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

Economy Watch: March 1, 2009 - March 7, 2009

Bernie Madoff May Be Copping Plea

Reports are coming at this moment that Bernie Madoff, who authorities said confessed to running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, may be preparing to take a plea deal. Madoff, who allegedly bilked investors out of untold billions in his bogus...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 6, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (69)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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Markets Open Up

Wall Street opened up slightly in trading this morning despite another dismal jobs report out today that shows U.S. unemployment has risen to at least 8.1 percent. In the first 20 minutes of trading, the Dow is up 130 points...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 6, 2009; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, Wells Fargo, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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IMF Proposes New Rules For Big Financial Institutions

The International Monetary Fund has proposed a broad new set of rules for big financial institutions, such as hedge funds and private-equity firms, whose failure could cross borders and cripple governments. The IMF is proposing a "binding code of conduct...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 6, 2009; 9:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: IMF, hedge funds, regulation  
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House Panel Sets Hearing on Mark-to-Market Accounting

A House Financial Services subcomittee has scheduled a March 12 hearing on mark-to-market accounting rules -- a dry-sounding topic that likely would have a massive impact on the struggling big banks and the wider economy if it were altered. Simply...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 6:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: FASB, SEC, mark to market  
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List of Financial Firms Likely Being Stressed-Tested

ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism outfit funded by San Francisco S&L bankers Herb and Marion Sandler has ginned up a list of big financial firms that meet the threshold set by the government for undergoing the so-called "stress test" to...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 2:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bank of America, Citigroup, GMAC, JP Morgan, MetLife, banks, stress test  
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SEC Revamping Whistleblower Policy After Bungling Madoff Tips

The SEC -- after notoriously whiffing on several attempts to bring self-confessed $50 billion Ponzi scammer Bernie Madoff to their attention -- said today that it is working to improve how it handles tips from whistleblowers. The SEC has hired...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 12:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff, SEC, whistleblower  
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Citigroup Stock Sinks to $1 Per Share

Shares of troubled Citigroup have been sinking steadily for months, but today they crossed a symbolic barrier: they fell below $1 per share. This is a breathtaking destruction of value for a bank that was once the world's largest. Shares...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 12:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bank of America, Citigroup  
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New Jobless, Total Unemployment Claims Take Surprise Dip

New jobless claims and the total number of people getting unemployment benefits both dropped unexpectedly last week, but don't get too excited: Most economists believe it's not necessarily the sign of a turnaround. This week's total number of requests for...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 11:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: unemployment  
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Daily Show's Jon Stewart Rips CNBC, Rick Santelli

"Daily Show" host Jon Stewart ripped CNBC and its mad-as-heck reporter Rick Santelli last night, essentially calling the GE-owned business network a collection of know-nothings and corporate lapdogs. .cc_box a:hover .cc_home{background:url('http://www.comedycentral.com/comedycentral/video/assets/syndicated-logo-over.png') !important;}.cc_links a{color:#b9b9b9;text-decoration:none;}.cc_show a{color:#707070;text-decoration:none;}.cc_title a{color:#868686;text-decoration:none;}.cc_links a:hover{color:#67bee2;text-decoration:underline;}The Daily Show With Jon...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 10:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: CBNC, Daily Show, Jon Stewart, Rick Santelli  
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Markets Erasing Yesterday's Gains

Wall Street opened down this morning, erasing some of yesterday's gains. Part of yesterday's rally came from speculation that China would add to its stimulus announced last November. Today, however, China said it plans no additional stimulus but still believes...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 9:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: China, Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Wal-Mart Lone Bright Spot In Februray Retail Report

Retailers posted declines in monthly sales this morning as consumers continued to hold back amid the deepening recession, The Post's Ylan Q. Mui reports. The notable exception to the rule was Wal-Mart, which reported a 5.1 percent increase in February...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 9:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Macy's, Saks, Target, Wal-Mart, retail  
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Can You 'Obama-Proof' Your Portfolio?

An interesting phrase is starting to bubble up on Wall Street these days: "Obama-proof." As in: Are there any stocks you can buy that are Obama-proof? What it means: Wall Street generally opposes government intervention into businesses, and it's seeing...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 4, 2009; 2:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Jim Cramer, Obama, stocks  
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Hatch To Geithner: Unfair To Blame Bush For Economic Crisis

UPDATED Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) made a bid to stand up to a growing sentiment that the Bush administration's policies were to blame for the current economic collapse. Hatch said a number of Democrats have been "beating the drum" that...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 4, 2009; 12:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bush, Geithner, Obama, taxes  
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Markets Rally at Opening

Evidently tired of several consecutive days of sell-offs, Wall Street staged an opening rally this morning, despite the release of another dismal monthly jobs report. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is up about 102 points, or...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 4, 2009; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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White House Releases New Mortgage-Modification Plan

The White House and Treasury moments ago released their new plan to help people they call "responsible homeowners" meet their mortgage payments. "Millions of responsible families who make their monthly payments and fulfill their obligations have seen their property values...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 4, 2009; 9:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, mortgage workouts  
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Today's Focus: Jobs, Wall Street, Earnings, and the Fed's Beige Book

Today, ahead of Friday's big unemployment report, traders will get a snapshot on how things look from the ADP jobs report, which looks at how many private sector jobs were lost last month. Economists predict that more than 600,000 jobs...

