Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday roundup (02-25-10)

Quote of the Day:

"Spain is the real test case for the euro. If Spain is in deep trouble, it will be difficult to hold the euro together...and my own view is that Spain is in deep trouble." -- Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. (The Wall Street Journal)

Eurozone Economic Sentiment Falls in February (The Associated Press) (Reuters)

Bernanke Responds to Greek Debt Crisis (PBSNewsHour)

Germany debt chief hints at Greek rescue: The head of Germany's debt agency has warned that Greek withdrawal from the euro would have calamitous effects and destroy Europe's monetary union, a prospect that leaves Berlin with little choice other backing an EU rescue plan. (The Telegraph)

Greek official: EU inspectors skeptical on deficit cuts (Reuters)

Now Greece heads for junk status as crisis intensifies: EU inspectors doubt that Athens will be able to meet targets to cut its deficit (The Independent)

Gartman: Here Are The Countries Who Are Really Screwed If Greece Defaults (The Business Insider)

Spain may test EU's currency (UPI)

The Great British Krona -- "The business investment data for the fourth quarter of 2009 are truly dire." (Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight) Meanwhile, "The UK Pound is on the brink of a collapse which will herald a downturn worse than 2008/9, it could well happen within weeks and the British government is powerless to prevent it," according to a summary of comments by billionaire financier Jim Rogers. (FT Alphaville)

Mervyn King: Quantitative easing may have to restart; Bank of England governor tells MPs scheme could be extended if economy deteriorates; Fears over the eurozone, the UK's major trading partner, causing 'particular concern' (The Guardian)

Bank's King Warns Of Bigger Crisis: Failure to act now on sweeping banking reform could pave the way for an "even bigger" financial crisis in the future, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said on Thursday. (Reuters)

Mervyn King: 'We live in a fool's paradise' (The Independent)

Iceland Walks Out of Depositor Accord Talks With U.K., Dutch (Bloomberg)

Japan Deflation Persists as Consumer Prices Fall 1.3% -- "Japan’s consumer prices fell for a 12th month in January, putting renewed pressure on policy makers to eradicate deflation that hampers the recovery." (Bloomberg)

Japanese Child Poverty on the Rise: Child poverty in Japan is increasing at a surprising rate. That is the assessment from a senior government researcher studying the country's economic decline. Aya Abe says 15 percent of Japanese children live in poverty and the government is not doing enough to help them. (The Voice of America)

Davie Yards [Canada's largest shipbuilder] to lay off 1,590 (CBC)

Economists surprised as new-home sales fall to lowest level in nearly 50 years (The Washington Post)

20 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy Is Dying And Is Simply Not Going To Recover (The Business Insider)

Tales of the Unexpected? (Financial Armageddon)

The Many Myths of Warren Buffett (The Pratmatic Capitalist)

Is it a recovery yet? (Weekly report, 02-25-10)

According to an analyst quoted here, a recovery would be indicated by initial jobless claims below 500,000.


"... initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 22,000 to 496,000 last week, the Labor Department said. Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall to 455,000.

"'We can hope this is a temporary setback but it certainly looks as though in the first quarter...the economy is retrenching,' said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York." (Reuters)

In fact, the US economy is close to losing recovery status. If the claims had been higher by 4,000 this week, we would have slipped back into recession.

And this news comes on the heels of a report that "A blizzard of bad data from France, Germany, and Italy have raised concerns that Europe's fragile recovery is stalling already, with mounting risks of a double-dip recession this year." (The Telegraph)

NOTE: We have been in this technical recovery since Nov. 25, 2009.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday roundup (02-24-10)

Quote of the Day:

"The Obama administration has been obscuring the true cost of the GSEs [government sponsored entities, e.g., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] to taxpayers by not including them on the federal budget. When you hide your debts, it just leads to a bigger day of financial reckoning down the road. Greece is facing that as we speak. The United States is certainly facing that." -- Rep. Spencer Bachus (R) of Alabama. (Bloomberg)

Europe at risk of double-dip recession: A blizzard of bad data from France, Germany, and Italy have raised concerns that Europe's fragile recovery is stalling already, with mounting risks of a double-dip recession this year. (The Telegraph)

S&P May Downgrade Greece Within Month on Budget Risks (Bloomberg)

Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide (The New York Times)

Now Even Germany Is Breaching The Euro Zone Deficit Limits (The Business Insider)

Germany: No need so far to adjust debt for Greece (Reuters)

Germany quietly gains from euro zone crisis (Reuters)

Japan: Past the Point of No Return by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Investment Management Associates)

New home sales hit record low (Reuters) (Marketwatch)

Freddie Mac losses mount, warns of foreclosures (The Associated Press) (Calculated Risk blog)

U.S. economy is a shambles, with no improvement in sight: President Obama's claim that a second depression isn't possible doesn't square with the relevant numbers (The Vancouver Sun)

Deflation Is Coming and There's Nothing Bernanke Can Do About It, Says Robert Prechter (Yahoo! Tech Ticker)

15 Reasons Why B.O. Is Dead Wrong To Claim He Saved Us From A Second Great Depression (CF Economics blog)

The doomsday cycle by Peter Boone and Simon Johnson (Vox)

Ill. Gov. Quinn considers $2B in budget cuts -- "Even then, Illinois would end the 2011 fiscal year with an $11.5 billion deficit." (The Washington Post)

Audit: Birmingham [Alabama] faces $77M budget deficit (The Birmingham Business Journal)

'Dire' NY MTA finances may mean another fare hike (Reuters)

