By John McCrank NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is convening a group of financial industry veterans for the first time next month to consider stock market reforms, but one group will be conspicuously absent: retail brokerages. The SEC's 17-member Market Structure Advisory Committee includes representatives of fund companies, an exchange, off-exchange trading venues, dealers, and academia, among others. The group, which meets four times a year, will review old rules, and advise the SEC on a range of new regulations designed to make sure the market is as stable and fair as possible. Still, given that the SEC has said its main priority is to protect retail investors, the omission of retail brokers raises questions, because without their point of view the panel may recommend changes that favor institutional investors, analysts said.
Most central banks have been easing policy since the start of the year and are set to do more, but it still isn't clear whether that new activism, which has pushed stock markets to record highs, will help the global economy much. Several meet this week to set policy, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and Sweden's Riksbank, which all have turned to government bond purchases as stimulus after running out of interest rates to cut. The Fed shut its quantitative easing (QE) program just over six months ago. Few expect the Fed to use its two-day meeting as a launching pad for what will eventually be the first interest rate hike in nearly a decade.
The game of chicken between Greece and its international creditors is turning into a vicious blame game as Athens lurches closer to bankruptcy with no cash-for-reform agreement in sight. Europe's political leaders and central bankers and Greek politicians agree on only one thing: if Greece goes down, they don't want their fingerprints on the murder weapon. If Athens runs out of cash and defaults in the coming weeks, as seems increasingly possible, no one wants to be accused of having pushed it over the edge or failed to try to save it. Greece's leftist government has already identified its culprit of choice - Germany, Europe's main paymaster, accused of having inflicted toxic austerity policies on Greeks, causing a "humanitarian crisis".
Finland's Nokia denied reports in Chinese media that it planned to return to manufacturing phones. "Nokia notes recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China. These reports are false," Nokia said in a statement posted on its website. "Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets." However, Nokia has said it is looking into returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing.
By Jan Schwartz and Georgina Prodhan HAMBURG/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Ferdinand Piech, a towering figure at Volkswagen for more than two decades, resigned as its chairman on Saturday after losing a showdown he had provoked with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, ending an era at the iconic German carmaker. Piech, the 78-year-old grandson of the inventor of the Volkswagen Beetle Ferdinand Porsche, had previously seen off other executives who crossed him, including his own hand-picked successor as CEO, Bernd Pischetsrieder. "The members of the steering committee came to a consensus that, in the light of the past weeks, the mutual trust necessary for successful cooperation was no longer there," the six-member panel said in a statement after another meeting on Saturday. The steering committee was and is conscious of its responsibility to Volkswagen and its many thousand staff." Two sources with knowledge of the matter said Piech had resigned without forcing a vote of the committee at its second crisis gathering in 10 days.