Impeach Bush--Index 86
October 24, 2008

U.S. Pension Guaranty Corporation Lost $5 Billion

WASHINGTON -- The head of the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation said that his agency is facing a shortfall because it has lost nearly $5 billion in stock investments at a time when more companies are inadequately funding their pension plans, forcing the PBGC to take them over.

"PBGC has faced many challenges, including economic contraction in certain industries that traditionally have provided defined-benefit pensions," PBGC Director Charles Millard testified before the House Education and Labor Committee Friday.

October 24, 2008

Georgia bank is 16th US bank failure in 2008

WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - U.S. bank regulators on Friday closed tiny Alpha Bank & Trust in Georgia, the 16th U.S. bank to fail this year as the weakening economy and falling home prices take their toll on financial institutions.

Customers of the banks' two branches can access their insured deposits over the weekend by check, teller machine, or debit card, the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said.

October 24, 2008

Breaking Down the Battleground States

Election Day often comes down to the results of a few crucial battleground states where key electoral votes can hold the key to the White House.

In 2000, that battleground was certainly Florida. In 2004, much of the election seemed to hinge on the results in Ohio.

This year, the campaigns are focusing their time and money on several critical states where the race is hard-fought. But with the election looming just a week and a half away, Democratic candidate Barack Obama has taken an increasingly commanding electoral-vote lead in eight critical battleground states that could decide the presidency.

ABC News has looked at several factors to assess how those electoral votes may fall on Election Day -- including reporting from the campaigns themselves, national party officials, outside groups, House and Senate party committees, state parties and polls. Analysis shows that Republican candidate John McCain's support in these states -- all of which went to George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004 -- may not be enough.

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 24, 2008

AIG Tapped $90.3 Billion From Government Credit Line

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc. has used $90.3 billion of a U.S. government credit line since it was bailed out last month, an amount exceeding the size of the original loan meant to save the insurer.

AIG may need more than the $122.8 billion now available to the New York-based insurer, Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy said Oct. 22. The company, which agreed Sept. 16 to turn over majority control to the U.S. in exchange for an $85 billion loan, got access to an additional $37.8 billion this month. AIG's latest balance was revealed yesterday by the New York Federal Reserve, and is up from $82.9 billion a week ago.

October 21, 2008

OECD Report Finds Rising Income Inequality With U.S. Among Worst

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - Only two of 30 nations, Mexico and Turkey, are ahead of the United States for income inequality and poverty rates, or the gap between rich and poor, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report was released by Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of its 30 member-nations, most of which are developed countries.

October 17, 2008

Chicago Tribune endorsement: Barack Obama for president

The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States.

On Dec. 6, 2006, this page encouraged Obama to join the presidential campaign. We wrote that he would celebrate our common values instead of exaggerate our differences. We said he would raise the tone of the campaign. We said his intellectual depth would sharpen the policy debate. In the ensuing 22 months he has done just that.

Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

October 21, 2008

Early voting suggests record turnout

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Officials in early voting states are reporting record turnout with Election Day still two weeks away.

The numbers indicate a record percentage of voters could participate in the presidential election, a voting expert said.

October 21, 2008

Poll: Americans angry, worried over state of nation

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new national poll suggests that only a quarter of Americans think things are going well in the country today, while the rest of those questioned are angry, scared and stressed out.

Seventy-five percent of those surveyed in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Tuesday said things are going badly in the United States.

October 21, 2008

Congressman Hayes admits saying, 'Liberals hate real Americans'

(CNN) — A North Carolina congressman locked in a tight re-election race admitted Tuesday to recently telling a crowd of John McCain supporters that "liberals hate real Americans," the latest in a string of comments from Republicans that appear to question Democrats' patriotism.

Rep. Robin Hayes, a five-term Republican who has been heavily targeted by Democrats this election cycle, first denied making the remarks, but conceded Monday afternoon that he was accurately quoted.

October 18, 2008

McCaskill: McCain campaign 'erratic' and 'all over the map'

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (CNN) – Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill chastised Governor Sarah Palin for recent comments that she likes to visit "pro-American" parts of the United States.

"We have reached a new low in American politics when someone dares to say that one part of America is more pro-American than another part of America," McCaskill said at an afternoon Barack Obama rally.

October 19, 2008

Obama Raises Over $150 Million in September

In a stunning display of fundraising might, Barack Obama brought in $150 million in the month of September alone, doubling his best previous best month of cash collection.

The announcement was made via video this supporters by campaign manager David Plouffe this morning.

Does Limbaugh actually think he and his listeners are not nuts?

October 17, 2008

LIMBAUGH: The Fox All-Stars, they're not America

Here's a lesson in how right-wing messaging works. Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are obviously simpatico most of the time. But of late Bill Kristol, a regular Fox News contributor, has been critical of McCain, and a panel of Fox News pundits including Kristol, Nina Easton, Mort Kondrake, and Juan Williams panned McCain's recent debate performance. So what is Limbaugh's reaction?

