Bitcoin exchange looks into criminal complaint PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer   
Monday, 03 March 2014 07:21

TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo bitcoin exchange that filed for bankruptcy protection blamed theft through hacking for its losses Monday, and said it was looking into a criminal complaint.

In an announcement posted on the Mt. Gox exchange's website, CEO Mark Karpeles outlined the events that resulted in the company's insolvency and said there was a "high probability" theft was behind the disappearance of bitcoins.

"We will make all efforts to ensure that crimes are punished and damages recovered," Karpeles said.

He said Mt. Gox will try to resume business as a way of increasing repayments to its creditors.

Big or small, spending-cut efforts hit roadblocks PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press   
Monday, 03 March 2014 07:02

WASHINGTON (AP) — The budget gurus in Congress have failed for years to find a grand bargain to reduce the government's long-term debt, so this year they decided to go small. Just 1 percentage point would be shaved from the annual cost-of-living increase in military pensions for veterans under age 62.

That strategy failed, too. Congress promptly caved in to pressure from the powerful veterans lobby and voted last month to restore the bigger pension increases it had cut just two months earlier. It didn't matter that the Pentagon itself called the reduction fair and necessary.

Advocates of deficit reduction are discouraged. They say they fear Congress' reversal on military pensions will lead to unraveling other recent spending cuts.

"It's tough to overstate how devastating that was," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., one of just three senators who voted to keep the pension reduction in place. "It's back to the drawing board, because that was a big blow."

Vague bromides and promises about deficits and spending are easy for politicians. Real spending cuts aren't. Despite all the national talk of needing to tackle deficit spending, the military pensions debacle illustrates how Americans and their elected officials continue to resist — often fiercely — cuts to almost any specific program, big or small.

Winter slows car sales; dealers load up discounts PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer   
Monday, 03 March 2014 07:05

DETROIT (AP) — Late last month, David Kelleher had 412 unsold new cars and trucks at his Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram dealership southwest of Philadelphia. He would have been more comfortable with about 40 less.

It's a similar scene at other dealers, with cars parked in spaces that were previously vacant.

The auto industry hopes this year to sell more than 16 million cars for the first time since 2007. So, the question for automakers is whether numbers like Kelleher's simply reflect a bad winter or hint at trouble ahead. For many car buyers they signal something better: deals.

Kelleher, who had to close his showroom for five days due to storms, expects February sales declined but is confident that buyers will return once temperatures rise. Industry analysts note that warmer-weather dealerships fared well over the winter.

But others see signs of the habits that got Detroit into financial trouble five years ago — producing too many cars and trucks, and losing money with hefty discounts to move them off lots.

Kelleher's inventory was enough to meet demand for 94 days. Normally he likes to have an 85-day supply. Stocks are growing across the nation, too. At the end of January, dealers had an 89-day supply, the highest in five years, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank. Detroit automakers had the most, with General Motors at 114 days, followed by Ford at 107 and Chrysler at 105.

Russian markets, ruble plummet on Ukraine fears PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 03 March 2014 07:01

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's stock market dropped about 10 percent on Monday and its currency fell to its lowest point ever against the dollar and the euro as worries grew over the potential economic repercussions of the crisis in neighboring Ukraine.

Russia intervened over the weekend to take control of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula with strategic importance, and the new government in Kiev fears a wider invasion. The West responded by questioning Russia's membership in the Group of Eight leading industrialized democracies, and the U.S. threatened possible asset freezes and trade penalties.

The Moscow Exchange fell about 10 percent in the first hour of trading Monday, although it later recovered slightly.

The ruble, already down nearly 10 percent this year, fell below 50 to the euro for the first time. It traded at 36.89 rubles to the dollar, also a record, before stabilizing around 36.49.

The Bank of Russia decided to temporarily increase the Bank of Russia key rate by 1.5 percentage points to 7 percent in an attempt to keep the currency's fall from driving up inflation. The central bank will hold its next meeting on March 14.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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