The UN theme for International Women’s Day on Saturday is: Equality for women is progress for all. One glance at the FT graphic on women in senior management, published on Friday, suggests this progress is now happening on a global scale – but with some perhaps surprising results.

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The co-founder of PayPal and Tesla, and founder of SpaceX talks to the FT’s John Gapper and Daniel Garrahan about electric cars for the mass market and putting people on Mars, at the UK launch of his sports car.

By Ben Fenton

In an extended Vanity Fair piece that people who know the Murdoch family say is “horrifying in its level of detail” and “strikingly accurate in most respects”, Sarah Ellison has laid out how the phone hacking scandal at one of News Corp’s UK newspapers derailed dynastic plans for the media group.

One element of a long history – the claim that the four eldest Murdoch siblings had discussed the “succession” to their father as chairman and CEO with a “family counsellor” or psychologist – stood out, both for being hard to picture and for what it says about how little other shareholders views appear to enter into the Murdoch family considerations on succession planning. (Rupert Murdoch and the elder four of his six children control 38 per cent of voting shares, but own only 12 per cent of the total equity). Read more

Ben Bernanke at the FCIC: live blog, part 2 Read more

Alan Rappeport, an economics and business reporter for the FT, will provide rolling coverage of Ben Bernanke’s questioning by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission panel today. Alan’s coverage on this blog will start at about 2pm UK time, 9am EST. Read more

By Alan Rappeport, economics and business reporter

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5:41pm – Meeting adjourned.

5:40pm – The Commission has been going in circles for a little while now and vice-chair Thomas just went on a rant about the roots of the crisis. “I’m done raving,” he said, as the meeting inches to a close.

5:20pm – Mr Sirri said he had conversations with people about market manipulation surrounding Bear’s collapse, but said he never had anything that was specific enough to follow up on. Read more

By Alan Rappeport, economics and business reporter

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2:35pm – 10 minute break until the next panel.

2:32pm – It does seem that your firm and other firms were engaged in activities that put the financial system at risk, Mr Angelides said. Mr Cayne, in hindsight, agreed. The more verbal Mr Schwartz spreads the blame but said Bear played a role.

2:29pm – Back to Mr Angelides, the chair rejects the notion that 99.9 per cent of the world had no idea that the housing market was near collapse. He said that a bank like bear would never tell investors that it had no idea about the future and that there were plenty of clues that housing was overvalued. Read more

By Brooke Masters, chief regulation correspondent

UPDATE: It turns out that the Deparment of Justice asked for the file. The SEC didn’t make the referral. The DoJ request came after 62 members of Congress wrote to Eric Holder, attorney-general asking the DoJ to investigate Goldman.

The reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post that criminal prosecutors are now looking at the mortgage deal at the heart of the US Securities and Exchange Commission case against Goldman Sachs raise a key question: Why now?

The SEC is said formally to have referred the case to the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Such a step would not be unusual, but the timing would be.

Ordinarily, the SEC sends its evidence to prosecutors before filing its civil charges, not afterwards. That way, if the Justice Department does want to bring a criminal case, the two actions can be filed simultaneously. There are lots of good procedural reasons for doing it this way, so the two cases do not interfere with one another.

So, why act now? Read more

Times are given in US EST.

By Alan Rappeport

8:42pm – And nearly 11 hours after the hearings began, that’s a wrap.

8:35pm – The audience appears to be thinning in the meeting room. Mr Levin is giving his closing statement, giving one last run down of how the entire financial crisis ensued, for the record. Mr Blankfein’s face is locked in a squint and he is clutching his water glass. “I happen to be one that believes in a free market, but if it’s going to be free…it’s got to be free of deception. It needs a cop on the beat of Wall Street.” Read more

Refresh this page for the latest updates. Times are given in US EST

By Alan Rappeport

3:13pm – The committee has excused the witnesses after an exhaustive array of questioning. The Goldman witnesses appeared to hold their own, often frustrating the Senators who probed aggressively. There will be a 10 minute recess before David Viniar, CFO, and Craig Broderick, chief risk officer, take the stage. We’ll return for the third panel featuring Lloyd Blankfein.

3:03pm – Mr Levin is returning to the bigger question of conflicts of interest. “For heavens sake, clients should know that when you are selling securities, that you are betting against those securities. I think it is intolerable and it needs to be addressed,” he said. Read more

From the FT’s tech blog

How would you rather see the internet – strained through a filter or mangled by a censor?

With its attempt to score an end-run round the Chinese authorities today, Google is betting on the former. But Chinese officials, who are only now waking up to Google’s middle-of-the-night gambit, don’t sound so happy about the idea.

