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  • October 26, 2008 -- Federal reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is poised to slash American interest rates to just 1 per cent this week, the lowest level since the depths of the dotcom crash, as government figures reveal the US has joined Britain on the cusp of recession.

    World investors were focused on Britain last week after Bank of England governor Mervyn King and Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed recession was looming, and it emerged that the economy had shrunk by a worse-than-expected 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of the year. But all eyes will now turn to the US, as the Fed meets to set borrowing costs and government figures reveal the full scale of the deterioration in the economy over the past three months.

    The White House bought a short-lived economic boost in the second quarter of 2008 by sending out $150bn in tax rebate cheques to voters and businesses. But the money was quickly spent, and analysts believe the economy then declined rapidly even before the global financial system was pushed to the brink by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy last month.

    Robert DiClemente of Citigroup predicted that the Fed would take 'bold action' in the face of 'rapidly accumulating signs that recession was intensifying before the latest shockwave'.

    The Fed joined in with the internationally co-ordinated half-point rate cut earlier this month, taking borrowing costs to 1.5 per cent, but is nevertheless widely expected to deliver another reduction on Wednesday.

    Paul Ashworth, senior US economist at consultancy Capital Economics, warned that GDP now looked likely to contract continuously until at least late 2009. 'Everyone's coming to the realisation that the impact on the real economy is going to be pretty hard and pretty heavy,' he said.

    Bernanke has been handed more room to manoeuvre by the sharp decline in oil prices since the summer. Despite a decision by Opec ministers to cut production by 1.5 million barrels a day last week, the cost of crude continued to fall, dropping by 5 per cent on Friday alone. Brent crude closed at below $62 a barrel.

    Wall Street suffered another nerve-shredding week, as investors fretted that the spreading worldwide slowdown would hit companies far beyond the banking sector. The Dow Jones closed down 312 points on Friday night.

    Puneet Sharma, head of European strategy at Barclays Capital, said: 'Emerging market economies are in retreat; Western multinationals, which have enjoyed strong earnings as a consequence of their exuberance, will be adversely affected in the months ahead. It is finally getting through to people.'

    Aerospace, engineering, chemicals, automotive and luxury goods firms now appear likely to be hit in a way that shareholders thought inconceivable even a couple of months ago, when the prevailing belief was that fast-growing countries such as China and India would cushion the world from recession.

    'What's going on in the stock markets is a reflection of the fact that investors are realising non-financial profits are going to be absolutely whacked,' said Ashworth.

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    • Q. What's the difference between an American investor and a pigeon?

      A. A pigeon can still leave a deposit on a Ferrari

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      • LOL!! *sob*


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        • Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post


          October 28, 2008 -- One consolation to the eye-popping $700 billion price tag of the bailout package is that compared to the cost of the Iraq war, it's a bargain.

          The American Friends Service Committee, following the research of Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard researcher Linda Bilmes, has calculated that the war is costing U.S. taxpayers $720 million per day. This cost includes the day-to-day operations, the interest on money borrowed to prosecute the war and the cost of medical treatment for returning wounded veterans. That total after over five years of war stands close to double the cost of the bailout or $1.4 trillion.

          Just as many home buyers were led into risky subprime mortgages in an unregulated industry, so too were Americans sold a war under false pretenses. We were misled about the real costs and never given an opportunity to read the fine print. Not only were there no weapons of mass destruction or imminent threat from the Iraq regime, the Bush administration sold the war to the American people by saying we could afford it, just as mortgage bankers told Americans they could afford homes much larger than their incomes warranted.

          According to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the war would be days or weeks, not months or years. The Bush administration insisted that the war would only cost $60 billion, and that would be covered by Iraqi oil revenues. That is the exact process of the subprime mortgage debacle with introductory teaser rates, only to be followed by ballooning costs. We might call this the subpriming of the Iraq War.

          This is a credit card war. With Congress passing emergency supplemental budgets that are not covered by tax revenues, we have yet to pay a penny out of our own pockets for the war. That means that each day those unpaid credit card bills accrue exorbitant interest costs, adding to the debt our children will have to bear. So if the bailout added $2,300 of debt to every person in America, the cost of the Iraq War will guarantee that the next baby born in the U.S. will owe $6,900 during their lifetime.

