Money Matters - Simplified


Anatomy of a Murdered Economy

 On September 16, 2009, Warren Buffett slapped a gravestone on the Great Recession: "I think the odds are very much against getting significantly worse. [The economy] has sort of plateaued at the bottom right now."  

Barack Obama appears on 'Daily Show'

Washington -- Barack Obama Wednesday taped his first appearance on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" since becoming president of the United States.

Obama was interviewed for the show four times before he was elected commander-in-chief in 2008, however.

Wednesday's appearance was scheduled during the series' week-long trip to Washington to provide viewers with "Indecision 2010" coverage of the midterm elections, Comedy Central said.

Show producers said this is the first time an episode has consisted of a single guest interview.

"Are we the people we were waiting for, or does it turn out those people are still out there -- and we don't have their number?" Stewart queried the president.

Survey: Chicago's 'rattiest' neighborhoods

Chicago -- A rodent control company said a survey of Chicago residents indicates the South Loop is the "rattiest" neighborhood in town, marking the most rat sightings.

Rodent-control brand d-Con said the survey, conducted on behalf of the company by Sentient Decision Science, indicates the most rat sightings take place in the South Loop, while rats are also frequently spotted in Lakeview/Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park and the West Loop, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

Raj Jain, a senior brand manager for d-Con, said the survey represented "a reflection of the economy, and empty buildings, factors like that."

Fannie, Freddie bailouts could hit $363B

Washington -- U.S. taxpayers could be left holding the bag for $363 billion in bailouts for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if the economy deteriorates, a report reveals.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency says that would be a worst-case scenario through 2013 should the United States slip back into recession, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The agency, which has had oversight responsibilities since Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over during the financial crisis in 2008, said under the best-case scenario the bailouts would reach $221 billion. If the housing industry follows current projections, the bailouts would rise to $238 billion.

So far, the two housing loan outfits have received about $148 billion in taxpayer funds.

Markets head higher Thursday morning

New York -- U.S. markets rose Thursday morning as a Labor Department report said first-time unemployment benefit claims fell by 23,000 in the week ending Oct. 16.

The Conference Board said leading U.S. economic indicators for September rose 0.3 percent, beating expectations slightly. In an overview of the U.S. economy, the U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the "national economic activity continued to rise, albeit at a modest pace" in September.

In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 91.88 points, 0.83 percent, to 11,199.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.84 percent, 9.84, to 1,188.01. the Nasdaq composite index of tech-dominated stock gained 0.91 percent, 22.41, to 2,479.80.

Iceland exporting geothermal expertise

Reykjavik, Iceland -- Iceland's economy, on the rocks since the bank collapse of 2008, has one bright spot, experts say -- the country is making money off of geothermal energy.

It's doing so by selling its expertise in the field around the world, talking with countries including China and India about contracts for projects to tap geothermal energy, and is looking at countries in Africa and Latin America, Inter Press Service reported.

Katrin Juliusdottir, Iceland's minister for industry, hosted Indian Energy Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah in September to discuss cooperation between the two countries in geothermal energy.

This Stock Has the Edge

We see it all the time. Companies say they possess a competitive advantage because of (fill in the blank). If it were only that easy, I could just read through a handful of annual reports, plunk down my money, and call it a day. Alas, it's not so simple. Much like waking my daughters up for school in the morning, sussing out a real competitive advantage will require some work, some finesse, and most of all, some time.

Australian dollar almost equal to U.S.

Canberra, Australia -- The Australian dollar was at 99 cents to the U.S. dollar overnight Thursday.

The dollar moved higher, driven by the strong Australian economy and a weakening U.S. dollar. The Australian dollar came within one cent of its American counterpart late Thursday before falling back to 0.98 cents to the dollar Friday afternoon.

Westpac Bank Chief Economist Bill Evans predicted the Australian dollar could reach as high as $1.05 U.S.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

U.S. markets wobble to close mixed

New York -- U.S. markets closed mixed Wednesday with Tuesday's rally jolted back to earth by a private industry report that said the economy lost jobs in September.

Payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc., said the economy lost 39,000 private sector jobs in August to September. Goods producing jobs dropped by 45,000 in the month while service-providing jobs rose by 6,000, the report said.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed higher, adding 22.93 points, 0.21 percent to 10,967.65. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.78 points, 0.07 percent, to 1,159.97. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 0.8 percent, 19.17 points, to 2,380.66.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,399 stocks advanced and 1,574 declined on a volume of 3.9 billion shares traded.

Companies wait and see with cash in hand

New York -- The stockpile of cash held by U.S. corporations has grown sharply since mid-2008 but it has not benefited the economy or workers, economists said.

The run-up of cash has been available with Federal Reserve Bank interest rates so low that corporations can issue bonds at rates even less than 1 percent, which still beats the Fed's overnight lending rate of zero to 0.25 percent.

"They are benefiting themselves by borrowing and keeping this cash, but is not benefiting the economy yet," The New York Times quoted Credit Suisse economist Dana Saporta as saying Monday.