Money & Politics

The Obama administration is backing Shell Oil after abruptly changing sides in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that could make it even more difficult for survivors of human rights abuses overseas to sue multinational corporations in federal courts. The case will be heard on October 1.
The U.K. government will on Wednesday set out proposals to broaden the crackdown on tax evasion to benefit developing countries, setting a year-end deadline for a U.K.-led multilateral tax-information-sharing accord with emerging nations. That could eventually open the way for multination tax-information accords, which would include former tax havens, developed and developing nations.
Humorist Bill Maher began ABC's ''Politically Incorrect'' Thursday with rousing words. ''We finally had the big moment tonight that America was waiting for at the Republican National Convention,'' he said. ''The end.''
"For the government, if they lose the Enron case, it will be seen as a symbolic failure of their rather significant campaign against white-collar crime," said John C. Coffee Jr., a professor at Columbia Law School. "It will be seen as some evidence that some cases are too complicated to be brought into the criminal justice process."
The companies making new homeland security devices, such as bomb detectors and biological weapon alarms, want the government to pick up the tab if their products fail and they are sued.
Hedge funds were just handed an opportunity to make even more money under a new law signed by President Barack Obama last month. Consumer advocates say that unsophisticated investors may be at risk as a result.
A once-obscure accounting rule was changed Thursday to give banks more discretion in reporting the value of mortgage securities. Apparently under political pressure, the five-member Financial Accounting Standards Board approved a controversial change that makes it possible for banks to keep some declines in asset values off their income statements.
Investigators probing the accounts of collapsed energy giant Enron are examining what happened to more than $5 billion in loans and investments the company made to subsidiaries kept off its balance sheet. The scale of the black hole opening up looks as if it could dwarf previous estimates.
BP says that the offshore drilling accident that is spewing thousands of barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico could cost the company several hundred million dollars. Nobody really knows whether the oil giant is being too conservative about the cost for the April 20 accident, which some experts say could end up as the biggest oil spill in history.
Facing increasing congressional scrutiny, Google Inc. has hired a lobbying firm that includes the son of U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.