Insight and investigations from our expert reporters
After the latest news from Mexico where armed men torched a casino in Monterrey, killing at least 52 people, it’s a good time to re-read Robin Emmott’s special report “If Monterrey falls, Mexico falls.”
As the story says:
In just four years, Monterrey, a manufacturing city of 4 million people 140 miles from the Texan border, has gone from being a model for developing economies to a symbol of Mexico’s drug war chaos, sucked down into a dark spiral of gangland killings, violent crime and growing lawlessness.
Since President Felipe Calderon launched an army-led war on the cartels in late 2006, grenade attacks, beheadings, firefights and drive-by killings have surged.
That has shattered this city’s international image as a boomtown where captains of industry built steel, cement and beer giants in the desert in less than a century — Mexico’s version of Dallas or Houston.
By Matt Goldstein
It’s too soon to say whether the recent madness on Wall Street will drive away ordinary investors from the stock market, but the trend lines certainly aren’t looking good.
In the past two weeks, retail investors pulled $17.4 billion out of U.S. equity mutual funds, according to the mutual fund information service Lipper. But the exodus from stock funds really began in late 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. And the move of retail money out of stock funds continued through 2009, even as the markets bottomed and rallied back.
Today’s special report, “Pension fund scandal shakes up Venezuelan oil giant,” examines state oil company PDVSA and the problems it has exploiting what are said by OPEC to be the world’s largest known reserves of crude oil.
At the heart of the latest scandal is a Connecticut hedge fund manager named Francisco Illarramendi who has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of wire fraud, securities and investment advisor fraud. Prosecutors say he ran a Ponzi scheme that lost up to half a billion dollars, most of it money that had been entrusted to Illarramendi by PDVSA’s pension fund.
Laurence Fletcher and a team of reporters from Canberra to the small town of Apache Junction in Arizona have a special report today that is the latest in our series “Shell Games,” exploring the extent and impact of corporate secrecy in the United States and beyond.
“The bonds that turned to dust” tracks the fate of $500 million of highly illiquid paper purportedly issued by a company in a trailer-park suburb of Phoenix, on behalf of a small Australian commodities firm — and backed by the proceeds from $10 billion of diesel from the tiny autonomous Russian republic of Bashkortostan.
Today’s special report “The perils of Paulson” takes a look at hedge fund king John Paulson, who shot to fame by calling the U.S. housing market crash in 2007, and making a lot of money out of it. This year, his funds are not doing so well.
This graphic tells the story — while Paulson may have reduced his stakes in the companies concerned, the size of his holdings will have made it difficult to unload in full.