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

Economy Watch: January 11, 2009 - January 17, 2009

D.C.'s Luxe Inauguration Lodgings: Empty

Last week, we found out that every D.C. resident is not going to make a bundle renting out their house for the inauguration next week. Today, we find out the same applies to Washington luxe hotels. Bloomberg reports that either...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 16, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Obama, inauguration, recession  
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Ford Seeking Government Aid

Ford Motor Credit said today it was in talks with the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to obtain government aid, The Post's Kendra Marr reports. The comments came on the same day that the Treasury announced a $1.5 billion...

By Washington Post editors  |  January 16, 2009; 6:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
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Paulson To Land At Johns Hopkins' SAIS

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said he decided today to take a position at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University after he leaves the Treasury Department, The Post's David Cho reports. His exact title has yet...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 16, 2009; 6:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Johns Hopkins, Paulson, SAIS  
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Report: Pfizer Cuts 2,500 Sales Jobs, Leading Black Friday Of Layoffs

Pfizer is cutting 2,500 of its 8,000 sales jobs, the drug giant said, leading a Black Friday roundup of layoffs today, as an economy in recession continues its contraction. The Pfizer cuts come on the heels of the drugmaker's announcement...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 16, 2009; 5:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: GE, contraction, layoffs, recession  
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Chrysler Gets Another $1.5 Billion From Government

The government will lend $1.5 billion to Chrysler Financial to increase the availability of loans for car buyers, the Treasury Department announced today, The Post's Binyamin Appelbaum reports. The company, which provides financing for buyers of Chrysler vehicles, will create...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 16, 2009; 1:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Big Three, Chrysler, automakers, bailout  
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Obama: My First Job Is Putting People Back To Work

President-elect Obama told factory workers in Bedford Heights, Ohio, "The first job of my administration is to put people back to work and get our economy moving again.” The just-concluded speech, at a factory that makes parts for wind turbines...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 16, 2009; 1:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, recession, stimulus plan  
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Bankrupt Circuit City to Liquidate, Let Go More Than 30,000 Workers

UPDATED WITH CIRCUIT CITY STATEMENT: Richmond-based electronics retailer Circuit City, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, is proceeding to full liquidation, a move that would leave the company's more than 30,000 employees out of jobs and end...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 16, 2009; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Circuit City, bankruptcy  
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Wall Street Opens Up Strongly

The markets jumped out of the gate this morning, despite the huge fourth-quarter losses reported by Bank of America and Citigroup. Why? Because Wall Street seems to think that these two big banks are starting to get their houses in...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 16, 2009; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bank of America, Citi, Dow Jones, bailout  
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Senators Who Voted Against Second Half Of Bailout

Here are all the senators who voted to block release of the second $350 billion of the $700 billion federal government rescue/bailout. The vote split largely along party lines, with many Republicans voting to block the bailout, but there some...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 16, 2009; 9:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Senate, bailout  
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CPI, Circuit City in Focus Today

Today, the markets await news from the government about the consumer price index, a widely watched piece of data that economists will look to for signs of deflation. Those figures are released at 8:30 am. Later today, we will get...

By Sara Goo  |  January 16, 2009; 7:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Schapiro Calls for Tighter Regulations, Reform

Mary Schapiro, President-elect Obama’s pick to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, today said she would seek to tighten regulations governing credit raters and investment advisers, to move more aggressively to go after bad guys on Wall Street, and to...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 5:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Senate Votes, 52-42, For Gov. Use of Remaining Bailout Funds

The Senate just voted, 52-42, to approve the second $350 billion of the $700 billion federal government rescue/bailout. Technically, the Senate voted not to block release of the funds. The way the original bailout bill was written last fall, the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 4:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bush, Obama, Senate, bailout  
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Senate Voting Now Before Biden Resigns At 5 P.M. Today

