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Impeach Bush--Index 88
December 10, 2008

China wholesale inflation slumps; flags deflation risk

BEIJING, Dec 10 (Reuters) - China's wholesale price inflation collapsed in November, undershooting expectations by a wide margin and raising the risk that the once-sizzling economy could find itself mired in deflation before long.

Producer price inflation fell to 2.0 percent in the year to November, well down from October's reading of 6.6 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a rate of 4.4 percent [ID:nPEK354943]. The lowest forecast from the 26 institutions polled was for PPI of 3.3 percent.

December 10, 2008

AIG tries to quarantine another $10 billion in credit default swaps

NEW YORK: American International Group has said that the $150 billion U.S. government assistance package it received last month is incomplete, and that it still needs to find a way to quarantine about $10 billion worth of troubled financial contracts.

The U.S. insurer said Tuesday that the contracts were credit default swaps, the same insurance-like type of contract that was at the heart of its liquidity crisis in September. But these contracts were insuring a different type of asset than the ones covered by the assistance package.

December 12, 2008

Retail sales fall for 5th straight month

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Retail sales fell for the fifth straight month in November as mounting job losses last month curbed consumers' ability and willingness to spend money in stores.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales fell 1.8% last month, compared with a revised 2.9% drop in October, the worst monthly sales on record. October sales were originally reported to have tumbled 2.8%.

December 12, 2008

U.S. Producer Prices Fall 2.2%

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Prices paid to U.S. producers fell more than forecast in November on a record reduction in gasoline costs, a sign the recession is cutting demand for fuel and keeping inflation contained.

The 2.2 percent drop in the producer price index followed a record 2.8 percent plunge in October, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The measure that excludes fuel and food gained 0.1 percent, after rising 0.4 percent a month earlier.

December 12, 2008

AIG Gives 'Retention' Pay After Scrapping Bonuses

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday night abandoned efforts to fashion a government rescue of the American automobile industry, as Senate Republicans refused to support a bill endorsed by the White House and Congressional Democrats.

The failure to reach agreement on Capitol Hill raised a specter of financial collapse for General Motors and Chrysler, which say they may not be able to survive through this month.

December 11, 2008

Household Net Worth in U.S. Declines Most on Record

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. household wealth fell in the third quarter by the most on record as property values and stock prices tumbled, highlighting the tattered state of consumer finances even before the most recent slump in lending.

Net worth for households and non-profit groups decreased by $2.81 trillion, the most since records began in 1952, according to the Federal Reserve's Flow of Funds report issued today in Washington. Real-estate-related assets declined by $646.9 billion, three times the prior quarter's drop.

December 11, 2008

Foreclosure Storm Will Hit U.S. in '09 Amid Job Loss

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. foreclosure filings climbed 28 percent in November from a year earlier and a brewing "storm" of new defaults and job losses may force 1 million homeowners from their properties next year, RealtyTrac Inc. said.

A total of 259,085 properties got a default notice, were warned of a pending auction or were foreclosed on last month, the seller of default data said in a report today. That's the fewest since June. Filings fell 7 percent from October as state laws and lender programs designed to delay the foreclosure process allowed delinquent borrowers to stay in their homes.

December 11, 2008

Weekly Jobless Claims Jump to 26-Year High

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time jumped to a 26-year high last week, while demand for U.S. goods and services tumbled in October, providing more evidence that the recession is accelerating.

Initial unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 6 increased 58,000 to 573,000, a level not seen since Nov. 1982, the Labor Department reported today. A four-week average of jobless claims -- which is considered a more reliable measure of the labor market -- also hit a 26-year high, rising to 540,500 from 526,250.

December 5, 2008

Taxpayers: Furious over homeowner bailouts

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Ask most Americans whether they're in favor of spending taxpayer dollars to help delinquent mortgage borrowers and you're likely to get an emphatic "No!"

But the government didn't ask its citizens before it committed hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to guarantee loans through various foreclosure prevention initiatives such as FHASecure and Hope for Homeowners, which let troubled borrowers refinance expensive mortgages into more affordable loans. Nor did it take a vote before it agreed to fund the new streamlined mortgage modification programs for loans backed by Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500).

December 5, 2008

Foreclosures soar 76% to record 1.35 million

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A record 1.35 million homes were in foreclosure in the third quarter, driving the foreclosure rate up to 2.97%, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Friday.

That's a 76% increase from a year ago, according to the group's National Delinquency Survey.

At the same time, the number of homeowners falling behind on their mortgages rose to a record 6.99%, up from 5.59% a year ago, the association said.

December 8, 2008

Modified Loans Often Lead Homeowners Back to Trouble

Most troubled homeowners whose mortgages were modified are again falling behind on payments, a top banking regulator said on Monday, raising questions about whether policy makers and lenders can successfully help them stay in their homes.

