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Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Jun 4, 2009

A small piece of positive news today. The number of people getting unemployment benefits fell for the first time in 20 weeks. The number of new people signing up for unemployment also dropped. Elsewhere, I read this:

The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Newmark proclaims: It’s Time to Enshrine Hank Paulson as National Hero. He says the TARP bailout worked and that Wall Street’s crisis is over:

Who can doubt the amazing recovery of the credit markets? The best performing asset class so far in 2009 has been distressed debt, up by nearly 40%. And the banking system? Investors are now throwing money at it…

All of this is not to suggest that TARP alone made all these good things happen. Certainly, Ben Bernanke’s Fed has been pretty forgiving with its monetary policy.

Nor is it to suggest that Hank Paulson knew exactly what he was doing in the frenzied days of last fall. He didn’t. The TARP as originally conceived was to buy up toxic assets off the bank balance sheets. To this day, those assets are still sitting there.

Uh, yeah. So, I think it’s a little too early to proclaim Wall Street’s crisis over. Commercial real estate, Alt-A?

But It’s the Economy, Stupid. So says former Bush adviser Karl Rove in a WSJ editorial. Seriously, this sentence is in the piece:

It is becoming clear that the economy is now the top issue.

Really, Karl? And here I’ve been thinking the top issue was Angelina Jolie replacing Oprah on the most powerful celebrity list.

Fortune looks inside the GM bankruptcy. In the bankruptcy filing, CEO Fritz Henderson takes us through the timeline of GM’s collapse:

Henderson says GM started talks with Chrysler in the spring of 2007, the first time the company has confirmed their existence. Henderson says GM saw a merger “as having the potential to create significant synergies” that were greater than the equity value of either company. The first phase of discussions finally halted when GM concluded that a combination of the two companies “would only exacerbate GM’s exposure to a dwindling U.S. auto market.”

PJ O’Rourke had a pretty amusing commentary on NPR’s Morning Edition. He says feminism and Facebook killed the auto industry:

The last time any serious smooching was done in a car was about 1979, and the kids got tangled in the mandatory shoulder belts, and the air bag went off, and they aren’t going steady anymore…

Facebook destroyed “cruising the burger stand.” You could have two Corvettes and drive them both at the same time and not look as cool as you could make yourself look on Facebook. Corvettes come with a lot of accessories, but not Photoshop. And what with e-mailing, tweeting, texting and cell phonery, boys and girls could meet each other at the speed of light.

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