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English Potash Mega-Deal Averted; Department of Justice Has Bank of America in its Sights; Handicapping the Three Fed Finalists

English Potash Mega-Deal Averted, Price Commodity Now Controlled by You (Bloomberg)

England’s first new potash mine in 40 years is drawing a ton of attention. Much of it is due to Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov’s company, OAO Uralkali, which recently withdrew from an enormous marketing venture. With the Uralkali marketing deal washing up on the rocks, analysts and investors alike expect to see potash prices move significantly higher.  But more importantly, when Kerimov’s deal was withdrawn, it ended a process which would have ultimately ended up with the majority of England’s potash being owned by a handful of companies and prices being set for years to come. Now, the price for potash will be controlled by the buying-and-selling whims of individual investors like you and me.

Department of Justice Has Bank of America in its Sights (New York Times)

It’s beginning to look a lot like 2008 again… At least that’s one conclusion you could draw as another of the bank/brokerage house combos formed during the crisis of 2008 comes under fire. This time around, Merrill Lynch, owned by Bank of America, is being looked at for questionable loans that came about after B of A’s acquisition of Countrywide Financial. Apparently, Bank of America’s due diligence prior to acquiring Countrywide failed to recognize severity of Countrywide’s poor-quality loan portfolio. So when it came time to bundle those loans and sell them, the resulting loan packages were nearly as toxic as those that got the industry into trouble in the first place.

Handicapping the Three Fed Finalists… (YahooFinance)

President Obama has narrowed down the list of candidates to replace Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his current term is up at the end of January. The final three candidates are Larry Summers, a former Fed head in the Clinton Administration; Janet L. Yellen, current vice chairman of the Fed and the odds-on favorite for the position; and Donald I. Kohn, a former Fed vice chairman who could become a compromise choice. Of the three, Summers seems to be the most polemic… as evidenced by the heated debates about his candidacy recently. In fact, the attacks levied against Summers have focused on his brusque and bullheaded nature. If this race comes down to matching the job with the right personality, then it may end up Mr. Summers gets the nod, as many observers contend his bullheadedness is exactly what Fed needs.

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