Data from banks show that more than half of loans modified during the first three months of the year were delinquent by 30 days just six months after the terms of the loans were changed, John C. Dugan, the comptroller of the currency, said at a conference in Washington. After eight months, 58 percent were delinquent again.

December 6, 2008

Going hungry in the 21st century

As world leaders grapple with the global financial crisis, another equally threatening international disaster is unfolding - and begging for a co-ordinated international solution. The most acute food shortage in more than 40 years has, according to the World Bank, already left 800 million people "food insecure". Australia and other major food exporters are being called on to boost production.

Unlike recent food shortages, it is not confined to sub-Saharan Africa and is not temporary. Food supplies are declining in Africa, south Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Food riots brought down the Haiti Government this year. Over the past 12 months China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt and others have temporarily banned rice exports to preserve local supply.

December 4, 2008

Supreme Court to hear 'enemy combatant' case

Reporting from Washington -- The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will take up a controversial Bush administration legal policy and decide whether the president has the power to order the military to arrest and hold a civilian in the United States on the basis of suspected ties to terrorists.

The justices voted to hear the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, the only person who remains in military custody in this country as an "enemy combatant." Administration officials say he came to the United States on a "martyr mission" for Al Qaeda.

December 6, 2008

GAY MARRIAGE: Our Mutual Joy

Newsweek Cover Story: The battle over gay marriage has been waged for more than a decade, but within the last six months—since California legalized gay marriage and then, with a ballot initiative in November, amended its Constitution to prohibit it—the debate has grown into a full-scale war, with religious-rhetoric slinging to match. Not since 1860, when the country's pulpits were full of preachers pronouncing on slavery, pro and con, has one of our basic social (and economic) institutions been so subject to biblical scrutiny. But whereas in the Civil War the traditionalists had their James Henley Thornwell—and the advocates for change, their Henry Ward Beecher—this time the sides are unevenly matched. All the religious rhetoric, it seems, has been on the side of the gay-marriage opponents, who use Scripture as the foundation for their objections.

December 3, 2008

Corporate Debt Protection Costs Climb Amid Depression Concern

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of protecting corporate debt from default jumped to a record in Europe and neared a high in the U.S. amid concern that the global recession will sink into a depression.

Credit-default swaps on a benchmark index tied to below- investment grade companies in Europe reached levels considered distressed for the first time. The cost to protect U.S. leveraged loans from default neared a record, and a benchmark gauge of credit risk tied to investment-grade companies including retailer J.C. Penney Co. and Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, also jumped as a private report showed the nation's companies last month cut the most jobs in seven years.

December 3, 2008

Defaults May Beat Great Depression

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Yields on speculative-grade bonds imply a U.S. default rate of 21 percent, higher than the record set during the Great Depression in 1933, according to John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's Investors Service.

The extra yield investors demand to own U.S. high-yield bonds was 19.19 percentage points on Dec. 1, according to Moody's. Assuming a 20 percent recovery rate, the spread implies a default rate of 20.9 percent, Lonski said yesterday in a market commentary. That compares with a rate of 11 percent in January 2001, 12.1 percent in June 1991 and 15.4 percent in 1933.

During our last severe recession in the 80s, Reagan called food stamp recipients "welfare queens."

December 3, 2008

Record number of Americans using food stamps

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Food stamps, the main U.S. antihunger program which helps the needy buy food, set a record in September as more than 31.5 million Americans used the program -- up 17 percent from a year ago, according to government data.

The number of people using food stamps in September surpassed the previous peak of 29.85 million seen in November 2005 when victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma received emergency benefits, said Jean Daniel of the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.

December 6, 2008

Employers cut 533,000 jobs in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — Skittish employers slashed 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years, catapulting the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent, dramatic proof the country is careening deeper into recession.

The new figures, released by the Labor Department Friday, showed the crucial employment market deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid clip, and handed Americans some more grim news right before the holidays.

December 4, 2008

Retail Sales Fall in Worst Drop in Four Decades

Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Sales at U.S. retailers tumbled in November, the worst monthly decline in almost four decades, after the Wall Street meltdown caused consumers to postpone shopping until the holiday-sales kickoff on Black Friday.

J.C. Penney Co., Nordstrom Inc. and Gap Inc. all reported sales drops of 10 percent or more at stores open at least a year. The decreases were less than some analysts estimated after 50 percent-off discounts lured customers grappling with the U.S. recession. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. posted a 3.4 percent gain, beating its forecast.

November 26, 2008

AIG Gives 'Retention' Pay After Scrapping Bonuses

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc., the insurer that said yesterday it scrapped bonuses for top executives after a U.S. bailout, will still pay 130 managers "cash awards" to stay with the firm, including $3 million to retirement services chief Jay Wintrob.

