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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Economy Watch: October 19, 2008 - October 25, 2008

Markets Again Dive to a Close

On a day that began with a grim outlook, as futures on the Dow and S&P dropped so low that circuit breakers were nearly triggered, stocks regained some ground earlier this afternoon before falling in the final minutes of trading...

By Kim Hart  |  October 24, 2008; 4:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Stocks Pare Losses Ahead of Close

After the chaos of this morning, stocks seem to have stabilized a bit. The Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 200 points, more than 2 percent, going into the last half-hour of trading. Still, that's close to the...

By Kim Hart  |  October 24, 2008; 3:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Oil Prices Still Falling Despite OPEC Cuts

Crude oil prices continued to drop today, even as OPEC announced a huge cut in production in order to stem the decline. The price of a barrel of crude oil has now fallen 56 percent from its high in July....

By Kim Hart  |  October 24, 2008; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Pension Insurer Lost $4 Billion This Year

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., which insures pensions earned by workers under private-sector benefit plans, lost more than $4 billion during its 2008 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. For the calendar year, from January to September, the PBGC posted...

By Kim Hart  |  October 24, 2008; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Disappointment on Wall Street?

After frenzied activity this morning when market futures looked like they would hit circuit breakers --which trigger temporary halts in trading -- some traders expressed disappointment that, so far, at least, the market is down sharply but not to a...

By Sara Goo  |  October 24, 2008; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Chrysler Lays Off 25 Percent of Workers

Chrysler says it will cut 25 percent of its salaried workforce starting next month. The cuts will be done through involuntary layoffs and voluntary retirements and buyouts, the company said. The cuts are in addition to previously announced reductions. Chrysler...

By Kim Hart  |  October 24, 2008; 10:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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White House: "It will take time for conditions to settle."

Be patient, the White House said today after U.S. stocks took a nosedive at the opening bell. The financial markets were trying to digest a lot of news and it will take time for things to stabilize, the White House...

By Kim Hart  |  October 24, 2008; 10:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Stocks Plunge at Open

Stocks tumbled Friday morning as fears of a recession continued to spread among investors and world markets were gutted by a wave of selling overseas. The Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 550 points, the maximum daily price change, triggering...

By Kim Hart  |  October 24, 2008; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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PNC to Buy National City Corp.

The PNC Financial Services Group today announced it will acquire National City Corp. for $2.23 per share, or an aggregate fixed amount of about $5.2 billion in PNC stock. Additionally $384 million of cash is payable to certain warrant holders....

By Kim Hart  |  October 24, 2008; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Oct. 24, 2008

You know, that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well." — Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on how the crisis...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  October 24, 2008; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Ugly Day Ahead on Wall Street

Buckle up. It looks like it will be an ugly day according to the market futures. Maybe even a day when the circuit breakers are put into effect. So far, Dow Jones industrial average futures are down more than 500...

By Sara Goo  |  October 24, 2008; 7:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Jobs in Financial Sector Still Look Strong

Cheer up, accounting and finance professionals. You aren't out of a job. In fact, you probably have plenty to choose from. With the economy in shambles and the financial sector seeing drastic changes, your experience will be in high demand,...

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Dow and S&P Finish on the Upside

Another day, another series of market swings to try to figure out. The Dow finished up 172.04, or 2 percent. The Nasdaq fell 11.84, or .7 percent--finishing lower for the third straight day. And the S&P finished up 11.33, or...

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 4:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Earnings Reports Pound Away at Markets

Disappointing earnings reports continue to have a negative effect on the markets. Here's a quick look at a few of the results coming out today. --Xerox said it will cut 3,000 jobs, or 5 percent of its work force, due...

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 3:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Should Banks Use Bailout Dollars to Buy Other Banks?

A number of questions aimed at Sheila Bair and Neel Kashkari during today's Senate Banking and Housing Committee hearing centered on how banks should be allowed to use federal funds allocated through the $700 billion rescue plan. Sen. Chris Dodd...

