April 6th, 2010
02:05 PM ET

Massey Energy stock sinks 11% after mine explosion

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/04/06/west.virginia.mine.explosion/smlvid.mine.rescue.wchs.jpg caption="An explosion at one of Massey Energy's coal mines in West Virginia killed at least 25 workers and left 4 missing." width=300 height=169]

Julianne Pepitone
CNN Money

Shares of Massey Energy plunged more than 8% Tuesday, one day after an explosion at one of the company's coal mines in West Virginia killed at least 25 workers and left 4 missing.

The blast took place at the Upper Big Branch Mine, about 30 miles south of Charleston, during a shift change Monday afternoon.

Massey (MEE) stock was down 11% at 1:15 p.m. ET Tuesday. Still, the company's shares are up almost 20% year-to-date. Massey's headquarters are in Richmond, and the company operates 44 mines, making it the fourth largest coal company in the U.S.

The cause of the explosion, the deadliest U.S. mining disaster in 25 years, was unknown Tuesday.

Keep reading...

October 12th, 2009
02:56 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Two Americans win Nobel Prize for Economics

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/10/12/nobel.economics/art.econ.nobels.iu.ucb.jpg caption="U.S. professors Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson are joint recipients of the Nobel Prize for economics."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Two American scholars who are experts in how businesses and the economy are regulated have won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Elinor Ostrom, a professor at Indiana University, is the first woman ever to win the Nobel in Economics.

Ostrom will share the $1.4 million prize with Oliver E. Williamson, a retired professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

The issue of government control of the economy has become a significant issue since last year's financial meltdown. The Obama Administration and governments of major developed economies around the globe are now working reform their regulatory oversight of businesses and markets.

Ostrom, a professor of political science, was recognized for her work demonstrating how common property, such as forests and lakes, can be successfully managed by those who use the resources, rather than government officials.

As for Williamson, the Nobel committee said his theories show that large private corporations exist primarily because they can be the most efficient way to complete some economic transactions, challenging the belief that markets are always the most rational and efficient way to conduct business.

Survey says… the recession is over

More than 80% of top economists believe that the recession that started almost two years ago is finally over. But most don't expect meaningful improvement in jobs, credit or housing for months to come.

That's according to a survey released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics. The group asked 43 top economists last month if they believe the battered economy has pulled out of the worst U.S. downturn since World War II.

Thirty-five respondents, or 81%, believe the recovery has begun. Only four, or 9%, believe the economy is still in a recession. The other four say they're uncertain.

Economists in the survey forecast that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3% in the three months that ended in September, though the official reading of gross domestic product won't be out for weeks.

And all of the economists surveyed expect the recovery to be slow and painful, leaving many people and businesses feeling the effects of the downturn for years to come.

The only organization that can officially declare the beginning or the end of a recession is the National Bureau of Economic Research. But that group doesn't make any sort of declaration until months after the fact, in order to take into account final readings of various economic measures such as employment, income and industrial production. For example, the NBER didn't declare that the recent recession had begun in December 2007 until a full year after the fact.

Big Week on Wall Street

The stalled-out stock-market rally got a reboot last week, pushing the Dow and S&P 500 to fresh one-year highs. But that resilience will be tested in the week ahead with the release of the first big batch of third-quarter financial results.

Dow components Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson and General Electric are all on tap. Google, Nokia, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are among the other big names due to report.

Today, with no economic or major earnings news on the docket, stocks are making some fairly solid advances, with the Dow topping 9,900 for the first time in more than a year.

Senate considers benefits extension

The Senate may vote this week on whether to extend unemployment benefits to the millions of jobless workers across the country.

This after Senate Democrats reached a deal to give an additional 14 weeks to workers in all 50 states, and 6 weeks on top of that to workers in states with unemployment above 8.5%.

The measure differs significantly from the version passed in the House last month. That one grants 13 weeks of extended benefits only workers in high unemployment states.

All this wrangling over details comes as 400,000 people ran out of benefits in September and another 208,000 are set to lose them this month.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • stocks • Wall St.
October 9th, 2009
05:18 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Stocks hit new highs for the year

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/18/consumer.agency.fight/art.creditcard.gi.jpg caption="Congress is considering a new agency designed to give consumers more protection."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Stocks rallied at the end of a strong week, with the Dow and S&P 500 hitting their highest levels in more than a year as investors extended a seven-month rally.

At the close, the Dow added 78 points, the Nasdaq gained 15 points and the S&P 500 tacked on 6 points.

The Dow gained in four of five sessions this week and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained in all five as investors dove back into the market after a two-week selloff.

The week was peppered with upbeat news on both the economic and global fronts, which helped lessen concerns that the stock market has gotten too far ahead of a recovery.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Barack Obama • Economy • General Motors • stocks
September 16th, 2009
01:24 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: More Green Shoots

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Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

Those “green shoots” keep sprouting up. Industrial production – a measure of activity at the country’s factories, mines and utilities – rose 0.8% in August, a bigger than expected increase, and the second straight gain. The news is read by economists as consistent with the early stages of a recovery.

Inflation meanwhile is not yet a threat, the Consumer Price Index rose 0.4% in August, slightly more than expected, but the increase was driven by a run-up in gas prices. If you take energy and food out of the equation, the so-called “core” CPI rose a scant 0.1%.

Last month’s gasoline hike meanwhile continues to let up, AAA reports a gallon of regular unleaded fell in price for the fifth straight day, falling 7-tenths of a cent to $2.563 ($2.56 for graphics purposes).

As we continue to mark the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, we look at some of the younger workers from Lehman and Merrill Lynch who lost their jobs and what they’re doing now. One of the people Christine Romans profiled for American Morning goes on tour with a popular rock band.


