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Joe Nocera
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November 21, 2008
The economy's number one product lately seems to be bad news, and the mid-November harvest yields another bumper crop. In the U.S., jobless claims reached a 16-year high. Congress refused to bail-out auto makers, though the Big Three threatened everything from job cuts to possible bankruptcy without government assistance. Even the good news was bad — home sales were up largely due to falling prices and foreclosures. And economists warn that the recent decline in consumer prices, driven by cheap gas, actually bodes poorly for the overall economy. Then, on Wednesday, November 19, fearful investors dropped the Dow more than 400 points; the next day, the widely-followed index plunged another 445 points to 7,552, a low not seen since 1997.

And so the U.S. slides with the rest of the world into a deepening recession. As some in Congress question the efficacy of the initial $700 billion bailout, all but the most hard-line free marketers are still looking to Washington, D.C. for a long-term recovery plan.

Despite multiple Congressional hearings and the G-20 conference, where the leaders of 20 countries convened in Washington, D.C., at an emergency summit to address the crisis, action may not come soon. Lame duck Congressional sessions are notoriously unproductive. And, though everyone acknowledges the need for action, Congressional Democrats and the Bush Administration cannot agree on a course of action. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recently told Congress that the Bush Administration would not use the funds to bailout homeowners facing foreclosures, as Democratic leadership would like. But Sheila Bair, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairwoman, publicly broke ranks with the administration recently to push her plan to bailout struggling mortgage-holders.

NEW YORK TIMES business columnist Joe Nocera joins Deborah Amos on the JOURNAL to discuss the prospects for further bailouts of homeowners and automakers and the possible consequences of doing nothing.

Joe Nocera
Photo by Robin Holland Joe Nocera writes the Talking Business column for THE NEW YORK TIMES each Saturday. Mr. Nocera is also a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine. In addition to his work at The TIMES, he serves as a regular business commentator for NPR's WEEKEND EDITION with Scott Simon.

Before joining The Times in 2005, Mr. Nocera spent 10 years at FORTUNE MAGAZINE, where he held a variety of positions, including contributing writer, editor-at-large and executive editor. His last position at FORTUNE was editorial director. He was the Profit Motive columnist at GQ until May 1995, and he wrote the same column for ESQUIRE from 1988 until 1990. In the 1980's, he served as a contributing editor at NEWSWEEK, as executive editor of NEW ENGLAND MONTHLY and as senior editor at TEXAS MONTHLY. From 1978 until 1980, he was an editor at THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY.

Mr. Nocera has won three Gerald Loeb awards, including the 2008 award for commentary, and three John Hancock awards for excellence in business journalism. His book, A PIECE OF THE ACTION: HOW THE MIDDLE CLASS JOINED THE MONEY CLASS (Touchstone, 1995), won the New York Public Library's 1995 Helen Bernstein Award as the best non-fiction book of the year. He anchored the 1997 FRONTLINE documentary, "Betting on the Market," which aired on PBS, and in 2003, edited "The Smartest Guys in the Room," (Portfolio, 2003) the best-selling book about Enron written by two FORTUNE senior writers. His most recent book, GOOD GUYS AND BAD GUYS: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE SAINTS AND SCOUNDRELS OF AMERICAN BUSINESS (AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN) (Portfolio, 2008) was published this spring. He was a 2007 Pulitzer finalist.

(Biographical information from the NEW YORK TIMES)

Published November 21, 2008.

Guest photos by Robin Holland

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References and Reading:
TIMES Topics: Joe Nocera
Articles Joe Nocera has contributed to THE NEW YORK TIMES.

The Financial Crisis

Pro-Publica reporting on the bailout

NEW YORK TIMES Topics: Credit Crisis - The Essentials

"The G-20 Summit: Did It Make Things Worse?"by Simon Johnson, FORBES, November 11, 2008.

"The End"
by Michael Lewis, PORTFOLIO, December 2008 Issue.

"How to love trillion-dollar deficits: This reformed fiscal conservative has stopped worrying about the nation's ballooning deficit. You should too."
By Matt Miller, FORTUNE, November 20, 2008.

NPR: PLANET MONEY
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO blog and podcast covering financial news.

"Wal-Mart customers delay buying necessities"
By Lisa Baertlein, REUTERS, October 21, 2008.

"A crisis of confidence"
By Joseph Stiglitz, THE GUARDIAN, October 22, 2008.

"Greenspan Admits Some Mistakes Amid Grilling by House Lawmakers "
By Brian Blackstone, WALL STREET JOURNAL, October 23, 2008.

"In Downturn, Families Strain to Pay Tuition "
By Jonathan D. Glater, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 16, 2008.

"The Monster That Ate Wall Street "
An article on the origins of 'credit default swaps.' By Matthew Philips, NEWSWEEK, October 6, 2008.

"Fed Announces Plan to Buy Short-Term Debt "
By Edmund L. Andrews and Michael M. Grynbaum, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 7, 2008.

FRONTLINE: The Long Demise of Glass-Steagall

"Lehman's Demise Triggered Cash Crunch Around Globe"
By Carrick Mollenkamp and Mark Whitehouse in London, Jon Hilsenrath in Washington and Ianthe Jeanne Dugan in New York, the WALL STREET JOURNAL, SEPTEMBER 29, 2008.

"As Credit Crisis Spiraled, Alarm Led to Action, "
By Joe Nocera, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 1, 2008.

"How bailout deal will impact next president"
By Gail Russell Chaddock, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, September 28, 2008.

Charlie Rose interviews Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett joined Charlie Rose October 1, 2008, to make the case for a bailout.

Published October 17, 2008

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