Wintrob, 51, will get the "retention" payment in two installments, the first in April 2009 and the rest a year later, New York-based AIG said today in a regulatory filing. The firm previously disclosed the program in a Sept. 26 filing and said today that Wintrob and Chief Financial Officer David Herzog elected to get the payments four months later than planned.

When you hear right wing nuts tell you that unions are the problem, point out the fact that Asia's biggest automakers are in the same situation. Then watch them squirm.

December 3, 2008

US Asia-based auto sales drop 35%

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., Japan's three biggest automakers, said November U.S. sales tumbled more than 30 percent as incentives failed to lure buyers to showrooms in a deepening recession.

Toyota's 34 percent plunge was the most for Asia's biggest automaker since at least 1980, while Honda fell 32 percent and Nissan plunged 42 percent. Combined sales for Asia-based brands including Hyundai Motor Co. slid 35 percent.

December 3, 2008

November auto sales drop 37%

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - US auto sales plunged 37 percent in November to the lowest annual rate in 26 years as the recession and Detroit automakers' aid pleas kept buyers away from showrooms.

General Motors Corp. tumbled 41 percent, the second drop of that size in as many months. Toyota Motor Corp. fell 34 percent, the most since 1987, while the 47 percent slide for Chrysler LLC was the worst since at least 1981, according to research firm Autodata Corp. All the major automakers said deliveries fell.

December 3, 2008

U.S. Companies Cut 250,000 Jobs in November

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Companies in the U.S. eliminated an estimated 250,000 jobs in November, the most since November 2001, a private report based on payroll data showed today.

The drop was larger than forecast and followed a revised 179,000 decrease in October that was more than previously estimated, ADP Employer Services said.

Impeachable Offense
December 1, 2008, 2008

Bush Ignored Mortgage Meltdown Warnings

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

The administration's blind eye to the impending crisis is emblematic of a philosophy that trusted market forces and discounted the need for government intervention in the economy. Its belief ironically has ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s.

The myth that the GOP knows business has fallen apart faster than the myth that they know anything about the military or foreign policy.

December 1, 2008

Bailout Monitor Sees Lack of a Coherent Plan

"You can't just say, 'Credit isn't moving through the system,' " she said in her first public comments since being named to the panel. "You have to ask why."

If the answer is that banks do not have money to lend, it would make sense to push capital into their hands, as the Treasury has been doing over the last two months, she continued. But if the answer is that their potential borrowers are getting less creditworthy with each passing day, "pouring money into banks isn't going to fix that problem," she said.

November 30, 2008

I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq

Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric. The cliche still bears repeating: Such outrages are inconsistent with American principles. And then there's the pragmatic side: Torture and abuse cost American lives.

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans.

The National Association of Manufacturers has consistently supported the GOP. They're support was unfounded. The fact that people are still members to an organization that supports failure (the GOP) is one of the key problems facing this country.

December 1, 2008

Manufacturing hits 26-year low

New research shows the nation's manufacturing activity fell in November to a 26-year low.

The Institute for Supply Management, a purchasing management group based in Tempe, Ariz., said Monday its manufacturing index declined from a reading of 38.9 in October to 36.2 in November.

The Catholic Church is becoming less relevant with each passing year.

November 29, 2008

Calif. priest tells Obama supporters to confess

A Roman Catholic priest has told parishioners they should confess if they voted for Barack Obama because the president-elect supports abortion.

The Rev. Joseph Illo says his parishioners at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto shouldn't risk losing their "state of grace" by receiving communion sacrilegiously. He delivered the message in a Nov. 21 letter and during mass.

The audit will find that the government is picking winners and losers and the most likely winners were big contributors to the GOP.

December 2, 2008

$700 billion bailout to get first audit

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The federal government's $700 billion financial rescue plan will get its first official review Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office will present Congress with a report Tuesday on the bailout's progress and the Treasury Department's handling of the program. It is the first of a series of reports that the GAO must submit to lawmakers on a bi-monthly basis, as one of three oversight components required by the Emergency Economic Stability Act.

December 1, 2008

Credit-card industry may cut $2 trillion

(Reuters) - The U.S. credit-card industry may pull back well over $2 trillion of lines over the next 18 months due to risk aversion and regulatory changes, leading to sharp declines in consumer spending, prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney said.

The credit card is the second key source of consumer liquidity, the first being jobs, the Oppenheimer & Co analyst noted.

November 17, 2008

Long, painful recession is likely

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The likelihood of a prolonged U.S. recession has increased significantly as economic conditions continue to deteriorate, according to a survey of leading economists released Monday.

The dour outlook comes as consumers drastically cut back on spending in response to rising joblessness in a business climate chilled by tight credit.

Every right wing talk show host in the country said the economy was doing fine. They were all 100% wrong. Will their listeners hold them accountable and stop listening to their endless lies and mistakes? We can only hope.

