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Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 11/29

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving weekend and got some great bargains yesterday! With the official start of the holiday season, the markets are also looking a bit brighter. Kind of.

On Monday, Citigroup was bailed out from its recent troubles, with a $20 billion capital injection from TARP in exchange for preferred shares and a government agreement to guarantee over $300 billion of their troubled assets. The shares went from $3.77 last Friday (as I remember, but could be a bit off) to $8.29 yesterday. It would've been an easy way to double your money quick! Citi was simply too big and international to be allowed to fail.

On Tuesday, the latest economic data were released, citing a 0.5% decline in GDP from July-September, more than the 0.3% announced a month ago. Home prices also dropped a whooping 17.4% from a year ago, a record decline. Along with this bad economic data however, the Fed also announced a new $800 billion program to support asset-backed securities including consumer loans and mortgage-backed securities:
  • $100 billion to buy up debt issued by government-sponsored mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks
  • $500 billion to buy up mortgage securities backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae
  • $200 billion facility to support consumer finance, including student, auto, and credit card loans and loans backed by the federal Small Business Administration
Designed as a life line for consumers, it is supposed to help consumers get home, car and credit card loans easier. I haven't figured out all the implications of this program is. I am still astounded by the sudden $800 billion splurge. Last time they announced a splurged $700 billion, there were long congress hearings and deliberations for at least a week. Where was the hearing and deliberation here (or have I just been unaware of the politics?)? Regardless, this has run the financial crisis tab to $7.36 trillion- double what was spent on WW2 adjusted for inflation!

Overseas, the latest headline to up the pirate fiasco last week (not that it has gone away), is the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. I thought that Mumbai and Delhi were pretty civilized and safe these days with their strong economic growth and development. That is why I was so shocked to hear that the city was attacked by terrorists who randomly shot at people on the streets and hijacked 2 of the most luxurious hotels there, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi, and a Jewish center, taking and killing many hostages! The latest death toll as of Saturday evening was at least 183. The terrorists, were well trained and in their 20s. They arrived in Mumbai by boat and the whole thing appeared to be very well planned. They suspect that the gunmen are from Pakistan and that this may have something to do with the dispute in Kashmir.

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