When will we be out of the mortgage hole?

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the mortgage-finance companies operating under U.S. conservatorship, requested another $3.1 billion in Treasury Department aid as they reported quarterly earnings reflecting improving health.
Fannie Mae reported net income of $73 million for the three-month period that ended Dec. 31, the Washington-based company’s first positive results in three years. McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac’s quarterly loss narrowed to $113 million from $6.5 billion in the same period a year earlier.
[Read the full story...]

The man is amazing…

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported a 43 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings Saturday largely because of strong performance at its railroad business and a paper gain of $1.4 billion on the company’s derivative contracts and investments. [Read the full story...]

Why does my paycheck keep getting smaller?

Even if unemployment starts to ease, it’s unclear whether labor’s portion of the pie will stop shrinking. The global headwinds may be too strong. Just as Marx predicted, technology-driven productivity is increasing not just in manufacturing but also in services. Even the financial wizards that caused the crisis aren’t immune. While trading volumes and the size of global markets have increased dramatically in the past 20 years, Wall Street still employs roughly the same number of people. If you’ve ever watched a trader working a three-screen Bloomberg terminal flashing hundreds of prices in dozens of countries, you’ll understand why.
[Read the full story...]

Lasting rise in oil prices pose a danger

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Tuesday that a prolonged rise in oil prices would pose a danger to the economy. But he said a more likely outcome is a temporary and modest increase in consumer prices — not runaway inflation.

Bernanke, in prepared testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, expressed confidence that economic growth would increase this year. But he warned it won’t be strong enough to quickly lower unemployment, now at 9 percent. [Read the full story...]