December 1, 2008

It's official: Recession since Dec. '07

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, making official what most Americans have already believed about the state of the economy .

The NBER is a private group of leading economists charged with dating the start and end of economic downturns. It typically takes a long time after the start of a recession to declare its start because of the need to look at final readings of various economic measures.

August 06, 2008, posted December 2, 2008

Schwarzenegger's trip from tax cuts to tax hike

That was then. This week, Schwarzenegger is proposing to raise taxes on coffee, cars, gas, lunches and, yes, even toilets and mattresses. In a closed-door meeting with legislators, the governor reportedly suggested a temporary, 1-cent sales tax increase to try to break the latest partisan logjam over the budget.

The proposal amounts to an admission of failure. Running in 2003 as a novice politician after careers as a bodybuilder and actor, Schwarzenegger thought he could cut taxes, control spending and balance the budget, ending what he called "those crazy deficits." But the fiscal and economic problem was more complicated than he knew, and the politics far more vexing.

The tax cutting frenzy the GOP and California used to gain power is now destroying everything in its wake.

Unlike the Federal Government, States have to pay their bills. Under Bush and the GOP they just passed the bill to the next generation.

October 10, 2003, posted December 2, 2008

Arnold Matters

Are conservatives underestimating the significance of Arnold Schwarzenegger's election to the California governorship? I think they are.

The Austrian-born actor's stunning victory could be as path-breaking as the Proposition 13 ballot initiative of 1978. That property-tax-hike recall set the stage for a nationwide taxpayer revolt. It emboldened Ronald Reagan to firmly embrace supply-side tax cuts that had been proposed to him by economist Arthur Laffer, congressman Jack Kemp, and others. Post Prop-13, broad-based tax cuts became a staple of federal and state political life, lasting right up to the tax cut signed by President George W. Bush in May.

No two historical episodes are ever completely alike. But, like Prop. 13, Schwarzenegger's campaign victory is an overthrow of the old-liberal order in Sacramento — a political regime that decimated California's businesses and economy with high-tax, high-spend, and overregulation policies.

December 1, 2008

Schwarzenegger Declares Fiscal Emergency in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency Monday and called lawmakers into a special session to address California's $11.2 billion deficit.

The state's revenue gap is expected to hit $28 billion over the next 19 months without bold action. The emergency declaration authorizes the governor and lawmakers to change the existing budget within 45 days.

The state is likely to run out of cash in February.

Why didn't tax cuts make the economy grow? Did republicans create all this debt for no reason?

December 1, 2008

Fourth-worst drop ever for Dow

The stock market suffered one of its worst days since the financial meltdown Monday, slicing 680 points off the Dow Jones industrial average as Wall Street snapped out of its daydream of a rally and once again faced the harsh reality of a recession.

Not only did stocks end their five-day winning streak, they erased more than half the gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, one of the broadest market gauges, lost nearly 9 percent.

November 29, 2008

15,800 detainees remain in custody in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- More than 17,500 detainees have been freed from custody in Iraq this year, leaving about 15,800 in custody, U.S.-led coalition forces said Saturday.

Coalition officials said in a news release that it had been determined those released no longer posed a threat to Iraqi citizens, Iraqi security forces or the government.

More evidence that tax cuts do not work.

November 28, 2008

Poverty spreading in suburbs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Poverty in the United States is spreading from rural and inner-city areas to the suburbs, according to a study, a situation that can worsen as the economy confronts what may be a protracted recession.

The study by the Federal Reserve's Community Affairs department and the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program found that poverty levels in the world's richest nation were on the rise.

November 25, 2008

Home Prices for 20 U.S. Cities Decline Most on Record

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- House prices in 20 U.S. cities declined in the year ended in September at the fastest pace on record as rising foreclosures pushed down property values.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index dropped 17.4 percent in September from a year earlier, more than forecast, after a 16.6 percent decline in August. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007, and year-over-year records began in 2001.

Impeachable Offense
November 22, 2008

Bush Appointees Land Career Jobs Without Technical Backgrounds

The president of the nation's largest general science organization yesterday sharply criticized recent cases of Bush administration political appointees gaining permanent federal jobs with responsibility for making or administering scientific policies, saying the result would be "to leave wreckage behind."

"It's ludicrous to have people who do not have a scientific background, who are not trained and skilled in the ways of science, make decisions that involve resources, that involve facilities in the scientific infrastructure," said James McCarthy, a Harvard University oceanographer who is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "You'd just like to think people have more respect for the institution of government than to leave wreckage behind with these appointments."

November 24, 2008

U.S. Pledges Top $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.

