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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — February 3, 2009

Items of Interest:

David Segal / NY Times:
Wall St., a Financial Epithet, Stirs Outrage -- As investment bankers adjust to a new role as targets of scorn, they aren’t expecting pity, or a sympathetic ear...

But while the rest of the country fumes over the billions spent on government bailouts and year-end bonuses, the financial industry is focused on its new role as national pariah and its own lengthy list of anxieties....

David Brooks / New York Times:
Ward Three Morality — I've become increasingly concerned about the rising number of rich people who are being caught unawares by shifts in the sumptuary code. First, there were those auto executives who didn't realize that it is no longer socially acceptable to use private jets for lobbying trips to Washington...
Ellis Weiner / The Huffington Post: Our Mister Brooks Reduks: The Rich Are Different, etc.
Joan Walsh / Salon: Thanks, Tom Daschle
Robert Stein / Connecting.the.Dots: Bonfire of the Vanities, a Sequel
Crazy MLB Commissioner Pay -- Yesterday it was made public that Major League Baseball's commissioner Bud Selig earned a whopping $18,350,000 in 2007. Why exactly does this man make so much money?? ...

CEO and Commissioner pay----
Dimon Says ‘Not Every Company’ Responsible for Wall Street Pay -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said it’s “unfair” for politicians to criticize Wall Street pay without differentiating compensation based on performance.

“It’s unfair to talk about us as one,” Dimon, who was paid $1 million last year and didn’t accept a bonus, said today at a conference sponsored by Crain’s New York Business. “Not every company was responsible.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and politicans worldwide have criticized financial industry executives for taking multi- million dollar pay packages after banks and brokerages racked up more than $800 billion of losses and writedowns on credit- related assets...
Pending home sales rise in December -- The number of sales contracts signed increased by 6.3%, as buyers respond to fire sale prices driven by a record number of foreclosures.

Plunging home prices and low mortgage rates pushed homebuying activity higher in December, according to a regular industry report released on Tuesday.

The Pending Home Sales Index, from the National Association of Realtors, measures the number of sales contracts signed each month. It rose 6.3% in December to 87.7, after dropping 4% in November to a record low of 82.5...
U.S. auto sales hit 27-year low -- U.S. auto sales plunged to a 27-year low in January, a steeper-than-expected drop that took the slumping U.S. market below China's for the first time...

Industry-wide sales dropped 37 percent, taking the annualized sales rate to 9.57 million vehicles, the lowest level since 1982. But that understates the depth of the downturn since the U.S. population has increased about a third since.

"The truth is that the entire auto industry finds itself in the eye of this economic storm," Bob Carter, Toyota's U.S. manager for its flagship brand, told reporters...
Charles Hurt / New York Post:
Stimulus Bill To Help Hollywood — Finally, Democrats have found a tax-cut they can support - one that puts even more money in the pockets of Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore and the rest of their pals in Tinseltown.

Big Hollywood opened its hearts - and fat wallets - to get President Obama into the White House and give Democrats both chambers of Congress and now it's time to return the love.

A provision in the current "stimulus" bill would allow Hollywood moguls to write off half the production and filming costs of big-budget films and TV shows...
Carol Platt Liebau / Townhall.com: Shoveling Gold to Tinseltown
Andrew Taylor / Associated Press:
Senate votes to give a tax break to new car buyers — Featured Topics: - Barack Obama - Presidential Transition — WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Tuesday to give a tax break to new car buyers, setting aside bipartisan concerns over the size of an economic stimulus bill with a price tag approaching $900 billion...
Ruth Calvo / The Seminal: Getting Off the Blocks
Binyamin Appelbaum / Washingtonpost.com:
Despite Federal Aid, Many Banks Fail to Revive LendingThe federal government has invested almost $200 billion in U.S. banks over the last three months to spark new lending to consumers and businesses...
The Austrian Economists / Economics Roundtable: Here is a Tip to Policy Makers: Don't Bail Out Insolvent Banks Ever Again