The Financial Landscape: Harry Potter Breaks Records, Moody's Says Remove the Ceiling


Here's a look at what's happening in the world of business Monday, July 18.

No More Debt Ceiling, Moody's Shouts

It appears that we here at the Financial Landscape are not the only ones sick to death of the debt ceiling debate: Even the good people of the ratings agency Moody's (MCO) -- who, one would sort of have to think, have been enjoying one of the more extravagant power trips in recent memory -- seem to hope that such a slow-motion crisis will never come again. On Monday Moody's "suggested the United States should eliminate its statutory limit on government debt to reduce uncertainty among bond holders," according to Reuters. Moody's noted that the U.S. is one of the few countries in the world with such a limit, and dangled the incentive of a reduction in their "assessment of event risk if the government changed its framework for managing government debt to less or eliminate that uncertainty."

Warren Passed Over, Some Guy You've Never Heard Of Tapped

One year after Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- which Harvard law professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren has since been working to establish, enduring along the way several undignified interrogations by House Republicans -- President Obama announced he was nominating as the bureau's chief, not Warren, but former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray.

Cordray has credentials: According to The New York Times, he "came to national attention for his aggressive investigations of mortgage foreclosure practices," and he already works for the CFPB "as the leader of its enforcement division." But the president's failure to back Warren as the head of an agency she "conceived" and "championed" (in the words of the Times) is an undeniable capitulation to those powerful interests that opposed her -- namely, the Wall Street financiers who gave then-Sen. Obama so much money during his first presidential run, whose support (i.e. $$$) the president now needs for 2012. (His effort to attract them is reportedly an uphill battle this time.) Hopefully, the Times reminds us that "Wall Street executives also bristled at the selection of Mr. Cordray to lead the bureau's enforcement team. Seen as a zealous prosecutor of financial crime, Mr. Cordray is a similarly contentious figure among bankers and lobbyists."

We shouldn't weep for Warren, who seems like a super-cool lady, certain to rebound. (Watch this Dealbook video profile for a good brief sense of her.) Word is, according to Politico's Morning Money, she may challenge Scott Brown for his Senate seat from Massachusetts.

Good News for Goldbugs:Gold hit a record high on Monday, rising above $1,600 an ounce. In addition to the pitiful state of U.S. debt talks, Bloomberg points to skepticism over the thoroughness of EU stress tests of European banks to explain the metal's surge (and a corresponding flight from riskier assets).

Boy Wizard Goes Out On Top

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2made an astonishing $476 million worldwide in its opening weekend. In North America it broke the records for biggest one-day box office gross (with more than $92 million) and largest opening weekend (with $168.6 million, $10.2 million more than the previous champ, "The Dark Knight," also from Warner Bros.). Fandango, a subsidiary of Comcast (CMCSA), announced that it sold fully 19% of tickets for the film, its largest-ever share of a movie's receipts.