President Obama on April 10 emerged from a high-level meeting with his economic team and proclaimed there were “glimmers of hope across the economy.” He believed some of those “glimmers” included his stimulus program and infrastructure work that he labeled “progress toward getting the economy back on track.” Nevertheless, he was forced to admit that unemployment had hit a 25-year high of 8.5 percent in March, and many Americans are still losing their homes and jobs.
Next up for the federal government: the credit card industry. Having already thrown trillions in taxpayer dollars at the banking sector, and having moved to nationalize several of the nation’s largest banks by buying up preferred shares of stock, the Obama Administration now has the credit card sector in its sights.
Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the TARP, informed Congress April 21 that he has opened 20 criminal investigations and six audits in connection with improper dispensation of bailout funds under TARP. The $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) has a “great inherent danger” for fraud, and he says in his 250-page report to Congress that losses from fraud could end up exceeding $300 billion.
The BBC reported on April 14 that one city in Egypt, Damietta, still has zero unemployment in these difficult economic times. That’s surprising, but what makes this even more surprising is that the city specializes in manufacturing furniture, often high-end furniture, for export. This isn’t just micro-manufacturing in a small town either. It is estimated that there are over 60,000 furniture shops in the city.
Suppose we had conducted a national opinion poll a few months ago to canvass Americans on their opinions of the G20. Most respondents, it is probably safe to say, would not have had the slightest idea whether you were asking them about a new smart phone, the trendiest fashion footwear, or the latest fat-burner diet drink.