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Impeach Bush--Index 80
November 6, 2008

American Express shares plunge on $3.5 billion bailout report

American Express Co. shares plunged Wednesday after a report that the credit card issuer is seeking $3.5 billion in funds under the government's plan to directly invest in financial firms.

AmEx received approval earlier this week from the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company, which is a similar structure to traditional commercial banks. The credit card company now has access to financing from the Fed and the ability to grow a large deposit base.

November 12, 2008

Whitehead sees slump worse than Depression

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The economy faces a slump deeper than the Great Depression and a growing deficit threatens the credit of the United States itself, former Goldman Sachs chairman John Whitehead, said at the Reuters Global Finance Summit on Wednesday.

Whitehead, 86, said the prospect of worsening consumer credit woes combined with an overtaxed federal government make him fear that the current slump is far from over.

"I think it would be worse than the depression," Whitehead said. "We're talking about reducing the credit of the United States of America, which is the backbone of the economic system." Whitehead encountered plenty of crises during his 38 years at the investment banking firm and was a young boy during the 1930s.

Whitehead warned the country's financial strength is at risk due to the sweeping demand for tax relief and a long list of major government spending plans.

We have far more important things to deal with than hating one another as the Mormons would have us do. Mormons and other religious groups (that pretend to be Christian) must be boycotted and then ignored.

November 14, 2008

Mormons had key role in ban of gay marriage

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Less than two weeks before Election Day, the chief strategist behind a ballot measure outlawing same-sex marriage in California called an urgent meeting.

"We're going to lose this campaign if we don't get more money," the strategist, Frank Schubert, recalled telling leaders of Protect Marriage, the main group behind the ban.

November 14, 2008

Crisis Hits Tech Sector With Layoffs as Sales Slump

Joining a rapidly growing list of technology companies reeling from the financial turmoil, Sun Microsystems, which sells server computers, has started a broad overhaul in which up to 6,000 employees could lose their jobs.

Before the stock market opened Friday, Sun disclosed that it would lay off 5,000 to 6,000 workers, or 15 percent to 18 percent of its work force. The company, already dealing with layoffs announced in May, expects to save $700 million to $800 million a year as a result of the moves, while also taking up to $600 million in charges in the next 12 months.

November 14, 2008

Automotive News: The Cost of GM's Death

DETROIT, Nov 14, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The following is being issued by Automotive News:

If Congress thinks a bailout of General Motors is expensive, it should consider the cost of a GM failure.

Let's be clear. The alternative to government cash for GM is not a dreamy Chapter 11 filing, a reorganization that puts dealers and the UAW in their place, ensuring future success.

No, even if GM could get debtor-in-possession financing to keep the lights on (which it can't), Chapter 11 means a collapse of sales and a spiral into a Chapter 7 liquidation.

November 13, 2008

CIT seeks to become bank holding company

CIT Group is close to filing an application to become a bank holding company, a step that would bring the US commercial lender easier access to funding but also steeper capital requirements and greater regulatory oversight.

The two largest stand-alone Wall Street firms, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, as well as American Express have already won commercial-banking charters from the US Federal Reserve, and other non-bank financial institutions, including auto lender GMAC, are seeking a similar status.

November 13, 2008

German Recession Adds to Gloomy Economic Reports

Evidence of a broad global recession continued to accumulate today, with Germany confirming that its economy shrank over the last three months, China reporting a slowdown in industrial output, and the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development projecting a contraction throughout its worldwide membership.

From broad indicators like the demand for oil to the performance of individual companies, the signs all pointed in the same direction: down.

November 13, 2008

Jobless claims jump unexpectedly to 7-year high

WASHINGTON – The number of newly laid-off individuals seeking unemployment benefits has jumped to a seven-year high, the government said Thursday.

The Labor Department reported that jobless claims last week increased by 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 516,000. That is the highest total since just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and second-highest since 1992.

November 12, 2008

Paulson Shifts Focus of Rescue to Consumer Lending

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson plans to use the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue program to help relieve pressures on consumer credit, scrapping an effort to buy devalued mortgage assets.

"Illiquidity in this sector is raising the cost and reducing the availability of car loans, student loans and credit cards," Paulson said today in a speech at the Treasury in Washington. "This is creating a heavy burden on the American people and reducing the number of jobs in our economy."

What weren't they "forceful" during the Bush Administration. Cowards.

November 12, 2008

U.S. religious groups want Obama to ban torture

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A coalition of more than 200 religious groups urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday to sign an order, once he takes office, banning torture by any federal government entity.

The coalition said more than 240 religious groups have joined in the effort, including representatives of Roman Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Unitarian, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Sikh communities.

