Weekend Reading

NYSE’s Corporate Governance Is Harshly Criticized in Report (requires WSJ subscription)

The New York Stock Exchange is coming under intensified attack for weaknesses in its own corporate governance.

The Council of Institutional Investors, a powerful pension-fund group, will release a report Friday harshly criticizing the nation’s biggest securities market for shortcomings in governing itself and disciplining the brokerage industry. The 46-page report cites extensive conflicts of interest involving officials and board members. Among them: an arrangement where the co-chief operating officer of the not-for-profit exchange also has been running a for-profit supplier of technology to the Big Board that is two-thirds owned by the NYSE.

Aide: Saddam Did Get Rid of Iraq WMD

A close aide to Saddam Hussein (news – web sites) says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it in an effort to divide the international community and stave off a U.S. invasion.

The strategy, which turned out to be a serious miscalculation, was designed to make the Iraqi dictator look strong in the eyes of the Arab world, while countries such as France and Russia were wary of joining an American-led attack. At the same time, Saddam retained the technical know-how and brain power to restart the programs at any time.

U.S. Shares Seen Falling After Bond Yields Surge

This year’s rally in U.S. stocks stalled as yields on benchmark Treasury notes climbed from the lowest levels since the 1950s. The surge in interest rates may soon trigger a drop in share prices, some investors said.

Are we safer now?

In a series of interviews with Salon, some of the nation’s top domestic and foreign policy experts charged this week that the war has destablized the Middle East even as it has distracted the U.S. from the real terrorist threat to domestic security. It has turned public opinion in the Muslim world sharply against the U.S. It has fired the anger of new recruits for al-Qaida and other Islamist terror groups, and may help those terrorists get access to lethal weapons of mass destruction. It has provoked Iran and North Korea into a race for nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the experts say, the cost of the war on Iraq has siphoned tens of billions of dollars away from measures needed to protect domestic security for future attacks.

Fuzzy math for Internet stocks

Online retailers trade at a big premium to other Net stocks. Are they a sucker’s bet?

. . . The question for Wall Street: Is it just a matter of time before investors realize that Net retailers, like online financial companies, don’t deserve to be valued at such a huge premium to their offline counterparts?

How outsourcing will save the world

The growth of white-collar jobs in developing nations is essential to global peace and prosperity . . . But what will the cost be to the US in terms of job losses?

Stretched U.S. Army Makes Do (requires WSJ subscription)

Frustrations among U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan are becoming more common as the Pentagon rejiggers its forces to fight terrorism, reconstruct both Afghanistan and Iraq, and prepare for other potential missions.

Don’t Like Court Ruling? Get Congress to Block It

Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) — A congressman has a remedy for Americans who are sick and tired of federal judges who declare this, that and the other thing unconstitutional.

De-fund the decisions, says John Hoestettler, a Republican from Indiana. He wants Congress to cut off whatever federal dollars would be needed to enforce decisions he finds abhorrent.

“We do not have to put our faith in the faint possibility that some day five people in black robes will wake up,” he told his colleagues last week, referring to the number of justices needed for a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Who needs a Supreme Court when we have Congress?

Quote of the Day
“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
Mark Twain

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