March 16th, 2009
04:25 PM ET

What is a small business?

Editor's Note: President Obama vowed Monday to ease the financial plight of the nation's small businesses, promising immediate action to revive frozen credit markets. The president called small businesses "one of the biggest drivers of employment that we have" and said his administration is "working diligently to increase liquidity throughout the financial system."

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/16/AIG.bonuses/art.obama.pool.jpg caption="The president announced a plan Monday to help small businesses during the credit crisis."]

So what exactly is a small business? Here's a quick fact-sheet from the U.S. Small Business Association.

1. What is a small business?

The Office of Advocacy defines a small business for research purposes as an independent business having fewer than 500 employees. Firms wishing to be designated small businesses for government programs such as contracting must meet size standards speci?ed by the U.S. Small Business Administra- tion (SBA) Office of Size Standards. These standards vary by industry; see http://www.sba.gov/size.

2. How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?

• Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
• Employ about half of all private sector employees.
• Pay nearly 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
• Have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade.
• Create more than half of nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
• Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer
• Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
• Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 28.9 percent of the known
export value in FY 2006.
• Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice
as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.

3. How many new jobs do small firms create?

Since the mid-1990s, small businesses have created 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs. In the most recent year with data (2005), employer firms with fewer than 500 employees created 979,102 net new jobs, or 78.9 percent. Meanwhile, large firms with 500 or more employees added 262,326 net new jobs or 21.1 percent.

4. What is small firms’ share of employment?

Small businesses employ about half of U.S. workers. Of 116.3 million nonfarm private sector workers in 2005, small firms with fewer than 500 workers employed 58.6 million and large firms employed 57.7 million. Firms with fewer than 20 employees employed 21.3 million. While small firms create 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs, their share of employment remains steady since some firms grow into large firms as they create new jobs.


March 16th, 2009
04:17 PM ET

Obama rating high, but poll finds worries on economy

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Paul Steinhauser
Deputy Political Director

A national poll indicates that nearly two out of three Americans approve of the job President Obama's doing, but the survey suggests that people appear to be split on how he's handling some aspects of the economy.

Obama's job approval rating stands at 64 percent in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday. That rating is down 3 percentage points from mid-February.

When asked about the economy, 59 percent of respondents approve of how Obama's performing, with 40 percent disapproving.


March 16th, 2009
04:12 PM ET

AIG names recipients of its bailout money

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Troubled insurance giant AIG, already under fire for intending to pay out $165 million in bonuses and compensation, succumbed Sunday to congressional pressure, identifying banks that received chunks of the company's billions in federal bailout funds last year.

AIG, a recipient of at least $170 billion in federal bailout money , got an $85 billion loan from the Federal Reserve.

The list released Sunday of "counterparties" that benefited from the bailout is topped by European banks Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank, which received $4.1 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively.

Wall Street firms Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch round out the top four, receiving $2.5 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively.

In releasing the list, AIG said it "recognizes the importance of upholding a high degree of transparency with respect to the use of public funds," in a statement.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Bailout Turmoil
March 16th, 2009
04:10 PM ET

Language of the new economy

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The bailouts have brought a new list of terms to the conversation about the economy.

CNNMoney.com staff

The government's economic recovery efforts have brought many new and unfamiliar financial terms into the conversation. Here's a list of some we think are vital to understanding the recession and the government's attempts to fix it:

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT): The provision was originally intended to prevent high-income taxpayers from using tax breaks to sharply reduce their tax bill. But Congress never adjusted for inflation the amount of income exempt from AMT, putting tens of millions of middle- and upper-middle-income taxpayers at risk of having to pay it. Every year, Congress approves a "patch" that temporarily lifts the income exemption levels.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: The $787 billion economic stimulus package contains $212 billion of tax relief, $308 billion of appropriations and $267 billion in direct spending. The Obama administration estimates that the plan will create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010 and boost consumer spending.


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Economy • Road to Rescue
March 16th, 2009
04:07 PM ET

Feds go after Bernard Madoff's riches

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Allan Chernoff
CNN Senior Correspondent

Federal prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of Bernard Madoff's four homes and other assets after Madoff's guilty plea to masterminding a massive investment fraud.

