Negotiating your silver lining

“If there’s any silver lining to this sluggish economy,” says Money’s Bob Tedeschi in, it’s that “you, the consumer, are back in charge.” One study shows that 70 percent of Americans have haggled their way to a better deal in recent months. And while your gas purchase is probably set in stone, consumers are finding “wiggle room now in unexpected places, including health clubs, cell-phone stores, even big-box retailers.” Your homework: find the industry weak spots, the competitors’ prices, and “what value you bring.” It’s best to bargain near the end of the month, when commission goals are due, and don’t be shy about asking for a supervisor or the retentions department.

For our risks, reward us

In the proposed bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, says Joseph Stiglitz in Financial Times, once again “the private sector takes the profits and the public sector bears the risk.” Everyone agrees that something has to be done about the two mortgage giants, but the current plan asks taxpayers to “pick up a part of the tab” for the financial markets’ “free lunch.” They shouldn’t. Instead, “taxpayers should be compensated for the risks they face.” They should be the first creditors repaid, and like in the Chrysler bailout, the government could take some shares in the company. “The private sector knows how to protect its interests; the government should do no less” for its citizens.