Gas has exceeded $4 per gallon and is close to overcoming that landmark price in two other states according to the Associated Press. The average gallon of gas in Hawaii, according to the AAA, is $4.22. California is currently at $3.96 and Alaska follows closely behind at $3.90. These are the highest prices since July of 2008. The Japanese crisis is anticipated to make the situation even worse.
The Financial Times reports that Nasdaq is getting closer to a hostile takeover of the NYSE. The Bank of America and Evercore are apparently raising $5 billion of debt to support Nasdaq. This is, however, a risky deal because the current deal between Deutsche Borse and NYSE has a significant break-up fee. Additionally, Nasdaq already has a poor credit rating of a triple B. Nasdaq and its supporters, however, believe that U.S. regulators would prefer this deal.
Japan's shares plunged for the second day due to its traumatic challenges caused by the recent earthquake and tsunami. They continue to tumble today as the nuclear meltdown becomes more likely. The Nikkei lost 6% on Monday and fell anothet 11% on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The Dow fell to 11,993 on Monday. Asian and European stocks are trading lower. Japan's bank continues to pump cash into the economy.
Morningstar has issued a report that ranks the U.S. and Singapore as the best countries for overall monitoring of mutual funds. The American Banker reports that Morningstar analyzed 22 countries and rated them according to taxation and regulation, disclosure, fees and expenses and sales and media. The U.S. and Singapore scored the highest overall and New Zealand the lowest. The U.S. scored a C plus however on taxation and regulation. This was primarily due to the Madoff scandal as well as the fact that the U.S. is the only country to tax gains on mutual funds. Its short term capital gains rates were considered especially egregious.
The FDIC, which has closed more than 345 banks since 2008, has been slow to bring enforcement actions as reported by the Washington Post. So far only 2% of the officers and directors of failed banks have been sued. The danger is that the lawsuits will not be brought within the 3 year statute of limitations period. A former lawyer for the Office of Thrift Supervision has commented that enforcement records are less diligent than in the 1980's savings and loan crisis.
The Wall Street Journal reports that sales of potassium iodide have caused several U.S. companies to run short of the non-prescription drug known for preventing radiation poisoning of the thyroid gland. Anbex sold out of 10,000 14 tablet packages on Saturday and another manufacturer, Fleming Pharmaceuticals, anticipates running out this week. The risk to the U.S. from the Japanese nuclear meltdown are anticipated to be low. The drug may have side effects that could be dangerous to some.
A Washington Post story states that a hacker group known as Anonymous has released emails from a Bank of America subsidiary named Balboa Group in which employees are discussing changing loan documents to hide the fact that certain loans had "forced place" insurance. This is insurance that the bank forces upon mortgagees because they fail to purchase their own insurance. There is a potential for a conflict of interest because in many cases, the cost of the insurance is flagrant, and potential for conflict of interest occurs when the bank also owns the insurance company. The emails claim that the bank "knowingly hid foreclosure information from regulators". Bank of America had no comment. The American Banker, however, claims that the leak is not sufficient enough to cause regulators to examine this issue.
Google has set up a person finder to assist the Japanese in finding people and allowing individuals living in shelters to connect. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has manually listed the names and locations of more than 160,000 people currently residing in shelters to allow families to find each other. Additionally, Google is posting roads that are open as well as other relevant information.
Fox News reports that the Russians have increased their price for giving U.S. astronauts rides to the space shuttle. The existing cost of approximately $56 million per ride has been upped to $63 million. This happens as the space shuttles are being retired this year no longer providing access to the space station. Choose your friends cautiously.