Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quick Notes & Articles for the Day - April 30

Lewis Out as Chairman at BofA - Bank of America said after the market close Wednesday that shareholders voted for a proposal to make the role of chairman at the bank independent. CEO Kenneth Lewis gave up his chairman role and director Walter Massey was elected the new chairman, Bank of America said in a statement. All 18 directors were re-elected, although 32.67% of shareholders voted against Lewis and 37.4% voted against director O. Temple Sloan, Bank of America reported.

The Fed Leaves Rates, Changes Statement - The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged Wednesday after concluding its two day meeting. The central bankers said that the economic outlook had improved over the last six weeks, but the economy was likely to remain weak for a time. The FOMC said that spending has stabilized and that the pace of the downturn appears to be somewhat slower. Fed officials made no changes to their plans to buy Treasurys and other securities to support the flow of credit to the economy. The vote was unanimous.

Obama Was "Hopeful" for Chrysler, But Talks Fall Apart - President Barack Obama said Wednesday night in a prime-time news conference that he's "very hopeful" that the U.S. and Chrysler can reach a solution to keep the venerable American automaker as a viable company. Obama also said he'd love to "get the U.S. government out of the auto industry as quickly as possible." Unfortunately, the talks fell apart, and according to The Wall Street Journal the car maker will file for Chapter 11 protection Thursday. Administration officials, who have been braced for a Chrysler bankruptcy filing for weeks, say all the pieces are in place to get the country's third-largest employer through the court quickly, perhaps in a matter of weeks, the report said.

Senate Passes FY 2010 Budget Plan - The Senate approved a $3.55 trillion budget blueprint for fiscal 2010 on Wednesday, joining the House in handing President Barack Obama a legislative victory. The vote was 53 to 43 (yep, new Democratic Senator Arlen Specter voted against it). The budget preserves Obama's priorities and paves the way for health-care reform later this year. As an Associated Press article states, "Under the plan, the deficit would drop to $523 billion in 2014, but even that figure depends on several unrealistic assumptions, notably that Congress will devote only $50 billion a year for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for 2011 and beyond, and unrealistic projections of costs for core Pentagon operations. There's considerable accounting legerdemain in the plan as well, reflecting a struggle by Democrats to cut the budget deficit to 3 percent of the size of the economy within five years — a figure economists say is sustainable without adding crippling debt to the nation's books."


100 Days: 'Harry, I Have a Gift' - By Daniel Henninger - The Wall Street Journal - "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a book out next week, tells of congratulating freshman Sen. Obama on a phenomenal speech. Without a hint of conceit, Mr. Obama replied, 'Harry, I have a gift.'"

One Hundred - The New York Times - "Crises, not days, is the first word that comes to mind when we think about the number 100 and Barack Obama’s presidency."

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