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from FaithWorld:

POLL: Is Goldman Sachs “doing God’s work”? Its CEO thinks so

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sunday-times

Check out the headline at the bottom left of the Sunday Times front page. The man the London paper calls the most powerful banker on Earth says he is "just a banker 'doing God’s work'" .

The report says Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein"proudly pays himself more in a year than most of us could ever dream of — $68m in 2007 alone, a record for any Wall Street CEO, to add to the more than $500m of Goldman stock he owns" .

Goldman Sachs looks set to pay about $20 billion in bonuses for its top traders this year, at a time when the fallout from last year's financial crisis is still being felt and the United States unemployment rate has hit 10.2 percent, a 26-1/2-year high.

In his defence, Blankfein said in the interview: "We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle ... We have a social purpose."

from FaithWorld:

Pope urges bold world economic reform before G8 summit

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popePope Benedict issued an ambitious call to reform the way the world works on Tuesday shortly before its most powerful leaders meet at the G8 summit in Italy. His latest encyclical, entitled "Charity in Truth," presents a long list of steps he thinks are needed to overcome the financial crisis and shift economic activity from the profit motive to a goal of solidarity of all people.

Following are some of his proposals. The italics are from the original text. Do you think they are realistic food for thought or idealistic notions with no hope of being put into practice?

Should Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke be reappointed?

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For Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, 2009 may be a tough year as political battles pile on top of tough economic challenges.

Bernanke must juggle a host of problems as he tries to revive the economy. With the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.4 percent and still climbing, he faces the challenge of recovering from an 18-month-old recession with unconventional policies that some worry will ignite inflation.

from MacroScope:

Waiting for the G20 to….?

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Finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 meet this weekend in the English countryside to discuss the world's financial and economic crisis. With this in mind, MacroScope asked a number of economists what they want to see from the meeting and the G20 summit to follow later and what they expect to see.

The answer, in short, appears to be that much is needed but not much expected.

Paul Mortimer-Lee, head of market economics, BNP Paribas:

"There will be progress on agreeing that regulation needs to be more effective and more effectively co-ordinated on a global scale but I am unconvinced we are going to go a long way further.  Some populist posturing on bank bonuses etc should be expected. The less is achieved in other areas the more this will get played up. On bank recapitalisation, they will all agree strong capital is a good thing, but in no way do I expect a concerted plan -- it's driven by events and the exigencies of the local banking system.

Are you postponing your retirement?

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Most Americans felt investment pain in 2008 as the value of retirement accounts and other assets dropped along with the economy. But older Americans are feeling particularly hard-hit by the financial crisis and many now say they must now postpone their retirement, according to a survey by the AARP, which represents older Americans. The survey, released on Friday, showed 57 percent of those who were employed or looking for work and who lost money in their investments over the past year expected to delay retirement and work longer. It also found 36 percent of workers had stopped putting money into their retirement accounts in the past 12 months.

Have you decided to postpone retirement because of investment losses? How much longer will you have to work to afford retirement? Is the concept of retirement a thing of the past?

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.

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