Life on Mars

Posted by Brad McMillan, CFA, CAIA, MAI

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This entry was posted on Aug 8, 2012 3:55:16 AM

and tagged Yesterday's News

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As far as I am concerned, the big news today is yesterday’s successful landing of the NASA rover on Mars. We haven’t had all that many space triumphs recently, so here’s to the engineers who made it happen! The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had it on page A1—where it belonged—with “Rover Probes Secrets of Mars,” the Financial Times (FT) had it on page 1 with “Curiosity sets out to answer mysteries of Mars” and on page 5 with “Mars robot puts US back on the map,” and the New York Times (NYT) had it all the way back on A9 with “After Safe Landing a Rover Sends Images From Mars.” What was the NYT thinking?

The other big story is the ongoing lobster roll investigation. I went up to Linda Bean’s in Freeport, across from the L.L. Bean store there, to check out one of the WSJ best, and I am sorry to say that I was disappointed. The roll was only so-so, as it was overtoasted and needed more butter. There were lots of large pieces of firm lobster, which was excellent, but there was not enough seasoning and mayo. You don’t need a lot, but you do need some. Overall, probably a 7 or 8 out of 10, which is definitely not bad, but not best in class, either.

In other news, the banking scandals continue. Standard Chartered Bank was accused by the State of New York of helping Iran hide deals, and it made the front page of the papers. The NYT led with “Regulator Says Bank Helped Iran Hide Deals,” the WSJ with “Big Bank Examined Over Iran Dealings,” and the FT with “StanChart accused of hiding Iran transactions.” The Bloomberg headline, “Standard Chartered Bond Risk Soars by Most in 4 Years on Iran,” means that the risk now is perceived to be above that during the worst of the financial crisis. In addition to the obvious huge implications for the bank itself, we now have one more major financial institution that apparently is completely unable to keep its own people operating within the law. We have the Libor scandal, in which the banks are starting to choose to hang separately rather than together, per yesterday’s post; we have the HSBC money laundering scandal for the third time in 10 years; and we have the J.P. Morgan trading debacle. At some point, maybe lawmakers and regulators will decide there is a pattern here.

Other news suggests that the U.S. economy needs more help—“Fed Officials Underscore Divisions Over Action” on B1 of the NYT and “Fed Official Calls for Bond Buying” on A2 of the WSJ —or that perhaps it is recovering—“Mortgage Demand Increases, Banks Say” also on A2 of the WSJ. Take your pick.

Off to do more research here. In addition to lobster rolls, I will also be looking into which beaches have the best tidal pools with crabs for a four-year old to look at.

Have a great day!

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