November 12, 2008

Unemployment expected to hit 9%

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. recession is likely to be as long and severe as the downturns in 1973-75 and 1981-82, economists at Wachovia said Wednesday. Gross domestic product will likely fall for four consecutive quarters, according to the forecast released by chief economist John Silvia. Domestic demand is expected to fall for five straight quarters, which would be the longest decline since the government started keeping track in 1947. The unemployment rate is expected to

Once again, screw the Catholic Church. They're hypocrites. They sat back and did nothing while Bush took us to war for no reason and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The also sat back and did nothing while Bush tortured POWs. Now they think they have the moral authority to confront Obama. They can go to hell.

November 11, 2008

Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama

BALTIMORE - In a direct challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, America's Roman Catholic bishops vowed on Tuesday to accept no compromise for the sake of national unity until there is legal protection for the unborn.

About 300 bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their national meeting, adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and advised Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, as he began drafting a statement from the bishops to the incoming Obama administration. That document will call on the administration and Catholics who supported Obama to work to outlaw abortion.

So what? The elderly could have supported gay marriage and it wouldn't have cost them a penny. Now, we're supposed pay more so they don't have to. Screw them.

November 11, 2008

Drug costs for seniors growing

Elderly and disabled people in Medicare prescription drug plans with the largest enrollments will pay 43% more on average in monthly premiums next year than when the drug program began in 2006, and some enrollees will see increases of as much as 329%, two analyses show.

The rising costs "are wreaking havoc on seniors' wallets and are simply not sustainable in the long run," says Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Let's be frank - the rise of the South as a political power gave us nothing but grief, failure and humiliation. Being dumb became a GOP prerequisite.

November 10, 2008

For South, a Waning Hold on National Politics

VERNON, Ala. — Fear of the politician with the unusual name and look did not end with last Tuesday's vote in this rural red swatch where buck heads and rifles hang on the wall. This corner of the Deep South still resonates with negative feelings about the race of President-elect Barack Obama.

What may have ended on Election Day, though, is the centrality of the South to national politics. By voting so emphatically for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama — supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did President Bush — voters from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky may have marginalized their region for some time to come, political experts say.

From now on the government should fire all executives of an ailing company that begs for a bailout.

November 10, 2008

Another AIG Resort 'Junket': Top Execs Caught on Tape

Even as the company was pleading the federal government for another $40 billion dollars in loans, AIG sent top executives to a secret gathering at a luxury resort in Phoenix last week.

Reporters for abc15.com (KNXV) caught the AIG executives on hidden cameras poolside and leaving the spa at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, despite apparent efforts by the company to disguise its involvement.

November 10, 2008

Pentagon board says cuts essential

WASHINGTON - A senior Pentagon advisory group, in a series of bluntly worded briefings, is warning President-elect Barack Obama that the Defense Department's current budget is "not sustainable," and he must scale back or eliminate some of the military's most prized weapons programs.

The briefings were prepared by the Defense Business Board, an internal management oversight body. It contends that the nation's recent financial crisis makes it imperative that the Pentagon and Congress slash some of the nation's most costly and troubled weapons to ensure they can finance the military's most pressing priorities.

November 10, 2008

Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. Two months later, as the Fed lends far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn't require approval by Congress, Americans have no idea where their money is going or what securities the banks are pledging in return.

November 10, 2008

A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks

The financial world was fixated on Capitol Hill as Congress battled over the Bush administration's request for a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention.

But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion.

November 10, 2008

Fannie's loss: $29 billion

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Troubled mortgage-finance giant Fannie Mae reported on Monday that it lost $29 billion in the most recent quarter, putting the firm closer to having to draw on the $100 billion in taxpayer dollars committed to it in September.

Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) said that as of Friday it has yet to draw on those funds. But it warned in a filing that "if current trends in the housing and financial markets continue or worsen...we may have a negative net worth as of December 31, 2008." In that event, Fannie said it would need to tap into an unspecified amount of those taxpayer dollars.

November 10, 2008

Circuit City files for bankruptcy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Circuit City Stores Inc., the No. 2 electronics seller after Best Buy, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, becoming the latest retailer hurt by a worsening economic downturn that's left more consumers with less money to shop.

The company's bankruptcy filing was also made at a crucial time of the year for merchants who are preparing for the year-end holiday shopping season.

November 10, 2008

Government provides record aid package to AIG

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a record bailout of a private company, the government on Monday provided a new $150 billion financial-rescue package to troubled insurance giant American International Group, including $40 billion for partial ownership.

The action, announced by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, was taken as it became increasingly clear that an original financial lifeline thrown to AIG in September would be insufficient to stabilize the teetering company. All told, the moves boost aid to the company to more than $150 billion. Fed officials, however, expressed confidence that the money would be repaid to taxpayers.

November 6, 2008

Steep food price increases on way

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. food prices will rise by at least 7 percent in 2009 because of higher feed costs for chickens, hogs and cattle, said a group of food-industry economists on Thursday.

It would be the third year in a row that food prices rose faster than the overall U.S. inflation rate. Food inflation is the highest since 1990.

