Job ads plummet to new lows. The number of Australian jobs advertised dropped by nearly a third last year, putting the number of new positions added by businesses at “recession levels.” For the year to December, the total number of job ads declined 30%. For the month, they slumped 9.7%, a record drop since the series began in 1999, according to the ANZ job advertisement survey. The increasingly weak job ads figures point to a higher unemployment rate this year as expected drops in consumer demand, business confidence and business activity take their toll. The December plunge is the eighth consecutive contraction of the gauge. — BusinessDay
Obama says he’s going to act fast on stimulus plan. President-elect Barack Obama has again pressed for Congress to move as quickly as possible on his economic stimulus plan, even as lawmakers on both sides have expressed reservations about some of Obama’s ideas. “My concern is that in a non-emergency situation, Congress exercises all sorts of prerogative,” Obama said in an interview aired today on ABC’s This Week. “They’ve got all sorts of procedures. Everybody wants to be heard. And I’m respectful of that. I’m coming from the United States Senate. I understand why that is important . . . Here’s what we know though, that the sooner a recovery and reinvestment package is in place, the sooner we can start turning the economy around.” He noted Congress is a “is a co-equal branch of government,” and “we’re not trying to jam anything down people’s throats.” But he defended controversial business tax cuts in his package, saying they could help stimulate the economy as well. — Washington Post
But is government spending too easy an answer? When the Obama administration finally unveils its proposal to get the economy on the road to recovery, the centerpiece is likely to be a huge increase in government spending. But there are ample reasons to doubt whether this is what the economy needs. Arguably, the seeds of the spending proposal can be found in the classic textbook by Paul A. Samuelson, Economics. First published in 1948, the book and others like it dominated college courses in introductory economics for the next half-century. It is a fair bet that much of the Obama team started learning how the economy works through Mr. Samuelson’s eyes. Most notably, Lawrence H. Summers, the new head of the National Economic Council, is Mr. Samuelson’s nephew. — N Gregory Mankiw, New York Times
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Hyundai takes autoshow honours as big three stumble. The Hyundai Genesis has won the prestigious Car of the Year Award at the start of media preview days for the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The show opened with the future of the big three automakers under a recession cloud amid slumping sales. GM, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler — seen as the weakest of the Detroit three — to survive a deepening global recession and vicious plunge in auto sales hang over the industry’s single biggest marketing event. Highlighting the gloom in the Motor City, the show opens as the United Auto Workers union gears up for another round of tough negotiations with GM and Chrysler, which are mandated to cut labor costs under a $17.4 billion federal bailout. — CNN Money, Reuters
Satyam founder in the slammer, break-up looms. Satyam Computer Services Ltd. will have to restate earnings and may be broken up after the company’s founder was arrested in India’s biggest corporate fraud investigation, executives said. Three new directors led by Housing Development Finance Corp. chairman Deepak Parekh will meet in Hyderabad today to take over India’s fourth-largest software exporter after the government replaced its board and detained chairman Ramalinga Raju. “First we need to go and assess the magnitude of the issue,” Parekh, 64, said in a telephone interview. “Then we have to work on the re-statement of accounts.” Raju’s admission that he’d fabricated $1 billion in cash and assets sparked a record plunge in the company’s shares that wiped out $2.2 billion of investor wealth. Splitting Satyam may avoid an exodus of clients and shield potential buyers from lawsuits and regulatory probes. — Bloomberg
Upper East Side feels the after-Bernie burn. I remember a moment when there was a slight shift, a little something that made the yummy mummies just a bit less yummy. This moment was Before Bernie (or, as we in the know call that era, B.B.) but after the first major market meltdown. There was still the same amount of gabbing about traffic, staff, entertaining, custom stationery, and vacations, but the tone was slightly apologetic–almost as if there was a kind of post-modern modesty slipping into the zeitgeist.
But after Bernie (A.B.), after the vaporisation of $US17 billion of primarily Jewish wealth, everything changed. All of a sudden it was thought of as vulgar (vulgar—who remembers that word?) to use the phrase “wheels up,” or to post pictures of the inside of your G4 (admittedly owned by NetJets, but still appallingly expensive). All of a sudden it was no longer chic to have five Birkins (one in each color for every day of the work week, ironically owned by someone who never, ever worked). All of a sudden greed was gross. – Molly Jong-Fast, The Daily Beast