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Friday, January 30, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — January 30, 2009

Items of Interest:

www.bea.gov:
Gross Domestic Product -- Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- decreased at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third ...

discussion:
Econbrowser / Economics Roundtable: Oh yes it's a recession all right
Tim / The Mess That Greenspan Made: U.S. economy contracts at 3.8 percent pace
Seeking Alpha / Pfblogs.org : Random Observations on the GDP Announcement

related:
TIME.com:
GDP Drop: Not As Bad As Feared, But Worse Is Ahead — The government reported that fourth quarter GDP contracted at an annual rate of 3.8%. That does not approach the 7.8% in the second quarter of 1980 or the 10.4% post-war record set in the first quarter of 1958...

Calculated Risk:
GDP Declines 3.8% in Q4 — I'll have more a little later ... From the BEA: GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT: FOURTH QUARTER 2008 (ADVANCE) From MarketWatch: U.S. Q4 GDP down 3.8%, inventories limit downturn The U.S. economy contracted at a 3.8% annualized rate in the fourth quarter but the decline would have been worse except that the government counts an unwanted buildup of goods ...

Peter Cohan / BloggingStocks:
Great news: GDP shrinks only 3.8% in Q4 — Filed under: Economic data , Politics , Recession , Financial Crisis The final quarter of the great national nightmare -- our 43rd president -- ended with the worst quarterly performance of our GDP since 1982, when Ronald Reagan was in office. The 3.8% decline in Q4 was the worst quarterly result since a 6.4% annualized plunge in the first ...
----
CNN:
Giuliani: Corporate plums help keep NYC afloat — Bonuses for Wall Street fat cats are easy political fodder in uncertain economic times, but former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Friday cutting corporate bonuses means slashing jobs in the Big Apple...related:
CNN:
Angry senator wants pay cap on Wall Street ‘idiots’ — WASHINGTON (CNN) — One day after President Obama ripped Wall Street executives for their “shameful” decision to hand out $18 billion in bonuses in 2008, Congress may finally have had enough. — An angry U.S. senator introduced legislation Friday …
----NY Post: Obama says Wall Street corporate behavior, the height of irresponsibility ... shameful----
Bloomberg:
Obama Calls Bonuses ‘Shameful’ as Dodd Vows to Reclaim Money
Discussion:
DownWithTyranny!: Rudy To The Rescue— Defending The Rights Of The Rich To Plunder The Rest Of Us
Tom Taulli / BloggingStocks: Government's claws waiting for private equity?
Zachary Roth / TPMMuckraker: Cuomo's Office Looking At Several Fixes For Merrill Bonuses
Yves Smith / naked capitalism: Congressional Sound and Fury Over Wall Street Bonuses Sure to Signify Nothing
Ali Frick / Think Progress:
Giuliani Defends Wall Street Bonuses While Slamming Tax Cuts For The Poor -- Yesterday, reacting to a New York State Comptroller report showing that Wall Street banks doled out $18.4 billion in bonuses in 2008, President Obama denounced the practice as “shameful.” “That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful, and part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility,”...

Appearing this morning on CNN, however, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani stridently defended the practice of enormous bonuses untethered to actual performance, warning that ending the tradition “really will create unemployment” ...
----
David Goldman / Inner Workings:
Make them buy stock -- Rather than claw back already-paid bonuses of about $18 billion, as some grandstanding Democrats suggest, Wall Street firms should issue common stock to employees in that amount and require them to invest the after-tax portion of their cash bonuses in the stock of their firms. The proceeds should be used to repay the government for funds injected into their firms. That will satisfy the public, which quite reasonably objects to the use of its tax money to compensate bankers who make an order of magnitude or two more than the average taxpayer, and it will incentivize the bankers to work hard and manage risks well...
----
Big Money / Slate:
Give Back The Bonuses -- Wall Street has no business rewarding itself this year.

It is refreshing to have a president capable of telling economic truths...
----
Portfolio:
Cuts Coming Next Week at ‘The Wall Street Journal’ -- When Gerard Baker starts his new job as The Wall Street Journal's new deputy editor in chief next Wednesday, he'll have a lot of names to learn. But not quite as many as if he'd started sooner.

