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

Economy Watch: November 30, 2008 - December 6, 2008

Bailout Humor From the Motley Fool

Because sometimes you just have to laugh: Our friends from Alexandria, the Motley Fool, have assembled a (yes, we need to say it) fictional list of the Top 20 rejected candidates for the next Treasury Secretary, all beaten out by...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 6:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ben Bernanke, Geithner, Paulson, Treasury, bailout  
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Rep. Frank: Passable Auto Bailout Bill by Next Week

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) just wrapped up a five-and-a-half-hour(!) hearing of his Financial Services committee, mulling over a proposed $34 billion bailout of the struggling auto industry. At the hearing's conclusion, Frank said he has "more optimism than before" that...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 3:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, Treasury, automakers, bailout  
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Dec. 5, 2008

This is our largest industry. Are we going to watch it melt down by Christmastime? Because that's what we're facing." — Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University economist and author, on the fate of the auto industry....

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  December 5, 2008; 3:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Quotables  
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Chrysler Hires Bankruptcy Expert

Chrysler hired outside bankruptcy experts to judge what impact would be felt by the U.S. auto industry if Chrysler declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company said moments ago. Here is the entire statement: "During the initial Congressional hearings in November,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 3:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, bankruptcy  
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GM: Battery Cars Not Price-Competitive Until 2016

Under questioning from Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) during the House Financial Services grilling of the Big Three automakers underway on the Hill, GM chief executive Rick Wagoner said it probably will be another eight to nine years before his company's...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 2:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: GM, General Motors, Rick Wagoner, automakers, bailout  
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Dire Warnings From Columbia Economist

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University economist and author of the best-selling "The End Of Poverty," just finished his testimony before the House Financial Services committee, which is considering $34 billion in emergency loans to struggling U.S. automakers. Sachs opposes Chapter 11...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, automakers, bailout  
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If Big Three Fail, Could Foreign Automakers Take Up Slack?

Here's one thought that's been running around in our head as Detroit's Big Three automakers ask Congress for money to stay in business: If they fail, would foreign automakers be able to produce enough vehicles to satisfy the demands of...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, automakers, bailout  
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Rep. Frank: I Won't Drive 'Chick Magnet' Car

A rare and welcomed moment of levity occurred just now in the pretty grim and often confrontational House Financial Services hearing underway, in which the heads of Detroit's Big Three automakers are getting grilled as they ask for $34 billion...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 1:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Barney Frank, automakers  
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NOW We Get It: It's About Trade-In Value

Responding to increasingly annoyed prompting from Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) to actually speak in plain terms about the auto bailout, which is being examined by the House Financial Services committee right now, Chrysler's Bob Nardelli put the bailout into terms...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bob Nardelli, Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors  
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Rep. Manzullo to Big Three: Why Are You Now Banks?

Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) just took the heads of the Big Three to the woodshed over the fact that each has financing arms that could convert themselves into bank holding companies and be eligible for government bailout money aimed at...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 11:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors  
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UAW Head Willing to Re-Open Contract with Big Three

Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers, testifying before the House Financial Services committee along with the heads of Detroit's Big Three automakers, said his union is prepared to re-negotiate its 2007 contract with GM, Ford and Chrysler --...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 11:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, UAW  
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House Starts Beating Up On Big Three

Yesterday, the heads of Detroit's Big Three automakers got slapped around by the Senate. Today, it's the House's turn. The whole thing reminds us of an excellent commercial of yore for ESPN's "Sportscenter," in which offended heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 10:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Barney Frank, Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors  
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Wall Street Opens Modestly Down

For those who were holding your breath awaiting a huge Dow plunge at opening based on the bad unemployment news, you can exhale. A little. It looks like the jobs-loss news -- employers shed the most jobs in 30 years,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Kashkari: 'We Did Not Allow...Collapse'

Neel Kashkari, Treasury's $700 billion man, the guy in charge of distributing the federal bailout/rescue, gave an update on the program's progress today. "People often ask: how do we know our program is working? First, we did not allow the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 9:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Neel Kashkari, Paulson, Treasury, bailout  
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Day Two For Automakers On the Hill

Today will be round two for Detroit's Big Three on Capitol Hill. But before we get to that, there are two other important bits of data coming out this morning that will be widely watched by investors. At 8:30 a.m.,...