Filed under: Economy • Finance • Health Care • stocks
July 24th, 2009
12:49 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: 4.5 million people getting a raise today

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/24/art.check.jpg]
Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The federal minimum wage goes up to $7.25 an hour today from $6.55. But the increase brings up a continuing debate: will a pay increase help out workers at the bottom of the ladder? Or will it kill their jobs?

Opponents of the increase have long argued it could hurt job creation, especially during this recession. The economy has shed more than 3 million jobs so far this year and some economists believe the wage hike could drive the 9.5% national unemployment rate even higher.

But others believe that higher wages will lead to more spending by consumers, which would in turn help bring the recession to an end. One economist says the wage hike means more than $5 billion will be injected into the economy over the next year.

Minimum wage workers in 29 states will be getting the raise. It could be as low as 10-cents an hour in New York or as much as 70-cents in Texas.

Workers in 21 other states won't see an increase, because those states already pay more than $7.25 an hour.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Job Market • stocks
May 26th, 2009
10:00 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Deadlines loom for GM & Chrysler

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2009/LIVING/homestyle/02/24/toh.buying.foreclosure/art.this.old.house.foreclosures.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

It’s coming down to the wire for General Motors.

With GM rapidly burning through its cash reserves due to hefty losses amid an historic slump in auto sales, President Obama said the Treasury Department would give the automaker the cash it needs to continue operations on the condition that GM restructure its debt or file for bankruptcy by June 1.

And the automaker a midnight deadline for its bondholders to reach a restructuring agreement.

GM’s chief executive officer Fritz Henderson has repeatedly said that the difficulty in inking a deal makes a bankruptcy filing for the automaker "probable."

A spokeswoman for GM last week said the company continues to plan for a bankruptcy, which is the likely next step if no agreement is reached.

Chrysler, dealers on edge

And Wednesday is judgment day for Chrysler and hundreds of auto dealers, when their fate could be decided in bankruptcy court. But some experts think it's already a done deal.

The federal judge in Chrysler Chapter 11 case could decide on May 27 whether the automaker can pull its choice assets - its best-performing factories and dealerships - out of bankruptcy and sell them to a newly-formed incarnation of itself, called Chrysler Group.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • auto bailout • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Housing Market • stocks • Wall St.
April 28th, 2009
01:27 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Banks reportedly told to boost capital

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/27/art.obamapresser.gi.jpg caption="As CNN prepares to mark President Obama’s first 100 days in office, we'll also have a detailed look at his wide-ranging initiatives intended to stem the economic downturn and financial crisis."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Government regulators have reportedly told Bank of America and Citigroup that both banks need to increase their capital reserves based on preliminary "stress test" results.

The capital shortfall at Bank of America could amount to billions of dollars, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.

Executives at both banks are said to be objecting to the preliminary findings, which emerged from the government's scrutiny of 19 large financial institutions. The two banks are reportedly planning to respond with detailed rebuttals, with Bank of America's appeal expected some time today.

The government conducted the so-called “stress tests” on 19 of the nation's biggest banks to determine which banks are healthy enough to survive another financial shock and which will need additional government support.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Housing Market • Oil • stocks • Wall St.
January 3rd, 2009
03:40 PM ET

Ok, you lost your shirt. Here's what you have to do now:

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.velshi.hiresbook.jpg width=292 height=320]

Ali Velshi
CNN Chief Business Correspondent

You could not have escaped 2008 unscathed.

*The Dow ended the year 33% lower.
*The S&P 500 ended 38% lower
*The NASDAQ was down more than 40%

Even if you followed all the rules and diversified your savings, you lost 30-40% or more in 2008. Virtually nothing could have saved you.

But history tells us that big opportunities follow those kinds of
declines. And you can start building – or rebuilding – your wealth right away.

Friday's massive market rally is a perfect example of why you can't be trying to wait out this market turmoil.

You have to be in this market, period. A lot of people don't want to hear that but unless you have a rich uncle who is about to pass on and leave you a small fortune, the markets are the only real (legal) way to create wealth. And you can take part in them without become a trader, and without buying a single individual stock. Spend just a few hours learning about how markets work, and how they can work for you, make a few tweaks to your 401(k) or IRA, and you're on your way to a more secure financial future.


Take these 10 steps right now to become a better investor:

1. Pay off any debts costing 10% or more per year before investing for retirement.

2. Take a "risk tolerance" test to find out what kind of investor you are, and don't put money you'll need access to within five years into the market.

3. Tax-advantaged savings plans – especially those to which your employer contributes – are just about the only "free money" you'll ever get.

4. Asset allocation – the appropriate distribution of your money
across several types of investments – lowers your risk AND earns you
a higher return than if you just invested in one or two types of assets.

5. Understand how different "asset classes" work. Take a few hours
to learn the key features of stocks, bonds, cash equivalents and
alternative investments.

6. Mutual funds, index funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) give
you instant diversification, with less risk than owning individual stocks.

7. Keep your investment costs low. Fees, commissions and expenses
can eat a big chunk of your returns over time.

8. Rebalance your portfolio at least once a year. Keep your portfolio aligned with your "asset allocation" by selling some of your winners, and buying more of some investments that have suffered.

9. If you leave your employer, roll your 401(k) over into an IRA immediately. It's the only time you can convert your 401(k) into a retirement vehicle with many more options.

10. Remember that investing takes discipline, but it allows you to
control your financial future.

Watch Ali on CNN at 3pm Sunday as he introduces his new book, "Gimme My Money Back: Your Guide to Beating The Financial Crisis"

Filed under: 360° Radar • Ali Velshi • Economy • stocks