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

Economy Watch: December 13, 2009 - December 19, 2009

Steve Case on AOL-Time Warner merger: 'Oops.'

You have to admire a man who can make fun of himself. AOL co-founder Steve Case was one of the engineers behind the 2001 AOL-Time Warner merger which, by acclaim, was the worst merger of the decade, or possibly ever....

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 18, 2009; 2:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: AOL, AOL Time Warner, Steve Case, Twitter  
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Nov. unemployment essentially unchanged in Washington region

The unemployment rate in D.C., Virginia and Maryland was largely unchanged in November compared with October, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported moments ago. In D.C., the unemployment rate dipped from 11.9 percent in October to 11.8 percent...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 18, 2009; 11:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: unemployment  
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SEC charges Ernst & Young with accounting fraud at Bally fitness

Moments ago, the SEC announced that it has charged Ernst & Young and six of its current and former partners for taking part in accounting fraud with former client Bally Total Fitness, saying E&Y knew or should have known that...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 17, 2009; 4:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bally fitness, E&Y, Ernst & Young, SEC, accounting fraud  
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PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi on Jim Cramer tonight at 6

Last week, I named PepsiCo chief executive Indra Nooyi one of my Top 5 Business Heroes of the 2000s. Tonight, you can see her interviewed on Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" show on CNBC at 6. I called Nooyi the "best...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 17, 2009; 12:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: CNBC, Indra Nooyi, Jim Cramer  
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Banking committee votes 16-7 to reconfirm Bernanke

The Senate Banking committee voted 16-7 to reconfirm Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term, a closer-than-expected result meant to send a signal of displeasure to the Fed chairman's monetary policy. Bernanke is widely expected to win reconfirmation...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 17, 2009; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ben Bernanke, Bernie Sanders, Jim Bunning, Richard Shelby  
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Weak jobs report, strong dollar push stocks down at opening

Stocks are down at opening this morning, pushed that way by a worse-than-expected new jobless claims report and a rebounding dollar. In the first 25 minutes of trading, the Dow is down six-tenths of 1 percent. The broader S&P 500...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 17, 2009; 10:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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New jobless claims unexpectedly rise

New jobless claims filed last week came in at 480,000, a jump of 7,000 from the week before and well above expectations. Forecasters expected 465,000 new jobless claims to be filed last week. The four-week moving average dropped 5,250 to...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 17, 2009; 8:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: jobless claims  
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New 'Misery Index' makes U.S. world's 8th-most miserable economy

Those of us above a certain age who remember the 1970s also remember the "misery index," a new-at-the-time measure of the economy. Invented by economist Arthur Okun, the misery index added the U.S. unemployment and inflation rates to create a...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 16, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Moodys, debt, deficit, misery index, unemployment  
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S&P cuts Greece's credit rating in another blow to the government

Standard & Poor's cut Greece's credit rating today because the ratings agency said the nation's spiraling debt problem may be beyond the government's ability to control. S&P lowered Greece's credit rating one level, from A- to BBB+. The Greek government...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 16, 2009; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Fitch, Greece, Standard & Poor's, sovereign debt  
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Bernanke is Time mag's person of the year -- what do you think?

This morning, as I mentioned earlier, Time magazine picked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as its person of the year. You can read Time's story on Bernanke (written by former Post reporter Mike Grunwald) by clicking here. Here's Time's rationale for...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 16, 2009; 12:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ben Bernanke, Jeff Merkley, Time, person of the year  
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Good inflation and housing-starts data push stocks higher

Good news about inflation (it's holding low) and housing starts (they're up) helped push stocks up on Wall Street at opening. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is up nearly half of 1 percent. The broader S&P...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 16, 2009; 9:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, FTC, Intel, inflation, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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FTC sues chip-king Intel for 'anti-competitive tactics'

The Federal Trade Commission is suing Intel, saying the chip-making king has "illegally used its dominant market position for a decade to stifle competition and strengthen its monopoly." Quoting from the release on the FTC Web site, which hit moments...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 16, 2009; 9:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: FTC, Intel  
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November consumer prices rise slightly

A small and expected rise in consumer prices kicked off a morning full of economic data released moments ago that help tell us where we are in this recovery of ours. In November, consumer prices -- or inflation -- rose...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 16, 2009; 8:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: housing starts, inflation  
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Raising the debt ceiling: What's the big deal?

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) didn't get what he wanted -- a permanent hike in the national debt ceiling, from $12.1 trillion to $13.6 trillion -- because the more fiscally prudent members of his own party objected. But Hoyer probably...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 15, 2009; 4:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Heritage Foundation, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, debt, deficit  
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Video of Boeing 787 Dreamliner making maiden flight

After numerous delays, a machinists' strike, technical problems and billions of dollars in write-downs, Boeing finally got its 787 Dreamliner off the the ground this afternoon for a four-hour test flight around the Seattle area. Half of Boeing is defense...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 15, 2009; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: 787 Dreamliner, Boeing  
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10 industries that will lose the most jobs over the next decade

In last week's U.S. unemployment data from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics was the following prediction: The 10 U.S. industries that will face the biggest job losses over the next 10 years. (Specifically, from 2008 to 2018.) The...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 15, 2009; 2:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: FedEx, U.S. Postal Service, UPS, job losses, unemployment  
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GM to repay $6.7 billion in government loans

General Motors will repay its $6.7 billion in taxpayer-funded loans by the end of June 2010, the company's new chief executive said today. Ed Whitacre, who unexpectedly replaced chief executive Fritz Henderson in a boardroom ouster last month, said GM...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 15, 2009; 12:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ed Whitacre, Fritz Henderson, GM, General Motors  
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Surprise inflation data pushes stocks down at opening

The surprise bump in wholesale prices has pushed the markets lower at opening. In the first 25 minutes of trading, the Dow is down four-tenths of 1 percent. The broader S&P 500 is down a little more than half of...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 15, 2009; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Wholesale prices take surprise jump, stoking inflation fears

Wholesale prices rose more than expected in November, stoking inflation fears. The producer price index rose 1.8 percent in November, compared with October, and was up 0.5 percent if you remove volatile food and fuel prices. Wholesale prices were up...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 15, 2009; 8:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Federal Reserve, inflation, wholesale prices  
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New ad campaign targets national debt

I meant to get to this last week when it came out but didn't have time: a debt-fighting organization has launched a multi-media ad campaign to educate Americans about the rapidly growing national debt. The campaign comes from the Peter...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 14, 2009; 2:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: David Walker, Peter Peterson, debt, deficit  
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December 14, 2009

The Washington Post staff share their picks for reading around the Web. Balancing the budget The New Republic | Noam Scheiber explores the evolution of thinking within the Obama administration on whether to pursue policies to stimulate the economy...

By Sarah Halzack  |  December 14, 2009; 10:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Neil Irwin's Must Reads  
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Stocks up following big Exxon Mobil deal

Stocks opened higher this morning following news of Exxon Mobil's blockbuster $31 billion acquisition of natural gas company XTO Energy. In the first 30 minutes of trading, the Dow is up two-tenths of 1 percent. The broader S&P 500 is...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 14, 2009; 10:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, ExxonMobil, XTO, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Top five business villains of the 2000s

Join me at 11 a.m. today for a live online chat about my picks for the U.S. business heroes and villains of this decade. You can submit a question to the chat, weigh in with your picks in our discussion...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 14, 2009; 7:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Andrew Fastow, Bernie Ebbers, Bernie Madoff, Dick Fuld, Jeffrey Skilling, John Rigas, Joseph Cassano, Ken Lay, Kenneth Lay, Lehman Brothers, Martin Grass, Rite Aid  
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