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Economy - Economics USA

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"The total potential federal government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion," says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, in a report released today on the government's efforts to fix the financial system.  Yes, $23.7 trillion.

"The potential financial commitment the American taxpayers could be responsible for is of a size and scope that isn't even imaginable," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"If you spent a million dollars a day going back to the birth of Christ, that wouldn't even come close to just $1 trillion -- $23.7 trillion is a staggering figure." To be sure, we aren't there yet.

The government has about 50 different programs to fight the current recession, including programs to bail out ailing banks and automakers, boost lending and beat back the housing crisis.

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NY Times

The Bloomberg administration, which has struggled with a seemingly intractable problem of homelessness for years, has paid for more than 550 families to leave the city since 2007, as a way of keeping them out of the expensive shelter system, which costs $36,000 a year per family. All it takes is for a relative elsewhere to agree to take the family in.

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Kim Peterson

Citigroup (C) is considering paying a $100 million bonus -- to one guy.

This is the same Citigroup that received $45 billion in bailout money. The same Citigroup that will soon be 34% owned by the U.S. government. The same Citigroup that has lost 95% of its share value since 2007.

Citigroup is in no position to be awarding bonuses of $10 million -- let alone adding another zero to that amount. So why is it mulling such a colossally dumb move? Because the guy demanding it is probably the bank's most valuable employee.

Enter Andrew Hall. He's a rock star, a legend among banking circles. He makes a boatload of money for Citigroup as head of Phibro, the bank's energy-trading unit. The Wall Street Journal calls Phibro a secretive operation, housed in a former Connecticut dairy farm, that "occasionally accounts for a disproportionate chunk of Citigroup income."

Phibro made so much money for Citigroup last year that Hall got a $10

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“When the government tries to make people more equal, it makes them more unequal.”  James Cook   “The first lesson which we meet again and again in history, is that once the dole or similar relief program are introduced, they seem almost inevitably – unless surrounded by rigid restrictions – to get out of hand.  The second lesson is that one this happens the poor become more numerous and worse off then they were before, not only because the have lost self reliance, but because the sources of wealth and production on which they depend for either their doles or jobs are diminished or destroyed.”  Henry Hazlitt

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There is nothing that I find more annoying that the refrain that ‘markets do not work’ that arises whenever we have a crisis or even when someone dislikes an economic outcome. Markets as an abstraction can be always shown to be functioning quite nicely. The difficulty arises when the market is deliberately or accidently distorted to misplaced advantage. We have in fact a barbarian horde attacking our economy at all times with battalions of lawyers and paid flacks.

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Before someone wishes to tell me that I am wrong, I want someone to explain when was the last time they received a fee for lending stock to anyone. And believe me if you have stock lodged it generally can be lent, especially if you have a margin account. Even a trivial debt is enough to supply a whole portfolio. Naked short selling avoids all the niceties. The trader sells short and forgets about it. If the price rises it then can get dicey, but he is packing several positions to play around with.

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The recession is over, Newsweek screams from the cover of its most recent issue, which is out today, and which you can read by clicking here.

Three things you need to know:

a) No, it isn't.

b) Magazines depend on rack sales for revenue.

c) Rack sales are driven by purposefully hyperbolic headlines, everything from "ELVIS LIVES!" to "The Recession Is Over!"

Once you read the story inside, you will see that Newsweek economics columnist Dan Gross hasn't exactly, definitively, proclaimed the end of the recession, now in its 19th month.

"The Great Recession," Gross writes, "is most likely over."

He admits this is a technicality. Recessions end when gross domestic product stops shrinking. And that may actually happen later this year. But he goes on to correctly state that unemployment will continue to rise, just as it has after the end of previous recessions, and it will still fee

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Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, is on a publicity campaign with a message: the central bank is here to help, and it is not as mysterious or menacing as people might think.  

In a profound departure from the central bank’s tradition as an aloof and secretive temple of economic policy, Mr. Bernanke has plunged into the public spotlight to an extent that none of his predecessors would have contemplated.

He has given a television interview to “60 Minutes” on CBS, including a tour of his hometown, Dillon, S.C.; held what amounted to a televised news conference; and written newspaper commentaries to explain the Fed’s efforts to fight the financial crisis.

On Sunday, Mr. Bernanke reached another milestone in his evolution from Fed chairman to Fed showman, participating in a one-hour town hall-style forum here organized and moderated by Jim Lehrer of “The NewsHour” on PBS.

Like a political candidate on the campaign trail — inde

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Russia and China have put forth "proposals" which have been highlighted as possible alternatives to the dollar. China has proposed the formation of a new global currency based on a reform of SDR system: "It is a feasible plan to reform the present SDR and make it into a real settlement currency, a universally accepted 'currency basket' that would replace the dollar at the heart of the monetary system," (Li Ruogu, chairman of the Export-Import Bank of China, Reuters, 6 July 2009)

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