Adelson is a big-time GOP donor and had given about $700,000 to Republicans “over the 12-year span before he pulled DeLay out of a Fourth of July barbecue in 2001 with a cellphone call from Beijing.“ His company, Las Vegas Sands, bragged to the Chinese that it got the resolution killed. In return, the officials “went out of their way to rescue the Sands bid from near certain failure,” something that’s reaped billions of dollars in revenue for Adelson.

This interesting tidbit has been reported elsewhere, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the National Journal, but this could bring a little more (deserved) exposure to the story.

Meanwhile, the Countrywide “Friends of Angelo” scandal in Congress continued to unwind, as a Democratic senator from North Dakota said he will give more than $10,000 to charity because of a discount he got from the lender.

Write-downs wipe out half of Wall Street profit since ’04

The NYT reports on C1 that half of Wall Street’s reported profits from 2004 to the middle of last year have been erased by write-downs. It says seven of the biggest financial companies had $254 billion in earnings during that time but have since taken $107 billion in write-downs.

It says that number is sure to grow this week, as Wall Street earnings season kicks into high gear. And it notes, as have others, that the profit outlook for the firms is bleak—their days of raking in fees from securitizing junk mortgages are over and their goosing of returns with layered-on debt isn’t feasible anymore, especially under the eye of the Federal Reserve, which is directly lending them money for the first time since the Great Depression.

“They are going to have to build a new business model,” Richard X. Bove, a financial services analyst at Punk Ziegel, said of investment banks. “I do not believe those businesses have the ability to generate the kind of profit they did in recent years without all the leverage.”

If you can bet on one thing, your odds are about the same on the sun will rise in the east and Wall Street will figure out new ways to dress up a turd and sell it for huge profits. (See, for instance, the Journal’s C1 report on Wall Street hawking extreme-developing market investments to retail investors).

The Journal says on C1 that analysts expect profit at Goldman Sachs to be down 31 percent in the second quarter from a year ago. They predict a 59 percent drop at Morgan Stanley. The paper wins the Gee, Ya Think? Quote of the Day award for two rather obvious toss-offs:

“Business conditions appear to be among the worst in several years” (from one analyst)…

and

“When there’s not a lot of activity to generate revenue and you’re absorbing large losses, it can get awfully painful” (from another).

An FT analysis shows that investors who’ve come to the rescue of the U.S. financial industry with new capital have seen their positions eroded by $10 billion, something it says will make it harder and more costly to raise the billions more it surely needs. That represents a 15 percent loss on the total $65 billion investment.

A Journal’s C1 story says the markets are trading near estimates of their fair value, meaning a stock rally probably isn’t in the cards. Increasing inflation and continued negative earnings in the second half could further decrease the market’s value, though.

EU to regulate credit-ratings firms

The European Union is planning to regulate credit-ratings firms, something the Journal on C1 says “adds heft to similar efforts by U.S. officials.” The FT doesn’t mention the U.S. proposal. The Journal:

Among other measures, Mr. McCreevy wants to enforce so-called fire walls between operations of the ratings companies that raise fees from clients issuing bonds and operations that rate the bonds. He wants ratings companies to register in a way similar to that in the U.S.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.