Major Banks Get Ratings Downgrade
Standard & Poor's downgraded the long-term credit grades of "Wall Street titans" Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup from A to A-, the BBC reports. The ratings agency also cut the ratings of Morgan Stanley, Barclays, HSBC, Commerzbank, and UBS by one notch. The Bank of China Ltd. And China Construction Bank Corp. saw their ratings upgraded. The ratings for several big European banks, including Credit Suisse, Deutsche, ING and Societe Generale were unchanged. S&P has been changing the way it looks at debt after its faulty grades contributed to the credit-market seizure that brought down Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos., Bloomberg reports.
American Airlines Files for Bankruptcy, but Not Grounded
The AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, became the last of the major airlines in the United States to file for Chapter 11, the New York Times reported. The company said the airline's restructuring to reduce labor costs should not affect its flight schedule or frequent flier programs. Gerard J. Arpey, who has run the airline since 2003, resisted the movie and announced his retirement as chairman and chief executive.
Euro Zone Debt Crisis Enters "Critical" Period
Euro zone ministers approved the next installment--$10.7 billion-- of Greece's bailout loan. Had the money not been approved, Greece would have run out of cash before Christmas. Keeping Greece afloat and preventing the further spread of financial upheaval dominated the monthly meeting of 17 euro zone nations, the Associated Press reports. EU ministers may have to turn to the International Monetary Fund to help avert financial disaster, Reuters said. Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Wednesday that the next days will be "critical" to save the euro zone.
Republicans Support Payroll Tax Cut Extension
Congressional Republicans have announced their support behind a payroll tax extension, which some analysts estimate will boost economic growth by as much as 1.5 percent, Reuters reports. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said there was now "a majority sentiment" among his party members for continuing the temporary tax cut, which has been proposed by President Obama. The movie could help avert a reprise of the bitter budget battle that Standard & Poor's cited as one of the factors in its decision to downgrade the country's AAA rating. Next on the agenda: extending unemployment benefits that begin to expire on Dec. 31, which would impact more than 2 million people.
Turkey Comes to "End of the Road" on Syria
Turkey has announced a raft of economic and financial sanctions on Syria over its violent crackdown on protesters, the BBC reports. Those responsible for violence against civilians, and businesses close to President Assad, are banned from traveling to Turkey, and their assets there will be frozen, Turkey's foreign minister announced. All financial relations with Syrian state banks are also being halted. A ban on arms sales is already in place. At least 3,500 people have been killed in Syria since the start of the protests against the Assad regime, according to the United Nations. The Arab League has already suspended Syria over its failure to implement peace proposals.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.