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Thursday, Apr 17th

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How the Mormons Make Money

Mormon ChurchLate last March the Mormon Church completed an ambitious project: a megamall. Built for roughly $2 billion, the City Creek Center stands directly across the street from the church’s iconic neo-Gothic temple in Salt Lake City.

The mall includes a retractable glass roof, 5,000 underground parking spots, and nearly 100 stores and restaurants, ranging from Tiffany’s (TIF) to Forever 21. Walkways link the open-air emporium with the church’s perfectly manicured headquarters on Temple Square. Macy’s (M) is a stone’s throw from the offices of the church’s president, Thomas S. Monson, whom Mormons believe to be a living prophet.

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Was the price of oil rigged too?

Oil pricesConcerns are growing about the reliability of oil prices, after a report for the G20 found the market is wide open to “manipulation or distortion”. Traders from banks, oil companies or hedge funds have an “incentive” to distort the market and are likely to try to report false prices, it said.

Politicians and fuel campaigners last night urged the Government to expand its inquiry into the Libor scandal to see whether oil prices have also been falsely pushed up.

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Revealed: JPMorgan Paid $190,000 Annually to Spouse of Bank's Top Regulator

On May 10 of this year, Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan, announced that billions of insured deposits at his bank had been invested in high risk derivatives and had sustained at least a $2 billion loss.  The Department of Justice and FBI have commenced investigations.  Dimon is expected to announce the current extent of those losses this Friday in an earnings conference call.

Following the May 10 announcement, there were numerous calls for Dimon to step down from the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  That organization is the primary regulator of the firm. There was widespread public outrage that the CEO of a bank had no business serving on the governing body of his regulator.  (The New York Fed has a long history of such conflicts.)

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24% of senior financial execs consider unethical or illegal conduct needed for success

Sr. execs OK greedJust in case recent headlines didn’t offer a clue, a new study revealed what most people already think: Unethical behavior and illegal business practices seems to be part of a Wall Street job description.

A survey of senior executives at financial firms in the U.S. and the U.K., released Monday, found that nearly a quarter of respondents, or 24%, said they consider engaging in unethical or illegal conduct as a necessary ingredient for success in the financial world.

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Imagining a Universe Without Central Banks

Yesterday, the saints at central banks in China, Europe and the UK said they would perform what could only be a miracle. The world economy wheezes, rattles and shakes because it has been poisoned by too much debt. The central bankers offer a cure — more debt!

The US had no central bank before 1913. It had higher rates of GDP growth back then. It had a stronger currency too — the dollar of 1913 was worth about the same as a dollar of one hundred years earlier. Now, it’s worth about 3 cents…and disappearing fast. On the surface of the argument, it would appear that America’s central bank has actually made things worse. Maybe that is a coincidence; post hoc ergo propter hoc…and all that. But maybe there is a cause and effect relationship. Maybe a central bank CAUSES the economy to produce less wealth…and CAUSES the currency to lose value.

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Banking scandal: how document trail reveals global scam

The interest rate rigging scandal that has engulfed Barclays was the result of a coordinated attempt at collusion by traders working for a coterie of leading banks over at least five years, according to a series of lawsuits and legal rulings filed in courts in Asia and North America.

In a 28-page statement of facts relating to last week's revelation that Barclays had been fined a total of £290m, the US Department of Justice discloses how a network of traders working on both sides of the Atlantic conspired to influence both the Libor and Euribor interest rates – the rates at which banks lend to each other. It was, in effect, a worldwide conspiracy against the free functioning of the market.

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Barclays will pay $450M for manipulating interest rates

Barclays BankBarclays and its subsidiaries will pay more than $450 million to settle charges that they tried to manipulate interest rates that can affect how much people pay for loans to attend college or buy a house.

Barclays is one of several major banks reportedly under investigation for such violations.

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