          So we, the taxpayers, are confronted with two simultaneous bailouts - one for Wall Street and one for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. While we cannot lower the costs of the war already incurred, we can stop the hemorrhaging of the war debt by ending the war and bringing the troops home. Hand-in-hand with the removal of U.S. troops and bases, we need to commit to help repair the damage we have caused in Iraq. This may stave off future costs of a destabilized Middle East. We cannot afford more ideological foreign adventures.

          In addition, the money spent on war can be redirected toward mass transit, alternative energy, infrastructure construction, health care and education. Those investments will create tens of thousands more jobs than money spent on the military. Following the research on job creation by the Institute for Policy Studies, just one week of the cost of the war diverted to mass transit could have created nearly 100,000 new jobs. Those jobs, in turn, will not only provide needed services, but will also contribute to cleaning up the environment and lowering our dependence on fossil fuels. That type of targeted investment is the real path to economic recovery.

          The Iraq War has spent financial capital we never had and squandered our moral capital that we had accrued after 9/11. The Iraq War has mortgaged our children's future with a subprime mortgage that should never have been signed. It's time to tear up the contract and move on.

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          • October 30, 2008 -- The US economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.3% in the three months to September as anxious consumers cut their spending at the sharpest rate in almost 30 years.

            Data from the Commerce Department in Washington showed that the boost to growth provided by the spring tax rebates proved short-lived during a period when the deepening financial crisis sapped confidence.

            Both firms and households pared back their spending in the three months to September and only government spending, stock-building by companies, and the boost to exports from a cheaper dollar spared the economy from a bigger fall in gross domestic product.

            The heftiest drop in GDP since the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks seven years ago underlined yesterday's warning about the state of the economy from the Federal Reserve. The central bank cut interest rates to 1% in response to the sharp deterioration business conditions since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in mid-September.

            Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of GDP - fell at an annual rate of 3.1% in the third quarter - the first decline since the economy was in recession in late 1991 and the biggest fall since the spring of 1980.

            With households affected by rising unemployment and sharp falls in share prices, personal disposable income fell at an annual rate of 8.7% - a rate not seen since quarterly records began in 1947, prompting a 14% annual decline in spending on cars. Businesses reduced investment in new plant and machinery by 1%.

            Tax rebates helped the economy to grow by 2.8% in the second quarter but analysts said the US was now likely to suffer a prolonged period of recession.

            James Knightley, economist at ING, said: "The negative growth rate in consumption and investment looks set to continue and we doubt that the inventory and net export boost to growth will last. Indeed, with the dollar having strengthened and external demand weakening we suspect that the net export contribution will turn negative next year. Indeed, we look for four consecutive quarters of negative growth."

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              • KUWAIT CITY, November 30, 2008 -- The United States has asked four Gulf states for close to 300 billion dollars to help it curb the global financial meltdown, Kuwait's daily Al-Seyassah reported Thursday.

                Quoting "highly informed" sources, the daily said Washington has asked Saudi Arabia for 120 billion dollars, the United Arab Emirates for 70 billion dollars, Qatar for 60 billion dollars and was seeking 40 billion dollars from Kuwait.

                Al-Seyassah said Washington sought the amount as "financial aid" to face the fallout of the financial crisis and help prevent its economy from sliding into a painful recession.

                The daily said the United States plans to use the funds to help the ailing automobile industry, banks and other companies suffering from the global financial turmoil.

                The four nations, all members of OPEC, produce together 14 million barrels of oil per day, around half of the cartel's production and about 17 percent of world supplies.

                The four states are estimated to have amassed close to 1.5 trillion dollars in surplus in the past six years due to high oil prices that rocketed above 147 dollars in July before sliding to just above 50 dollars.

                The daily also said that the United States has asked Kuwait to forgive its Iraqi debt estimated at around 16 billion dollars.

