Good morning. A few things to start the day: Maybe the US needs to lose its AAA credit rating, California needs to learn that Social Security numbers are private, and some chuckles from stand-up economist-comedians.

British banks still aren't lending either (Independent) I discussed the US situation yesterday, but same story overseas:

"The poor performance of the bailed-out banks, most notably Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group, in meeting commitments to lend to struggling businesses has occasioned widespread dismay," Mr Leigh said. "The Treasury does not seem to know why the banks are not lending, and has few sanctions available to make them change their minds."

Toyota squandered its reputation for quality (NPR)

"I would give Toyota an 'F' in my class for their corporate responsibility program," says
Dartmouth professor Paul Argenti, who teaches at the Tuck School of Business.

Argenti says Toyota did three things wrong: It didn't help people understand what it was doing to fix the problem, it didn't apologize in an appropriate way, and it wasn't humble enough in addressing consumer concerns.

What's wrong with losing our AAA credit rating? (Bloomberg)

"That will never happen to this country," Geithner said during an interview with ABC News. The remark came after Moody's Investors Service last week said the pristine U.S. rating will come under pressure unless something is done about mounting deficits.

Geithner shouldn't have fought Moody's report. He should have embraced it. What better way to impress upon Congress that the U.S. is very much in crisis and needs to face up to its problems.

Small businesses remain pessimistic (Wall Street Journal)

..."optimism has clearly stalled in spite of the improvements in the economy in the second half of 2009," according to the press release, which is "indicative of the severity and pervasiveness of this recession."

Owners complained that poor sales was their top problem, and said that there is no need to hire additional employees with no new customers.

The economic pessimists are wrong (Forbes) And I quote:

In other words, this is a very normal, self-sustaining, V-shaped economic recovery.

California prints Social Security on envelopes (CBS) If you think this state has any hope of solving its budget problems...

The state has accidentally sent out thousands of mailings with personal social security numbers printed on the outside of the envelopes.

The California Department of Health Care Services sent the mailing to 49,352 people who receive Adult Day Health Care services. The department is sending letters to notify the affected people of the error and how to protect themselves.

Stand-up economist-comedians (PBS NewsHour)

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