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October 26th, 2010
05:54 PM ET

Spending cuts in U.S. lead to what we’re seeing in France?

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 (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty

Take a good look at what's going on in Europe, because we just might be next:

As France tightens its fiscal belt, protesters continue to take to the streets.

Earlier today, the French Senate passed the final draft of a bill that raises the minimum age for retirement from 60 to 62, and raises the full retirement age from 65 to 67.

This pension reform measure, which is expected to become law next month, has drawn more than a million protesters.

Unions have walked out on refineries, choking the nation's oil supply. There have been strikes at major ports, disrupted train service and garbage collection. More than 9,000 tons of rotting garbage are piled up in the streets of Marseilles alone.

Students have also come out by the thousands to demonstrate against the government cut-backs. In all, it's estimated these strikes are costing France's economy more than $500 million a day.

And it's not unlike what we saw last spring and summer in Greece, where tens of thousands protested sweeping reforms there, including cuts in pension benefits and increasing the retirement age to 65.

Union protests disrupted plane, ferry and public transport service and public offices were shut.

Meanwhile, despite all the budget cutting, it probably still won't be enough. Experts say Greece is likely to default over the next three years.

There's a lesson in all this for the U.S. If our leaders want to get serious about this nation's staggering deficits, they're going to have to make tough cuts – to things like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They're going to have to raise taxes – maybe a lot – and perhaps raise the retirement age. In other words, it could get very, very ugly.

Here’s my question to you: Will spending cuts in the U.S. lead to the kind of thing we're seeing in France?

Interested to see which ones made it on air?
FULL POST


Filed under: Budget cuts • US Economy
June 30th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

U.N. says scrap dollar as main global reserve currency

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here's another very troubling sign about where we are these days:

The United Nations says it's time to scrap the dollar as the main global reserve currency. The U.S. dollar has for years been the currency of choice in troubled times - a safe haven when uncertainty arises.

But a new report by the U.N. suggests the dollar has become unreliable and needs to be replaced with a more stable system.

Many countries - especially in Asia - have been building up massive dollar reserves. But because the dollar has begun to fluctuate much more recently, these countries' currencies have become undervalued - which makes it harder for them to import goods.

The UN is backing a proposal which would replace the dollar with a basket of currencies. The report says a new reserve system should not be based on a single currency in order to create more stability in the global financial system.

Russia and China have already said they support creating a new reserve currency system... as does the International Monetary Fund.

But not everyone is so sure this is such a good idea. Some European officials suggest it should be the market, not politicians, which determines which currencies countries buy for reserves.

There's been increased debate about using the dollar for international trade ever since the U.S. economy slumped into a recession.

Unless and until something definitive is done about our $13 trillion dollar national debt and skyrocketing federal deficits, the future of the almighty greenback is very much in doubt.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if the U.N. says the dollar should be scrapped as the main global reserve currency?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: United States • US Economy
January 13th, 2010
01:42 PM ET

How much were banks to blame for the financial collapse?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Congress is trying to get to the bottom of the financial meltdown that practically brought the country to its knees.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein testifies during the first public hearing of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Capitol Hill.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein testifies during the first public hearing of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Capitol Hill.

There were some tense exchanges on Capitol Hill today... with a bipartisan commission grilling the heads of Wall Street's top banks about who was to blame for the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.

The bank chiefs testified under oath about their institutions' mistakes that led to the crisis... things like the housing bubble, "new and poorly underwritten mortgage products" and "excessive speculation."

These banks bundled mortgages and sold them as investments. But when people began to default on the mortgages because they couldn't afford them in the first place, the bottom fell out.

At one point - Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein compared parts of the financial crisis to an earthquake and similar acts of God. Nice try. The commission's chairman - Democrat Phil Angelides - immediately pointed out: "These were acts of men and women."

The heads of three other big banks - JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America - also testified. They all tried to walk the fine line of owning up to what happened... while pushing back against potential government reforms that they think would go too far.

There's a lot of anger out there directed at Wall Street. Since the start of the downturn, seven million Americans have lost their jobs and more than two million families have lost their homes to foreclosure.

But the banks were given hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep them afloat, and to this day they continue to pay out record bonuses. And they are making profits like they've never made before.

Here’s my question to you: How much were the banks to blame for the financial collapse?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Bailout • Goldman Sachs • Homeownership • Spending • US Economy • US Government Bailouts
March 6th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Would you invest extra money in the stock market?

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If you had extra money would you invest in the stock market? (PHOTO CREDIT: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite the plunging stock market, a majority of Americans still think stocks are a good place to put their money for the long term.

A new Gallup Poll shows 53% of all adults and 67% of stock owners agree that stocks are a good long-term investment.

However, although most people say they back investing in the market in theory, actually buying in this down-market is a whole different story.

When stock owners were asked what they plan to do with their money in the next month, only 21% say they plan to buy more stocks. 73% say they plan to hold onto their stocks - but not buy any more right now.

It seems it will take more than bargain-basement share prices to lure investors back into the market. Stock prices are driven by corporate earnings, and until there is some indication that companies are going to start making money again, don't look for a turnaround on Wall Street.

Truth is, no one knows how long it will take for the stock market to recover, and so many people have the jitters, that they're just standing on the sidelines waiting. The market continues to take a beating in the last 2 weeks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost more than 735 points. And this Gallup poll shows 20% of Americans think it will be at least 4 years before the market recovers.

Here’s my question to you: If you suddenly came into extra money, would you invest it in the stock market?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: US Economy
March 4th, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Pres. Obama to blame for stock market’s fall?

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The stock market closed below 7,000 on March 2. The last time that occurred was in May 1997. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the stock market continues to drop, President Obama is running out of people to blame, according to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

Before the president took office, in early January, the stock market was over 9,000 its highest level since last fall. But in the last two months, it has dropped 25% to its lowest level since 1997. It closed today with a gain of 150 points.

The Journal suggests that Mr. Obama's policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would be a normal economic recovery. "From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence," said the editorial.

The editorial takes issue with the way much of the administration's stimulus spending went to social programs rather than public works, how the Treasury has been managing the bank bailout plan, and how tax cuts were devoted to income maintenance rather than giving incentives to work or invest.

The Journal also points out how the market took a dive after the President announced his budget. The paper called it a "declaration of hostility toward capitalists across the economy."

The editorial suggests Democrats benefit from blaming all bad economic news on President Bush,
and there's a new poll out that shows Americans kind of agree with that. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows 84% of those surveyed say this is an economy Mr. Obama inherited and two-thirds of those people think he has at least a year before he becomes responsible for it.

By the way - this poll also shows the president's favorability rating at an all-time high and the Republicans at an all-time low.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama be blamed for the continuing fall of the stock market?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama • US Economy
February 27th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Weekends different because of the economy?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Signs that people have less disposable income these days are everywhere.

Weekends different because of the economy?

Restaurants are hurting as more Americans decide to stay in more.

Take for example the earnings at large retailers like Target - where profits were down 41 percent in 4th quarter of last year. Or Macy's - which fared even worse, with profits down almost 59 percent during that same time.

Some of the changes are more subtle but just as revealing. Wal-Mart says sales of starter sewing kits have shot up by 30 percent. Landscaping companies have seen their revenue drop 7 percent in the last year. And Procter and Gamble says more people are asking how to dye their hair at home - instead of spending more and going to the beauty salon.

In addition – a lot of people are anxious about the possibility of losing their home to foreclosure, and more than a million people already have. Ask anyone and they will likely tell you they are at least a little bit uncertain about their job. Will it continue? Will they be laid off? Will they be asked to take a pay cut or work a reduced schedule or will they just be fired outright?

The reasons for squeezing a nickel until the buffalo's eyes bug out are everywhere. (That's a variation on an old expression that can't be used on a family news program.) If people have a couple of extra bucks, they're probably inclined to hang onto it.

So as Friday rolls around and thoughts turn to the weekend...

Here’s my question to you: In light of the economy, what's different about how you spend your weekends?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: US Economy
February 27th, 2009
12:41 PM ET

Should Pres. Obama be more positive about the economy?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is a preacher of doom and gloom when it comes to the economy, according to Dick Morris. He writes the president is making the crisis worse. "Instead of being a firewall, reassuring Main Street even as Wall Street crashed, he has become a conduit of panic, spreading the mood of desperation from the stock exchange floor to kitchen tables across the world," said Morris.

Should Pres. Obama be more positive about the economy?

Dick Morris says the president has become a "conduit of panic."

Morris describes Mr. Obama as a "global Paul Revere" and says every time he speaks, he sends markets down and stocks crashing, and that the president doesn't seem to get the fact that the rest of the world takes its cues from him.

Dick Morris thinks the president is talking this way in order to keep people in a state of panic so he can pass through his agenda - from spending bills to tax increases to government regulations. He believes the longer the economy continues to deteriorate – the more difficult it will be to pass the blame off on President Bush.

Turns out a wide range of people have called for Mr. Obama to be more positive when speaking about the economy - including former President Bill Clinton , who suggested the president sound a more hopeful note. Others suggest that after years of President Bush painting an unrealistic, rosy scenario, Pres. Obama needs to tell it like it is, as he has been doing.

In his address to Congress this week - the president sounded more upbeat when he said we are not quitters - and that the U.S. will rebuild, recover and emerge stronger than before.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to the economy, should President Obama's message be more positive?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama • US Economy
February 26th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Financial crisis bigger national security threat than terrorism?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Worldwide economic jitters are ranking high on the CIA's list of priorities.

Financial crisis bigger national security threat than terrorism?

Migrant workers in China demolish walls to get usable brick. East Asia is among the regions that are in crisis because of the economy.

The spy agency has started briefing the White House daily about the global financial crisis, and its ripple effects on the stability of various countries.

The CIA is now giving an "Economic Intelligence Briefing" to top officials, in addition to the daily roundup of terrorist attacks and surveillance reports. This suggests the global economic crisis is a top concern when it comes to our national security.

CIA director Leon Panetta says the White House requested the daily economic briefing. He talked about the impact of the recession throughout the world and said now U.S. officials won't be surprised by the aftershocks from bank failures and rising unemployment elsewhere. The agency is focusing on many areas – including East Asia and Latin America – that are in crisis because of the economy.

Dennis Blair, the new Director of National Intelligence, said earlier this month that economic issues have pretty much replaced terrorism as the country's top security challenge. He pointed out that three European governments have fallen because of economic issues.

The economic crunch overseas now joins a long list of global concerns confronting President Obama... including the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, winding down the war in Iraq, and the never-ending conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Here’s my question to you: Which is a bigger threat to America's national security: the global financial crisis or terrorism?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: US Economy
February 25th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Nation's most and least important priorities?

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What are the nation's priorities? (PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In his address to Congress last night, President Obama laid out what would be an ambitious agenda even in good times - never mind that we're in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Yet the president struck an optimistic tone, saying, "We will rebuild and we will recover." His speech focused on 3 top priorities - energy, health care and education. But there was also much more, including, but not limited to: tax reform, beginning a debate on overhauling Social Security, retooling the auto industry, reforming the regulatory system, getting rid of fraud and waste in Medicare, seeking a cure for cancer "in our time", expanding mass transit, encouraging parental responsibility, and on and on. Plus, don't forget there's still a war on terror and two real wars going on.

But our President seems remarkably unruffled by all of this, serene in an inner confidence that he has what it takes to lead this country back into the sunlight. That's not to say some of this stuff may need to be delayed. Mr. Obama acknowledged as much, saying, "Everyone in this chamber... will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me. But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges."

Here’s my question to you: What are the most important priorities for the nation at this time, and which can wait?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: US Economy
February 24th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How has economic crisis changed your daily life?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As President Obama gets ready to address a joint session of congress tonight - he'll also be talking to a nation that's pretty uncomfortable about where we're headed.

How has economic crisis changed your daily life?

Piggy banks and money boxes are gaining popularity as people are starting to save their money at home.

A new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 71% of Americans are angry about where we're headed. And 73% are scared. These are not encouraging numbers. Also – 79% of those surveyed think things in the U.S. are going badly.

The silver lining is that most people are still upbeat about their own personal situation - with 77% saying things are going well for them.

Nevertheless, we're being warned that these rough economic times are far from over. Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke says he hopes the recession will end later this year - but a full economic recovery could take two or three more years.

And many Americans are reshaping their lifestyles to adjust to these shaky circumstances. They're downsizing and actually trying to live within their means – instead of the culture of credit that was the rule of the land for too many years. Many are saving more. Others are trying to figure out how to get by on one less salary while trying to pay rising bills for things like health care and education. All the while sitting on a home that's lost much of its value.

Here’s my question to you: How has your daily life changed because of the economic crisis?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: US Economy
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