Let's get real. Nothing fundamental has changed about Kristol, Easton, Kondrake, and Williams in the last two weeks. They are the same people with the same political principles. But they are no longer full-throated supporters of the cause, so they get labeled elites. Regardless, of course, of the legitimacy of the term. This is how the right operates.

October 16, 2008

Home builders' confidence tanks in October

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The doom and gloom mood in the U.S. home-building industry worsened in October as "profound uncertainties" about credit availability sent the home builders' sentiment index down to a record low, an industry trade group reported Thursday.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index fell three points to 14 in October, two points below the previous low, NAHB said. The survey has been conducted monthly for 23 years.

October 17, 2008

Housing starts fall to second-lowest rate in 50 years

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Construction of new homes dwindled to the second-lowest level in 50 years last month, as home builders sought to reduce the number of unsold inventories in an elusive quest to find the bottom of the historic housing collapse, according to government data Friday.

Housing starts fell 6.3% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 817,000, the lowest since January 1991 and just 19,000 above the record low, the Commerce Department estimated.

October 17, 2008

Consumer Confidence Posts Largest Drop in History

As Washington works to shore up Wall Street and the U.S. faces its biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, home construction and consumer confidence have hit new lows.

The University of Michigan/Reuters index, which has been measuring consumer confidence since 1952, said Friday that the index fell to 57.5 in October compared with a reading of 70.3 in late September. This was the largest monthly decline in the history of the survey. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected a reading of 65.5.

October 18, 2008

Freddie Mac, AIG, JPMorgan Helped Stage Republican Convention

Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Freddie Mac and American International Group Inc., two companies bailed out by the U.S. government as the financial crisis unfolded, each contributed $250,000 for last month's Republican National Convention, Federal Election Commission filings show.

The money went to the local host committee for the convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, which raised $50 million. The committees can accept unlimited amounts from corporations, unions and individuals. While the donors' names were posted on the committee's Web site, the amounts they gave were not released until the FEC reports. The host committee for the Democratic National Convention in Denver has yet to file.

October 15, 2008
Impeachable Offense

WH Used Taxpayer Money to Promote GOP Candidates

The Bush White House mounted an "unprecedented" political effort to use top officials and taxpayer funds to promote Republican Congressional candidates during the 2006 election cycle, according to a congressional investigation.

The White House Office of Political Affairs deployed roughly 30 cabinet secretaries and other top officials over 300 times to key districts around the country -- often on the government's dime -- to appear at political functions supporting Republican candidates, concluded the probe by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Impeachable Offense
October 15, 2008

Bush regime gave nod for CIA waterboarding

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The administration of US President George W. Bush authorized the CIA to waterboard Al-Qaeda suspects according to two secret memos issued in 2003 and 2004, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The memos were issued at the request of intelligence officials who were "troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing," the newspaper said, citing four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents.

October 16, 2008

U.S. industrial output posts biggest fall in 34 years

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US industrial production plunged a shock 2.8 percent in September, the steepest fall in 34 years, due to hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and a strike at Boeing, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which hammered the Gulf of Mexico region, a key hub of the US oil and gas industries, and a machinists strike at Boeing that has crippled civilian aircraft production, "severely curtailed output," the central bank said.

October 15, 2008

U.S. Ranks 29th in Infant Mortality

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- With nearly seven infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, the United States ranked 29th in the world in infant mortality.

This compared to 27th in 2000, 23rd in 1990 and 12th in 1960.

October 16, 2008

'Joe the Plumber' says he has no plumbing license

Joe the Plumber said Thursday he doesn't have a license and doesn't need one. Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, the nickname Republican John McCain bestowed on him during Wednesday's presidential debate, said he works for a small plumbing company that does residential work. Because he works for someone else, he doesn't need a license, he said.

But the county Wurzelbacher and his employer live in, Lucas County, requires plumbers to have licenses. Neither Wurzelbacher nor his employer are licensed there, said Cheryl Schimming of Lucas County Building Regulations, which handles plumber licenses in parts of the county outside Toledo.

Big winners: FDR. Big losers: the GOP, Bush and McCain.

October 13, 2008

Bush: U.S. stake in 9 banks needed to preserve capitalism

WASHINGTON — President Bush unveiled Tuesday morning a comprehensive plan to recuse the nation's ailing financial system, confirming that the U.S. government will take ownership stake in nine U.S. banks and backstop virtually all lending in the country.

Speaking at 8:01 a.m. Bush said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will guarantee most new loans made by banks. He also said the FDIC would guarantee non-interest bearing bank accounts no matter their size — an important step for small businesses who worried that FDIC insurance limits weren't high enough to cover their business accounts.

