Fed’s Delay on Release of Transcripts Will Be Reviewed by Issa – The prospective head of the U.S. House Oversight Committee said he will consider whether the five-year lag time for the release of transcripts of Federal Reserve meetings should be shortened. “If the Fed’s full transcripts can be released sooner, they should be,” said Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican who’s set to chair the panel in January, in an interview. “If they’re going to have some definable negative effect on their deliberations or ability to do their job and on markets, then we have to be cautious.” Issa’s proposal comes amid rising criticism of the central bank by Republicans, who won control of the House in November elections. John Boehner, the presumptive House speaker, and three other Republican leaders have criticized the Fed’s plan, announced a day after the election, to buy $600 billion of assets to boost the economy, saying it risked weakening the dollar and fueling asset bubbles.
ECB steps up push to calm markets The European Central Bank launched its most aggressive intervention in government bond markets for seven months after Jean-Claude Trichet, president, unveiled a determined – but carefully calibrated – response to the eurozone crisis. Traders said the ECB was on Thursday buying Portuguese and Irish bonds in €100m tranches – four times bigger than previously. The moves sharply brought down the cost of borrowing for Lisbon and Dublin and sparked a euro rally. Addressing a press conference in Frankfurt, Mr Trichet stopped short of an explicit announcement that the euro’s monetary guardian was escalating its actions to restore investor confidence in the eurozone. Instead, he stressed the responsibility of eurozone governments to win back confidence in their public finances – indicating that they should be prepared if necessary to increase the size of the European Union’s rescue funds. But the ECB president acknowledged market tensions were “acute” and confirmed there would be no limit to the size of the bond-buying programme. Hinting at a strategy that would rely more on the element of surprise, Mr Trichet said that the ECB’s intervention in bond markets would be “commensurate” with the malfunctioning of markets.
2010 sets new temperature records – Temperatures reached record levels in several regions during 2010, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says, confirming the year is likely to be among the warmest three on record. Parts of Russia, Greenland, Canada, China, North Africa and South Asia all saw the mercury soar to record levels. The three main temperature records show 2010 as the warmest, or joint warmest, year in the instrumental record. The UK Met Office suggests 2011 will be cooler, as La Nina conditions dominate. This brings colder than average water to the top of the eastern Pacific Ocean, which lowers temperatures globally. The two leading US analyses of global temperature show that up until the end of October, 2010 was the warmest year in the instrumental record going back to 1850.
NASA Finds New Life Form – At its conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe-Simon will announce that NASA has found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, shares the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same. But not this one. This one is completely different. Discovered in poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible. While Wolfe-Simon and other scientists theorized that this could be possible, this is the first discovery. The implications of this discovery are enormous to our understanding of life itself and the possibility of finding beings in other planets that don’t have to be like planet Earth.
Many TALF Investors Wealthy and Unknown – One investor, Kenneth H. Dahlberg, is a World War II flying ace who, as a volunteer in President Richard M. Nixon’s re-election campaign, was a minor figure in the Watergate scandal. Another investor, Magalen O. Bryant, runs a horse farm in Virginia and is active in steeplechase racing circles. A third, Ward W. Woods, is the chairman of the nonprofit organization that runs the Bronx Zoo. They were among scores of wealthy but lesser-known investors in an emergency lending program the Federal Reserve announced in November 2008, three weeks after President Obama’s election, to support the market for student, auto, credit card and small-business loans. The investors, whose identities were disclosed as part of a trove of 21,000 records released on Wednesday at the direction of Congress, are a cross-section of America’s wealthy — investors who, in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, heard about an opportunity and weighed the risk. The list, not surprisingly, includes famous Wall Street financiers like J. Christopher Flowers, John A. Paulson and Julian Robertson, demonstrating the extent to which the Fed relied on fast-moving hedge funds to keep credit flowing through the markets. There were also institutional investors like the Ford Foundation and the pension plan for Major League Baseball. And there were wealthy businessmen like the computer executive Michael S. Dell and the home builder Bruce E. Toll.