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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — April 30, 2009

Items of Interest:

President Obama forced Chrysler into federal bankruptcy protection on Thursday, April 30th, 2009Micheline Maynard / New York Times:
Surgical’ Bankruptcy Is Set for Chrysler -- President Obama forced Chrysler into federal bankruptcy protection on Thursday so it could pursue a life-saving alliance with the Italian automaker Fiat, in yet another extraordinary intervention into private industry by the federal government.

Flanked by his automobile task force of cabinet secretaries and business advisers in the White House’s grand entranceway, Mr. Obama announced a plan that would allow the United Automobile Workers, through their retirement plan, to take control of Chrysler, with Fiat and the United States as junior partners. The government would lend about $8 billion more to the company, on top of the $4 billion it had already provided...

discussion:
Room for Debate: Does the U.S. Need an Auto Industry?
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias: The Chrysler Deal
Charles J. Brown / Undiplomatic: Chrysler in Bankruptcy: The Forgotten Villain
Felix Dennis / THE WEEK News & Opinion: Chrysler's road out of bankruptcy
Economist.com / Democracy in America: United we stand (to lose)
Steve Verdon / Outside The Beltway: Chrysler to File for Bankruptcy

Henry Blodget, Clusterstock:
With Chrysler in the Books, It's On To GM

related:
Micheline Maynard / New York Times: A Primer on a Chrysler Bankruptcy
Alex Taylor III, Fortune: Is Chrysler Better Off Dead...or Alive?
Paul Ingrassia, Wall Street Journal: The UAW Is in the Driver's Seat
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Stephen Grocer / Deal Journal:
Statement From Non-Tarp Lenders of Chrysler -- As of last night’s deadline, we were part of a group of approximately 20 relatively small organizations; we represent many of the country’s teachers unions, major pension and retirement plans and school endowments who have invested through us in senior secured loans to Chrysler. Combined, these loans total about $1 billion. None of us have taken a dime in TARP money...
discussion:
DealBook: A Road Map to a Chrysler Bankruptcy
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Dealbreaker:
“Will The Employee Who Let Geoffrey Do An Interview With The WSJ Please Report to HR" -- It is entirely possible that a demographic defined by the terminally capitalist-guilt ridden figure of Geoffrey Gwin is responsible for the likes of the Chrysler tennis match we have been enjoying this morning...
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — April 29, 2009

Items of Interest:

David Leonhardt / New York Times
After the Great Recession — On April 14, President Obama gave a speech at Georgetown University, trying to explain why he was taking on so many economic issues so early in his administration. He argued that the country needed to break its bubble-and-bust cycle and cited the New Testament …

discussion:
Reihan Salam / The American Scene: Obama's Interview with David Leonhardt
Ben Smith / Ben Smith's Blog: Obama mulls end-of-life care
Kevin Drum / MoJo Blog Posts: Are Canadian Banks the Answer?
Andrew Leonard / Salon: Obama's shout-out to Joe Stiglitz
Michael Shaw / BAGnewsNotes: Kander's Obama: The Listener
Kevin Hayden / American Street: What and how Obama thinks
Arnold Kling / EconLog: Obama on Health Care
Greg Wythe / Greg's Opinion: Late Morning Read: 4/29/09

Amity Shlaes, New York Post:
Obama's 100 Days: Modeling Roosevelt -- Obama is now thinking about what comes after his "Hundred Days." Although the president's first legislative period was modeled on Franklin D. Roosevelt's original "Hundred Days," Obama, a big FDR fan, may find more in FDR to emulate...

Daniel Gross / Slate: What Should Obama Do in His Next 100 Days?
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US Bureau of Economic Analysis:
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 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009, (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth ...
related:
Calculated Risk:
GDP Report: The Good News — Although Q1 GDP was very negative due to the sharp investment slump (this was expected, see: Q1 GDP will be Ugly ), the decline in Q1 was weighted towards lagging sectors. Click on graph for larger image in new window. This table shows the contribution to GDP for several sectors in Q1 2009 compared to Q4 2008. The leading sectors are on the left, ...

The Economist: Is the Grim GDP Number Better Than It Appears?
Bloomberg: Economy in U.S. Shrank at 6.1% Rate in First Quarter
Economics Roundtable: Are We Out of the Woods Yet?