"The sizable increase in the cost of producing food has not been fully passed on to the consumer," said private consultant Bill Lapp. He foresaw food inflation of 7 percent-9 percent in 2009.

November 6, 2008

Jobless ranks hit 10 million, most in a quarter-century

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The nation's jobless ranks zoomed past 10 million last month, the most in a quarter-century, as piles of pink slips shut factory gates and office doors to 240,000 more Americans with the holidays nearing. Politicians and economists agreed on a painful bottom line: It's only going to get worse.

The unemployment rate soared to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent, the government said Friday, up from 6.1 percent just a month earlier. And there was more grim news from U.S. automakers: Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., American giants struggling to survive, each reported big losses and figured to be announcing even more job cuts before long.

The consumer-based economy is coming to an end. It will never come back.

November 11, 2008

Starbuck Profits Drop 53%

For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 28, Starbucks' profit fell 53 percent to $315.5 million, or 43 cents per share. Wall Street analysts had expected 74 cents per share.

Fourth-quarter profit dropped 97 percent because of declining foot traffic into U.S. stores and costs related to closing underperforming stores. Starbucks reported quarterly net income of $5.4 million, or a penny a share, compared with $158.5 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier. Excluding the costs of closing 600 stores in the U.S. and 61 in Australia, Starbucks earned 10 cents per share.

November 8, 2008

Marriage Protection Act

cartoons_mpa (25K)
November 8, 2008

The rising irrelevance of talk radio

ONE MORE note on the significance of the presidential election of 2008: It's the first one in more than 30 years on which talk radio had no major impact.

Perhaps the Carter-Ford contest in 1976 was the last in which talk radio was so irrelevant to public opinion on candidates and issues. In retrospect, 1979 (the year the Iranian hostage crisis began) and 2004 (the year of George W. Bush's reelection) may well be regarded as bookends of talk radio's greatest influence on American politics.

November 10, 2008

General Motors Plummets After Analyst Cuts Price Target to Zero

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp. plummeted 30 percent after a Deutsche Bank AG analyst downgraded the shares and cut the price target to zero.

GM lost $1.30 to $3.06 at 10:04 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Ford Motor Co. dropped 10 cents to $1.92. Detroit-based GM said Nov. 7 it may not have enough cash to operate this year.

November 6, 2008

Executives' Suicides Accompany Downturn

The reason for a suicide, particularly one that also involves homicide, is never cut and dried. Mr. Buczynski, for example, left a note saying that problems with his marriage caused him to kill himself and his wife.

Although there are no hard statistics yet to show an increase in suicides related to the financial crisis, anecdotal reports are coming from around the globe.

November 8, 2008

Running on fumes: GM could soon run out of cash

DETROIT (AP) — The American auto industry is running on fumes. General Motors, the nation's largest automaker, warned Friday that it may run out of money by the end of the year after piling up billions in third-quarter losses and burning through cash at an alarming rate. Ford sustained heavy losses, too.

The situation is so severe, GM has suspended talks to acquire Chrysler and is appealing to the government for help as the slumping economy drags cars sales to their lowest level in a quarter century.

November 7, 2008

Ford announces $129M 3Q loss, burns $7.7B in cash9

DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford Motor Co. said Friday it lost $129 million in the third quarter as the struggling automaker burned through $7.7 billion in cash and set plans for more job cuts.

Ford said it will eliminate about 2,260 more white-collar employees in North America as it battles continued weak demand, the credit crisis and the worst economic downturn in decades.

Government spending after 911 ended the recession within two months. Obama is correct, the government can stimulate the economy faster than consumers.

November 9, 2008

Obama backs the public works idea, an echo of the FDR era

Reporting from Washington -- As recently as a few months ago, the idea of trying to bolster the troubled economy by pumping money into public works projects such as roads and bridges was dismissed as too slow -- not the quick pick-me-up that was needed.

But today, economists and policymakers are beginning to change their minds.

Most experts still think infrastructure spending is a slower way to put money in consumers' hands than simply mailing out government checks the way President Bush did over the summer. What's changed is that the economic crisis now looks to be so deep and likely to last so long that a stimulus plan that pumps out benefits for months and years seems to fit the situation -- with the added bonus of providing long-term benefits to the country.

November 6, 2008

Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama

The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists", citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him" until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

November 10, 2008

China's massive stimulus package

BEIJING (AP) -- China's massive stimulus package will help contribute to global stability by boosting investment in the world's fourth-largest economy and consumer spending, the nation's top economic official said Monday.

Faced with the prospect of zero export growth, closing factories and mass layoffs, China joined moves by governments around the world to cushion the blow of the global slowdown with the announcement of the $586 billion package.

November 8, 2008

Stunned Icelanders Struggle After Economy's Fall

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — The collapse came so fast it seemed unreal, impossible. One woman here compared it to being hit by a train. Another said she felt as if she were watching it through a window. Another said, "It feels like you've been put in a prison, and you don't know what you did wrong."