October 12, 2008

Daring to utter the 'L' word: Obama on track to a landslide

WASHINGTON — Barring a dramatic change in the political landscape over the next three weeks, Democrats appear headed toward a decisive victory on Election Day that would give them broad power over the federal government.

The victory would send Barack Obama to the White House and give him larger Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate — and perhaps a filibuster-proof margin there.

October 12, 2008

Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis

WASHINGTON — As the economy worsens and Election Day approaches, a conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail.

Commentators say that's what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They've specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie's and Freddie's financial problems.

October 11, 2008

Under Bush administration, US influence in Latin America sinks to lowest point in decades

"We did our homework — and they didn't, they who've been telling us for three decades what to do," the man who presides over Latin America's largest economy, President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva of Brazil, complained bitterly.

Latin America's more than 550 million people now "have every reason to view the U.S. as a banana republic," says analyst Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington. "U.S. lectures to Latin Americans about excess greed and lack of accountability have long rung hollow, but today they sound even more ridiculous."

October 11, 2008

Palin booed at NHL game in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) – Although many Philadelphia Flyers fans cheered and clapped as Sarah Palin took to the ice at the Wachovia Center on Saturday night to drop the ceremonial puck kicking off this town's NHL season, their warm reception was no match for the 90 seconds of sustained booing that rumbled through the arena, drowning out most of the cheers in support of the Republican vice presidential nominee.

As Palin stepped onto the ice before a capacity crowd to drop the puck, joined by her daughters Willow and Piper, the arena's jumbotron flashed a futile message to the thousands of notoriously harsh Philadelphia sports fans in attendance.

October 8, 2008

Krugman Wins Nobel for Economics

Paul Krugman occupies two spheres in the American intelligentsia. In one, he is a New York Times op-ed columnist known for his barbed opinions about President Bush's policies. In the other, he is a Princeton University economist famous for his research on international trade and finance.

Yesterday, it was Krugman the academic who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his study of international trade and the effects of globalization. In announcing the prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited in particular Krugman's work nearly 30 years ago in advancing a theory on trading patterns and why certain countries produce what they do.

October 13, 2008

Bush Craters, Obama Benefits

A tornado of economic discontent is buffeting the nation, sending satisfaction with the country's direction to a 35-year low, George W. Bush's approval rating below Richard Nixon's worst – and Barack Obama, boosted by economic empathy, to his best-yet advantage in the presidential race.

Given the global economic crisis, a record 90 percent of registered voters say the country is seriously off on the wrong track, the most since this question first was asked in 1973. At 23 percent, Bush's job approval rating has fallen below Nixon's lowest; it's a point away from the lowest in 70 years of polling, set by Harry Truman in early 1952. Bush's disapproval, meanwhile, is at an all-time record – 73 percent.

October 13, 2008

British banks cede majority control to the government

LONDON (AP) — The British government injected an unprecedented 37 billion pounds ($63 billion) into the country's leading banks Monday to avoid a full-scale collapse of the sector.

In return for the rescue, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, Lloyds TSB Group PLC and HBOS PLC will cede majority control to the government and halt cash bonuses for bank board members this year. The banks will also be required to lend more money to small- and medium-sized businesses and homeowners in a bid to rescue the country's housing market.

October 11, 2008

Arabs See American Financial Disaster as Divine Punishment

Arab and Muslim leaders also expressed joy over the American crisis. Gaza de facto prime minister Ismail Haniyeh told Muslims at a Gazed mosque Friday, "We are witnessing the collapse of the American Empire. What's going on in America is a result of the violation of the rights of people in Palestine, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Muslims around the world."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this week joined the Arab world's delight over the American economic crisis and said that Americans are "oppressors...Systems based on oppression and unrighteous positions will not endure."

October 10, 2008

Two banks fail; brings 2008 tally to 15

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators took over two small banks on Friday, in Michigan and Illinois, bringing the tally of bank failures to 15 so far this year.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said it had seized Main Street Bank of Northville, Michigan, and Meridian Bank of Eldred, Illinois.

During the Clinton years we saw the largest accumulation of wealth in human history. Now, the opposite is happening. Coincidence? Not likely. The debt ridden Reagan and Bush years only created the illusion of wealth, not real wealth. Debt, is not wealth.

October 11, 2008

All that money you've lost — where did it go?

In the process, of course, you're losing wealth. But does that mean someone else must be gaining it? Does the world have some fixed amount of wealth that shifts between people, nations and institutions with the ebb and flow of the economy?

Jorgenson says no — the amount of wealth in the world "simply decreases in a situation like this." And he cautions against assuming that your investment losses mean a gain for someone else — like wealthy stock speculators who try to make money by betting that the market will drop.

October 8, 2008

North Korea removed from U.S. terrorism list

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration today removed North Korea from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism after Pyongyang agreed to allow inspectors access to declared nuclear sites, in a deal that drew quick criticism from conservatives.