Atlanta pension peril is dire and getting worse (Creative Loafing blog)

Post office [in Sweden and Denmark] considers cutting 2,000 staff -- after it reported "a net loss of 696 million kronor ($96 million) for the fourth quarter 2009" (The

McCann: 1,500 layoffs if [NJ Gov. Chris] Christie cuts school aid (Hudson Reporter)

Aer Lingus may cut 1,100 jobs (The Irish Times)

How to Find Out if Your Bank Is Healthy (The New York Times blogs)

Sick banks may mean feeble recovery (CNN)

Make it Rain - Bank of America (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Make it Rain - Bank of America
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Why Bank Of America Fired Me -- the video featured in the report above. (Youtube)

Junk Debt ‘Wall’ to Trigger U.S. Defaults, Bank of America Says (Bloomberg)

Alan Greenspan was DY-NO-MITE! (The Mess That Greenspan Made)

“The Media-Lobbying Complex”: Investigation Exposes Undisclosed Corporate Ties of Network Political Pundits: A four-month investigation into the covert corporate influence on cable news found that since 2007 at least seventy-five registered lobbyists, public relations representatives and corporate officials have repeatedly appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Network with no disclosure that they are paid by corporate interests. We speak to journalist Sebastian Jones, who carried out the investigation for The Nation magazine. (Democracy Now) (The Nation)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday roundup (02-23-10)

Quotes of the Day:

"Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the financial crisis was 'by far' the worst in history and called the recovery from the global recession 'extremely unbalanced.'

"The world economy has undergone 'by far the greatest financial crisis globally ever,' Greenspan said today in a speech to the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington.

"Greenspan said that while the economy was in worse shape in the Great Depression, the recent financial crisis was potentially more harmful than that in the 1930s because 'never had short-term credit literally withdrawn.'" -- Bloomberg (

"The number of 'problem' U.S. banks jumped 27 percent during the fourth quarter of 2009 to 702, the highest level since 1993 and a sign that the industry's recovery remains uneven, regulators reported on Tuesday." -- Reuters (Reuters)

"The recent string of debt crises in Southern Europe has revealed the true financial frailty of the euro area economy. In fact, the economic snapshot of the eurozone looks very disturbing." -- " Chen Zhao, managing editor, BCA Research Inc. (The National Post)

Greenspan: Worst Financial Crisis EVER, INCLUDING the Great Depression (Washington's Blog)

Greenspan Bemoans Crisis, but Who Is to Blame? (The New York Times blogs)

[Harvard Prof. Niall] Ferguson: We're One Downgrade Away From The End Of American Empire (The Business Insider) (Financial Armageddon)

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Falls More Than Forecast -- "declined to 46 ... from a revised 56.5 in January ... the lowest level since April 2009" (Bloomberg) "The increasing pessimism is a big blow to hopes that consumer spending will power an economic recovery." (The Associated Press)

U.S. consumer confidence plunges: Americans more pessimistic about economic recovery (Marketwatch)

Headline of the Day: “Lending Falls at Epic Pace” -- "U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942 at the end of last year," says the Wall Street Journal (The Big Picture blog)

FDIC: Number of troubled banks rises to 702: The FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund reported a $20.9 billion loss as of Dec. 31 (Marketwatch) (Calculated Risk blog)

At F.D.I.C. , Bracing for a Wave of Failures (The New York Times)

Nearly One in Four Borrowers Underwater on Mortgage (The Wall Street Journal blogs) Quoting First American CoreLogic's report: "Nevada ... had the highest percentage negative equity with 70 percent of all of its mortgaged properties underwater" (Calculated Risk blog) (The wages of gambling is debt?)

Case-Shiller: housing double dip threat as only 4 of 20 markets rise (Credit Writedowns blog)

Commercial Mortgage Default Rate More Than Doubles (Bloomberg)

Final Quarter of 2009 Brought Still More Declines in State Tax Revenue (The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government)

Has the Golden State gone bust? (San Francisco Chronicle)

Tracy [CA] Residents Now Have To Pay For 911 Calls -- $48 a year flat fee or $300 for a one-time call. (CBS13)

Georgia May Cut 5000 Jobs -- "Georgia's budget is more than one billion dollars short" (WSB News)

Carrefour Belgium [Europe's largest and the world's No. 2 retailer] to cut [1,672] jobs, close stores - union (Reuters)

NYC transit agency to cut more than 1,000 jobs (The Associated Press)

Jackson Health System to cut 900 jobs (The Miami Herald)

ABC News to Cut Hundreds of Staff [300-400] -- "among the steepest ever made at a network news division." (The New York Times)

Nearly 20% of US Workers Underemployed in Jan (Reuters)

US unemployment and the Technicolor depression: Unlike the black and white depressions that have preceded it, the current US depression – and it is a depression if unemployment is measured the same way it was in during the 1930s – this one is Technicolor. (The Christian Science Monitor)

‘Great Recession’ Gets Recognition as Entry in AP Stylebook (Bloomberg)

Q+A-Germany's debate on aid for debt-stricken Greece (Reuters)

Fitch Downgrades Credit Ratings of Four Largest Greek Lenders (Bloomberg)

European banks face showdown over [Euro] 1 trillion of debt: European banks need to roll over [Euro] 1 trillion (£877bn) of debt over the next two years at a much higher cost and in direct competition with hungry sovereign states, according to a report by Morgan Stanley. (The Telegraph)

