Citigroup has agreed to pay $285 million to settle civil fraud charges that it misled buyers of complex mortgage investments just as the housing market was starting to collapse. The Securities and Exchange Commission brought forth the civil action against Citigroup, claiming that investors who bought into the deal (which involved, essentially, stuffing portfolios with risky mortgage — related investments, selling it to unsuspecting customers, and then betting against those investments) had been defrauded. The transaction involved a one-billion dollar portfolio of mortgage-related investments, many of which were handpicked for the portfolio by Citigroup without telling investors of its role or that it had made bets that the investments would fall in value. The SEC says that as investors lost millions, Citigroup made $160 million in fees and profits.

With all the talk of budget cuts in Washington, the average American could be forgiven for thinking that federal spending is, in fact, being reduced. Certainly the chattering classes are pushing the notion hard, arguing that the dawning age of austerity is responsible for the nation’s slow-to-nonexistent economic recovery.

For the so-called “old media,” it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Last week the Pew Research Center for The People and The Press released a survey whose results indicate that 43 percent of Americans now claim to get most of their news from Internet sources.

carsThe Obama administration is proposing new automobile regulations, including a doubling of fuel economy requirements, that will make cars more expensive and less safe while costing thousands of jobs, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Meeting in Washington, D.C., to lobby against the proposed regulations, NADA circulated a handout called “A Flawed Fuel Economy Structure Produces a Flawed Result” that describes the expected outcomes of those rules. A copy was provided to CNSNews.com, which also interviewed NADA’s director of legislative affairs and communications, Bailey Wood.

money bagEven as the dollar is crashing and inflation in the United States is rampant, Federal Reserve officials have announced plans to flow dollars into banks in the European Union. The European Central Bank, which is to receive the largest amount, will in turn will extend the money to other major banks in EU member states, which are finding it increasingly difficult to raise funds from investors deeply concerned by the massive regional government's unstable economic climate.