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Best columns: Clogged pipeline, Striking Boeing
The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may push down interest rates, says Irwin Kellner in MarketWatch, but it “will not unclog the housing pipeline.” Airbus “is struggling financially,” laying off 5,000 workers, says Carol Matlack in Business
 

The ineffectual housing plunger

The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may push down interest rates, says Irwin Kellner in MarketWatch, but it “will not unclog the housing pipeline.” First of all, banks aren’t lending much. Most banks are facing the fallout of loans gone sour, late payments, and delinquencies, and since “the market for securitization has all but dried up,” any loans they make have to be kept on their own books. Second, housing prices are still dropping, and “nothing that the government did over the weekend will keep home prices from falling further.” Banks and home buyers will step in only when housing prices stabilize, so maybe stabilizing prices should be the government’s next project.

Why is it Boeing that’s on strike?

Airbus “is struggling financially,” laying off 5,000 workers and giving most remaining employees a paltry 1.5 percent raise, says Carol Matlack in BusinessWeek.com, while rival Boeing is actually “in pretty good shape.” So why is it Boeing’s workers, offered an 11 percent raise over three years and other perks, who are going on strike? Airbus’ union is “hardcore,” but private sector strikes are “exceedingly rare” in France, and French workers get much better benefits than their U.S. counterparts. Airbus workers might also fear that a strike could aggravate the plane maker’s “already precarious situation,” and oddly, they and their airline might be the biggest beneficiaries if Boeing’s workers stage a costly strike.

 

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