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Volcker Appointed to Overhaul Tax Code; Ken Lewis Sees Recession Bottoming; Ford's Volvo Sales Moving Along; Romania Receives $27 Billion IMF Loan; IBM Transfers Jobs to India; Durable Goods Orders Rise; Brazil's Stock Market Surges to Six Week High; Bank of America to Repay TARP Funds
- President Barack Obama has appointed Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to close tax loopholes and streamline tax laws. The top-to-bottom overhaul of the 96-year-old tax code will reduce tax evasion and "corporate welfare," budget Director Peter Orszag told Bloomberg.
- Kenneth Lewis, Bank of America Corp.'s (BAC) chief executive, told The Los Angeles Times he wants to begin repaying the $45 billion his company owes the U.S. government next month. He also said that a variety of financial indicators "leads me to think we're starting to see the bottom" of the recession.
- In a message to its Volvo employees, Ford Motor Co. (F) said it is moving closer to selling the Swedish brand, which has been losing money. "We've had contact with a number of parties who've expressed interest concerning the future of Volvo. Ford's been pleased with the number and quality of those parties," John Gardiner, Ford's European director of strategic communications, told Reuters.
- Romania became the sixth eastern European country to receive a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Despite being the European Union's fastest-growing economy last year, the country received a $27 billion (20 billion-euro) loan from the IMF, Bloomberg reported.
- International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), the world's biggest computer-services provider, plans to inform a large number of U.S. employees in its global-business services unit that their jobs are being transferred to IBM employees in India, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation. IBM had already cut at least 4,000 positions since January, joining technology bellwethers Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Intel Corp. (INTC) in trimming payrolls to cope with the recession. The global division accounts for about one-fifth of sales.
- Orders for U.S. durable goods unexpectedly rose by 3.4% in February, the biggest gain in more than a year, the Commerce Department said yesterday (Wednesday). Increasing demand for machinery, computers and defense equipment, highlighed the figures and indicate the economy is stabilizing after shrinking last quarter at the fastest pace in a quarter century, Bloomberg reported. Stepped-up efforts by the Obama administration and Federal Reserve to ease the credit crunch may help revive growth later this year.
- Brazil's stock index climbed to a six-week high on speculation government efforts to bolster the housing industry and reductions in interest rates will boost economic growth, Bloomberg reported. The Bovespa index increased 2.4%, erasing yesterday's 2.3% decline. The gauge has gained 13% this year on speculation government measures, falling interest rates and a recovery in commodity prices will boost growth.
- Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis said Bank of America Corp (BAC) wants to start repaying $45 billion of federal bailout money next month, after completing a government stress test, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday. Lewis had previously said he hoped to pay back all of the money the largest U.S. bank took from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program as soon as later this year.