New York (CNNMoney) - The Obama administration issued a stern rebuke of so-called "patent trolls" Tuesday, in an attempt to stop those whom the White House says manipulate the patent system for undue financial gain.
The White House directed the United States Patent and Trade Office to take five new actions that would help stem the rising tide of patent-related lawsuits tying up the court system. Many patent-holding companies with no intention of ever releasing products have made an entire business model out of suing other companies for patent infringement.FULL STORY
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Quadrangle investment group founding partner and former Obama "auto czar" Steven Rattner agreed Thursday to pay a $10 million fine in a settlement with the New York attorney general's office over a pension fund scheme.
Rattner was accused of a "pay-to-play" scheme involving New York's pension fund, in which Rattner's Quadrangle allegedly gave kickbacks to officials if they directed state pension money to the fund.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - On Sept. 15, 2008, America woke up to its worst financial meltdown in generations.
Nearly two years and thousands of pages of legislation later, it is still unclear whether the government has found a way to prevent a similar collapse from happening again.
The Senate passed a financial reform bill Thursday with the aim of stopping future crises before they start. The bill addresses several leading causes: crazy lending practices, risky bets by banks, inflated credit ratings on junky assets and an inability to wind down collapsing financial institutions.
Will it prevent the next crisis? Even proponents of the legislation concede it might not.
The Senate bill - and a similar House measure - would do much to make the financial markets safer and fix many of the problems that arose. But it falls short of fundamentally changing the way that financial institutions do business.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - While the unemployment rate held steady in February, the U.S. economy is still shedding jobs, according to a government report released Friday.
The Labor Department said the economy lost 36,000 jobs in the month, fewer than the 68,000 jobs economists were expecting, according to a survey conducted by Briefing.com.
The results were still worse than the previous month, as just 26,000 jobs were lost in January, according to a revised estimate.
But there was no significant change in the number of unemployed workers, and the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com were expecting an increase to 9.8%.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told lawmakers Wednesday that he had no involvement in an apparent attempt by government regulators to withhold crucial information about AIG's bailout from the public.
"I had no role in making decisions regarding what to disclose," Geithner testified at a hearing held by the House Oversight Committee Wednesday.
New York Fed officials instructed AIG not to disclose more than a dozen controversial transactions to the Securities and Exchange Commission in November 2008. At the time, Geithner was the president of the New York Fed but he said he had recused himself from the day-to-day operations at that time because of his nomination to be Treasury secretary.
At least two lawmakers weren't buying Geithner's denial.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The Obama administration pledged unprecedented transparency in its accounting of the $700 billion bank and auto bailouts (TARP) and the $787.2 billion Recovery Act. A lot of information has been made public but there are some key details where the transparency falls far short.
Here's what we still don't know:
1. How are banks using TARP funds?
2. Who are bailed out banks lending to?
3. What is the value of the assets that Treasury has accumulated as a result of TARP?
4. Where are stimulus funds ultimately going?
They're important questions: We want the government to ensure it is spending our money wisely, and experts want to know why the Obama administration won't provide the answers.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The government bailout of banks, lenders, Bear Stearns and AIG brought in billions of dollars to the Federal Reserve in the first quarter of 2009.
In the first of a series of monthly reports on its $2.1 trillion balance sheet, the Fed said it earned a net $2.7 billion from January through March. Most of the gains stemmed from new lending facilities that the Fed instituted after the collapse of Lehman Brothers brought the nation's flow of credit to a halt in September.
The U.S. central bank said it took in $1.2 billion on interest in loans in its Term Auction Facility (TAF) and to troubled insurer AIG (AIG, Fortune 500). TAF, which the Fed began at the beginning of the recession in December 2007, lends short-term money to banks in exchange for toxic assets as collateral.
The Fed also made $2.1 billion on its Commercial Paper Funding Facility, in which the government buys up companies' short term debt in exchange for interest and a fee.
Treasury bonds, which performed well in the first three months of the year, made the Fed another $4.6 billion. The Fed began purchasing long-term Treasurys in March in an attempt to reduce bond yields and interest rates that are tied to them.
But the Fed lost a whopping $5.3 billion on assets it took hold of after the Bear Stearns and AIG bailouts. The vast majority ($4.9 billion worth) of the losses were AIG-related, as the central bank bought up nearly $50 billion worth of toxic assets in exchange for loans to the company.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The CEO of bailed-out insurer American International Group told Congress Wednesday that it has made "substantial" progress in its restructuring efforts, but lawmakers said they wanted more to show for it.
"We are hearing, 'Trust us,' but we are not willing to let $180 billion go just on trust," said Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Oversight Committee. "We will question; we will inquire; we will verify."
Chief Executive Edward Liddy, who said AIG is diligently working toward paying back its government bailout, described the company's plan for paying back billions of taxpayer dollars.
"We continue to weigh every decision regarding the restructuring with several criteria in mind," Liddy said. "Will this action facilitate a reduction in systemic risk? Is this action the best use of the federal assistance we are receiving? Will this action enhance our ability to pay back the government?"
"The restructuring efforts ... are a reflection of this thought process," he added.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The officials charged with overseeing the $700 billion financial bailout told lawmakers Tuesday that the Treasury Department must do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are properly spent and that the public is kept in the loop.
The officials were particularly angered about a lack of accounting for the sprawling program, complaining that Treasury didn't make any effort to monitor money that went to the 364 banks its has invested in, despite requests for information by oversight panels.
"Either you get Treasury to get some religion on this point and get some standards ... or Congress [will be] forced to step in," said Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.
The office of Inspector General for the TARP program, one of the oversight groups, did its own survey of banks that received money, and every bank that got money responded.
Neil Barofsky, special inspector general, said that some banks "co-mingled" their bailout money and couldn't break out exactly what it was used for. But other banks kept their TARP money separate and could point to new loans that had been issued due to government help.
"Some banks described some lending programs that couldn't be done without TARP funding," Barofsky said.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) – Edward Liddy, chief executive of bailed out insurer American International Group, will tell Congress Wednesday that he found the company's controversial bonuses "distasteful," but necessary because of legal obligations and competition, according to a written copy of his testimony.
"We have to continue managing our business as a business - taking account of the cold realities of competition," Liddy will tell the House Financial Services subcommittee. The hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m.
"Because of this, and because of certain legal obligations, AIG has recently made a set of compensation payments, some of which I find distasteful," he added.