.
December 23rd, 2009
11:32 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: BlackBerry outage

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

Our long national nightmare is over ... BlackBerry service is back.

For more than eight hours last night, BlackBerry customers throughout North America were without e-mail and Internet service after a widespread outage that began at about 6:30 p.m. ET. The company sent an e-mail to subscribers that estimated 100% of its users were affected at one point. It’s the second such outage in a week and raises questions about the reliability of the fast-growing service – there are now about 32-million subscribers according to Research In Motion, which makes the BlackBerry.

Mixed news on the economy this morning – on a negative side, housing is still in rough shape. New home sales plunged 11-percent in November, a bigger decline than expected. On the brighter side, personal income rose 0.4% in November, the fastest pace in six months. That helped boost personal spending a half percent last month, the second straight increase, though a bit less than expected. And consumers are in a better mood about things – the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said the final December reading rose to the highest level since September.

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gene Bloch • Wall St.
December 22nd, 2009
11:37 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Not so fast

Don't miss Christine Romans' interview with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

Don't miss Christine Romans' interview with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

Third time’s a charm, unless you’re talking about GDP estimates. The federal government today downwardly revised its estimate of how fast the economy grew in the third quarter. The Gross Domestic Product grew at an annual rate of 2.2% in the July through September period, the figure’s third and final revision. The number is smaller than expected and it represents a sharp decline from the original number reported two months ago – a gain of 3.5% (the number was revised last month to a gain of 2.8%).

Still it was the first quarter of growth we’ve seen after four straight quarters of contraction, and the best reading in two years. The growth has led many economists to speculate that the recession is over.

Christine Romans has a great interview with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. He’s speaking out about big banks, big bonuses and the financial crisis.

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Eliot Spitzer • Finance • Gene Bloch
December 15th, 2009
01:32 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Cash For Caulkers

Gene Bloch
CNN New York Managing Editor

President Obama continues his economic focus with a trip to Home Depot in Alexandria, Virginia. The topic: the economic impact of energy efficiency for homes in its so-called Cash for Caulkers program. While there, he'll also meet with business leaders and get ideas from them. In his remarks he'll talk about energy saving ideas and retro-fitting homes.

We’ll drill down on the President’s plan for energy efficiency in American homes (likely offering up to $12,000 in incentives for homeowners to retrofit houses and make them more energy efficient), we’ll look back at a similar program CNNMoney covered in Babylon, NY earlier this year that has now expanded to 8 neighboring towns on Long Island and has been a boon for the local economy. Will a national program have the same impact?

Those better than expected signs on the economy keep trickling in, though they don’t mean much until the economy begins adding jobs. FULL POST

November 9th, 2009
10:24 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Good times, bad times

Gas prices are down for a fourth consecutive day

Gas prices are down for a fourth consecutive day

Gene Bloch
CNN New York Managing Editor

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....for news on the economy.

Just when one report seems to offer a glimmer of hope, we receive a stark reminder that recovery or not, people are still hurting and conditions are tough.

Housing serves as a good example of one big problem with a few silver linings; a new report by Zillow.com shows 21% of single-family homeowners carrying a mortgage were “underwater” on their loans (or owed more than the value of their home) at the end of the third quarter. Troubling as that news is, the proportion is lower than the 23% reported in the second quarter. And home prices, while still falling in many areas of the country, are slowing in their rate of decline, and places like Fayetteville, NC and Cumberland, MD saw healthy price INCREASES in the third quarter. FULL POST


Filed under: Finance • Gene Bloch
September 29th, 2009
11:45 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Consumers less confident

Gene Bloch
CNN New York Managing Editor

A weed sprung up among those “green shoots” this morning. Consumer confidence declined unexpectedly in September, raising concerns about how retailers will fare this holiday season. The Conference Board’s index fell to 53.1 from a revised 54.5 in August. Economists were looking for a reading of 57. "Consumers remain quite apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news."

The news on housing this morning is more encouraging. For a third straight month, home prices increased in July, according to the S&P Case-Shiller index. That measure of prices in 20 cities rose 1.6 percent in July from the previous month. Prices are down 13.3 percent year-over-year, but that was a smaller decline than expected.

Stock prices are slightly lower in the early going today – one year ago today the Dow Industrial Average suffered its worst point-decline in history, down nearly 778 points, as the financial crisis deepened.

How safe is your money in the bank? Bank accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, but after nearly 100 bank failures this year alone, the FDIC needs to be replenished. What the best way to do that? Refilling those coffers is the subject of a FDIC board meeting today in Washington. The Wall Street Journal reports the FDIC will propose that banks pay their fees upfront for the next three years to restock the FDIC’s insurance fund.

But with the banking industry still reeling from the financial crisis—is this the right time to hit them up for that kind of cash? Poppy Harlow reports in today’s Breakdown.

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Gene Bloch
September 18th, 2009
02:00 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: State Unemployment Breakdown

People seeking employment line up outside a job fair in Baltimore, Maryland.

People seeking employment line up outside a job fair in Baltimore, Maryland.