Harvard’s Rogoff Sees Sovereign Defaults, ‘Painful’ Austerity (Bloomberg)

Japan govt repeats deflation warning, pressure on BOJ (Reuters)

Bloomberg: Deflation Risks Persist [in the US] (Seeking Alpha blog)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday roundup (02-22-10)

Quotes of the Day:

"[Sen. John] McCain defended his vote for TARP, saying 'Something had to be done because the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse.'" (CBSNews) However, was TARP enough? [Jan. 30, 2010]: "The government's response to the financial meltdown has made it more likely the United States will face a deeper crisis in the future, an independent watchdog at the Treasury Department [Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for TARP] warned." (The Huffington Post)

"The [mortgage] industry's own figures attest to the fact that the damage from the bad lending that's brought down the economy continues virtually unchecked." -- Michael Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending. (Mortgage Broker

Record number of US real estate loans overdue or in foreclosure, latest data shows (Property Wire)

US Sen Dodd urges action on commercial real estate (Reuters)

Commercial Real Estate Apocalypse in 2011-2012 (Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis blog)

Banks buy time restructuring loans, for the moment: U.S. lenders have more than $40 billion of such loans deemed performing assets (Marketwatch)

Major Banks Accused of Accepting Kickbacks: Citigroup (NYSE: C), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) (American Banking News)

Credit Card Nation: Addicted to Debt: Where America Stands: Americans Charge Nearly $2 Trillion in Purchases Annually (CBSNews)

Japanese Government Is Essentially Bankrupt (Seeking Alpha blog)

Japan still on deflation watch: Another lost decade, or lost in translation? (Marketwatch)

Hatoyama, Kan Escalate Pressure on BOJ to Combat Deflation (Bloomberg)

Executives Oblivious As The U.K. Teeters Towards A Japanese Deflation Disaster (The Business Insider) Transitions: Insights into the Post Recession Business Environment (Scribd)

U.K. Economy Faces ‘Grave Stage’ on Deflation Risk, [former Treasury adviser Roger] Bootle Says (Bloomberg)

More debt than ever: the consequences: Things are getting worse and worse for the UK's debt, but how has this happened and what does it mean? (MSN Money UK)

CrossTalk: Greek Euro Disease: CrossTalks Peter Lavelle asks his guests where the Eurozone is going. Greece lied to get into Eurozone and Brussels knew this. As Greece goes, so does the Euro and the EU? The end of the global financial crisis is far from over. (Russia Today)

Europe Plans $34 Billion Greek Bailout: Despite Greek assurances that its ballooning budget deficit is under control, European leaders are mulling a multi-billion bailout for the indebted country (

Euro Worst to Come as Greece Hammerlocks ECB on Rates (Bloomberg)

Greece may have had swaps with fifteen banks (Credit Writedowns blog)

Greece and the welfare state in ruins (The Washington Post)

Debt deals haunt Europe (The Wall Street Journal)

Greece not alone in exploiting EU accounting flaws (Reuters)

Beijing is not Washington’s banker (Credit Writedowns blog)

Muni Defaults May Rise Amid ‘Unprecedented Stress’ on Finances (Bloomberg)

New York State Budget Gap May Grow 43% to $2 Billion (Bloomberg)

Continental Airlines cutting 600 call center jobs as more customers book online (The Associated Press)

Dream World vs. Ugly Reality (Financial Armageddon blog)

Wealth Disparities in U.S. Approaching 1920s Levels (Seeking Alpha blog)

Armageddon by Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D. (Money and Markets)

Rail line shutdown looming in northern Maine -- "The collapse of the nation's housing market is being blamed" (WCSH6)

Elizabeth Warren On HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday roundup (02-21-10)

Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs (The New York Times)

Report: Casinos lost money for second time in history (The Las Vegas Sun) (The Reno Gazette-Journal)

Domino theory: Assessing the risk that Greece’s woes herald something far worse (The Economist)

Until It's Too Late -- "Throughout the financial crisis, policymakers have focused on keeping things afloat until the storm passes. ... But what happens if all those 'untils' turn out to be wide of the mark?" (Financial Armageddon)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday roundup (02-20-10)

Quote of the Day:

"In a serious financial crisis, banks find that the declining market value of many of their assets leaves them short of capital. They cannot raise much more capital during the crisis, so, in order to restore capital adequacy, they stop making new loans and call in their outstanding loans, thereby throwing the entire economy – if not the entire global economy – into a tailspin." -- Robert Shiller, a Professor of Economics at Yale and chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC. (Project Syndicate)

German Finance Minister: No Concrete Plan to Aid Greece (Calculated Risk blog)

U.K. Retail Sales Drop Twice as Much as Forecast (Bloomberg)

Head Of Greek Debt Office Replaced By Former Goldman Investment Banker (Zero Hedge) (The Times of London)

Bad in the Broadest Sense (Financial Armageddon)

Governors brace for more economic turmoil: With states still reeling from recession, governors try to chart the tough road ahead -- "'The worst probably is yet to come,' warned Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vt., chairman of the National Governors Association." (The Associated Press)

Slump in Tax Revenue Creates State of Siege (The Wall Street Journal)

Bleak Economy Pushing Health Insurers to Raise Rates, Analysts Say (The New York Times)

Record numbers receive food stamps as USDA turns blind eye to recipients’ finances (The Daily Caller of Washington DC)

NY lists state parks, historic sites set to close -- "More than a third of state parks and nearly a half of historic sites" (The Associated Press)

Municipalities [in NJ] turn to layoffs to reduce massive deficits (The Press of Atlantic City)

U.S. May Face Housing Shortage in 2011: Economist Says, Foreclosures Notwithstanding, Housing Inventory Isn't Keeping Up With Population Growth (

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday roundup (02-19-10)

Economic Momentum May Have Already Peaked (Comstock Partners, Inc.)