After weeks of rancorous negotiations, North Korea agreed to resume the disabling of its Yongbyon plutonium plant and permit international inspectors to return.

October 10, 2008

Paulson endorses bank stock purchase plan

WASHINGTON - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday that the Bush administration will move ahead with a plan to buy stock in financial institutions.

Paulson said the program to purchase stock in financial institutions will be open to a broad array of institutions.

It would mark the first time the government has taken equity ownership in banks in this manner since a similar program was employed during the Great Depression.

October 11, 2008

McCain-Palin's hot rhetoric risks GOP backlash

Republican Sen. John McCain had long promised American voters that he would be the ultimate maverick presidential candidate and run "a respectful campaign."

Americans "don't want us to finger-point and question each other's character and integrity," he told Ohio voters just five months ago.

But that was then - before the economy was in free fall and before his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, had gained ground in key swing states.

October 11, 2008

IMF warns of financial meltdown

WASHINGTON/ COLOMBEY-LES-DEUX-EGLISES, France (Reuters) - The IMF warned on Saturday that the global financial system was on the brink of meltdown, while France and Germany pushed ahead with a pan-European crisis response to try to prevent the worst global downturn in decades.

At a joint news conference, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they had "prepared a certain number of decisions" to present at a Sunday meeting of European leaders as they work feverishly to restore blocked credit markets to working order.

October 9, 2008

GM shares drop to 58-year low, global risks eyed

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp shares plunged to their lowest level since 1950 on Thursday as concerns mounted that an industry decline that started in the United States was spreading and a leading forecaster warned global auto demand could "collapse" in 2009.

GM shares fell as much as 33 percent to $4.65, driving its market capitalization to its lowest level since 1929, according to California-based Global Financial Data. The stock closed down 31.11 percent at $4.76 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Impeachable Offense
October 9, 2008

Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the allegations "extremely disturbing" and said the committee has begun its own examination.

October 11, 2008

Palin scandal rocks McCain campaign

Sarah Palin has been hit by a corruption scandal as the Republicans lose ground in the race for the White House.

An ethics inquiry found the US vice-presidential candidate abused her position as governor of Alaska when she sacked the state's public safety commissioner Walt Monegan over a family feud.

October 8, 2008

British commander says war in Afghanistan cannot be won

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's commander in Afghanistan has said the war against the Taliban cannot be won, the Sunday Times reported.

It quoted Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith as saying in an interview that if the Taliban were willing to talk, then that might be "precisely the sort of progress" needed to end the insurgency.

"We're not going to win this war. It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army," he said.

October 9, 2008

White House considers ownership stakes in banks

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is considering taking ownership stakes in certain U.S. banks as an option for dealing with a severe global credit crisis.

An administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision has been made, said the $700 billion rescue package passed by Congress last week allows the Treasury Department to inject fresh capital into financial institutions and get ownership shares in return.

October 8, 2008

IMF: Global Recession

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - The world economy will slow sharply this year and next, with the United States likely sliding into recession reflecting mounting damage from the most dangerous financial jolt in more than a half-century.

The International Monetary Fund, in a World Economic Outlook released Wednesday, slashed growth projections for the global economy and predicted the United States - the epicenter of the financial meltdown - will continue to lose traction.

October 8, 2008

$12.4 trillion lost in global markets in 12 months

The worst financial crisis since the 1930s was stark reality for millions on Wednesday as retirement savings evaporated, jobs disappeared, stock market values slipped again and a dramatic cut in interest rates by central banks from Europe to Asia did little to stem three weeks of near panic.

Over the past 12 months, more than $12.4 trillion of global stock market wealth has been wiped out, as measured by the MSCI main world equity index. More than a third of that loss -- about $4.6 trillion -- has come in just the past three weeks as credit market turmoil deepened after the bankruptcy of giant U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.

October 7, 2008

Iceland teeters on the brink of bankruptcy

REYKJAVIK, Iceland - This volcanic island near the Arctic Circle is on the brink of becoming the first "national bankruptcy" of the global financial meltdown.

Home to just 320,000 people on a territory the size of Kentucky, Iceland has formidable international reach because of an outsized banking sector that set out with Viking confidence to conquer swaths of the British economy — from fashion retailers to top soccer teams.

October 7, 2008

New Report says One-Quarter of World's Mammal Species Risk Extinction

An international survey by environmental scientists reports at least one-quarter of the world's wild mammal species are at risk of extinction. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Washington.

The Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature paints a bleak picture of the worldwide status of mammals.

October 8, 2008

Hundreds of new marine species discovered

SYDNEY (AFP) - Hundreds of new marine species and previously uncharted undersea mountains and canyons have been discovered in the depths of the Southern Ocean, Australian scientists said Wednesday.

A total of 274 species of fish, ancient corals, molluscs, crustaceans and sponges new to science were found in icy waters up to 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) deep among extinct volcanoes, they said.

