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

Economy Watch: January 4, 2009 - January 10, 2009

Embattled Rubin To Leave Citigroup

Citigroup director Robert Rubin -- a former Clinton Treasury secretary and adviser to President-elect Obama who has been criticized for his role in the banking giant's troubles -- will retire after his term on the board ends at the company's...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 9, 2009; 3:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Citigroup, Robert Rubin  
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How Does the Government Figure Unemployment?

This morning, the Labor Department released its grim December jobs report — 524,000 jobs were lost in December, bringing the 2008 total to 2.6 million and pushing the nation’s unemployment rate to 7.2 percent, the biggest since 1993. But how...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 9, 2009; 2:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Labor Department, unemployment  
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Rep. Frank: Bill for Next $350B of Bailout to be Filed Today

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the Financial Services Committee, announced moments ago on Capitol Hill that he will file a bill authorizing the release the remaining $350 billion of the $700 billion rescue/bailout package today and that he expects...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 9, 2009; 1:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Barney Frank, bailout  
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Obama Uses Bad Jobs News To Push Stimulus Spending

President-elect Barack Obama used this morning's dire jobs-loss news to promote his jobs-heavy economic-stimulus plan that could cost taxpayers up to $850 billion. The unemployment news -- 524,000 jobs were lost in December, pushing the unemployment rate to 7.2 percent...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 9, 2009; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, economic stimulus  
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Stocks March Downward

Maybe Wall Street stopped baking. Early thought in today's trading day was that the poor December jobs report out this morning -- unemployment hit 7.2 percent, its highest rate since 1993 -- had already been "baked in" today's markets, meaning...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 9, 2009; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Dow Slips, But Doesn't Dive, On Bad Jobs News

The phrase you hear on Wall Street at lot is "baked in," as in, "the bad unemployment news this morning was already 'baked in' to the numbers." Which may explain why, an hour after the Labor Department said the U.S....

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 9, 2009; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, unemployment  
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Today: All About the Unemployment Report

Today at 8:30 a.m., we get a much-anticipated unemployment report from the Labor department, giving economists and Wall Street a clearer picture into just how bad 2008 was. Predictions run the gamut with most estimates expecting at least a loss...

By Sara Goo  |  January 9, 2009; 7:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Hedge Funds Lost Record 18.3 Pct. In 2008

Hedge funds suffered their worst year ever in 2008, as the private pools of capital lost 18.3 percent of their value, according to Hedge Fund Research's composite index of funds. Hedge funds, which require a large minimum investment (say, $1...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 8, 2009; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: hedge funds  
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Bank Of England Lowers Rates To Lowest Level Since 1694

As the Bank of England works to fight its nation's recession, Britain's equivalent of the Federal Reserve has cut its interest rates by 50 basis points from 2 percent to 1.5 percent. This is the lowest rate since it the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 8, 2009; 3:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bank of England  
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Feds: Madoff Had $170 Million In Signed Checks In Desk

Federal prosecutors said moments ago that accused $50 billion Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff had $173 million in 100 signed checks in his New York office desk at the time of his arrest, ready to mail out to friends, family members...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 8, 2009; 12:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Madoff  
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Obama: We're In 'Era Of Profound Irresponsibility'

He's not even in office yet and President-elect Barack Obama has already christened the past several years and presumably the time we're still in as "The Era Of Profound Irresponsibility." It's not quite Jimmy Carter's "National Malise" or Ronald Reagan's...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 8, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, economy, stimulus plan  
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30-Year Mortgages Dive To 5.01 Percent, Refinancers Rejoice

Mortgage interest rates have hit yet another record low, The Post's Dina ElBoghdady reports. This week, rates on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 5.01 percent, down from 5.10 percent the previous week and 5.87 percent at the same time...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 8, 2009; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Fannie, Freddie, mortgage  
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SEC Finds Another Ponzi Scheme; Still Didn't Catch Bernie Madoff

In its zeal to prove it really is tough on Ponzi schemes -- Bernie Madoff's $50 billion grift notwithstanding -- the SEC just charged a Philadelphia-area man with running a $50 million Ponzi scheme that may have defrauded as many...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 8, 2009; 11:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Madoff, Ponzi, SEC  
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Treasury Cuts First Checks to GM, Chrysler, Asks For More Money

