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Daily Digest - Jan 1

Thursday, January 1, 2009, 12:24 PM
  • Americans Under 70 May Find 2008 Was Their Least Favorite Year
  • US stocks suffer worst year since Great Depression
  • Piggy banks fly off shelves in freshly frugal U.S.
  • The Wave of the Future?
  • Chief justice: Inflation outpacing pay for judges
  • Deregulator Looks Back, Unswayed
  • Mortgage 'Cram-Downs' Loom as Foreclosures Mount
  • Mortgage rates hit fresh 37-year low
  • Stop the Presses...
  • Government aid could save U.S. newspapers, spark debate 

Economy 

Americans Under 70 May Find 2008 Was Their Least Favorite Year 

Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) -- This wasn't just a bad year for the economy. By some measures, it was the worst year any American under age 70 has ever seen. 

The loss of jobs in the U.S. may be the biggest since the end of World War II. This year's declines in stock and home prices haven't been exceeded since the Great Depression. The slump in holiday spending may set a record; foreclosures already have. Credit markets seized, halting the longest expansion in consumer purchases.

Europe and Japan also sank as U.S. demand faltered, marking the first simultaneous recessions since the Second World War ended. High-flying emerging economies, such as China and India, weren't immune, signaling the world economy is just as interconnected in bad times as in good.

"It was the year we wish it wasn't," said Harvard University professor Kenneth Rogoff, a former International Monetary Fund chief economist. "The global scale and magnitude" of the financial crisis and recession "is much greater than those we've seen before."

US stocks suffer worst year since Great Depression 

The worst annual performance for Wall Street stocks since the Great Depression ended with a modest rally on the final day of trading as the Federal Reserve pushed ahead with its plan to buy mortgage-backed securities. 

The central bank's plan to buy up to $500bn of mortgage bonds by the middle of 2009 helped spur a 1.4 per cent gain on the day for the S&P, which finished 2008 at 903.25.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite Index added 1.3 per cent to 8,776.39 and 1.7 per cent to 1,577.03, respectively. Volumes were thin as many traders remained away from their desks ahead of the New Year holiday.

For the year, the S&P 500 dropped 38.5 per cent, marking its worst run since a marginally higher drop of 38.6 per cent in 1937. The Dow lost 33.8 per cent, its worst annual decline since the index fell 52.7 per cent in 1931. 

Piggy banks fly off shelves in freshly frugal U.S. 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Recession-wary Americans embraced the virtues of thrift this Christmas, with stores reporting a clear rise in the popularity of piggy banks. 

"We have been selling coin banks really well," said Laura Kellner at Kikkerland Design Inc. in New York City, whose stylish chrome pig is priced at $31.

The Wave of the Future?  

A rash of bank robberies in New York has the city's police commissioner worried that criminals have turned banks into "virtual cash machines" and some wondering whether tough economic times are fueling the trend. 

On Monday alone, robbers targeted five banks in the Big Apple, some striking in broad daylight and near famous landmarks.

Chief justice: Inflation outpacing pay for judges  

WASHINGTON (AP) - Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday that Congress should be as generous to judges as it already has been to itself, by approving an inflation-related increase in their pay. "I must renew the judiciary's modest petition: Simply provide cost-of-living increases that have been unfairly denied," Roberts said in his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary. 

Alone among federal employees, judges will not receive a cost-of-living allowance in 2009. Members of Congress are getting a 2.8 percent boost, worth $4,700. But they refused before Christmas to give an identical increase to judges.

Federal trial judges are paid $169,300 a year. Appellate judges make more, ranging up to Roberts' salary of $217,400. The salaries pale in comparison to what top lawyers earn in private practice. 

Deregulator Looks Back, Unswayed 

...He could be impolitic. Over the years, he has urged that food stamps be cut because "all our poor people are fat," said it was hard for him "to feel sorry" for Social Security recipients and, as the economy soured last summer, called America "a nation of whiners." 

President Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November 1999. Senator Gramm, second from left, proudly declared it "a deregulatory bill," and added, "We have learned government is not the answer."

His economic views - and seat on the Senate banking committee - quickly won him support from the nation's major financial institutions. From 1989 to 2002, federal records show, he was the top recipient of campaign contributions from commercial banks and in the top five for donations from Wall Street. He and his staff often appeared at industry-sponsored speaking events around the country. 

