Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - June 25

Bernanke on the Capitol Hill - On Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was in the midst of a FOMC meeting when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) started releasing information that essentially said Bernanke had engaged in a "cover-up" to disguise his actions in strong-arming the merger of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch last fall. After the FOMC meeting, the Fed stated that it had acted with integrity throughout the process.

Today, Bernanke goes before the House Oversight and Government Committee to be questioned by its members including Issa and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) - who believes the Fed was completely within its rights and did nothing wrong.

"I believe that the Federal Reserve acted with the highest integrity throughout its discussions with Bank of America regarding that company's acquisition of Merrill Lynch," Bernanke said in a prepared testimony for today.

Q1 GDP's Final Number Revised Lower Again - The final tally for the 1st Quarter 2009 GDP was released by the Commerce Department on Thursday morning. With a contraction of 5.5%, the economy had a horrible six month period between October 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009. In April, the initial GDP estimate was for -6.1%, then it was revised to -5.7% in May, and finally to -5.5% today.

Most economists are forecasting that the 2nd Quarter GDP (which ends June 30) will contract at 1.5% annualized and 3rd Quarter GDP (ends September 30) will grow 1.3%.

Jobless Claims Rise - The Labor Department first-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose 15,000 to 627,000 to it's highest level since mid-May. There is a good reason for this rise that is usually overlooked in most years. For those that do not know, some states allow bus drivers and cafeteria workers to file for unemployment during the summer school break since they are 10 month employees instead of 12-month employees. This gives those employees a "paycheck" for two months plus while not accruing more pension benefits.

BofA to Exceed Fed's Capital Requirement - Bank of America on Thursday said it will exceed the $33.9 billion capital buffer set by the Federal Reserve through stock offerings, debt offerings, conversions of some preferred shares, and other measures. In total, BofA will have raised more than $38 billion ($4.1 billion) more than necessary more than 4 months earlier than the November 9 deadline set by the Fed. The bank has said it will now focus on repaying the TARP to exit the government program.

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