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Best of the Blogs: Ford Looks to Silicon Valley to Gain Technological Edge


Plus, the US Supreme Court will decide whether or not to get involved with victims' case in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

This column highlights the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary from around the Web each day. Use our comments section to post your own suggestions for blog content that you've read or written.

The Wall Street Journal: Driver's Seat
Link: Ford Opens Silicon Valley Lab to Mine Big Data

"Ford (F) officially opened its new Silicon Valley lab on Monday to help the company better tap into tech innovation. Part of the lab's mission will be to look at how technologies like big data can leverage technologies embedded in cars to make better business decisions, from marketing campaigns to vehicle safety features.

"'It's amazing how much data is out there,' Bill Ford Jr., chairman of the company, said during event Monday night at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. 'The question is how do we put it in a form that's usable?' That's one of the many questions the Silicon Valley lab will work to answer."

The New York Times: DealBook
Link: Top Courts in U.S. and Britain Enter the Madoff Fray

"This month, as Bernard L. Madoff completes the third year of a 150-year sentence for masterminding his global Ponzi scheme, the top courts in the United States and Britain are both tackling issues that could have a multibillion-dollar impact on thousands of his victims.

"On June 21, the United States Supreme Court justices will confer on whether to take up the fiercely disputed issue of how victim losses in the Madoff scheme should be calculated.

"A federal bankruptcy judge and a Federal Appeals Court in Manhattan have both blessed the method employed by the Madoff bankruptcy trustee, Irving H. Picard. That approach measures losses as the difference between the cash deposited and the cash withdrawn from Madoff accounts in the years before the Ponzi scheme collapsed in December 2008. Those out-of-pocket cash losses total less than $20 billion, according to Mr. Picard.

"Lawyers for investors who recovered all the cash they invested with Mr. Madoff before his arrest are urging the justices to order Mr. Picard to base victim claims on the final statements they received from Mr. Madoff in November 2008. Total losses based on the last-statement method exceed $60 billion, the trustee reports."

All Things D
Link: Giving Credit Where Due: Facebook Streamlines Payments System

"When Facebook (FB) announced last year that its Credits payment system would become the de facto form of currency for purchases made inside games hosted by Facebook, we got the first taste of the social giant's lofty, iTunes-sized aspirations. However much Facebook downplayed the idea, the company wanted in on a potentially lucrative revenue stream, akin to that of Apple's iTunes, which was responsible for roughly $6 billion in revenue in its fiscal year 2011.

"Cut to today, 18 months later. In what seems to be an abrupt about-face, Facebook announced that it will slowly move away from its Credits initiative, beginning in the third quarter, transitioning third-party developers away from a platform-wide currency to a model where users can use their local form of currency to purchase virtual goods and apps (e.g., USD for the Yanks; or euros for, say, a Parisian)."

Link: Apple, Google Face Off in Court Today Over Smartphone Patents
A federal judge in Chicago will hear arguments from Apple (AAPL) on Wednesday to seek an order to bar sales of some Motorola phones because of alleged patent infringements.

Apple has been pursuing its case against Motorola Mobility - now a unit of Google (GOOG) - since spring 2010. Initially, Motorola sued Apple in what many believed was a preemptive strike. Apple counter-sued a month later.

The judge in the case, Richard Posner, eliminated almost all of Motorola's patent claims against Apple in pretrial rulings, leaving several of Apple's claims. Earlier this month, however, Posner canceled the planned trial, ruling that neither side could prove damages and that an injunction would be "contrary to the public interest."

Link: As Italy Comes Begging For A Semi-Bailout, Germany Says Non-Semi Nein (Without Conditions)

Two days ago, when noting that Italy is on collision course with technical insolvency should its bonds remain at current levels for even one more week, we wrote that 'As Italy Hints Of Subordination, Did Rome Just Request A 'Semi' Bailout?' Of course, yesterday's big market moving rumor was just this - namely that "supposedly" Germany had agreed to provide the underfunded EFSF and non-existent ESM as ECB SMP replacement vehicles, and implicitly to launch the bailout of not only Spain but also Italy. This turned out to be patently untrue, as we expected, despite speculation having been accepted as fact by various UK newspaper and having taken Europe by a storm of false hope, leading peripheral spreads modestly tighter (and Germany naturally wider). Of course, even if Merkel were to allow the ESM/EFSF to effectively replace the ECB secondary market bond buying, which is what this is all about, nothing will be fixed, and in fact it would lead to even more subordination and more bond selling off of positions which are not held by the ECB or ESM. But that is for the market to digest in 4-6 weeks as it appears nobody still understands how the mechanics of the flawed European rescue mechanism works. In the meantime, now that Italy has tipped its hand, it has only one option: to push full bore demanding that someone, anyone out there buy its bonds. Sadly, Germany just said nein. Again.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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