Goldman Made Millions in Malaysia. Malaysia Hopes to Claw Some Back.
The Malaysian government intends to seek restitution from Goldman Sachs, its finance minister said this week, as it moves to resolve a scandal that led to the disappearance of billions of dollars and helped put the country deeply in debt. Malaysian voters last month ousted the prime minister at the heart of the scandal, Najib Razak. The country’s new leader, Mahathir Mohamad, has moved forcefully to investigate the apparent theft from a state investment fund under Najib’s watch. Investigators in the United States contend that $4.5 billion was diverted from the fund into the bank accounts of Najib, his family and his friends.
As Uncertainty Clouds Economy, Europe Pulls Back on Easy Money
A trade war with the United States looms. Populists have taken power in Italy, posing a new threat to the euro. Growth is sluggish, and there is even talk of another banking crisis. It would not seem the ideal time to put the brakes on Europe’s economy. But that is what the European Central Bank is preparing to do. The bank said Thursday that the era of easy money was over, and outlined plans to completely remove its support by December. In essence, the bank is declaring the region cured, or at least strong enough to stand on its own.
Rubio and Warren Seek to Protect Licenses of Student-Loan Debtors
Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced a bill Thursday that would prevent states from suspending residents’ driver’s and professional licenses over unpaid federal student loans. Critics have called the practice a self-defeating approach that denies borrowers the means to pay their debts. The bipartisan proposal came after a November report by The New York Times revealed that 20 states had laws allowing government agencies to seize licenses from residents who had defaulted on their education debts. Records requests turned up 8,700 cases in which borrowers had lost their credentials in recent years.
Bannon Buys Into Bitcoin
Steve Bannon, 10 months removed from the job of chief strategist to President Donald Trump and five months after his ouster from the arch-conservative news site Breitbart News, is betting that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can disrupt banking the way Trump disrupted American politics. Bannon won’t reveal much about his cryptocurrency plans. But he has had private meetings with cryptocurrency investors and hedge funds where he has discussed working on initial coin offerings through his investment business, Bannon & Co. And in his first interview on the topic, he said he had a “good stake” in bitcoin.
Power Companies’ Mistakes Can Cost Billions. Who Should Pay?
After flames rolled over the hills north of San Diego and engulfed vineyards, avocado groves and neighborhoods, hundreds in this area were left with only the charred remains of homes and businesses. For many, that moment in 2007 was the beginning of a long struggle to rebuild and recover their financial losses. And they had a villain in mind: San Diego Gas and Electric, whose fallen power poles had been found partly responsible. Now the question is whether an investor-owned utility’s customers should pay for the harm in such cases. A bill before the California Legislature would give utilities the ability to pass on the costs from legal settlements to ratepayers.
Facebook’s New Political Algorithms Increase Tension With Publishers
News publishers are openly criticizing Facebook for new policies they say are harmful to journalism. The most recent salvo came Thursday, when Mark Thompson, the chief executive of The New York Times Co., accused Facebook of unintentionally “supporting the enemies of quality journalism” by using algorithms that can mischaracterize news as partisan political content. Two advertisements The Times had recently purchased on the platform had been flagged as political. One ad promoted a news article about President Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un. The other was a promotion for The Times’ NYT Cooking site.
Trump Expected to List China Tariffs, Potentially Reigniting Trade War
The White House is expected on Friday to release a final list of Chinese goods it plans to subject to tariffs and could soon begin putting some of those levies into effect, potentially reigniting a trade war. The Trump administration has vacillated between threatening tariffs on China and putting the trade war “on hold” as it tries to negotiate a deal with Beijing that would give U.S. companies greater access to the Chinese market. Those negotiations have produced little in the way of a firm commitment, however, with China offering to purchase nearly $70 billion in energy, agricultural and manufactured products from the United States, but only if the White House suspends tariffs on Chinese products.
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