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From The Business Pages: Oct. 23, 2008

  • The Dow is set to drop precipitously again today on worse-than-expected job numbers--though, given recent volatility, who knows?--but the good news is that if you have any money left, now is a great time to go to Europe. The dollar is at a two-year high against the euro. On the flip side, that’s bad news for U.S. manufacturers, who were hoping that lagging domestic sales could be partially made up for overseas.
  • FDIC Chair Sheila Bair is going before Congress today to discuss several plans for mortgage relief. This is a tough one. Any mortgage-relief plan worth its salt would run up against the moral hazard problem of bailing out irresponsible borrowers. Given the depth of the crisis now revealed, I’m inclined to worry less about this than I was a month ago. The imperative now is to keep people in their houses, even those who shouldn’t have bought in the first place. The more difficult question is political: Even though such a plan would seemingly draw popular support, I think a surprising number of Americans, refusing to admit they are in truly dire straits and in need of government help, would turn that shame into resentment at the “others” more irresponsible than they, who bought too much at the wrong time. The key, then, is to craft a package that extends sufficient relief but doesn’t smack of moral hazard. The Wall Street Journal has a good rundown of the options.
  • So long auto industry: The New York Times points out that Daimler, which still owns 19.9 percent of Chrysler, is now stating that the book value of its stake is zero, wiped out by debt.
  • You know things are bad when Bush calls for an emergency meeting of not just the G-7 or the G-8, but the G-20. As they say on the Gossip Girls, OMFG. That’s like when the Justice League called in not just Superman, Aquaman, and the Wonder Twins, but the Black Canary and the Red Tornado, too. The meeting, planned for Nov. 15, will hopefully make significant strides toward a new, forward-looking, structural response to the financial crisis.
  • From the Wall Street Journal, not really business, but still very cool. The late Waylon Jennings’ son, Shooter, is finally releasing a record he and his dad made back in the 1990s. At the time, they couldn’t find a label. But now that Shooter has a pretty solid career of his own, that’s not a problem. I’m a fan of both, and for what it’s worth, the Jennings’ lived a few blocks from my house growing up. I didn’t know Shooter personally, though a bunch of my grade-school friends did. Some of his stuff is a little too rock and not enough country for my taste, but he’s a worthwhile successor to his father’s legacy. Check it out.

--Clay Risen