NY Times:
U.S. Economy in 2nd Straight Quarter of Steep Decline — The government reported gross domestic product shrank at a 6.1 percent yearly rate, but the numbers suggested that the worst of the recession may be easing...
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ABC News:
Fed Says Signs Recession May Be Easing — The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it sees signs the recession is easing and that the economic outlook has "improved modestly" since last month. The Federal Reserve says it sees signs the recession may be easing but warns the economy is likely to remain weak...
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Minyanville:
Banks Upgrade From Catastrophic to Awful -- Institutions still in no condition for recovery...

Peter Hahn, a former managing director of Citigroup and now a fellow at London’s Cass Business School, was reported by Bloomberg as saying: "When you look at the income numbers that have been put out by banks recently they contain so much fudge and financial manipulation. You could say that the automobile industry has a clearer future at the moment." ...
related:
David Reilly / Bloomberg: Banks Juice Profits Ahead of Stress-Test Results
Colin Barr / Fortune: Stress Tests Pressure Banks To Stuff The Mattresses
David Pauly / Bloomberg: If Banks Are Too Big to Fail, Take An Ax to Them
New York Times: Feeling Secure, Some Banks Want to Be Left Alone -
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Minyanville:
Government to Banks: We Recommend Throwing Good Money After Bad -- Every month, it seems, Washington dreams up new and fantastic ways to funnel taxpayer money towards a growing list of undeserving recipients.

Now, in the latest attempt to coerce banks into modifying delinquent mortgages en masse, the Treasury Department plans to offer cash incentives to lenders who lower interest rates or forgive principal on second liens (so-called "piggyback" loans). According to Bloomberg, the new program aims to simplify the modification process and help struggling borrowers avoid foreclosure...
----
NY Times:
Phoenix Leads the Way Down in Home Prices -- The price of single-family homes fell in February in 20 major metropolitan areas, including Phoenix, where home prices have fallen by half...
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — April 28, 2009

Items of Interest:

FoxNews / Wall Street Journal:
Fed Pushes Citi, BofA to Increase Capital – Regulators have told Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. that the banks may need to raise more capital based on early results of the government's so-called stress tests of lenders, according to people familiar with the situation.

The capital shortfall amounts to billions of dollars at Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., people familiar with the bank said.

Executives at both banks are objecting to the preliminary findings, which emerged from the government's scrutiny of 19 large financial institutions. The two banks are planning to respond with detailed rebuttals, these people said, with Bank of America's appeal expected by Tuesday...

discussion:
D-Day: Throwing More Money Down A Sewer
Michael Shedlock / Mish's Global Economic …: Bank of America $70 Billion Short of Capital After Stress Test
Alan Abelson / Barron's: BofA, Merrill and Shareholders Be Damned!

related:
Bloomberg:
Bank of America’s Lewis Loses Calpers Support, May Need Money -- Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis lost the support of the largest U.S. pension fund as an analyst said the bank needs as much as $70 billion of capital...

The Deal: Bank of America Annual Meeting Preview
----
Bloomberg:
Swine Flu Focus Shifts to U.S. as Hundreds Sicken in New York -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said hundreds of students in his city are sick with suspected cases of swine flu, an indication that 65 cases confirmed in six U.S. states may represent a fraction of those infected...
----
Bloomberg:
UAW Said to Get 55% Chrysler Ownership, Board Seats – The United Auto Workers union’s retiree health-care fund will own 55 percent of Chrysler LLC in exchange for cutting in half the automaker’s $10.6 billion cash obligation to the trust, people familiar with the matter said...
discussion:
Kim Priestap / Wizbang: Obama Pays Back the UAW
David Kiley / BusinessWeek: Has a Chrysler Bankruptcy Been Averted?
Jerry Flint / Forbes: The Car Battle To Watch: Volkswagen vs. Toyota
Editorial / Investor's Business Daily: Ax the UAW's 'Jobs Bank', Save GM
Allan Sloan / Washington Post: How GM and Wagoner Did the Right Thin

related:
Bloomberg:
Fiat-Chrysler Tie-Up Said to Be Planned With or Without Bankruptcy
----
Bloomberg:
Home-Price Drop Moderates in 20 U.S. Cities, May Be Sign of Stabilization -- he decline in home prices in 20 major U.S. cities slowed in February for the first time since 2007, amplifying signals that the market may be stabilizing.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index’s 18.6 percent decrease compares with a record 19 percent decline the month before. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007, and year-over-year records began in 2001...
related:
Minyanville:
Home Ownership: Hazardous to Financial Health? -- It will never be politically viable to say it. It will never be economically possible to do it. Nor would it even be fair to change this rule, especially as we're making up far too many rules as we go along.

