- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2012


Volcker defends ban on proprietary trading

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker on Monday issued a broad defense of a federal rule bearing his name that would prohibit banks from trading for their own profit.

Commercial banks backed by government deposit insurance shouldn’t be able to engage in speculative trading, Mr. Volcker said in a letter supporting the so-called Volcker rule.

“Proprietary trading is not an essential commercial bank service that justifies taxpayer support,” he wrote.

The letter was sent to the five regulatory agencies that have approved a draft version of the rule, including the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The rule is expected to be finalized by summer. Banks will then have until July 2014 to comply.


U.S. probes door fires in TrailBlazers

DETROIT | Federal safety regulators are investigating fires in the driver’s side doors of Chevy TrailBlazers, the second such probe in a week.

The latest inquiry involves more than 309,000 TrailBlazer SUVs from the 2006 and 2007 model years. The fires began in the power window switch or related electrical parts, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday.

The agency opened the first probe last week into similar problems with the 2007 Toyota Camry sedan and RAV4 small crossover SUV. The TrailBlazer investigation began Thursday.

All three of the vehicles under investigation are popular. None has been recalled.


Europe approves Google’s $12.5B Motorola Mobility deal

SAN FRANCISCO | Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of cellphone maker Motorola Mobility has won the approval of European antitrust regulators, moving Google a major step closer to completing the biggest deal in its 13-year history.

The blessing from the European Union means Google Inc. just needs to clear a few more regulatory hurdles before it can take control of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and expand into manufacturing phones, tablet computers and possibly other consumer devices for the first time.

Google is counting on Motorola Mobility’s more than 17,000 patents - a crucial weapon in an intellectual arms race with Apple, Microsoft and other rivals to gain more control over smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

In granting its approval, the EU raised concerns about Motorola’s aggressive enforcement of its patents. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said regulators will “keep a close eye on the behavior of all market players in the sector.”

Google still needs government approvals in the U.S., China, Taiwan and Israel.


Independent group inspects Apple suppliers

NEW YORK | Apple said Monday that an independent group, the Fair Labor Association, has started inspecting working conditions in the Chinese factories where its iPads and iPhones are assembled.

Amid growing criticism over labor and environmental practices - especially in China - Apple, last month, disclosed a list of suppliers for its popular gadgets for the first time.

The FLA team began the inspections Monday morning at Foxconn City in Shenzhen, China, Apple said Monday. The complex employs and houses hundreds of thousands of workers.

Foxconn, a unit of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., employs an estimated 1 million to 1.1 million people in China at a series of huge factory campuses. Foxconn assembles iPads and iPhones for Apple, Xbox 360 gaming consoles for Microsoft and other gadgets for companies including Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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