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U.S. insider trading cases face test at appeals court

Insider trading cases in jeopardyA U.S. appeals court is set hear a case whose outcome could make it harder for the government to prosecute insider trading and potentially jeopardize several high-profile guilty verdicts, including that of SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager Michael Steinberg.

The question facing the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Tuesday is one that has divided lower court judges: whether to be convicted of insider trading, the recipient of non-public information must know that the source of the tip benefited from the disclosure.

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After foreclosure crisis, renters suffer under Wall Street landlords

wall street slumlordsThe poster child for the foreclosure crisis has been a middle-income suburban family. But low-income urban renters also saw their buildings over-mortgaged at the height of the crisis, and now faceless hedge funds and nameless investors are replacing their desperate landlords — sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Six years after the foreclosure crisis helped tank the world’s economy, investors are snatching up “distressed” properties — those that are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure — and seeking to turn a profit on them. Advocates for affordable housing worry that this profit comes at the expense of tenants.

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Judge says will accept SAC Capital guilty plea

SAC guilty pleaA federal judge agreed to accept SAC Capital Advisors' guilty plea to fraud charges in the U.S. government's insider trading case against the hedge fund firm controlled by billionaire Steven A. Cohen.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said she will accept the plea at a Thursday hearing in Manhattan federal court.  She is also expected to decide at the hearing whether to accept SAC Capital's agreement to pay a $900 million fine in its settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, as part of an overall $1.8 billion payout to resolve criminal and civil litigation.

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U.S. Obama signs executive order on equal pay for women

equal pay for equal workKeeping with his promise to champion women’s rights in the workplace, President Barack Obama signed an executive order Tuesday that addresses the issue of unequal pay among federal contractors. While equal-pay advocates hail the move as a victory, many also say it doesn’t go far enough.

The executive order addresses the federal government’s gender wage gap by mandating that contractors publish wage data — by gender and race — to ensure compliance with equal-pay laws. The order also prohibits contractors from retaliating against employees who compare salaries.

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SEC Goldman Lawyer Says Agency Too Timid on Wall Street Misdeeds

SECA trial attorney from the Securities and Exchange Commission said his bosses were too “tentative and fearful” to bring many Wall Street leaders to heel after the 2008 credit crisis, echoing the regulator’s outside critics.

James Kidney, who joined the SEC in 1986 and retired this month, offered the critique in a speech at his goodbye party. His remarks hit home with many in the crowd of SEC lawyers and alumni thanks to a part of his resume not publicly known: He had campaigned internally to bring charges against more executives in the agency’s 2010 case against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)

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U.S. stock markets are rigged, says author Michael Lewis

stock market riggedThe U.S. stock market is rigged in favor of high-speed electronic trading firms, which use their advantages to extract billions from investors, according to Michael Lewis, author of a new book on the topic, "Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt."

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a practice carried out by many banks and proprietary trading firms using sophisticated computer programs to send gobs of orders into the market, executing a small portion of them when opportunities arise to capitalize on price imbalances, or to make markets. HFT makes up more than half of all U.S. trading volume.

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Forget about the "1%." Top "0.1% pulling ahead more

wealthiest americansThe "top 1%" might be the primary target of the masses' ire and envy, but it's actually the top 0.1% who are grabbing a bigger slice of wealth.

The average household in the top 1% pulled in earnings of $1,264,065 in 2012, according to a just-released analysis by investment firm Sadoff Investment Research. That's 41 times greater than the $30,997 average income of Americans.

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