Wal-Mart reports first-ever dip in sales, despite profit jump -- "Wal-Mart officials said that deflation in such areas as electronics and groceries was the biggest factor in dampening sales" (The Associated Press)

Mortgages foreclosing, delinquent at 15 percent in Q4 -- "the highest ever in the survey." (Reuters)

In D.C., more evidence that commercial real estate headed for foreclosure crisis (The Washington Post)

One million could lose jobless benefits in March (CNN)

Wall Street's Bailout Hustle: Goldman Sachs and other big banks aren't just pocketing the trillions we gave them to rescue the economy - they're re-creating the conditions for another crash (Rolling Stone)

The Real Greek Tragedy: Why this is just the opening act. (Newsweek)

Britain's deficit third worst in the world, table: Britain has one of the worst deficits as a percentage of GDP in the world, according to OECD figures. Only Iceland and Greece have higher deficits and experts fear it could overtake Greece. Here is a table of how the UK compares with other nations. (The Telegraph)

Boeing sends more than 1,000 layoff notices, mostly tech workers in Washington and California (The Associated Press)

Toyota pushes ahead with 750 job cuts in Britain: Toyota is extending production cuts and pushing ahead with a further 750 reduction in its 4,000 strong UK work force as it attempts to ride out the recall crisis. (The Telegraph)

Citigroup Warns Customers It May Refuse To Allow Withdrawals (The Business Insider)

Regulators shut banks in Calif., Ill., Fla., Texas, putting US bank failures at 20 for year (The Associated Press)

Marco Community Bank of Marco Island, FL, had a troubled assets ratio of 193.1%. (BankTracker)

La Coste National Bank of La Coste, TX, had a troubled assets ratio of 0.6%. (BankTracker)

George Washington Savings Bank of Orland Park, IL, had a troubled assets ratio of 212.9%. (BankTracker)

La Jolla Bank, FSB, of La Jolla, CA, had a troubled assets ratio of 139.4%. (BankTracker)

Pension Systems on the Brink: Five ways to solve the $1 trillion gap in under-funded state retirement systems (Marketwatch)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday roudnup (02-18-10)

Quote of the Day:

"I'm shocked. Completely shocked. It makes me wonder if the CPI number coming out tomorrow is going to be just absolutely horrible—maybe they got wind of something." -- Todd Schoenberger, managing director of LandColt Trading, commenting on Fed’s move to raise the discount rate to 0.75 percent from 0.5 percent. (CNBC)

Study: States Must Fill $1 Trillion Pension Gap: Many states are accruing large liabilities that will require big tax increases in the future (NPR)

Britain Sees First January Budget Deficit in 17 Years (The New York Times)

Britain is at risk of a Govenment deficit crisis worse than that of Greece, sparking serious fears over the economic stability of the country. (The Telegraph)

Is the Euro Terminal? An Interview with Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has covered world politics and economics for a quarter century, based in Europe, the US, and Latin America. He joined the Telegraph in 1991, serving as Washington correspondent and later Europe correspondent in Brussels. He is now International Business Editor in London. (McAlvany Weekly Commentary AUDIO)

The trillion dollar gap: Underfunded state retirement systems and the roads to reform (The Pew Charitable Trusts)

Deficit Panel Chiefs: 'Staggering' Task Ahead (PBS NewsHour)

Jobless claims report points to long-term unemployment problem (Credit Writedowns blog)

Barclays and Bank of America see looming oil crunch: For oil markets, it as if the Great Recession never happened. Surging demand in China, India and the Middle East is making up for decline in the debt-crippled West, ensuring another global crunch within three or four years. (The Telegraph)

Muni Threat: Cities Weigh Chapter 9 (The Wall Street Journal)

City's credit outlook downgraded to 'negative': Moody's Investors Service warns Los Angeles leaders that their delay in addressing a $212-million budget deficit -- projected to more than double by 2011 -- could lead to a lower credit rating. (The Los Angeles Times)

[Los Angeles] City Council Votes to Cut 4,000 Jobs: Council tells agency heads to eliminate 4,000 positions by "any means necessary" (NBC Los Angeles) (The Los Angeles Times blogs)

Is it a recovery yet? (02-18-10)

According to an analyst quoted here, a recovery would be indicated by initial jobless claims below 500,000.


"There were 473,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Feb. 13, up 31,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised 442,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday." (CNN)

"'There is still a lot of labor market weakness out there,' said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York. 'I don’t think the weather has had as big an impact on claims as many think it has.'" (Bloomberg)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday roundup (02-17-10)

Quote of the Day:

"The increase in family homelessness has created the situation in which all of our family shelter units are full, and the state is placing the rest of the families in motels." -- Geraldine McCafferty, Springfield MA's acting director of housing. (Springfield Republican)

US bank lending falls at fastest rate in history: Bank lending in the US has contracted so far this year at the fastest rate in recorded history, raising concerns that the Federal Reserve may have jumped the gun by withdrawing emergency stimulus. (The Telegraph)

The lending crunch: 'It is very hard to survive' (CNN)

U.S. January Budget Deficit Was Record 16th Straight (Bloomberg)

Hoenig Says Fed’s Objectives Threatened by U.S. Debt (Bloomberg)