But one of the causes of our financial crisis is that cornerstone of the American dream: the tax-deductibility of home-mortgage interest...
----
Bloomberg:
Treasury Announces New Plan to Aid Mortgage Holders -- The Obama administration unveiled a new program to help borrowers with second mortgages stay out of foreclosure, offering cash to servicers, investors and borrowers who modify loan terms.

The goal is to assist homeowners who seek help repaying second liens such as home-equity loans, the Treasury Department said in a statement today from Washington.

When combined with existing efforts to help with first mortgages, today’s announcement means servicers, lenders, investors and borrowers can now receive $12,000 in incentive fees for modifying mortgages, as well as additional reimbursement based on the size of the loan and current payments...
----
The Huffington Post:
Bankruptcy Bill Watered Down, Still Fiercely Opposed By Banks – After weeks of negotiations between Senate Democrats and major players in the financial industry, a compromise bankruptcy reform deal has been reached, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on the Senate floor Monday night. Whether it will pull 60 votes, the number needed to overcome a GOP filibuster, is a question that will be answered later this week when the Senate takes up Durbin's amendment to the House-passed bankruptcy bill...
discussion:
Renae Merle / Washington Post: Mortgage Modification Bill Faces Trouble in Senate
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — April 27, 2009

Items of Interest:

Prof. Willem Buiter / FT.com - maverecon:
The green shoots are weeds growing through the rubble in the ruins of the global economy -- This financial crisis will end. The Great Contraction of the Noughties also will come to an end. But neither the financial crisis nor the contraction of the global real economy are over yet. As regards the financial sector, we are not too far - probably less than a year - from the beginning of the end. The impact of the collapse of real economic activity and of the associated dramatic increase in defaults and insolvencies by non-financial enterprises and households on the loan book of what is left of the banking sector will begin to show up in the banks’ financial reports at the end of the summer and in the autumn. By the end of the year - early 2010 at the latest - we will know which banks will survive and which ones are headed for the scrap heap. With the resolution of the current pervasive uncertainty about the true state of the banks’ balance sheets and about their off-balance-sheet exposures, normal financial intermediation will be able to resume later in 2010...

----
USA Today:
Economists see more job losses, 9.8% unemployment -- Nearly one in 10 U.S. workers will be unemployed before the job market starts to improve, economists in a USA TODAY survey predict. ...
----
BBC:
GM to cut total of 21,000 US jobs -- General Motors is to cut 21,000 jobs in the US this year and phase out its Pontiac brand, as it aims to restructure its business...
----
----
Tim / The Mess That Greenspan Made:
Bank of America dumps Countrywide name-- Here's a shocker - Bank of America deems the "Countrywide" name so tarnished by the events of the last year that it can't bear to keep it hanging around. This report has all the details. Bank of America Corp. has dropped the Countrywide name from its mortgage operations, shedding a 40-year-old brand that had become synonymous with risky lending ...
----
Becker / NY Times:
Geithner, Member and Overseer of Finance Club-- During five years as head of the New York Fed, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner built unusually close relationships with Wall Street executives...
discussion:
Felix Salmon / Economics Roundtable: Picking on Geithner
Ken Houghton / Angry Bear: I Do Not Think "Tool" Means What You Think It Does
Paul Kedrosky: Tim Geithner, Outlook Calendar and the Valenzetti Equation
Naked Capitalism: Are The Knives Coming Out For Geithner?

related:
Brad Delong:
Tim Geithner Is Not a Tool of Wall Street — America’s liberals lay into Obama: The liberal backlash against President Barack Obama has begun with many prominent left-leaning economists in the US attacking the administration’s plans to bail out the banks...

TIME.com:
Tim Geithner Thumbs His Nose at Congress — The Treasury Secretary has learned how to keep secrets from Congress...
----
David Carr / NY Times:
Condé Nast Closes Portfolio Magazine -- Portfolio, a business magazine that Conde Nast began publishing in April 2007 with much fanfare, will cease publication immediately...
discussion:
Jon Fine / BusinessWeek: Why Portfolio Magazine Failed
----

Friday, April 24, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — April 24, 2009

Items of Interest:

HotAir:
Video: Frank in 2005 — Bubble? What bubble? -- Barney Frank argued this week that he had always warned about the excesses of pushing home ownership and had advocated for rentals instead. Our friends at Verum Serum couldn’t believe their ears, because Frank has long been one of the loudest voices supporting the CRA and Fannie/Freddie policies that encouraged irresponsible lending. Here’s Frank making that clear on the floor of Congress on June 27, 2005, in support of the recognition of National Home Ownership Month...