This country, as modern and sophisticated as it is geographically isolated, still seems to be in shock. But if the events of last month — the failure of Iceland's banks; the plummeting of its currency; the first wave of layoffs; the loss of reputation abroad — felt like a bad dream, Iceland has now awakened to find that it is all coming true.

November 6, 2008

Obama wins electoral vote in Nebraska

For the first time ever, a blue circle will appear in Nebraska on national electoral maps.

Berge said the victory was a tribute to all the work done by staffers and the hundreds of Obama volunteers who manned telephones and walked neighborhoods in the Omaha metropolitan area.

November 9, 2008

Obama Positioned to Quickly Reverse Bush Actions

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.

November 10, 2008

AIG quarterly loss: $25 billion

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Troubled insurer American International Group got a reworked $152.5 billion deal from the federal government Monday, as the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department made significant changes to the terms of the company's original bailout.

The Fed announced that it will reduce AIG's original $85 billion bridge loan to $60 billion, and it will cut the interest rate by 5.5 percentage points.

November 5, 2008

Obama's victory is a mandate for change

Campaigns divide, and this one has been no exception. But if campaigns present choices, elections are the occasion for reunification. On Tuesday night, the struggle ended with a convincing victory that altered the contours of the electoral map and movingly reminded us of the greatness in our history.

With victories in Democratic strongholds and historic Republican redoubts -- Virginia, of all places -- Barack Obama can rightfully assert a national mandate, one he will need to confront the difficulties ahead. As our president, he must re-energize a troubled nation, reviled in much of the world, unsteady and anxious at home. The range of issues that demand the next administration's attention is almost limitless; the yearning of the country for thoughtful, conscientious leadership is nearly palpable.

Impeachable Offense
November 3, 2008

So Little Time, So Much Damage

Here is a look — by no means comprehensive — at some of Mr. Bush's recent parting gifts and those we fear are yet to come.

CIVIL LIBERTIES We don't know all of the ways that the administration has violated Americans' rights in the name of fighting terrorism. Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey rushed out new guidelines for the F.B.I. that permit agents to use chillingly intrusive techniques to collect information on Americans even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

November 7, 2008

Before He Was President, Mistaken for a Waiter: a 2003 Obama Meeting

But what I will always remember is as I was leaving that party in 2003, I was approached by another guest, an established author. He asked about the man I had been talking to. Sheepishly he told me he didn't know that Obama was a guest at the party, and had asked him to fetch him a drink. In less than six years, Obama has gone from being mistaken for a waiter among the New York media elite, to the president-elect.

What a country.

November 8, 2008

2 more banks go belly-up

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The tally of failed banks in 2008 rose to 19 as the government announced that a Texas and a California bank had been shuttered Friday night.

Franklin Bank, a Houston, Texas-based bank and Security Pacific Bank, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based bank were shut down by state regulators Friday, marking the 18th and 19th bank failures this year.

November 6, 2008

Retailers report steepest sales declines since 1969

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation's retailers saw their sales plummet last month to the weakest October level since at least 1969, as the financial crisis and mounting layoffs left shoppers too scared to shop.

The stunning and rare drop, from an already weak September, is further darkening the outlook for the holiday season and raising more concerns about the financial health of the industry, which is not expected to see a recovery until at least the second half of 2009.

November 6, 2008

Productivity growth slows to 1.1 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — The efficiency of U.S. workers slowed sharply in the summer as a huge pull back by American consumers threw the national economy into reverse.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that productivity — the amount an employee produces for every hour on the job — grew at an annual pace of 1.1 percent in the July-to-September quarter, down from a 3.6 percent growth rate in the second quarter.

November 6, 2008

U.S. Again Hailed as 'Country of Dreams

LONDON, Nov. 5 -- Through tears and whoops of joy, in celebrations that spilled onto the streets, people around the globe called Barack Obama's election Tuesday a victory for the world and a renewal of America's ability to inspire.

From Paris to New Delhi to the beaches of Brazil, revelers said that his victory made them feel more connected to America and that America seemed suddenly more connected to the rest of the world.

Impeachable Offense
November 1, 2008

Judge orders Justice to produce wiretap memos

WASHINGTON (AP) - A judge has ordered the Justice Department to produce White House memos that provide the legal basis for the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 warrantless wiretapping program.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. signed an order Friday requiring the department to produce the memos by the White House legal counsel's office by Nov. 17. He said he will review the memos in private to determine if any information can be released publicly without violating attorney-client privilege or jeopardizing national security.

Impeachable Offense
October 18, 2008

Pay and bonus deals equivalent to 10% of US government bail-out package

Financial workers at Wall Street's top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year - despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash, the Guardian has learned.

Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are in line to pick up the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US government that has already prompted criticism. The government's cash has been poured in on the condition that excessive executive pay would be curbed.

