Early Briefing: Bonuses, and Worries at Fan and Fred
Legislation to severely tax bonuses at companies receiving government aid may imperil the Obama administration's housing recovery program by igniting an exodus of employees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, employees said, Zachary Goldfarb reports. Both House and Senate versions of legislation to tax bonuses single out District-based Fannie Mae and McLean-based Freddie Mac by name. The companies, seized by the government last fall, have received about $50 billion in taxpayer assistance.
By including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the measure, legislators fueled feelings of fear and betrayal at those two companies, where some employees polished their résumés and began to call headhunters who had tried to recruit them in recent months.
Montgomery and Frederick counties recorded the lowest unemployment rate of nearly three dozen areas defined by the government as "metropolitan divisions," according to labor statistics. The Maryland counties' unemployment rate in January was 4.8 percent, compared with a national rate that month of 8.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Washington area's much larger metropolitan division, which includes Fairfax, Prince George's, Arlington and Loudoun counties as well as the District, had an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent. Although the unemployment rate is rising even in those two areas, the Washington region's vast array of jobs supported directly or indirectly by the government has helped insulate residents from the deterioration elsewhere, economists said.
The Greenbrier resort has been a destination for the well-to-do, including Joseph and Rose Kennedy. But yesterday, the West Virginia resort lost the backing of its parent, CSX, and a tentative deal was struck to sell the 720-room property to Bethesda-based Marriott International for up to $130 million. As part of the deal with Marriott, the current resort owners must negotiate union labor contracts that are satisfactory to Marriott officials.
Local videogame company Big Huge Games' shift in focus to stay relevant in the Wii era does not appear to have paid off. Game publisher THQ said this week that it will shutter its Timonium, Md.-based subsidiary if it doesn't find a buyer for the studio within 60 days. The California-based publisher acquired Big Huge last year, but is now trying to slash its expenses by $220 million.
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