Stocks sharply lower: Looks like a blah day - worries about B of A, disappointing earnings from McDonalds, and lukewarm reaction to the Obama jobs plan (in part because of doubts that it can pass). Dow is down about 150 points.
B of A plans thousands of job cuts: As part of the bank's restructuring plan, roughly 40,000 positions might be eliminated, reports the WSJ. The workforce reduction, which largely involves the company's consumer side, would happen over a period of years.
Executives met Thursday in Charlotte and will gather again Friday to make final decisions on the reductions, putting the finishing touches on five months of work. Some jobs could be eliminated through attrition or hiring slowdowns; the bank also expects to save money through a reduction in redundant systems inherited from prior acquisitions. Implementation could take three years.
Bernanke says consumers are too anxious: The Fed chairman says the economy is weak - but not that weak. From the NYT:
Oh, sure, there are reasons to be depressed, and the Fed chairman rattled them off: "The persistently high level of unemployment, slow gains in wages for those who remain employed, falling house prices, and debt burdens that remain high." However, Mr. Bernanke continued, "Even taking into account the many financial pressures that they face, households seem exceptionally cautious." Consumers, in other words, are behaving as if the economy is even worse than it actually is.
Changing environmental rules: AEG's efforts to be exempted from lengthy legal challenges in constructing a new stadium seems to be taking on a life of its own. State lawmakers are considering an easing of the California Environmental Quality Act that would cover larger-scale projects. From the LAT:
The new bill would require that legal challenges be resolved within 175 days for projects estimated to cost at least $100 million, if the governor selects them for such treatment during the next three years. The projects would have to win certification that they are environmentally friendly. Senators acknowledged that the broader measure would probably have to pass if they are to approve the AEG stadium bill. Its principal co-author, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said it was justified by the state's 12% unemployment rate.
Brown pushes for tax plan: With the Assembly on board, the governor needs at least some Republican support in the Senate. But Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton says the measure is too complicated to be considered in the final two days of the session. (Capitol Alert)
FBI raids solar firm: Solyndra had filed for bankruptcy protection this week despite receiving $535 million in federal stimulus loan guarantees. Last week, the company abruptly announced that it was ceasing operations and laying off 1,100 employees. From the LAT:
Republicans have seized on Solyndra's downfall as a sign that President Obama's stimulus and "green jobs" campaign were failures. They have also noted that key Obama backer George Kaiser was a major investor in Solyndra, the first company to receive a Department of Energy loan guarantee to boost alternative energy companies. The program received additional funding under 2009's federal economic stimulus effort.
Power hikes in the offing?: Southern California Gas is among three utilities asking customers to pay for nearly $4 billion in pipeline safety projects resulting from last year's deadly blast in San Bruno. Customers could see rate increases of up to 10 percent. (LAT)
Video games take another hit: Retail sales were down 23 percent in August, according to NPD Group, which comes after a 26 percent drop in July. From VentureBeat:
While it may seem like the game industry is in a funk, these sales numbers reflect only retail sales. Other digital sales - including used games, rentals, online games, mobile games and social games -- show constant growth. Of course, a lot of disruption may result if the retail sales fall off faster than the digital sales rise. And there are different players, such as Zynga, that may benefit more from the rise of digital games than traditional game companies.
Garcetti running for mayor: The City Council president enters an already crowded field that includes Councilwoman Jan Perry, Controller Wendy Greuel, businessman Austin Beutner - and possibly County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. (LAT)