Review of the Year: View from the US saw a female hand on the Fed tiller, and two fine messes

 

The taper

After months of deliberation, during which time world markets convulsed wildly as investors speculated about the direction of monetary policy in the world’s largest economy, the US Federal Reserve this month reduced the size of its bond-buying programme.

The cut, which will take effect from January, was small, at $10bn (£6.1bn) out of a programme worth $85bn. But it signalled the beginning of the end of the easy money regime that has been propping up the US since the crisis. Interest rates will remain low for some time to come. However, with the reduction, investors have been put on notice by the Fed: it’s time to start standing on your own feet.

Yellen/Summers controversy

Selecting Ben Bernanke’s successor was never going to be easy. The head of the Federal Reserve is arguably the single most influential economic policymaker on earth.

But the White House could not have anticipated just how controversial the process would become when it floated the name of Larry Summers, the former US Treasury Secretary known for his support of financial deregulation (and later for his resignation from Harvard University after seeming to suggest that men outperformed women in certain subjects because of biological differences).

In the end, President Obama opted for Janet Yellen, a well-respected economist and Mr Bernanke’s deputy. She will take his place early in 2014, becoming the first woman to lead the Fed in its 100-year history.

JP Morgan

It was the fine of the year. Months of negotiations between JP Morgan’s lawyers and officials from the Justice Department resulted in the bank agreeing to cough up $13bn to settle charges stemming from sales of mortgage securities in the run-up to the financial crisis, including deals involving Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, both of which were taken over by JP Morgan. Although it generated scores of headlines around the world, the package – the biggest civil settlement with a single company in US history – did little to hurt the bottom line of America’s largest bank.

SAC Capital

SAC was one of the pioneers of the hedge fund business – and in time became one of the biggest outfits in the industry, managing $14bn in funds at the height of its powers. Its success made a billionaire out of its founder, Steve Cohen. But in November, SAC pleaded guilty and agreed to cough up $1.8bn in fines to settle charges stemming from an insider trading investigation.

Review of the Year: View from the UK in 2013 took in 'Crystal Methodist' Rev Paul Flowers, but also saw stock markets spring back to life  

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn