February 4th, 2009
11:23 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: If it looks like a duck…

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/video/news/2009/01/09/news.romans.010909.cnnmoney.216×164.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

For American workers rocked by layoffs and cutbacks, January really was as bad as it felt, according to a pair of troubling reports released this morning.

The number of planned layoffs announced last month increased by 45% to the highest level in seven years, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. And ADP's National Employment Report found that private-sector employers cut 522,000 positions.

We’ll get the government’s official reading on January’s job losses on Friday. The latest estimate from Briefing.com is that the economy shed another 525,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate is expected to jump to 7.5% — the highest level since the early 1990s.

The man who tried to blow the whistle on Bernie Madoff is on Capitol Hill telling his story. Harry Markopolos, who waged a decade-long campaign to alert regulators about Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, says the SEC failed to act despite receiving credible allegations of fraud.

Markopolos told a House committee hearing this morning that the SEC is “captive to the industry it regulates” and is afraid to bring big cases against prominent individuals. He said the agency "roars like a lion and bites like a flea."

Madoff was arrested in December and is currently under house arrest in his $7 million luxury apartment on New York’s Upper East Side.

Wells Fargo is canceling a four-day business meeting in Las Vegas after news reports portrayed it a “pricey Las Vegas casino junket.”

The company, one of nine banks to receive billions in federal bailout money last fall, called the reports “intentionally misleading.”

“The event is not a ‘junket’ for executives but a four-day business meeting and recognition event for hard-working team members who made homeownership achievable and sustainable for borrowers across the nation," Wells Fargo said in a statement.

Gas prices rose 1 cent overnight to $1.90 a gallon. That’s the 7th consecutive increase.

Six states now have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.517). Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The cheapest gas prices are in Wyoming ($1.579)

Finally… are you looking for ways to save money on those things that are impossible to cut completely out of your budget? Gerri Willis, CNN’s Personal Finance Editor, has some answers.

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Wall St.
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Chad

    I'm hearing alot of positions in local government being cut but I haven't heard of many on the national front. If we are paying taxes to this government and paying for this bail-out shouldn't we have a more of a say of you stays and who goes. What does a junior senator do anyway? Why do we need so many senators or could we do with half the people we have in the house of representatives? I think if you went back to a democracy instead of a "representative" democracy we could streamline this government and maybe they could pass a bill without arguing for two weeks while we pay for the meetings.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  2. Natalie

    While unemployment is on the rise, many of us who are unemployed are NOT eligible for Extended Benefits. In my case, I was denied extended benefits because my earnings were $202.00 short of the requirement for Base Earnings for eligibility. Rediculous I say!!!

    The current financial climate has employers paralyzed, and hiring has come to a screeching halt, making it almost impossible for candidates such as me to secure employment. With a degree in Mathematics and a Certified Management Accountant certification almost completed, I have no gauge for when I will be employed again, and that is frightening!!!

    As a citizen of the USA, and resident of California, I have diligently paid my taxes (Income Tax, Property Tax and Sales Taxes...etc). While I am expected to passively watch the government generously hands out bailouts (with no conditions) to Wall Street, the Auto Industry and the Banks, who have no ethical conscience and award themselves generous bonuses with my tax dollars, I am denied of any/all assistance to sustain a basic standard of living!!!! Where’s the justice???

    I am a naturalized citizen, originally from South-East Asia, and have worked very diligently to become a productive citizen of this country contributing to it’s GDP. Do you have any idea what it feels like to see illegal immigrants receiving all kinds of assistance while the state of CA penalizes those of us who are working and paying taxes? Perhaps a little common sense, as well as discretion, could be brought to bear?

    A dissillusioned US Citizen

    February 4, 2009 at 11:41 pm |
  3. Terry

    Taxpayers better pay attention....because the two largest populated states putting out their hand for bailout cash....California and New York....and their state social programs apply to illegal aliens as well.

    I say none of the tax payers stimulus money in this Pork Package go to fund illegal aliens....American citizens and legal immigrants only.
    E-Verify eliminates an illegal alien being employed or receiving benefits, 99% accurate and would save BILLIONS of dollars. .

    Guess what...Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid....would like everything to apply to illegal aliens....they don't want the E-Verify check to be used. Unfortunately, President Obama is totally in the tank with them on this issue.

    Call and email your senators and congressmen...Pelosi and Reid.

    This is getting creepy and the taxpayer is going to get the shaft.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  4. Mitzi

    Federal Aid for Non Governmental Organizations in Africa: No funds for you if you hand out contraceptives or provide family-planning advice.

    Banks with Billion $$ Bailouts: We may not like what you do with the taxpayers' money, but we have no right to say anything or restrict you in any way you choose to spend our money. If we ask you nicely, would you please scale back your CEO bonuses?

