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Friday, May 15, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — May 15, 2009

Items of Interest:

Nick Bunkley / New York Times:
G.M. Notifying 1,100 Dealers That They Will Be Dropped -- General Motors told more than 1,100 dealers Friday that their franchises would not be renewed next year, bringing the total for the week to nearly 2,000 car dealers that learned they were no longer wanted.

The action, which involved only half of the showrooms that G.M. ultimately hopes to eliminate, was another step toward a probable bankruptcy filing at the end of this month...

Daniel Akst / Atlantic Correspondents: The death of newspapers (cont'd)
CNBC: Auto Sector Effectively Bankrupt: AutoNation CEO

Washington Post: Chrysler Pulls Out of Hundreds of Franchises
Prudential Among Insurers Cleared for U.S. BailoutBloomberg:
Prudential Among Insurers Cleared for U.S. Bailout -- Prudential Financial Inc. and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. are among the insurers granted access to U.S. aid as the government moves to shore up an industry battered by investment losses.

Hartford won preliminary approval for $3.4 billion in capital from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Connecticut-based insurer said yesterday in a statement. Prudential, Allstate Corp. and Principal Financial Group Inc. also are eligible for funds, said Andrew Williams, a spokesman for the Treasury. Lincoln National Corp. said it may receive $2.5 billion...
Barry Ritholtz / Big Picture: Why Are We Bailing Out Insurers?
David Goldman / Inner Workings: Insurance: The Canary in the Coal Mine
CNBC: Some Insurers May Not Accept TARP Money
David Brooks Op-Ed / NY Times:
Fiscal Suicide Ahead -- Barack Obama came to office with a theory. He believed that the country was in desperate need of new investments in education, energy and many other areas. He also saw that the nation faced a long-term fiscal crisis caused by rising health care and entitlement costs. His theory was that he could spend now and save later. He could fund his agenda with debt now and then solve the long-term fiscal crisis by controlling health care and entitlement costs later on.

In essence, health care became the bank out of which he could fund the bulk of his agenda. By squeezing inefficiencies out of the health care system, he could have his New New Deal and also restore the nation to long-term fiscal balance.

This theory justified the tremendous ramp-up of spending we’ve seen over the last several months. Obama inherited a $1.2 trillion deficit and has quickly pushed it up to $1.8 trillion, a whopping 13 percent of G.D.P.
Conor Clarke / The Atlantic Business Channel: Obama's Deficit Problem
David Sirota / San Francisco Chronicle: Health care's enigma in chief
Susan Duclos / Wake up America: Will The Real Barack Obama Please Stand Up
Bruce Bartlett / Forbes:
The 81% Tax Increase — To pay for government's promises on Social Security and Medicare. -- This week, the federal government published two important reports on long-term budgetary trends. They both show that we are on an unsustainable path that will almost certainly result in massively higher taxes.

The first report is from the trustees of the Social Security system. News reports emphasized that the date when its trust fund will be exhausted is now four years earlier than estimated last year. But in truth, this is an utterly meaningless fact because the trust fund itself is economically meaningless...
Andrew Biggs / The American: The Straw Men of Social Security
Lance Burri / The TrogloPundit: We've known about our entitlement problem for a very long time now.

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

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