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Feb 26, 2013

Mexico's audit office tells Bank of Mexico to verify gold held at Bank of England: GATA | THE GATA DISPATCH February 26, 2013.:

Mexico's audit office tells Bank of Mexico to verify gold held at Bank of England

Submitted by cpowell on 06:32PM ET Tuesday, February 26, 2013. Section: Daily Dispatches
9:30p ET Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Mexican financial journalist and agitator for accountability in government Guillermo Barba reports today that the Mexican government audit office has reprimanded the Bank of Mexico for failing to verify its supposed purchase of $4.5 billion of gold vaulted at the Bank of England. The audit office confirms Barba's complaint last year that the Bank of Mexico had purchased only "paper gold" at the Bank of England and had no idea of the number of bars it had supposedly purchased, nor of the purity of the bars.
Barba writes that the audit office has recommended that the Bank of Mexico "make a physical inspection with the counterparty that has the gold under its custody, in order to be able to verify and validate its physical wholeness and the compliance with the terms and conditions of dealing with this asset." Barba adds that the Bank of Mexico does not want to do this but wants to trust the Bank of England not to play games with Mexico's gold.
Of course this situation is almost identical to the situation that developed in recent months with the gold of Germany's Bundesbank supposedly held in foreign vaults. Barba urges his country to repatriate its gold as a matter of basic national sovereignty just as Venezuela has done and as the Bundesbank has begun to do in tiny steps.
Barba's report is headlined "Mexico's Federal Audit Demands Physical Inspection of Sovereign Gold Holdings" and it's posted in England at his Internet site, Global Financial Intelligence, here:
Of course GATA urges its friends in Mexico to make themselves heard in support of Barba and Mexican sovereignty.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

Senate Confirms Hagel as Defense Secretary: NYT | Breaking News February 26, 2013

BREAKING NEWS Tuesday, February 26, 2013 
The Senate confirmed Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense on Tuesday after a bruising bout with Republicans, while President Obama’s choice to be Treasury secretary headed to the floor with bipartisan support, suggesting that the Republican blockade against the administration’s second-term nominees was beginning to ease.
After escaping a filibuster from members of his own party, Mr. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, prevailed in a 58-to-41 vote — the narrowest margin for any defense secretary on record.


NYT | Global Update February 26, 2013.: Hagel Survives Filibuster, Last Big Roadblock to Defense Post

The New York Times International Herald Tribune
February 26, 2013
Compiled 21:45 GMT

Global Update


Hagel Survives Filibuster, Last Big Roadblock to Defense Post

With a 71-to-27 vote, the Senate on Tuesday cleared the way for Chuck Hagel's confirmation as defense secretary, despite Republican complaints over his readiness for the job.

Italian Parties Maneuver After Electoral Split

Italians faced a period of political uncertainty on Tuesday, a day after national elections failed to produce a majority capable of governing the country.
News Analysis

Italian Deadlock Rekindles Anxiety About Euro Zone

The apparent political gridlock in Italy signaled by its elections raises new fears that the euro crisis may be far from over.

Photographs: India's Child Labor Problem

Though a new law will mandate that children from the ages of 6 to 14 be in school, some 28 million are working instead, Unicef says.

Op-Ed Contributor

In Putin's Russia, Shooting the Messenger

My Russian counterparts on a government-appointed human rights council that found flaws in the handling of the Mikhail Khodorkovsky case face harassment.

Hilltop Town Near Rome Prepares to Welcome Pope

Castel Gandolfo, for centuries the summer residence of popes, will receive Benedict XVI on Thursday, the last day of his papacy.

Benedict XVI to Keep His Name and Become Pope Emeritus

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters that the pope would dress in a simple white cassock and no longer wear the papal red shoes.

Balloon Crashes in Egypt, Killing at Least 18 Tourists

The hot-air balloon, laden with tourists from Europe and Asia, exploded on Tuesday near the city of Luxor.

