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Bailout bonuses: Does the public have a right to know?

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Is it anybody’s business how much money you make?

When it comes to Wall Street and the meltdown that whacked financial markets and emptied investors’ pockets, the normal rules of etiquette don’t seem to apply.

Wall Street salaries seem to be everybody’s business lately. Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s pay czar may try to keep a large portion of the compensation plans he is reviewing under wraps.

It’s Kenneth Feinberg‘s job to review salaries at the biggest corporate recipients of government bailout funds.

How much of his report will become public is the multimillion dollar question.

Privacy laws and fears that highly compensated executives will become targets for an angry public argue for limiting disclosure.

Bold move or socialism?

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The ax has fallen on GM chief Rick Wagoner’s neck. With one swing, President Obama put an end to Wagoner’s reign at the helm of the struggling auto giant. GM had asked the government for another bailout amounting to a further $16 billion in loans. Instead, the Obama administration pledged only to fund GM’s operations for another 60 days while it develops a sweeping restructuring plan.

Obama’s team also took aim at Chrysler, pushing it toward a merger, and threatened bankruptcy for both Detroit giants.

Is housing rescue plan enough?

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President Barack Obama’s much-anticipated plan to deal with the U.S. housing crisis aims to help as many as 9 million families avoid foreclosure on their homes, one of the root causes of the global financial meltdown.

The Obama plan will involve government subsidies to mortgage servicers and lenders to encourage them to lower payments for borrowers in distress.

Lining up for a bailout

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The auto industry’s Christmas present from the government — in the form of a $1 billion loan to General Motors and a $5 billion stake in GMAC — may have left other industries hoping that the giving season isn’t over yet.

The steel industry is pressing President-elect Barack Obama to boost the flagging demand for U.S.-made steel by instituting a “buy American” clause in his infrastructure stimulus package, the New York Times reported.

Who will sit in the Car Czar’s chair?

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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.

Will Congress pass a bailout bill?

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U.S. lawmakers neared agreement on a massive Wall Street bailout plan on Thursday with more protections for taxpayers, giving world stock prices a boost even as data showed the U.S. economy slowing.

Lawmakers hope to reach a bipartisan consensus on a proposed $700 billion rescue for U.S. financial firms in time for a meeting at the White House Thursday afternoon.

Is the bailout enough to right-foot the banks?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are urging Congress to act swiftly on a $700 billion bailout plan for the financial system.

Politico.com quotes a former Federal Reserve official as saying, “the alternative is complete financial Armageddon and a great depression.”

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