The news at a glance
Scandal: MF Global’s money still missing; Tech: Intel cuts revenue forecast after Thai floods; Financial reform: Consumer watchdog blocked; Tech: Amazon’s Fire tablet to get update; Companies: Lowe’s threatened with boycott
Scandal: MF Global’s money still missingFormer MF Global CEO Jon Corzine last week defended the high-risk trades that led to the brokerage firm’s collapse, and he claimed to be just as puzzled as regulators are about how an estimated $1.2 billion went missing from customer accounts, said Scott Patterson in The Wall Street Journal. “I simply do not know where the money is,” Corzine told a congressional committee last week. In his first public appearance since MF Global’s Oct. 31 bankruptcy, the “visibly tense” former New Jersey governor argued that what felled his firm was not its $6.3 billion bet on European debt, but “a sudden lack of confidence in its balance sheet.”
It’s little wonder that Corzine maintains that MF Global’s bets on European debt were prudent, said Azam Ahmed in The New York Times. After all, he played a “hands-on role in the firm’s high-stakes risk-taking,” pushing the wagers through “despite concerns from other executives and board members.” A review of his tenure suggests that Corzine was “at heart a trader, willing to gamble for a rich payoff.” Indeed, shortly after taking over the firm in 2010, Corzine became a “core member” of the group that actively traded MF Global’s money.
Tech: Intel cuts revenue forecast after Thai floodsThe world’s largest chipmaker will miss revenue forecasts because of devastating floods in Thailand, said Chris Nuttall in the Financial Times. Intel shaved $1 billion, or 7 percent, off estimates for its fourth-quarter revenues because extensive October flooding in the country—where a third of the world’s hard-disk drives are produced—hit a number of tech companies’ plants. The resulting shortage of components has cascaded through the PC industry, leading to cuts in computer and microchip orders until the supply can be restored. Intel was the third chipmaker in a week to lower revenue expectations.
Financial reform: Consumer watchdog blockedSenate Republicans last week blocked the nomination of Richard Cordray, who had been put forward by President Obama to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said David Nakamura in The Washington Post. The president’s first pick to head the new consumer watchdog, Elizabeth Warren, was never officially nominated in the face of GOP opposition. Congressional Republicans “have pledged to prevent any candidate from being confirmed unless significant structural changes are made to the bureau,” including replacing the director with a five-person commission and giving Congress oversight of the bureau’s budget.
Tech: Amazon’s Fire tablet to get updateAmazon’s answer to the iPad, the new Kindle Fire, “is less than a blazing success,” said David Streitfeld in The New York Times. Users are complaining about the tablet’s slow load time, its occasionally unresponsive touch screen, and its lack of privacy controls. Before the end of the year, Amazon says, it will roll out an over-the-air update to help address some of these critiques, and the company may deliver an updated version of the device within a few months.
Companies: Lowe’s threatened with boycottLowe’s Home Improvement is facing a backlash over its decision to stop advertising on a reality show about Muslim-Americans, said Christopher Weber in the Associated Press. The retail giant pulled its commercials from TLC’s All-American Muslim, which follows five Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich., after the Florida Family Association complained that the program was “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger.” Ted Lieu, a California state senator, called Lowe’s decision “naked religious bigotry” and threatened to organize a boycott of the company.