By Sara Goo  |  December 5, 2008; 7:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Capitalism In Question: Can Or Should Government Prevent Bubbles?

At a hearing recently on Capitol Hill, hedge fund billionaire and Democratic activist George Soros off-handedly dropped a one-line phrase that challenged principles that have been fixed at the core of the U.S. economy for the past 230 years or...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 4:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: capitalism, economic indicators, free markets, regulation  
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Dodd: Big Three Made 'Giant Step Forward' Today

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) minutes ago wrapped up what turned into a nearly six-hour hearing of his banking committee, during which the heads of Detroit's Big Three automakers stated their case for some $34 billion in government loans to stay...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 4:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alan Mulally, Barney Frank, Bob Nardelli, Christopher Dodd, Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, Rick Wagoner, automakers  
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GM, Chrysler Willing To Merge To Get Federal Money

At the Senate Banking committee hearing with the heads of Detroit's Big Three automakers currently underway, Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) just asked a very provocative -- and completely unexpected -- question that garnered some unusually candid responses. Bennett asked GM...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 3:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bob Nardelli, Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, Rick Wagoner  
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Sen. Corker Harangues Chrysler

Colorful Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) just launched into one of his long-winded, metaphor-strewn sort-of questions usually meant to shame a witness before him on the Senate Banking committee. Today's victim is Chrysler chief executive Bob Nardelli. "Chrysler doesn't really want...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 2:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bob Nardelli, Christopher Dodd, Chrysler  
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Dec. 4, 2008

We're sorry to be asking for this support. We wish the market conditions were better. They're not, so this is what we need to do." — GM Chairman Rick Wagoner...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  December 4, 2008; 1:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Quotables  
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Economist: Big Three Really Need Up To $125 Billion

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com, is testifying before Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) Banking committee right now and he just said something probably no one saw coming: "Under the most positive outlook," Zandi said, the Big Three "will need between...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, automakers  
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Gettelfinger: GM, Chrysler In Real Trouble

If there is such a thing as purposeful omission, United Auto Workers head Ron Gettelfinger, testifying before Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) Banking committee moments ago, just made it. "It is imperative that the federal government act this month" to approve bridge...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 12:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, UAW, automakers  
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Senate Testimony of Ford's Alan Mulally

Here is the testimony Ford chief executive Alan Mulally plans to deliver in moments before Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) Banking committee, as the heads of Detroit's Big Three ask for more than $30 billion in federal loans to stay in...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 12:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alan Mulally, Ford, automakers, bailout  
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Senate Testimony Begins with GM's Rick Wagoner

The chief executives of Detroit's Big Three automakers -- GM's Rick Wagoner, Ford's Alan Mulally and Chrysler's Bob Nardelli -- are just begining their testimony before Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) banking committee, as the auto magnates ask for $34 billion...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 12:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: GM, General Motors, Rick Wagoner, automakers  
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Comptroller: Big Three, Union 'Concessions' Needed

Gene Dodaro, the acting U.S. comptroller general, is testifying before Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) Banking committee, and said that if Congress determines that the Big Three automakers get financial help -- some $30 billion in bridge loans -- there need...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: automakers, bailout  
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Dodd Warns Treasury It May Not Get Rest Of Bailout

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), kicking off his Senate banking committee hearing taking testimony from Detroit's Big Three automakers, just sent a warning shot across the bow of the Bush administration: If you're thinking about asking Congress for the rest of...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 10:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bush, Christopher Dodd, Paulson, Treasury, bailout  
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Automakers Launch Second Try for Federal Aid

The heads of the Big Three Detroit automakers -- GM's Rick Wagoner, Ford's Alan Mulally and Chrysler's Bob Nardelli -- are appearing now before Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) Banking committee. Dodd began the proceedings by asking three questions: -- Are...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 4, 2008; 10:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alan Mulally, Bob Nardelli, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Rick Wagoner, automakers  
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Detroit Tries to Make its Case, Again

Today's the first day of round two for Detroit. Detroit's Big Three automotive chiefs have come back to Washington to try to make a stronger case for a government bail out of their industry. This time, they drove instead of...