November 24, 2008

Wachovia execs may get $98.1 mln severance

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wachovia Corp (WB.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which lost $33 billion in the last two quarters, said 10 top executives may be entitled to $98.1 million in severance pay after the bank is acquired by Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

In a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Wachovia said the executives would receive severance under their employment agreements if the merger closes by Dec. 31, as expected. Wachovia said shareholders will vote on the merger on Dec 23.

November 24, 2008

Home Sales Fall, Record Drop in Prices

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Home resales in the U.S. dropped in October and prices fell by the most on record, signaling a deepening housing recession going into 2009.

Purchases of existing homes slid to an annual rate of 4.98 million, lower than forecast, a National Association of Realtors report showed in Washington. The median price fell 11.3 percent from a year earlier, the most since the group began collecting data in 1968.

November 24, 2008

Recession's Grip Forces U.S. to Flood World With More Dollars

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The world needs more dollars. The United States is preparing to provide them.

In an all-out assault on capitalism's worst crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. is taking on the role of both lender and borrower of last resort for the global economy.

The Federal Reserve, which has already pumped out hundreds of billions of dollars, might formally adopt a policy of flooding the world financial system with even more money. The Treasury, on course to borrow some $1.5 trillion this fiscal year, may tap global capital markets for even more to finance a fiscal stimulus package of as much as $700 billion and provide additional bailout money for banks.

November 24, 2008

Treasury Traders Paid to Borrow as Fed Examines Repos

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Owners of Treasuries may soon get paid to borrow as the U.S. tries to break a logjam in the $7 trillion-a-day repurchase market.

Treasuries are in such high demand that investors are lending cash for next to nothing to obtain the securities as collateral through so-called repos, which dealers use to finance their holdings. The problem is many parties involved in repos aren't delivering the bonds because there is no penalty for not doing so, causing "fails" to exceed $5 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

November 21, 2008

2025: the end of US dominance

• US intelligence: 'We can no longer call shots alone'
• European Union will be 'hobbled giant' by 2025
• Triumph of western democracy not certain

The United States' leading intelligence organisation has warned that the world is entering an increasingly unstable and unpredictable period in which the advance of western-style democracy is no longer assured, and some states are in danger of being "taken over and run by criminal networks".

November 22, 2008

The Reckoning: Citigroup Saw No Red Flags

But many Citigroup insiders say the bank's risk managers never investigated deeply enough. Because of longstanding ties that clouded their judgment, the very people charged with overseeing deal makers eager to increase short-term earnings — and executives' multimillion-dollar bonuses — failed to rein them in, these insiders say.

Today, Citigroup, once the nation's largest and mightiest financial institution, has been brought to its knees by more than $65 billion in losses, write-downs for troubled assets and charges to account for future losses. More than half of that amount stems from mortgage-related securities created by Mr. Maheras's team — the same products Mr. Prince was briefed on during that 2007 meeting.

November 25, 2008

GDP contraction deeper than first thought

WASHINGTON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. economy shrank more severely during the third quarter than first estimated as consumers cut spending at the steepest rate in 28 years, according to a Commerce Department report on Tuesday that underlined how rapidly activity was slowing.

Corporate profits fell for a second straight quarter and business investment fell, the department said as it revised the annual rate of decline in third-quarter gross domestic product to 0.5 percent from the 0.3 percent that it reported a month ago. It was the sharpest fall in GDP since the third quarter of 2001 when the terror attacks against the United States took place.

The GOP cut programs for the poor. Our churches supported them. Now our churches spend money on hate gay campaigns while children go to bed hungry. Why do they take Christ out of Christian?

November 17, 2008

50 percent more US children went hungry in 2007

WASHINGTON – Some 691,000 children went hungry in America sometime in 2007, while close to one in eight Americans struggled to feed themselves adequately even before this year's sharp economic downtown, the Agriculture Department reported Monday.

The department's annual report on food security showed that during 2007 the number of children who suffered a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat was more than 50 percent above the 430,000 in 2006 and the largest figure since 716,000 in 1998.

Remember the good old days when republicans told us we could spend a fortune on the military, cut taxes for the rich and everything would be fine? That was then, this is now. I wish I could say the era of idiocy is behind us but it'll come back. We didn't get to $10.5 trillion of debt because ONE republican made one mistake. They did this to us on purpose.

November 13, 2008

U.S. October Budget Deficit: $237.2 Billion

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. budget deficit last month exceeded the shortfall for President George W. Bush's first full year in office, spurred by purchases of stakes of some of the nation's largest banks.

The deficit in the first month of the 2009 fiscal year climbed to a record $237.2 billion, compared with a gap of $56.8 billion in October last year, the Treasury Department reported today in Washington. Revenue fell 7.5 percent, while spending soared 71 percent.

November 14, 2008

11 economies in decline (table)

President Bush and other officials will meet Friday and Saturday to discuss the global financial crisis. Credit has stopped flowing, economies have slowed down, consumer prices have soared, unemployment is on the rise and stock markets are plummeting. Central banks have initiated programs costing trillions of dollars, but there is little sign that the crisis has abated. Here is a snapshot of 11 key economies and the challenges they face.