Fed Chairman Defends Stimulus Efforts

Testifying before a Senate panel, Ben S. Bernanke said the Federal Reserve's strategy to bolster employment was likely to continue for some time.

Regulatory Dissent Slows New Calls for Nuclear Plant Safety

A dispute is developing between the nuclear industry and regulators, and among the regulators themselves, about the necessity of more safeguards at power plants.

Senate Panel Backs Treasury Choice

The Finance Committee approved Jacob J. Lew's nomination, dismissing some Republican objections.

Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office

The Internet pioneer takes on one of the country's biggest workplace issues in the hope of fostering more innovation.
News Analysis

Connecting the Neural Dots

The Obama administration has set an ambitious goal to map the 85 to 100 billion neurons in the human brain, but scientists say they are long way from developing the necessary tools.
Bits Blog

For Autodesk, a Step Into a Nanoscale World

This week at the TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., Autodesk will take the first public step toward translating its computer design approach into the emerging nanoscale world of synthetic biology and materials.

And Now for Some Good News in Soccer

Kei Kamara, whose family fled war in Sierra Leone while he was a child, is impressing with Norwich City in the Premier League, while the Barcelona defender Eric Abidal is nearing a return.

After Bale's Latest Strike, Only Praise Fills the Air

Tottenham's Gareth Bale scored twice in a 3-2 win at West Ham, cementing his growing reputation as the Premier League's best player.

United States and Russia Join for Olympic Training

With less than a year until the Sochi games, the two national ski teams are training together at the Alpine racing venue.

Obama Takes Budget Warnings to Shipbuilder

President Obama on Tuesday stood in the facility that builds the country's aircraft carriers to warn that cuts in the Pentagon budget threaten tens of thousands of jobs.

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Surveillance Law

A 5-to-4 decision regarding a measure that broadened the government's power to eavesdrop on international communications broke along ideological lines.

From the Schoolhouse to the Factory Floor, Girding for Cuts

As $85 billion in spending cuts loom, people across the country who rely on government services were trying to fathom what it would mean for them.
Op-Ed Contributors

Why Italians Vote for Berlusconi

One reason is that Berlusconi fits the image of the uomo forte, the strong man.
Op-Ed Columnist

Our Second Adolescence

We need a president ready to shift the terms of the debate around big-versus-small government and nurture future investment in creative and courageous  ways.
Op-Ed Columnist

The Wages of Celibacy

A needless pledge does the Catholic Church, its priests and its parishioners no favors. It should go.

MarketWatch | Wall Street at Close Report February 26, 2013.: U.S. stocks build gains on housing data

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks rose Tuesday, recouping much of the prior day’s slide, as evidence of a solid finish for housing in 2012 and after Ben Bernanke defended the Fed’s monetary policy.
Home Depot Inc. HD +5.69%   shares rallied after the retailer raised its dividend and approved a $17 billion stock buyback. 

“The market is bouncing back after yesterday’s big decline; the other part of it is we get a bit of a bounce from Bernanke’s comments along the lines of continued QE [quantitative easing],” Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners in Chicago, said of the Federal Reserve chairman’s testimony on Capitol Hill. 

Home prices on the rise
U.S. home prices improved in December, reversing declines in November. Meanwhile, new-home sales soared 15.6% in January.

After losing 216.40 points in Monday’s session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.84%  on Tuesday tallied its second triple-digit rise in three sessions, adding 115.96 points, or 0.8%, to 13,900.13.
“We’ll take it as a plus, certainly from the real-estate side, and also what we heard from some of the retailers,” said Nolte of economic reports and quarterly results from Home Depot Inc. HD +5.69%  and Macy’s Inc. M +2.78%

Twenty-three of the Dow’s 30 components were in the green, led by shares of Home Depot after the home-improvement retailer beat profit expectations. See: Home Depot profit up 32%. 