Party Gridlock in Washington Feeds Fear of a Debt Crisis (The New York Times)

Law of Diminishing Returns of Credit Expansion (Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis blog)

Drowning in Debt: What the Nation's Budget Woes Mean for You: Economists Predict Cutbacks, Tax Increases That 'Aren't Even Imaginable' (ABCNews)

Mortgage delinquencies tick higher in 4th-qtr 2009 (The Associated Press)

New wave of foreclosures by end of 2010 is feared: About 4 million U.S. homeowners are 90 days or more delinquent on their loans or in foreclosure proceedings, Moody's says. A federal loan modification program is helping a relative few. (The Los Angeles Times)

Obama loan modification program continues to languish -- "With expectations for millions of foreclosures on the horizon, only 116,000 troubled borrowers have had their mortgages modified ..." (Marketwatch)

Administration pushed [by lawmakers and housing advocates] to expand foreclosure-prevention program (The Washington Post)

Housing Starts and Vacancy Rate Back To The 60s (CF Economics blog)

The worst is yet to come: What to expect from the commercial real estate crisis (Marketwatch)

Elders of Wall St. Favor More Regulation (The New York Times)

Former Regulator Talks Fraud and Big Bank Getaway (PBS NewsHour)

Greek Ex-Minister: Other Euro Countries [Italy, France, and Spain] Did Swaps Too (CNBC)

Goldman's Debt Swaps Are 'Destabilizing': Economist (CNBC)

Is Italy Europe's Bigger Problem? (NPR blogs)

Derivatives Promise Pain for Italians [on local levels] (The Wall Street Journal)

California's sorry state a major threat to U.S.: Think Greece is a drag on Europe? That's nothing (The Globe and Mail of Toronto)

Fed Chart Potpourri… (Nathan's Economic Edge blog)

Health insurer Humana plans to cut 2,500 positions (The Associated Press)

CMS [Charlotte-Mecklenburg NC School system] prepares for hundreds of layoffs [nearly 900] (WCNC)

FDIC Opens Huge Office In Chicago For Wave of Bank Closures (CF Economics blog)

Proposed cuts would end California assistance for most new legal immigrants: Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget proposes saving $304 million by eliminating several programs that provide a safety net for elderly, disabled and low-income immigrants who don't yet qualify for federal welfare. (Los Angeles Times)

Suburban homeless: Rising tide of women, families (The Associated Press)

Food stamps growing at farmers markets: Electronic processing systems would be required under bill (San Diego Union Tribune)

Child Poverty Over 30% In Chicago, As Recession Cripples Families (The Huffington Post blog) ILLINOIS KIDS COUNT 2010: Children and Families in a Time of Economic Crisis (Voices for Illinois Children)

Economic Slump Raises Poverty Threat in Asia-Pacific, UN Says -- "The world economic crisis has pushed about 21 million people in Asia-Pacific countries into extreme poverty since the beginning of 2009..." (Bloomberg)

Facing budget gap [of $3.6 million], Boston [Public Library] ponders closing branches, cutting staff, services (The Boston Globe)

Qantas Scraps Most 1st-Class Cabins as Earnings Fall (Bloomberg)

Saudi Energy Adviser Alarmed about Peak Demand for Oil, Pushes for Diversified Economy (Consumer Energy Report)

Reader's Digest UK in administration -- a form of bankruptcy protection, engendered by a dispute "on how to pay down a £125m deficit in its UK pension fund." (The BBC)

Lawyers see bankruptcy boom ahead (San Francisco Business Times)

South Carolina Lawmaker Seeks to Ban Federal Currency (CBSNews)

Online Robbery: Hackers Steal $50,000. Bank [of America] Says ‘Tough Luck’ ( Meanwhile, back at the bank: Bank of America Said to Pay Average Bonus of $400,000 (Bloomberg)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday roundup (02-16-10)

Quotes of the Day:

"It appears that Goldman Sachs have colluded with past Greek governments to reduce the appearance of Greece's debt for short-term gain, while in reality making it worse than ever." -- Arlene McCarthy, vice-president of the European parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee. (The Guardian)

"Greece needs to adjust, but the starting point is awful and truly threatens an economic collapse." -- Kevin Gaynor, head of credit at RBS. (The Telegraph)

Greece Faces Debt Deadlines from EU (PBS NewsHour)

Gold in euro terms hits record high 816.33 euro/oz (Reuters)

It Looks Like We're Going To Have To Blow Up Another Continent To Realize The Effect Of Wall Street's Destructiveness (The Business Insider)

Credit markets flash hottest warning signal since crisis: European credit markets are flashing the most serious warnings signs in a year as the yields on risker bonds rise sharply and a string of companies cancel share flotations, raising fears that the recovery may falter in coming months. (The Telegraph)

China dumps $34.2 billion in U.S. debt in December -- "foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities fell by the largest amount on record in December ... The reductions in holdings, if they continue, could force the government to commit to higher interest payments at a time that it is running record deficits." (The Associated Press)

China sends $US35bn message to US as Japan moves to top position in US Treasuries (Dow Jones Newswires)

[French President Nicolas] Sarkozy takes on risky pension reform (AFP)

Ukraine's economy in worst contraction in 15 years (Reuters)

Australian economist warns of bubble in nation's housing (Marketwatch)

Mortgage delinquencies tick higher in 4th-qtr 2009 (The Associated Press)

Coming Soon: 5 Million More Foreclosures (The Big Picture blog) (UPI)