Impeachable Offense
October 29, 2008

US allowed to withhold torture documents

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A federal judge has allowed the US government to withhold requested testimony of torture and abuse 14 Guantanamo prisoners allegedly suffered in CIA custody, a human rights group that made the request has said.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it filed in March a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which decide if prisoners at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, qualify as "enemy combatants."

Impeachable Offense
October 28, 2008

Military judge rules death threats are form of torture

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- In a first, a military judge ruled on Tuesday that a Guantánamo detainee's confession was extracted through torture, and excluded it from the trial of a young Afghan detainee at the war court.

Afghan police threatened the family of teenager Mohammed Jawad while he was undergoing interrogation at a Kabul police station, said Army Col. Stephen Henley, the judge, in a three-page ruling.

October 28, 2008

Treasury Needs Unprecedented Financing

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Treasury faces historic financing demands from a weakening economy and the added costs of a $700 billion Wall Street rescue program, the department's top domestic finance official said today.

"This year's financing needs will be unprecedented," said Anthony Ryan, the Treasury's acting undersecretary for domestic finance, at a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association conference in New York, where he was a last-minute substitute for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

November 1, 2008

National Debt Soars $500B In Under A Month

Since September 30, the day the national debt hit the $10-trillion mark for the first time, the government has run up over $500 billion in new debt.

That's more than the federal deficit for the entire 2008 fiscal year, which ended September 30. And it's the most rapid increase in the national debt ever: over half a trillion dollars in less than a month - 23 days to be exact.

The government's latest calculation of the national debt stands at $10,530,893,033,778.21 - that's $10.5-trillion for short. It took less than four months for it to rocket to that level from $9.5 trillion on July 21.

October 31, 2008

Banks Alter Loan Terms to Head Off Foreclosures

Even as political pressure builds in Washington for a sweeping program to help struggling homeowners, some banks are realizing that it may be good business to keep borrowers in their homes.

On Friday, JPMorgan Chase became the latest big bank to pledge to cut monthly payments, by lowering interest rates and temporarily reducing loan balances for as many as 400,000 homeowners. Early in October, Bank of America, which acquired the large lender Countrywide, announced a similar effort aimed at 400,000 borrowers as part of a settlement with state officials.

October 31, 2008

An All-Out Attack on 'Conservative Misinformation'

WASHINGTON — They are some of the more memorable slip-ups or slights within the news media's coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign.

A Fox News anchor asks whether Senator Barack Obama and his wife had greeted each other with a "terrorist fist jab." Rush Limbaugh calls military personnel critical of the war in Iraq "phony soldiers." Mr. Limbaugh and another Fox host repeat an accusation that Mr. Obama attended a madrassa, or Islamic school, in Indonesia.

November 2, 2008

Supreme Court weighs drug lawsuits

Berkeley architect and construction manager Mike Seuferer believes that a diabetes drug called Avandia caused the heart failure that sent him to the hospital in late 2005. But his lawyers may never have a chance to make that case to a jury.

Seuferer's claim is one of many thousands of suspended cases across the country that hang on the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in a pivotal case to be argued Monday. The question before the high court is whether patients such as Seuferer should be able to sue when they believe drugmakers failed to warn them adequately about the risks of medicines.

October 31, 2008

Palin misreads First Amendment; Eagleburger: Palin's not ready

Perhaps that's why Lawrence Eagleburger, during what was billed an ahem, "making the case" appearance for McCain Friday on NPR, dissed Palin. When asked if Palin was ready to step in as Prez, Larry -- one of the five secretaries of state McCain loves to tout that endorsed him -- went rogue:

"It is a very good question," he said, pausing a few seconds, then adding with a laugh: "I'm being facetious here. Look, of course not."

"I don't think at the moment she is prepared to take over the reigns of the presidency," he said. "I can name for you any number of other vice presidents who were not particularly up to it either. So the question, I think, is can she learn and would she be tough enough under the circumstances if she were asked to become president, heaven forbid that that ever takes place?

October 8, 2008

"My Fellow Prisoners," McCain Calls Americans

After referring to the various proposals that comprise his domestic policy agenda, John McCain offered an absolute head-scratcher of a line during a campaign speech on Wednesday.

"Across this country this is the agenda I have set before my fellow prisoners," he declared. In the prepared remarks he was supposed to say "fellow citizens."

October 28, 2008

Goldman ordered to justify billion-dollar bonus pot

The investment bank, along with eight other leading US banks, has been instructed by influential Congressman Henry Waxman to provide the information as part of an investigation into whether taxpayer's money will be used to support remuneration pools.

Mr Waxman's request comes at an awkward moment for Goldman in particular, since it is expected to announce the latest recruits to its 320-strong partnership - each of whom banked in the region of £6m last year in addition to other lucrative benefits.