The U.S. Senate is voting now on whether to release the second $350 billion of the $700 billion federal government bailout/rescue before 5 p.m. today because that's when Sen. Joe Biden (D-N.Y.) is set to resign to become solely Vice-president-elect...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 4:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Biden, Senate  
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Markets Manage To Close Up

After a day spent mostly in the red, the Dow nearly wasted a rally in its final hour but managed to finish barely in positive territory for the day, closing up 12.35 points for the day, or about .2 percent,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 4:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Market Gain Was Short-Lived

The Dow lived in positive territory for only an hour, giving up its sole gain of the day by 3:25 p.m. With 30 minutes left in the trading day, the Dow is just underwater by about 20 points. The S&P...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Markets Turn Positive

Just before the last hour of trading, the stock market turned positive for the first time today. The Dow is trading up about 66 points, or nearly 1 percent. The S&P 500 is up .8 percent and the Nasdaq is...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 3:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Apple, Dow, Steve Jobs, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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30-Year-Fixed Mortgage Hits Another New Low

The interest rate on a 30-year-fixed mortgage hit 4.96 percent today, according to Freddie Mac, marking the 11th straight week of declines in the go-to industry mortgage. The news is likely to sustain the refinance boom underway for homeowners with...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 3:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Freddie, mortgage, refinancing  
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GM Cuts 2009 Total U.S. Sales Forecast By 1.5 Million Vehicles

General Motors predicted today that 10.5 million vehicles will be sold in the U.S. in 2009, down from its earlier estimate of 12 million, reflecting the ongoing recession and consumer concern about a potential bankruptcy among Detroit's Big Three automakers....

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Detroit bailout, Ford, GM, automakers  
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Senate To Vote This Afternoon On Release of Rest Of Bailout

The Senate is expected to vote at 4:30 p.m. today to release the second $350 billion of the $700 billion rescue/bailout package authorized by Congress last fall, The Post's Lori Montgomery reports. Democrats are predicting they will get the majority...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 2:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bush, Obama, bailout  
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Rangel Releases Details of Tax Portion of Obama Stimulus Plan

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Ways and Means committee, just released the details of President-elect Obama's $275 billion tax portion of the $800-some billion stimulus plan, The Post's Lori Montgomery reports. The bill authorizing the stimulus will...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 11:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, stimulus plan  
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NOW It's a Recession: Google Lays Off Recruiters, Cuts Products

When the recession hits gold-plated Google, then it's really a recession. The Web search-and-advertising giant announced this morning -- via its own blog -- that it's letting go 100 recruiters. "As we made clear during our last quarterly earnings call...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Google, contraction, recession  
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Wall Street Down At Opening

Wall Street opened lower this morning, as the markets continue to absorb last night's news that Bank of America is going back to the federal trough for more billions of dollars to help the bank swallow Merrill Lynch, which it...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 15, 2009; 9:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Apple, Dow Jones, Steve Jobs  
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Foreclosures Spiked in 2008

About 2.3 million households were the subject of a foreclosure filing last year, up 81 percent from 2007, according to data released today by RealtyTrac, a private research firm. The filings range from default notices to notifications that a home...

By Washington Post Editor  |  January 15, 2009; 7:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Today's Lineup: Economic Data, Schapiro Confirmation Hearing

Several members of President-elect Obama's financial team are expected to go before the Senate today for their confirmation hearings. The Senate Banking Committee will hold its hearing for Mary Schapiro, Obama's pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. The...