By Lexie Verdon  |  March 4, 2009; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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February Vehicle Sales: GM Falls 53%, Ford Down 48%, Chrysler Slumps 42%, Toyota Off 37%

UPDATED with Chrysler, General Motors, Nissan, Hyundai, BMW General Motors said sales fell 52.9 percent in February compared with the same month a year ago, as the auto giant continues to struggle for financial stability and the credit crunch continues...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 3, 2009; 3:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, automakers  
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Cisco's Chambers: U.S. Recovery By December/January

If you forced Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers to make a $100 bet on when the U.S. economic recovery will begin, he would pick December 2009 or January 2010. The energetic Chambers just concluded a visit to The Washington...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 3, 2009; 3:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Cisco, Internet, John Chambers, Obama, stimulus  
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Geithner: We'll Be Back By 2011

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, testifying right now before the House Ways and Means committee on the new budget, said that there is near-universal agreement among economic forecasters than the U.S. will get back to "substantial growth rates" by 2011. In...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 3, 2009; 1:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ben Bernanke, Geithner, Obama, budget  
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Bernanke: 'Too Big To Fail' Problem Must Be Fixed

11:57 A.M. UPDATE Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before the Senate Budget committee right now, said the "too big to fail" problem was worse than he understood going into the current financial collapse. Asked whether it's a problem that some...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 3, 2009; 10:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ben Bernanke  
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Markets Rebound, Open Up

The markets are trying to rebound after yesterday's rout, opening up across the boards today. In the first 20 minutes of trading, the Dow is up about 35 points, or less than half of 1 percent. The broader S&P 500...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 3, 2009; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Fed Launches New Loans Aimed To Loosen Credit Market

The Federal Reserve just launched its new $200 billion program to help lending to small businesses and consumers. Called the Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility (TALF, not to be confused with TARP), the loans are meant to be quick-strike: participants must...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 3, 2009; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ben Bernanke, Fed  
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Citigroup Announces Mortgage Help For Unemployed

Citigroup said moments ago that it will help out unemployed homeowners by lowering their mortgage payments to an average of $500 per month for three months. Homeowners who qualify under the new program include those who are 60 days or...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 3, 2009; 9:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Citigroup, mortgage workouts  
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Today's Focus: Budget, Autos and Markets

Today, there's one big agenda on Capitol Hill: the budget. In a string of hearings on both sides of the Hill, we will be watching testimony from several Obama administration officials who have been asked to talk about the budget...

By Sara Goo  |  March 3, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Bank Of America's Lewis Made $10M In 2008, Down From $24M in 2007

Bank of America chief executive Kenneth Lewis, under fire for the bank's acquisition of brokerage Merrill Lynch, made $10 million in 2008, a $14 million reduction from 2007, according to the bank's SEC proxy form released moments ago. In 2007,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 2, 2009; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bank of America, Citigroup, Ken Lewis  
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As Stocks Tumble, So Does Retirement Security

As the Dow Jones industrial average continues its downward spiral, there is deep public unease about fully funded retirements as people's savings are now more tied to stock market performance than at any time in the past two decades, The...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 2, 2009; 2:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: 401(k), retirement  
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Louisiana Bank Gives Back Bailout Money

Iberiabank Corp. of Lafayette, La., said late last week that it is giving back its $90 million worth of government bailout money because of the conditions being placed on banks that take bailout money, becoming the first bank to give...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 2, 2009; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: bailout, banks  
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Analyst: GE Capital Needs At Least $20 Billion

GE Capital -- the struggling finance division of the industrial manufacturing and media giant -- must raise $20 billion to $40 billion in capital over the next year or GE may lose its prize AAA rating, one analyst said this...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 2, 2009; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: GE, GE Financial, General Electric  
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U.S. Manufacturing Contracts Again in February

U.S. manufacturing contracted for a 13th consecutive month in February, according to the Institute for Supply Management's factory index. Manufacturers are getting smaller by laying off workers and cutting production to keep up with plummeting sales. The index ticked up...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 2, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: contraction, layoffs, manufacturing  
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Dow Punches Through 7000 Floor for First Time Since 1997

The markets dove at the opening bell in a broad sell-off, sending the Dow through the 7000 floor for the first time since October 1997. The markets are responding to increasing worries about the health of banks and other major...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 2, 2009; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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