October 31, 2008

US banks owe billions in pay, pensions to execs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Troubled financial giants getting cash infusions from the U.S. government owed executives more than $40 billion for deferred pay and pensions as of the end of 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported in an analysis.

The sums owed are mostly for special executive pensions and deferred compensation, including bonuses, for prior years, said the paper.

October 28, 2008

Treasury Needs Unprecedented Financing

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Treasury faces historic financing demands from a weakening economy and the added costs of a $700 billion Wall Street rescue program, the department's top domestic finance official said today.

"This year's financing needs will be unprecedented," said Anthony Ryan, the Treasury's acting undersecretary for domestic finance, at a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association conference in New York, where he was a last-minute substitute for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

October 27, 2008

Americans losing sleep over financial crisis

NEW YORK (Reuters) – If fellow workers seem groggier or grumpier than usual in the mornings, they are probably losing sleep over the global financial crisis, according to research released on Monday.

Ninety-two percent of respondents said the economic turmoil is keeping them awake at night, according to a survey by ComPsych Corp, a provider of employee assistance programs.

October 29, 2008

Fed slashes rate again, nearing uncharted waters

The last time the fed funds rate was this low was a period from June 2003 to June 2004, and the low cost of borrowing money then created the housing bubble that led to today's collapse in housing prices.

Before that, the last time the rate stood so low was in 1958, during the second term of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In both instances, rates didn't go lower. But Wall Street is now rooting for even further cuts to the benchmark rate, lowering the cost borrowing of businesses and consumers alike.

October 30, 2008

Get Ready For 'Stag-Deflation'

First, the U.S. has entered a severe recession that is already leading to deflationary forces in sectors where supply vastly exceeds demand (housing, consumer durables, motor vehicles, etc.). Aggregate demand is falling sharply below aggregate supply. The unemployment rate is up sharply, while employment has been falling for 10 months in a row. And commodity prices are sharply down--about 30% from their July peak--in the last three months, and are likely to fall much more in the next few months as the advanced economies' recession goes global. So both in the U.S. and in other advanced economies we are clearly headed toward a collapse of headline and core inflation.

October 29, 2008

Governors Call for Rescue Package for States

WASHINGTON — Governors David A. Paterson of New York and Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey added their voices Wednesday to the growing support for a second federal economic stimulus package, saying state governments would face devastating cutbacks if they did not receive assistance soon.

Appearing before separate congressional committees, they said that their states, like many others, had already moved to address budget deficits. Their actions alone would not be enough, they said.

October 30, 2008

Fed Rescues South Korea

As South Korea ran into a severe scarcity of dollars amid the global credit crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve lent a helping hand, providing a multibillion-dollar line of liquidity to the country's central bank. The move will help stem the won's steep slide, which has made borrowing from abroad more expensive and raised concerns about South Korea's risk of default.

The Fed said Wednesday it had extended a $30 billion swap line to each of the central banks of South Korea, Singapore, Brazil and Mexico that will last until April 30, 2009. It moved to help stabilize these "large and systemically important economies" as the global credit crisis, spread to emerging markets, according to a statement.

October 30, 2008

Economy shrank in third quarter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy shrank at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, its sharpest contraction in seven years as consumers cut spending and businesses reduced investment in the face of rising fears that recession was setting in.

The Commerce Department said the third-quarter contraction in gross domestic product was the steepest since the corresponding quarter in 2001 though it was slightly less than the 0.5 percent rate of reduction that Wall Street economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast.

October 30, 2008

Poll Shows 59 Percent of Ballots Already Cast Are for Obama

For at least 16 million voters, the 2008 election is already over.

Across the more than 30 states that allow no-excuse absentee or early voting, votes have been pouring in at a record pace, and the data show Barack Obama as the clear beneficiary.

In the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll, 59 percent of those who said they had already voted backed Obama, and 40 percent indicated that they supported John McCain. So far, the numbers are a near-mirror image of the past two elections.

October 30, 2008

Obama delivers TV tour de force worthy of JFK

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama delivered a TV tour de force last night.

I don't think any presidential candidate has ever had as strong and wide-reaching a run on the medium as Obama did from the dinner hour to the midnight hour. As he shifted programming genres ranging from news to comedy, Obama altered his demeanor and calibrated his performances to the different settings with TV skills not seen since John F. Kennedy.

October 29, 2008

N. Carolina Senate race in chaos over Dole's 'godless' ad

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Furious about a new political ad in North Carolina that suggests she's "godless," state Sen. Kay Hagan said she'd seek a cease-and-desist order against U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's campaign if the television spot isn't pulled in the next 24 hours.

Hagan, a Democrat from Guilford County, and Dole, the Republican incumbent, have both been engaged in a highly negative ad war over the U.S. Senate seat.

Hagan held a press conference Wednesday morning with her family and her minister in Greensboro to denounce the ad at the Presbyterian church where she is an elder and has taught Sunday school.

