JPMorgan hackers, Facebook’s standards and the debt ceiling — 5 things to know today
Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street futures are on the rise this morning following three weeks of losses. The benchmark S&P 500 index has lost 3% of its value since hitting a record on March 2. European markets are up in mid-day trading, while Asian indexes closed the day mixed.
Elsewhere, the price of crude oil has touched its lowest level since March 2009, and Vladimir Putin has reappeared after an extended absence. The Russian President hadn’t been seen in public for over a week, but met with the president of Kyrgyzstan Monday.
Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.
1. Treasury makes its move.
The federal government hits its Congressionally-mandated debt limit today as the U.S. debt load stands at $18.1 trillion. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew suspended the issuance of special Treasury securities used by local and state governments on Friday and will stop making payments into a pension fund for government employees starting today. Lew promised last week that he would take special emergency measures to keep from going over the U.S. debt ceiling, which had been suspended over the past year and went back into effect today. A review by the Congressional Budget Office found that the measures Lew can take to stall the U.S. debt growth could put off the date the debt limit needs to be raised until October or November. Fortune’s Chris Matthews explains the debate, and asks if we’re headed for another shutdown.
2. JPMorgan hackers near to justice?
Federal authorities are on the trail of the hackers that attacked JPMorgan Chase (JPM) last summer, stealing the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of 83 million households and small businesses. The JPMorgan hack was one of the largest against a bank and revealed weaknesses in the cyber security of American financial institutions. Law enforcement has been on the case and now believes that the suspects are “gettable,” according to the New York Times. That means a criminal case could be filed against the hackers within the next few months. If officials are able to put the hackers on trial, it would be a notable win for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Most hacking attacks have been difficult to track. There have been no criminal charges issued for the breaches at retailers such as Target (TGT), eBay (EBAY) and Home Depot (HD).
3. Sears Tower, Willis Tower, and now Blackstone Tower?
The Blackstone Group (BX) has purchased the iconic Chicago skyscraper formerly known as the Sears Tower for $1.3 billion. The sum is the largest ever paid for a U.S. office tower outside of New York, reported Marketwatch. It’s also a healthy profit for New York investors Joseph Chetrit and Joseph Moinian and American Landmark Properties, who paid $841 million for the building in 2004. Blackstone plans to invest in the retail areas of the building and will upgrade the observation deck “to really make this more of a comprehensive tourist attraction,” said Jonathan Gray, Blackstone’s head of real estate.
4. Holcim-Larfarge mega-merger falls through.
Cement giant Holcim rejected the terms of a nearly $44.3 billion merger with Lafarge. The deal was approved last July, but now Holcim is “challenging the financial terms and governance structure” of the deal, reported the Wall Street Journal. Lafarge is still committed to the merger, which would create a worldwide construction materials giant, and is willing to revising the exchange ratio. The deal called for a one-for-one exchange ratio of Holcim shares for Lafarge shares. Holcim’s board is now asking for one share of Lafarge for each 0.875 Holcim share, people familiar with the deal told the Journal. Holcim also wants to revise who will lead the combined company. The shareholders would like someone other than Lafarge CEO Bruno Lafont.
5. Facebook codifies community standards.
Facebook (FB) updated its community standards Sunday night and clarified that its users can sign-up using a non-legal version of their name. It also detailed how it chooses posts for removal and how it responds to a government request for information. Facebook says users can sign up using their “authentic identity” and do not have to use the name that’s on official documents, such as a driver’s license. The social media giant came under pressure after it shut down users for not using their legal names online. Radio DJ Jay Smooth and a number of drag performers had their accounts suspended for not using their birth names. In one case, Native American user Shane Creepingbear was booted off for not having a “real” enough name. “We want people communicating using the name they actually use in real life,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global product policy, told Recode.