According to multiple sources within and close to the Journal, the newsroom is due to undergo another round of personnel cuts late next week. It's unclear exactly how many employees will be affected, but two sources put the number of people being targeted at 50...
----

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — January 29, 2009

Items of Interest:

MSNBC:
Obama slams Wall Street on bonuses — President calls the $18.4 billion in bonuses paid last year ‘shameful’ — President Barack Obama issued a withering critique Thursday of Wall Street corporate behavior, calling it “the height of irresponsibility” for Wall Street employees to be paid …

Discussion:
Ben White / NY Times:
What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses -- By almost any measure, 2008 was a complete disaster for Wall Street — except, that is, when the bonuses arrived.

Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year...

Felix Salmon / Market Movers:
Let The Bonus Outrage Begin -- The issue of Wall Street bonuses in general, and Merrill Lynch's bonuses in particular, is only just beginning to heat up. The NYT is scandalized today that bonuses in New York are going to total $18.4 billion -- the sixth-largest year on record -- and frankly I too am quite shocked that the average bonus award fell only 36.7%, even as profits simply evaporated...

Chris Bowers / Open Left: The Bonuses Can Still Be Stopped
Brendan Scott / New York Post: WALL STREET BONUSES DROP TO LOWEST IN 30 YEARS
----
Why do the taxpayers get stuck with the Bad Bank?

Barry Ritholtz / Big Picture
The Moral Hazard of the “Bad Bank” - Yesterday’s 13% surge in bank stocks is a clue as to what an obscene taxpayer giveaway this “bad bank” plan is — its free money for the firms that caused the problems, many of whom still have the same incompetent management in place that caused the problem. Purging toxic assets from bank balance sheets, without punishing the management, shareholders and creditors of these institutions for their horrific judgment will only encourage more of the same in the future. Its moral hazard writ large...
----
Daily Options Report:
And The Winner Is... -- I ask you, would the Bad Bank have bad tellers, with bad service and bad breath? Would they only take bad checks and offer bounced check rewards? Pay costumers interest on auto loans and yet charge interest on deposits? Alas, these are questions only the wizards behind the curtain (perhaps only those on the “golden commodes) which can answer...
----
Martin Feldstein / Washington Post:
An $800 Billion Mistake -- As a conservative economist, I might be expected to oppose a stimulus plan. In fact, on this page in October, I declared my support for a stimulus. But the fiscal package now before Congress needs to be thoroughly revised. In its current form, it does too little to raise national spending and employment. It would be better for the Senate to delay legislation for a month, or even two, if that's what it takes to produce a much better bill. We cannot afford an $800 billion mistake....
Discussion:
Rep. David Obey / Legislation: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Marc Moore / PoliGazette: New Jobs Under-Stimulated by Dem's Plan
Harry Moroz / The Huffington Post: Rethinking the Stimulus
Steve Verdon / Outside The Beltway: Martin Feldstein Now Skeptical of the Stimulus Package
Larry Kudlow / The Corner: Stimulus Criticism Mounts
----
Marc Ambinder:
Politics Of Stimulus: Tying The GOP To Bush – The Center for American Progress Action Fund is about to release a report advocating a new political tack for Democrats. They're going to tie the GOP alternative proposals to -- yes -- President Bush's now-unpopular agenda...
----
Todd Woody / Green Wombat:
Wind jobs outstrip the coal industry – Here’s a talking point in the green jobs debate: The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States.

Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, the coal industry employs about 81,000 workers....
Discussion:
Jesse Jenkins / WattHead: The Jobs are “Blowin' in the Wind”
----

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — January 28, 2009

Items of Interst:

Wall Street Journal:
A 40-Year Wish List — You won't believe what's in that stimulus bill. — “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before.” — So said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November, and Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart...