The S&P 500 index SPX +0.61%  climbed 9.09 points, or 0.6%, to 1,496.94, with materials and consumer discretionary leading gains that included all 10 of its major sectors.

The Nasdaq Composite COMP +0.43%  gained 13.40 points, or 0.4%, at 3,129.64, with shares of Apple Inc. AAPL -0.18%   up 1.4%. Read about fund manager’s tweet

For every stock that fell, roughly two rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where 772 million shares traded. 

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures GCJ3 +1.70%  rose $28.90, or 1.8%, to settle at $1,615.50 an ounce, while crude-oil futures CLJ3 -0.45%  shed 48 cents, or 0.5%, to $92.63 a barrel. Read more on gold futures and oil futures

Bernanke: 'QE' benefits clear, risks manageable
Fed chief signals he is a strong supporter of the Fed’s $85 billion-per-month bond-buying program. He also urges Congress to defuse the sequester.
See full coverage of Bernanke testimony
7 big moments in Fed-chief testimony
2012’s home-price growth best in seven years
New-home sales rise to 4 ½-year high  

Bernanke Q&A scares bulls 

Stocks had erased most of their gains as Bernanke took questions from lawmakers, with the Fed chief warning automatic federal budget reductions slated to start Friday would impose a “significant” burden on the U.S. economy if politicians are unable to reach a deal to avoid the cuts. 

Bernanke’s prepared testimony on Capitol Hill had him reiterating his view that the benefits of the central bank’s easing policy outweigh any costs.Read more on Bernanke: QE benefits are clear.

A home for sale in San Francisco.
Economic reports showed the value of U.S. homes rising in the final month of last year. The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported home prices rose 0.6% and the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index climbed 0.2% in December. See: Annual home-price gain best in seven years.
Commerce Department figures showed new-home sales rising 15.6% last month to an annual rate of 437,000, the highest mark since July 2008. Read more on new-home sales.
And, the Conference Board said its index of consumer confidence climbed to 69.6 this month, exceeding estimates of 62.3, with the data suggesting that “consumers are weathering the recent storm of higher payroll taxes and rising gas prices reasonably well,” said Jim Baird, chief investment strategist for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.Read more on consumer confidence.
“Since most people have their wealth tied up in their home, rising home prices make consumers more confident, more creditworthy and more willing to spend acquired income,” Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC, noted in an email. 

“Ultimately that has important effects on economic output, one reason that home-price fluctuations are watched so closely,” Greenhaus added. 

Benchmark stock indexes sank Monday as national elections in Italy yielded uncertain results, with the CBOE Volatility Index jumping 34% in a display of investor uncertainty. 

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

DealBook P.M. Edition February 26, 2013.: Wall Street Pay Rises, for Those Who Still Have a Job Home |Business Day| Video The New York Times

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Wall Street Pay Rises, for Those Who Still Have a Job The average cash bonus for people employed in New York City in the financial industry rose by roughly 9 percent, to $121,900, in 2012, the New York State comptroller said.

