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Why is the Obama administration siding with Argentina against US bondholders?

NML Capital has struggled for years to get Argentina to pay up. The US assistant attorney general may have just placed a new hurdle.
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NML Capital hopes it can get its hands on more than Argentina's frigate Libertad. (Chris Stein/AFP/Getty Images)
Why is the Obama administration siding with the government of Argentine President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner against an American investment fund’s efforts to collect on $1.7 billion in debts that US courts have ruled legitimate? The answer is a higher principle — something called 'sovereign immunity.'
FORT LEE, NJ — A number of ginormous endeavors are in the works, not just in the United States. In fact, the biggest-budget item in the Western Hemisphere is actually in Brazil. And the price tag for the Brazilian offshore oil exploration is way more than anything budgeted stateside, including the hemisphere’s No. 2 project, a less-than-likely high-speed railway across California. Here’s a look at the 10 largest infrastructure projects in the Western Hemisphere’s pipeline — some of them already underway, but some of them more like pipe dreams.

Cuba says ‘investors welcome,’ but the investors aren’t buying

The island's new investment law offers inducements, but no guarantees.
Cuba's making good on a promise by President Raul Castro to update a 1995 law that produced more failed investments than successes and that never managed to draw more than a few hundred million dollars a year to the cash-starved island’s economy.

Here's why the US and Russia would be MAD to go to war

A look at the nuclear warheads that guarantee our 'mutually assured destruction.'
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A French nuclear test in the south Pacific atoll of Mururoa. (File/AFP/Getty Images)
Lurking behind the debate over what to do about Russia’s land grab in Crimea are 3,750 good reasons to speak softly. Yes, strategic nuclear weapons — 1,800 of them in the Russian arsenal, about 1,950 belonging to the United States, according to the Federation of American Scientists — along with the ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines and intercontinental strategic bombers that carry them, suddenly are demanding renewed attention.

Venezuela’s government is sinking in a sea of oil

It has nearly as much crude reserves as the US and Saudi Arabia combined. So how come Venezuela's oil production and exports are slipping and the public is raging in the streets?
NEW YORK — Lurking behind the barricades in Venezuela, where pro- and anti-government forces have battled on and off for more than five weeks, one of the biggest contradictions on the planet helps explain what’s gone wrong with Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian revolution. Sitting atop oil reserves that are larger Venezuela’s oil production and export revenue during the same period have dropped precipitously.

Why the world is worrying about this not-so-precious metal

Trading near historic lows, copper augers more trouble for emerging markets.
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Copper coins from the second and third centuries found in a private garden in Paris. (Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — For those of you not checking how copper's trading on your Bloomberg terminal (and that includes this writer), the fall in price of the red metal has probably left no impression. For most of us, copper is what US pennies are made of. But even that’s not quite right: Since 1982, pennies have been almost all zinc, and a measly 2.5 percent copper.

But economists know better, and their blogs are burning red.


Banking on pain for Russia’s banks

Talk of Western sanctions has Russian oligarchs worried.
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Head of Russia's Sberbank German Gref, right. (Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK — The circle of Russian bankers and industrialists who’ve carefully protected their interests by keeping on good terms with President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin — the so-called oligarchs — are increasingly nervous that Russia’s moves in Crimea will cost them dearly. So far, the only action has been an executive order signed by President Barack Obama imposing a visa ban against certain Russians and Ukrainians and threatening to freeze any assets they or their companies might have inside the United States. The European Union is moving on a similar track.

Why a Crimean enclave is just saving up trouble

Splitting off non-contiguous territories has been a surefire prescription for violence.
As bad ideas go, the creation of a new ethnic enclave separated from the historical motherland as a means of solving an international problem is about as bad as they get.
NEW YORK — US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has taken his plan to cut billions from the military’s budget on the road. He’s spoken to troops, veterans groups and think tanks about what he considers the need to purge the armed forces once and for all of its Cold War, big weapons mindset, all while integrating vital lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq wars. This is no easy task.

US foreign aid is shrinking and Americans don’t care

With an improving economy and clean debt ceiling hike, will Obama bring world poverty back to the US agenda?
NEW YORK — Something’s absent from the national conversation on the 2015 budget, and it's not domestic issues.