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

Five states posted jobless rates above 12% last month, according to the Labor Department. Michigan had the highest unemployment rate – at 15.2%, followed by Nevada at 13.2% and Rhode Island at 12.8%. 27 states and the District of Columbia reported increases, 16 states registered rate decreases, and 7 states had no rate change. The news offers more confirmation that whether or not the recession is over, the jobs picture is still bleak.

http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/18/news/economy/state_unemployment/index.htm?postversion=2009091811

Poppy Harlow in today’s Breakdown takes a look at big bonuses and golden parachutes on Wall Street – a year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, it’s looking a lot like business as usual. Poppy talked to FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair who says the bonuses seem “absolutely unseemly.” And now a huge crackdown into bank compensation may be in the works. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the Federal Reserve is proposing broad oversight of any policies which encourage risk among bank employees. The Fed would have the power to amend or reject the executive compensation policies.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Finance • Gene Bloch • Unemployment
September 17th, 2009
01:42 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Housing in recovery

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

The economy and the financial crisis, which accelerated the recession, will be examined in depth tonight in a Money and Main Street special. Anderson Cooper and Ali Velshi host the program, which will include practical advice from a panel of financial experts on how Americans who suffered through the pain in the last year can put themselves back into a position to profit from the recovery. That’s tonight at 11p ET.

A mixed picture in the economic tea leaves this morning. Housing starts rose 1.5% in August to a nine-month high, driven by a surge in new apartment projects. New construction is running nearly 25% above the record low hit last April. But as housing recovers, the job market remains very weak. 545-thousand more people filed for first time unemployment claims last month, a drop of 12-thousand from the previous week, but economists were hoping for a bigger decline.

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gene Bloch
September 14th, 2009
11:55 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: One Year Ago

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

It was the end of Wall Street as we knew it and the beginning of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. One year ago today it became clear Lehman Brothers – a storied investment bank saddled with billions of dollars in risky investments – could not find a buyer, would not be saved by the federal government, and would have to file for bankruptcy protection (note: the anniversary of the bankruptcy filing is September 15th).

As we mark the occasion, President Obama is scheduled to give a speech on the crisis today at Federal Hall, a stone’s throw from the New York Stock Exchange. Mr. Obama – in the 12:00 p.m. speech – is expected to talk about the Administration’s plan to wind down government involvement in the financial sector, to lay out a strong case for immediate action on regulatory reform, including dealing with the touchy “too big to fail” question, executive pay, and reiterate the importance of global coordination in preventing future crises.

We have full coverage of the speech and the Lehman anniversary today.

On Friday we told you about GM’s 60-day guarantee program – if you don’t like your GM car, take it back! – today, Ali Velshi interviews GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz for CNNMoney on that new program and how it might affect sales.

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gene Bloch
September 11th, 2009
11:00 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: 9/11 Day of Service

Friday marks the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks that killed 2.752 people.

Friday marks the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks that killed 2.752 people.

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

On this eighth anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, as we remember the 2,976 people who died, we have the story of a trading firm that donates 100 percent of its profits on this day to charity. For the last five years, BGC, a firm spun off from Cantor Fitzgerald which lost 658 employees at the World Trade Center, has made the 9/11 anniversary a day of service. Susan Lisovicz is reporting on Newsroom and from the NYSE later today.

We’re looking ahead to another anniversary, marked next week – the collapse of Lehman Brothers. CNNMoney’s sister publication, Fortune Magazine, got special access to some of the people in the highest offices on Wall Street at the time of the collapse. We’ll share some of what they remember, what they say has changed, and what they’ve learned.

On the economic front, Monday will be a big day – as we mark the one year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers (note, the actual anniversary is Sept 15), President Obama will deliver what the White House is billing as a major speech on the financial crisis at Federal Hall in New York. He’s expected to discuss the steps that the Administration has taken to boost the economy, and steps that need to be taken to prevent such a crisis from reoccurring.

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gene Bloch • September 11th Anniversary
September 10th, 2009
12:11 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Madoff coached colleagues on evading SEC investigators

Financier Bernard Madoff is serving a 150-year prison term for defrauding thousands of investors.

Financier Bernard Madoff is serving a 150-year prison term for defrauding thousands of investors.

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

How is President Obama’s health care address going over with Americans? Ali Velshi is aboard the CNN Express and will be live at noon in Scranton PA, where the Tea Party Express has a rally scheduled.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau updated us today on the number of people without health insurance coverage – it stood 46.3 million in 2008, up 600-thousand from the 2007 level – but down from the 47 million reported in 2006. In the same report, the Census announced real median household income fell 3.6 percent to $50,303, and the poverty rate rose by 7-tenths of a percentage point to 13.2.

The jobs picture is still dire, but the latest weekly figures are “moving in the right direction” as economists like to say. The number of people filing first time jobless claims fell by 26-thousand last week to 550-thousand. The number of people continuing to collect unemployment is still above 6-million, but that number fell slightly as well.

Is the stimulus helping create jobs? This afternoon the Obama administration is releasing its first report to Congress about the stimulus, which is formally called the Recovery Act.

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gene Bloch • Unemployment • Wall St.
« older posts