Morning Brief: The picture darkens

Top Story Investors around the world may not know where the bottom lies, but collectively, they sure are trying to get there. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank below 8,000 points Wednesday for the first time since March 2003. Asian and European stocks followed in today’s trading. Globally, stocks are at 5-1/2 year lows, and ...

591442_081120_wallst2.jpg
591442_081120_wallst2.jpg

Top Story

Investors around the world may not know where the bottom lies, but collectively, they sure are trying to get there.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank below 8,000 points Wednesday for the first time since March 2003. Asian and European stocks followed in today's trading. Globally, stocks are at 5-1/2 year lows, and oil has sunk below $52 a barrel.

Top Story

Investors around the world may not know where the bottom lies, but collectively, they sure are trying to get there.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank below 8,000 points Wednesday for the first time since March 2003. Asian and European stocks followed in today’s trading. Globally, stocks are at 5-1/2 year lows, and oil has sunk below $52 a barrel.

“The problem is there is absolutely no silver lining visible,” one Singapore-based analyst told the New York Times. “A serious recession now appears all but assured,” the Washington Post reports, citing a morass of depressing new data.

Meanwhile, it looks increasingly unlikely that U.S. automakers will get their $25 billion bailout this year. The heads of the “Big Three” manufacturers went to Capitol Hill Wednesday and received another verbal beating. It didn’t help that they had flown to Washington on corporate jets.

The next industry to feel the pain? Hedge funds. “An estimated 700 hedge funds may go out of business by the end of the year,” according to data cited by Bloomberg News.

U.S. Presidential Transition

Bill Clinton has reportedly agreed to reveal the names of his foundation’s donors, clearing a path for Hillary to become secretary of state — if she wants the job.

President-elect Barack Obama named a few more White House staffers: David Axelrod as senior advisor, Lisa Brown as staff secretary, and Chris Lu as cabinet secretary.

The next secretary of homeland security is said to be Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano

The transition team announced the leaders of “policy working groups” in areas like economics, immigration, and national security. Tea-leaf readers will note that Jim Steinberg’s name is listed above that of Susan Rice.

In a bizarre, bigoted new tape, al Qaeda’s No. 2 accuses Obama of selling out his race and Muslim heritage.

Americas

Authorities in Panama are holding David Murcia, the alleged mastermind of a pyramid scheme whose collapse has roiled Colombian politics.

Bolivian President Evo Morales did not exactly receive a warm welcome in Washington this week.

Critics of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega say he is leading the country in an anti-democratic direction. The evidence suggest they are right.

Asia

A U.S. drone struck beyond Pakistan’s tribal areas for the first time Wednesday. The Pakistani government is hauling in the U.S. ambassador.

South Korean activists are sending propaganda balloons into North Korea.

A serial killer may be stalking Japanese bureaucrats.

Middle East and Africa

Iraq’s Parliament turned into a free-for-all yesterday as lawmakers aligned with rogue cleric Moqtada al-Sadr denounced the troop agreement with the United States. Iraq’s foreign minister thinks there’s a “chance” the agreement will pass. The brawling continued today.

Somali pirates are demanding a $25 million ransom for the Saudi oil tanker.

Experts say Iran has enough enriched uranium to build one nuclear weapon.

The IAEA released a report suggesting that Syria was building a nuclear reactor.

Europe

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is calling his own financial summit, to the irritation of some.

Iceland is finally getting help: $2.1 billion from the IMF and $2.5 billion from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

EU agriculture ministers have reached a deal to reform farm subsidies.

Today’s Agenda

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson speaks at the Reagan Library.

The U.S. Department of Labor releases its weekly unemployment report.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

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