CNBC's Olick: Treasury Concerned about Next Wave of Foreclosures (Calculated Risk blog)

Shadow Inventory Of Troubled Mortgages (The Big Picture blog)

1,600 jobs cut [in UK] as steel plant shuts (UK Press Association)

Ford to cut shift, 900 jobs at Michigan plant (Reuters)

Tennessee governor says [1,000] layoffs preferable to closing government doors every other Friday (The Associated Press)

The gods strike back: Financial risk got ahead of the world’s ability to manage it. Matthew Valencia (interviewed here) asks if it can be tamed again (The Economist)

Banks and risk: Where the banks went wrong: How financial institutions misread the risks they were taking, and were more vulnerable than they imagined (The Economist)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday roundup (02-15-10)

Quotes of the Day:

“The viability of the whole framework [of European monetary union] -- nothing less -- is at stake." -- -- Former European Central Bank Chief Economist Otmar Issing, commenting on the Greece crisis. (Bloomberg)

"Once Greece was helped, the dam would be broken. A bail-out for the country that broke the rules would make it impossible to deny aid to others.” -- Former European Central Bank Chief Economist Otmar Issing. (FT Alphaville blog)

"As of today, the British government must pay a higher interest rate to borrow money for ten years than either the Italian or the Spanish governments, despite the extraordinary ructions going on within the eurozone. ... While Britain went in to this crisis with a much lower public debt than Greece or Italy (though higher total debt than either), it now has the highest budget deficit in the OECD rich club — and perhaps the world — at 13pc of GDP." -- Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (The Telegraph blogs)

"Three years into the crisis, we are no closer to reining in too-powerful-to-fail companies or eliminating the risks they pose to taxpayers. Both goals are achievable, yet our legislators refuse to do what is necessary to protect us from trillion-dollar bailouts down the road." -- Gretchen Morgenson (The New York Times)

"Time is running out. The current uncertainty and the lack of agreement cannot go on for much longer." -- UK business secretary Lord Mandelson, commenting on the Dubai World fiasco. (The Guardian)

And ... in the "Honesty is the Best Policy" department:

"'People think we are in a terrible mess,' Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said. [']And we are.'" (Bloomberg)

Greece refuses EU austerity measures demand (The Times of London)

Spain, Italy - Europe's Other Problem Hotspots: We need "not just financial support for Greece - which in any case would have been a sticking plaster - but also a longer-term credible program to deal with the other dominoes waiting in the wings," Neil Williams from Hermes Fund Managers said Monday. He voiced his concerns about Spain and Italy. (CNBC)

Cost of Dubai default insurance rises sharply -- to "highest level since March" (The Financial Times)

Japan recovery continues, but deflation remains (Marketwatch)

[Minnesota Gov. Tim] Pawlenty unveils deep cuts to balance the budget -- "to erase a $1.2 billion state budget deficit." (The Star-Tribune of Minneapolis) Gov's budget makes big cuts in health, welfare programs (Minnesota Public Radio)

Missing state [of Illinois] payments leave schools districts scrambling (Quad Cities Online)

In Utah, a plan to cut 12th grade: The proposal by state Sen. Chris Buttars would chip away at Utah's $700-million shortfall. He's since offered a toned-down version: Just make senior year optional. (The Los Angeles Times)

Police, Fire Departments Face Budget Axe: Public Safety Has Traditionally Been Spared Belt-Tightening, but Deep Cuts in Tax Revenue and State Aid Are Changing That (The Wall Street Journal)

U.S. Housing Aid Winds Down, and Cities Worry: In Elkhart, Ind., Fear for the Day When Housing Aid Ends (The New York Times)

CMBS [Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities] Delinquencies and Special Servicing Hit Record Highs -- " the largest single monthly increase on record" (Housing Wire)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday roundup (02-14-10)

Quotes of the Day:

"Europe's banking system was – and is – at imminent risk as Greek contagion spreads across Club Med. The danger of a 'sovereign Lehman' setting off a chain reaction is very real, with Britain too in the firing line. I find myself in the odd position of backing drastic EU action, for fear of worse. We all go down together if this escalates." -- Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (The Telegraph)

"For the U.S., the crushing weight of its debt threatens to overwhelm everything the federal government does, even in the short-term, best-case financial scenario -- a full recovery and a return to prerecession employment levels." -- The Associated Press (The Associated Press)

Volcker Says Must Let Big Financial Firms Fail (CNBC)

Collapse of the euro is 'inevitable': Bailing out the Greek economy futile, says FRENCH banking chief (The Daily Mail)

Germans say euro zone may have to expel Greece: poll (Reuters)

Job cuts signal start of public sector recession [in the UK]: Survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows one in four employers planning to make redundancies (The Guardian)

Schools [in the US] face big budget holes as stimulus runs out (The Associated Press)

California braces for repeat of last fiscal crisis (The Associated Press)

L.A. budget crisis threatens jobs, credit rating (Reuters)

The $555,000 Student-Loan Burden: As Default Rates on Borrowing for Higher Education Rise, Some Borrowers See No Way Out; 'This Is Just Outrageous Now' (The Wall Street Journal)
What to do about poverty? (Belleville [IL] News-Democrat)

Unsafe conditions prompt 4.9 million pound meat recall (Reuters)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday roundup (02-13-10)

Quote of the Day:

"New Jersey is in a state of financial crisis. Our state’s budget has been left in a shambles and requires immediate action to achieve balance. For the current fiscal year 2010, which has only four and one-half months left to go, the budget we have inherited has a two billion dollar gap." -- New Jersey Governor Christie (Asbury Park Press)

