The XX Factor

Recession Briefing 8.21

Elmo, Sesame Street ’s most giggly spokesmonster, is going through some tough economic times. His mommy has lost her job. ( Daily Finance )

Data is beginning to show that the rich, as a group, are no longer getting richer. Over the last two years, they have become poorer. And many may not return to their old levels of wealth and income anytime soon. ( New York Times )

The rough economy is inflicting hardship on people even in death. Coroners and funeral directors in several cities say the number of people seeking government-paid funerals, cremations and burials is spiking. ( USA Today )

Delinquency and foreclosure rates for U.S. mortgages continued to rise in the second quarter, with loans to the most qualified borrowers going bust at an unnerving clip, especially in hard-hit states such as Florida and California. More than one in every eight homeowners with a mortgage was behind on home loan payments or in some stage of foreclosure at the end of the second quarter. And there are worrying signs that the foreclosure crisis could be spreading to parts of the country that had previously been relatively unscathed. ( McClatchyDC , Financial Times , NPR )

In the aftermath of a layoff, style is critical. And it’s about more than the decision to polish a wardrobe. The way people comport themselves after losing a job can make all the difference in what comes next. ( Wall Street Journal )

Car dealers and consumers have just four days left to take advantage of Uncle Sam’s $4,500 cash-for-clunkers rebate. Ironically, American cars have represented only 42 percent of vehicles purchased under the $3 billion U.S. government-funded program. The program has prompted a new entry into our Recession Lexicon: Clunkerf*ck. ( USA Today , Newsweek , Recessionwire )

An index of economic indicators - “The Leading Economic Index” - rose in July for a fourth straight month, in another sign that the recession is bottoming. ( CNN/Money )

“Nouriel Roubini has disingenuously promoted himself as nailing the crisis, when truthfully he was wrong until other hard working analysts fixed his broken crystal ball,” writes Damien Hoffman. ( Wall St. Cheat Sheet )

Morgan Stanley is planning to hire as many as 400 traders and salespeople , a hiring spree that comes as the firm tries to dig its way out of three straight quarters of losses. ( Reuters )

The BBC is producing The Last Days of Lehman Brothers , a TV movie “inspired by the real events” of that September weekend last year. ( New York Times /Dealbook )