Trading Places

Inside views on the jobs market

Can Obama save Wall Street?

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It’s funny how the stock market manages to tell a story. This week’s euphoric pre-election surge is all but a memory now, with stocks back in their all-too-familiar slump. If Wall Street could talk, it would be saying: ”You’ve got your work cut out for you, Obama.”

Indeed, the President-elect faces what is likely the most daunting list of challenges ever faced by an incoming administration — and America’s precarious job situation is chief among them. A report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas indicates that planned layoffs surged to their highest level in nearly five years during October, with cuts in the finance industry leading the way.  Meanwhile, the private job sector took a hit to the tune of 157,000 lost jobs last month, with signs pointing to further deterioration to come.

Obama also has the dubious task of restoring investors’ bruised faith in the financial system. After he lamented its “complete lack of regulatory oversight” earlier this week, all eyes are on Obama as he takes on the Greenspan era. Regulating the markets is never a popular task, but neither is justifying a $700 billion bailout bill to furious Americans whose retirement savings just went down the tube.

Obama enters the White House with the hopes of the world pinned to him, with endorsements from everyone from The Economist to Oprah Winfrey propping him up.  But just how long the honeymoon lasts is anyone’s guess.

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