Frank: I think we have an excessive degree of concern right now about home ownership and its role in the economy. Obviously, speculation is never a good thing. But those who argue that housing prices are now at the point of a bubble seem to me to missing a very important point. Unlike previous examples we have had, where substantial excessive inflation of prices later caused some problems, we are talking here about an entity — home ownership, homes — where there is not the degree of leverage we have seen elsewhere. This is not the dot-com situation...

related:
Barney Frank in bed with Fannie MaeNick Gillespie / Reason: Barney Frank's Meatloaf Impersonation When it Comes to Freedom two out of three aint bad... -- Here's Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) talking with Conservative News Service (CNS) who, like the Canadian Mounties, always seem to get their man...

discussion:
James Joyner / Outside The Beltway: Barney Frank: Housing Bubble Nostradamus
----
Francis Cianfrocca / The New Ledger:
What Will the Stress Tests Mean? -- Wouldn’t you like to know just how sick U.S. banks really are? So would Tim Geithner. That’s the point of the somewhat mysterious “stress test” exercise going on now. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to stay mysterious to us ordinary people...

related:
ABC News:
Bank Stress Test Details Revealed- Would U.S. banks survive if the economy took an even deeper downturn? The Federal Reserve shed new light on how it's trying to answer that question in a report issued today on the government's bank "stress tests." ....
discussion:
Connie Madon / BloggingStocks:
Stress test banks will need to raise $1 trillion — Filed under: Market matters , Housing , Federal Reserve US banks will receive preliminary results of their "stress tests" today. From some of the data coming in all is not well in the garden patch. On an overall basis, while banks are showing surface profits to the public, their books are deteriorating in the back room. At the biggest lenders, ...

Noah Rosenblatt / Manhattan Real Estate
Stress Test --> 10.3% Unemployment in Adverse Scenario — A: Just wanted to throw out that the fed released the Bank Stress Test White Paper moments ago. The ADVERSE Scenario, which 'was designed to characterize a recession that is longer and more severe than the consensus expectation', anticipates a peak U3 unemployment rate of 10.3% or so by 4th quarter of 2010; we are at 8.5% currently. The BASELINE ...
----
MarketWatch.com:
Four banks shuttered as credit crunch shakes out -- Four banks in Georgia, Michigan, California and Idaho are shut by regulators, costing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s deposit insurance fund nearly $700 million as the effects of the credit crisis continued rippling throughout the U.S. economy.
----

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — April 23, 2009

Items of Interest:

Stephen Labaton / NY Times:
Obama Pressures Credit Card Companies on Rates-- The administration threw its support behind legislation that would adopt new restrictions on credit cards...

discussion:
Credit Slips / Economics Roundtable: Finally, Some White House Interest in Credit Card Abuses
Michael Fowlkes / BloggingStocks: Obama takes on the credit card companies
Joe Weisenthal / Clusterstock: A Case For Capping Credit Card Rates

related:
Michael D. Shear and Nancy Trejos / Wash Post Business:
Obama Seeks Reform of Credit Card Firms' Practices — President Obama emphasized to credit card executives today that he intends to back efforts to crack down on what lawmakers consider to be deceptive practices, even as the industry criticizes proposed legislation in the House of Representatives as dangerous to the nation's hopes for an economic recovery...

ABC News:
Obama: End 'Abusive' Credit Card Lending — Both Trish McComas, 69, of Indianapolis and Daniel Doucette, 54, of suburban Cincinnati, have recently seen their credit card interest rates spike above 20 percent -- 29.4 percent for McComas and 23.9 percent for Doucette -- even though both say they're always on time with their payments...
----
New York Times:
U.S. Is Said to Prepare Filing for Chrysler Bankruptcy — The Treasury Department is preparing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for Chrysler that could come as soon as next week, people with direct knowledge of the action said Thursday....
discussion:
Kim Priestap / Wizbang: Creditors can Force GM and Chrysler into Bankruptcy
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Elizabeth Harrow / BloggingStocks:
Was Bank of America's CEO intimidated by the feds? — An outspoken group of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) shareholders has been calling for CEO Kenneth Lewis's head lately, with investors none too pleased by the bank's near-disastrous acquisition of Merrill Lynch. However, testimony is hitting Wall Street today that ..
related:
Brian Wingfield / Forbes: Did Ben Bernanke Bully Bank of America?
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — April 22, 2009

Items of Interest:

David Leohardt / New York Times:
For Housing Crisis, the End Probably Isn’t Near -- The closest thing to a real estate crystal ball in the last few years has been the house auctions that are regularly held around the country.

