Global business

After weeks of speculation, JPMorgan Chase and the Justice Department concluded a $13 billion settlement package related to mortgage-backed securities that were mis-sold by the bank and Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, two banks that JPMorgan took over in the depth of the financial crisis. It is the biggest-ever penalty levied against a company in America.

Johnson & Johnson proposed a $2.5 billion settlement with 8,000 patients who have had to replace hip joints that shed metal fragments after surgery. The ASR hips were recalled by DePuy, one of J & J's subsidiaries, in 2010. A judge is looking at the deal; 94 percent of the claimants have to accept it before it can come into force.

Blockbuster orders for aircraft were unveiled at the Dubai air show. The biggest was for more than 200 of Boeing's new 777X twin-engine planes in deals worth $95 billion at list prices. Boeing described it as the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history. Emirates is buying 150 777Xs and its two smaller rivals in the Gulf, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, are purchasing 50 and 25 respectively. The region is growing in importance as a long-haul hub.

EasyJet reported that its annual profit before tax for the year ending September had risen by 51 percent to $746 million. Europe's second-biggest budget carrier pleased its founder and largest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, by announcing a special dividend. Stelios has been pushing the airline to return more money to investors.

Devon Energy agreed to buy shale-oil assets held by GeoSouthern Energy in the Eagle Ford formation in Texas for $6 billion in cash, heralding a potential wave of consolidation in the industry.

Microsoft's next-generation video-game console, the Xbox One, went on sale a week after Sony's PlayStation 4 hit the shops. With whizzy graphics and motion sensors, both should sell well, according to IHS, a research firm, and benefit from gamers who want to move up a level from Nintendo's more family-focused Wii. Microsoft also has beefed up its device's home-entertainment, voice-activation and ­videoconferencing features.

Political economy

Michelle Bachelet won 47 percent of the vote in Chile's presidential election, and will face a runoff next month against Evelyn Matthei of the governing center-right Alliance. The center-left New Majority coalition of Bachelet, who was Chile's president in 2006-10, won a majority in Congress, but not a big enough one to push through some of the constitutional changes she wants.

Venezuela's legislature approved a law granting President Nicolás Maduro power to rule by decree, but only after expelling a member of the ruling party who faces corruption charges. Maduro has threatened an "economic war" against private business.

Argentina's president, Cristina Fernández, returned to work after a head injury and reshuffled her cabinet. Out went Guillermo Moreno, the official responsible for doctoring inflation ­statistics. The new economy minister, Axel Kicillof, supports price and exchange controls, dashing hopes of moderation.

The final document of China's long-awaited third plenum announced accelerated economic reforms. It also said the one-child policy would be eased and labor camps would be abolished.

Nepal voted for a new Constituent Assembly in the second election since the end of a Maoist revolt in 2006. Turnout was a record 70 percent despite sporadic violence by ultra-Maoists. ­Voters signaled a desire for continued peace, as well as, ­eventually, a new constitution. The shape of the next government remains unclear.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN's secretary-general, said a peacekeeping mission may have to be sent to prevent a catastrophe in the Central African Republic, where rebels who seized power in March have been abusing human rights on an increasingly large scale.

Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk, appointed a new finance minister, Mateusz Szczurek, in a Cabinet reshuffle that he said was motivated by a "need for new energy." The environment minister, currently presiding over the U.N. conference on climate change, was sacked in a move that could speed the introduction of legislation that favors shale-gas exploration.

The Economist