Mortgage 'Cram-Downs' Loom as Foreclosures Mount 

Mortgage lenders who wake up Thursday with a New Year's hangover are likely to face another headache soon: The effort to give bankruptcy judges the power to rewrite mortgages is gaining steam. 

The banking industry hoped the mortgage "cram-down" measure died when Congress removed it from the $700 billion bailout bill that passed in October. But it has been gathering momentum in Democrat-controlled Washington, as evidence emerges that current voluntary foreclosure-prevention programs are falling short.

In a cram-down, a judge modifies a loan, often reducing principal so a borrower can afford it. Lenders hate it because they have to absorb ... 

Mortgage rates hit fresh 37-year low 

Housing won't budge 

Unfortunately, the low interest rates have not spurred much of an increase in the number of new loans made to home buyers. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, nearly 83% of all mortgage applications recorded last week were to refinance existing loans rather than to buy a home, indicating that low interest rates have so far failed to free up the frozen housing market.  

Jim Cramer: Another Guy with Steady Returns? 

Surprisingly Jim is pretty open in Confessions of a Street Addict about his "legal" ways of front-running at his hedge fund. He basically had access to analysts and was able to get them to upgrade and downgrade stocks by feeding them info. after he had taken a position. His "edge" was his access to analysts and it had nothing to do with fundamental analysis or any of the other garbage he talks about on his show. He also talks about how his returns at GS were mediocre (8-10%) until his wife taught him how to get the "edge".  

Stop the Presses... 

The Internet has overtaken newspapers as a source of national and international news. That's the axiomatic conclusion of a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press that proves irrevocably what anyone with even a passing interest in the news business has known for some time now. 

Government aid could save U.S. newspapers, spark debate 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro sees saving the local newspaper as his duty. But others think he and his colleagues are setting a worrisome precedent for government involvement in the U.S. press. 

Nicastro represents Connecticut's 79th assembly district, which includes Bristol, a city of about 61,000 people outside Hartford, the state capital. Its paper, The Bristol Press, may fold within days, along with The Herald in nearby New Britain.

That is because publisher Journal Register, in danger of being crushed under hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, says it cannot afford to keep them open anymore.

Nicastro and fellow legislators want the papers to survive, and petitioned the state government to do something about it. "The media is a vitally important part of America," he said, particularly local papers that cover news ignored by big papers and television and radio stations.

To some experts, that sounds like a bailout, a word that resurfaced this year after the U.S. government agreed to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the automobile and financial sectors.

Relying on government help raises ethical questions for the press, whose traditional role has been to operate free from government influence as it tries to hold politicians accountable to the people who elected them. Even some publishers desperate for help are wary of this route.

Providing government support can muddy that mission, said Paul Janensch, a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and a former reporter and editor.

"You can't expect a watchdog to bite the hand that feeds it," he said.

The state's Department of Economic and Community Development is offering tax breaks, training funds, financing opportunities and other incentives for publishers, but not cash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 Comments

Davos's picture
Davos
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2008
Posts: 3620
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Happy New Years!

_45338218_sydney_afp466.jpg

PS Yesterday on one of the comments I slammed academia. I hate to stereotype like that. In the past I taught High School Computer Science.  I want to clarify my slamm. I am convinced that our school systems, though well intended, create a lot of problems. To wit:

 

Before entering politics in the 1970s, he [Gramm] taught at Texas A & M University. He studied the Great Depression, producing research rejecting the conventional wisdom that suicides surged after the market crashed. He examined financial panics of the 19th century, concluding that policy makers and economists had repeatedly misread events to justify burdensome regulation.

 

(From the artical on deregulation above). Seems to me the more I see students of the Great Depression turned professors (Bernanke/Gramm) turned politics the more convinced I am of where we will soon wind up.

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
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Posts: 1499
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

On a lighter note:

Statue stolen from Madoff found with message

http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/01/01/madoff.statue/index.html

joemanc's picture
joemanc
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 16 2008
Posts: 834
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1
Davos wrote:

Chief justice: Inflation outpacing pay for judges

WASHINGTON (AP) - Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday that Congress should be as generous to judges as it already has been to itself, by approving an inflation-related increase in their pay. "I must renew the judiciary's modest petition: Simply provide cost-of-living increases that have been unfairly denied," Roberts said in his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary.