Deflationary Forces Gain Strength Across the Globe (Barrons)

On the Edge with Max Keiser - 12 February 2010: First half of interview with Mish Shedlock (Youtube)

On the Edge with Max Keiser - 12 February 2010: Second half of interview with Mish Shedlock (Youtube)

Euro zone needs stronger economic management: Draghi (Reuters)

The Greek Tragedy That Changed Europe: Greece's dysfunctional economy is now at the heart of a rescue effort that could be disastrous for the entire continent—and the rest of the world. (The Wall Street Journal)

Economists urge Britain to cut deficit faster (AFP)

The safety-net frays: Governments used to worry about their banks. Now the reverse is also true (The Economist)

Eleven lessons from Iceland by Thorvaldur Gylfason, professor of economics at the University of Iceland and CEPR Research Fellow (

China’s Central Bank Hits Brake on Hot Economy (The New York Times)

China's Move to Curb Inflation: Good News for the Mainland, Trouble for U.S., Strategist Says (Yahoo! TechTicker)

States to Senate: Send more federal aid (CNN)

[Meanwhile, back at the White House ...] Obama calls for new spending cuts (AFP)

State budget deficit reaches $2.8 billion (The Daily News)

Los Angeles Teeters On Brink Of Bankruptcy (NPR)

L.A. Unified may cut school year by 6 days: Supt. Ramon Cortines says the action would save $90 million and 5,000 jobs. (The Los Angeles Times)

Bank of America forecloses on house that couple had paid cash for -- "The bank had an incorrect address on foreclosure documents — the house it meant to seize is across the street and about 10 doors down — but the Cardosos and a Realtor employed by Bank of America were unable to convince the company that it had the wrong house, the suit states." (St. Petersburg Times)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday roundup (02-12-10)

Euro-zone economy barely rises in fourth quarter: France's gross domestic product up 0.6%; Germany stagnant, Italy contracts (Marketwatch)

SocGen’s Edwards Sees Euro Breakup as Feldstein Predicts Change (Bloomberg)

Albert Edwards: At 500% Net Liabilities To GDP, It Is Too Late To Prevent The Collapse Of The G-7; Greece Is Irrelevant, We Are All Now Insolvent (Zero Hedge)

German Recovery Unexpectedly Stalled in 4th Quarter (Bloomberg)

Europe's Sovereign Debt Issues Are Just Beginning: Financial Manager (CNBC)

Credit Suisse: THIS Is the Real List Of Countries Verging On A Sovereign Crisis (And, Yes, The US Is On It) (Business Insider)

Corporate America Is More Pessimistic Than You Know (The Wall Street Journal blogs)

The Commercial MBS Deliquencies Have Started To Spike -- "largest increase in the delinquency rate thus far in the downturn" (CF Economics blog)

New Jersey governor declares fiscal emergency (Reuters) (New York Times blogs)

Toledo budget deficit balloons again (close to $50 million) (WTVG)

Why cities aren't hitting panic button -- yet (CNN)

Struggling Yamaha Motor to cut 1,000 jobs, axe plants (AFP)

Long Beach School District will lay off about 750 teachers (Press-Telegram of Long Beach CA)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday roundup (02-11-10)

Quotes of the Day:

"Economically, we are in a very risky situation. Greece is close to default. We face systemic risk like the Lehman collapse and unless there is a bail-out for Greece, there will have to be a bail-out for the whole European banking system within two or three months." -- Jochen Felsenheimer, a credit expert at Assenagon in Frankfurt (The Telegraph)

"When we look at the world economy today, wherever we turn we see a wall of risk. And sadly this is an insurmountable wall with risks that are totally unprecedented in history. There has never before been a potentially catastrophic combination of so many virtually bankrupt major sovereign states (US, UK, Spain, Italy Greece, Japan and many more) and a financial system which is bankrupt but is temporarily kept alive with phoney valuations and unlimited money printing. But governments will soon realise that they are not alchemists who can turn printed paper into gold. The consequences of the global financial crisis are potentially catastrophic." -- Egon von Greyerz, Matterhorn Asset Management (Matterhorn Asset Management)

TARP Panel Chair on Real Estate Risk (FoxBusiness)

Commercial mortgage failures threaten system: overseer: Losses may range between $200 billion and $300 billion, report says (Marketwatch) (The Los Angeles Times blogs) (ABCNews)

Warren Says Commercial Real Estate Loans Pose Danger (Bloomberg)

Commercial Real Estate Losses and the Risk to Financial Stability: February Oversight Report (Congressional Oversight Panel)

Research Euroland: Debt on a dangerous path (Danske Research)

Snowmageddon could cost up to 150,000 jobs in February (CNN)

Villaraigosa plans new round of L.A. City Hall job cuts ["between 1,200 and 2,000 positions "], says services will be fewer (Los Angeles Times blogs)

Government [in Alberta, Canada] to trim nearly 800 positions: Hiring freeze remains for provincial staff (Calgary Herald)

Jordan School District [in Utah] suffers $30M shortfall; 500 jobs to be cut by July (Fox13Now)

Unpaid leave at USA Today [one week between now and July] (Washington Business Journal)

NH gov: $140M in budget cuts, layoffs unavoidable (The Associated Press)

Elko [in Nevada] sees $1 million budget deficit next year (The Las Vegas Sun)

Many Jobs Gone Forever, Economists Say: Increased Automation, Relocations Overseas Mean Workers Will Find Different Employment Mix When Recession Ends (The Wall Street Journal)

A Greek crisis is coming to America by Niall Ferguson (The Financial Times)

Yanukovich says Ukraine needs foreign help with debts (Reuters)

Oil exploration costs rocket as risks rise (Reuters)

Is it a recovery yet? (02-11-10)

According to an analyst quoted here, a recovery would be indicated by initial jobless claims below 500,000.