October 9, 2008

Iceland shares suspended, biggest bank taken over

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland seized control of its biggest bank, Kaupthing (KAUP.IC), on Thursday to try to shore up its banking system and halted all trade on its stock market.

The state has now taken over three of the nation's major banks after Landsbanki (LAIS.IC) and Glitnir (GLB.IC) were put under state control earlier this week.

October 6, 2008

Most Alaskan Glaciers Retreat and Thin

Most of Alaska's glaciers are retreating or thinning or both, a new book by the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

About 5 percent of Alaska's area is covered by more than 100,000 glaciers - that's about 29,000 square miles (75,000 square kilometers), or more than the entire state of West Virginia.

While a few of Alaska's large glaciers are advancing, 99 percent are retreating, the book, "Glaciers in Alaska," states. The book was written by USGS research geologist Bruce Molina.

October 7, 2008

Judge:Immediately Free 17 Chinese Muslims from Guantanamo Bay

WASHINGTON - A federal judge ordered the Bush administration Tuesday to immediately free 17 Chinese Muslims from Guantanamo Bay into the United States, rebuking the government in a landmark decision that could set the stage for the release of dozens other prisoners in Cuba.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina said it would be wrong for the government to continue holding the detainees, known as Uighurs (WEE'-gurz), who have been jailed for nearly seven years, since they are no longer considered enemy combatants. Over the objections of government lawyers who called them a security risk, Urbina ordered their release in Washington D.C. by Friday.

October 7, 2008

Retirement accounts have lost $2 trillion

WASHINGTON - Americans' retirement plans have lost as much as $2 trillion in the past 15 months, Congress' top budget analyst estimated Tuesday. The upheaval that has engulfed the financial industry and sent the stock market plummeting is devastating workers' savings, forcing people to hold off on major purchases and consider delaying their retirement, said Peter Orszag, the head of the Congressional Budget Office.

As Congress investigates the causes and effects of the financial meltdown, the House Education and Labor Committee was hearing from retirement savings and budget analysts on how the housing, credit and other financial troubles have battered pensions and other retirement funds, which are among the most common forms of savings in the United States.

As we move into he second phase of this crisis, it's extremely important to keep an eye on government debt. The governments of the world are going to need a lot of money as this global recession deepens. Where will it come from?

October 7, 2008

Australia stunned markets with rate cut

SYDNEY/TOKYO (Reuters) - Australia stunned markets with its steepest interest cut in 16 years Tuesday and investors expected that other central banks would follow suit in a coordinated move to combat the global credit crisis.

The Bank of Japan, alone among the biggest central banks, signaled it may not join a campaign of rate cuts to contain a crisis that has put the world's financial system in greater peril than at any time since the 1930s Great Depression.

October 6, 2008

Market meltdown: Global problem, global cure

"It seems that the markets are expecting more coordinated policy actions by developed markets to address the crisis. In the meantime, there is a complete loss of confidence," Brocado said.

And another portfolio manager said that there is little faith that any of the numbers being reported by banks right now are actually legitimate. Until trust returns, it's hard to imagine a restoration of confidence in the markets.

This is the same US military that couldn't defend our homeland on 911 and can't win a war against a defenseless country like Iraq. Does anyone think they're any better now?

October 3, 2008

Army combat unit to deploy within U.S.

The plan is drawing skepticism from some observers who are concerned that the unit has been training with equipment generally used in law enforcement, including beanbag bullets, Tasers, spike strips and roadblocks.

That kind of training seems a bit out of line for the unit's designated role as Northern Command's CCMRF (Sea Smurf), or CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force. CBRNE stands for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive incidents.

According to Northern Command's Web site, the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force is a team that will ultimately number about 4,700 personnel from the different military branches that would deploy as the Department of Defense's initial response force.

US median income (adjusted for inflation) peaked in 1973.

October 5, 2008

The income of a man in his 30s is now 12 percent below that of a man his age three decades ago

Bailout or no bailout, we're heading into deep recession. One of the first initiatives that Congress and the next administration will need to take will be an economic stimulus package. But not even this will remedy the underlying problem: The earnings of most Americans haven't kept up with the cost of living. That means there's not enough purchasing power to keep the economy going.

Adjusted for inflation, the incomes of nongovernment workers are lower today than in 2000. They're barely higher than they were in the mid-1970s. The income of a man in his 30s is now 12 percent below that of a man his age three decades ago.

October 4, 2008

29 Million on Food Stamps

Almost a million more people participated in the federal government's food stamp program for the needy between April and July, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program.

The latest federal statistics indicate that nationally, participation in the low-income nutrition supplement program rose from 28.08 million in April to 29.05 million in July, the last month for which the figures are available, a department spokeswoman said.

