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News Wrap: Central Banks Rush to Curb Europe’s Debt Troubles

September 15, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The Federal Reserve and other central banks moved today to stop Europe’s debt troubles from triggering a new credit crunch. The European Central Bank said it will coordinate with the Fed, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank. They will extend dollar loans to struggling Eurozone banks for three months starting in October.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, supported the decision on CNBC.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE, International Monetary Fund: Whatever path for recovery we see in the future will require collective action by the political leaders and governments and parliaments, and a bit more bipartisan approach to life, and the action by the central banks. So I welcome very much what has happened today.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The news helped boost stocks on both sides of the Atlantic. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 186 points to close at 11,433. The Nasdaq rose 34 points to close at 2,607.

The U.S. House has voted to intervene in a federal labor case against aircraft maker Boeing. The National Labor Relations Board had charged the company moved a production line from Washington state to South Carolina to punish union workers for past strikes. South Carolina is a right-to-work state, but Boeing said it moved for valid economic reasons. The House measure would bar the NLRB from making an employer shut down plants, even if the company violates labor law. It has little chance of passing the Senate.

The Swiss banking giant UBS announced today that a rogue trader cost the company $2 billion. The suspect worked at the bank’s investments division in London’s financial district known as the City.

We have a report from Sarah Smith of Independent Television News.

SARAH SMITH: Kweku Adoboli is in a police cell tonight, accused of the biggest fraud in the history of the City of London.

IAN DYSON, London Police: At 3:30 a.m., detectives from our force arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position. He was taken to a City of London police station for questioning, and he remains in custody while detectives continue to investigate the matter.

SARAH SMITH: UBS sent a memo to all staff today, saying they’re still trying to get to the bottom of how this happened. Any colleagues who were Facebook friends with Adoboli might have suspected trouble. His last update said he needed a miracle. So, why didn’t his bosses notice?

NICK SAWYER, Risk: Well, it seems astonishing that anyone could actually rack up losses of $2 billion without a bank actually being aware of the trades that any particular trader is putting on. Usually, traders have specific risk limits, and banks will monitor that.

SARAH SMITH: The biggest bank in Switzerland, UBS, insists none of their client funds have been lost, only their own money. But the Swiss government may now force them to give up investment banking and concentrate on their private clients, before they ruin the entire country’s reputation for financial management.

This might be excruciatingly embarrassing for the Swiss, but let’s not forget it happened right here in London. You might have thought that, since the financial crisis, there would be all kinds of rules and regulations in place that would stop this kind of thing from happening. But you would be wrong.

Adoboli was a director of exchange traded funds at UBS. That means he sold a controversial investment product that has the Bank of England worried. Earlier this year, the bank told the Financial Services Authority to monitor closely the opaque funding structures employed by ETFs.

Regulators will be looking even more closely now, but that might not make much difference.

PETER THAL LARSEN, Thomson Reuters: Regulators can only do so much. If it’s impossible for the management of a bank like UBS to know what is going on, what is being done or done wrong on the trading floor, there is no way that the regulator is ever going to be able to keep tabs on that.

SARAH SMITH: The headlines generated by this rogue trading will increase pressure to make sure other banks keep their investment arms and their retail banking sectors separate.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In 2008, UBS received a $60 billion bailout from the Swiss government to recover from the financial crisis.

Rebels in Libya stormed the birth city of Moammar Gadhafi today. The assault on the city of Sirte came after weeks of waiting. Opposition forces had said they wanted a peaceful handover of the city. Instead, the National Transitional Council said rebel forces pushed in from all sides today and came under heavy fire.

In Pakistan, a suicide bomber killed 31 people at a funeral for an anti-Taliban tribesman. Dozens of people were wounded in the blast in a region near the Afghan border. They were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. The Pakistanis have rejected a U.S. warning over the militant Haqqani Network. The group is blamed for two major attacks in Afghanistan, Tuesday’s prolonged assault in Kabul and a Saturday bombing that wounded 77 American troops.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it is unacceptable that the militants still find safe haven in Pakistan. And he warned, “We’re going to do everything we can to defend our forces.” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry answered today, saying the criticism was — quote — “out of line.”

The Palestinians served notice today they will go to the U.N. Security Council, after all, to seek recognition as a member state. The U.S. has threatened to veto such a move. But Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said President Mahmoud Abbas would present the plan next week when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly.

RIAD AL-MALKI, Palestinian foreign minister: After finishing, you know, delivering the speech, he will present the official request of the state of Palestine to the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, requesting that the state of Palestine will be admitted as a full member state in the United Nations.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Malki didn’t rule out a last-minute compromise. At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will address the U.N. General Assembly to oppose the Palestinian push.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli prime minister: Now, I know that the General Assembly is not a place where Israel gets a fair hearing. I know that the automatic majorities there always rush to condemn Israel and twist truth beyond recognition.

But I have decided to go there anyway, not to win applause, but to speak the truth to every nation that wants to hear the truth.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Both Israel and the U.S. argue that the only way to Palestinian statehood is through direct negotiations with the Israelis.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.