February 21, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - The day after Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, Federal Reserve policymakers hadn't yet grasped the scope of the financial storm blowing overhead. What was clear to them as they gathered for a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 16, was that economic conditions were worsening, according to transcripts released Friday of key Fed meetings that year. "The markets are continuing to experience very significant stresses this morning," said Ben S. Bernanke, then the Fed chairman, arriving late for the meeting, "and there are increasing concerns about the insurance company, AIG. " But Fed officials weren't ready for the unprecedented steps, such as bailing out the giant insurer, American International Group Inc., that they soon would be taking in a tumultuous year that transformed the central bank from obscure guardian of interest rates to aggressive fighter of financial crises.
February 21, 2014 |
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve on Friday released transcripts of its 2008 meetings when central bank policymakers were grappling with the financial crisis. The transcripts from official Federal Open Market Committee sessions are made public after five years. The Fed posted hundreds of pages of verbatim transcripts, taken from audio recordings, on its website . The latest release includes emergency conference calls as Fed officials tried to deal with worsening financial conditions that culminated in September of that year with a crisis that led to the bailout of insurance giant American International Group and other extraordinary measures.
February 18, 2014 |
Families boosted their borrowing late last year at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis, a sign that Americans are gradually reopening their wallets as they feel more secure in their jobs. Household debt jumped $241 billion to $11.5 trillion in the fourth quarter, the biggest increase since the third quarter of 2007, according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "This quarter is the first time since before the Great Recession that household debt has increased over its year-ago levels, suggesting that after a long period of de-leveraging, households are borrowing again," said Wilbert van der Klaauw, an economist at the New York Fed. The pickup in debt was a welcome development after a string of disappointing economic reports in the last few weeks.
January 18, 2014 |
Most of the risky mortgages that triggered the financial crisis have disappeared from the marketplace, and lenders will have even more reason to avoid them because of a new federal crackdown on loose lending. But one housing-bubble favorite -- the interest-only loan -- will remain a common offering to well-heeled home buyers, despite new rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The rules, which took effect last week, exclude interest-only loans from "qualified mortgage" status, which protects lenders from liability over defaults.
January 16, 2014 |
The wind-down of the bailout continues. The Obama administration has decided to sell about $3 billion of the government's common stock holdings in Ally Financial Inc., a former General Motors Corp. lending arm propped up with taxpayer assistance during the financial crisis. That would bring the recovery from Ally to $15.3 billion, or 89%, of the $17.2 billion bailout provided by the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Treasury Department said Thursday in announcing its plan. QUIZ: big business news of 2014 The deal would involve unloading 410,000 shares of Ally common stock at $7,375 apiece in a private offering, the department said.
January 2, 2014
Re "Another use for literature," Opinion, Dec. 29 Robert Sapolsky's fine essay on the value of literature pinpoints the tragedy of our time: the demise of the attention span. As long as one reads simply to find out what happens, then one barrels through the pages and skips the "boring" descriptions and commentary. It takes energy, patience and focus to read good literature, but as the old adage says, "You get out what you put in. " Taking time to enjoy reading means that the "how" is as important as the "what": character development, time and place, meaning and a depth of feeling missing from "easy" fiction.