LyondellBasell Industries NV said Wednesday that it will buy back shares, increase its dividend and update its board. LyondellBasell said that shareholders at the company's annual meeting approved a plan to repurchase up to 10 percent of the company's outstanding stock.» Read More
Wednesday: AIG CEO Edward Liddy cited the "cold realities of competition," and insists the controversial bonuses must be paid. David Friehling, accountant for confessed super-swindler Bernard Madoff, was arrested on fraud charges. Sunnier notes: Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis said BofA could repay its $45 billion TARP loan this year. And Sun Microsystems shares jumped on IBM deal talk. CNBC heard from experts who predicted that the Fed meeting today will not please Wall Street.
Thursday: Confessed mega-swindler Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud. Warren Buffett slipped from the "World's Richest Billionaire" slot. Apple flew in the face of grim retail prognostication and said it'd preview new iPhone software next week. It was reported that U.S. mortgage rates slipped last week; and Standard & Poor's downgraded General Electric* from its triple-A rating to AA-plus -- but GE's shares soared on a better-than-expected outlook. CNBC heard from experts who warned that AIG is a "boil" that "needs to be lanced" and called a market bottom — of sorts.
Tuesday: Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said the uptick rule will soon be reinstated but the SEC said that mark-to-market regulations would remain in place. Citigroup shares skyrocketed nearly 40 percent and many other financials followed suit — lifting the market with them. General Electric* shares enjoyed an assurance from Citi and AT&T said it'd add — yes, add — 3,000 jobs and invest up to $18 billion. CNBC heard from experts who said that investors are nearly ready to get out of cash — and gave a prescription for bear repellant.
Monday: Warren Buffett told CNBC the U.S. economy has "fallen off a cliff." Prof. Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the current crisis, said the U.S. recession could last up to 36 months. But some M&A activity was seen: Dow Chemical and Rohm & Haas announced a deal; and Roche and Genentech are reportedly close to their own agreement. CNBC heard from experts who said steady growth companies are the way to invest now; and that the government rescue plan is going to create the first signs of recovery.
Tuesday: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the AIG bailout, saying the alternative would've been a disaster. Treasury Secretary Tom Geithner defended the Obama Administration's plan to buttress and stimulate the U.S. economy. Auto sales plummeted; Citigroup said it'll lower some mortgage payments; and subsidiaries of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced job cuts. CNBC heard from experts who said the U.S. economy is in a depression — but the next move is an upside jump.
Friday: General Electric (CNBC's parent company) said it'll slash its quarterly dividend 68 percent, saving $9 billion annually. The U.S. agreed to boost its stake in Citigroup to as much as 36 percent. U.S. GDP data was sharply revised downward, with economic loss at 6.2 percent. Experts told CNBC that the market is resisting scary talk from President Obama and Fed Chairman Bernanke — but the recession's end is nowhere in sight.
Wednesday: As the state of financials continues to worry the markets, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. has no plans to nationalize Citigroup. Wealthy Americans are suing UBS to keep their names secret (as a $31 billion UBS order went wrong) and Congress is considering a housing bill that'd let judges erase mortgage debt. Experts told CNBC that America needs more infrastructure in the stimulus bill — and that there won't be a recovery until housing improves.
Tuesday: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned the "severe" U.S. recession may drag into 2010 unless the government succeeds in stabilizing the banking system and financial markets. Debate continues on bank "nationalization," with Bank of America insisting it won't need a bigger U.S. stake; and analysts wondering if Citigroup actually needs the government to pick up more than 40 percent. Experts told CNBC that fears of nationalization are overdone — and we're now entering the epicenter of the recession.
Friday: Bank nationalization is the big topic du jour. Everyone seems to dislike the idea, but more and more analysts are begrudgingly calling nationalization the inevitable next move in the financial crisis. UBS widened its tax probe; a survey of U.S. homeowners showed more depreciation; and gold rose over $1,000 on investors' flight to safety. CNBC heard from experts who said the U.S. dollar will emerge as the ultimate safe haven; and Citigroup and Bank of America will indeed survive.
Tuesday: President Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill into law, as governments around the world consider their own actions. But global markets plunged on fears of a deepening recession; Chrysler asked the U.S. for $2 billion more in loans and General Motors is widely expected to follow suit. Investors are fleeing to bonds and gold-backed securities. CNBC heard from experts who warned that the March "bear market bull" won't happen — but that we are, indeed, in a "bottoming process."
Warren Buffett sat down recently for a taped interview with Susie Gharib of Nightly Business Report to mark the PBS program's 30th anniverary tonight. In the conversation, Buffett hints Berkshire Hathaway might buy back some of its stock since it has fallen so sharply from its highs. He also says the credit crunch is easing but business conditions are getting worse. This is a transcript of that entire interview, as provided to us by NBR.
If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I like to write. Look no further than my three books for proof. I seek to raise awareness of important issues, always trying to strike themes that investors can act on. I do this from a macro perspective, from the top-down — the subject of my latest book, Investing from the Top Down. Here are my top 10 'Top-Down' investing themes for 2009.
Monday's market is still feeling last week's pain, as lowered earnings outlooks add to the downward pressure from big bank downgrades. And forensic analysts continue to sift through the alleged Bernie Madoff fraud, asking: Can investors get anything back? But CNBC heard from experts who are anticipating an annual Santa Claus rally — and think it's crucial to buy oil stocks and other selected equities now.
On Friday, the auto bailout was announced: General Motors and Chrysler will get up to $17.4 billion in short-term loans from the U.S. in return for deep concessions. Treasury boss Hank Paulson reversed himself, asking for the second half of the TARP fund. Who gets bailed out next — and where does it end? Strategists told CNBC the bailout is going to make things worse; but one airline CEO sees a healthy Darwinian process.
Thursday: U.S. jobless claims eased from a 26-year peak but still showed weakness in the economy. After the Federal Reserve's moves this week, homeowners are scrambling to refinance; the dollar is sliding against the euro. And the second half of the $700 billion TARP bailout fund looks likely to go toward foreclosure relief and economic stimulus. CNBC heard from experts who say crude oil prices are finally correct — and oil, stocks and gold are going to soar.
Some of the bad news Tuesday was "less worse" than many feared: Goldman Sachs reported its first quarterly loss since going public — but the $2.1 billion loss was much narrower than many had feared and Goldman shares rose as much as 11 percent. Stocks soared on the Federal Reserve rate-cut decision and options trading looks bullish on Boeing. CNBC heard from experts who predict a massive OPEC cut and more Fed moves to come.
Murky signs: Markets had rallied Wednesday morning on the belief that an auto industry bailout was all but certain. But some GOP legislators are opposing the White House deal with congressional Democrats. A top analyst sees financials in critical condition until 2010, but a peer says he's been buying bank stocks and socking them away. And a CNBC guest said commodities are going to lead a 50% S&P rally.
Blacker Friday? Job losses in November were the worst since 1974, as U.S. employers cut payrolls by 533,000. Mortgage loan delinquencies and foreclosures hit record highs in the third quarter — though one economist likes falling mortgage rates. Merrill Lynch cut its oil forecast, saying a temporary downspike of $25 is even possible. But one analyst praised the oil plunge as the equivalent of a "huge tax cut."
Lousy sales, weak earnings and more layoffs reigned over Thursday, with glum news from Nokia, Viacom, Merck, AT&T, DuPont, Credit Suisse and retailers across the board. European central banks enacted big rate cuts. And Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke urged more government efforts to stanch soaring home foreclosures. But CNBC heard from experts who say that while the news will get worse through 2009, markets will periodically rally — and one strategist sees the Dow at 12,000 in 2010.
President-elect Barack Obama nominated Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) for commerce secretary Wednesday, the same day that United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger announced the UAW would make huge concessions in order to help the Big 3 automakers nail government bailout funds. CNBC heard from experts who said the drop in gasoline prices bodes well for the first quarter and Ben Bernanke just may save us from a severe recession. (UPDATED)