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October 8, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Don Lee and Kathleen Hennessey
WASHINGTON - President Obama will nominate Janet L. Yellen to be the next head of the Federal Reserve, the White House said Tuesday. If confirmed, the former UC Berkeley economist would become the first woman to lead the world's most powerful central bank in its 100-year history. Yellen, the Fed's vice chair, would replace Ben S. Bernanke, whose second four-year term as chairman expires Jan. 31. She would take over at a crucial time as the central bank prepares to reduce its unprecedented support for the economy while trying to avoid damaging the still-fragile recovery.
September 30, 2013 | By Don Lee
WASHINGTON - The last time the federal government shut down, for three weeks in the winter of 1995-96, the American economy felt a jolt but recovered quickly. Things don't look anywhere near as promising this time around. The nation is currently more than four years into an economic expansion with some momentum behind it. That also was the case in 1995. But this time, things are a lot more fragile. Shutdown Q&A: How long? What's the impact? Americans continue to suffer from a relatively high unemployment rate of 7.3%, which is about 2 percentage points higher than in December 1995.
September 23, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- A top Federal Reserve policymaker said Monday that the economy still wasn't strong enough in two key areas to begin tapering the central bank's bond-buying stimulus program, particularly with budget and debt-limit fights looming. "In my view, the economy is slowly healing," William C. Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in a speech at Fordham University.  "But, while significant progress has been made since the end of the recession, there remain a number of headwinds that have offset the improvement in the underlying fundamentals," he said.  "In my view, the economy still needs the support of a very accommodative monetary policy.
September 22, 2013 | By Denise Florez
Growing up, Evelyn Martinez's mother didn't want her to ride a bike. "She thinks it's not safe for women to be riding late at night, and cars are dangerous too," Martinez said. Moreover, her mother told her: "Bicycles are for men. " But after a chance meeting last year, Martinez joined an all-female, predominantly Latino cycling group that is both an answer and a challenge to the aggressive male biking culture. Like men's bike crews, it defies L.A.'s monolithic car culture with an in-your-face ethic, reflected in its name: the Ovarian Psyco Cycles Brigade.
September 18, 2013 | By Don Lee and Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - Signaling that the recovery is still fragile, the Federal Reserve stunned financial markets and many experts by delaying a pullback in its massive stimulus program and then downgrading its outlook for economic growth. Citing worries about the looming budget showdown in Washington and the recent boost in long-term interest rates, Fed officials said they would keep buying $85 billion worth of bonds a month in a bid to drive rates back down and give a little more support to the sluggish economy and, especially, the weak job market.
September 3, 2013 | Michael Hiltzik
Is it that time again? Syria will be foremost on Congress' mind when it returns from vacation next week, but lurking on the horizon like an ever-present cloud bank will be the debt limit. Treasury officials say the limit, currently set at $16.7 trillion, will have to be raised by mid-October if the U.S. is to avoid a government bond default. Under George W. Bush the limit was raised seven times by a total of $5.4 trillion, almost always without tendentious debate. In the first two years of the Obama administration it was raised three times, totaling $3.4 trillion, also without kicking and screaming.
May 25, 2013 | By Anthee Carassava, Los Angeles Times
ATHENS - Costas Papanicolaou is stuffing his souvenir shop with extra merchandise and stringing his store entrance with welcome flags from umpteen countries. He's also slashing his prices by as much as 50%, and in a scheme that bears a whiff of desperation, he's even thinking of throwing a Greek toga on a Chinese employee to help lure Asian tourists. A painful but relatively peaceful year after Greece was beset by grim headlines of political pandemonium and violent protests, tourism experts and the government are expecting a surge in vacationers, and with it a boost to Greece's struggling economy.
March 28, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
Writer-director P.J. Hogan may have based "Mental" on an actual incident from his childhood, but the crazy quilt of a movie that resulted feels anything but real. This strained, shrill effort, set in small-town Australia, revolves around the über-quirky Moochmore clan: "Sound of Music"-obsessed mother Shirley (Rebecca Gibney), absentee dad - and local mayor - Barry (Anthony LaPaglia) and their five off-kilter daughters. When Shirley has a colorful nervous breakdown, Barry sticks her in a mental hospital, then randomly hires screwy, knife-wielding hitchhiker Shaz (Hogan's "Muriel's Wedding" star Toni Collette)
January 31, 2013
Federal statisticians issued unexpectedly bad news Wednesday, saying the economy contracted in the last three months of 2012 - the first downturn since the recovery began in mid-2009. The sour numbers weren't as bad as they seemed at first, yet they still sent a clear signal that the economy is too fragile to withstand a sudden shift to fiscal austerity. Unfortunately, Congress doesn't seem to be getting the message. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that U.S. gross domestic product shrank by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012, after growing 3.1% in the third quarter.
January 1, 2013 | By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times
When the Taliban used dynamite, artillery shells and rocket launchers to destroy two ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan, there was an unanticipated bit of blowback. The 2001 attack on the Buddhas of Bamiyan also launched an Oakland-based effort to digitally preserve world historic sites, including, most recently, the missions of California. Using cutting-edge 3D scanning technology, crews from a nonprofit called CyArk have wedged themselves into seldom-seen spaces in four of the state's 21 missions, bouncing 50,000 laser beams a second off centuries-old timbers.
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