The American Bear


BP and Shell raided in European commission price-rigging inquiry | The Guardian

The London offices of BP and Shell have been raided by European regulators investigating allegations they have “colluded” to rig oil prices for more than a decade.

The European commission said its officers carried out “unannounced inspections” at several oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway to investigate claims they may have “colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency [PRA] to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products”.

The commission said the alleged price collusion, which may have been going on since 2002, could have had a “huge impact” on the price of petrol at the pumps “potentially harming final consumers”.

Lord Oakeshott, former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said the alleged rigging of oil prices was “as serious as rigging Libor” – which led to banks being fined hundreds of millions of pounds. [++]

All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation’s GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it’s increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system. If true, that would leave us living in an era of undisguised, real-world conspiracy, in which the prices of currencies, commodities like gold and silver, even interest rates and the value of money itself, can be and may already have been dictated from above. And those who are doing it can get away with it. Forget the Illuminati – this is the real thing, and it’s no secret. You can stare right at it, anytime you want. The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever | Rolling Stone (via gonzodave)

(via gonzodave)

Justice Dept. sues Apple, publishers over e-book prices | Washington Post

The antitrust suit names Apple, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group and MacMillan. The Justice Department alleges that the chief executives of these firms worked together to control the price of e-books, overcharging consumers an average of $2 or $3 per book. Sharis Pozen, the agency’s acting antitrust chief, said that the alleged price-fixing cost consumers millions of dollars.

Three of the publishers— HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster and Hachette Book Group — have agreed to settle with the government, Holder said.

But Apple, Penguin and MacMillan appear poised to fight the charges in court. For Apple, the legal battle would be its most significant yet against the federal government. In the complaint, the agency uses a quote by Apple’s late co-founder and chief executive, Steve Jobs, to illustrate the impact of the pricing strategy: “The customer pays a little more, but that’s what [the publishers] want anyway.”

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment on the suit Wednesday. [++]