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 1:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Michigan Delegation: Help the Auto Industry!

A bipartisan Michigan Congressional delegation banded together this morning on a conference call to shout out one clear message: One, the auto industry desperately needs money. Every segment of the industry -- automobile manufacturers, dealers, suppliers and auto finance companies...

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 12:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Oct. 23, 2008

Decoupling Debunked The Financial Times | Martin Wolf says the idea that the U.S. economy could slow while the rest of the world chugs along has been put to rest. Don't Blame Credit Default Swaps Time | Justin Fox...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  October 23, 2008; 12:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Were You Wrong, Mr. Greenspan? "Partially."

The maestro has acknowledged that his music was off-key. Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman who led the economy through the years during which excesses in the credit and housing markets were building, is on Capitol Hill right now,...

By Sara Goo  |  October 23, 2008; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
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Works Progress Administration

Works Progress Administration On April 28, 1935 FDR tells older workers to retire and take Social Security, freeing up a job for someone younger -- a concept unimaginable today. Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view our enhanced content....

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  October 23, 2008; 12:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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FDIC, Treasury Still Working Out Details of Loan Program

Shiela Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., told the Senate Banking Committee that the government may offer loan guarantees and other incentives to encourage mortgage lenders to renegotiate the terms of troubled loans. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) asked...

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Greenspan's Revelation: Subprime Mortgages Are to Blame

In his opening remarks this morning before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Alan Greenspan said he raised concerns back in 2005 that there would be dire consequences to the bloated housing market. The current crisis, however, is much...

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 10:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
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Markets Bump Up at Open

Yesterday, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged by 514 points. In the first few minutes of trading, the Dow, Standard & Poor's 500 and Nasdaq indexes are slightly up. At 10 a.m. today, two contentious hearings will take place on...

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 9:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Oct. 23, 2008

When the referee is being paid by the players, no one should be surprised when the game spins out of control...You have so screwed up the ratings as to not be believable." — Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) to the...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  October 23, 2008; 7:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Greenspan Testifies Today

As you have no doubt realized, we've passed through the Blissfully Ignorant Phase, the Panic Phase, the Stopgap Phase and the Legislating Phase of the current financial crisis and have moved solidly into the Hearings Phase. In this phase, Capitol...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 23, 2008; 7:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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IMF: No U.S. Growth 'Til Mid-2009

The International Monetary Fund here in Washington issued a report this morning saying that economic growth in the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere will be close to zero or maybe even slightly negative through the end of the year, thanks...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 5:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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Bailout Plan Hires Chief Investment Officer

Treasury has hired James H. Lambright to be the chief investment officer of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout/rescue plan. Lambright, 38, is the chairman and president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the government's official export credit agency. The Senate...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 4:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Ratings Agencies Could Face New Regs

The House Oversight committee just wrapped up a grueling five-hour hearing that took on the credit-ratings agencies for their role in the ongoing financial crisis. As scintillating as that first sentence is, rest assured that a) actual sparks flew and...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 3:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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S&P Singed by Documents

Now it's S&P's turn to get burned by internal documents uncovered by the investigators working for Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) oversight committee. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) displayed an e-mail sent from an unidentified S&P managing director to two of his...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Moody's Chief: We May Be Conflicted

Moody's Chairman Ray McDaniel just uttered a phrase that may follow him around for a while while testifying before the House oversight committee on the role of the credit-rating agencies in the ongoing financial crisis. "Maintaining our standards may conflict...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 1:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Oct. 22, 2008

Financial Crisis Myths Minneapolis Fed | Not everything you think you know about the financial crisis is true, note economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. (PDF) Volatility Perfectly Natural Portfolio | Felix Salmon at Portfolio magazine explains...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  October 22, 2008; 1:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Ratings Agencies Defend Themselves

In Hill testimony before Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) Oversight committee, the heads of the Big Three credit-ratings agencies -- Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch -- now have their turn at the plate to defend their high ratings of wobbly...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 1:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Turning Up The Heat On Ratings Agencies

So let's recap the first panel that Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) House oversight committee just wrapped in its first session on credit-ratings agencies, because this is a complex issue. Investors depend on credit-ratings agencies, such as Moody's and Standard &...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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How are Ratings Agencies Like Cows?