related:
David Sirota / Open Left:
There's something happening here — I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound — Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote an article for In These Times predicting that congressional progressives would be emboldened to assert themselves in an unprecedented way under an Obama administration …
Discussion:
Bob Fertik / Democrats.com: How Can Progressives Influence Obama?
Brian Faughnan / BrianFaughnan's blog: Liberals Cheer As Congress Pulls Obama Left
----
The Politico:
The case for doing nothing — Most of Washington has reached quick consensus: Government must do something big to shock the economy, and it should cost between $800 billion and $900 billion. — But dissident economists and investment professionals offer a much different take: Most of Washington is dead wrong...
Discussion:
related:
Josh Marshall / Talking Points Memo:
discussion:
The Politico: Go big or go home — The $825 billion economic stimulus bill …
----
Dan Gerstein / Forbes:
The Stimulus Fight You Should Be Watching
David Stout / New York Times:
Obama Says Not a ‘Moment to Spare’ on Stimulus Plan
discussion:
Booman Tribune:
----
No Lobbyists?

NY Times:
Geithner Sets Limits on Lobbying for Bailout Money -- The new Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, announced on Tuesday that he would crack down on lobbying to influence the $700 billion financial bailout program by companies that are receiving billions in taxpayer money...

Wall Street Journal:
Geithner's New Chief of Staff is Former Bank Lobbyist -- The new chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was a top lobbyist for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. until last year, and will have to recuse himself from some government duties under new White House ethics rules...
----
David Goldman / Inner Workings:
Banks back from the dead as nationalization and cramdown start …
Discussion:
Eric Etheridge / The Opinionator: The Bad Bank Rally
David Cho / Washington Post: Treasury Weighs Hard Choices To Save Banks
----

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — January 27, 2009

Items of Interest:

USAToday:
Wave of layoffs here and in Europe reflects severity of the recession -- Household names such as Caterpillar, Home Depot and Sprint Nextel said Monday that they are laying off a combined 35,000 workers in moves that stressed the severity of the worldwide recession and kicked off what is likely to be a week of gloomy earnings announcements, further job cuts and dismal data.

The news ratchets up the pressure on the Obama administration and Congress as lawmakers debate an $825 billion stimulus package intended to save or create millions of jobs. Far more job cuts are likely as consumer and business spending tumbles amid what many economists say is the worst recession the USA has seen since the Great Depression.

"Some of the worst job losses are ahead of us, not behind us," says Wells Fargo senior economist Scott Anderson.

He expects 3 million Americans to lose their jobs in 2009 — up from the 2.6 million who were cut last year, which was the most since 1945, the final year of World War II...

USAToday:

Here is a list of recently announced reductions in jobs. In some cases, totals include previously announced layoffs.
Date Company LayoffsPct. of workforce
MondayCaterpillar20,00018%

Pfizer19,50015%

Sprint Nextel8,00014%

Home Depot7,0002%

Texas Instruments1,80012%
FridayHarley-Davidson1,10011%
Thursday Microsoft5,0005%
WednesdaySun Microsystems1,30015%-18%

Eaton 5,20010%

Ericsson 5,0006%
Jan. 20Bose 1,00010%

Clear Channel 1,8509%

ConocoPhillips 1,3004%
Jan. 16Circuit City 30,000100%

Hertz Global4,00013%

MeadWestvaco 2,00010%

Motorola 4,0006%

Saks 1,1009%
Jan. 14Seagate 2,9506%
Jan. 12Cessna 2,00015%
Jan. 9Boeing 4,5007%

Freightliner 2,13710%
Jan. 8AK Steel 1,50021%

EMC 2,4006%

discussion:
Editorial / Investor's Business Daily: Caterpillar's Preventable Job Cuts
Jack and Suzy Welch / Business Week: The Era of Do-or-Die Layoffs
----
CNNMoney:
Home prices fall at record pace -- Index of 20 U.S. cities shows 18.2% annual drop, to the lowest levels since 2004.

An index of home prices in 20 major metropolitan areas fell at a record annual pace in November, to levels not seen since 2004, according to a report released Tuesday.

The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, a sampling of 20 cities from across the nation, fell a record 18.2% over the 12 months ended Nov. 30. That brought the index to its lowest point since February 2004. From its peak in mid-2006, the index has plunged a whopping 25.1%.

