Treasury: Debt ceiling could be son of Great Recession

Jeff Brown, Special to
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Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.


Brinkmanship has its downside.

Remember the Great Recession? Well, start hoarding canned goods, drinking water and ammo, because Son of Great Recession could be even worse. That's the prediction coming from the U.S. Treasury, which says a default on Treasury debt could cause the credit markets to freeze, the dollar to plunge and interest rates to skyrocket.

Back when we were young and innocent, last week, most figured Washington wasn't dumb enough to let that happen. Warren Buffett has ratcheted up his rhetoric—last week he said even politicians aren't dumb enough to go too far down this path, but today, Buffet referred to the "extreme idiocy" in Washington.

The worries are growing stronger, according to an anxiety index created by Stanford University, which tracks factors like the level of disagreement among economists. Heeding the warnings perhaps, House Speaker John Boehner has told colleagues he happen.


"Postponing a debt ceiling increase to the very last minute is exactly what our economy does not need—a self-inflicted wound harming families and businesses."
—Treasury Secretary Jack Lew

"Political uncertainty constrains business investment, especially on research and development, and reduces hiring and slows GDP growth ... If not for the logjam in Washington, the economy would now be much closer to full employment."
—Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi

Cornerstone OnDemand kiosk at trade show
Source: Cornerstone OnDemand | Facebook

Recruit by robot


If the smoke from Washington does clear, businesses hopefully will do some hiring for the holidays. What's the best system? Some think it's a new class of in-store computer kiosks which try to determine whether applicants have the right stuff, like a habit of showing up.

The devices, marketed by firms like Cornerstone OnDemand, can give very quick results, and even email store managers to approach hot prospects before they leave the premises. But it's too early to know how many job seekers will learn to beat the box with answers they know the gadget wants to hear. The machines are thought to be good at teasing out one key personality trait, conscientiousness, by asking questions that take real care in answering.


"I think the consensus from the research is that faking does happen, but it doesn't really change the predictive role of the test. ... [Candidates] learn to be who they need to be to fit that job."
—John Hausknecht, assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University

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A surefire way to make sure jobs number doesn't disappoint


Time to get ready for Friday's monthly employment report. And the numbers for September are....(insert drum roll)... Well, never mind. Because of the government's shutdown, we won't get any employment numbers for a while. But we have a thorough analysis, anyway. Businesses that needed to hire did; those that didn't, didn't.

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Feverish hopes for Obamacare boom at local CVS


Whether you like Obamacare or hate it, there's no doubt that some businesses will benefit. Bit drugstore operations like Walgreen, CVS Caremark and Rite Aid aim to be on that list, by helping customers navigate the murky waters of the new insurance exchange system. Their hope: Turn the uninsured into customers for the chains' pharmacies and clinics, which could become profitable in 2014.


"[Drugstore clinics] tend to be a little bit less expensive [than doctors' offices], and so if a clinic happens to be in your network, especially if you're under one of the higher deductible plans, your first stop may be a clinic at a pharmacy."
—Les Funtleyder, investment strategist with Poliwogg

Galaxy Gear smartwatch
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Smoking e-cigs in your cubicle as a fashion statement?


One of the key problems of being in a cutting-edge business: knowing which rules of thumb to keep and which to throw out the window. Just consider the new wave of wearable technology like smart watches that do email and other tasks. Some experts think consumers will be picky about what they wear, making them shun cookie-cutter designs.

On the other hand, millions of people are happy to sport those white iPhone earbuds—they're a status symbol. Fortunately for manufactures, costs of producing tiny tech are now so low there may be room for lots of start-ups and a wear-tech look for every outfit.


"Everyone wearing the same watch is uncool in a way that it wasn't uncool when we all had same iPhone. It's something that is hard to pull apart and understand, but at a consumer behavior level it's the nature of that kind of thing."
—Hosain Rahman, founder and CEO of Jawbone, a maker of wearable devices

—By Jeff Brown, Special to