Thursday, June 4, 2009

Links 06/04/2009

Contra Costa braces for deeper budget cuts in core programs – The Contra Costa Times

Latvian debt crisis shakes Eastern Europe – Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Unemployment Claims: 621 Thousand – Calculated Risk


Mortgage rates rise – MarketWatch

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Average rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a 25-week high after jumping more than a third of a percentage point this week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates, released on Thursday.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.29% for the week ending June 4, up from last week's 4.91% average. The mortgage averaged 6.09% a year ago.

Many U.S. Retailers’ Sales Miss Expectations – Reuters

While there have been early signs of stabilization such as improving consumer confidence, issues such as unemployment and the troubled housing market have led many Americans to take on a thriftier attitude.

Upscale department stores posted some of the steepest drops in sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales.

"The high end continues to struggle, those in the discretionary spend segment are really continuing to get clocked," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics.

Brown resignation rumours hit pound – The Financial Times

GM bankruptcy will be felt by sports teams, media as ad spending diminishes – The Los Angeles Times

Bernanke: Start work now to curb budget deficit – The Associated Press

Bernanke acknowledged that Congress and the administration face "formidable near-term challenges" that must be addressed as they take steps to stabilize the financial system, reduce home foreclosures and spur banks to lend more freely. The success of these efforts will be crucial to turning the economy around.

However, he cautioned: "Unless we demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal sustainability in the longer term, we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth."

Group lists eco-friendly businesses – The San Francisco Chronicle

Feds Bringing Back No Money Down Mortgages – Clusterstock

"Preposterous Prices" For Luxury Condos In Philadelphia – Mish

Alabama County Seeks SEC Help in Bond Crisis as Suit Looms – Bloomberg

June 4 (Bloomberg) -- Jefferson County, Alabama, asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to help it escape bond deals that have left the county struggling to avoid bankruptcy for more than a year.

The appeal follows the disclosure by JPMorgan Chase & Co. that it may be sued by the SEC for its work on bond and interest-rate swap sales for Jefferson County’s sewer system. The financings converted more than $3 billion of the debt to floating-rate bonds, which became costly when the crisis on Wall Street sent interest costs soaring last year.

'Nation of Savers' Will Hurt Recovery, Fed Official Says – Mortgage News Daily

"As people come to grips with the fact that their finances are more uncertain than they had ever thought they would be, they are not likely to resume spending at the pace they once did," she said. “We should not expect consumer spending to return to the 70 percent share of GDP that it posted just before the recession began.”

The Eastern European Domino? – Minyanville, Todd Harrison

Make or Break for the Market – Minyanville, Todd Harrison (S&P 950 resistance)

Five Things: After Bearishness, the Fallout – Minyanville, Kevin Depew

Pre-Altared: More Used Wedding Gowns Go Back on Market – The Wall Street Journal

Now, the combined forces of the Web and the recession are bringing many of those dresses out again. As online venues for selling dresses proliferate, wedding planners and other specialists say that they're seeing more brides selling their dresses.

NYC Turns Luxury Units Into Shelters For Homeless – CBS News

The condos couldn't attract buyers in the current housing market. Now they're filling a need for some of the city's "unprecedented" number of homeless families, according to a report in The Daily News.

The apartments in Crown Heights were supposed to sell for $250,000 to $350,000. The amenities include granite countertops, terraces, marble bathrooms and walk-in closets.

Developer Avi Shriki says he had to come up with a Plan B "when the market went south." He signed a 10-year contract with the Bushwick Economic Development Group to turn the building into a shelter.

Eminem: I was in on Bruno gag – The Sun

Em appeared to be outraged by the Austrian fashion reporter antics, storming out of the ceremony seconds after his face came within inches of Bruno's dangling "kugelsack".

However, as Slim Shady admits, he planned the whole thing with SACHA BARON COHEN and was mighty pleased with the result.

He added: "Sacha called me when we were in Europe and he had an idea to do something outrageous at the Movie Awards.

"I'm a big fan of his work so I agreed to get involved with the gag.