COMMENTS: Gamblers Anonymous

There was such a welter of negative economic news that the networks could not agree where to start. December retail sales declined…wholesale inflation in 2007 accelerated…prices fell on Wall Street. NBC had Carl Quintanilla of its sibling financial news channel CNBC lead with consumer weakness. Over the Christmas holiday "Americans spent less on electronics, appliances, clothing, autos, even music and books " and credit card companies expect late payments to increase.

On CBS, Anthony Mason led with the "worst period since the Great Depression" for the major banks. They "are scrambling to raise new capital wherever they can get it and that means overseas." Altogether $40bn has been pumped in from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, abu Dhabi, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and the People's Republic of China.

Betsy Stark (embargoed link) took A Closer Look for ABC at a single bank that made $9.8bn in losses in a single quarter of last year. Stark reported that there had been signs that the real estate housing market was forming a bubble as early as 2004--"even the political environment helped feed the frenzy"--yet Citigroup kept investing in those "exotic new mortgages" until its "big bet went bust." Concluded Stark: "What a mess it is!" Her banking analysts told her that "even with today's loss, Citi is still at risk to lose billions more."


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