San José, CA – The United States is now in its longest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. At the end of April, the recession that officially began in December of 2007 reached 17 months in length, passing the deep 1981-82 and 1974-75 recessions. The economy has lost almost 6 million jobs, or 4.1% of total jobs at the beginning of the recession, the worst downturn since the recession of 1948. Unemployment in the African American community hit a depression-level 15% in April, while unemployment for Asian Americans has risen the fastest, more than doubling over the last year.
St. Paul, MN – Fifty protesters gathered on tax day, April 15, on the front steps of the Minnesota state capitol building to demand state government tax the rich and not balance the state budget on the backs of working and low-income people. Organized by the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bail Out, speakers included leaders of labor unions, low-income groups and anti-war organizations.
San José, CA – On Friday, April 10, the U.S. Department of the Treasury reported that the federal government budget deficit for the first six months of Fiscal Year 2009 (which runs from October to September) was $957 billion. This was more than three times as large as the deficit was at the same time last year and is on track to a record $1.8 trillion ($1800 billion) deficit as projected by the Congressional Budget Office. This is the largest federal government budget deficit relative to the size of the economy since 1944 at the height of World War II.
San José, CA – On April 3 the monthly jobs report by the Department of Labor showed that the official unemployment rate jumped from 8.1% in February to 8.5% in March, while the economy lost another 663,000 jobs. In addition, the number of jobs lost in January was increased by 90,000, to 741,000, which was the worst one-month job loss in 60 years. So far the economy has lost 5.1 million jobs since the recession began, making this the worst recession in terms of jobs lost in more than 50 years.
Chapel Hill, NC – Chanting “They say cut back, we say fight back!” a group of 50 students, campus workers and faculty marched on the Board of Trustees meeting March 26. The main theme of the protest was “No budget cuts on the backs of students and workers.” After rallying on campus, the demonstrators marched over to the Carolina Inn, a luxurious hotel that was hosting the Board of Trustees meeting.
San Jose, CA – On Monday, March 30, President Obama took a tough line with General Motors and Chrysler, which had asked for billions more in aid from the government. GM CEO Wagner was forced to resign, and GM has 60 days to submit a new business plan with more cost cutting. Chrysler was given 30 days to sell a stake to Italy’s Fiat. Otherwise, said Obama, the car companies will go into bankruptcy. To help the companies through this restructuring, the government will be guaranteeing car warrantees and payments to parts suppliers.
Demonstrators say, “Moratorium now on foreclosures and evictions!”
Minneapolis, MN – About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the Minneapolis Convention Center to protest a massive auction of foreclosed homes, March 28. The protest was initiated by the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout.
Fed to Inject $1.15 Trillion More into Credit Markets
San José, CA – On March 18, the Federal Reserve announced that it would inject an additional $1.15 trillion into credit markets. With short-term interest rates already close to zero percent, the Federal Reserve will try to lower long-term interest rates in an effort to boost the economy. The Fed will buy another $750 billion in bonds backed by mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, $300 billion in long-term U.S. government treasury bonds and another $100 billion in bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Recently the media has been abuzz with talk of the possible ‘nationalization’ of ailing big banks such as Citigroup. Both Democrat and Republican senators, as well as the former chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, have raised the possibility of a temporary ‘nationalization’ or government takeover of big banks.