By Sara Goo  |  December 4, 2008; 7:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alan Mulally, Detroit bailout, automakers  
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Morgan Stanley Buys Chicago Parking Meters

In Chicago's sweeping efforts to raise cash by selling everything that isn't nailed down -- and some things that are -- the city has voted to privatize its parking meters, selling them to former investment bank Morgan Stanley, now a...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 3, 2008; 4:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chicago, Morgan Stanley  
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Frank Blasts Treasury on Bailout

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), one of the chief architects of the $700 billion Wall Street rescue/bailout, blasted Treasury's execution of the plan, saying the agency is "perilously close to a breach of faith." Frank's comments come following yesterday's report on...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 3, 2008; 2:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Barney Frank, Treasury, bailout  
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Beige Book Shows Black-and-Blue Economy

The Federal Reserve just released the current Beige Book, which is an eight-times-per-year collection of anecdotal evidence on the overall state of the U.S. economy reported by the Fed banks in each of their 12 districts based on interviews with...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 3, 2008; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Federal Reserve, economic indicators  
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Dec. 3, 2008

Embracing Inflation The Guardian | Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff makes the provocative argument that some inflation is the cure for what ails us. Ads on Student Tests? USA Today | Desperate Times, allow us to introduce you to Desperate...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  December 3, 2008; 2:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Neil Irwin's Must Reads  
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Ford's Mulally: GM Would Drag Entire Industry Into Bankruptcy

Ford chief executive Alan Mulally just finished a meeting with editors and reporters here at The Post (here is the video) as part of his visit to town to present Ford's case for federal aid. He and the heads of...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 3, 2008; 12:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (73)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alan Mulally, Ford, automakers  
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Wall Street Tumbles at Open

Wall Street gave back some of its Tuesday gains at the open today, with declines across the board. The markets may be responding to the poor employment news released this morning -- the non-farm private sector shed 250,000 jobs in...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 3, 2008; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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What's Happening Today

As Congress digests the detailed plans offered by the Big Three automakers, we return today to some other economic news. Investors are eager to see Friday's unemployment report. In the meantime, payroll processor ADP issues its employment report this morning...

By Sara Goo  |  December 3, 2008; 7:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Dec. 2, 2008

Before any taxpayer money is provided, the American people deserve to know how the Big Three plan to survive the current crisis, become competitive companies once again, and eventually repay taxpayer loans." — House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer...

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  December 2, 2008; 5:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Quotables  
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GM To Congress: Give Us $18 Billion

Having delivered its plea to lawmakers for up to $18 billion in federal money to help keep it afloat, General Motors has released its plan to the public, which you can read in total here. Among the long document's highlights:...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 5:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: GM, automakers  
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Pelosi: I 'Hope' We Help Detroit Automakers

At a news conference just concluding on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she has received the spending proposals from the Big Three Detroit automakers and said they will be thoroughly reviewed. Nevertheless, Pelosi said: "It is my...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 4:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nancy Pelosi, automakers, bailout  
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Chrysler November Sales Plunge By Nearly Half

So far, Chrysler is the winner in today's grim auto sales dead pool. The smallest and only privately owned of Detroit's Big Three automakers reported moments ago that November U.S. sales were down 47 percent compared to November 2007. That's...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 3:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota  
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November Honda Sales Plunge, Too

Even the formerly bullet-proof Japanese automakers are feeling the global auto crunch. Today, Honda reported that its November U.S. sales were down 31.6 percent compared to November of 2007. Honda proper was down 26.9 percent; Honda-owned Acura was down 22.2...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 3:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota  
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GM November Sales Plunge 41 Percent

This is like a race to the bottom: An hour ago, Ford reported its November U.S. sales were down 31 percent compared to November 2007 and Toyota said its November sales were down 34 percent. But neither can compete with...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 1:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors  
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Ford, Toyota Nov. Sales Plunge More Than 30 Percent

