Share your views on hot topics
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on Wednesday to make its deepest output cut ever to counter slumping demand and falling oil prices. The output cut has been received with cautious optimism by analysts.
Some say that the price of oil will fall further, while others say $40 a barrel was the lowest it will go. “If you look at the market, prices are going up immediately,” said Frank Schallenberger, head of commodity research at Landesbank. “I really think this is the end of a bear market. $40 was the bottom.”
However, the White House called to the historic cut “short-sighted” and said the oil cartel has an obligation to keep the market well-supplied. “It’s not clear that OPEC’s actions will be effective given the shift in global demand and the ability of OPEC members to meet the cartel’s targets,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
Will the price of oil continue to drop or will it recover? And how will the oil supply cut trickle down to the consumer in terms of cost?
There’s lots of money sloshing around the financial system these days. The Federal Reserve has established a target range of 0-0.25 percent for its key rate, bringing it closer to unconventional action to lift the economy out of a year-long recession.
From Washington, the first package aimed at rescuing the credit crisis-hit banking sector amounted to $700 billion. Treasury can use only half of that amount and it has already pledged all but $15 billion of it. The Senate has refused to pass a $14 billion rescue package for Detroit’s three major car companies last week, leaving it in the hands of the Bush administration to work out a deal.
Democratic lawmakers and the White House are finalizing a $15 billion bailout for the crumbling U.S. auto industry. One of the key elements will likely be the naming of a federal official to lord over the industry. The job won’t be an easy one. Reuters points out the “Car Czar” will have to deal with angry creditors, fearful suppliers and an entrenched auto union. Then there’s the job of motivating CEOs who will be making a whopping $1 a year (yes, $1 – that’s not a typo).
“It requires someone who knows how to lead and someone who knows how to listen,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
People are increasingly turning to brain-enhancing drugs like Ritalin to boost their performance in school or at work, researchers said. And while some expressed alarm over the trend, others embraced the idea, provided the drugs are proven safe.
What do you think? Athletes have been vilified for using performance-enhancing drugs. Is there a difference, or should it be seen as the same thing? Have you taken the drugs, and what would you do if you found your children were taking them at university?
November’s job losses were the steepest since December 1974, when 602,000 jobs were shed. Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted a reduction of 340,000 jobs.
“This is a clear employment blowout. Firms are reacting as dramatically as they can to make sure they have cost structures they can survive the recession we are in,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.
Now here's an interesting question. The New York Times reports that President-elect Barack Obama wants to make "a major foreign policy speech from an Islamic capital during his first 100 days in office." But from which one? As NYT staffer Helene Cooper explains, it's a question that's fraught with diplomatic, religious and personal complications. After a day of calling around Washington, she found a consensus:
It’s got to be Cairo. Egypt is perfect. It’s certainly Muslim enough, populous enough and relevant enough. It’s an American ally, but there are enough tensions in the relationship that the choice will feel bold. The country has plenty of democracy problems, so Mr. Obama can speak directly to the need for a better democratic model there. It has got the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization that has been embraced by a wide spectrum of the Islamic world, including the disenfranchised and the disaffected.
Hat in hand, the top executives of Detroit’s Big Three drove into Washington and were back on Capitol Hill, hoping to convince lawmakers to bail them out. They pledged to refocus on higher fuel efficiency and lower production costs to gain billions of dollars in emergency cash. Whether they succeed in getting taxpayer money to help cure their ills remains to be seen.
What do you think? Have the Big Three auto executives done enough in the past week to convince you they should get the money? What more should they do?
AT&T is joining the ranks of companies sending its employees to the unemployment line. The top U.S. phone company says it will cut 12,000 jobs as the economic crisis bites deeper. Chemical maker Dupont added its own dash of dour news, announcing 2,500 job cuts. While there was some cause for cheer from weekly jobless data that showed the number of workers filing new claims for benefits unexpectedly fell last week, the figure was still in line with a shrinking labor market and economy. So, really, no good news there.
Private employers are slashing jobs and the services sector, which powers most of the economy, is in its worst slump ever. “It’s impossible to find any ray of light here,” Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers in St. Louis, Missouri, said of the job losses last month.
With the government working to bail out banks, and possibly automakers, and with a top adviser to President-elect Barack Obama underscoring the need for an economic stimulus package, do you think things will get better and when?
If Hillary Clinton is confirmed for secretary of state in President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet, New York Gov. David Patterson must name a replacement to fill her Senate seat. The front-runner is New york Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. Former President Bill Clinton’s name has also been thrown in the mix.Patterson can name anyone, famous or not, to fill the seat. Who should he select and why?