Alone among federal employees, judges will not receive a cost-of-living allowance in 2009. Members of Congress are getting a 2.8 percent boost, worth $4,700. But they refused before Christmas to give an identical increase to judges.

Federal trial judges are paid $169,300 a year. Appellate judges make more, ranging up to Roberts' salary of $217,400. The salaries pale in comparison to what top lawyers earn in private practice

 

Perhaps Messr. Roberts needs a bigger abode? 

Banker Buys $37 Million Apartment After Getting $25 Million Buyout -- for Doing Virtually Nothing

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0%2C2933%2C473967%2C00.html 

Hammerhead's picture
Hammerhead
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Posts: 8
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Deregulator Looks Back, Unswayed 

...He could be impolitic. Over the years, he has urged that food stamps be cut because "all our poor people are fat," said it was hard for him "to feel sorry" for Social Security recipients and, as the economy soured last summer, called America "a nation of whiners." 

President Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November 1999. Senator Gramm, second from left, proudly declared it "a deregulatory bill," and added, "We have learned government is not the answer."

His economic views - and seat on the Senate banking committee - quickly won him support from the nation's major financial institutions. From 1989 to 2002, federal records show, he was the top recipient of campaign contributions from commercial banks and in the top five for donations from Wall Street. He and his staff often appeared at industry-sponsored speaking events around the country.

[Ed. note:  Removed inappropriately strong language by Hammerhead basically asserting that the New York Times is a left-wing political catspaw, potential fabricator of stories, and utterly unreliable news source.]

Davos's picture
Davos
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Hello Hammerhead:

You might want to do your own research before coming to that conclusion.

If you don't like the times article then perhaps you want to Google:

 

  • Gramm +Enron
  • Gramm's Wife +Salary +Enron
  • Gramm +Passage of the Commodities Futures Modernization Act
Oh, and if you want something to puke about maybe you should watch "The Smartest Guys in the Room," pay close attention to the old folks on a fixed income who died as the result of the Enron shenanigans that came into place as the result of all this.
 
Take care 
 
PS Here are some other Media Outlets / Papers that reported the same thing as the my old hometown paper
 
 
 
 

 

Hammerhead's picture
Hammerhead
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Posts: 8
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

"Government aid could save U.S. newspapers, spark debate" Well here you go. This story ties in rather tidey with the point I was making in my last post.That the politicians are concerned about a healthy free press because its vital to a free country. What a crock. We have a new REAL free press called the internet. Its a place where people aren't hired or under pressure of being fired because their writings are not politically correct or they are not of the proper political persuation. (Get your mind right, boy) Replace the word "news paper" and "media" in that story for the word "church" (the last I looked, freedom of religion was also one of the fundemental rights guaranteed under the Constitution) and see how far from reality it sounds. It sheds a bright light on the lie that they are trying to protect our freedom. Preventing political outlets like the NY Times from going under will be a waste of time and money. No one will read them anyway. When that outlet is finally lost to them, along with the continued loses for the likes of CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, you will see a serious move to "regulate" the internet.

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
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Posts: 1499
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Jack Ohman political cartoon

No further comment needed, eh?

Hammerhead's picture
Hammerhead
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 9 2008
Posts: 8
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1
Davos wrote:

Hello Hammerhead:

You might want to do your own research before coming to that conclusion.

If you don't like the times article then perhaps you want to Google:

  • Gramm +Enron
  • Gramm's Wife +Salary +Enron
  • Gramm +Passage of the Commodities Futures Modernization Act
Oh, and if you want something to puke about maybe you should watch "The Smartest Guys in the Room," pay close attention to the old folks on a fixed income who died as the result of the Enron shenanigans that came into place as the result of all this.
Take care 
PS Here are some other Media Outlets / Papers that reported the same thing as the my old hometown paper

What about all the old folks that are going to die as a result of the Social Security shenanigans? When that Ponzi scheme comes crashing down it will make Enron look like a party. Why are you defending a story that not only ignores the Dems complicity in all of this but tries to make them look like heros? Just as you ignored it when I made a point of it in my post?

When you swear an oath in court its to tell the truth, THE WHOLE TRUTH, and nothing but the truth. Because a half truth is a manipulation of the truth. And manipulating the truth is lying.