There has been a lot of cow talk during Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) Oversight committee hearing underway right now on the Hill, which is taking a look at the role of the credit rating agencies in the current financial crisis....

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 11:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Little-Guy Ratings Agency: We Were Right

At the Hill hearing underway right now before Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) oversight committee, one of the little-guy credit rating agencies is taking full advantage of his moment in the spotlight to a) criticize his big competitors and b) advertise...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 10:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Waxman Hammers Credit Rating Agencies

Now, this is how you start an oversight hearing: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) -- whose committee is grilling ratings agencies on their role in the ongoing financial crisis -- hasn't even let his witnesses give their opening statements before laying...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 10:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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Pakistan Requests IMF Aid

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, just issued a statement today about Pakistan's request for aid: "The Pakistani authorities have requested discussions with the IMF on an economic program supported by financial assistance from the Fund to...

By Sara Goo  |  October 22, 2008; 10:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Weak Earnings Pummel Stocks

Stocks fell right off the cliff at the opening bell today, a big sell-off that was anticipated by futures trading and the 7 percent dive of Japan's Nikkei overnight (for us). In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Oct. 22, 2008

There will be some situations where it's best for the economy and for the banking system for there to be a consolidation." — Treas. Sec. Henry Paulson on "Charlie Rose," Oct. 21...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  October 22, 2008; 9:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Hollywood's Next Villain: Wall Street

We wrote last week how tickled pink we are about the possible return of Gordon Gekko in a "Wall Street" sequel being fast-tracked by 20th Century Fox. Well, Hollywood knows a bandwagon when it sees one. NBC's "Law & Order"...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 22, 2008; 8:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Pound, Euro Fall Against Dollar

One small silver lining in all of this dour economic news: Your dollar may soon go further overseas, particularly in Europe. While it has been painful to see the conversion of U.S. currency in Europe in recent years, news today...

By Sara Goo  |  October 22, 2008; 7:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Ford Watch: Down 7 Percent. Thanks, Kirk.

How much did nonagenarian billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's sell-off of his Ford shares this morning hurt the troubled automaker? About $350 million worth. That's the drop in Ford's value, or market capitalization (share price times number of outstanding shares) from...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 4:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Frank Talks Vampires

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is having quite the day chairing a hearing of his House Financial Services committee, taking a look at what future regulations on the financial sector should look like. Earlier, he slapped around Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.)....

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 3:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
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Frank Attacks N.J. Republican Garrett

Republicans have been trying to pin the failure of Fannie and Freddie on Democrats, perhaps as a way of trying to bolster the presidential bid of Sen. John McCain (D-Ariz.), who has touted his early warnings of Fannie and Freddie...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
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N.Y., Feds Probing Credit-Default Swaps

Several weeks ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission started looking into the possibility that the credit derivatives market was manipulated to help short sellers in the stock market. Now the same theory is being tested in New York, where the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 1:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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What Will New Financial Regulation Look Like?

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) just asked the witnesses before the House Financial Services committee one of those classic Hill hearing questions that essentially boils down to this: "I want you to give me a simple one-sentence answer to his mammoth,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 12:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Oct. 21, 2008

Volcker Part of Obama Brain Trust Wall Street Journal | A profile of the relationship between Barack Obama and former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, who is advising Obama on the financial crisis. Stallion Fees Sink Bloomberg | The financial...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  October 21, 2008; 11:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Nobel Winner: Fed Has Performed 'Abysmally'

In his testimony before a hearing of the House Financial Services committee, underway on the Hill right now, 2001 economics Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz had harsh words for the Federal Reserve. "The Fed has performed abysmally," said Sitglitz, a...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 11:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Rivlin: Capitalism Is Like a 'Machine Gun, Nuke Reactor'

A hearing before Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) House Financial Services committee is underway and it will be a start to what could be massive overhauling of government regulation of the crashing financial services sector. (See: Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros., etc....

