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Bernanke Warns the Right

Spencer Platt/Getty

Chairman Ben Bernanke announced Wednesday that the Fed will continue buying bonds and mortgage-backed securities, effectively warning Republicans that their insistence on austerity is keeping him from backing off.

On Wednesday afternoon, Ben Bernanke channeled Miley Cyrus. When it comes to having the central bank conjure up cash out of thin air to buy bonds and mortgage-backed securities in an effort to boost the economy, he effectively said:  “And we can’t stop. And we won’t stop.”In response, stock traders began twerking en masse. Quantitative easing, the program of buying bonds and mortgage-backed securities, has been a boon to stocks. Why? It’s keeping interest rates down and pushing people into higher-yielding instruments like stocks.

pricey test run

U.S. Deploys $23.7K Bomb on Tiny Boat

Courtesy Dyess Air Force Base

To see if it’s good enough.

Now we know why everyone thinks America is so wasteful. The U.S. Air Force blew up an empty dummy “pirate” motorboat in the Gulf of Mexico with a 2,000-pound smart bomb that costs $23,700 to make. The laser-guided GBU-10 bomb is being tested to see if it’s capable of being deployed against small targets at sea, possibly with the goal of aiming at the speedboats used by Iran in the Persian Gulf.

Read it at The Washington Post


Kate Moss to Pose for Playboy Cover


She's about to turn 40.

Bunny ears and all. Playboy’s editorial director, Jimmy Jellinek, confirmed that Kate Moss will pose on the cover of the 60th-anniversary issue. The photos will hit stands this December and will feature the supermodel fully nude. “She’s a worldwide celebrity, is iconic, and crosses the boundaries from sexual imagery to upscale modeling,” Hugh Hefner said. “It’s a natural for us.” What Moss will be wearing: velveteen bunny ears, French cuffs, and silk stockings. “It started with Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Playboy 60 years ago, an icon for her time,” Jellinek said. “Now we’ve got Kate Moss!”

Read it at Los Angeles Times


Beanie Babies Creator Evaded Taxes

New York Daily News

Owes $53 million.

Hopefully H. Ty Warner kept the tags on all his Beanie Babies, because he's going to needs $53 million fast. The creator of the tiny-animal empire that ruled the ’90s has been accused of federal tax evasion. Apparently, as billionaires are wont to do, he had a secret offshore bank account and did not report the money he made from it to the IRS. Though a lawyer for the 69-year-old has issued a statement saying that Warner plans to plead guilty and pay the $53 million fine, there is still a chance that he could go to jail. A federal-tax-evasion conviction could mean up to five years in prison.

Read it at Associated Press


Fed to Continue Stimulus Effort

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Will keep buying bonds.

The Federal Reserve will continue buying $85 billion a month in bonds in an effort to spur economic growth, officials announced on Wednesday. It was a surprise move, as many analysts thought the Fed would be ending its stimulus campaign. But with another showdown over government spending looming, the Fed felt that fiscal policy was hampering the economy and that tapering off its bond purchases would threaten the recovery. The Fed also decided to keep short-term interest rates near zero. The news rallied investors on Wall Street as both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrials hit new all-time-high records. The S&P reached 1,709.67 after the announcement.

Read it at The New York Times


BlackBerry May Cut 40 Percent of Staff

Neilson Barnard/Getty

By the end of the year.

BlackBerry is tightening its belt, and as a result thousands of people will be out of a job starting at the end of this year. All departments are susceptible to layoffs, which will be done in waves and could cut up to 40 percent of BlackBerry’s workforce. BlackBerry went from cornering 14 percent of the U.S. smartphone market to only 3 percent in just two years, downsizing from 17,000 to 12,700 employees. But even that size staff is unsustainable if BlackBerry wants to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung. “Organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing,” a BlackBerry spokesman said. 

Read it at The Wall Street Journal


Elizabeth Warren’s Victory Lap

Cliff Owen/AP

One point for the first-time senator. Ben Jacobs talks to Elizabeth Warren about her lobbying efforts that contributed to JPMorgan’s expected—and almost unprecedented—admission of guilt.

In a historic move, JPMorgan is expected to admit wrongdoing—in addition to paying an $800 million fine—as part of its settlement with the federal government over the 2012 London Whale trading scandal. And one woman may be partly responsible for this turn of events: Elizabeth Warren.Speaking to The Daily Beast on the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, Warren explains that this development followed a recent change in SEC policy that seeks admissions of guilt more often, which was spurred by the Massachusetts senator’s efforts.


Google Wants to Expand Human Life Span

Emmanuel Dunand, AFP / Getty Images

Announces new focus on health.

If Google has anything to do with it, today might be the beginning of human immortality. CEO Larry Page on Wednesday announced Calico, a new venture that will focus on health care and wellness. He wrote that technology should be used to improve lives, and said people shouldn’t “be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses.” The firm, a company separate from Google, will focus on possibilities to expand the human life span and is the topic of this week’s upcoming Time cover story.

Read it at Google


Google in Huge Green Energy Deal

Buys wind power to offset servers’ toll.

It's something out of a progressive fantasy. Google announced that it has bought the entire 240-megawatt output of a wind farm in Texas to offset the massive amounts of energy its data centers consume. Oh, and the wind farm is owned by a Native American company, Chermac Energy. But Chermac won’t be able to directly supply a Google data center. Instead it will pipe the electricity it produces into the Texas grid. In effect, Google is offsetting the not-so-green electricity it uses by paying for these earth-friendlier initiatives. This is the fifth, and by far the largest, such long-term green-energy deal that the search giant has struck.

Read it at USA Today


SEC Proposes CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure

Firms must compare pay to average workers.

Publicly traded companies are already required to disclose how much they pay their top executives. Now they may have to make an extra calculation and tell the public how the CEO’s salary compares with that of average workers. The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3 to 2 on Wednesday to propose a requirement that public companies disclose the ratio of CEO compensation to worker pay. The move, long a favorite shaming tactic of labor activists, is opposed by business lobbies. They say the disclosures are meaningless to investors and just add to already burdensome requirements. The proposal stems from an amendment written by Senator Robert Menendez in the Dodd-Frank overhaul of the financial regulatory system.

Read it at Bloomberg


Daniel Gross

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