Eleven of the 20 cities showed record declines, and the 12-month price drop for 14 of the cities was a double-digit percentage...
Case-Shiller: Home prices fall at record pace
discussion:
Calculated Risk:
Case-Shiller: House Prices Fall Sharply in November

Seekinng Alpha:
Case-Shiller November: Grim but with a Germ of Good News -- Believe it or not there was a germ of good news in the report. The 10-city composite index fell at a year-over-year rate of 19.1% which was the same as the rate of decline in October. That’s the first time since prices started declining that we haven’t seen an increase in the rate of decline.

Soot & Ashes:
Home prices have crashed ANOTHER 18% nationwide -- But, but, but.. Lawrence Yun at the NAR said we hit bottom in December 2007! What gives? ...
----
Zero Hedge:
Merrill Lynch Analyst Says Depression is the New Recession -- ML chief economist David Rosenberg has broken the D(epression)-word seal. In his most recent report "Some Inconvenient Truths" he says we are currently in a depression, and uncharacteristically doesn't mince his words:
Not your father’s recession, but maybe your grandfather’s
In our marketing tour through Europe last week, we brought along our new chart package entitled “Not your father’s recession, but maybe your grandfather’s”. Looking at the youthful demographics that characterize today’s money management industry, we should have probably gone with “great-grandfather’s” instead.

How is a depression defined?
It shouldn’t come as any big surprise that with such a provocative title, we would be saddled with questions as to how an economic depression is even defined. Of course, most portfolio managers still don’t know that a recession is not defined as back-to-back quarters of negative real GDP prints (which we had neither in 2002 nor 2008) but instead the timing of the peaks in real sales activity, employment, industrial production and organic personal income growth.
----
CNNMoney:
Citi says no to $45 million jet -- Treasury Department disapproves of Citigroup's plan to spend $45 million on a corporate jet after receiving TARP funds.

Citigroup reversed course Tuesday, a day after a Treasury Department official called the struggling company and "told them it was unacceptable" to accept delivery of a new $42 million corporate jet, a senior administration official said...
discussion:
Paul Kedrosky / Infectious Greed:
Quote of the Day: But We Have 67% Less Jets!
----
The Huffington Post:
Bailout Recipients Hosted Call To Defeat Key Labor Bill — Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.
----
Martin Wolf / FT:
Why dealing with the huge debt overhang is so hard -- How much debt is too much? Nobody knows. But the governments of highly indebted high-income economies – such as the US and UK – think they know the answer: more than today....

Why dealing with the huge debt overhang is so hard---
Jeffrey Sachs / FT:
The Tarp is a fiscal straitjacket --The US debate over the fiscal stimulus is remarkable in its neglect of the medium term – that is, the budgetary challenges over a period of five to 10 years. Neither the White House nor Congress has offered the public a scenario of how the proposed mega-deficits will affect the budget and government programmes beyond the next 12 to 24 months. Without a sound medium-term fiscal framework, the stimulus package can easily do more harm than good, since the prospect of trillion-dollar-plus deficits as far as the eye can see will weigh heavily on the confidence of consumers and businesses, and thereby undermine even the short-term benefits of the stimulus package...
----

Monday, January 26, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — January 26, 2009

Items of Interest:

Bennet Sedacca / Minyanville:
Welcome to the Depression -- I actually hoped the unprecedented credit unwind would end up in a nasty recession; but I fear a depression is either upon us or will soon be upon us. To be truthful is essential in markets and life: To face head-on the bad news which isn't at all fun or exciting to face.

I hate to say this, as unpopular as it may be: Welcome to the depression. For my reasoning, please read on...

related:
Brad Setser / Council on Foreign Relations:
A truly global slump. Do not look to the emerging economies for good news …

Eliezer Yudkowsky / Overcoming Bias
Investing for the Long Slump
----
InTrade.com:
Odds of a Depression -- Cumulative Decline in US GDP over Four Quarters to be -10.0% or worse -- Annualized quarterly Real GDP figures for 4 consecutive quarters sum to worse than -10% (i.e -10.1%)

Annualized quarterly Real GDP figures for 4 consecutive quarters sum to worse than -10%----
John Kerry & Kent Conrad / Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:
Congress Needs to Help the Economy Fast -- Let's not debate another rescue bill in a few months.

