Oil prices dropped from $141 per barrel to below $40, but experts say that this decline is going to end in 2009, according to 24/7 Wall Street. When oil prices tumbled, OPEC made an attempt to reduce production, calling on OPEC nations to produce less, but its efforts were largely unsuccessful because, it is speculated, some OPEC nations bucked the cartel and kept production high, maintaining falling prices. About the only thing that kept the prices at U.S. pumps from falling even lower than they did is that some California refineries shut down for routine yearly maintenance.
A recent analysis by Goldman Sachs, one of the Wall Street investment banks which benefitted from the recent federal government bailout, concludes that the Federal Funds rate (the interest rate charged by banks on loans made to other banks) is too high, despite the fact that the rate was reduced to a record low target range of zero to 0.25 percent by the Federal Reserve on December 16 of last year.
Congress is now considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the latest barrel of pork to be tossed into the recessionary pit. This time around, the misnamed stimulus will, in the self-congratulatory language of the House's summative press release, "create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in." [Emphasis in original.]
Round two of the economic crime of the century has begun. On January 12, Lawrence Summers, President Obama's designee to become director of his National Economic Council, sent a letter to congressional majority and minority leaders seeking the second half of the $750 billion approved by Congress last October.