Market sees bright side: If you believe that Wall Street really follows the news, this morning's modest gains could mean that investors expect the weak employment numbers to nudge the Federal Reserve into action. Of course, it's still early - Dow up about 30 points.
About those jobs: One of the few (reasonably) bright spots is that the jobless rate remained unchanged at 9.6 percent. See post below for all the depressing details.
We have a state budget!: Only 100 days late, the legislature signed off on a crazy-quilt plan to close a $19.1-billion deficit. See post below.
Foreclosure mess: The hub-bub over fraudulent filings being submitted to the courts has consumer and civil rights groups calling for a foreclosure freeze (though the problem doesn't really affect California). From the LAT:
The admission by the lenders that their handling of paperwork in other states may have been flawed has raised concern about California practices. In his letters to the two companies, [Attorney General Jerry] Brown cited a California law that said lenders, before initiating foreclosure proceedings, must diligently try to contact borrowers to determine eligibility for modifications of home loans written from 2003 through 2007.
What would a foreclosure freeze do?: It wouldn't be wonderful. From the NYT:
With home sales this past summer at the lowest level in more than a decade, real estate is ill-prepared to suffer another blow. But as a scandal unfolds over mortgage lenders' shoddy preparation of foreclosure documents, the fallout is beginning to hammer the housing market, especially in states like Florida where distressed properties are abundant. "This crisis takes a situation that's already bad and kind of cements it into place," said Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist for MFR Inc., an economic consulting firm.
More people eating out: But they're being more frugal in their selections, according to a new survey. Restaurants were among the top five areas in which shoppers said they'll resume spending, along with vacations, entertainment, home improvement and shoes. From the WSJ:
When WSL polled 1,500 men and women in August, 13% said they were already starting to spend more on restaurant dining and 50% said they intend to spend more when they can. That's an improvement from July 2009, when 75% of shoppers said they were cutting back on restaurant spending.
Could the MGM bankruptcy be near?: Secured lenders have until Oct. 22 to vote on entering a pre-packaged Chapter 11 reorganization. The studio would come out of bankruptcy at the end of the year, and be operated by Spyglass Entertainment. (Reuters)
More tourists in Mexico: What drug wars? Foreign visitors arriving by air during the first eight months jumped nearly 20 percent from a year earlier. Most of the activity has been in Mexican resort towns. (LAT)
Farmers settles suit: The L.A.-based insurer agreed to pay $455 million to 13 million current and former policyholders in connection with a 2003 lawsuit that accused the company of charging excessive fees. From the LAT:
Benjamin Fogel, the lead plaintiff in a nationwide class action, purchased policies from three separate exchanges -- a type of insurance cooperative -- that in turn paid management fees to Farmers Group. Fogel alleged that policyholders were charged too much by Farmers Group. The company served as the legal "attorney-in-fact" for the exchanges, underwriting the risks, setting premiums, processing paperwork and billing but not handling claims. The fees are collected as a percentage of premiums paid to the exchanges and passed along to Farmers Group. In 2000, the fees totaled $1.5 billion.
Kaiser workers to stay with SEIU: The Service Employees International Union fights off efforts by a rival union to represent 44,000 health care workers. Election was the largest private-sector union vote since the UAW organized Ford in 1941, (SF Chronicle)
LAX-Shanghai: American Airlines will be the only U.S. carrier to offer nonstop service. Flights begin April 5. (Daily Breeze)