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Stronger Tapering Sense Leads Global Markets Down; On Deck in Financial Malfeasance Lineup: Aluminum Price Fixing; Peak Soda: Have Americans Hit the Top of Pop?

Stronger Tapering Sense Leads Global Markets Down (Reuters)

The closer we get to the end of the summer, the stronger the sense that the Fed’s stimulus program is nearing a reduction point. At least that’s the evidence this morning, as markets worldwide are in the red, based upon renewed concerns that the United States may begin to trim its $85 billion a month stimulus program as early as September. And it certainly fans the flames of belief when a previously “dovish” Fed policymaker like Charles Evans admits, “We’re going to get tapering, it’s really a question of when and not if…” Japan’s Nikkei 225 reacted the strongest, dropping 4 percent today, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is off 1.53 percent and the S&P/ASX 200 retreated 1.85 percent. In Europe, the news isn’t much different, with England’s FTSE 100 off .86 percent, followed by Germany’s DAX and the STOXX 50, dropping .47 and .04 percent, respectively. Can’t wait to see what happens when tapering really begins…

On Deck in Financial Malfeasance Lineup: Aluminum Price Fixing (Bloomberg)

The financial community’s apparent quest for ill-gotten profits doesn’t stop with toxic swaps, bundled bad mortgages or LIBOR tampering… Next up, we have Aluminum price fixing. JPMorgan & Co., Goldman Sachs Group and Glencore Xstrata Plc. were all named in a lawsuit filed by a Jacksonville, Fla., firm, Master Screens, Inc., and Daniel Bart of Tallahassee – who contend that those three companies colluded with the London Metal Exchange to horde aluminum cans and violate federal racketeering and antitrust laws. JPMorgan and Goldman representatives say the case is without merit, but if you’re a commodities investor, finding the companies guilty could have a huge impact on your portfolio value.

Peak Soda:  Have Americans Hit the Top of Pop? (TheDailyBeast)

Second-quarter sales reflect a startling reality within the U.S. economy: we may be topped out of the soda industry at the end of the last decade. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group all recorded dips in Q213 revenue and sales volume. The soda companies claim that a “wet and cold spring” is to blame because admitting the reality — that younger Americans are drinking fewer sodas due to concern about health risk — would be to admit their product is inherently unhealthy at some level. But the facts speak for themselves. According to the AP, in 1998, Americans drank an average of 54 gallons of soda annually — in 2012 that number fell 18.5 percent, to 44 gallons. Does that mean the United States has been trapped in a 14-year “cold and wet” spring, or is it that soda companies and their investors are watching their run of profits fizzle out? We’ll check back at the end of the 14-year summer to be sure.

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