FDIC looks to raise reserves as banks teeter

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is looking to shore up its finances to handle an expected glut of bank failures. The FDIC’s options include borrowing from the Treasury Department, The Wall Street Journal reported, for the first time since the early 1990s, at the end of the savings-and-loan scandal. The money would be repaid. (Reuters) The FDIC said yesterday that its fund to cover bank deposits fell to $45.2 billion in June, from $52.8 billion in March, and is lower now due to the federal takeover of IndyMac. ( There are now 117 banks on the FDIC’s “problem list.” Things are bad for banks, said Michael Heller of rating firm Veribanc, “But is it panic time like in the late ’80s and early ’90s? No way.” (Los Angeles Times)

Heineken profits despite rising costs

Dutch brewing giant Heineken reported a 35 percent rise in first-half profit, to $598 million, as the brewer raised prices, cut costs, and acquired half of the brands of the broken-up Scottish & Newcastle. (MarketWatch) Costs, including ingredients and packaging materials, rose 15 percent in the period, and dropping consumer confidence and European smoking bans hit overall beer sales. But Heineken said demand remains strong for pricier beers like its flagship brand. (Reuters) “Heineken is managing to pass on raw-material costs, which is important,” said analyst Nico van Geest at Keijser Securities NV in Amsterdam. (Bloomberg)

China Mobile profit, subscriber base rises

China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier by subscribers, reported a 51 percent rise in quarterly profit, to $4.48 billion, beating expectations. China Mobile and its new rival, China Unicom, are aggressively competing for new customers in rural China. (Reuters) As of June, China Mobile had 415 million of China’s 590 million wireless customers. Analysts say China's wireless sector’s growth depends on whether the government develops 3G phone infrastructure, and on how it revamps the telecom market. (AP in Also in China, PetroChina—the world’s second-largest company, after Exxon Mobil—reported a 35 percent drop in first-half profit, to $7.8 billion, as rising refining costs and price caps offset record oil prices. (Bloomberg)

The trouble with wind power

Clean energy, such as that produced by wind turbines, is getting easier to produce. But its dirty secret is that production isn’t the problem—getting it to market on the aging U.S. power grid is. Today’s grid is based on a 100-year-old plan that energy companies came up with to prop one another up; it now has about 500 owners. There is great potential for wind generation in the Great Plains, experts say, but there is no good way, currently, to get that power to heavily populated areas that need it. If you think of the grid as a network of county roads and city streets, “we need an interstate transmission superhighway system,” said Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Suedeen G. Kelly. (The New York Times)