Credit market improving: More companies are borrowing more money, a sign that the economy is starting to come back. From the WSJ:
In the U.S., bond sales by companies such as Bank of America Corp. and GMAC Financial Services are on pace to conclude their busiest week since the beginning of the year. In Europe, borrowing by companies so far in March is already more than 60% of February's totals. "It tells us that financial liquidity is very much on the rise," said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's Investors Service. "No longer do corporations suffer from a dearth of liquidity."
But Roubini is worried: The NYU economist and perpetual bearer of bad news believes that there's an increasing risk of a double-dip recession. He cites weak economic data in the U.S. and the debt problems in Europe. (CNBC)
Dip in foreclosures: February filings in California were down 4.5 percent from the previous month and 15 percent from a year earlier. That's one foreclosure for every 195 households, compared with Nevada's one out of 102. (RealtyTrac release)
CA's uneven pay cuts: They were applied in different ways to different departments last year, and one quarter of state workers wound up getting paid more, according to the Sacramento Bee.
At the Employment Development Department, for example, total pay increased around 4 percent, the second-largest increase among large agencies, behind the California Highway Patrol. Although EDD employees are technically taking furlough days, their caseload has ballooned due to crushing increases in unemployment. So, in reality, they are working right through furloughs and banking days for later. Meanwhile, overtime at the EDD has more than doubled, and hundreds of new workers were hired after Congress increased unemployment insurance money for states in July 2008, triggering what EDD spokeswoman Loree Levy called, "the most aggressive hiring effort in the history of the department."
Will financial overhaul advance?: Sen. Chris Dodd says he'll introduce his own proposal next week, apparently without a single Republican endorsement. Key sticking point has been the creation of a consumer financial protection agency. (NYT)
More millionaires: The number of seven-figure households (excluding residences) grew 16 percent in 2009 following a 27 percent decline the previous year. Gains in the stock market played a big role. From Bloomberg:
The highest number of affluent and millionaire investors said they were likely to invest in cash, which includes certificates of deposit, money-market funds and Treasury bills, over the next 12 months, followed by stocks and then bonds, said Spectrem. The biggest number of ultra-high-net-worth investors said they were likely to invest in equities, followed by cash and international investments.
Stat of the day: China now has more billionaires than any country outside the U.S., according to the latest Forbes ranking. The highest-ranking Chinese person on the list is Li Ka-shing of Hong Kong, with $21 billion. (Christian Science Monitor)
Villaraigosa pitches subway: He's in Washington to push his plan to get upfront federal support for 12 new mass-transit rail lines, including the Subway to the Sea. The city would pay back any loans over 30 years using the half-cent sales tax that voters approved. From the WSJ:
Los Angeles basically wants the federal government to help the city get the money up front, either through guaranteeing bank loans, helping to pay interest on bonds, lending the money to the city itself, or some combination of those moves. The city can't issue bonds on its own to fund the project, officials say, because it can't guarantee lenders the amount of revenue that the sales tax will generate.