By Sara Goo  |  January 15, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Bank of America to Get Billions More From Treasury

The Treasury Department plans to invest billions of dollars in Bank of America to help the company absorb troubled investment bank Merrill Lynch, according to two people familiar with the matter, The Post's Binyamin Appelbaum reports. The new investment, which...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 6:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Treasury, bailout  
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Corporate Titans Clash On Economy's Health

A group of top executives stopped by The Post's editorial page today to discuss a proposal for climate change legislation and The Post's Steve Mufson polled them on the health of the economy. “I actually think the government programs on...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 6:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: DuPont, Duke Electric, GE, Immelt, economy, stimulus plan  
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Feds' Bid to Jail Madoff Denied Again

Federal prosecutors lost their second appeal to put Bernie Madoff in jail, as a judge ruled this afternoon that the man who is alleged to have stolen $50 billion from clients in a Ponzi scheme can remain free on bail...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 5:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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Gannett Ordering Company-Wide One-Week Furlough

McLean's Gannett -- the nation's largest newspaper chain and the publisher of USA Today, the nation's largest-circulation paper -- will ask almost all of its employees to take the equivalent of an unpaid one-week furlough during the first quarter of...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 4:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Gannett, furlough, layoffs, newspaper industry  
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Beige Book: Economy Still Weak

According to the Fed's Beige Book -- its eight-times-per-year report of anecdotal evidence on the state of the economy in the Fed's 12 districts: "Overall economic activity continued to weaken across almost all of the Federal Reserve districts since the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 2:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Beige Book, Federal Reserve, economy  
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Philly Fed Official Sees Second-Half 2009 Recovery

Charles Plosser, president of the Philadelphia district of the Federal Reserve, said in a speech today that he expects the economy to start a slow climb in the second half of this year. So, in today's climate, that counts as...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 1:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Beige Book, Federal Reserve, recession  
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Wall Street Having a Worse Day Than Numbers Show

Taking a look at the markets in mid-morning shows some pretty dismal numbers: - The Dow is down nearly 300 points, or more than 3 percent. - The S&P 500 is down about 3.6 percent. - The Nasdaq is down...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 10:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Wall Street Opens Down Sharply

Wall Street opened sharply downward this morning following dismal December retail news and a growing feeling that the "Santa Claus rally" was just like its namesake -- it showed up for short time in December and then went away. In...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, bankruptcy, foreclosure  
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Telecom Giant Nortel Files For Bankruptcy

Canadian tech giant Nortel Networks Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection, which is notable for two reasons: A) It's the first the first major technology company to be forced into bankruptcy since the global recession began, and B) It's further...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 14, 2009; 9:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Nortel, bankruptcy, recession  
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Today: Retail Sales, Beige Book in Focus

Today, the government issues its December report on retail sales, which will give us yet another window into the dismal holiday season. We do not expect the numbers to be cheery. The Commerce Department report will be released at 8:30...

By Sara Goo  |  January 14, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Citi, Morgan Stanley Merge Brokerage Operations

Mega-bank Citigroup and Morgan Stanley will combine their brokerage ops into one mega-brokerage with $1.7 trillion in client assets, 1,000 offices around the world and more than 20,000 financial advisers, the companies announced moments ago. The news has been rumored...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 13, 2009; 5:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Citi, Morgan Stanley, Robert Rubin, Vikarm Pandit  
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Geithner Explains Tax Errors, Housekeeper Issue to Senators

Treasury Secretary-designee Tim Geithner, the man charged with turning around the worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression, made more than $40,000 worth of mistakes on his tax returns from 2001-04 -- returns that he prepared himself. The Internal...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 13, 2009; 4:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (100)
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GM Scraps the El Camino Comeback

This news crossed last week but it's worth noting: Ailing GM has scrapped plans to bring back a version of its legendary El Camino. Even a stamp of approval by notorious rapper-turned-spokesmodel 50 Cent couldn't preserve the resurrection of the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 13, 2009; 3:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Detroit bailout, El Camino, GM  
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Pfizer Laying Off Up To 800 Scientists

So far in this recession, all sorts of people have lost jobs -- autoworkers, bankers, fast-food-fryers, gardeners, you name it. But this is the first The Ticker has heard about scientists being let go. Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, said...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 13, 2009; 1:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Pfizer, contraction, recession  
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Feds: Gas To Average $1.87/Gal. Through 2009

