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  Tuesday, 4 Jan 2011 | 3:46 PM ET

Recovery & Unemployment Are FOMC Minutes Central Themes

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Here is the lead sentence from the FOMC press release of the December 14, 2010 meeting minutes: "Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in November confirms that the economic recovery is continuing, though at a rate that has been insufficient to bring down unemployment."

Federal Reserve
Federal Reserve

The first paragraph also contains this gem: "Employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls. The housing sector continues to be depressed."

Once again: You could hear a similar summary—phrased in saltier language—at your neighborhood tavern.

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  Tuesday, 4 Jan 2011 | 2:53 PM ET

Fewer Personal Bankruptcies in 2011?

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Experts are predicting fewer consumer bankruptcies in the new year.

If true, that's pretty good news right?

Maybe—or maybe not.

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  Tuesday, 4 Jan 2011 | 1:38 PM ET

Eurozone Inflation Considered

Posted By: Ash Bennington
Euros at an angle
Thomas Northcut | Photodisc | Getty Images
Euros at an angle

The annualized rate of inflation in the Eurozone for December came in today at 2.2 percent.

That number is slightly ahead of estimates—expectations were 2.1 percent—and also slightly higher than the previous annualized rate for November, which was 1.9 percent.

Izabella Kaminska, of the Financial Times blog Alphaville, takes up the story . As she points out:

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  Tuesday, 4 Jan 2011 | 12:32 PM ET

Burnison: Real Deterrent to Hiring is Top Line Demand, Not Health Care Reform

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

The year 2010 was not a stellar year for job creation, and while the United States is back on the road to recovery, a big question mark hangs over the jobs market.

Since May of 2009, unemployment has been above 9 percent — and, by some estimates, the actual unemployment rate has been nearly fifty percent higher.

To get a pulse check on job creation, I decided to ask Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry the world's largest executive recruiting firm, if 2011 will be the year for jobs.

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  Tuesday, 4 Jan 2011 | 10:36 AM ET

Buyer's Remorse Over Paying Retail

Posted By: Stephanie Landsman
Shoppers in crosswalk
Getty Images
Shoppers in crosswalk

There's nothing like buyer's remorse when it comes to stocks.

Retail stocks appeared to be a screaming "Buy" leading up to the holiday shopping season—but now analysts are downgrading some of the best-known names.

"There are unknowns regarding cotton costs and labor costs, and on the food/mass [production]/drug side, there's a threat coming from three dollar per gallon gas. With these in place, how could anybody get cozy with rosy," said Richard Hastings, Global Hunter Securities Macro and Consumer Strategist.

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  Tuesday, 4 Jan 2011 | 8:48 AM ET

Inflation is Rising in Europe

Posted By: Ash Bennington

New Congress, New House Majority Party, New Style (Wall Street Journal) "When John Boehner takes over one of the most powerful jobs in Washington this week, he says his first order of business is to make himself less powerful. On Wednesday the new speaker of the House of Representatives plans to offer a package of rule changes that, he says, will give minority-party members more of a say and decentralize power. In short, Ohio Republican Mr. Boehner is promising he'll be a different figure from many speakers throughout history—from Republican Joseph Cannon a century ago to his immediate predecessor, Democrat Nancy Pelosi—who kept a tighter leash.But there's a reason so many speakers try to keep close control: It works."

Half Billion in Cash Offers Facebook Independence, Privacy \(New York Times DealBook\) "In Silicon Valley, going public used to be the ultimate rite of passage for a start-up — a sign it had arrived. No more. With its $500 million infusion from Goldman Sachs and other investors, Facebook is now flush with cash, and a market value of about $50 billion, giving it the financial muscle it needs to compete with better-heeled rivals like Google."

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  Monday, 3 Jan 2011 | 11:48 PM ET

California Über Alles

Posted By: Ash Bennington

"Sure, Stocks Are Rallying, But Are Investors Too Bullish?" (CNBC) CNBC's Jeff Cox handicaps the rally in equities: "The stock market's path to prosperous times ahead is unlikely to be smooth, with increasing volatility along the way and hazards both domestic and foreign. While the new year begins with most strategists expecting big things, a recurring theme is that investor complacency is nearing an end. The market's main fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility Index is just above its holiday season lows and around a level last seen in April 2010, before sovereign debt concerns drove a summer-long slump in stocks."


Dow at 24 Month High (Wall Street Journal) "Stocks started 2011 with a bang Monday, reaching fresh two-year closing highs as improved manufacturing and construction data boosted investors' outlook for the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 93.24 points, or 0.8%, to 11670.75, its highest close since Aug. 28, 2008. The climb represented the measure's biggest move since Dec. 3, the third time in a row it rose on the first trading day of the year and its seventh gain in the past nine sessions."

Manufacturing Numbers Rise for 17th Straight Month \(Financial Times\) "The US manufacturing sector grew in December for the 17th straight month, boosting hopes that the economic recovery is gathering pace following other upbeat reports about manufacturing in the eurozone, Taiwan and South Korea. The Institute of Supply Management’s purchasing manager’s index rose to 57 from 56.6 in November, slightly below the 57.2 expected by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Readings greater than 50 signal expansion."

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  Monday, 3 Jan 2011 | 5:07 PM ET

Insurance As Death Roulette

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Betting on when old people will die is creepy.

It was also, until recently, big business.

And now, it seems, that everyone who participated in this morally repulsive game is suing everyone else.

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  Monday, 3 Jan 2011 | 2:59 PM ET

The 12 Stocks You Had to Own in 2010

Posted By: Jeff Cox
Gregor Schuster | Getty Images

Investing in 2010 was even easier than it looked: All you really needed to do was own 12 stocks out of the 630 that make up the three major indices. But if you didn’t have them in your portfolio, you whiffed big time.

While the Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 11.5 percent, the Dow Jones industrials rose 10 percent and the Nasdaq was up 15.8 percent, most of the gains were concentrated in just a handful of stocks.

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  Monday, 3 Jan 2011 | 2:02 PM ET

The Financial Capital of the World

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Sometimes, this town looks like Blade Runner .

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