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Economy - Economics USA

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Washington Post

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will consider new measures to curb speculation in the markets for energy and other commodities, the agency is set to announce today.

The move aims to reduce the volatility of prices but faces resistance from top Wall Street firms, which fear the efforts could cut into profits. Regulators and lawmakers increasingly worry that these firms have used their size and power to inflate the prices of commodities, booking profits in the process.


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Justin Martin for

Because so many swaps are informal, the size of the small business barter economy is hard to gauge. But Bob Meyer, publisher of Barter News in Mission Viejo, Calif., was willing to take a crack at it. Meyer estimates that 1 million small businesses are involved in barter, either informally or through exchanges, with a volume of transactions approaching $20 billion annually. This figure combines the $10 billion that IRTA attributes to exchange trades with Meyer's conservative estimate that informal barter accounts for another $10 billion.

Typically, bartering activity spikes during economic downturns. Meyer expects the total volume of U.S. barter transactions to grow 10% this year (historically the annual growth rate has hovered around 5%). "Right now many small businesses

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NEW YORK ( — Seven banks were shut down by authorities Thursday, pushing the tally of failed banks for 2009 to 52, more than doubling the failures in 2008.

Six regional banks in Illinois and one in Texas closed their doors, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The rash of Illinois failures are interlinked: All six banks were controlled by one family and followed a similar business model that “created concentrated exposure in each institution,” according to the FDIC.

The agency said that the six failures stemmed from the banks’ investments in collateralized debt obligations and other loan losses.


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When you do that, you have a race to the bottom as rising prices mask the steady decrease in quality. For example, how easy would it have been to progressively pull the land value component out of the equation as demand and process began to rise? It would be simply a matter of accepting only land values set in say 2000 for lending purposes. The drag would have halted speculative leveraging in its tracks. Today deleveraging is reducing those same land values to something approaching zero in a new market in which value is assigned to the replacement of the building and available rents. This example alone shows us that a market can be readily managed and secondly, it must be managed to optimize results.

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A dour report on job losses in June sent stocks sharply lower Thursday.

Major stock indexes fell more than 2.6 percent after the government said the U.S. unemployment rate hit a 26-year high. The Dow Jones industrials closed at their lowest level in six weeks.

Trading on the New York Stock Exchange was extended until 4:15 p.m. Eastern time in order to execute customer orders impacted by system irregularities, an NYSE spokeswoman said.

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. mortgage applications plunged to a seven-month low last week as demand for home refinancing loans tumbled 30 percent, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday.

The drop does not bode well for the hard-hit U.S. housing market, which has been showing some signs of stabilization, with sales rising and home price declines moderating in many regions of the country.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications, which includes both purchase and refinance loans, for the week ended June 26 decreased 18.9 percent to 444.8, the lowest reading since the week ended November 21, 2008.


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LA Times

With a day to go until a cash crisis would force the state to stop paying its bills, lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger worked into the night Tuesday but failed to reach a budget agreement.
The state Senate voted several times as midnight approached in a last-ditch effort to approve $3.3 billion in cuts to education and other programs and stave off, at least temporarily, the IOUs that California Controller John Chiang is set to begin issuing Thursday in lieu of some payments.

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The Washington Post

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has left elderly borrowers vulnerable to abusive lending practices because of shortcomings in programs that offer reverse mortgages, according to a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office. Reverse mortgages, which are usually backed by HUD's Federal Housing Administration, enable seniors to withdraw equity from their homes. The loan and the accumulated interest do not have to be paid back until the owner dies or sells the home. But the upfront costs are substantial....

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