The Google calculation is straightforward. Redirecting all the search traffic from its local site to Hong Kong, beyond the reach of the censors, then bouncing the results back into mainland China, has two benefits. Read more

By Richard McGregor, the FT’s former Beijing bureau chief

The long-running case involving the four executives of mining giant, Rio-Tinto, arrested in China last year reached a dramatic climax in Shanghai today. According to an Australian diplomat given access to the trial, the executives had made “admissions” about receiving bribes in the process of their jobs, which involved marketing iron ore from Rio’s mines in the state of Western Australia to Chinese steel mills.

Such admissions, of course, should be taken with a grain of salt. The lawyer who had been representing Stern Hu, the Chinese-born Australian Rio executive, did not appear in court. He was replaced by other, unnamed lawyers. The trial was “public”, according to the Chinese government, but the media and Hu’s family were not allowed in.

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From the FTdotcomment blog:

For those baffled by all the talk of repos, accounting rules and hidden leverage, a quick round-up of those against whom the court-appointed Anton Valukas, “examiner” of Lehman Brothers, found that legal claims would have “sufficient credible evidence to support a finding by a trier of fact” – what he calls “colorable claims”. You can read the full 2,200 page report here.

At Lehman, thanks to the discovery of “repo 105″, used to hid borrowing and make levels of leverage look lower:

  • Dick Fuld, chief executive
  • Christopher O’Meara, former chief financial officer
  • Erin Callan, former chief financial officer and until recently at Credit Suisse
  • Ian Lowitt, chief financial officer

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Lehman report blames top executives FT
The genesis of Repo 105 FT Alphaville
Report Shows How, Collapsing, Lehman Hid Woes DealBook, NY Times
The “Repo 105″ Scam: Zero Hedge
The U.K. Origins of Lehman’s Accounting Trick DealBook, NY Times
Lehman report: Enron redux Lex, FT

By Maija Palmer, writing on the FT’s tech blog

It was only a matter of time before Brussels began looking at an antitrust complaint against Google. Murmurings of discontent about the dominant search engine have been going on for several years now, and recently there have been a rash of smaller cases against the company.

Three particular cases are being considered by the European Commission. A complaint by Foundem, a UK vertical search company, one from, a French legal search site, and a complaint made initially in Germany by Ciao!, a vertical search site recently bought by Microsoft. Read more

Hector Sants has resigned as head of the UK’s Financial Services Authority. Brooke Masters, the FT’s chief regulation correspondent, talks about the future of regulation in the UK.

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My colleague Martin Wolf has addressed the guilty plea of the NatWest Three to wire fraud, possibly in return for serving jail sentences in Britain, with a spendidly coruscating attack on the plea bargaining in the US judicial system.

I have nothing to add but I am intrigued by the notion of wire fraud, which crops up all the time in US white-collar crime cases such as the recent conviction of Conrad Black. It has always seemed odd to me that the US treats wire fraud and mail fraud as separate offences from fraud itself, as if the method by which the crime is committed trumps the crime itself.

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I got a quick response to my Saturday column below from Jim Rogers, the investor who featured in it. I am posting it with his permission because I think it is of wider interest: “Great article! A couple of thoughts: Yes, China’s stock market may well be entering a bubble phase unless something saves them soon. However the small stock market is very different from the currency market. Having said that: The US dollar is overdue for a rally against many currencies. Whenever there is this much bearishness about any asset, it usually rallies for awhile. Who knows if it will this time? If it does, I hope to move the rest of my assets out of US dollars. We have moved to Singapore instead of China since the pollution is so horrible in China. The UK was the richest, most powerful nation in the world in 1918. Within one generation, it was a mess. Within 2 generations, it was bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the IMF despite some great rallies to the upside during the 2 generations. Those who moved to London in 1807 were brilliant. Those who moved to NY in 1907 were brilliant. We will see about those who move to Asia in 2007. I hope we can discuss this again before 2107, but will write again then in any case. Jim Rogers”

Snoopstamp According to OneSky Jets, a private jet charter company in the US, 15 per cent of its customers say their main reason for chartering a jet is to fly their dog, cat or other pet around.

I have observed before that the twin phenomena of growing dispersion of wealth and sentimentality towards animals is starting to produce bizarre effects. Leona Helmsley, the hotel magnate, left her dog Trouble a $12m trust fund when she died earlier this year. Read more

Invisible_manOur old friend, the person familiar with the situation, has been hard at work in the past few days. He (or she, since we do not know his or her identity) has popped up all over the place.

In The Wall Street Journal today, for example, "informed individuals" have been chattering about the severance package that Stan O’Neal can expect when he steps down as chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch. Meanwhile, "people familiar with the firm" told the Journal on Monday that Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, was a prime contender to succeed Mr O’Neal.

But the person familiar with the situation is an equal opportunity blabber. He (or she) also turned up in the Financial Times on Monday. People "familiar with the matter" predicted that Blackstone Group could walk away from a deal to buy part of PHH, a unit of General Electric. Simultaneously, people "close to the situation" suggested that the Ford family had cooled on the idea of selling the family firm.

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