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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
UBS will pay $1.5 billion for rate-rigging, the government eyes a GM exit, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
UBS has agreed to hand over a hefty $1.5 billion in fines.
UBS has agreed to hand over a hefty $1.5 billion in fines. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

1. UBS PAYS $1.5 BILLION IN LIBOR SCANDAL
The Swiss banking giant UBS agreed to pay a record-breaking $1.5 billion in fines to settle charges that it had manipulated a benchmark global interest rate, the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor). The Libor is used to determine the interest rate of trillions of dollars worth of loans and other financial transactions, and UBS' manipulation of the rate allowed it to make millions in profits, at the expense of its competitors. UBS admitted to participating in the scheme, which lasted several years and allegedly involved several other mega-banks. The British bank Barclays in June paid $450 million to settle charges stemming from the scandal. [Reuters]
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2. U.S. TREASURY PLANS TO SELL GM STAKE
The Treasury Department announced that it would sell its remaining stake in General Motors within 15 months, the latest move by the government to extract itself from the private sector after a series of billion-dollar bailouts in 2008 and 2009. Last week, the Treasury announced that it had sold its final shares of the insurance giant AIG. Overall, the government invested $49.5 billion in GM, which kept the company afloat during bankruptcy and saved an estimated 1 million jobs. [New York Times]
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3. FEDEX REPORTS MODEST PROFIT FALL
FedEx announced that it earned a $438 million profit in the second quarter, down 12 percent from the previous year. The loss was less than expected, heartening investors who had expected a greater fallout from the weak economy. FedEx is considered a bellwether company, given its role as a transporter for a vast array of industries. [Reuters]
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4. KODAK SELLS $525 MILLION IN PATENTS
Kodak, the bankrupt photography company, sold $525 million worth of digital imaging patents in a bid to pay off its creditors. CEO Antonio Perez said the sale was "another major milestone toward successful emergence" from Chapter 11 proceedings. The company reportedly plans on exiting bankruptcy in 2013. [BBC]
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5. HOUSING CONSTRUCTION SLOWED IN NOVEMBER
The Commerce Department reported that November housing starts — when builders break ground on new houses — were down 3 percent from October. However, at an annual rate of 861,000 starts a month, the November figure was still a four-year high. Analysts attributed the drop in November to Hurricane Sandy, which disrupted plans for home-building in the Northeast. [CNBC]

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