I actually took some time today to see how stocks were performing. Last week, the President signed the Wall Street reform legislation into law. One thing that’s interesting about Wall Street, uncertainty and the unknown creeps them out more so than reform and regulation etc. Once they know what it is, put a dollar figure on it, they can jump back into action to figure out a way to game the system and still turn out a profit.

But the problem has been those who can’t or don’t play the game. People who depend on paychecks and not dividends and capital gains to keep the lights on at home. The next thing we have to keep our eye on are futures especially the ones connect to food supplies. Just recently Anthony Ward, a hedge fund manager in the UK, cornered a sizable chunk of the world’s cocoa market — that’s chocolate for the rest of us. The purchase drove prices up. Profits for Mr. Ward; prices increases for the rest of us. This has sent ripples of fear about a supply crunch. Sure we may say “it’s just chocolate” now; but what about corn, wheat, rice? After the damage hedge fund managers did to the world economy, imagine what disasters can happen when they start playing with the food supply.

Ward’s move has earned him the nickname “Chocolate Finger” in the British press; as in the James Bond villain Goldfinger. Imagine Bond on a chocolate mission or would this be a more Austin Powers assignment.

Gee, chocolate always distracts. The President’s message is about a plan to help “small business, clean energy industry, and America’s middle class.” But this plan could be thwarted by another villain, who is not called out by name, but anyone paying attention can guess (Minority leader John Boehner, R-OH)…

This week, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives offered his plan to create jobs. It’s a plan that’s surprisingly short, and sadly familiar….First, he would repeal health insurance reform, which would take away tax credits from millions of small business owners, and take us back to the days when insurance companies had free rein to drop coverage and jack up premiums. Second, he would say no to new investments in clean energy, after his party already voted against the clean energy tax credits and loans that are creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of new businesses. And third, even though his party voted against tax cuts for middle-class families, he would permanently keep in place the tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans – the same tax cuts that have added hundreds of billions to our debt.

I’m sure the loyal opposition has a good explanation.

Transcript here.

Be prepared for an announcement about a golden parachute for BP CEO Tony Hayward. According to AP, Bloomberg, and other news wires, the BP board and Hayward are at work this weekend ironing out the details of Hayward’s departure and severance. It’s being speculated that Robert Dudley, the director of the oil spill response unit, will take Hayward’s place. Since Dudley is from the US, I guess he’s seen as better suited to break the language barrier that’s been plaguing Hayward in the handling of the situation on this side of the pond. (duh)

Though the cap is on the underwater gusher in the Gulf, due to the number of distractions this week, we shouldn’t say this story is over. There’s damage assessment to be done, and a clean up over many years if not decades.

At the same time I do see opportunity for BP. Let’s go back to the “wisdom of failure.” This is an opportunity for the company to take the lead — for real — in terms of technology and process for containing and controlling an oil catastrophe and in minimizing the damage to and restoring the environment. Say “We’ve learned from our mistakes experience.” BP could make this a part of their operations because we really need to move away from oil and look to alternative energy sources (they should too). Besides, if they offer honest, effective and efficient containment and clean up services, they’ll still have business and investors will feel better about the company. Call me optimistic.

Surely China could use some help right now. sigh.

Associated Press/Greenpeace
Associated Press/Greenpeace