Why isn't Treasury doing its job? If or when the markets collapse again, will there be one vote in congress for another bailout?

Impeachable Offense
October 29, 2008

Waxman Seeks Bank Data On Use of Bailout Funds

Congressional investigators yesterday demanded that the nation's nine largest banks prove they are not using an emergency infusion of $125 billion in taxpayer funds to lavish their executives with wealthy bonuses.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, noted that before the infusion, the banks had spent or allocated $108 billion on employee compensation and bonuses for the first nine months of 2008, nearly the same amount as last year.

October 29, 2008

Obama now on track for Electoral College majority

WASHINGTON (AP) — Barack Obama has pulled ahead in enough states to win the 270 electoral votes he needs to gain the White House — and with states to spare — according to an Associated Press analysis that shows he is now moving beyond typical Democratic territory to challenge John McCain on historically GOP turf.

Even if McCain sweeps the six states that are too close to call, he still seemingly won't have enough votes to prevail, according to the analysis, which is based on polls, the candidates' TV spending patterns and interviews with Democratic and Republican strategists. McCain does have a path to victory but it's a steep climb: He needs a sudden shift in voter sentiment that gives him all six toss-up states plus one or two others that now lean toward Obama.

October 27, 2008

Tough times: Congress grew 13 percent richer in 2007

WASHINGTON — Times are tough, but don't worry about most members of Congress making ends meet.

Their collective wealth grew by 13 percent last year, leaving them in better shape than most Americans to make it through an economic downturn, according to a new analysis of personal financial reports.

Overall, nearly two of every three senators are millionaires. That includes presidential candidates Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. In the House, 39 percent of all members belong to the exclusive club.

October 28, 2008

Are credit cards the next collapse?

U.S. banks charged off 5.47 percent of all credit card loans in the second quarter, according to the Federal Reserve, representing some $50 billion that they'll likely never collect. That's up from 3.85 percent the year before, and that is a movement that's on the radar of Ken Lewis, chief executive of Charlotte's Bank of America Corp.

Asked in a recent TV interview if credit-card debt would be "the next shoe to drop" for the banking industry, Lewis replied: "It, in some ways, already is," adding that such losses have risen "pretty substantially."

October 29, 2008

Christian Science Monitor to discontinue daily print edition

The century-old Christian Science Monitor said Tuesday that it would discontinue its daily print edition in April and move almost exclusively to online publication, becoming the first major national newspaper to abandon a daily paper-and-ink format.

The move, which had been expected by industry professionals and the Monitor staff, will cut annual costs by millions of dollars for the money-losing newspaper, which is subsidized by the Christian Science Church. The publication's management and some staff members also contend that the online format will make the report more timely to subscribers, most of whom receive the Monitor by mail a day or two after the paper goes to print.

October 28, 2008

Sexual trauma afflicts 15 percent of U.S. veterans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly 15 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking medical care from the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department have suffered sexual trauma, from harassment to rape, researchers reported on Tuesday.

And these veterans were 1.5 times as likely as other veterans to need mental health services, the report from the VA found.

October 29, 2008

White House tells banks: Quit Hoarding Money

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An impatient White House prodded banks and other financial companies Tuesday to quit hoarding billions of dollars flowing into their vaults from Washington and start making more loans. Wall Street soared nearly 900 points on bargain-hunting and hopes of a hefty interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve.

The stock market's amazing climb, with its second-largest point gain ever, was a welcome burst of good news for a nation suffering big job losses and seemingly tumbling into a painful recession.

October 27, 2008

Feds disrupt skinhead plot to assassinate Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agents have broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 102 black people, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives said Monday.

In court records unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn., federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school in a murder spree that was to begin in Tennessee. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.

October 27, 2008

Sen. Stevens: Guilty On All Counts

Stevens faces a maximum 35 years in prison, although he is likely to get far less, if any, prison time. If re-elected, he also could face an expulsion vote in the Senate, although senators also can recommend a lesser sanction.

He lost, with a jury on Monday finding him guilty on seven counts of trying to hide more than $250,000 in free home renovations and other gifts from a wealthy oil contractor.

October 25, 2008

The Failed Presidency of George W. Bush

Economically, the Bush-Cheney administration is leaving behind a big financial and economic mess. In fact, this is an administration that has brought misery upon America by its misguided economic policies that have built a mountain of shaky debt and rendered dysfunctional large segments of the American banking industry and large sectors of the U.S. economy, through inappropriate deregulation to enrich greedy special interest characters, wheeler-dealers, corporate con men, professional short-sellers and other scam artists and swindlers. In so doing, it has empowered rich parasitic speculators and turned the financial sector into a giant casino, thus risking the health of the entire economy.

October 26, 2008

McCain is losing in a way that threatens to take the entire Republican Party down with him

There are many ways to lose a presidential election. John McCain is losing in a way that threatens to take the entire Republican Party down with him.