November 25, 2008

Fed Commits $800 Billion More to Unfreeze Lending

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve took two new steps to unfreeze credit for homebuyers, consumers and small businesses, committing up to $800 billion.

The central bank will purchase as much as $600 billion in debt issued or backed by government-chartered housing-finance companies. It will also set up a $200 billion program to support consumer and small-business loans, the Fed said in statements today in Washington.

November 20, 2008

Financials need at least $1 trillion

(Reuters) - The U.S. financial system still needs at least $1 trillion to $1.2 trillion of tangible common equity to restore confidence and improve liquidity in the credit markets, Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Paul Miller said.

Eight financial companies -- Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Wells Fargo & Co, JPMorgan Chase & Co, American International Group Inc, Bank of America Corp and GE Financial -- are in greatest need of capital, he said.

November 20, 2008

New Jobless claims jump to 542,000

WASHINGTON – New claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week to a 16-year high, the Labor Department said Thursday, providing more evidence of a rapidly weakening job market expected to get even worse next year.

The government said new applications for jobless benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 542,000 from a downwardly revised figure of 515,000 in the previous week. That's much higher than Wall Street economists' expectations of 505,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

November 22, 2008

Downey Seized, Sold to U.S. Bancorp as Mortgage Fallout Spreads

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Seizure and sale of Downey Financial Corp. and two smaller lenders may cost the FDIC more than $2 billion as foreclosures rise and home prices extend declines in the worst housing slump since the Great Depression.

U.S. Bancorp acquired Downey and smaller PFF Bank & Trust, California thrifts crippled by bad mortgages, yesterday in a deal brokered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Community Bank of Loganville, Georgia, was also closed and its $611.4 million of deposits taken over by Bank of Essex in Tappahannock, Virginia.

November 22, 2008

Citigroup talking to US govt as shares dive

NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc has begun talks with the U.S. government as its plummeting share price raises doubts about the bank's ability to survive, a person familiar with the matter said.

The bank has met with officials from the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department in recent days to discuss its options, which include an endorsement from the government and another capital injection from the Treasury, the person said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

The bank's management has also internally discussed selling off units or finding another bank to merge with. But it is not clear if anything short of capital from the government will soothe markets that are increasingly questioning whether Citigroup has enough capital to withstand the recession, the person said.

November 21, 2008

Georgia-Based Community Bank Becomes 20th Failure This Year

The Community Bank, a $681 million-asset institution in Loganville, Ga., became the industry's 20th failed bank of the year.

The closure was also the year's third failure—and the second in less than a month - in Georgia, which has been hit hard by the real estate downturn.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., appointed by state regulators as the bank's receiver, said Virginia-based Bank of Essex agreed to assume all of Community's $611 million in deposits. The $383 million-asset bank in Tappahannock, Va., paid a $3.2 million deposit premium, and agreed to buy roughly $84.4 million of The Community Bank's assets.

November 20, 2008

GMAC seeks bailout

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- GMAC Financial Services announced Thursday that it is seeking government assistance, trying to access the $700 billion set aside for banks that its parent General Motors has so far been denied.

GMAC also announced that it has submitted an application to the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company. Under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Treasury has invested $158.5 billion in 23 banks in an effort to stabilize the financial system.

November 19, 2008

Housing starts, permits at record lows

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Housing starts and permits, key measurements of home construction, hit record lows in October, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

Housing starts reached an annual rate of 791,000 last month, the lowest level since the department began tracking starts in 1959. The rate tumbled 4.5% from the revised reading of 828,000 in September.

November 19, 2008

Fed Saw Recession Last Month

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve policy makers last month predicted the U.S. economy will contract through the middle of 2009, with some prepared to lower interest rates further in response, a record of their meeting showed.

"Some suggested that additional policy easing could well be appropriate at future meetings," the Fed said in minutes of the Oct. 28-29 Federal Open Market Committee gathering released today. "In any event, the Committee agreed to take whatever steps were necessary to support the recovery."

November 18, 2008

Home Depot profit drops 31%

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Home Depot Inc. on Tuesday reported a 31% drop in its fiscal third-quarter profit as consumers curtailed big-ticket and other discretionary spending, leading the world's top home-improvement retailer to lower its sales projection for the year but keep its profit outlook.

Sales worsened throughout the quarter given the financial crisis, and previously strong markets such as Seattle, Portland and Spokane in the Northwest posted double-digit same-store sales drops, said Chief Executive Frank Blake on a conference call. On the international front, Canada also began to feel some economic pressure and posted negative same-store sales along with China.

November 14, 2008

Fiscal conservatism clearly has failed

Fiscal conservatives, you've had your season in the sun, and you've really messed things up.

