WGN Radio – Ilyce Glink – 8/8/2011

For more real estate and personal finance advice, visit Ilyce on the Equifax Personal Finance Blog.

If the calls I received today on WGN Radio say anything about how Main Street America is feeling right now, people are fed up with incompetence. After the Debt Ceiling debacle and downgrade in the U.S. credit rating, everyday Americans have little faith in their government’s ability to fix the housing and economic crises. A lower unemployment rate did little to appease those who have been affected by the Great Recession, especially since news reports indicate the 9.1 percent unemployment has more to do with people leaving the job market than it does an increase in job creation.

Even Standard and Poor’s, the credit rating agency that issued our credit downgrade, has nothing positive to say about the state of the U.S. government. According to a statement released to Fox News by S&P, the downgrade “reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges” to the degree that S&P could downgrade the U.S. credit rating again in the next 12 to 18 months.

One listener emailed in some suggestions on how to fix Congress. A few of them really stood out to me, including the idea that Congress should be required to participate in the same health care system as the American people and be unable to vote in their own pay raises. If our representatives are elected to make decisions on our behalf, they should be affected by those decisions just like the rest of us.

As tough as this economy is on unemployed and underemployed adults, it cannot be overstated how much of an impact the Great Recession has had on the nation’s children. According to a report issued by the Children’s Defense Fund, 1 in every 5 children in America is living in poverty. Even more startling is the fact that 60 percent of fourth, eighth and twelfth grade public school students are reading or doing math below grade level. As many callers pointed out this morning, educating our children is of the utmost importance and should remain in the forefront of our minds even in a recession. These kids are our future, and for their sake and ours, we cannot leave any of them behind.

Many callers expressed frustrations at their inability to get out of debt. Unemployment, high gas prices and a stagnant housing market are keeping many Main Street Americans treading water. In response to these hardships, Wells Fargo announced on WGN Radio today it is hosting its 36th free Home Preservation Workshop in Chicago on August 17-18, 2011. The workshop is open to all Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Wells Fargo Financial, Wachovia Mortgage and Wells Fargo Home Equity customers facing financial hardships. If you are interested in registering for Wells Fargo’s Chicago Home Preservation workshop, register online or call 800-405-8067. Find out when Wells Fargo’s Home Preservation Workshop is coming to your area and what you need to participate in the event.

For those borrowers with accounts not tied to Wells Fargo, more credit counseling and home preservation resources are available through CredAbility, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Making Home Affordable program.

Below is a list of stories we discussed today on WGN Radio. Feel free to continue the discussion we started today in the comments below.

CNN: Odds of a Double-Dip Recession are Still High
The July unemployment report was better than expected, but things aren’t always what they seem: the drop reflects nearly 200,000 people who have left the labor market to retire or, worse, because they have given up hope of finding a job.

CNBC: S&P Downgrades US Credit Rating to AA-Plus
It’s not just Main Street America that has had it with Washington politics. Despite the Debt Ceiling deal, S&P cut the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA-plus. According to a statement released by S&P, the downgrade reflects the government’s inability to effectively deal with the U.S.’s economic challenges.

Reuters: Consumer Credit Shot Up in June
According to a Federal Reserve report issued on Friday, U.S. consumer credit rose by $15.53 billion in June. While it is evidence of consumers’ willingness to borrow money in a tight job market, the report does not indicate whether borrowers were purchasing for pleasure or using credit cards just to make ends meet – a likely possibility in a stagnant economy.

CNN: Stocks: Worst Week Since Financial Crisis
Last week the Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ had their worst weeks since the height of the Great Recession. After falling over 500 points on Thursday, stocks started higher on Friday with news of a positive jobs report. However, optimism faded quickly as investors feared the worst in the European debt crisis.

NPR: Billion: What This Week’s Market Cost the World’s Richest Man
It’s hard for people on Main Street to feel bad for the richest man in the world, even when he does lose lots of money. Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate and the world’s richest man, lost $8 billion dollars in four days last week as Mexico’s IPC index dropped 7.4 percent. While that’s certainly a lot, the rest of us don’t even have that much to lose.

Fox News: When Good News is Bad: Unemployment Rate Drops as Workers Bolt Labor Force
While 154,000 new private sector jobs were created in July, that’s far short of the roughly 220,000 jobs that need to be added every month if the government wants to see 8.5 percent unemployment by Election Day 2012.

Wall Street Journal: Foreclosure Woes Fuel Wider Loss at Frannie
Fannie Mae is at it again: the company posted a net loss of $2.9 billion for the second quarter, making that the 15th out of the last 16 quarters Fannie has reported losses. The mortgage finance company must now ask the government for another $2.8 billion in bailout funds.


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