March 20, 2012 / 7:07 AM / 6 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - New York Times business news - March 20

March 20 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in the New York Times business pages on Tuesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Certain minerals, mined in strife-torn Africa and used in products like cellphones, are part of a debate before the Securities and Exchange Commission.

* The Transportation Security Administration has spent a lot of money on technology to keep dangerous items off planes -- with mixed results -- but has been slower to address another risk: travelers who are using a fake boarding pass or identification.

Agents now visually check boarding passes against IDs in American airports. Soon, machines may do it.

* The Law School Admission Test was administered 16 percent fewer times than a year ago, the largest decline in more than a decade.

* BlackRock Inc is helping to determine how much capital Greece’s banks will need to raise in the coming months, a crucial step as Greece tries to fix its banking industry and its broader economy, but a risky one.

* Greece’s finance minister Evangelos Venizelos formally assumed the leadership of the beleaguered Socialist Party on Monday.

* When Google included smaller websites in the fees it charges to incorporate its maps online, many of them rebelled.

* A decade after the dot-com bubble popped and Enron became synonymous with spectacular fraud, Congress is on the verge of scrapping numerous safeguards against investment fraud and allowing some small companies to sell stock to the public with minimal disclosure or oversight.

Already passed by the House, the bill is intended to make raising money easier for start-ups. The Senate will take it up, with amendments that would toughen safeguards for investors.

* Apple announced on Monday that it would at last return some of its cash pile to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks, at a cost of more than $10 billion a year for the next three years. But it is attracting so much cash -- $1 billion a week in the last holiday season alone -- that the move will not put a dent in Apple’s coffers.

* As it moved boldly in recent months to avert a credit squeeze and a rash of bank failures, the European Central Bank might also have subsidized the market rollout of Volkswagen’s newest subcompact.

Automakers on the continent are using money borrowed from the central bank’s stimulus program to offer low-interest loans to customers.

* Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz on Monday settled the lawsuit brought against them by Irving Picard, the trustee for the victims of Bernard Madoff’s fraud, for $162 million.

* Jay Brown, bond insurer MBIA Inc’s chief executive, and three other senior executives will forgo cash bonuses or long-term stock awards for 2011, people briefed on the matter say.

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