    February 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  5. Jim,

    Banks have been doing the same thing for years Go Back toSchool & Study History. They charge high interest, lend until your in the hole then foreclose,resell what you have paid on & make more money. The way to take them out is live within your means & Don't do any bussiness with them -I have never had a credit card or bank loan & I survive legally I have a checking account I keep $10.00 in to keep it open & pay CASH for what I need & am able to survive on under 10,000 a year.

    February 4, 2009 at 7:07 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Gas has gone up some here but not much – its at 1.75 per gallon. Lot better than a few months ago. We're trying to cut our expenses every way that we can. One bill went down that we didn't expect and while it may be a bad reading of the meter if its not then I am encouraged – our water bill went down by more than half. The only difference – my 19 year old that is off at college – guess she used more water than the rest of us!!

    February 4, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  7. tracy

    help me to understand please. I never had a late payment with citi bank on my credit card in over 10 years my int rate was 2%. I just got a letter telling me that do to the worlds fin. my rate would have to go up to 24% need less to say I hit the floor in tears. I just stop working do to my health. I explain to the women from citi bank the one thing i learned from the O.J. case you cant touch my penison. And I will file chap 11. and citi bank would never be PAID. She called be right back and offered me 13% that still sucks.
    all of this after they got the bailout. At this point put me on top of the baseball sign. I'm cheaper and cute and happy to wear a baseball cap of course that would say citbank sucks..... thanks for the ear Tracey

    February 4, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  8. Lucy n ga

    American's have lost job's to millions of illegal imigrants that are sucking our system dry. Health care,food stamps etc. You go to the emergency room u will pay full price then some. illegals pay $10.00.
    Job's they are creating If any will be taken over by illegals. Drive by a construction site or where they are repairing a road way 8 out of 10 workers are mexican's. Job creation for american's won't happen

    February 4, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  9. Ron Chester

    And Justice for all, "NOT"

    Michale Vick was jailed because of his association with dog fighting,
    before he was tried in court.

    Madoff the ponzie king, have wiped out hundreds of individuals
    life savings, and some have even taken their life. But he is allowed to remain in his penthouse wearing an ankle monitor.

    Is this equal justice, why did not Michael Vick receive the same treatment.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  10. JC- Los Angeles

    To prevent the collapse of our once proud nation, all anyone had to do was spend one day here in California with a sales rep at a mortgage lender or spend a few minutes inside the office of a mortgage lending company.

    Since the second plane hit on 9/11 and with each egregious rate cut from Greenspan, the mortgage fraud factories at Countrywide, Bank of America, WAMU and Wells Fargo ratcheted up fraud production to staggering levels.

    With Wall Street buying the fraudulent loans, it was a perfect panacea for a post 9/11 America; money was made and people were given a false sense of security; the only problem was it destroyed a nation.

    February 4, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  11. Hannah

    Isn't this the line to get that free breakfast at Denny's?

    February 4, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  12. Rem

    Illegals will be the first ones to benefit from the "job creation". If you look at the industries they're trying to create job in, they are the focus of illegal immigrants. Notice that the stimules has NO illegal immigration clauses. It's ridiculous. Americans will be out of jobs and illegals will have taken all the menial jobs available. This can't be good.

    February 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  13. Susan

    hi I am writing to find out why no one is demanding that once the stimulus is passed that not a single job go to illegals, h1b visa, 22 guest workers or anyone else that isn't a bonified American Citizen, we are the ones that will be paying for gnerations no one else. Also why arn't you tell Americans that e-verify has been delayed , and not much possibllity of ever becoming law, I know your a journalist and I watch you all the time, but Americans don't care about the mother with 8 baby's that's the tabloids territory. Please give us news about the Democratics wanting to pass a bill making 20million ilegal on a pathway to citizenship, we don't need any more people taking jobs that Americans need, there are thousands of Americans out of work and thousands more to come, lets start looking out for Legal Americans,

    February 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  14. earle,florida

    I'd like to comment about Wells Fargo mortgage lending, and their ,"blowing their own horn" on how they made homeownership achievable, and sustainable for borrowers across the nation! If you were getting a motgage from said company from 2005-2007,they had a "No Sales Clause" moritorium written into the Buyer/Sellers Agreement for "Two Years"? Their reason being,"We don't want you Flipping the House",knowing in advance through their," Housing Market Anaysis Actuaries" that the," Top Was In" already,well in advance of the borrowers knowledge! I know personally dozens of individual caught up in this lending anomaly,that couldn't sell when sixmonths,to a year later they could have gotten out ,but were locked-in? My argument being,thousands were scammed in my personal opinion for "Laws "regarding "Fair Lending",... Thanks Mr. Torgan JMHO

    February 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm |