Monday, June 1, was the end of an era for the American automotive industry. As nearly everyone not living in the jungles of Borneo knows by now, once-mighty General Motors, the flagship corporation of American automobile manufacturing and one of the most potent symbols worldwide of American industrial might, slid into Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the Great Recession dealt the long-foundering giant the coup de grace. In what is being billed as the fourth-largest bankruptcy in American history and the largest ever for an industrial manufacturer, GM claims $82.29 billion in assets against almost $173 billion in debt — this, be it duly noted, after billions in federal government bailout monies have been shoveled GM’s way.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made public on April 8 several alternative plans under consideration for regulating the activities of short sellers. Short selling, the inverse of purchasing stock shares in the hope that share prices will rise, consists of borrowing shares, selling them, and then repurchasing them at a later date and returning them to their owner. Short selling is undertaken when a stock is expected to decline in value; a short seller who borrows a thousand dollars worth of stock, sells them, and then repurchases them and returns them to their owner when the stock's value has declined to $500, pockets a profit of $500.00.
“Is Barack Obama More Pro-Business Than Ron Paul?” led the headline on the popular blog at LewRockwell.com. “Yes,” Rockwell sarcastically answered his own question in a concise one-liner, “according to the Beltway's National Chamber of Commerce, which measures willingness to build the corporate state.”
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s remark that he was “worried” about the $1 trillion in U.S. debt he was holding caused such a chill down the spine of world financial analysts that even the White House felt forced to respond immediately. “There’s no safer investment in the world than in the United States,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs shot back that same day.
Down, down, down goes the Dow (and all the other stock indexes), and how much further the markets are likely to fall before the recession bottoms out is becoming an increasingly vexed question. The Dow is now well below 7,000 for the first time in 12 years, and bearish market analysts are now wondering: is Dow 5,000 a reasonable expectation? 4,000? Or lower still?