Madoff is in jail at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan after pleading guilty to operating on the largest Ponzi schemes in history.

He faces 150 years in prison when he is sentenced June 16.

Many of the assets are held in the name of Madoff's wife, Ruth. That should not prevent the government from seizing them, said former federal prosecutor Bradley Simon of Simon & Partners.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment
March 16th, 2009
03:24 PM ET

Cheney hypocritical on big government

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Paul Begala

CNN Contributor

Editor's note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.

Dick Cheney has finally found the limits of government power.

In his interview with CNN's John King - his first television interview since leaving the vice presidency - Cheney revealed a view of federal power that is incoherent and hypocritical.

According to recently released legal memos from the Bush-Cheney administration, the former vice president believes that the federal government can ignore the First Amendment and suppress free speech and freedom of the press as part of its "war on terror."

An October 23, 2001, memo from Justice Department lawyers John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty said, "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully."


Filed under: Dick Cheney • John King • Paul Begala
March 16th, 2009
03:13 PM ET

President Obama: Block AIG bonuses

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Mike Allen & Eamon Javers

Harnessing public outrage over lavish bonuses for bailed-out executives at insurance giant AIG, President Obama said Monday that he will “pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”

Obama made his forceful remarks at a small-business event at the White House, following a weekend of heavy news coverage of the payments that fueled the populist backlash already building against bailouts for the wealthy.

“This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values,” Obama said.
“All across the country, there are people who work hard and meet their responsibilities every single day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multi-million dollar bonuses,” Obama said. “And all they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules.”


March 16th, 2009
01:11 PM ET

In Belfast, picture an end to religious civil war

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Eboo Patel
Interfaith Youth Core
AC360° Contributor

Picture religious violence. What images come to mind? A plane crashing into the World Trade Center on 9/11? A videotape confession by a suicide bomber?

The perpetrators of religious violence are masters of marketing. They want you to see them commit acts of violence, and they want you to associate it with their religion. In fact, the violence is in many cases simply an excuse for the image. The goal is not the murder of a few, it is the poisoning of many with the pictures of violence, with the ultimate hope being the incitement of a religious civil war in cities like Baghdad.

Now picture interfaith cooperation. Did your brain-screen go fuzzy? I wish interfaith images came just as readily and were just as clear as images of religious violence. In fact, I believe one of the reasons we lack a strong, cohesive interfaith movement is because of the absence of such clear visual reference points.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Eboo Patel • Ethics • Faith
March 16th, 2009
12:29 PM ET

Job losses hit black men hardest

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Patrik Jonsson and Yvonne Zipp
The Christian Science Monitor

At a time when America has elected its first black president, more African-American men are losing jobs than at any time since World War II.

No group has been hit harder by the downturn. Employment among black men has fallen 7.8 percent since November of 2007, according to a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

The trend is intimately tied to education, the report’s authors say. Black women – who are twice as likely as black men to go to college – have faced no net job losses. By contrast, black men are disproportionately employed in those blue-collar jobs that have been most highly affected – think third shifts at rural manufacturing plants.

It threatens to add to the difficulties of vulnerable families in a community already beset by high incarceration rates and low graduation numbers.

Moreover, it puts renewed focus on the cultural and economic stereotypes of black women and men – mythologies and realities about the black family that remain challenging for the country, and Washington, to address.


Filed under: Black in America • Unemployment
March 16th, 2009
12:26 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Bernanke sees an end to the recession

Program Note: Tune in tonight for the "Road to Rescue," Anderson is on the road reporting on the economy from around the country. Tonight he'll anchor AC360° live from L.A. at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/15/AIG.banks.list/art.aig.door.gi.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a rare TV interview, said the recession “probably” will end this year if the government succeeds in bolstering the banking system.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Bernanke seemed to express a bit more optimism that it can be done and that a "depression" can be avoided.

“We're working on it. And I do think that we will get it stabilized, and we'll see the recession coming to an end probably this year. We'll see recovery beginning next year. And it will pick up steam over time,” Bernanke said.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Road to Rescue • Unemployment • Wall St.
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