If you still thought the auto industry crisis is limited to Detroit's Big Three, this should be the final refutation to that: The first of the November auto sales numbers came out moments ago and Toyota's U.S. sales were down...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 12:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ford, Toyota, automakers  
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Ford Expects to Break Even by 2011

Each of Detroit's Big Three automakers are submitting their pleas to Congress today for $25 billion in bridge loans to help them stay in business, they say. Congress asked for details on how Detroit would spend the money and GM,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, automakers  
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Alan Mulally's Excellent Road Trip To Washington

We're really having a lot of fun thinking about Ford chief executive Alan Mulally driving to Washington to beg for money, as opposed to taking a private jet to beg for money, which is what he and the heads of...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 10:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alan Mulally, Bob Nardelli, Rick Wagoner, automakers  
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Markets Open Up Slightly

Wall Street apparently is trading only on the news these days, not on the underlying fundamentals of the economy or the health of companies. So, today, with the Big Three automakers submitting their case to Congress for at least a...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 2, 2008; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: automakers, nasdaq, s&p 500, stocks  
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What's Happening Today

The Big Three are heading back to Washington to make their case for a Detroit bailout. Will they be successful? The Post reports that the automakers will shift their business plans to sell more fuel-efficient and smaller vehicles. The Wall...

By Sara Goo  |  December 2, 2008; 7:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Detroit bailout, automakers  
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Ford's Mulally to Drive To Washington This Time

After being hammered relentlessly by lawmakers for taking private jets from Detroit to Washington to beg for money last time, at least one chief executive of a Big Three automaker has gotten the message: Ford chief executive Alan Mulally will...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 1, 2008; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alan Mulally, Bob Nardelli, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Rick Wagoner, automakers  
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Paulson: U.S. 'Must Get Through the Night First'

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson just gave an update on the federal bailout and the state of the economy here in Washington moments ago, saying: "Today we continue to work through a severe financial crisis. While we are making progress, the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 1, 2008; 3:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Geithner, Paulson, bailout, lending, mortgage  
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Respected Finance Blogger 'Tanta' Dies

'Tanta,' the pen name of Doris Dungey, a respected, influential and witty finance blogger, died over the weekend of ovarian cancer. She was 47. Dungey was a former mortgage broker who combined two decades of experience in the industry with...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 1, 2008; 3:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: bloggers  
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It's Official: We're in a Recession

The National Bureau of Economic Research has called what most people have suspected for some time: The U.S. is in a recession. According to the NBER, the recession began in December 2007. That peak marked the end of economic expansion...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 1, 2008; 12:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: economic indicators, recession  
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Gasoline Cheapest Since 2005

Gas prices fell for the 75th straight day today and the price of a gallon of regular is now below $2 everywhere, except for three states and here in D.C. According to a survey of daily swipes of credit cards...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 1, 2008; 11:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: gas prices, oil  
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Ford Considers Selling Volvo

Ford -- probably the best-situated of Detroit's troubled Big Three automakers, not that that's saying much -- is considering selling Volvo, Ford said today. The move could be considered a show of good faith one day before Ford, GM and...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 1, 2008; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ford, automakers  
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Construction Spending, Manufacturing Data Shows Decline

The Contraction Continues, Chapter 224. Data just released by the Commerce Department show that spending on construction dropped 1.2 percent in October. Economists expected a drop of .9 percent. This means that construction companies are reducing the amount they're spending...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 1, 2008; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: construction, economic indicators, manufacturing  
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Stocks Dive At Opening

Was the Black Friday retail bump not enough? Is it the bleak economic data due out today -- expected continued downturns in manufacturing and construction spending? Or is the market just trying to find its own bottom? Whatever the reason,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 1, 2008; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Overseas Markets Dip

The holiday must be over. So far today, overseas markets are glum about the first day of the month, following last week's cheery boost on Wall Street. Even though the post-Thanksgiving shopping numbers indicate a gain over last year, perhaps...

By Sara Goo  |  December 1, 2008; 7:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: overseas markets  
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