October 1, 2008

Manufacturing index tumbles - indicates a recession

NEW YORK ( -- A key measure of the nation's manufacturing activity fell in September to a nearly seven-year low, nearing a benchmark that indicates a recession, a purchasing manager's group said Wednesday.

The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index fell to 43.5 in September, down from the August reading of 49.9. It was the lowest reading since the 40.8 measure in October 2001, the month following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

October 1, 2008

56% of Americans say they have been harmed by the financial crisis

More than half of Americans — 56% — say their financial situation has been harmed by the financial meltdown in the past two weeks with 20% saying it has been harmed a great deal, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

Their longer term outlook is even more gloomy, with 69% saying their finances will be harmed in the long run and 28% saying they'll be harmed a great deal.

October 1, 2008

Recession now certain, economists say

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Even before the latest squeeze in the credit markets, the U.S. economy had slipped into what could be a relatively lengthy recession, economists say.

The latest data, covering activity in August and September, make it all but certain that the academic economists will eventually declare that the economy is in a recession.

October 7, 2008

Fears of global recession deepen as stock markets plunge

NEW YORK -- The collapse of stock markets worldwide Monday reflects deepening concerns that government intervention won't be enough to stave off a potentially severe global recession.

"Recession is unavoidable at this point," said Marc Pado, stock market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. "Now it's just a matter of depth."

October 4, 2008

$480 Billion of Debt In One Month

Date Debt Held
by the Public
Total Public
Debt Outstanding
09/02/2008 5,509,898,020,864.12 4,157,903,641,565.11 9,667,801,662,429.23
09/03/2008 5,509,953,344,882.61 4,157,722,917,002.77 9,667,676,261,885.38
09/04/2008 5,510,537,696,176.73 4,157,656,426,875.57 9,668,194,123,052.30
09/05/2008 5,510,653,897,970.67 4,159,144,996,498.11 9,669,798,894,468.78
09/08/2008 5,510,454,671,651.99 4,158,390,117,328.67 9,668,844,788,980.66
09/09/2008 5,530,693,169,327.12 4,162,069,776,598.19 9,692,762,945,925.31
09/10/2008 5,530,928,205,885.99 4,153,864,405,618.78 9,684,792,611,504.77
09/11/2008 5,526,828,606,295.84 4,155,288,389,998.00 9,682,116,996,293.84
09/12/2008 5,526,803,202,443.31 4,156,515,949,702.04 9,683,319,152,145.35
09/15/2008 5,475,450,615,883.44 4,158,639,848,932.11 9,634,090,464,815.55
09/16/2008 5,475,941,633,094.80 4,163,850,032,833.14 9,639,791,665,927.94
09/17/2008 5,476,381,035,381.95 4,170,766,425,173.05 9,647,147,460,555.00
09/18/2008 5,492,459,419,394.83 4,172,172,383,864.24 9,664,631,803,259.07
09/19/2008 5,552,620,101,517.17 4,174,389,518,377.17 9,727,009,619,894.34
09/22/2008 5,613,059,030,493.40 4,172,807,135,417.00 9,785,866,165,910.40
09/23/2008 5,613,893,232,637.39 4,177,676,012,038.56 9,791,569,244,675.95
09/24/2008 5,614,420,276,276.55 4,173,660,385,551.68 9,788,080,661,828.23
09/25/2008 5,674,500,268,592.36 4,174,749,697,791.56 9,849,249,966,383.92
09/26/2008 5,714,473,881,064.87 4,174,725,650,384.21 9,889,199,531,449.08
09/29/2008 5,774,962,168,083.97 4,170,616,063,897.62 9,945,578,231,981.59
09/30/2008 5,808,691,665,403.71 4,216,033,231,508.78 10,024,724,896,912.49
10/01/2008 5,850,791,254,967.39 4,273,433,812,160.30 10,124,225,067,127.69
10/02/2008 5,869,084,491,601.97 4,279,664,792,482.18 10,148,749,284,084.15

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September 2, 2008 through October 2, 2008
10 148 749 284 084.15 - 9 667 801 662 429.23 = 4.80947622 × 1011

October 2, 2008

Goldman is getting the best of the credit crisis

But a success is exactly what Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is shaping up to be at this stage of the credit crisis. If we were to begin the long journey back to stability today, Goldman would undoubtedly emerge even more powerful than before.

Did anyone expect another outcome?

Commercial banks such as Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and J.P. Morgan Chase & C. are obvious winners in the credit debacle. They've been able to buy battered banks at fire-sale prices. America is about to become a country with three national banks that have big broker/dealers as subsidiaries.

October 1, 2008

56% of Americans say they have been harmed by the financial crisis

More than half of Americans — 56% — say their financial situation has been harmed by the financial meltdown in the past two weeks with 20% saying it has been harmed a great deal, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

Their longer term outlook is even more gloomy, with 69% saying their finances will be harmed in the long run and 28% saying they'll be harmed a great deal.