Tribune Said to Hire Banks to Sell Newspapers The Tribune Company has hired investment banks to pursue a sale of its top newspapers, including The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, a person briefed on the matter has told DealBook.
Private Equity Seeks European Bank Assets, but Deals Are Slow to Come Faced with bloated balance sheets and efforts to cut back on lending, the Continent's largest financial institutions offer enticing opportunities for leading firms. But the banks aren't playing ball just yet, top private equity executives indicated at the Super Returns conference in Berlin.
Nides Rejoins Morgan Stanley From State Dept. Morgan Stanley has announced that Thomas R. Nides, who served as its chief operating officer until early 2011, will return as a vice chairman.
Deal Professor: Why Einhorn's Win May Be Apple's Gain Steven M. Davidoff says that David Einhorn's victory against Apple in Federal District Court in Manhattan – over a shareholder proposal – may be more of a win for the technology giant.
A Former Icahn Lieutenant and a Real Estate Giant Demand Change at CommonWealth Keith Meister, a protégé of Carl C. Icahn, and Jeff T. Blau, chief of the Related Companies, disclosed a 9.8 percent ownership stake in CommonWealth REIT on Tuesday.
Private Equity Players See Signs of Excess in Buyout Market Speaking at the annual SuperReturn conference in Berlin, several private equity executives discussed concerns about the recent flurry of deal-making activity.
Another View: Executive Pay Votes May Be Harming Shareholders Manan Shah, a partner at Jones Day in New York, says that as we enter this year's proxy season, it is corporate advisers rather than corporate shareholders that are reaping the benefits of the new executive pay rules.
Economic Reports Data to be released on Wednesday includes durable goods for January and pending home sales for January.
Corporate Earnings Companies scheduled to report results on Wednesday include Anheuser-Busch InBev, Fortress Investment, Target, TJX, Groupon, J. C. Penney and Limited Brands.
In the United States On Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee will conduct a hearing about the oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Quotation of the Day
"Wall Street is still in transition, but it is very slowly adjusting to changes in its economic and regulatory environment."
Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state's comptroller, in a report on Wall Street.

NYT | Politics February 26, 2013.: Obama Takes Budget Warnings to Shipbuilder

President Obama spoke of the possible impact that budget cuts would have on the defense industry and the Virginia economy during a visit to at Newport News Shipbuilding on Tuesday.

Obama Takes Budget Warnings to Shipbuilder

President Obama on Tuesday stood in the facility that builds the country's aircraft carriers to warn that cuts in the Pentagon budget threaten tens of thousands of jobs.

Looming Cuts Spur Mass Release of Illegal Immigrants

Though their deportation cases have not been dropped by the government, hundreds of detainees were freed on supervised release.

More Politics

Hagel Survives Filibuster, Last Big Roadblock to Defense Post

With a 71-to-27 vote, the Senate on Tuesday cleared the way for Chuck Hagel's confirmation as defense secretary, despite Republican complaints over his readiness for the job.

Senate Panel Backs Treasury Choice

The Finance Committee approved Jacob J. Lew's nomination, dismissing some Republican objections.
Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who opposed same-sex marriage during his 2012 presidential bid, signed the brief.

Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage

Dozens of prominent Republicans signed an amicus brief that will be submitted to the Supreme Court ahead of arguments in two cases next month.
President Obama spoke about impending automatic budget cuts to a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House on Monday.

G.O.P. Drafts Plan to Give Obama Discretion on Cuts

Congressional Republicans plan to counter President Obama's warnings about the impact of $85 million in automatic budget cuts with a bill to give the White House flexibility in instituting those cuts.

The Caucus

From Boehner, a Salty Demand That the Senate Act on Spending Cuts

House Speaker John A. Boehner used colorful language as he pressed Senate Democrats to pass some sort of alternative to the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts set to go into effect on Friday.

Did Democrats Get Lucky in the Electoral College?

The tendency of Democrats to cluster in urban areas has harmed them in the House of Representatives, but not in the Electoral College.


Interactive: From the Schoolhouse to the Factory Floor, Girding for Cuts
As $85 billion in spending cuts loom, people across the country who rely on government services have been trying to fathom what it would mean for them.
Graphic: Where the Cuts Will Come From
Beginning March 1, automatic spending cuts known as "sequestration" are set to hit, trimming $85 billion from the 2013 fiscal year budget and even more from each annual budget for the next decade. Some areas will be hit harder than others, as many programs are exempt from the cuts.
Interactive Feature: An Urging From Religious Groups
Leaders from some of the nation's largest Christian congregations are urging President Obama and members of Congress to find a balanced approach to reducing the deficit that will also protect the poorest Americans.
Graphic: Looking Ahead to the 2014 Senate Races
The seats up for election next year, and the outlook for several key races.