Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

Food for thought before Veterans Day

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VETERANS/By Nick Carey

After reading my special report “For U.S. veterans, the war after the war,” a colleague asked me what the impetus for the story was and how I went about getting it.

The starting point is actually mentioned in passing in the report. In August, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came to Chicago and gave a speech at the Executives’ Club of Chicago. I was sent to cover the event for Reuters and wondered in advance why on earth Mullen would come to speak to the city’s business community, instead of, say, veterans’ groups.

To my surprise, Mullen was frank about the problems facing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan – PTSD, TBI, depression, unemployment, homelessness, suicide – and openly asked local businesses to hire veterans.

I was struck when Mullen was asked to say what qualities made veterans desirable. After listing strengths like loyalty and discipline he ended with the plaintive statement: “For those who don’t know us, take a chance. It’s worth the risk.”
Mullen’s openness about veteran problems prompted me to go on a journey that began with the question: what do veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan face when they come home?

The fresh Prince of Brunei

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BRUNEI/By Mark Hosenball

The veins of Prince Jefri of Brunei may course with Royal blood and, though depleted by years of lawsuits, his bank accounts probably still hold enough riches to fund an imperial lifestyle. But the brother of the Sultan of Brunei didn’t get much respect from British High Court Judge Sir Peter Smith when, two years ago, Jefri failed to appear in court for a scheduled cross-examination on his tangled legal and financial affairs. (For a special report on Prince Jefri’s legal battles, click here. )

Sir Peter, who gained international attention  as the Judge who wove his own secret message into a ruling he handed down rejecting a literary theft claim filed against “Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown, showed little deference to Prince Jefri’s royal status when handing down a decision to issue a bench warrant for the prince’s immediate arrest if he sets foot on British soil.

How to make friends and influence people

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White House correspondent Caren Bohan’s special report out today examines President Barack Obama’s testy relationship with the business community.

OBAMA/After Tuesday’s election, Obama was faced with the prospect of legislative gridlock. Republicans pushed Democrats decisively from power in the House of Representatives and strengthened their ranks in the Senate as voters vented frustration over the economy.

How visible is the hand of Treasury in steering GM?

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By Kevin Krolicki

“What we are not doing — what I have no interest in doing — is running GM.”  — President Barack Obama, June 2009.

GM/GM has undergone massive changes in the nearly year and a half since the Obama administration stepped in to save and restructure the company in bankruptcy to spare it from liquidation and to save hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

How long can banks keeps ignoring home equity loans?

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By Matthew Goldstein

The $425 billion in home equity loans and other second mortgages sitting on the balance sheet of the  four biggest U.S. commercial banks is the big gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about. (See our latest special report here.)

The banks, for their part, generally have downplayed concerns about so-called second liens on mortgages. Bankers point out that less than 5 percent of home equity loans and other second mortgages are delinquent and lenders have been taking charge-offs for second liens deemed uncollectable.

Inside the Pirates’ Web

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CHINA-PIRACY/Reuters trade correspondent in Washington Doug Palmer had an unusual assignment: buy a fake Louis Vuitton handbag on the Internet, and take it to a LVMH store for a comparison test, before handing it over to U.S. authorities.

    What was startling was how easy it was to find websites selling a dazzling array of stuff online. This is the new face of
piracy and its costing businesses billions.   No need to skulk around back alleys or some pirate’s rental van to browse through footwear, watches, DVDs and whatnot. Just pick out your LV shoulder tote from a virtual catalog on a website based in China. It looks and feels like the real thing at a fraction of the price.

America’s “Dreamless Dead”

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Washington economics correspondent Emily Kaiser delves into plutonomies and what pollster John Zogby calls the “Dreamless Dead” for her special report on income inequality in the United States.

 
 

Here are some interesting numbers from the OECD on how the wealth gap in America compares to other countries. (Full disclosure — I’m British)

Flash crash fallout

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From Europe to India, policymakers are grappling with the fallout from the harrowing, 20-minute stock market meltdown in May that was quickly dubbed the “flash crash”. Electronic markets are suddenly suspect. But will regulators try to reign in modern trading advances?

Jonathan Spicer examines the likely impact on exchanges around the world in our latest special report: “Globally, the flash crash is no flash in the pan.”

For hedge fund titans, the long and the short of it

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Our latest special report profiles one of the more colorful figures in the hedge fund world — William Ackman. Wall Street Investigations editor Matthew Goldstein teamed up with funds correspondent Svea Herbst-Bayliss, who was in New York this week for the Value Investing Conference.

Here’s what Matt has to say about Ackman and one of his rivals.

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“Hedge fund managers William Ackman (left) and David Einhorn (right) are fairly good friends and sometimes they find themselves on the same side of a debate over a stock.

Catch-22 in the housing market

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Washington is abuzz with the arguments about foreclosures and whether banks have been steamrollering them through, but many Americans at the other end of the spectrum are having their own problems with mortgage lenders.

One of the couples featured in our special report on how hard it is to get a mortgage were originally turned down because the top right-hand corner of a paystub appeared torn in a photocopy. This despite the fact that the applicants’ debt was just 14 percent of their income and they were borrowing just 25 percent of the home’s value.