As reported in Drudge Report

Sep 21, 7:41 AM
(ET)

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER

(AP) In this Sept. 30,
2010 file photo, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on…
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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve is running out of options to try to
boost a slumping economy and lower unemployment. So policymakers are expected to
reach 50 years back into their playbook for their next move.

Most economists expect the Fed to announce a plan Wednesday to shift money in
its $1.7 trillion portfolio out of short-term securities and into longer-term
holdings.

The plan could lower Treasury yields further. Ultimately, it could reduce
rates on mortgages and other consumer and business loans, too.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to advocate the move despite criticism
from within the Fed and from Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates.

On Monday, the four highest-ranking Republicans in Congress sent Bernanke a
letter cautioning the Fed against taking further steps to lower interest rates.
Their letter suggested that lower rates could escalate the risk of high
inflation.

The plan the Fed is considered most likely to unveil Wednesday has been
dubbed “Operation Twist” and dates to the early 1960s. The Fed used a similar
program then to “twist” long-term rates lower relative to short-term rates.

Expectations that the Fed will do so again, along with renewed fears of
another recession, have led investors to buy up U.S. Treasurys. Treasury yields
have dropped in response.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note last week touched a historic low of
1.87 percent. On Tuesday, it finished slightly higher, 1.93 percent.

Once the Fed announced last month that it would expand its September meeting
from one to two days, most economists have predicted that policymakers would
unveil some new step. Chairman Ben Bernanke has said that the Fed is considering
a range of options.

The central bank is under pressure to revive an economy that has limped along
for more than two years since the recession officially ended. In the first six
months of this year, the economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.7 percent. In
August, the economy didn’t add any jobs, and consumers didn’t increase their
spending on retail goods.

Most economists foresee growth of less than 2 percent for the entire year.
Many say the odds of another recession are about one in three.

The Fed has offered its own bleak outlook. At its August meeting, it said the
economy will likely struggle for at least two more years. As a result, it said
it planned to keep short-term rates near record lows until mid-2013, as long as
the economy remained weak.

The decision to do so highlighted a rift within the central bank. Three
members dissented from the Fed’s decision – the most negative votes in nearly
two decades. The three, all regional Fed bank presidents, said the Fed’s
policies have increased the risk of inflation.

Bernanke has also faced criticism from congressional Republicans and GOP
presidential candidates. Some have argued that the Fed’s $600 billion
bond-buying program, which ended in June, weakened the value of the dollar
against other currencies and contributed to a spike in oil and commodity prices.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is seeking the GOP nomination for president, went
so far as to say Bernanke would be “almost treasonous” to launch more bond
buying.

Bernanke has said that the Fed could consider another round of bond
purchases. It could also provide more specific guidance on future interest rate
moves.

Or it could reduce the 0.25 percent interest the Fed pays banks on their
reserves at the central bank. Doing so would reduce the banks’ incentive to keep
money at the Fed and might make them more likely to lend.

But many analysts expect the Fed to opt for Operation Twist over those other
actions.

President Barack Obama has unveiled a $447 billion jobs program made up of a
combination of tax cuts and increased government spending. But the proposal
faces an uncertain fate in Congress, where Republicans are focused on efforts to
trim soaring budget deficits.

Late Payments on Consumer Loans Highest Since 1992

 

As reported in Bloomberg

 

April 3 (Bloomberg) — Consumers fell behind on car, credit-card and home-equity loans at the highest level in 15 years during the fourth quarter, another sign the U.S. economy is slowing, according to an American Bankers Association survey.

 

Payments at least 30 days past due increased across all eight categories of loans tracked, the Washington-based group said today in a statement. Late loans climbed 21 basis points to 2.65 percent of all accounts in a consumer-loan index created by the group.

 

“The rise in consumer credit delinquencies is consistent with a rapidly slowing economy,” ABA chief economist James Chessen said in the statement. “Stress in the housing market still dominates the story, but it’s a broader tale.”

 

Lenders including American Express Co., the third-biggest credit-card network, and Capital One Financial Corp. doubled reserves for soured U.S. debt in the fourth quarter. Overdue bank-card accounts reached 4.38 percent in the quarter, according to the ABA, as the slowing economy made it harder for consumers to repay debt.

 

The overall increase was driven by late payments for car loans, which make up two-thirds of all closed-end consumer installment loans, Chessen said. Auto loan delinquencies rose to 1.9 percent from 1.81 percent. Overdue mobile home payments rose to 2.92 percent from 2.87 percent.

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke acknowledged for the first time yesterday that a U.S. recession is possible because consumer spending, employment and homebuilding will deteriorate this year.

 

Rising late payments will continue in the first half of this year, as “food and gas prices remain stubbornly high and income growth is anemic,” Chessen said.

 

Our Perspective

 

Many of us have seen this coming. Prices keep rising and business and consumers are feeling the pinch.

 

Being late on a payment just adds more pressure.

 

Credit card companies have a default clauses that normally jack up your rate. You get your next statement in the mail and you find out you are now paying 30%.

 

Somehow that does not seem fair. When you need the help most, they only tighten the screws.

 

This all did not happen overnight and it will take some time to correct itself.

 

What do we do in the mean time?

 

If you are a business owner, this is a good time to be proactive.

 

Review your cost. There are many opportunities for savings.

 

Saving money does not equate with lessening your ability to service your clients.

 

It will actually make you more competitve and increase your abilty to compete in our evolving market.

 

Let us know your thoughts?

 

Do you have a question?

 

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Hutchinson Business Solutions ……Your CFO on the Go. 

Creating Opportunities Today,…Defining Savings for Tomorrow.

Visit http://www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com/ to learn more about saving opportunities available for your company. 

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