"There were 440,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Feb. 6, down 43,000 from a revised 483,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said in a weekly report." (CNN)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday roundup (02-10-10)

How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America (The Atlantic)

Job openings plunged by one-quarter last year (The Associated Press)

[In Ireland] Thousands of jobs to go as big banks slash costs (

Thousands of jobs to be lost as councils [in the UK] struggle with budgets (The Times of London)

Birmingham City Council to cut up to 2,000 jobs [in England's second-largest city] (Reuters)

Boston Scientific Plans to Cut Up to 1,300 Jobs (Bloomberg)

Memphis city government may slash 500 jobs to fill budget gap: Struggling to pay schools, mayor faces $25M deficit in fiscal year starting July 1 (The Commercial Appeal)

Quincy [MA] Medical announces job and pay cuts -- "eliminating 14 jobs and asking its 1,200 employees to take a 3 percent pay cut" (The Patriot Ledger)

[Mayor Antonio] Villaraigosa tells L.A. council that layoffs are only way to avoid 'financial tailspin' (The Los Angeles Times blogs)

L.A. County facing growing poverty, erosion of middle class, United Way report says (The Los Angeles Times blogs)

Vancouver wrestles with homelessness: The city's downtown Eastside area is home to some of the worst poverty in Canada. Advocates fear the homeless will be swept away as the Olympics begin. (The Los Angeles Times)

Unemployment taxes slam businesses (CNN)

One in five US mortgages "underwater" in Q4 - Zillow (Reuters)

Faber's Bold Prediction: Both The US And Europe Will Default On Their Debt (Zero Hedge) (CNBC)

China orders retreat from risky assets: China has ordered managers of its vast currency reserves to withdraw from risky dollar assets and retreat to core debt guaranteed by the US government, a clear sign that Beijing is battening down the hatches for fresh trouble on global markets. (The Telegraph)

IMF help with Greece may be unavoidable (Reuters)

How Brussels Is Trying to Prevent a Collapse of the Euro (Spiegel Online International)

Euro currency crumbling? (BBC)


Britain's quarter of a trillion pound exposure to the PIIGS (The Telegraph blogs)

Greek financial debacle threatens Swiss banks (Credit Writedowns blog)

Check out America's 10 "Greek" debacles (Business Insider)

Insolvent European vs American States (The Big Picture blog)

Bankruptcy Bloodbath May Hit Muni Bond Owners Next: Joe Mysak (Bloomberg)

U.S. Postal Service Logs $297 Million Quarterly Loss (Bloomberg)

New Mexico House Votes 65-0 To Move State's Money To Credit Unions, Community Banks (The Huffington Post blog)

Take this bank and shove it (CNN)

Meet The 15 Loan Sharks Who Have America By The Balls (Business Insider)

Society ignores the oil crunch at its peril: Warnings of a crash in oil production are no longer limited to a prescient few individuals - major British companies and oil CEOs are now sounding the alert (The Guardian)

Moral Hazard in Iceland (The Huffington Post blog)

How to invest for a global-debt-bomb explosion: Prepare for an apocalyptic anarchy ending Wall Street's toxic capitalism (Marketwatch)

Gartman Says Don't Be 'Aggressively Long' in Stocks (Bloomberg TV)

Burglars making numerous bathroom stops on UC Berkeley campus [to steal brass] (Oakland Tribune)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday roundup (02-09-10)

Germany backs Greek bail-out as EU creates 'economic government': Germany is preparing to drop its vehement opposition to a rescue package for Greece, fearing that a rapid escalation of the debt crisis in Southern Europe could endanger German banks and damage the euro. (The Telegraph)

Greece's economic crisis could signal trouble for its neighbors (The Washington Post)

European economies facing grim times (The Washington Times)

UK sales fall prompts fears of 'double-dip' recession: Fears that Britain may already be succumbing to a "double-dip" recession materialised as it emerged that 2010 opened with the worst January for the high street since comparable records began 15 years ago. (The Telegraph)

Australia close to defaulting on debts: Joyce: Opposition finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce is courting controversy again, warning that Australia is getting to the point where it will not be able to repay its overseas debt. (The Australian Broadcasting Commission)

In Congress, it's decision time on long-term unemployment benefits (The Washington Post)

Ivy League counts the cost as global markets deliver harsh lesson in investing: Annual returns of 15 per cent to 16 per cent on investments were brought to an abrupt halt with the downturn (The Times of London)

NFIB: Small Business Owners Report "shortage of customers" (Calculated Risk blog)

Snowstorm heaps more economic misery on stores (The Washington Post)

750 jobs cut at Bank of Scotland Ireland (InsideIreland)

SAS to Raise Cash, Cut 700 Jobs After Q4 Loss (The Associated Press)

Food Stamps – The Great Recession’s Soup Lines (The Big Picture blog)

Why I Trust Casinos More than Banks (Seeking Alpha blog)

Without water: Hundreds of Central Oregonians who can't pay their bills have their water shut off. For people like Lynette Nicks, who's recovering from cancer, that's especially dangerous. (The Bulletin of Bend OR)