Weekday NEWS to Comfort the Disturbed and Disturb the Comfortable.
Metals - Gold firms as prospect of Fed rate cuts pressures dollar Gold firmed in early trade after the US dollar weakened overnight following comments from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that suggested a further cut in US interest rates could be in the offing. The greenback softened further against the euro this morning after the release of euro zone trade data, further boosting the precious metal's appeal as an alternative investment. A softer dollar also makes gold, which is denominated in the US currency, cheaper for holders of other currencies. The dollar initially edged down yesterday after Bernanke told the US Senate that there were significant risks that the economic slowdown could deepen.In his testimony, Bernanke said the Fed is prepared if necessary to "act in a timely manner as needed to support growth and provide adequate insurance against downside risks",
Countrywide says foreclosure rate at new record Countrywide Financial Corp, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, said on Friday foreclosures and late payments rose in January to the highest on record, reflecting the nation's deepening housing and credit crunch.The foreclosure rate for the 9.02 million mortgages on which Countrywide collects and processes payments roughly doubled to 1.48 percent from 0.77 percent a year earlier, and rose from December's 1.44 percent.Delinquencies rose to 7.47 percent of unpaid balances from 4.32 percent a year earlier, and 7.20 percent in December. Countrywide services $1.48 trillion of home loans.Countrywide also said it funded $21.9 billion of home loans in January, down 41 percent from $37.1 billion a year earlier, and 6 percent from December's $23.4 billion.
Empire State survey shows N.Y. activity slump Data out from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Friday showed that regional manufacturing activity for February fell to the weakest levels seen in close to three years. The Empire State index tracking general business conditions tumbled nearly 21 points to a negative 11.7 reading, falling below the zero for the first time since May 2005. New orders and shipments indexes also dropped into negative territory, the New York Fed said. The prices paid index rose for a second consecutive month, to its highest level in considerably more than a year, while the prices received index remained elevated but close to January's level. The data helped knock U.S. stock futures, sent yields on two-year Treasury bonds higher, and hurt the U.S. dollar.
Citigroup halts withdrawals from hedge fund Citigroup Inc. has halted withdrawals from one of its hedge funds after investors holding around 30% of the $500 million fund asked for their money back, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Citigroup injected around $100 million into CSO Partners, a fund that specializes in corporate debt, last month in an effort to stabilize it after it lost 11% in 2007, the newspaper said. Investors have been asking to withdraw their money after complaining that the fund's longtime manager John Pickett put too much money into a single investment that went bad. Pickett recently left the fund after a dispute with Citigroup executives and the investor complaints, the report added.
Oil prices approach 100 dollars per barrel World oil prices advanced on Friday towards 100 dollars per barrel, briefly topping 96 dollars, as geopolitical jitters stemming from Nigeria and Venezuela stoked global supply concerns, traders said. Those market fears overshadowed a gloomy warning from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who predicted "a period of sluggish growth" ahead for the energy-hungry US economy. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, won 43 cents to 95.89 dollars a barrel, after rising as high as 96.05 dollars -- which was last seen on January 9. Brent North Sea crude for March delivery gained 19 cents to 95.35 dollars. "Oil prices have continued their upwards march," said Barclays Capital analyst Kevin Norrish.
Bloomberg Rips Government Over Failing Economy Mayor Michael Bloomberg has unleashed another flurry of jabs on Washington, ridiculing the federal government's rebate checks as being "like giving a drink to an alcoholic" on Thursday, and said the presidential candidates are looking for easy solutions to complex economic problems. The billionaire and potential independent presidential candidate also said the nation "has a balance sheet that's starting to look more and more like a third-world country." President Bush signed legislation Wednesday that will result in cash rebates ranging from $300 to $1,200 for more than 130 million people. The federal checks are the centerpiece of the government's emergency effort to stimulate the economy, under the theory that most people will spend the money right away.
Let's Legalize Competing Currencies I rise to speak on the concept of competing currencies. Currency, or money, is what allows civilization to flourish. In the absence of money, barter is the name of the game; if the farmer needs shoes, he must trade his eggs and milk to the cobbler and hope that the cobbler needs eggs and milk. Money makes the transaction process far easier. Rather than having to search for someone with reciprocal wants, the farmer can exchange his milk and eggs for an agreed-upon medium of exchange with which he can then purchase shoes. This medium of exchange should satisfy certain properties: it should be durable, that is to say, it does not wear out easily; it should be portable, that is, easily carried; it should be divisible into units usable for everyday transactions; it should be recognizable and uniform, so that one unit of money has the same properties as every other unit;
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