[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/02/20/economy.history/art.depression.jpg caption="Life-sized statues of a Great Depression breadline greet visitors to FDR memorial in Washington. "]
CNN Financial News Producer
The number of Americans who think another Great Depression will occur within the next year is on the rise, a poll released today shows.
Forty-five percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey said another depression like the one the U.S. experienced in the 1930s is likely. Last December, 38% said a depression was likely in the next year.
The poll described the Great Depression of the 1930s as a time in which roughly one out of four workers was unemployed, banks failed across the country and millions of ordinary Americans were temporarily homeless or unable to feed their families.
New home construction unexpectedly surged in February, rebounding from seven consecutive months of declines.
Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 last month - a stunning 22% increase - boosted by an 82% increase in construction of apartment buildings. And applications for building permits, which are considered a reliable sign of future construction activity, rose a modest 3%.
Still, housing starts are down more than 47% from February 2008, when ground was broken on more than 1.1 million new homes.
Producer prices rose for a second-straight month in February, somewhat easing worries about the risk of deflation.
The Labor Dept. says the Producer Price Index rose 0.1% last month - a bit tamer than analysts were expecting. And the core PPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2%.
The Federal Reserve kicks off a 2-day meeting today, and while no change is expected in interest rates, the central bank’s statement accompanying the decision around 2:15 p.m. tomorrow will be scrutinized for any clues as to where we go from here.
The Fed’s key benchmark lending rate currently sits at a target range of 0% to 0.25%.
Stocks opened just barely in the green on this St. Patrick’s Day. Wall Street snapped a four-session winning streak Monday, with the Dow losing 7 points, the S&P ending down 0.4% and the Nasdaq falling nearly 2% as tech stocks faltered.
Gas prices held steady overnight at $1.910 a gallon. 9 states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. 41 states have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.517). The cheapest gas prices are in Wyoming ($1.737)
Finally, Goldman Sachs - which accepted billions of taxpayer dollars last fall and was also a big beneficiary of the rescue of the AIG - is offering to lend money to some employees who have been squeezed by the financial crisis.
The loans, offered via e-mail last week, could range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The loans are being offered because some employees face cash calls on their personal investments in some of the bank's own elite investment funds - which had been considered one of the key perks of working at Goldman.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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