Top 10 at 10: ANZ criticised; Rio's Chinese debacle; Angelo's fraud; Angela's obsession; Daily Show on GM

Top 10 at 10: ANZ criticised; Rio's Chinese debacle; Angelo's fraud; Angela's obsession; Daily Show on GM
Here's my Top 10 links from around the Internet at 10 am. I welcome your additions below. I'm still glad I'm not in sales or IT. 1. This is big news across the Tasman and one we should watch with a wary eye. China's Chinalco has pulled out of a deal to buy into/rescue monster miner Rio Tinto, which will force Rio Tinto to raise over US$12 billion through a share issue to repay debt, reports. This has already dragged the Australian dollar lower and our dollar is being caught in the downdraft. 2. US 30 year mortgage rates have risen to their highest levels (5.29%) since December, according to Freddie Mac, as reported in Bloomberg. This is another sign that America's recovery may be more W shaped than U or V shaped. 3. British house prices rose 2.6% in May from April, according to a Halifax survey reported by BBC. 4. How the mighty have fallen. Angelo Mozilo, the guy behind the amazing rise and fall of Californian sub-prime lending monster Countrywide Financial, has been charged with fraud, Bloomberg reported.
While publicly reassuring investors about the quality of his loans, Mozilo issued "dire" internal warnings and engaged in insider trading accelerating stock sales to reap about $140 million, the agency said in the suit at Los Angeles federal court. In one e-mail, he described a "particularly profitable subprime product as "˜toxic.'" He also wrote that Countrywide was "flying blind" and had "no way" to determine the risks of some adjustable-rate mortgages, the SEC said. "Each of the defendants was aware, but failed to disclose, that Countrywide's current business model was unsustainable," the agency wrote in the suit. Mozilo, 70, is the most prominent executive targeted by U.S. regulators examining the subprime mortgage crisis. Mozilo co-founded Countrywide in 1969 and built it into the nation's biggest mortgage lender, helping trigger the subprime bubble by offering loans to customers with below-average credit scores.
5. Speaking of the mighty falling, Bridgecorp directors Rod Petricevic and Rob Roest, have been banned from being directors for 5 years, the NZHerald reports. No worries. They can wait. Allan Hawkins will have some tips about how to get back on the NZX and raising money from the public again. 6. The outgoing banking ombudsman Liz Brown has criticised ANZ's demand for a statutory declaration from those customers wanting to complain about their treatment when put into ING's disastrous toxic bond funds. She said it put an unnecessary obstacle in front of customers, the NZHerald's Tamsyn Parker reports. However, Marta Steeman at The Press pointed out that investors in the two frozen funds can still make complaints. 7. The European Central Bank left its OCR on hold at 1% and pushed ahead with plans to buy back covered bonds. It also cut its forecasts for the euro zone economy to a 5% contraction in 2009 and a 1% contraction in 2010, the reported. But the growing story is the conflict in Germany over the ECB's money printing plans. The Germans are genetically opposed to it. It's something to do with hyperinflation in the 1920s and what happened afterwards... Chancellor Angela Merkel took the unusual step of criticising the ECB's money printing plan, the reported. I'm with the Merkel on this one.
The chancellor is not just concerned about the long-term inflationary potential of excessive monetary loosening. Her main concern is that expansionary fiscal and monetary policy being deployed across the industrial world could lead to future bubbles. "We must return to independent and sensible monetary policies, otherwise we will be back to where we are now in 10 years' time," she said after criticising European, British and US central bankers. Like Peer Steinbrück, her finance minister, Ms Merkel has urged fellow Europeans to start working on their "exit strategies". Governments, she thinks, should commit now to reducing their budget deficits, while central bankers should think about how to reabsorb the liquidity they are pouring into markets. "Our most complex task," she told a conference yesterday, "will come once we have overcome the crisis. The question will be . . . can we return to a path of virtue, as far as public debts are concerned for instance."
8. Gold is headed for US$1,000/oz on fears about inflation and as the US dollar drops. Oil also headed for US$68/bbl, Bloomberg reported. 9. Felix Salmon at Reuters digs up this little gem at the bottom of a 2,200 word story in the on how the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) pushed through the watering down of the 'mark to market' rules. It turns out three of the members of the FASB's advisory threatened to resign.
The whole episode is just as tawdry as the WSJ paints it to be, and is ultimately based on the weird idea that FASB rules accurately reflect reality, and that therefore if we change the rules, we must be changing the underlying reality as well. Welcome to Washington, I guess.
10. This Jon Stewart video on GM is hilarious.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M - Th 11p / 10c
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