Tales from the Trail
Before heading off to enjoy your weekend, I would encourage you to take a look at Emily Kaiser’s special report on income inequality in the United States, and a growing body of opinion that links high levels of income inequality with financial crises.
The Justice Department has stepped into the fray today over reports that the country’s largest mortgage lenders may have evicted tens of thousands of borrowers from their homes with little or no scrutiny of their documents. The lenders are accused of using “robo-signers” to approve foreclosures en masse, like GMAC official Jeffrey Stephan, who has testified to signing some 10,000 documents a month.
President Barack Obama is wearing many hats these days — commander in chief, head of state, father — so what about stock broker?
The new president, who has spent the first weeks of his administration working on proposals to boost the economy, lifted eyebrows and, at least briefly, stocks on Tuesday when he suggested that battered shares were a potentially a good investment at low prices they are currently touching.
Speaking in the Oval Office with visiting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama said it was natural that markets would be suffering from bad economic news.
But then he weighed in with this observation:
“What you’re now seeing is — is profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you’ve got a long-term perspective on it.”
Sound like cheerleading at all?
Stocks inched upward in response to his words, but his spokesman, Robert Gibbs, played down the comments later, saying they were in line with Obama’s previous statements on the economy.
Tell us what you think. Is the president encouraging Americans to buy stocks? And is that good advice?
For more Reuters political news, click here.
If you’re among those upset that your taxpayer dollars may be spent in volume to rescue people who — for whatever reason — can’t make their mortgage payments, Federal Financial Analytics analyst Karen Shaw Petrou recommends thinking about it this way:
There’s nothing like a sexy political sleaze story, especially one ridden with “f—ing” expletives, to distract from the plight of the United States’ ailing auto industry.
A $15 billion rescue package for the industry may be voted on in the House of Representatives today after the White House and congressional Democrats reached an agreement in principle late on Tuesday night.
But morning TV shows paid the bailout scant attention as they replayed U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s news conference announcing that he was charging Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with corruption over, among other things, an alleged plan to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Not surprisingly Blagojevich’s use of expletives in conversations taped by the FBI featured prominently, “Bleep ‘em,” Fitzgerald quoted the governor as saying in one conversation. “And the word ‘bleep’ was not the word he used,” he added helpfully, just in case there was any doubt.
Back in Washington, the House of Representatives Financial Service Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. EST on how the Treasury Department has handled the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a congressionally appointed panel that oversees TARP is expected to release a report highly critical of how it has been handled.
Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro of the Government Accountability Office and Neel Kashkari, the Treasury Department point man on the financial rescue package, will testify.
Wall Street is seen opening higher, with shares of automakers expected to remain in focus. But there was more grim econmic news. A new survey said the economy was likely to shrink 1.1 percent next year as job losses mount.