In 2006 and early 2007, the official housing statistics were still showing that house prices were holding up. But that was largely because so many sellers were refusing to sell. The auctions, made up mostly of foreclosed homes, showed the truth: house values were starting to plummet in many places.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to go to an auction at a hotel ballroom in Washington — and to study the results of several others elsewhere — with an eye to figuring out whether prices may now be close to bottoming out...

discussion:
An bearin bui / House Price Crash News Blog: NY Times: For Housing Crisis, the End Probably Isn't Near
Joey / Curbed: Scary Graph Alert: David Leonhardt has been on Charlie..

related:
Mark Perry / Carpe Diem: Did The Housing Market Bottom In Late 2008?
Barry Ritholtz /The Big Picture: Delinquencies Rising At Fannie & Freddie
CNBC Realty Check: California Foreclosures Are Back With A Vengeance
James Saft / Financial Times: An emerging opportunity in U.S. housing
----
David Streitfeld / New York Times:
An Effort to Save Flint, Mich., by Shrinking It-- Civic leaders advocate demolishing entire blocks to concentrate on healthier ones...
discussion:
Minyanville: Razing the American City?
----
Sam Roberts / New York Times:
As Housing Market Dips, More in U.S. Are Staying Put — Fewer Americans moved in 2008 than in any year since 1962, according to census data released Wednesday, and immigration from overseas was the lowest in more than a decade. — The Census Bureau reported that the annual rate …
----
Jim Lindgren / The Volokh Conspiracy:
High Unemployment States Have High Income Taxes or High Unionization or Both. — As the nation considers increasing marginal tax rates and facilitating greater union membership, I thought it might make sense to look at the states with the highest and lowest unemployment rates to see if there might be any relevant patterns...
discussion:
Matt Welch / Reason:
----
King Barack Obama is finding GM is a royal debacleWall Street Journal:
GM Is Becoming a Royal Debacle -- It's good to be the king -- until you start tripping over your own robe.

So King Barack the Mild is finding as he tries to dictate the terms of what amounts to an out-of-court bankruptcy for Chrysler and GM. He wants Chrysler's secured lenders to give up their right to nearly full recovery in a bankruptcy in return for 15 cents on the dollar. They'd be crazy to do so, of course, except that these banks also happen to be beholden to the administration for TARP money...

Kingly prerogative also conflicts with kingly prerogative in the case of GM's unsecured creditors, who are the sticking point in agreeing to a turnaround plan by the drop-dead date of June 1. His retainer, Steven Rattner, has delivered word that the king's pleasure is that these unsecured creditors give up 100% of their claims in return for GM stock...
discussion:
Henry Blodget / The Huffington Post: King Obama Will See You Now...

related:
Bloomberg:
GM Said to Idle 15 Assembly Plants in May-July Period -- General Motors Corp., contending with a 49 percent decline in U.S. sales this year, will idle 15 North American assembly plants for at least a week from mid-May through July, a person familiar with the plans said...
----
New York Times:
Executive at Freddie Mac Is Found Dead -- The acting chief financial officer of the troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac was found dead Wednesday morning at his home in Northern Virginia, the police said.

The executive, David B. Kellermann, who had been with Freddie Mac for 16 years, apparently committed suicide by hanging himself, according to people with knowledge of the investigation...
related:
Joe Weisenthal / Clusterstock: Freddie Mac CFO Commits Suicide
----
Newt Gingrich / Human Events:
Will The Tea Parties Matter? -- The elite media tried to ignore us. The government labeled us “extremists.”

But on April 15, more than one million Americans came together, spontaneously, to defend fairness and freedom....
discussion:
Michelle Malkin: Tea Party protesters get results in Rhode Island
----
Alexander Mooney / CNN:
Cheney hits Obama again: ‘Devastating’ economic policies — President Barack Obama's expansion of the federal government into the financial sector is likely to have “devastating” effects in the long term, former Vice President Dick Cheney said in his latest salvo directed at the new White House administration...
discussion:
Dave / Political Machine: Dick Cheney Hits Obama Again
Melissa McEwan / Shakesville: What part of STFU do you not understand, sir?
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Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

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