FROM John Cassidy
Boston and the Modern Manhunt The toll from the Boston Marathon bombings is three dead and 48 still hospitalized with the total number of injured now 264. The surviving suspect's condition is said to be "fair." The motivation behind the atrocity may never be known but, in the meantime, there are many other unanswered questions. Cell phones, surveillance cameras and crowd sourcing all helped police to identify and locate the bombers by Thursday, but not before social media and professional news organizations had reported false information. Did shutting down all of Boston give amateur "terrorists" extra impact? Was it a preview of what's to come?
Ditching Big Bad Banks: Are There Alternatives? Big banks bailed out because they were "too big to fail" are now jacking up fees on small businesses and individual consumers. Bank of America plans to impose a $5 monthly fee on depositors who use debit cards. Citibank says it’ll raise fees on accounts with less than $15,000. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera says there are many "juicy angles" to be pursued. He's going with " gouging ." Is it time to transfer money to smaller institutions and credit unions? Is the entire banking system due for an overhaul? We hear from Nocera and others.
Big Banks: Are There Alternatives? Bank of America plans to impose a $5 monthly fee on depositors who use debit cards and Citibank says it'll raise fees on accounts with less than $15,000, igniting the latest firestorm over personal and small-business finance. Now that new rules require disclosure of what previously was hidden, more and more customers are looking for some place else to put their money. Quarterly reports are expected to show that big banks are feeling some pain in their profit margins. Are small depositors paying for their bad investments? Will the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau be able to curb abuses?
Is What Wall Street Makes Worth What It Takes Wall Street is making money again and financial institutions could hit record profits, but the unemployment rate went up last month and businesses complain they can't get credit. Meanwhile, President Barak Obama yesterday cut a deal that will extend the Bush tax cuts for another two years. While it's hoped that the agreement will help stimulate the economy and job growth, there are plenty who say it misses the mark, that what is truly needed is a critical look at the workings of America's financial institutions. How can the financial sector be booming while the rest of the US economy remains sluggish? What roll does President Obama's extension of the Bush tax cuts play?
Wall Street's Disconnect with the American Economy Wall Street is making money again and financial institutions could hit record profits, but the unemployment rate went up last month and businesses complain they can't get credit. Meanwhile, President Barak Obama yesterday cut a deal that will extend the Bush tax cuts for another two years. While it's hoped that the agreement will help stimulate the economy and job growth, there are plenty who say it misses the mark, that what is truly needed is a critical look at the workings of America's financial institutions. How can the financial sector be booming while the rest of the US economy remains sluggish? What roll does President Obama's extension of the Bush tax cuts play?
The Financial Crisis and the Presidential Campaign With Washington Mutual the latest Wall Street domino to fall, Democrats blame John McCain for urging House Republicans to hold up the taxpayer bailout. President Bush says it just has to happen , but it's unclear if McCain wants to kill the highly unpopular measure or broker a compromise. Meantime, McCain has left Washington for Mississippi, where Barack Obama will meet him to debate foreign policy. We update the financial crisis and the political drama.
The Housing Crisis Is Eating America's Economy Home foreclosure may become an industry in itself. Today's New York Times features a California company called You Walk Away , which is looking for clients whose mortgages are now worth more than their houses, so they can't refinance to meet rising payments. For less than a thousand dollars, You Walk Away will show them how to deliver their problems back to the bank by foreclosure. Part of the problem is the idea that housing is not just a place to live, but a gold-plated investment whose value just keeps going up. What goes up must come down, leaving tens of thousands of people with increased payments on loans worth more than their houses. Are greedy banks and investors at fault? What about home buyers themselves? And what's the impact on an economy that depends on consumer spending?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.