KWAME HOLMAN: Wall Street rocketed higher today on upbeat news about the European debt crisis and troubled European banks. On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised comprehensive response soon. That was enough to send the Dow Jones industrial average 330 points higher to close at 11,433. The Nasdaq rose 86 points to close at 2,566.
Two Americans won the 2011 Nobel Prize in economics today, Christopher Sims of Princeton and Thomas Sargent of New York University. They were honored for their work in the 1970s and ’80s on how government policies can affect economic growth and inflation. The Nobel Committee said central banks now use their methods daily.
At Princeton today, Sims joked that he and Sargent have sparred for years over their work.
CHRISTOPHER SIMS, Nobel laureate: I’m not so sure it’s right to say we have worked together. It’s more, we have a series of continuing arguments, many of which are still going on…
CHRISTOPHER SIMS: … as I slowly persuade him of the error of his earlier positions.
KWAME HOLMAN: The two men said they had no quick solutions to today’s economic troubles. Sims said, “If I had a simple answer, I would have been spreading it around the world.”
Deadly clashes erupted in Syria over the weekend. At least 31 people were killed, human rights activists reported. They said troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fought army deserters around the city of Homs. Seven people died there. And in Damascus, mourners at a funeral were sent fleeing when gunfire erupted. At least three people were killed.
In Libya, rebel forces claimed they have taken most of Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte. Fighting in the town on the Mediterranean coast has raged for weeks, and sporadic gun battles and shelling continued today. But the rebels raised their tri-colored flag outside the convention center, and fired guns in celebration. They said the pro-Gadhafi forces now are holed up in two neighborhoods.
Taliban suspects in Afghanistan have been victims of beatings, electric shocks and other means of torture. The abuses occurred in 47 prisons run by Afghan police and security forces, according to a U.N. report today based on interviews with hundreds of detainees. It said the Afghan security ministries cooperated with the investigation and are working to stop the abuse.
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman called today for a faster wind-down of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and a reduced role in other conflicts. The former Utah governor and ambassador to China said the focus should be on rebuilding the U.S. economy.
In a speech in New Hampshire, Huntsman said U.S. troops have done all they can do in Afghanistan.
JON HUNTSMAN, (R) presidential candidate: It is cultural arrogance to think we can make tribal leaders into democratic leaders. It is wishful thinking to believe that our troops, by staying for a couple more years, will prevent further instability or even civil war.
KWAME HOLMAN: Huntsman disagreed with Republican rival Mitt Romney, who favors expanding the military. He said, simply advocating more ships, more troops and more weapons is not a viable path forward.
A deep-sea exploration outfit in Florida confirmed today it’s found a second shipwreck full of silver in the North Atlantic. Odyssey Marine Exploration said the cargo could be worth $20 million. Company video showed the S.S. Mantola, torpedoed by a German U-boat in 19 — 1917. It’s about 8,000 feet down and 100 miles away from another shipwreck holding even more silver discovered last month. The company will attempt retrieval next year.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.