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                • November 27, 2008 -- The US consumer freeze deepened yesterday as the biggest fall in spending since the 2001 terrorist attacks gave the Thanksgiving shopping season its worst possible start. Americans cut their high-street expenditure by 1% in October, a worse-than-expected decline and the steepest in seven years. The figures from the US department of commerce came 24 hours after the US treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, pumped $200bn (£131bn) into the consumer credit market, citing a halt in consumer lending throughout October.

                  There was also more bad news from the housing market, where the economic downturn originated, with new home sales falling to their lowest level since 1991.

                  The consumer outlook has become a focus of concern for economists and US authorities as the year's peak shopping season begins. Tiffany, the upmarket jewellery retailer and owner of the eponymous Manhattan store, slashed its full-year sales forecast yesterday and announced plans to cut staff as the worsening economy turns off even the most affluent consumers. "It is impossible to know when consumer confidence will be restored," said Michael Kowalski, Tiffany chief executive.

                  The downbeat Tiffany outlook added to fears that the Thanksgiving weekend, the biggest shopping period of the year, will be the flattest since the early 1990s. The month from Thanksgiving to Christmas accounts for up to 40% of some retailers' profits and, with consumer spending accounting for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, economists fear that Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving, and traditionally one of the year's biggest shopping sprees - will confirm that the US consumer is hibernating.

                  The Dow Jones industrial average closed nearly 250 points up, mainly because of bargain hunting among cheap technology stocks and increasing hopes of a bail-out for carmakers.

                  President-elect Barack Obama sought to reassure consumers that the US economy would "get through this" and warned that reining in spending in the run-up to Christmas could exacerbate the downturn. "What we don't want to do is get caught up in a spiral where people pull back from the economy, businesses then pull back, jobs are reduced and we get into a downward spiral," he said.

                  Obama, who is now giving daily press conferences on the economy, also appointed a former Federal Reserve chairman, 81-year-old Paul Volcker, as head of a new White House panel to help create jobs and stabilise the financial system.

                  As head of the central bank in the 1980s, Volcker steered the US through a severe recession, which he had helped to create by raising interest rates to kill inflation.

                  Economists expect Obama to inherit an even worse consumer outlook when he takes office in January. Consumer spending is forecast to decline further as the jobless rate increases, despite a small drop in unemployment benefit claims last week. "The consumer spending numbers will get worse as the unemployment situation gets worse," said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at the forecasting group IHS Global Insight.

                  The fall in spending is underpinned by deteriorating consumer confidence, a survey of consumer confidence by Reuters and the University of Michigan said yesterday. It showed that confidence for November fell to 55.3 from 57.6 last month, hitting its lowest level since 1980.

                  In other economic news, demand for items such as fridges and cars also fell by a significant margin last month. New orders for durable goods slumped by 6.2% - more than double most Wall Street forecasts.

                  Wachovia, the Charlotte-based banking group, said: "The consumer is holding back and trying to get a better grip on their balance sheet. We suspect that the trend of spending falling and savings increasing will go on for some time yet."

                  Economists said the decline in factory orders would result in manufacturers hiring fewer workers. There was one bright spot amid the latest bout of negative data, with the number of new claims for unemployment benefits falling by 14,000 last week to 529,000. Nonetheless, any figure above 500,000 is considered a strong indication of an economy in recession.

                  The gloomy economic data was rounded off by a drop of 5.3% in new home sales last month, reaching the lowest level in nearly 18 years. The average price of a new home also fell by 7% to $218,000, recording a four-year low.

                  Earlier this week US authorities pre-empted yesterday's string of bad news on consumer spending and housing by pumping a further $800bn into the credit markets. The Federal Reserve committed $600bn to buying up toxic mortgage assets and the US treasury underwrote a $200bn credit line to the securities markets for car, student and credit card loans.

                  However, investors were warned yesterday that more bad news from the stricken banking sector was imminent. Meredith Whitney, the Wall Street analyst who predicted the near-downfall of Citigroup, warned that major banks would have to write down a further $44bn on their balance sheets in the final quarter of the year.

                  The influential Oppenheimer & Co analyst also warned that about 30% of the new capital raised by Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan would have to be poured into covering losses on credit cards.

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                  • December 1, 2008 -- Confirmation that the US is in recession shook Wall Street tonight and set the Dow Jones industrial average on course to end a five-day winning streak.

                    The Dow fell 679 points to 8,149, a drop of 7%. Shareholders balked at an announcement by the National Bureau of Economic Research that the US economy entered recession in December last year.

                    Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, said today that further interest rate cuts were "feasible" but the scope to bring the key Fed funds rate below its current 1% was "obviously limited".

                    Answering audience questions after a speech to business leaders in Austin, Texas, Bernanke said more constraints on risk-taking by large financial institutions were needed to ease the problem of banks being "too big to fail".

                    Limiting the risk-taking of institutions to "feasible" levels would mean "we don't privatise the profits and socialise the losses," Bernanke said. "We need a better system for resolving failing institutions," he added. This may include similar mechanisms to deal with problems at companies outside the banking sector.

                    The NBER's business cycle-dating committee gave Bernanke and his colleagues more bad news to digest when rates are discussed on December 15 by announcing that the US was in recession. The committee, which defines recession as "a significant decline in activity spread across the economy" and is considered an official arbiter of the economic cycle, said the downturn began last December as firms started to shed jobs in large numbers.

                    "The committee determined the decline in economic activity in 2008 met the standard for a recession," said the privately owned group. President Bush expressed contrition over the downturn yesterday. In an interview with the ABC television network, he said: "I'm sorry it's happening, of course. Obviously I don't like the idea of people losing jobs." He added authorities would intervene if the financial system suffered further difficulties, after the Fed and US treasury bailed out Citigroup and nationalised mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

                    "The American people have got to know that we will safeguard the system," the president said.

                    The Dow fell before the NBER statement, following factory output data for November that showed the weakest activity since 1982.

                    Initial optimism about a strong start to the shopping season also appeared to evaporate as retail stocks were hammered on concerns that heavily discounted sales would hit profits. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices were off by more than 8%.

                    Market-watchers said the Dow would have struggled to retain recent gains because hedge funds are still dumping assets to pay investors who are withdrawing funds, and to settle bank loans.

                    "I don't know of a single investment strategist who thinks that we are at the beginning of a bull market. It looks like it will be a long recession," said Brian Gendreau, of ING Investment Management in New York.

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                    • yay recession is confirmed... now finding myself a job so i could attempt to help my parents w/ my tuition will be THAT MUCH MORE FUN!!!!!



                      *slits wrist*

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                      • December 3, 2008 -- The rising cost of college — even before the recession — threatens to put higher education out of reach for most Americans, according to the annual report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

                        Over all, the report found, published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, adjusted for inflation, while median family income rose 147 percent. Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families.

                        "If we go on this way for another 25 years, we won't have an affordable system of higher education," said Patrick Callan, president of the center, a nonpartisan organization that promotes access to higher education.

                        "When we come out of the recession," Callan added, "we're really going to be in jeopardy, because the educational gap between our work force and the rest of the world will make it very hard to be competitive. Already, we're one of the few countries where 25- to 34-year-olds are less educated than older workers."

                        Although college enrollment has continued to rise in recent years, Callan said, it is not clear how long that can continue.

                        "The middle class has been financing it through debt," he said. "The scenario has been that families that have a history of sending kids to college will do whatever if takes, even if that means a huge amount of debt."

                        But low-income students, he said, will be less able to afford college. Already, he said, the strains are clear.

                        The report, "Measuring Up 2008," is one of the few to compare net college costs — that is, a year's tuition, fees, room and board, minus financial aid — against median family income. Those findings are stark. Last year, the net cost at a four-year public university amounted to 28 percent of the median family income, while a four-year private university cost 76 percent of the median family income.

                        The share of income required to pay for college, even with financial aid, has been growing especially fast for lower-income families, the report found.

                        Among the poorest families — those with incomes in the lowest 20 percent — the net cost of a year at a public university was 55 percent of median income, up from 39 percent in 1999-2000. At community colleges, long seen as a safety net, that cost was 49 percent of the poorest families' median income last year, up from 40 percent in 1999-2000.

                        The likelihood of large tuition increases next year is especially worrying, Callan said. "Most governors' budgets don't come out until January, but what we're seeing so far is Florida talking about a 15 percent increase, Washington State talking about a 20 percent increase, and California with a mixture of budget cuts and enrollment cuts," he said.

                        In a separate report released this week by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the public universities acknowledged the looming crisis, but painted a different picture.

                        That report emphasized that families have many higher-education choices, from community colleges, where tuition and fees averaged about $3,200, to private research universities, where they cost more than $33,000.

                        "We think public higher education is affordable right now, but we're concerned that it won't be, if the changes we're seeing continue, and family income doesn't go up," said David Shulenburger, the group's vice president for academic affairs and co-author of the report. "The public conversation is very often in terms of a $35,000 price tag, but what you get at major public research university is, for the most part, still affordable at 6,000 bucks a year."

                        While tuition has risen at public universities, his report said, that has largely been to make up for declining state appropriations. The report offered its own cost projections, not including room and board.

                        "Projecting out to 2036, tuition would go from 11 percent of the family budget to 24 percent of the family budget, and that's pretty huge," Shulenburger said. "We only looked at tuition and fees because those are the only things we can control."

                        Looking at total costs, as families must, he said, his group shared Callan's concerns.

                        Shulenburger's report suggested that public universities explore a variety of approaches to lower costs — distance learning, better use of senior year in high school, perhaps even shortening college from four years.

                        "There's an awful lot of experimentation going on right now, and that needs to go on," he said. "If you teach a course by distance with 1,000 students, does that affect learning? Till we know the answer, it's difficult to control costs in ways that don't affect quality."

                        Callan, for his part, urged a reversal in states' approach to higher-education financing.

                        "When the economy is good, and state universities are somewhat better funded, we raise tuition as little as possible," he said. "When the economy is bad, we raise tuition and sock it to families, when people can least afford it. That's exactly the opposite of what we need."

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                        • =(

                          ima ride a bike from now on................

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                          • Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post


                            December 5, 2008 -- The US economy shed 533,000 jobs last month as the worst employment figures since 1974 underlined the scale of the economic crisis gripping the country.

                            The shock data for November far exceeded economists' most pessimistic estimates as it was revealed that 1.9 million people have lost their jobs since the world's largest economy entered a recession last December. The FTSE 100 index fell 2.7% as it closed down 114 points at 4049 on the news but Wall Street rallied, with the Dow gaining 259 points on the hope that falling oil prices will boost consumers and businesses.

                            The US unemployment rate is now 6.7%, up from 6.5% in October, its highest level since 1993.

                            Nigel Gault, chief US economist at forecasting firm IHS Global Insight, said the economy was now destined for its worst recession since the second world war. "These are just absolutely disastrous numbers," he said.

                            The figures will increase the expectation on the incoming president, Barack Obama, who is planning an economic stimulus package when he takes office in January. Some experts have called for an injection of at least $700bn (£380bn) into the US economy and Obama has pledged to create 2.5 million new jobs over his first two years in office.

                            Obama warned today that "there are no quick or easy fixes" to the crisis as he again avoided giving specific details on how he will jump-start the economy, preferring to outline his programme when he assumes office on January 20. He added: "At the same time, this ... provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy."

                            Today's announcement brings the jobless total to 10.3 million people out of a total workforce of 154.6 million. Economists believe the unemployment rate will peak at between 8.7% and 9.8% over the next two years. "We are going to see the labour market remain very, very weak throughout the remainder of this year and 2009. It hinges on the monetary and fiscal response," said Ryan Sweet , senior economist at Moody's economy.com.

                            The Federal Reserve Bank will consider the latest jobs figures when it discusses interest rates, currently at 1%, on December 16. Economists said the US central bank could be encouraged to cut rates further amid confirmation today that inflation is a vastly diminished threat, with the spot price of Brent crude oil falling to less than $40, against a record high of $147 earlier this year.

