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Friday, January 16, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — January 16, 2009

Items of Interest:

Todd Harrison / Minyanville:
Quote of the Day --

I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, on of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and vote of majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.

- President Woodrow Wilson, regretting signing into law the Federal Reserve Act
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John Schwartz / New York Times:
Some Ask if Bailout Is Unconstitutional — While much of the debate over the $700 billion federal bailout plan has focused on whether the money is being spent wisely or well, concerns are growing among many conservatives about its constitutionality. — Some conservatives have argued …
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Andy Kessler / Wall Street Journal:
The End of Citi's Financial Supermarket -- The Internet did in Sandy Weill's business model...
related:
Marion Maneker / The Big Picture: Was Sandy Weill Banking's Gerry Levin?
Eric Jackson Seeking Alpha: Where Did Citigroup Go So Wrong?
Felix Salmon / Market Movers: Nationalize Citigroup and Bank of America
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CNNMoney:
Circuit City to shut down -- Court filing shows bankrupt electronics retailer seeks approval to sell merchandise in its remaining 567 stores.

Bankrupt electronics retailer Circuit City Inc. said Friday it has asked for court approval to close its remaining 567 U.S. stores and sell all its merchandise.

The company said it has 34,000 employees.

"We are extremely disappointed by this outcome," James Marcum, acting CEO for Circuit City, said in a statement. "We were unable to reach an agreement with our creditors and lenders to structure a going-concern transaction in the limited timeframe available, and so this is the only possible path for our company." ...
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Farmers Cut The Cheese

AP / Chicago Tribune:
Cheese value drops 40 percent -- Wisconsin’s 15,000 dairy farmers are struggling with declining milk prices caused by a dramatic drop in the price of cheese.

About 80 percent of the state’s milk is used to produce cheese, so cheese prices largely determine milk prices paid to farmers.

The price of cheese has lost about 40 percent of its value in the last 30 days. The week ended on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange with the price of barrel cheddar cheese at $1.07 per pound. The month began with the price at $1.79 per pound...
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Bernie Madoff Ponzi

WSJ:
Madoff's Traders Were In Decline -- Even as revenue and profit at Bernard Madoff's original stock-trading business fell in recent years, the firm continued to pay its staff more each year, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC grew to be a force on Wall Street based on the growth of its market-making business, where the firm's traders matched buyers and sellers of stocks. But that business has been in decline for years, steadily pulling down the revenue of the firm's trading operations. Over the past two years, pretax profit dropped 92% and net revenue fell 54%.

But pay packages for the bulk of the operation's staff were rising during those years, until the business was abruptly halted Dec. 11, when Mr. Madoff was arrested for his role in an alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme...
Claw Back

Newsday:
Madoff investors may have to pay back money spent -- If you invested money with accused swindler Bernard Madoff, and then in the past few years made withdrawals, you could, according to federal law, be required to give that money back in what is known as a "claw back."

That possibility is terrifying investors, who may also have left some of their money with Madoff, only to find out that it is now gone, bankruptcy lawyers said...
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zero hedge

Calculated Risk

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia