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March 3rd, 2009
12:39 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Fresh lows on Wall Street

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/03/art.stockmarket.jpg]

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

You hear people talk about it wherever you go – deep concerns about retirement savings. The Dow Industrials are stuck below 7000 for the first time in almost 12-years after a 299 point plunge Monday. The Dow is down 23% so far this year and down 52% from its record high only 16 months ago. The slow-motion crash has everyone is asking – where is the bottom? The market reversed an earlier gain and is now lower.

In a particularly sensitive stock market, any comment or clue on the future from key players in government could have a big influence. We’ll be listening for that today when three of them testify about the President’s budget on Capitol Hill. At 10a Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke appears before the Senate Budget Committee, while Budget Director Peter Orszag simultaneously testifies before the House Budget Committee. At 1230p Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will appear before the House Ways and Means Committee.

President Obama meanwhile meets with British PM Gordon Brown today at 1130a amid expectations that the two countries will coordinate their response to the global economic slowdown in something of a “global new deal.”

CNNMoney is reality checking the President’s plans to reduce the deficit. Will they pan out as promised?

Citigroup today become the latest big lender to announce a plan to help homeowners. The company will lower mortgage payments for some delinquent, unemployed homeowners to an average of $500 a month for three months as part of a new program to help the unemployed. If customers are still without jobs after three months their mortgages will be handled on a case by case basis to come up with the best payment option.

That plan comes as the number of delinquencies continues to rise. According to credit reporting agency Transunion, delinquencies shot up 53-percent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year ago, and are up 16-percent from the third quarter level. It was the EIGHTH straight quarter of rising delinquency rates, which (obviously) preceed foreclosures.

And the latest on housing is not good – pending home sales (in contract but not closed) fell 7.7% in January, about twice the expected decline.

Oh, and don’t forget the auto makers. They report February sales numbers in the early afternoon.

Gas prices are back on the rise, but still below that $2 a gallon mark. The price of regular unleaded rose 1-tenth of a cent to $1.933 , the fifth straight increase.

In today’s Energy Fix, although you’ve turned your electronics and appliances off, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t drawing power.

Many gadgets still use energy in the off-mode, to light display clocks and keep memory chips and remote control working.

The E.P.A. estimates this so-called “vampire power” costs the average American household $100 a year. DVRs are some of the biggest vampires—a scientist we spoke to says your DVR costs you $40 a year, whether it’s on or off. On the flip-side, leaving your cell phone charger plugged into the wall isn’t much of a vampire at all— you could leave it there all year and it would only cost you 50-cents! So is there anything you can do to cut your vampire power costs? We’ll take a look.

Also on CNNMoney:

INVESTING/PERSONAL FINANCE

* Taking Aim at the Takeover Targets. In this battered market, some of the most undervalued stocks are likely to be bought out by the competition.


Filed under: Economy • Energy • Finance • Gas Prices • Gene Bloch • Oil • Wall St.
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Lorin

    when will we be, by definition , in a depression? Or is that just subjective?

    March 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  2. charlie

    Please see the definition of Monopoly by investor words dot com.

    "A situation in which a single company owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. This would happen in the case that there is a barrier to entry into the industry that allows the single company to operate without competition (for example, vast economies of scale, barriers to entry, or governmental regulation). In such an industry structure, the producer will often produce a volume that is less than the amount which would maximize social welfare."

    Why is it that this has not been talked about during the constant relief given to AIG?

    March 3, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  3. Art

    Hi Gene, this country needs a swift kick in the butt. I have questions. Why is there so much emphasis placed on the market.? If people don't have jobs, where's the money coming from? We need millions of jobs now! It's time to take back the USA people!

    March 3, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  4. roger

    "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
    If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by
    inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks]
    will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent
    their fathers conquered.
    The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it
    properly belongs."

    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

    March 3, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  5. JC- Los Angeles

    Where are all the financial pundits who said "I think it's contained in the sub-prime space" or "I think we're in for a soft landing" or "The bubble won't burst, it might slightly deflate?"

    How about the hacks who argued we weren't even in a recession? It's great to hear our leaders say "we didn't know it was this bad."

    Huh? Say what? Come again? Excuse me? Pardon?

    When a nation is run into the ground by an octogenarian who does nothing but cut rates so mortgage lenders and Wall Street can make a killing off fraud, it's bad beyond belief.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    March 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  6. penny

    "'I think it is brilliant for President O'bama to go across the pond to work with other countries to get ideas because American workers are BURNT OUT like the JAPANESE. They have no new ideas. Thank you Mr. President """"""

    March 3, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  7. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    And the financial crisis train keeps running, running, and running away--I think it will stop when it runs out of fuel (money).

    March 3, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  8. Larry L.

    When will the media step up and start reporting the truth about what is happening to our country and tell all the people that the current plan is taking us into a deep depression–what's in it for the media not to do this.

    March 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  9. Joe G. (Illinois)

    What would be so wrong if the Dow Jones Industrial got to be 3000 and stayed there? If nobody is willing to contest that we had Housing Bubble and concede the current "possibility" of a number of others. Then why is it that everybody (Obama included) is fighting so hard to bring back the bubble figures? “Even” if we didn’t have any other current live bubbles.. Being careful while holding true figures would certainly instill confidence and barter trade commerce?! But nobody agrees! Don’t they?

    March 3, 2009 at 1:00 pm |