In an update just released by Treasury on the $700 billion bailout/rescue plan (the TARP), the department said it has made its first multi-billion-dollar loans to troubled automakers GM and Chrysler, part of the government's $19.4 billion in emergency bridge...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 8, 2009; 10:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, GM, GMAC, Treasury  
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Bad Dec. Retail Drives Down Markets at Opening

Today's news -- at least until President-elect Barack Obama makes his big economic speech later this morning -- is all about retail. The nation's major retailers reported December -- i.e. holiday -- sales figures today and most are disappointing. That's...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 8, 2009; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, Retail, Wal-Mart  
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Today's Focus: Retail Sales, Obama Speech

Today, President-elect Barack Obama is scheduled to give a speech outlining more details on his economic policy, in which he may give more details of the much-anticipated economic stimulus plans. That happens at 11 a.m. Meanwhile, the markets will have...

By Sara Goo  |  January 8, 2009; 7:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Obama: Financial Regs Need 'Substantial Overhaul'

In a preview of an interview with President-elect Obama scheduled to air tonight at 8 p.m. with CNBC's John Harwood, Obama said that government regulations overseeing U.S. financial institutions need a "substantial overhaul." Obama said that the regulatory system "has...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 7, 2009; 5:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, Paulson, regulation  
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Watch India's Big Corporate Liar

The head of one of India's biggest I.T. outsourcing firms quit today, saying that he cooked his company's books to inflate profits for years, a scandal that the Indian media is instantly dubbing "India's Enron." Here's the story by The...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 7, 2009; 2:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Raju, Satyam  
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Obama: Stimulus Plan Likely Not More Than $1 Trillion

At a press conference just concluded, President-elect Barack Obama said he is working out the final details of his big stimulus plan with Congress and gave a ballpark of how much money it will cost. Obama has said before that...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 7, 2009; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, economy, stimulus plan  
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Report: More Than 1M Jobs Lost In Last Two Months Of '08

Employers in the private sector shed 693,000 jobs in December, a figure much higher than expected, according to a private employment service. This comes on the heels of 476,000 jobs lost in November, meaning that a staggering 1.1 million jobs...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 7, 2009; 9:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: jobs, unemployment  
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Today's Lineup: Jobs Preview, Paulson, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

It's looking to be a busy morning in business news. This morning, at 8:15 am. the ADP Private Payroll Survey is released, which will give us a preview of the government's jobless claims report to be released later this week....

By Sara Goo  |  January 7, 2009; 7:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Anglican Church Asks God For Employment Counseling

The Church of England evidently cares as much for its members' livelihoods as much as their everliving souls. The church published a prayer today to help comfort Britons who lose their jobs in the financial crisis. “Hear me as I...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 6, 2009; 5:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: unemployment  
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Alcoa To Lay Off 15,200, Reduce Operations

Aluminum giant Alcoa just announced it is dealing with the economic crisis -- and abetting the economic contraction -- by letting go 15,200 employees and reducing its smelting output by 18 percent. The headcount reduction will come via 13,500 staff...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 6, 2009; 4:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alcoa, economic contraction  
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Skilling Sentence Vacated, But Enron Mastermind Still In Jail

As focus centers on $50 billion Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff, another notorious white-collar figure has re-emerged in the news -- former Enron chief executive Jeff Skilling. Skilling, you may remember, was convicted along with former Enron chairman Ken Lay in May...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 6, 2009; 4:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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Obama: Trillion-Dollar Deficits 'for Years to Come'

After meeting with his economic team earlier today, President-elect Barak Obama predicted this afternoon that the United States would have trillion-dollar budget deficits "for years to come." Obama said that Peter Orszag, Obama's choice to head the Office of Management...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 6, 2009; 3:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, budget deficit, national debt  
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Germany's Warren Buffett Commits Suicide

Billionaire Adolf Merckle, known as Germany's Warren Buffett, committed suicide yesterday by throwing himself in front of a train near his home in Blaubeuren, a city northwest of Munich in southern Germany. Merckle, who was ranked by Forbes as the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 6, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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Pending Home Sales Drop to Record Low

Another day, another record economic low: The National Association of Realtors said moments ago that pending sales of homes in November dropped to a record low. The trade group said its seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 6, 2009; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: home sales  
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Markets Up Slightly At Opening

Wall Street tiptoed cautiously out of the gates today ahead of some key economic data that is expected to be bad -- but not as bad as it might be. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 6, 2009; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, home sales  
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Today's Focus: Economic Data, Fed Minutes

This week, we will get a glimpse of new economic data about the month of December, providing investors with clues about the depth of the recession. Today, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index is released, which provides a picture...

