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Financial 411: Wal-Mart Controversy Reaches City Hall

Thursday, February 03, 2011

walmart, wal mart, mobile alabama (Dystopos/flickr)

Madoff Saga Continues

Bernie Madoff has been in jail for more than two years, but we haven't heard the last of the shakeout from his Ponzi scheme. The trustee trying to recover money for bilked investors said executives at JP Morgan Chase knew there were concerns that he was running a massive fraud but ignored the warnings. A lawsuit filed in December has just been unsealed. It says the trustee is seeking $6.4 billion from JP Morgan. The bank said the suit is "meritless" and "based on distortions of both the relevant facts and the governing law."

Number of New Jobless Claims Falls

New jobless claims plunged last week. The Labor Department said the number of people seeking benefits dropped by 42,000 to a seasonally adjusted 415,000. Weather may have exaggerated the size of the drop. A snowstorm in the South the previous week had disrupted work, and led to temporary layoffs.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking today at the National Press Club, said it will be several years before the unemployment rate returns to a "more normal level."

"Until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established," he said.

Markets

There were small gains on the stock market today after Ben Bernanke said the Federal Reserve's bond-buying plan is spurring lending as intended. The Dow rose 20 points, to close at 12,062. The Nasdaq added four points, ending at 2,754. The S&P 500 settled at 1,307, with a gain of three points.

Supporters, Opponents of Wal-Mart Pack City Council Hearing

The elephant was not in the room, but all they could talk about was that elephant. The elephant was Wal-Mart, and the room was packed at a City Council hearing today, the first of several planned.

The world's largest retailer is interested in coming to New York and reportedly has a site in mind in eastern Brooklyn. But Wal-Mart didn't send a representative to the hearing. The company said since there's no concrete plan, there's nothing to discuss.

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