The Market: February 24, 2012

This week, we’re grouping the headlines into two buckets: 1) the economy as a whole, and 2) news about new business regulations.

First, the American economy as a whole:

  • U.S. stocks reached a new post-recession high when the Dow reached 13,000, though the stock market fell back a little by midday yesterday, partly because Hewlett-Packard announced disappointing first quarter earnings.
  • Jobless data remains mostly unchanged, though longer-term indicators show that the job market is slowly improving.
  • Sales of existing U.S. homes are up, fueled by job creation and recent warm weather. (Home Depot’s profits exceeded estimates because of the weather, too!)

Next, the global state of affairs:

  • The European Commission announced yesterday that the euro zone will fall back into a recession in 2012.
  • Greece accepted another bailout deal, and the Greek parliament approved a bill to allow massive debt restructuring—if all goes well, it would help erase €100 billion from Greece’s debt burden, enabling the country to achieve sustainable debt levels by 2020.

Then we have news from the various watchdog groups tasked with maintaining fair business:

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (what is that?) has launched an inquiry into banks’ overdraft fees. We’ve never been fans of overdraft protection, so we’re glad to hear this news.
  • The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) wants to curb the influence of high-frequency traders, like techy hedge funds that use computers to pounce on minute stock movements, because this can create “flash crashes.” The SEC is considering small fees for trade cancellations, which high frequency traders do all the time.

This week in The Market, we’ll talk more about what the future holds. From predictions about the global economy to speculation on whether a “craft economy” is the model for the future, here’s what we’re talking about this week.

Do Pickles Hold the Key to Economic Prosperity?

A new article from The New York Times argues that, instead of teasing artisanal purveyors of gourmet beef jerky, pickles and kombucha, we should consider them the vanguard of a changing U.S. economy.

A Financial Firm’s Predictions for the Future

We’d really love someone to answer the question, “What does the future hold?” That may sound like a pie-in-the-sky request, but Societe Generale, a very large European bank, has released its predictions for the global economy. We break down what this means for you.