March 23rd, 2009
09:49 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 3/23/09

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Here's your chance to weigh in on tonight's show. Let us know what you think.

Don't miss the 360 webcast during the commercials. Watch our WEBCAST

Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ

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Filed under: Live Blog • T1
March 23rd, 2009
09:25 PM ET

Letterman's whacky wedding day

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Editor's note: David Letterman and his girlfriend of two decades, Regina Lasko, got married in Montana last week - but first, along with their five-year-old son Harry, their truck got stuck in the mud. Here's the story Letterman told the audience when taping his show today, according to excerpts released by his publicist:

“On Thursday, at 3 PM, March 19, 2009 at the Teton County Courthouse in Choteau, Montana, I was married to Regina Lasko.

Regina and I began dating in February of 1986, and I said, ‘Well, things are going pretty good, let’s just see what happens in about ten years….’

…I had avoided getting married pretty good for, like, 23 years, and I – honestly, whether this happened or not – I secretly felt that men who were married admired me…like I was the last of the real gunslingers, you know what I’m saying?

So now, we get ready to go and we’ve got to drive into the courthouse and it’s muddy, and we’re supposed to be there at 2, and it’s me, Regina and Harry in the truck, in the pickup truck…

So we get two miles from the house and we get stuck in the mud – I mean, turn the truck over, stuck in the mud. So now we think, ‘Well, somebody’ll come.'

No, nobody comes along. Nobody comes along – it’s Thursday afternoon, who’s coming along, Zorro?

No, nobody – so I get out of the truck and I walk two miles back to the house into a 50 mile an hour wind. It’s not Beverly Hills, it’s Montana, for God’s sakes. And the whole way, I’m thinking, ‘See, smart ass, see, see, you try to get married, this is what happens.

'See, well, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself. Could have happened any other day, but you wait now, see, this is what you get.’

So then we get in the car and Harry says, ‘Are we still going into town?’ and I said, ‘Yes, we are,’ and he gets very upset because mom had told him if I wasn’t back in an hour, the deal was off.”

Filed under: 360° Radar
March 23rd, 2009
09:12 PM ET

The Geithner plan just might work

Editor's note: Debate is raging among economists over Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's plan to sell toxic assets with taxpayer support. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman of the NY Times says the plan "won't work." Here's Brad deLong of UC Berkeley on why he thinks it could succeed.

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Grasping Reality with Both Hands
Brad DeLong

Q: What is the Geithner Plan?

A: The Geithner Plan is a trillion-dollar operation by which the U.S. acts as the world's largest hedge fund investor, committing its money to funds to buy up risky and distressed but probably fundamentally undervalued assets and, as patient capital, holding them either until maturity or until markets recover so that risk discounts are normal and it can sell them off–in either case at an immense profit.

Q: What if markets never recover, the assets are not fundamentally undervalued, and even when held to maturity the government doesn't make back its money?

A: Then we have worse things to worry about than government losses on TARP-program money–for we are then in a world in which the only things that have value are bottled water, sewing needles, and ammunition.

Q: Where does the trillion dollars come from?

A: $150 billion comes from the TARP in the form of equity, $820 billion from the FDIC in the form of debt, and $30 billion from the hedge fund and pension fund managers who will be hired to make the investments and run the program's operations.


Filed under: Economy
March 23rd, 2009
08:55 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Er, thanks, but no thanks on those bonuses

Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

Tonight we’re following breaking news on those outrage-inspiring bonuses paid to AIG executives. The payments have set off a national furor.

A short time ago, we got word that 15 out of 20 of AIG’s executives are giving the money back. In a conference call with reporters, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said that so far at least $50 million has been returned. Score one for average folks and the power of public opinion. We’ll have all the details for you by air time.

We’ll have to wait and see if the give-backs will quell the outrage that’s still overflowing. Over the weekend, some fuming community groups in Connecticut funneled their anger into action by organizing a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous” tour. The bus took sightseers to the homes of two AIG executives. Randi Kaye went along with her camera crew. We’ll have her report tonight.

What do you think? Was the tour a cheap publicity stunt that crossed a line? Or do the AIG execs, despite being private citizens, deserve all the scrutiny they’re getting? For the record, both of the execs who were targeted by the tour bus had already agreed to give back their bonuses before the bus rolled up. Does that change how you feel about the tour? Tell us what you think.

We’ll also devote considerable time to the government’s plan to move toxic assets off bank balance sheets. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner today unveiled his long-awaited plan to free up banks’ overloaded books. It basically aims to lure private investors, including big hedge funds, to buy up the bad debt by offering billions in low-interest loans to finance the purchases. The government will share the risks if the assets fall further in price. Wall Street seemed to like the plan; the Dow surged nearly 500 points. But not everyone is convinced it will work. Ali Velshi will breakdown the plan for us tonight. We’ll also dig deeper on the raw politics.

Plus, we’ll take you inside Bernie Madoff’s house of cards. We’re learning all kinds of bizarre details about the King of Ponzi schemes. People who used to work at his firm are talking – and the stories they’re telling will turn your head.

