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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Apr 16, 2009

A little good news about the job market this morning. The number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell last week. Still, a record six million people are standing in the unemployment line. If you look at the the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ [latest chart]( Bureau of Labor Statistics), the Thibodaux, Louisiana area has the lowest unemployment rate, followed by Ames, Iowa. 9 of the 10 highest rates are in California, and they’re all over 16%. Other things to read:

Stress Tests for Investors Coming Soon (Marketwatch)
“Want to smile this week? Open your mutual fund or 401(k) statement or brokerage statement for March. If you’re a regular, buy-and-hold or long-term investor, chances are you were up last month for the first time since August.
Want to cry? Dig out your statements from the end of December. Or even the end of August. Despite the relief caused by the almost six-week rally in stocks, we’ve still really gone nowhere in repairing the damage of the financial crisis to our portfolios.”

Regulate Me, Please (New York Times)
“Unlike banks or investment houses, insurance companies are not regulated by the federal government. Instead, they are regulated by individual states, which lack the expertise to properly oversee rapid innovation or systemic risks… A good start would be for Congress to eliminate the hodgepodge of state regulatory systems by establishing a federal regulator for national insurance companies.”

Housing Many Finally Be Near A Bottom (WSJ)
“Judging by yesterday’s release of the latest homebuilder sentiment survey, builders are at least feeling better about their prospects…In addition, single family permits have settled into a range right in line with actual starts, suggesting single family starts could be forming a bottom.”

Don’t set Goldman Sachs free, Mr. Geithner (Financial Times)
“Not only is the future of Goldman and other taxpayer-backed banks unclear, given the unstable US economy, but Goldman wants to escape the burdens of political control while retaining the benefits of public backing. That does not seem like a good deal for the taxpayer.”

One Deep Cause of the Financial Crisis (Michael Mandel/Businessweek)
“A major underlying cause for the financial crisis has been unexpected and repeated failures in nonfinancial innovation over the past ten years. These disappointments, in the aggregate, undercut the long-term growth rate, and gradually dragged all those leveraged bets into the red.”

EPA Expected to Issue Million-Year-Long Regulation (NPR)
In the coming weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to issue a regulation that will extend 1 million years into the future. The timescale of the regulation, which deals with the disposal of power plant nuclear waste, is unprecedented territory for the EPA.

Talk of Delaying World Trade Center Towers For Years (Yahoo)
“The owners of the World Trade Center site, locked in a new round of heated talks with a private developer about how and when to build office towers, have proposed indefinitely putting off two of three planned skyscrapers until the real estate market recovers.”

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