Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

Coming to America, for a price

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Jim Kelleher and Karin Matz teamed up with Reuters reporters in South Korea and China for a special report on what has become a cottage industry profiting from a program that allows foreigners who invest in certain small U.S. businesses to get on the fast track to U.S. residency and citizenship.

Chinese and South Koreans are the biggest customers. But a Reuters investigation indicates there are widespread problems in the way the program is promoted and the immigrants’ chances of winning permanent U.S. residency are more of a coin toss than a slam dunk

The U.S. EB-5 investor visa program, which allows foreign entrepreneurs to become U.S. residents if they invest money in businesses that create or save 10 jobs, is especially popular in Asia, where it is aggressively promoted by recruiters as a safe, surefire way to gain legal entry to the United States – and to make a potential profit in the bargain.

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The number of immigrants applying for the U.S. EB-5 visa program has jumped in recent years. But that may be because the number of U.S. businesses participating in the program – and aggressively recruiting investors overseas – has grown geometrically over the past three years.

Making money for taxpayers from AIG?

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The U.S. Treasury plans two large AIG stock sales in 2011 and is mulling ways to maximize its returns as it extricates itself from the unpopular bailout, we reported today in our special report “Inside AIG’s tortuous turnaround.”

Overall, a stock sale at more than around $30 per share would leave the Treasury with a hefty profit. Currently, AIG is trading above its book value of $48.24 per share as of Sept. 30. 

Full disclosure, or not

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USA/Our latest special report, “For some professors, disclosure is academic,” examines the question of academic independence in the world of economics.

Emily Flitter, Kristina Cooke and Pedro da Costa reviewed 96 testimonies given by 82 academics to the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee between late 2008 and early 2010 — as lawmakers debated the biggest overhaul of financial regulation since the 1930s — and found no clear standard for disclosure. 

Dumb money on Wall Street

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Jonathan Spicer’s special report on dumb money in the stock market shows how a few powerful financial institutions make money from retail investors, and why the system is coming under scrutiny.

If you’re wondering what “dumb money” is, it basically refers to most trades by amateur investors like you and me.

An economic giant’s Achilles heel

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A year ago, Nick Carey went on a road trip around America for a project called “Route to Recovery” that took him to places hit hardest by the recession. Nick went to Saginaw, Michigan, this time for a follow-up special report on the manufacturing sector and structural unemployment: “Is America the sick man of the globe?”

One of the characters he met was Olen Ham, a retired GM worker and UAW member who is among the last of those who took part in the historic “Sitdown Strike” in 1936 that he says helped create America’s middle class. You can hear from Olen in this video:

Appraisal hell

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USA-HOUSING/APPRAISALSSenior personal finance correspondent Linda Stern has been delving into the housing market for a special report on home appraisals — “What’s a home worth? Pick a number, any number

It turns out a lot of people are in home appraisal hell.

The reasons for this new form of real estate limbo include new and proposed federal rules governing appraisals along with changes in the way appraisals are conducted. Plus, the uncertain housing market is creating price instability. The end result? Borrowers are missing out on low interest rates. And lenders are leery of the appraisals they get.

How Mendax made WikiLeaks a sensation

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WIKILEAKS-ASSANGE/ARREST By Mark Hosenball

On Tuesday, Julian Assange, the controversial Australian-born founder and frontman of the WikiLeaks website is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom for the latest hearing on a request by Swedish authorities that he be extradited to Sweden for questioning in a sexual misconduct investigation.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing in Sweden, and some of his supporters have dropped dark hints that the Swedish investigation could be part of some sinister conspiracy by the CIA or other WikiLeaks enemies to shut down both Assange and the website, which has lately roiled the world of international diplomacy by disclosing a cache of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

China’s rebalancing act puts consumer to the fore

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consumerWal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, now has 189 stories in China, according to its website. Soon it will have many more.  The U.S. chain has announced plans to open a series of “compact hypermarkets”, using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America, the Financial Times said.

Wal-Mart stores are a bit different than the one’s you might find in, say, Little Rock Arkansas. They sell live toads and turtles for one thing, The Economist reported. But they also sell the appliances, gadgets, and housewares that Wal-Mart stores merchandise everywhere.

WikiLeaks: What really happened in Sweden

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WIKILEAKS-ASSANGE/Some supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange see a conspiracy behind Swedish prosecutors’ efforts to question him there on sexual misconduct charges. The prosecutors deny their move is political.

Mark Hosenball’s special report “Fear of STDs sparked case against WikiLeaks boss” tells the story of what happened in August when Assange was visiting Sweden.

The robosigning story goes on

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Shares Lender Processing Services Inc fell as much as 9.8 percent at one point on Monday after Scot Paltrow’s special report said the company, which helps banks manage mortgage foreclosure documentation, faces more serious legal troubles than it previously disclosed. The stock closed 5.77 percent down for the day.

Read the full report, “Legal woes mount for a foreclosure kingpin,” in multimedia PDF format here.