October 1, 2008

Factory Activity at Lowest Level Since Last Recession

Sharp declines in September factory activity and auto sales offered the latest evidence Wednesday that the credit crunch is having an impact on the real economy.

The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index dived to 43.5 last month from 49.9 in August. That's the lowest reading since October 2001 and the biggest monthly drop since 1984.

September 29, 2008

Big 3 Auto Lenders Lend Less To Dealers

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The finance arms of Detroit's Big Three auto makers are selectively tightening credit to many financially strapped dealers, making it harder for consumers to get loans, particularly for new cars.

The credit squeeze is likely to ram down the brakes on already tepid new auto sales because auto dealers use a large chunk of this funding to stockpile new cars. At the same time, it also offers an opportunity for Chrysler Financial, GMAC LLC and Ford Motor Credit to whittle down their bloated retail networks as they struggle to shore up capital.

September 26, 2008

SEC Dropped The Ball

Leading up to its collapse, Bear Stearns was participating along with other major investment banks in a "voluntary" oversight program begun in 2004 designed to consolidate supervision. The idea was that voluntary regulation of these banks was the only way to effectively govern their behavior because of the peculiar complexity and their international structures.

What's more, auditors say that SEC regulators failed to address a key problem at Bear Stearns - the fact that its risk managers had relatively little experience with mortgage-backed securities, where the company faced its greatest risk. "Risk management of mortgages at Bear Stearns had serious deficiencies," the report said.

The SEC also missed key warning signs of trouble, the report said. It cited "numerous potential red flags prior to Bear Stearns' collapse," and said the SEC "did not take actions to limit these risk factors."

September 25, 2008

Risks to Economy Intensify

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke moved closer to cutting interest rates, signaling that risks to U.S. growth are greater than policy makers saw them just last week.

The "intensification" of the financial crisis in recent weeks is curbing Americans' access to borrowing, making the outlook for consumer spending "sluggish at best," Bernanke told lawmakers in Washington yesterday. While he noted that risks to inflation remain, the Fed chief's testimony focused on "grave threats" to the banking system.

"It opens the door a bit further for rate cuts, although it doesn't signal that the committee is at that point already," said former Fed researcher Brian Sack, now senior economist at Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in Washington. "It still seems like it would take a further deterioration in financial conditions or in the data to prompt a rate cut."

September 26, 2008

The biggest bank failure in US history

The biggest bank failure in US history happened Thursday around dinner time, and … life mostly went on as usual.

Sure, the fall of Washington Mutual is a big deal. In ordinary times, it would be easily the big news story of the day or the week.

These aren't ordinary times.

After recent collapses of other big-name financial companies – Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Lehman Brothers – this seems like just another day in the credit-market crisis.

Of course, the very scale of the maelstrom has reached the point where all eyes are now on Washington, as Congress considers a rescue plan designed to contain the cascade of failures.

But the failure of Washington Mutual sends a significant signal: The banking-system problems are large and defy a quick fix.

WaMu had tried in recent days to find a private buyer, but failed. With the firm's access to credit drying up and some depositors pulling their money out, federal bank regulators decided to act this week.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. decided to seize WaMu and then arranged a quick sale of the thrift institution – good assets and bad – to JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion.

September 26, 2008

China Overtakes U.S. In Number Of Broadband Lines

China has overtaken the United States as having the largest number of broadband lines in the world, a market research firm said Friday.

As of the end of August, the U.S. and China each had about 78 million high-speed lines, British researcher Point Topic said. But with the number of Chinese lines increasing at twice the rate of the U.S., China has since taken the crown.

"This is a major milestone for China," Oliver Johnson, chief executive of Point Topic, said in a statement. "Launching people into space is spectacular, but having the biggest broadband market down here on earth means a lot more for building a modern, hi-tech economy."

September 25, 2008

When Our National Memory Fails

Certainly those of us on the progressive side knew all the way back on Reagan's first day in office that this could only end badly. A lot of us were the children and grandchildren of people who lives were shaped by the scars they took away from America's last disastrous love affair with conservative economic nostrums. A lot of them devoted their lives to helping us avoid the same fate. For some of us, the warnings took.

But for most of us, they didn't. The great mass of Americans aren't that familiar with history; and even some who did know the story didn't see the connections when the patterns started repeating. The country made its decisions accordingly, enthusiastically re-embracing financial theories that had been soundly discredited by the Great Depression. ("Oh, but that was a long time ago. It's a different world now," they blithely assured us. If forgetting has a motto, that may be it.)

October 1, 2008

Auto Sales Slammed by Tightening Credit Market

Major automakers reported plunging U.S. sales for September on Wednesday—led by a 34 percent slide at Ford Motor—as an escalating credit emergency slammed a slumping industry and raised new doubts about when the world's largest auto market would hit bottom.