Our economy is in the tank, the U.S. environment is trashed (Healthy Forests Restorative Act? Clear Skies Initiative?), our status in the world is lower than dirt, and the president (your man, George W. Bush) has an approval rating in the mid-20s.

November 18, 2008

Cheney, Gonzales Indicted

Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been indicted on state charges involving federal prisons in a South Texas county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles under the outgoing prosecutor.

The indictment returned Monday has not yet been signed by the presiding judge, and no action can be taken until that happens.

November 19, 2008

U.S. home construction hits lowest in 50 years

WASHINGTON - Construction of new homes plunged last month to the lowest level on records going back nearly 50 years as U.S. builders slashed production while Wall Street nosedived.

Embattled homebuilders, who enjoyed a five-year boom, are now building new homes and apartments at a record-low pace, according to government data released Wednesday. New building permits, a barometer of future activity, also plummeted to the lowest pace on record.

When people ask 'what went wrong with America,' remind them that a state almost elected a convicted felon. As long as failure and criminal activity are rewarded, there's no incentive to do otherwise.

November 18, 2008

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens loses re-election bid

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a Washington political power and Alaska icon who couldn't survive a conviction on federal corruption charges. His defeat by Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich moves Senate Democrats within two seats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.

Children in the US go to bed hungry because US Churches have a higher calling - "hate gays" no matter what it costs.

November 17, 2008

The Mormon War On Gay People

I should add that I dated a Mormon man for a few months a while back. What he told me about the LDS church's psychological warfare on their gay members, the brutality and viciousness and intolerance with which they attack and hound and police the gay children of Mormon families, would make anyone shudder.

They hounded my ex for having HIV and for being gay. They followed him secretly, outed him to his family and persecuted him for his illness. When he was diagnosed with HIV at Brigham Young, he had to run out of the college clinic to escape those who wanted to sequester and punish him. He died a few years ago. Most of his Mormon family didn't show up for his funeral. You want me to love these people? Let me say it's my Christian duty to try.

November 17, 2008

Japan in recession

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japan became the latest major economy to fall into recession and Citigroup said on Monday it would cut 52,000 jobs, one of history's largest layoffs, stoking fears the global economic slump is worsening.

After a weekend meeting of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies failed to come up with specific new measures to ease the world's financial strains, the IMF said it needed at least $100 billion in extra funding to fight the crisis.

November 17, 2008

Forecasters: U.S. in 14 month recession

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. economy fell into a recession last spring and will contract sharply this quarter as more than 200,000 workers per month are added to the rolls of the unemployed, a survey said on Monday.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's latest Survey of Professional Forecasters removed some of the glow from an earlier report showing industrial output rebounded in October after hurricane disruptions produced a stunning fall in September.

November 17, 2008

Target's profit tumbles

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Target Corp. reported a nearly 24% decline in third-quarter net income Monday as the weak economy continues to weigh on consumer spending.

The Minneapolis-based retailer reported net income in the three months ended Nov. 1 of $369 million, down 23.6% from earnings of $483 million a year earlier.

November 17, 2008

Citigroup Targets 52,000 Jobs

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said the bank will eliminate 52,000 jobs over the next year, twice the target announced last month, as loan losses surge and the economy shrinks.

The reductions, disclosed at a meeting with employees in New York, include 9,100 positions the bank began eliminating in October and about 16,900 announced today. Citigroup will shed a further 26,000 positions through asset sales, 7,900 more than in the previous plan. The total represents 15 percent of Citigroup's workforce of about 352,000.

November 17, 2008

Treasury pays $33.56B to 21 banks

There are any number of reasons for the Republican Party's defeat. But high on the list is the fact that the party lost the battle for brains.

Barack Obama won college graduates by two points, a group that George Bush won by six points four years ago. He won voters with postgraduate degrees by 18 points. And he won voters with a household income of more than $200,000 -- many of whom will get thumped by his tax increases -- by six points.

The problems facing the GOP are the same problems facing our major religions. They only listen to one side of the debate, they think there is only one side and when others think for themselves, they can't understand why their propaganda didn't work.

November 14, 2008

The dumbing down of the GOP

John Stuart Mill once dismissed the British Conservative Party as the stupid party. Today the Conservative Party is run by Oxford-educated high-fliers who are busy reinventing conservatism for a new era.

As The Economist's pundit Lexington sees it, the title of the "stupid party" now belongs to the Tories' transatlantic cousins, the Republicans.

Catholic priests who raped children were never denied communion but voting for an intelligent man who can fix some of the immoral problems the Catholic Church did nothing about during the Bush years is unacceptable. The Catholic Church needs to go away and its priests need to grow up.

November 13, 2008

SC priest: No communion for Obama supporters

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

The people who drove our economy and our country into the ground think they're entitled to the power we give them.

