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How Wall Street captured Washington’s effort to rein in banks

Wall StreetIn the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Keith Higgins was certain: Banks weren’t to blame.

Higgins, a top attorney at prominent law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, was chairman of an American Bar Association committee on securities regulation. As such, he lobbied strenuously against a rule U.S. regulators were drafting that would require banks to disclose a lot more about asset-backed securities like those that had just torpedoed the economy.

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S&P paying $1.38B to settle charges over crisis-era ratings

S&P pays upStandard & Poor's is paying about $1.38 billion to settle government allegations that it knowingly inflated its ratings of risky mortgage investments that helped trigger the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The settlement with the U.S. government, 19 states and the District of Columbia covers ratings issued from 2004 through 2007 by the McGraw-Hill subsidiary. It resolves a court fight that began with a government lawsuit two years ago and involved dozens of depositions and hundreds of millions of documents

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U.S. economy grows at fastest pace in 11 years

US economy growsThe U.S. economy grew at its quickest pace in 11 years in the third quarter, the strongest sign yet that growth has decisively shifted into higher gear.

The Commerce Department on Tuesday revised up its estimate of gross domestic product growth to a 5.0 percent annual pace, citing stronger consumer and business spending than it had previously assumed.

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Inequality Between America's Rich and Poor Is at a 30-Year High

economic inequality at 30 yr. highThere are many ways to compare finances, but perhaps a more holistic measure of financial health looks at household wealth, a comparison of what a family’s assets (home, cars, investments and bank accounts) are worth, versus what they owe. And when it comes to wealth, or net worth, the gap between the richest Americans and everyone else is at an historic high.

For the most part, it’s not necessarily that the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. Instead, the data shows that while the rich are seeing their assets grow and increase in value, the middle and lower-classes are seeing financial stagnation, creating a growing economic gulf.

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85 richest now have as much money as poorest 3.5B

Warren Buffet"There's been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won."

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett made that remark more than three years ago and it still holds true today — only the gap between the richest and the poorest has gotten even wider.

Here's how bad it is: Oxfam now calculates that the 85 richest billionaires on the planet, including the likes of Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people.

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Trump Plaza closes its doors, becomes 4th Atlantic City casino to close this year

Trump casino closesThe supervisor drew his finger in a slashing motion moments after the final hand of blackjack had been dealt at Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino.

And with that, gambling was done.

The 30-year-old casino at the heart of the Boardwalk shut its doors at 6 a.m. Tuesday, becoming the fourth Atlantic City casino to close this year. Beset by crushing debt, fleeing customers and run-down facilities, Trump Plaza had been the town's worst-performing casino for years. This year, it has won about the same amount from gamblers that the Borgata takes in every two weeks. And at pennies on the dollar, no one wanted to buy it.

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Judge Orders Bank Of America To Pay $1.3 Billion Fine

Bank of AmericaA federal judge has ordered Bank of America to pay a $1.27 billion fine for fraud perpetrated by Countrywide Financial Corp., a mortgage company the bank acquired in 2008.

, a jury held Bank of America liable for bad loans Countrywide sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of its "Hustle" mortgage-lending program as the housing market soured in 2007 and 2008.

In his ruling Wednesday, Federal District Judge Jed Rakoff did not mince words.

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