                            Hourly employee earnings also posted a modest month-on-month rise, up 0.4% to $18.30, underlining the lack of upward pressure on wages. However, economists warned that the hourly earnings figure did not bode well for consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity.

                            The employment data also points to a severe contraction in the world's largest economy in the final quarter of this year, with many forecasts indicating a decline in gross domestic product of 4% following a fall of 0.5% in the previous three months. The US economy tipped into recession in December last year, a panel of experts declared earlier this week.

                            Wachovia, the Charlotte-based banking group, said it now expected the US economy to decline by 5% because the downturn, driven by a credit shortage that is reining in consumer spending, has spread to nearly all sections of the economy.

                            "Over the last year, the breadth of industries adding jobs has dropped sharply suggesting broad weakness in consumer spending and dismal consumer confidence," said John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia.

                            Today's jobs data showed job cuts in every sector barring healthcare, education and the government. The service industry suffered the heaviest job losses in November, shedding 370,000 posts. Within that total, retailers axed 91,000 jobs and professional and business services, which includes the financial sector, made 136,000 people redundant. The goods-producing industries lost 163,000 jobs with 82,000 jobs going in construction and 85,000 in manufacturing. Companies that shed jobs last month included Toy firm Mattel, electronics retailer Circuit City and Citigroup, the banking giant.

                            The bleakest forecasts had predicted job losses of up to 500,000. Today's number for declines in non-farm payrolls easily outstripped mid-range forecasts of less than 400,000 and is the worst since December 1974, when 602,000 people lost their jobs.

                            The jobless rate in the 1980 to 1982 recession peaked at 10.8%, the worst since the Great Depression. The current US recession is expected to match its post-war predecessors in terms of length. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, which called a recession this week, the downturn is 12 months old and needs to last five more months to outrank the 1973-1975 and 1980-1982 recessions.

                            The figures for September and October also saw sharp upward revisions, meaning almost 200,000 more jobs were lost than had initially been thought. The original estimates for September were 284,000 and 240,000 in October, however those have been revised upwards to 403,000 and 320,000 respectively.

                            The news comes in the same week retailers confirmed that consumer spending is in full-scale retreat with major stores announcing November sales declines of more than 10%.

                            Retailers traditionally hire more workers for the peak shopping season but the November sales figure indicates that December could be a dire month for jobs as well.

                            "We are going to see weak seasonal hiring in the retail sector and there are very few sectors that are adding jobs," said economy.com's Sweet.

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                            • ......................................

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                              • January 8, 2009 — Barack Obama, the U.S. president-elect, has warned that the struggling U.S. economy could be in recession for years unless politicians agree a massive economic stimulus plan.

                                Obama, who takes office on January 20, has pledged to change U.S. economic policy, and is set to introduce a new stimulus plan containing tax cuts and public spending that could total almost $800 billion.

                                "If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits," he said at a speech in Virginia on Thursday.

                                A new government report released on Thursday showed that the number of people continuing to claim jobless benefits jumped unexpectedly last week by 101,000 to 4.61 million, the highest level since November 1982.

                                In addition to tax cuts for families and businesses, the plan would pay for construction and repair of roads and schools and provide aid to U.S. cities and states, Obama said.

                                Obama has previously said he was considering a plan in the range of $775 billion, though he has suggested the final cost could exceed that.

                                He gave no precise figure in Thursday's speech although Obama listed $1,000 tax cuts for middle-class families as one element of the package.

                                Wall Street warning

                                The U.S. president-elect also once again promised tougher regulations on Wall Street traders.

                                "No longer can we allow Wall Street wrongdoers to slip through regulatory cracks. No longer can we allow special interests to put their thumbs on the economic scales," he said.

                                Wall Street firms have come under renewed scrutiny after the global financial crisis rocked world markets last year.

                                The crisis hit a U.S. economy already struggling in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, which occured after millions of Americans were granted high-interest mortgages they were unable to repay.

                                A report on Wednesday showed the fiscal deficit for 2009 would triple to around $1.2 trillion, even before taking into account the cost of the stimulus package.

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