

28 mins ago

KANGDING, China (Reuters) – Tibetans are preparing to mark their new year this week amid a heavy police presence and with Internet services cut in at least one area a year after unrest which ended in deadly riots in Lhasa and elsewhere.

Some Tibetan parts of Sichuan and neighboring Gansu province erupted into violence after protests in Lhasa, regional capital of Tibet in far-western China, in which the government says 19 people died, though exiled groups say the number was much higher.

This year’s anniversary is extra sensitive as 2009 also marks the 50th anniversary of flight into exile of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.

29 British Guantanamo detainee released to UK: report


1 hr 5 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A British detainee at the U.S. military detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who drew international attention with his assertions that he was tortured while in CIA custody, is scheduled to arrive in Britain on Monday, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The detainee, Binyam Mohamed, who has been in U.S. custody for nearly seven years, was held and interrogated in Pakistan and Morocco before being sent to Guantanamo, the Times reported. His release to Britain, news of which was leaked to the Times by his lawyers and British officials, ends an 18-month stand-off between the Washington and London.

It does not end an effort by Mohamed and his lawyers to obtain photographs Mohamed said were taken by an American woman showing injuries he contends were inflicted by torture in the course of interrogation.

30 Almost 80 pct of Japan voters want PM out soon: poll

By Linda Sieg, Reuters

16 mins ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Almost four out of five Japanese voters want Prime Minister Taro Aso to quit within months and just over half want the opposition to win power, a poll showed on Monday, the latest bad news for the ruling party in an election year.

Public support for 68-year-old Aso, already slumping after policy flip-flops and gaffes, took another hit when close ally Shoichi Nakagawa quit as finance minister last week after being forced to deny he was drunk at a G7 news conference in Rome.

Some in Aso’s own conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have called for him to be replaced ahead of a general election that must be held by October, although Japan has already had three premiers since the last election in 2005.

31 Australia PM faces elections in home state

By Mark Bendeich, Reuters

31 mins ago

SYDNEY (Reuters) – One of Australia’s key mining states, Queensland, Monday called a snap election for March 21 in a vote that could help shape Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s thinking on the merits of an early general election.

Queensland is Rudd’s home state and heavily reliant on mining, putting it on the front line of the global financial crisis as export demand tumbles and jobs are shed. State polls were not due until September but unemployment is expected to worsen by then.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who belongs to Rudd’s ruling Labor party, said in a video statement posted on her personal Web site that Queensland had been hit hard and fast by the crisis and voters should choose the government they wanted to deal with it.

32 U.S. Army captain learning new skills in war-torn Afghanistan

By Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

Sun Feb 22, 2:34 pm ET

MAYDAN SHAHR, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Crowe trained to obliterate distant foes with high-explosive shellfire. But in this mud-washed, mountain-framed provincial capital in eastern Afghanistan , he is learning to be a diplomat, urban planner, construction manager, humanitarian worker and politician.

As the overseer of the first sustained American aid effort launched in the city eight years after the U.S. intervention that drove the Taliban from power, the 32-year-old artillery officer is having to master skills that he’s not been taught by the military.

But those skills are crucial to the Obama administration’s plan to end the Taliban insurgency in part by delivering on unfulfilled U.S. vows to lift ordinary Afghans out of the crush of poverty and illiteracy.

33 Sunni lawmaker wanted in connection for Green Zone attacks

By Trenton Daniel, McClatchy Newspapers

Sun Feb 22, 3:26 pm ET

BAGHDAD – A Sunni Arab lawmaker is wanted in connection for a string of retaliation attacks and mortar strikes on the fortress-like Green Zone compound after a pair of his senior bodyguards stepped forward with incriminating confessions, a military official said Sunday.

The two ex-bodyguards said Sunni parliament member Mohammed al Dayni ordered them to carry out a 2007 attack on a Green Zone cafeteria in which a suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest. One lawmakers died and 22 others were wounded.

“They admitted and confessed to committing many crimes and terrorist attacks against the Iraqi people,” Maj. Gen. Qassim al Moussawi said at a news conference.

34 Obama to reassure Japan of its place in U.S. policy

By Isabel Reynolds, Reuters

1 hr 41 mins ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama will reassure Prime Minister Taro Aso this week that Tokyo remains a key ally, but questions remain as to whether a summit with the lame duck Japanese leader can yield concrete results.

Officials point to an agenda stretching from the global economic crisis to Afghanistan and North Korea as reasons for Tuesday’s meeting, which comes just a month after Obama took office and is his first with a foreign leader at the White House.

But many analysts agree the main aim is to soothe Tokyo’s niggling worries over its place as Washington’s top ally in Asia.


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  1. Not as slow a news day as I feared.

  2. Did you rest at all this weekend ek?

    Don’t wear yourself out this week: eat your veggies, get your exercise and sing a silly song.

  3. (#14: “Europe says markets must be regulated”) There’s at least a glimmer of reality emerging–from Europe’s recognition that the markets must be regulated and with that admission, a recognition that deregulated markets are at least one root cause of the economic meltdown.

    Meanwhile, back in the USA, the Administration, Congress, and the Fed continue to tiptoe around and defer to the financial wizards of Wall St. who brought the economy to its knees (#11: “Bank rescue details key to Stave off Bears”” and #13 “Bernake to reassure help is coming for economy…”).  The government continues to make cowtowing to Wall St. a priority over taking all necessary steps–including tougher regulation as well as inspections and oversight–to fix the economy, despite proof that crooks continue to run rampant without investigation, on deregulated Wall St. (#2: “SEC missed numerous red flags surrounding Stanford” and #12: UBC Chairman attacked over US tax fraud probe…” and the current 530 corporate fraud cases being investigated by the FBI )


  4. Laid off carpenters

    No shavings for Apocalyptic horses.

    Now that is one big manure pile.

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