The historic inauguration of President Barack Obama went a long way toward renewing American hopes for a better future. But our nation's economy remains on shaky ground. We must act immediately to solidify our economy by addressing weaknesses in our financial and housing industries, while at the same time kick-starting job creation with our national economic stimulus plan.

Our country faces an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression. The housing collapse caused a crisis in our financial institutions, triggering a broader economic slide that is eliminating jobs, shredding retirement accounts, and wiping out household wealth at a breathtaking pace...
----
Housing Wire:
Existing Home Sales Rise as Prices Plummet -- Existing-home sales jumped 6.5 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.74 million, led by a surge of sales in the West, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday...

Single-family home sales rose 7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.26 million in December, while condo sales increased 2.1 percent to 480,000. For all of 2008, single-family sales fell nearly 12 percent to 4.35 million, while condo sales dropped 21 percent to 563,000.

For 2008 as a whole, sales fell 13.1 percent to 4.91 million, NAR said. November and December were the weakest sales months of the year on a seasonally adjusted basis...
related:
Seeking Alpha: Still Blowing Sunshine... But Not Quite as Much
----
Fareed Zakaria / Newsweek:
There's More To Fear Than Fear — No, we haven't turned the corner on the banking crisis—we can't even see the corner. What's needed is a bold, massive jolt to the system. … From the magazine issue dated Feb 2, 2009 — Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first inaugural address is now known …
Discussion:
Michael Goldfarb / Weekly Standard: Fareedonomics — From Zakaria's latest column...
related:
David E. Sanger / New York Times:
Nationalization Gets a New, Serious Look -- Only five days into the Obama presidency, members of the new administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are already dancing around one of the most politically delicate questions about the financial bailout: Is the president prepared to nationalize a huge swath of the nation’s banking system? ...
David Enrich / Wall Street Journal:
Lending Drops at Big U.S. Banks -- Lending at many of the nation's largest banks fell in recent months, even after they received $148 billion in taxpayer capital that was intended to help the economy by making loans more readily available.

Ten of the 13 big beneficiaries of the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, saw their outstanding loan balances decline by a total of about $46 billion, or 1.4%, between the third and fourth quarters of 2008, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of banks that recently announced their quarterly results...
Discussion:
Mary Kane / The Washington Independent: The Ultimate Bailout Failure: Banks Decrease Lending Under TARP
----
CitiBank buys Dassault_Falcon 7XNew York Post:
JUST PLANE DESPICABLE — ‘RESCUED’ CITI BUYING $50M JET — Beleaguered Citigroup is upgrading its mile-high club with a brand-new $50 million corporate jet - only this time, it's the taxpayers who are getting screwed.

Even though the bank's stock is as cheap as a gallon of gas and it's burning through a $45 billion taxpayer-funded rescue, the airhead execs pushed through the purchase of a new Dassault Falcon 7X, according to a source familiar with the deal …
----
Latest Ponzi Scheme To Unravel

Bloomberg:
Cosmo, Alleged Ponzi Scheme Operator, Surrenders -- A New York businessman sought by U.S. authorities in connection with an alleged $380 million Ponzi scheme was arrested and charged with one count of mail fraud. Nicholas Cosmo, founder of Agape World Inc. in Hauppauge, New York, surrendered at the Long Island Railroad train station in Hicksville, New York. He is suspected of defrauding thousands of investors through his firm, which purports to provide bridge loans, said a person who wasn’t authorized to speak about the case. He was brought in handcuffs to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Hicksville at about 7:30 p.m ...
----
LifeHacker:
The Definitive Craigslist Guide for the Recession -- To paraphrase one shopping expert, nearly everyone wants better deals on everything these days. Craigslist is a great place to get those deals, and you don't have to be a jerk to get them....
related:
But Craigslist Buyer Beware....

Seattle King5.com:
Armored truck robber uses Craigslist to make getaway -- the robber had planned ahead. In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby, which he recruited on Craigslist...
----
Paul Krugman / New York Times:
Bad Faith Economics — As the debate over President Obama's economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan's opponents aren't arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don't want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don't want to see government activism vindicated...
----

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia