Sep 20, 2011, 5:00 am EDT
The United States Postal Service is in dire straits. It is projecting a $6.4 billion loss and could run out of money by the end of the month without a Congressional bailout to meet pension requirements.
The driving forces behind the agency’s financial woes are many — a precipitous drop in mail volume because of the digital age, skyrocketing labor costs and an inefficient network populated with infrequently used rural post offices and routes that just don’t make sense financially.
As a result, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe asked Congress this month to untie his hands so he can make the kind of sweeping changes the organization needs to adjust. On the table are cuts to routes, office closures and even the elimination of Saturday delivery altogether. Read
Sep 19, 2011, 8:02 am EDT
House Speaker John Boehner gave a speech to the Economic Club of Washington last week that made waves. Strangely enough, the hubbub was because he said the GOP will oppose any tax increases.
The summer of discontent has produced no change in Republican talking points: we won’t raise taxes and Obama is responsible for everything that sounds scary, expensive or is a product of the federal bureaucracy. Read
Sep 17, 2011, 5:26 am EDT
As Congress takes up the American Jobs Act in the coming months it will be deciding, among other things, whether or not to extend payroll tax breaks, prevent teachers from being fired, continue to assist the unemployed and spur hiring of the long- term unemployed.
This particular package of legislation sits in the midst of Congress’ usual array of concerns that effect the average American: raising (or not) the minimum wage, making health care more affordable, preventing foreclosures and ensuring that seniors receive their fixed incomes every month.
Given the import of these tasks, it’s useful to note how different the financial priorities and experience of Congress are from our own. Or put more bluntly, how out of touch these rich folks are with the vast majority of Americans. Read
Sep 14, 2011, 8:31 pm EDT
On Sept. 15, 2008, the world learned a debt-riddled Lehman Brothers would be no more. The Dow dropped more than 500 points that day, and a month later the index was off about 25%.
And that was only the beginning.
The corporate carnage that followed doesn’t deserve rehashing, since nearly every investor has a personal point of outrage. There was a death sentence for dividends, including a 68% cut in General Electric (NYSE:GE). There was the race to the bottom in the entire financial sector, with American International Group (NYSE:AIG) plunging 90% in seven trading days that fall. The list goes on. Read
Sep 14, 2011, 11:17 am EDT
Will Greece default, or won’t she? This seems to be the question on every investor’s lips, and the uncertainty surrounding the outcome has the markets on edge.
I have no inside information about how this crisis will be resolved, and even if I had the phones of every European leader bugged, I’m not sure the information gleaned would be particularly useful right now. The EU leaders tasked with resolving this crisis seem to have no more of a grasp on the situation than those of us on the outside.
No one said investing is easy or that it should be easy. Investing is an exercise in making difficult decisions under conditions of uncertainty. If we knew the future ahead of time, there would be no risk and thus no possibility for return — or loss. Read
Sep 14, 2011, 4:00 am EDT
Now, here’s a role reversal. Stocks roared back in the last hour of trading Monday and continued their rally Tuesday — on rumors that China and perhaps also the other members of the BRICs quartet (Brazil, Russia and India) might purchase a huge quantity of troubled euro zone sovereign debt.
For anybody with the slightest sense of history, it’s hard not to smile. Back in the fall of 1998, the financial world was flailing in a funk because Russia had just defaulted on its debts. Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and other emerging Asian economies were fighting to stave off collapse.
Now we’re told the emerging countries might be preparing to bail out the likes of Greece, Portugal and Ireland — possibly Italy and Spain, too! Read