The downturn in auto sales for September coincided with a crisis on Wall Street and claimed even the auto industry's better-performing brands. Sales were down 24 percent at Honda Motor, 32 percent at Toyota Motor and 37 percent at Nissan Motor.

September 30, 2008

Prosecutor to probe attorney firings

A special prosecutor will pursue possible criminal charges against U.S. Justice Department and White House officials involved in the controversial 2006 firing of former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton of Arizona and eight of his peers.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey assigned the prosecutor Monday on the recommendation of the Justice Department's inspector general, who issued a report suggesting that the Bush administration, the Justice Department and members of Congress improperly politicized the hiring and firing of top prosecutors.

September 30, 2008

McCain takes hit from bailout collapse

WASHINGTON (CNN)  -- The House's failure to pass a $700 billion bailout package Monday not only held back billions for Wall Street, but also was a major blow to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.

The Republican presidential nominee raised the stakes for himself last week when he suspended his campaign and returned to Washington for negotiations over a solution to the financial crisis.

September 23, 2008

Schools fail to meet No Child Left Behind goals

(09-22) 20:20 PDT  -- If the system mandated by No Child Left Behind to fix thousands of failing schools were subjected to its own rigorous standards, it too could fail.

That's the conclusion of the first large study examining whether school-restructuring programs required by the federal No Child Left Behind education act are actually working.

September 27, 2008

Fannie and Freddie Cut Management Costs

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are rapidly stripping out management costs and acting more like government agencies than the shareholder-driven financial companies they used to be.

Three weeks after the mortgage companies' regulator seized control of them, Freddie Mac announced Friday the departure of three senior executives: Patricia Cook, chief business officer; Buddy Piszel, chief financial officer; and Timothy J. McBride, a senior lobbyist.

September 30, 2008

Congress Fails to Extend Tax Breaks

WASHINGTON -- Congress looked increasingly unlikely to extend dozens of expiring tax breaks for individuals and businesses before the end of the year, after failing Monday to break an impasse over the issue.

Tax breaks on the line include a provision that prevents the alternative minimum tax from hitting as many as 25 million taxpayers next year.

"We cannot continue simply using the credit card of the nation to continue to buy without paying for what we buy," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) told reporters Monday. But he added that "I'm going to continue to work with the see what can be done, even if it's next year."

September 30, 2008

Bailout Plan Rejected, Markets Plunge

house_vote_bailout (6K)WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives defeated the White House's historic $700 billion financial-rescue package -- a stunning turn of events that sent the stock market into a tailspin and added to concerns that the U.S. faces a prolonged recession if the legislation isn't revived.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sustained its biggest point drop in history and its biggest closing decline since the day the markets re-opened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Dow, which had opened sharply lower on fears of more possible bank failures, finished the day down 7%, with a 777.68 point drop to 10365.45. Losses to shares on the broader Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index amounted, on paper, to $1.2 trillion -- eclipsing the size of the proposed bailout package. The Nasdaq Stock Market finished down 9.1%.

September 28, 2008

The Real Costs of the Bailouts

Last week, as federal regulators seized Washington Mutual in the largest U.S. banking failure, Congress was grappling with whether to spend $700 billion of public money to fix the financial industry's troubles.

Lawmakers' initial reaction to the Treasury Department's staggering request: shock. That sum amounts to about a quarter of the U.S. government's annual spending. It's more than the Pentagon's annual budget, more than the nation pays out each year in Social Security benefits and more than the federal government's cost for Medicare and Medicaid.

September 28, 2008

USA Today/Gallop Poll: Obama Did Better in First Debate

A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows 46% of people who watched Friday night's presidential debate say Democrat Barack Obama did a better job than Republican John McCain; 34% said McCain did better.

Obama scored even better -- 52%-35% -- when debate-watchers were asked which candidate offered the best proposals for change to solve the country's problems.

September 26, 2008

Health Insurance Costs to Spike an Average 8 Percent

Health insurance premiums for federal employees will jump almost 8 percent, on average, in 2009, a sharp increase over the 2.9 percent increase this year and the 2.3 percent increase in 2007, the Office of Personnel Management announced yesterday.

Premiums for most workers, however, will climb even more next year -- about 13 percent -- which is the increase for enrollees in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Sixty percent of federal workers are enrolled in one of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

September 27, 2008

Pundits: Debate Even. Viewers: Obama Clearly Won

(September 27, 2008) -- It often happens that the pundit "scoring" of a presidential debate ends up quite at odds from the polls of viewers that soon follow.

We've seen it again with last night's debate, which most pundits (on TV and in print) scored very or fairly even, with perhaps some recognition that Obama made some small gains because he pretty much held his own on McCain's turf. Of course, as we now know, virtually every poll taken by the networks and outside sources gave Obama an edge -- and not a small one. He easily swept surveys of undecideds, even carried a Fox focus group. At least in the polls, it was no contest.