Mike Pilat's picture
Mike Pilat
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Posts: 929
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Touching on Hammerhead's concerns about regulating the internet...I've heard that Australia is now doing that with different levels for various content. I believe Great Britain and Canada are "considering" similar programs as well...for our "protection", of course.

Internet regulation would be perhaps one of the most significant blows to our own ability to sustain ourselves. Truly, any threat to freedom of speech on the net should be taken very seriously, particularly by members on this forum.

Of course the regulation would be framed nicely and sugar coated "for the children" but it would likely further empower the federal government and the massive mainstream media (entertainment) companies. A heavily regulated internet would (I dare say) serve to stiffle freedom of thought as people would be limited in their collaboration and the education that the internet can bring.

Hammerhead's picture
Hammerhead
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Posts: 8
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1
Hammerhead wrote:

Deregulator Looks Back, Unswayed 

...He could be impolitic. Over the years, he has urged that food stamps be cut because "all our poor people are fat," said it was hard for him "to feel sorry" for Social Security recipients and, as the economy soured last summer, called America "a nation of whiners." 

President Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November 1999. Senator Gramm, second from left, proudly declared it "a deregulatory bill," and added, "We have learned government is not the answer."

His economic views - and seat on the Senate banking committee - quickly won him support from the nation's major financial institutions. From 1989 to 2002, federal records show, he was the top recipient of campaign contributions from commercial banks and in the top five for donations from Wall Street. He and his staff often appeared at industry-sponsored speaking events around the country.

[Ed. note:  Removed inappropriately strong language by Hammerhead basically asserting that the New York Times is a left-wing political catspaw, potential fabricator of stories, and utterly unreliable news source.]

Good oldfashioned censorship.

Get your mind right, boy.

[Ed. note:  Hammerhead, I am warning you: my patience wears thin.  As I said in my message to you, this website preferrentially protects neither conservative nor liberal political statements, and we have no desire to shield the New York Times from criticism more or less than any other newspaper.  Posts discussing the reliability of a particular source of information are certainly in order, especially when that source is used by this website as a reference.  Such posts are welcome.  However when you post you must moderate your tone.  Any language which is unduly inflammatory, or which is calculated to lead to an emotional argument rather than an intelligent discussion is simply unproductive and is not welcome.  -Jason, moderator]

dickey45's picture
dickey45
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Posts: 77
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

I've thought for a very long time that people in power absolutely MUST control the internet in order to control the masses.  It is only a matter of time.

 

-Kathy

Davos's picture
Davos
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Posts: 3620
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Hello Hammerhead:

I'm not a Democrat, or a Republican, and I didn't vote for either and I have absolutly no political preference between the two. I voted for a guy I knew wouldn't win and was party to neither of our only real "choices" - out of principle.

I didn't do a post on the internet or papers.

The papers losing readership article was put up there to show how insane it is to use tax payer money for something that isn't being read and or used. To me, that is like giving a car company money to keep it open when there are no buyers.

I'm not here to post articles on censorship, how blogs need to register, how countries filter blogs under all sorts of auspices. I think you and others raise some good merits about this though, but truthfully, perhaps it deserves its own thread?

I post articles on the three E's, if you don't like the source, trust me, I'm not forcing you to read it and your free to email me another source or of course post it here.

Take care 

Mike Pilat's picture
Mike Pilat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
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Posts: 929
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

I suspect we voted in a similar manner, Davos. Political parties are completely irrelevant. My (our??) candidate of course didn't win, but someday I would like to be able to tell my grandson that I was not a participant in the Democrat / Republican bubble of 2008, but rather, refused to compromise my principles.

Mike

Davos's picture
Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Hello Mike: Our. And I bet you enjoy Bodos as much as I do, take care, Dave

Mike Pilat's picture
Mike Pilat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
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Posts: 929
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Ok Davos, I've heard the Bodos references a few times. It only exists in one place...what's your connection to Hooville if you don't mind my asking?

I graduated in 2007.

Davos's picture
Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Live here :), 2nd only to the C&O

Mike Pilat's picture
Mike Pilat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 929
Re: Daily Digest - Jan 1

Sadly, I've never been. As a student, the less-than-gourmet Corner was my stomping ground...I miss the area greatly though. It's a wonderful place to live.

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