October 26th, 2011 9:28 AM by Mel Samick
Where should we begin...occupying Wall Street, Libya, Europe? Protestors are occupying Wall Street, mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed, power and influence over the government (particularly in the financial services sector), and of lobbyists. The participants' slogan "We are the 99%", refers to the difference in wealth between the top 1% and the other citizens of the United States. The movement has been criticized for having no goals and/or formal demands. As the "Occupy Wall Street" protest expands and grows into a nationwide movement, Americans are eagerly awaiting a list of demands from the group so they can then systematically disregard them and continue going about their business.
In other news, it may have taken longer than expected, but the Libyan rebels never wavered in their determination to shoot at anything, and it finally paid off. Moammar Gadhafi, leader of Libya for 42 years, was captured and killed last week in his hometown of Sirte. For months, the rebels were confused with Gadhafi's whereabouts...I'm still confused how to spell his last name. Gadhafi's war chest might have been large enough at one point to support fighting against the rebel forces, but how much Libya's Transitional National Council can extract after Gadhafi's reported death remains to be seen. Gadhafi and his family had an estimated $33 billion to $60 billion in unaccounted money around the world before his death. Part of the difficulty in identifying Gadhafi's bank accounts is that his last name is not easily translated into English. There are literally hundreds of ways to spell "Gadhafi." In the end, Gadhafi was a dreadful leader and arguably the most eccentric leader in the world.
European leaders are working their way toward a long-awaited plan to fight the continent's 2-year-old debt crisis. They failed to make tough decisions over the weekend, but pledged to unveil concrete plans by Wednesday. They are likely to include measures to recapitalize the region's banks, which are expected to accept steep losses on Greek debt, as well as boosting the euro zone bailout fund. Italian Premier, Silvio Berlusconi, who received stern words from the French and German leaders over the weekend, has convened his Cabinet to come up with a package of plausible growth measures by Wednesday, as demanded by EU leaders. Italy is seen as the next likely victim in the debt crisis, but the third largest eurozone economy would be too expensive to bail out. Confidence-building measures will be sorely needed as European economic indicators continue to point downwards. Markets will remain nervous ahead of Wednesday's EU summit, with the hope that officials can settle their differences and emerge with a concrete solution.
Stocks surged last week following a batch of corporate earnings and ahead of this weekend's European Union summit on the sovereign-debt crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 267 points to end the week at 11,808 points. The blue-chip index secured its fourth straight weekly gain, its longest winning streak since January. The measure is now up 2% this year. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 22 points to 1,238. The technology-oriented Nasdaq Composite advanced 38 points to finish at 2,637. In other positive domestic news, homes were built in September at the fastest pace in 17 months, a hopeful sign for the economy. Most of the gain was driven by a surge in volatile apartment construction. That should help create jobs and boost economic growth, but it doesn't signal a comeback for the depressed housing market. Single-family home construction, which represents nearly 70 percent of homes built, rose only slightly. Additionally, unemployment rates fell in half of U.S. states last month, a sign that September's pickup in hiring was felt around the country. Nationwide, employers added 103,000 net jobs in September, nearly double the number created in August. In addition, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a six-month low, according to a four-week average calculated by the government. That has helped calm fears that the economy was sliding into another recession.
Beyond the reports coming out of the EU and an array of company earnings, this will be a busy week for economic news. Here is what to look forward to this week:
· TUESDAY: Consumer Confidence
· WEDNESDAY: Weekly Mortgage Applications, Durable Goods Orders, New Home Sales
· THURSDAY: GDP, Jobless Claims, Pending Home Sales Index
· FRIDAY: Consumer Sentiment
Have a great week.
Information provided by NYCB Capital Markets