Been thinking about buying a Hummer recently but putting it off because you're worried gas will shoot back up to $4 per gallon? Well, friend, cast your worries aside! Lasso that Hummer! In a report out today, the Energy Information...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 13, 2009; 11:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Hummer, gas prices  
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Wall Street Opens Up Slightly

Wall Street opened up slightly this morning, in possible reaction to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's endorsement in London this morning of President-elect Obama's $800-some billion stimulus plan. In the first 20 minutes of trading, the Dow is up slightly, about...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 13, 2009; 9:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, Wall Street  
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Kashkari: Don't Force Bailed-Out Banks To Make Bad Loans

Neel Kashkari -- the $700 billion man, the Treasury official charged with spending the government rescue/bailout -- said his agency is developing tools to measure whether banks that have gotten bailout money are actually lending it rather than hoarding it,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 13, 2009; 9:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Neel Kashkari, Treasury, bailout  
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Today's Focus: Bernanke Speech, Bailout Hearing

Today, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give a big speech at the London School of Economics to discuss the Fed's decision last month to cut interest rates and the Fed's policy going forward in 2009. The speech is...

By Sara Goo  |  January 13, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Alcoa Lost More Than $1 Billion In Fourth Quarter

Aluminum giant Alcoa Inc. lost $1.19 billion ($1.49 per share) during the fourth quarter thanks to declining global demand the company reported moments ago, a loss that Wall Street had been bracing for all day. The news kicks off what...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 12, 2009; 4:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Alcoa, contraction, recession  
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Obama Sells Stimulus Plan on YouTube

If 2008 was the first YouTube presidential election, then it looks like Barack Obama's might be the first YouTube administration. His office and many of his team have taken to YouTube, where they've posted a 6 minute 47 second video...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 12, 2009; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, economic stimulus, stimulus plan  
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Obama Wants Limits On Executive Compensation

The office of President-elect Obama sent a letter to Congress moments ago, requesting the second half of the $700 billion government bailout/rescue plan. More importantly, the letter sets out some of Obama's conditions on entities that get the money. Among...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 12, 2009; 1:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, stimulus plan  
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Capitalism In Question: Can 'Only Government' Save the Economy, As Obama Says?

Has the U.S. officially abandoned free-market capitalism? Is that the position of the incoming administration? While giving the hard-sell to his economic stimulus plan last Thursday, President-elect Obama dropped a line that caused a head-snap among some of America's remaining...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 12, 2009; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Capitalism In Question, Obama, capitalism, free markets, nationalization  
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Court Decides Madoff Can Avoid Jail -- For Now

A judge ruled moments ago that alleged $50 billion Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff can remain free on bail, living in his luxe Manhattan penthouse, and does not have to go to jail. The ruling is a setback to federal prosecutors...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 12, 2009; 12:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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Bush Asks for Second $350 Billion Of Bailout

President Bush has asked Congress to release the remaining $350 billion of the $700 billion federal government rescue/bailout fund authorized in the fall, the White House press office just announced. Press secretary Dana Perino released a statement saying: "This morning,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 12, 2009; 11:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bush, Obama, bailout  
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Wall Street Down at Opening on Earnings Trepidation

Wall Street is bracing for tough corporate earnings this week and those fears are being reflected in the markets. In the first 25 minutes of trading, the Dow is down about 55 points, or about .6 percent. The S&P 500...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 12, 2009; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Bush: I Would Ask Congress For Extra Bailout Money To Help Obama

President Bush, during his last official press conference, underway right now, said that he would ask Congress for the second $350 billion installment of the $700 billion federal government bailout/rescue if it would make things easier for President-elect Obama. The...

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 12, 2009; 9:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bush, Obama, bailout  
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This Week: Earnings Begin

Today, aluminum-maker Alcoa kicks off the earnings season, which is not expected to be bright. The company last week announced 13,500 layoffs in a weak global environment. Several other firms, in advance of this week's earnings announcements, also have warned...

By Sara Goo  |  January 12, 2009; 7:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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