November 16, 2008

Conservative backlash begins against Barack Obama

Disgruntled conservatives are making plans to oppose his every move over the next four years, and - particularly in some parts of the South - emotions are running high, sometimes spilling over into outright hostility.

Any hope that partisan rancour might ease after Mr Obama's historic election victory have been rapidly dispelled - not least in Georgia, where a bitter new Senate election battle is under way. Elsewhere, wrangles over continuing knife-edge Senate recounts in Minnesota and Alaska have ensured that the divisions in the run-up to the election persist.

The same people who ranted about welfare queens are now taking more from our government than any welfare queen could dream of. Shame on them. IMO, their entire management team and board of directors should be fired.

November 14, 2008

Flurry Of Firms Apply For US Treasury Funds

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Treasury on Friday was set to receive a flood of last-minute applications from firms seeking government rescue funds by the Nov. 14 deadline.

The Treasury's $250 billion capital purchase program is open only to banks and thrifts. But others, including insurers and finance companies, were hoping to receive cash injections as well.

Meanwhile, many private banks, which aren't required to apply by Friday, submitted their applications anyway, for fear of being left out in the cold.

November 14, 2008

Eurozone 'enters recession' for first time

(CNN) -- The 15 countries that share the single European currency are in recession for the first time in the 10-year history of the eurozone, according to initial estimates the European Union said Friday.

The spreading recession is likely to top the agenda this weekend when the G20 summit takes place in Washington D.C, bringing together leaders from 20 of the world's biggest developed and developing economies. Other items for discussion include possible coordinated tax cuts or spending increases around the world. Video Watch more about Germany entering a recession "

Obama hasn't proposed anything and they already have their knives out. It's time to ban these types of ads. They have no value whatsoever.

Buy your meds from Canada. Show them we don't need them anymore.

November 14, 2008

Drugmaker ads to target Obama idea

The nation's largest pharmaceutical lobbying group is preparing a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to tout the importance of free-market health care and undercut an expected push by the Obama administration for price controls of prescription drugs.

The effort, which will include a national television commercial scheduled to begin airing next week, is the first salvo in what likely will be a huge battle over health care reform during the Obama presidency.

It's becoming increasingly clear that "policy" is irrelevant in US politics. Instead, it's about personalities or more importantly, about dynamic personalities. Every Democrat in my lifetime has been significantly smarter than the republican but the republican has won the majority of the time. Why is this? Bill Clinton and Barack Obama share on thing in common. Neither of them is boring. Contrast them with Carter, Mondale, Dukasis and Kerry...who put everyone to sleep.

The boring candidate is probably the most qualified, but he'll never get elected. Dumb people (note Reagan, Bush and Palin) were well received by the American people...not because of issues or anything else, but because they could give a good speech. Palin's luster dimmed before the election, but she now has four years to refine it and make it acceptable by 2012 (as Reagan did after his defeat). Dems who think she doesn't have a chance have forgotten the other idiots the GOP ran and won the presidency.

November 13, 2008

85,000 homes lost in October

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- As government and industry scrambled to stem the housing crisis, another 84,868 homes were lost to foreclosure in October, according to a report released Thursday.

Last month 279,561 struggling borrowers received foreclosure filings, including default notices, notices of auction sales and bank repossessions, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosures. That's a 5% increase from September, and up 25% from October 2007.

November 122, 2008

GDP forecast to decline 1.4 percent in 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product growth was lowered to 1.3 percent this year and was projected to decline by 1.4 percent in 2009, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday in its monthly forecast.

The U.S. average unemployment rate is expected to jump to 7.9 percent next year, the Energy Department's analytical arm said. World real GDP growth is projected to slow from about 4 percent in 2006 and 2007 to about 2.5 percent this year and 1.8 percent in 2009, the agency said.

November 14, 2008

Retail Sales Drop by Most on Record

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Retail sales and prices of goods imported to the U.S. dropped by the most on record, signaling the economy may be in its worst slump in decades.

Purchases fell 2.8 percent in October, the fourth straight decline, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Labor Department figures showed import prices dropped 4.7 percent, pointing to a rising danger of deflation, and a private report said consumer confidence this month remained near the lowest level since 1980.

November 12, 2008

GE Wins FDIC Insurance for Up to $139 Billion in Debt

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. said the U.S. government agreed to insure as much as $139 billion in debt for lending arm GE Capital Corp., the second time in a month it has turned to a federal program designed to help companies during a global credit crunch.

Granting GE Capital, which isn't a bank, access to a new Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. program may reassure investors and help the unit compete with banks that already have government protection behind their debt, said Russell Wilkerson, a spokesman for the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company. Coverage would be for about $139 billion, or 125 percent of total senior unsecured debt outstanding as of Sept. 30 and maturing by June 30.