Thursday, December 11, 2008
$36 billion is too much for the Big 3.
Therefore, the answer is $14 billion and one of those demeaning retractable child harness on a leash dealies, which magically is also too much and not enough at the same time, meaning it's going to die in the Senate and a couple million jobs along with it. But that's okay, because the job losses will come from the other 49 states the Senators voting against the plan are from.
Folks in my generation and younger simply have not seen anything like this, period. We've been through a couple of hiccups like in 1991 and 2002, but nothing like a sustained, multi-year recession. How scared are Americans? For the first time ever, our household debt decreased.
It was the highest number of jobless claims since Nov. 27, 1982 when initial filings hit 612,000. Economists were expecting jobless claims increase to 525,000, according to a consensus compiled by Briefing.com.
The four-week moving average of jobless claims, which works to eliminate fluctuations in data was 540,500 last week, an increase of 14,250 from the previous week's revised average of 526,250.
One economist said the number of initial claims decreased in the previous report because the data from that report represented the week of Thanksgiving. Some of the surge in initial filings in this current report could be a bounce from that week.
However, "the underlying trend in the labor market is that it continues to weaken," said Jay Bryson, global economist with Wachovia Economics, and that is evident in the 4-week moving averages of initial claims.
The number of people continuing to collect unemployment rose to 4,429,000 in the week ended Nov. 29, the most recent week available, which was also a 26-year high. The measure was an increase of 338,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 4,091,000.
The last time continuing claims was at such an elevated level was Dec. 4, 1982, when continuing claims hit 4,509,000.
According to the Federal Reserve's flow of funds report released Thursday, consumer debt fell an annualized $30 billion, or 0.8% in the third quarter to $13.91 trillion.As I've said time and again this is a consumer-driven recession. Consumers buy less, more and more people lose their jobs as demand dies, and in turn they buy less, Deflationary Spiral 101.
Americans holding less debt may sound like a positive, but it also means consumers are spending less, as debt has become more expensive and harder to come by.
As the credit crunch intensified in the third quarter - and exploded late in the period with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers - Americans were increasingly unable to finance big purchases like homes, cars and big-ticket goods.
"Consumers are going through a major change in their spending and savings habits," said Lyle Gramley, a former Fed Governor. "Throughout the housing bubble, consumers had a savings rate of zero, relying on the rising price of their homes. Now they're saving money for the future instead of spending it."
That's a worrisome sign for the economy, as consumer spending makes up 70% of overall U.S. gross domestic product. And the fourth-quarter numbers are likely to grow, as the peak of the credit crisis came in mid-October.
The pain is just beginning.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for a delay in Holder's confirmation hearings because of troubling questions stemming from Holder's role in the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.Blagogate, you idiots.
This led the committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), to fire off an agitated letter accusing his colleague of making unreasonable demands.
Leahy said he was "confounded" at Specter's surprise that the Holder hearings had been scheduled for Jan. 8, two days after the 111th Congress convenes. Specter said Wednesday he didn't think the confirmation hearings could happen until Jan. 26, a week after Obama's inauguration, so Republicans could have ample time to review thousands of pages of documents and the nominee's FBI background check.
"My recollection is that your initial reaction on November 18 was that you were at that time already reviewing his record," Leahy wrote. "Of course, Eric is someone you and I both know well and have known and worked with for years."
Leahy noted that the Holder hearings were scheduled within a comparable time-frame of other Attorney General nominees. While word began to leak that Holder would be the nominee in mid-November, Obama made the official announcement last week, more than a month before the hearing's are scheduled.
Specter's attempt to delay the hearings marks a shift from earlier statements on Holder. Appearing on MSNBC on Nov. 19, Specter voiced concern about the Rich pardons but specifically said he would not obstruct confirmation hearings.
"Would I hold it up? No," He told Andrea Mitchell. "I would be prepared to move ahead very promptly with hearings. Move into the substance of the matter. Ask the important questions. Look for any documents that might be relevant.
"As fast as we can move through, I'm prepared to decide it one way or another," he continued. "I wouldn't hold it up."
It's unclear what changed in the three weeks since that interview aired.
The GOP smells an opening here. Obama's honeymoon is officially over with both the GOP and the press, and that means it's open season on him.
The Village Idiots are now going to do everything they can to sink Obama under the weight of Rod Blagojevich's ego.
- The House passed a $14 billion auto bailout, but the Senate appears to be much tougher.
- California's budget shortfall has reached $40 billion as that state's financial crisis rolls on.
- Lawyers acknowledge Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is "Senate Candidate 5" but he says he's innocent of wrongdoing.
- US retail sales took their biggest nosedive in five years as Americans cut back on spending.
- Just how much does the black hole at the center of the galaxy weigh, anyway?