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Political Economy: October 31, 2010 - November 6, 2010

Fed has starring role in 'Return to Jekyll Island'

op officials of the Federal Reserve are now set to turn their attention to other big-picture questions about their institution: Where has it been? How did it get here? And where is it going? They are gathering this weekend at the very resort on the Georgia coast where one hundred years ago a group of bankers and finance experts met to craft what would eventually become the Federal Reserve System. Indeed, the 1910 Jekyll Island gathering has long been viewed by conspiracy theorists as the root of what they consider to be the central bank's shadowy, elitist ways. There is even a Fed-bashing book called "The Creature from Jekyll Island."

By Neil Irwin  | November 5, 2010; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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J.P. Morgan Chase to unfreeze foreclosures in a couple of weeks

J.P. Morgan Chase plans to resume foreclosures in a couple of weeks, a company official said Thursday. Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf said during a conference with analysts in Boston that the company's review had found some issues such as "robo signing" and that it is being very stringent in double checking documents. However, he said the bank risks the loss of million dollars for each month that foreclosures are delayed so it hopes to begin refiling soon. J.P. Morgan froze foreclosures in 40 states affecting about 127,000 loans.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | November 4, 2010; 12:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Housing  
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In Forbes list of most powerful people in the world, Obama is No. 2. Who's No. 1?

Hu Jintao is "paramount political leader of more people than anyone else on the planet; exercises near dictatorial control over 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of world's population," Forbes said. "Unlike Western counterparts, Hu can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor Internet without meddling from pesky bureaucrats, courts."

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | November 4, 2010; 12:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  China  
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World reaction to Bernanke's plan mixed

As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke faces renewed criticism from fellow economic policymakers around the world and from Wall Street, he sought to defend the Fed's actions to shore up the economy by buying $600B in Treasurys in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on Thursday.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | November 4, 2010; 10:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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50-state foreclosure probe loses several influential voices after midterm elections

Iowa Attorney General Thomas Miller, the pointman on the 50-state investigation into the foreclosure mess, won re-election this week, but a number of the other 13 attorneys generals on the executive committee for the probe will leave in the coming months.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | November 4, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  2010 Elections, Housing  
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October retail sales start weak, end strong

October brought more treats than tricks for many of the nation's largest retailers, according to sales data released this morning. The month got off to a weak start as unseasonably warm weather dampened consumers' appetite for the fall merchandise on store shelves. But as the mercury dipped and Halloween drew closer, many retail chains saw traffic and sales pick up.

By Ylan Q. Mui  | November 4, 2010; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Retail  
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Sizing up the Fed's plan to boost the economy

The Federal Reserve has announced plans to pump $600 billion into the economy through a mechanism known as "quantitative easing." It's a huge sum of money...but just how huge? The bubble map shown here compares it to other big numerical...

By Washington Post editors  | November 3, 2010; 4:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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What the Fed's action means for your finances

The new action announced Wednesday by the Fed to try to strengthen the faltering economy by buying more government securities has major implications for the country as a whole. The bond purchase program, known as quantitative easing, is aimed at reducing the stubbornly high unemployment rate. But what does it mean for your personal financial situation?

By Neil Irwin  | November 3, 2010; 2:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (79)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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How Democrats failed to convince voters on Wall Street reform

Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic points to this intriguing polling from Tuesday: Who's to blame for the economy? Bankers (34%), Bush (29%), Obama (24%). Of those who blame bankers, Republicans hold an 11 point advantage. How is this possible given...

By Jia Lynn Yang  | November 3, 2010; 11:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Elections, Financial regulation  
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Five questions for the Fed on the eve of QE2

The hype and scrutiny around the Federal Reserve's policy meeting this week has been extraordinary--yet justified. Fed policymakers will gather around a giant table overlooking the National Mall Tuesday morning, and by the time they are done Wednesday afternoon, will have embarked on a new wave monetary policy activism. Their likely decision: To use unconventional tools, namely buying Treasury bonds, to expand the money supply and get the economy back on track. We have a rough sense of the contours of what the Fed will (probably) do, which I explored in this [link to four answers post on political economy last week] post. So what are the remaining questions as the QE2 sets sail?

By Neil Irwin  | November 2, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Federal Reserve, U.S. Economy, Unemployment  
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Financial deregulation: too soon or just around the corner?

It's highly unlikely that Republicans -- if they win big tomorrow -- will be able to repeal Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law altogether. Even just killing off portions, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Agency or the derivatives portion of the bill, would be tough to pull off, too. But there are changes in the margins that Republicans could still push forward that would benefit Wall Street.

By Jia Lynn Yang  | November 1, 2010; 4:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  2010 Elections, Financial regulation  
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Will states' foreclosure investigation be weakened after midterms?

Of the 12 state attorneys general leading the investigation into problems with foreclosures, 10 are up for reelection on Tuesday. Several of them -- Jerry Brown in California, Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut, Terry Goddard in Arizona, Andrew Cuomo in New York and Bill McCollum in Florida -- are running for higher office and will not return to their posts. And other races are closely contested. Ohio's Richard Cordray (D), for instance, was the first to sue a major lender for "robo-signing" when he took on Ally Financial in October. He's seeking a senate seat and finds himself in a hotly contested race with incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine (R).

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | November 1, 2010; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2010 Elections, Housing  
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Will House Republicans push a corporate tax overhaul?

The White House has lately been voicing support for lowering the corporate tax rate. A Republican takeover of the House would give the idea even more traction, with Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan in line to chair the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

By Jia Lynn Yang  | November 1, 2010; 1:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  2010 Elections, Corporate taxes  
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