FUBAR

Jobless rate hits 7.2 percent

The nation’s unemployment rate bolted to 7.2 percent in December, the highest level in 16 years, as nervous employers slashed 524,000 jobs, capping one of the worst years in modern history for American workers.

What if the stimulus plan doesn’t work?

While most people in a position of power agree an economic stimulus plan is needed, some are questioning whether or not it will work. The nation doesn’t even have a stimulus plan yet and some economists are raising red flags.

Talk about raising on the President-elect’s parade.

More pink slips as economy worsens

Pink slips are piling higher as companies scramble to cut costs even deeper to survive the country’s economic and financial storms.

Just days into the new year, managed care provider Cigna Corp., aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., data-storage company EMC Corp. and computer products maker Logitech International were among those announcing layoffs to cope with a recession that has just entered its second year. The flurry of job cuts suggest the employment picture will remain grim this year.

Report: U.S. ‘shortchanged’ Afghanistan

The United States and its partners have shortchanged Afghanistan by focusing on short-term goals pursued without a cohesive strategy or a clear understanding of the way the poor, decentralized country works, an independent study concludes.

The incoming Obama administration should refocus the U.S. war and rebuilding effort in Afghanistan and think of the project as the work of at least a decade, according to the report compiled by the United States Institute of Peace.

Inaugural means more traffic problems for DC

On a typical weekday, close to 2 million people commute to the nation’s capital, snarling the highways and packing subway trains and buses during peak hours.

Now imagine doubling, or tripling, that for the inauguration.

"I don’t want in any way to discourage anyone," said District of Columbia City Administrator Dan Tangherlini. "I just don’t want them to come and be completely shocked by what they find."

Changes in driving habits may spur tax hikes

Motorists are driving less and buying less gasoline, which means fuel taxes aren’t raising enough money to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.

That has the federal commission that oversees financing for transportation talking about increasing the federal fuel tax.

A 50 percent increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes is being urged by the commission to finance highway construction and repair until the government devises another way for motorists to pay for using public roads.

Where did the money go? Can’t say. It’s a secret

It’s something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where’s the money going?

But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation’s largest banks say they can’t track exactly how they’re spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.

"We’ve lent some of it. We’ve not lent some of it. We’ve not given any accounting of, ‘Here’s how we’re doing it,’" said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. "We have not disclosed that to the public. We’re declining to."

CEOs of troubled banks still got fat paychecks

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Wall Street flies high in corporate jets

Crisscrossing the country in corporate jets may no longer fly in Detroit after car executives got a dressing down from Congress. But on Wall Street, the coveted executive perk has hardly been grounded.

Six financial firms that received billions in bailout dollars still own and operate fleets of jets to carry executives to company events and sometimes personal trips, according to an Associated Press review.

Automakers get the money but now what?

President George W. Bush gave the U.S. automakers $17.4 billion in emergency rescue loans, but the fate of the industry is in the hands of President-elect Barack Obama.

Simply letting the carmakers collapse was not an option amid a recession, housing slump and financial credit crunch, Bush said in announcing the short-term loans and demanding tough concessions from the automakers and their employees.