The crisis goes prime time.
In a nationally televised address Thursday night, President George W. Bush urges Congress to quickly pass a $700-billion rescue package for the US financial system, after key Congressional leaders indicate they've reached an agreement, in principle, on the major parts of the plan.
Meanwhile, regulators are trying to quickly broker a deal for Washington Mutual, The New York Times reports. And The Wall Street Journal reports that the troubled savings-and-loan has approached private equity firms, including Carlyle and Blackstone, about a takeover. WaMu came under further pressure on Wednesday when Standard & Poor's slashed its credit rating deep into "junk" territory.
The Journal says Spain's Banco Santander has withdrawn as a suitor, and Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank is only mildly interested. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are all reluctant to absorb WaMu's loans after conducting due diligence.
Charlie Gasparino reports that hedge fund executives claim several Wall Street firms are now marketing a new hedging product that would allow them to "short" stocks—even those on the banned short sale list.
What You Were Reading:
On the credit front, Freddie Mac reports that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to an average interest rate of 6.09 percent, up sharply from the 5.78 percent of a week ago; rates had fallen to a multi-month low in the wake of the government's takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae earlier in the month.
General Electric (parent of CNBC) warns that turmoil in global credit markets could drive its earnings down as much as 12 percent. It's capital finance unit expects "to see higher losses and loss provisions and lower gains as the economy evolves," says Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.
Ireland's economy is now in a recession, the country's Central Statistics Office says Thursday. The Emerald Isle is the first of the 15 Eurozone countries to fall in the current turmoil. The European Commission predicts that Germany, Spain and Britain will soon follow.
What the Experts Were Saying:
Bond king Bill Gross says the proposed $700 billion bailout for financial firms could yield a profit of at least 7 to 8 percent and benefit taxpayers.
The S&P 500 will likely climb back to around 1,260 after the bailout package solidifies, despite current bearish signs in chart patterns, Clive Corcoran of Tradewithform.com says.
GE Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Immelt discusses the company's guidance and strategy moving forward with the CNBC news team.