By Sara Goo  |  January 6, 2009; 6:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Madoff's Luxurious Tastes, Expensive Toys

Derek Kravitz at The Post's Investigations Blog has done a nice roundup on what alleged $50 billion Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff still owns, from his Manhattan apartment to his Palm Beach fishing boat, all of which you can see here. Julia...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 5:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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Feds: Jail Madoff For Violating Bail

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to throw alleged $50 billion Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff -- currently out on bail -- in jail for mailing $1 million worth of assets to third parties. According to assistant U.S. attorney Marc Litt, testifying...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 4:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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SEC Probes Self In Madoff Scandal

So the SEC is investigating the records of Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff and it's investigating itself, trying to figure out why the agency didn't catch Madoff and whether a former SEC official's relationship with Madoff had anything to do with it....

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 4:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff, SEC  
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Chrysler Down 53 Pct. in Dec.; Ford, GM Down More Than 30 Pct.

UPDATED with Toyota, GM, Chrysler and VW sales numbers: Chrysler said its December sales were down a staggering 53 percent compared to December of 2007. Even though Chrysler is a private company, meaning its earnings are not made public, it...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 3:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ford, GM, Subaru  
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House Panel: SEC Should Have Caught Madoff

The House Financial Services committee hearing, under Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Penn.), is investigating the Bernie Madoff scandal, in which he may have bilked investors of up to $50 billion. The hearing is just now underway and already the SEC is...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff, SEC  
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Venezuelan Strongman Cuts Off Heating Oil to Mass. Poor

Citgo, the state-owned oil company of Venezuela, presided over by strongman Hugo Chavez, will discontinue its program of distributing heating oil to poor residents of Massachusetts, the head of Citizens Energy told the Associated Press today. Joseph Kennedy, chairman of...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 1:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Citgo, Hugo Chavez  
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Apple Shares Rebound With News Of Jobs's Ailment

Apple's announcement this morning that founder and chief executive Steve Jobs has a hormone imbalance have sent shares of the computer and gadget-maker up more than 4 percent. If this seems odd, it's because Apple has finally come forth with...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Apple, Steve Jobs  
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Jan. 5, 2009

Financial Crisis Timeline St. Louis Fed | A useful timeline and guide to the various rescues, bailouts, financial failures and Fed actions during the crisis. Ignoring the Oracles Wall Street Journal | A good analysis from the Real Time...

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  January 5, 2009; 11:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Neil Irwin's Must Reads  
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Nov. Construction Data Not as Bad as Expected

Construction spending in November was down 0.6 percent, which was less than the 1.3 percent Wall Street predicted. The less-than-expected decline came from non-residential projects, including government building, which were up 1 percent compared with November 2007. Private residential construction...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: construction  
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Hill Takes First Whack at Madoff Scandal Today

Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) Financial Services committee takes of the bizarre case of Bernie Madoff and his $50 billion Ponzi scheme at a 2 p.m. hearing today. Madoff, a long-trusted figure on Wall Street and former president of Nasdaq, confessed...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 10:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Barney Frank, Bernie Madoff  
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Markets Down In First Big Day Of 2009

Even though the markets were open on Friday, today will be the first high-volume trading day of 2009 and everyone will be watching to see what sort of tone they set for the new year. In the first 15 minutes...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 5, 2009; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, markets  
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Madoff in Focus Today

Today, Congress gets its first crack at unwinding the government's oversight (or lack thereof) in detecting the massive $50 billion alleged Ponzi scheme allegedly run by Bernard Madoff. The House financial services committee begins its hearing today at 2 pm....

By Sara Goo  |  January 5, 2009; 7:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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