A year ago, the Arizona senator's team made a crucial strategic decision. McCain would run on his (impressive) personal biography. On policy, he'd hew mostly to conservative orthodoxy, with a few deviations -- most notably, his support for legalization for illegal immigrants. But this strategy wasn't yielding results in the general election. So in August, McCain tried a bold new gambit: He would reach out to independents and women with an exciting and unexpected vice presidential choice.

October 25, 2008

Despite Turmoil, Wall Street Bonuses Survive

Yes, you read right. While the outlook is pretty grim, at least compared to last year's $33.2 billion bonanza, compensation consultants expect a 30% to 50% decline in payouts this year, but billions will still flow.

The bonus pool is being artificially inflated by a combination of job losses (meaning fewer people sharing the smaller pot), merger guarantees and efforts to retain or attract key employees. Some workers will get nothing for sure, especially on desks that have had the worst performance. Senior-most executive officers will probably see their bonuses slashed 70% to 100%, according to Alan Johnson of Johnson Associates.

October 24, 2008

Former Bush press secretary backs Obama

Barack Obama has picked up another endorsement from a high-profile Republican as George Bush's former press secretary Scott McClellan announced he would vote for the Democrat.

McClellan made his declaration, which had been expected, during the taping of a CNN programme to be broadcast on Saturday.

Newt still hasn't grown up. When the GOP can't take a joke, it can't be taken seriously?

October 23, 2008

Gingrich: Palin could sue "SNL" for slander

During an appearance on Fox News Wednesday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was up in arms over what he sees as the media's poor treatment of Sarah Palin. In fact, he said, some of what has been done to her and her family is so bad that it's worthy of taking to court.

"I think the elite media's attack on Governor Palin again and again has been factually wrong, intellectually dishonest, totally biased, worthy of the Polish state news media attacking Lech Walesa back in the 1980s," Gingrich told host Greta Van Susteren. "I mean, this is a kind of deliberate, vicious, dishonest, total distortion of who Governor Palin is, including, by the way, the 'Saturday Night Live' skits, some of which I think were slander and were worthy of a lawsuit."

October 24, 2008

Greenspan Concedes Error on Regulation

WASHINGTON — For years, a Congressional hearing with Alan Greenspan was a marquee event. Lawmakers doted on him as an economic sage. Markets jumped up or down depending on what he said. Politicians in both parties wanted the maestro on their side.

But on Thursday, almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a humbled Mr. Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending.

October 21, 2008

Freddie Mac arranged stealth campaign against regulations

"It is outrageous that a congressionally chartered government-sponsored enterprise would lobby against a member of Congress's bill that would strengthen the regulation and oversight of that institution," Buttry said in a statement. "America has paid an extremely high price for the reckless, and possibly criminal, actions of the leadership at Freddie and Fannie."

Nine of the 17 targeted Republican senators did not sign Hagel's letter: Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Christopher "Kit" Bond and Jim Talent of Missouri, Conrad Burns of Montana, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and George Allen of Virginia. Aside from the nine, 20 other Republican senators did not sign Hagel's letter.

October 19, 2008

The End of the Age of Friedman

Many economists, even some liberal ones, seem to think that ending a "run" on banks and supplying them with capital is essentially the solution needed to right the economy again. Any further help is useful but secondary. This is wrong. The $700 billion bailout package sponsored by Treasury Secretary Paulson is necessary but not sufficient to rescue the American economy. Credit in America will not flow adequately just because banks have the funds to do it.

Serious misunderstandings about the Great Depression, and how to avoid another, have been generated in the wake of Milton Friedman's influence. Supplying capital will not likely make business or consumers spend adequately again; it will not even make banks lend again. What is needed is a simultaneous and substantial fiscal stimulus--a significant increase in the budget deficit. We are talking several hundred billion dollars here. As part of this, the government, as many now urge, should also develop a mortgage rescue policy to minimize further defaults.

October 24, 2008

U.S. has plundered world wealth with dollar: China paper

BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States has plundered global wealth by exploiting the dollar's dominance, and the world urgently needs other currencies to take its place, a leading Chinese state newspaper said on Friday.

The front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily said that Asian and European countries should banish the U.S. dollar from their direct trade relations for a start, relying only on their own currencies.

October 25, 2008

Pessimism about the global economy deepens

Pessimism about the global economy deepened yesterday as fresh evidence of a worldwide slowdown showed up in feeble corporate profit reports from Asia, sinking commodities prices, and a scramble by emerging economies to prop up their sagging currencies and avert credit defaults.

The signs of trouble popped up around the globe. Japanese giants Sony and Toyota, as well as South Korea's Samsung, the world's largest maker of memory chips, flat-screen televisions and liquid crystal displays, posted weakened profits and sales outlooks. Toyota's quarterly sales fell for the first time in seven years. Britain reported its first economic contraction since 1992.