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 10:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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Govt. Hires Accounting Firms for Bailout

Treasury announced moments ago that it has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young to be the accountants for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout/rescue plan. The first check to PWC will be for $191,469.27 and the first check to E&Y...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 10:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Markets Stumble Out Of Gate

Yesterday, the Dow rallied to close up more than 4 percent. So, naturally, it's retreating on opening today. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is down about 100 points, or about 1 percent. Dow-watchers today will be...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Kerkorian Dumping Ford Shares

Tracinda, the investment company of billionaire nonagenarian Kirk Kerkorian, said it has sold 7.3 million shares of Ford and may sell the rest of its 133 million shares. The massive sell-off represents a multi-million-dollar loss for the legendary investor, who...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 21, 2008; 9:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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More Earnings Today, House Hearing on Regulation

European stocks are up today, after the French government announced it would provide $14 billion in loans to banks there to stabilize them. France's CAC index is up more than 3 percent so far, while London's FTSE is up one...

By Sara Goo  |  October 21, 2008; 7:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Frank: Tax Hikes Should Be Deferred

Speaking on CNBC moments ago, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), one of the faces of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout/rescue, said that promised tax hikes under an Obama administration should be pushed back until the economy recovers. Sen. Barack Obama...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 4:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
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Recovery Progress

Recovery Progress On September 30, 1934 FDR delivered a fire-side chat in which he urged an end to hostilities between management and labor saying, "Lay aside the weapons common to industrial war." Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  October 20, 2008; 4:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  FDR's Fireside Chats  
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Wall Street Rallies To Close

The markets opened the week with a strong rally across the board, as analysts and brokers all day struggled to find "the new normal." The Dow closed up 413.21 points, or more than 4 percent. The S&P 500 closed up...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 4:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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IMF Chief Apologizes for Affair, Is Under Probe

Dominque Strauss-Kahn, the married managing director for the International Monetary Fund, apologized to his colleagues today for an affair he had with Piroska Nagy, an economist formerly with the IMF. As a result of the affair, Strauss-Kahn, 59, is being...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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What Do You Think of Treasury's 'Cap' on Golden Parachutes?

As The Post's Lori Montgomery reported last week and as can be read here, as well, Treasury is putting a cap on "golden parachutes" for executives whose companies participate in the $700 billion Wall Street bailout/rescue plan. One of the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 1:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Paulson: Here Are Rules for Govt. Bank Buys

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson just concluded a brief announcement laying out the rules of the $250 billion direct federal investment into banks. Paulson said the "streamlined" process for banks wishing to be partially purchased by the government will include a...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 11:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
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Bernanke: 'Communication Problem' On Crisis

A number of the members of the House Budget committee apparently are still feeling the heat from their constituents back home, because they're telling Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that regular folks still don't get the "Why" of the various costly...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Bernanke: Yes to Second Stimulus Package

In testimony before the House Budget committee currently underway (C-Span) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke backed the second economic stimulus package backed in the House. "Given that the economy is likely to be weak for several quarters," Bernanke said, "the consideration...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 10:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Markets Up in Opening Minutes

In the moments following today's opening bell, the Dow is trading up more than 80 points, or nearly 1 percent. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also are each trading up about 1 percent. It's also worth nothing that the LIBOR...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 9:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Report: IMF to Rescue Iceland

The Financial Times is reporting this morning that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to lead a $6 billion bailout of Iceland, which experienced a nationwide banking collapse earlier this month. The FT is reporting that the IMF will...

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 20, 2008; 9:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Global Markets Looking Up

Several European governments took steps today to try to ease the financial crisis. This time it was the Netherlands, which announced it would provide $14 billion for banking and insurance firm ING. The Swedish government also announced its financial stability...

By Sara Goo  |  October 20, 2008; 7:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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