GM, Ford, Chrysler Sales Collapse

Chrysler President Jim Press: Maybe towards the end of ’09, going into 2010, there’ll start to be some signs of recovery.” Maybe not.
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The Wall Street Journal is reporting Auto Sales Tumble, But Industry Sees Signs of Hope.

Sales of cars and light trucks fell 15.5% to 1.25 million last month, down from 1.48 million a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp. The closely watched seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate was 13.7 million vehicles, up from 12.55 million in July, but down from 16.3 million in August 2007, Autodata said.

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House prices suffer biggest fall since records began


House prices: Dropped by more than £25,000 over the past year. Photo: Cate Gillon/Getty

House prices fell by 1.8% in August, bringing the average price of a property in the UK below the government’s new stamp duty threshold, figures showed today.

The UK’s largest lender, Halifax, said the average price of a property had fallen by 12.7% since last August – the biggest fall since it began publishing a monthly survey in the early 1980s.

Prices have dropped by more than £25,000 since August 2007 when the average cost of a home was £199,612, and by more than £3,000 since July.

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Secret Service confiscates books & buttons from Ron Paul delegates

By: D. H. Williams @ 7:29 PM – EST

Today at the Republican National Convention, as the Ron Paul Delegates were taking a picture in front of the model White House inside the Convention Center, they were surrounded by Secret Service which proceeded to search the bags of all the delegates. They took any and everything related to Ron Paul including signs, buttons, videos, slim jims, cards, even books.

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In The Eye Of The Storm

By John Browne, senior market advisor – Euro Pacific Capital

As we enter the height of the hurricane season, it may be worthwhile to recall, when considering the economy at large, the particular deception that lurks in the “eye” of the storm. After a raging tempest, the sudden appearance of the calm ‘eye’ can all too easily encourage people to leave their shelter in order to assess and even repair damage, exposing themselves to the often more devastating second leg of the hurricane.

We have long warned our readers of a coming real estate crash which would then lead to a credit crunch, and eventually a major round of bank failures. We have argued that these developments would be the precursors to a major recession, and perhaps a depression.

As predicted, the collapsing values of bonds backed by subprime mortgages did indeed lead to a collapse of the entire mortgage market, a bank liquidity crisis, a credit crunch and a steep fall in consumer confidence. This was the first leg of the storm, but the full blown banking collapse and the deep recession are not yet manifest. The conventional wisdom holds that the bullet has been dodged.

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Storm-hit Haitians starve on rooftops

· No food or drinking water as tempests batter nation
· Desolation in Cuba is like Hiroshima, says Castro

Friday September 5 2008

Haiti was reeling last night from a series of tropical storms which devastated crops and infrastructure and left bodies floating in flooded towns. Three storms in three weeks unleashed “catastrophe” and submerged much of the impoverished Caribbean nation, said President Rene Preval. A fourth storm, Ike, was gathering force in the Atlantic and could strike next week.

More than 120 people have died, thousands are homeless and agriculture and transport networks have been washed away, prompting calls for emergency international aid.

“There are a lot of people who have been on top of the roofs of their homes over 24 hours now,” the interior minister, Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, told Reuters. “They have no water, no food and we can’t even help them.”

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Pakistan: Uproar grows over first ground assault by US troops

Pakistani military officials fear American intervention in the tribal areas could spark a rebellion, derailing counterterrorism operations.

United States forces conducted their first ground assaults into Pakistani territory from bases in Afghanistan early Wednesday morning in a raid on a suspected Taliban stronghold in South Waziristan, one of Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas. The attack has caused an uproar in Pakistan and raised concerns of a new period of tension between the US and its valuable, nuclear-armed ally in the war on terror, which has entered a period of political uncertainty after the resignation of long-serving president Pervez Musharraf last month.

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JPMorgan Is Facing Federal Probe

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. will stop selling interest-rate swaps to government borrowers in the $2.6 trillion U.S. municipal bond market roiled by an antitrust probe and the near bankruptcy of Alabama’s most-populous county.

At least seven former JPMorgan bankers are under scrutiny in a Justice Department criminal investigation of whether banks conspired to overcharge local governments on swaps and other derivatives. The bank also is embroiled in negotiations over how to resolve a debt crisis with Jefferson County, Alabama, where the county’s former adviser says a group of firms led by JPMorgan, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, overcharged it by as much as $100 million for financing a new sewer system.

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Lehman May Shift $32 Billion of Mortgage Assets to `Bad Bank’

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. may shift about $32 billion of commercial mortgages and real estate to a new company that will be spun off in a move similar to the good-bank-bad-bank model used in the 1980s banking crisis, two people briefed on the discussions said.

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The U.S. is getting pounded this season

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — Tropical Storm Hanna skirted the Bahamas after killing dozens in Haiti and threatened to strike the U.S. Southeast as a hurricane by the weekend.

Farther out to sea, the “extremely dangerous” Hurricane Ike was packing 140-mph (225-kph) winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

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Congress is about to pour lighter fluid on Iran

There’s a great deal of support for two resolutions that, if approved, would all but strike the match on war.

The U.S. Congress may inadvertently lay the foundations for war against Iran when it reconvenes in Washington this month.

Two essentially identical nonbinding resolutions call upon President Bush to “immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities.”

The House resolution has more than 200 cosponsors, including Minnesota Reps. Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Jim Ramstad. The Senate resolution has more than 30 cosponsors, including both Minnesota senators, Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar.

The methods for increased pressure differ slightly in the two resolutions. The House resolution calls for “stringent inspection requirements” of all goods entering or leaving Iran. The Senate resolution does not call for the inspection of all goods but joins the House resolution in calling for an embargo of refined petroleum products to Iran, which lacks the refining capacity to meet its need for gasoline.

Achieving either goal would require a naval blockade — a de facto act of war on the part of the United States, though paradoxically both resolutions explicitly exclude authorization for military action.

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