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JP Morgan Ventures to pay $410m in fine for manipulating power prices in US

The company will pay a civil penalty of $285m, and disgorge $125m in unjust profits.

JP Morgan Ventures Energy Corporation (JPMVEC), the power business of JP Morgan, has agreed to pay $410m in penalties and disgorgement to ratepayers for allegations of manipulating power prices in California and the Midwest markets during September 2010 and November 2012.

As part of a stipulation and consent agreement reached with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) yesterday, JPMVEC will pay a civil penalty of $285m to the US Treasury and disgorge $125m in unjust profits.

Of the disgorged profits, $124m will go to ratepayers in the California Independent System Operator (California ISO), which operates the California electricity market. The remaining $1m will go to ratepayers in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).

JPMVEC has neither admitted nor denied the violations.

In its investigation, FERC found that JPMVEC was involved in 12 manipulative bidding strategies aimed to make profits from power plants that were running short of money in the marketplace.

FERC investigators further found that JPMVEC received premium rates from the California ISO and MISO by creating artificial conditions to increase the energy prices.

In a statement, the regulator said its “investigators also determined that JPMVEC’s bids displaced other generation and altered day ahead and real-time prices from the prices that would have resulted had the company not submitted the bids.”

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.