Posted by Al Lewison August 26, 2011 Fat Cats /
Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said it again:
If he hadn’t cobbled together extraordinary bailouts in the fall of 2008, the economy would have slipped into a Great Depression.
He’s says he’ll never get credit for averting a depression that didn’t happen.
It’s also hard to believe he averted anything with ongoing housing and unemployment crises, and a global economy teetering on the edge.
The question the world must face is whether anything the U.S. Government or the Federal Reserve attempted since 2008 really worked.
Can you really solve a problem caused by too much spending and debt with more spending and debt?
And remember all that toxic mortgage debt everyone was so frightened about in 2008? Where did it go?
Meantime, it appears Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is stuck. In today’s speech, he couldn’t promise more stimulus for the economy. Politically, America’s tolerance for the Fed’s extraordinary efforts has run dry. But Bernanke also couldn’t leave out the possibility of further stimulus altogether because the economy is weak and the market is fragile.
Posted by Al Lewison August 25, 2011 Celebrities /
It was great seeing Sean Penn speak at the Global Business Travel Association’s convention in Denver on Wednesday.
The Oscar-winning actor has a lot to say, but rarely makes speaking appearances. He briefly hit a note that’s worth repeating: “I love to travel,” he said. “I’m not so interested in having my genitalia X-rayed.”
I’m not so interested in having mine zapped, either, Sean. Thanks for bringing that up at the travel conference. Everyone else seems to have gotten used to it. And sometimes, I feel like the only one still complaining about it.
Earlier in the conference, John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration, spoke, and with his Boy Scout demeanor, mused that Americans have mostly accepted enhanced security procedures at airports. Certainly, the ire a few first sparked has died down. And most people I meet say they have no problem letting federal officers touch their junk.
I can’t believe how complacent America has become, allowing the TSA to apply procedures previously reserved for criminal suspects to anyone with a plane ticket.
In the bleak darkness of an unemployment crisis, the tiniest, faintest light shines bright.
Here’s an a headline from Rhode Island that you just wouldn’t see in a strong economy: Toray Plastics is expanding, and it expects to create 28 jobs. Yes, that’s right. A full two dozen jobs – expected. But the company warns it might decide to take its further expansion plans – with a potential of 200 more jobs – to Virginia, depending on which states it finds more cost effective.
Of course,12 jobs is nothing to sneeze at in Rhode Island, a small state with a big unemployment rate: 10.8%, the nation’s fifth-highest. And the state’s governor and general assembly is on it.
Click here to read story from the Associated Press.
Posted by Al Lewison August 23, 2011 Trends /
I slept through the biggest earthquake to hit Colorado in more than 100 years.
The 5.3 magnitude quake was centered south of Trinidad, Colo., on the state’s southern end of Interstate 25, and it was felt as far as Greeley, Colo., hundreds of miles north.
It hit about midnight. And when I first heard people talking about “the earthquake” today, I thought they were talking about this earthquake, not the equally unusual 5.8 quake that hit the East Coast.
I think the DC quake may have been caused by all the fat cat lobbyists leaving town for vacation. They throw so much weight, and then when they leave, pressure eases on the continental plate and it shifts. Either that or the quake was caused by the unbearable weight of our national debt.
As for Colorado’s quake, I am bereft of aquequate theories. Maybe it was just one of those things. Next time it happens, will someone wake me up?
Posted by Al Lewison August 23, 2011 Housing /
I love this question M. Cary Leahey, senior economist at Decision Economics, raises in this story on new home sales by the Associated Press: Click here to read it. But I’m not sure I like the answer.
The AP story notes it took 19 years for housing to recover following the Great Depression.
The good news is, new homes aren’t being built as quickly as they used to, leaving a greater likelihood that millions of vacant homes across the land will one day be absorbed by the market. That’s about all the good news there is for housing, and who knows how long that will take.
So far 2011 is on track to be the worst year for new home sales on record.
The job of a CEO is to put the company’s best face forward, but sometimes executives go too far.
Anthony Cuti, 65, the former chief executive of New York drug store chain Duane Reade Inc. was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for securities fraud.
He “bullied people into committing fraudulent acts to make the company look like it was doing better than it actually was,” said U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts. But Cuti offered a different perspective: “I always felt I acted with the shareholders’ interests first and foremost.”
Yeah, tell it to the judge. It was all for the shareholders, not the CEO.
Click here to read more from the Associated Press.
Posted by Al Lewison August 21, 2011 Economy /
The Federal Reserve Bank’s annual retreat to Jackson Hole, Wyo., last year brought the world QE2, the bond buying program that levitated both the stock market and the economy for about a year – but has now run out.
So what’s the Fed going to do to bolster the economy and the market when it meets later this week in Jackson Hole? Well, most observers think the Fed is pretty much out of bullets. Interest rates are about as low as they can go without paying people to take out loans. And the political will to allow the Fed to keep the printing press rolling is gone.
I talk about it with Matt Flener of Denver’s NBC affiliate, 9News.
Posted by Al Lewison August 20, 2011 Economy /
Abercrombie & Fitch strikes me as a metaphor for the entire U.S. economy.
Despite an ongoing unemployment crisis, and increasingly weaker consumers, Abercrombie’s sales are up, profits are up and the company’s CEO Michael Jeffries knows how to talk enough smack to keep his brand in the news.
Abercrombie’s announcement Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s raunchy reality show “Jersey Shore” was sullying its “aspirational” image was a brilliant publicity stunt. It distracted us from the gloomy outlook for the retailer, as well as for the economy, in the months ahead.
Click here to read my column in The Sunday Wall Street Journal.
Posted by Al Lewison August 19, 2011 Retailing /
Who knew we’d never get bored of downloading photos of badly dressed shoppers at Wal-Mart?
I first wrote about People of WalMart in 2009, and the site is not only still displaying America’s finest fashion offenders, but has expanded into several new genres, including “dumbtweets,” “White Trash Repairs,” and “Your Kid’s Art Suck.”
If you think it’s mean that they’re making fun of the poor shoppers at Wal-Mart, don’t have a look at what they’re saying about the kids’ artwork.
Click here to read my column on the site from 2009. And enjoy this music video someone sent me.
We still have a housing crisis. We still have a banking crisis. We still have unemployment over 9%, and do you know what else we still have?
The FBI reports that the struggling economy has only served to keep mortgage fraud at elevated levels. You’d think with all the damage it’s caused to the economy, we’d have reined it in by now. But no. It’s as lucrative a crime as ever.
How can we fix the economy if we can’t even fix mortgage fraud?