1. Spain's Spidey Cents
How bad is the banking situation in Spain? Well, at recently nationalized lender Bankia, the bank's brass is turning to Spiderman to save them.
Seriously, it's that bad.Bankia, which at last check was set to receive a $24 billion state bailout, announced plans this week to offer a Spiderman towel to young depositors as part of its plan to keep customers from yanking their money from the troubled bank. Kids can collect their Spidey souvenir if they save 300 euros ($380) by the end of the month. Momento creyentos! (Or, as Spiderman's creator Senor Stan Lee, would say "Hang on True Believers!") There is more to the offer. For every 50 euros saved, Bankia's account holders can enter a drawing for a trip to the webslinger's hometown of New York City. Oh man, how cool is that! A Spidey towel and a potential trip to NYC. Bankia's new CEO Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri has really saved the day after a run on the bank nearly sank it. Talk about a guy who really understands the Spiderman maxim: "With great power comes great responsibility." That said, even with his cockamamie comic-book plan, Goirigolzarri still looks like a superhero compared with the financial villains that preceded him. Top executives at Bankia pocketed salaries totaling 22 million euros ($28 million) in 2011 despite the bank losing 3.3 billion euros ($4 million), mostly because of bad real estate bets. Former chairman Rodrigo Rato, who resigned last month after it became clear that his bad bank would not survive without assistance, earned 2.4 million euros ($3 million) last year. Hey! Rodrigo Rato. The Green Goblin. What's the difference? The big question, of course, is whether the European Central Bank will approve the all-important Spiderman promotion. On Wednesday the ECB issued a statement denying a report in the Financial Times that it was going to reject Spain's plan to recapitalize Bankia. "The ECB stands ready to give advice on the development of such plans," the central bank said in a statement. Forget advice. Bankia needs money. And if they don't get it, all those Spanish kids with their passbook savings accounts can forget about flying to NYC to see Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. They'll be home in Spain watching Bankia: Turn Off the Lights instead. --Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York.