We’ll also have the latest on the shootings this weekend in Oakland, California. Four police officers were gunned down by the same killer. Two were shot during a traffic stop and two were hit while pursuing the shooter. Three of the officers are dead, a fourth is on life support and reportedly brain-dead. The shooter, who had a violent criminal history, was wanted for a parole violation. Tonight, there are plenty of questions about why he was on the streets of Oakland instead of behind bars. Joe Johns will have more for us tonight.

See you at 10 p.m. eastern.

Filed under: Cate Vojdik • The Buzz
March 23rd, 2009
08:22 PM ET

Lasting legacy of the Exxon Valdez

Twenty years on, the iconic oil spill remains an expensive ecological disaster.
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Nature News
Naomi Lubick

When people think of big oil spills, they think of the Exxon Valdez. Twenty years ago, the oil tanker spilled its load off the coast of Alaska, and images of oil-slicked birds hit the news at a time when environmental awareness was quickly rising in the United States.

The accident became a lightening rod for green groups and lawmakers, but has also prompted hundreds of scientific studies looking at the implications of the disaster on local people, the ecosystem, remediation practices and oil spill response. Nature takes a look back at the disaster, and finds out what the situation is today.


Filed under: Environmental issues • Oil
March 23rd, 2009
06:54 PM ET

Madoff Employee Breaks Silence

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The Daily Beast
Lucinda Franks

In a Daily Beast exclusive, one of the fraudster’s employees tells Lucinda Franks that the supposedly legitimate brokerage operations were in fact just money-losing fronts for the fraudster's scheme. Plus, what Madoff’s sons told staff the day after Bernie’s arrest, trips to the company’s secretive 17th floor, Bernie’s obsession with the color black and employee neatness, the roles of other family members, and visits to the founder’s Montauk home.

An employee of Bernard Madoff’s legitmate brokerage operations, which were described by the fraudster in his plea agreement as being “successful and profitable,” has told The Daily Beast that they were in fact money-losers that acted as a front for his Ponzi scheme.

He said that these businesses, the proprietary and market-making arms on the 18th and 19th floors of Madoff Securities, were designed to lure investors in, especially highly placed figures in society, and to fool the SEC into thinking that he had a large and impressive galaxy of businesses.

But behind the façade, these businesses were a shambles. They were excessively staffed with grossly overpaid people, and run with marked inefficiency, he said.


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Economy • Keeping Them Honest
March 23rd, 2009
05:38 PM ET

Beat 360° 3/23/09

Ready for today's Beat 360°?

Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too.

Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite!

Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

A financial professional looks up at monitors at his station on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange near the end of the trading day March 23, 2009 in New York City.

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions!

Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

UPDATE: Check out our Beat 360° Winners!


Beat 360° Challenge

But wait!… There’s more!

When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
March 23rd, 2009
04:26 PM ET

What the plan means

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from Ali Velshi on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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Ali Velshi
CNN Chief Business Correspondent

Basically the Govt has set-up a structure to allow it to partner with large private investors to buy the "toxic assets" from the banks. If it works, it will free-up up to a TRILLION dollars, which banks can then use to lend to businesses and consumers.

Follow-up questions:

"What's in it for the Americans?"

These are investments in the so-called "toxic assets." These are assets (real estate, other investments based on the value of that real estate) that are expected to increase over time. These are not "bailouts" but rather, purchases of things that are "taking up space" at the banks, but could be of value to others (think about selling your old, out of style ties on ebay, to someone who'll dry clean them, put them in nice presentation boxes, and wait until the come back into style). When the joint government-private funds that bought these assets sell them, it SHOULD make money for the taxpayer.

"Is this enough?"

Estimates for how much the banks need are as high as $2 TRILLION. Critics say this money may not be enough, but others say what's more important here is that a structure has been set up that hasn't been set up before. If it works, it can be expanded.

Filed under: Ali Velshi • Economy • Finance
March 23rd, 2009
03:17 PM ET

Anything with the word "toxic" in the name sounds like a winning plan to me

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Jack Gray
AC360° Producer/Writer

I’m excited to hear the government is buying up the country’s toxic assets.  Don’t mind me as I jump to the head of the line.  I mean, I think we can all agree I never should have given financial backing to that Jimmy Carter impersonator.  She was just awful.

And that Robert Frost video game seemed like a good investment at the time, but, in retrospect, it probably was rather tacky to have a digitized version of the poet say “I have miles to go before I sleep” right before he shot a carjacker.

I could accept responsibility for my own financial mistakes, but – as is the American way – I prefer to blame others.  In no particular order:  Betty White, Prince Charles, anyone who works at CNBC and, of course, John Stamos.

I also blame my dog, Sammy, whose voracious appetite for check fraud and Ecstasy forced me to pawn the Oscar I stole from Meryl Streep.

My financial stress is further exacerbated by the fact that I still haven’t won the Powerball jackpot.  Don’t feel bad for me, though.  Feel bad for the people at the lottery commission.  They’re the ones who obviously hate America.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Jack Gray • Treasury Secretary
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