It doesn't have four letters, but "mortgage" has definitely been a dirty word in the financial world the past few years. That's especially true when the word "mortgage" is paired up with such other terms as "subprime," "delinquent," and "foreclosures."
Little wonder that mortgages - along with the derivative securities backed by them and the often-unseemly practices of the people pushing them - have gotten much of the blame for precipitating the economic meltdown from which the...
Weak Job Market and Low Inflation Stall Fed's "Exit Strategy"
Any speculation that U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had his finger on the "exit strategy" trigger has been silenced.
Bernanke yesterday (Wednesday) faced the House Financial Services Committee to instill public confidence in the Fed's ability to exercise a smooth exit strategy and quell continued fears of a tightening monetary policy.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) "continues to anticipate that economic conditions -- including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation...
Latest Report Shows the Jobless Recovery Still Endures
Stocks have staged surprise rebounds after seemingly poor payroll reports half a dozen times in the past year. But the one time that there was better-than-expected job news, on Dec. 5, the market tanked. Go figure - it's a great example of how upside down the logic is on Wall Street.
To help us interpret the jobs report of last week, I turned to my favorite independent labor analysts, Philippa Dunne and Doug Henwood. Here's their view of the latest numbers, which they considered the most positive in months - despite the many...
Fourth Quarter U.S. GDP Report is All Sizzle and No Steak
When the Roman poet Phaedrus cautioned that "things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many," he could easily have been describing the latest report on the U.S. economy.
According to a report released Friday, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at a 5.7% annual rate in the fourth quarter, exceeding most estimates. But many economists are skeptical that such growth is sustainable. In fact, many analysts say the numbers are downright misleading.
Roughly two thirds of the growth came...
Looking For a Bright Spot? Productivity Growth May be America's Secret Weapon
The U.S. employment picture isn't pretty. At 10%, the unemployment rate is at its highest level in nearly three decades, and it's expected to move higher. American employers cut 4.2 million jobs last year, and nearly 15.3 million people are unemployed.
Those bemoaning the increase in U.S. joblessness are right to do so. But they should also remember that unemployment is a direct result of the U.S. economy's greatest strengths - its ability to grow productivity even in a recession.
The Conference Board publishes a...
Housing Market Still in Shambles as Obama's Loan Modification Program Falls Flat
Despite a concerted effort by the Obama administration to rebuild the housing market, it continues to languish. The government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) failed to stymie foreclosures last year, and 2010 may not be any better.
Instead of declining, the number of foreclosed homes in the United States last year increased to a record 2.8 million, a 21% rise over 2008 and 120% over 2007, according to RealtyTrac. Foreclosures in the fourth quarter jumped 18% over the same period last year.
Not helping matters...
By Collecting $533 Million in Fees, Lawyers Become Big Winners in Lehman Bros. Bankruptcy Case
Shareholders were the big losers when investment-banking giant Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (OTC: LEHMQ) collapsed in 2008.
Now, the bankruptcy lawyers are positioned to be the big winners. Lehman has already paid its bankruptcy advisers $533.5 million since September 2008, topping the half-a-billion-dollar mark in just 14 months, the investment-banking firm has revealed to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.
U.S. Consumers Feeling More Confident, Increase Retail Spending
The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer confidence increased in November for the first time in three months as the pace of job cuts slowed and shoppers increased retail sales.
The index of consumer sentiment unexpectedly rose to 73.4, much higher than economists had forecast, from 67.4 in November, according to the report released...
Billionaires Turn to Beggars as Financial Crisis Torches the World's Fortunes
The holiday season is traditionally the time when society extends a helping hand to the less fortunate among us. But this December, thanks to the world's continuing economic unease, we've got a whole new class of "poor" people to worry about.
They're called billionaires - or, even more tragic, "ex-billionaires" - and, according to Forbes magazine, they've taken a bigger financial hit in the past 15 months or so than in any year since the magazine started tracking the fortunes of the world's richest...
Although President Obama Warns of a “Double-Dip” Recession, Money Morning Expects U.S. Recovery to Continue
In a warning that focuses on the need to contain the soaring federal deficit, U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday (Wednesday) said that a continued accumulation of government debt could be enough to blunt the recovery and then drop the U.S. economy into a “double-dip” recession.
It was President Obama's most-severe warning yet about the dangers of growing budget deficits at a time when the U.S. unemployment rate is at 10.2% and climbing. The comments were made to Fox News during an interview granted...