Money in a Minute: Today’s Top Headlines From the World of Money

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More jobs are disappearing, Social Security is evaporating, and minivans are being recalled. But there's also good news today – about car loans, smart phones, and football.

1. JOBS: Governors put state jobs on the chopping block

Time was, working for the government was job security. This morning, CNN reveals otherwise: “There will be lots more state workers joining the unemployment line this year….Governors across the nation are promising to eliminate thousands of positions and freeze or reduce salaries.”

2. SOCIAL SECURITY: Social Security Fund Will Be Drained By 2037

New, depressing projections say Social Security will run out of money in our lifetime. “This year alone, Social Security is projected to collect $45 billion less in payroll taxes than it pays out in retirement, disability and survivor benefits,” CBS News reports.

3. HOUSING: Foreclosures spread into previously safe areas

It’s depressing but not surprising news: The foreclosure crisis is getting worse as high unemployment and lackluster job prospects force homeowners in an increasing number of U.S. metropolitan areas into dire financial straits,” reports MSNBC. “In Seattle, Houston and Chicago, cities that were relatively insulated from foreclosures early on in the housing bust, a growing number of homeowners are falling behind on mortgage payments.”

4. AUTOMOTIVE: Average car loan rate of 6.21 percent lowest in decades

You may not have a job or a house or Social Security, but you can get a good car loan today. “Interest rates on auto loans are hitting record lows, a boon to car buyers and a benefit to the nation’s recovering auto industry,” reports USA Today.

5. AUTOMOTIVE: Ford recalls 525,000 Windstar minivans

Of course, you may not want to use that new low loan rate on a used Windstar right now, especially models between 1999 and 2003: “Ford Motor Co is recalling about 525,000 older model Windstar minivans in cold-weather areas because corrosion could cause a separation of parts under the vans that might reduce steering control.”

6. INVESTING: Super Bowl theory says to go long

Can the winner of the Super Bowl really help you pick stocks? “This theory postulates that when a team from the old NFL wins, the stock market tends to go up,” reports MSN Money, with tongue only partly planted in cheek. “This indicator has correctly predicted the direction of the Dow in all but nine of the 44 years that the Super Bowl has been played.” With the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers both original NFL teams (and not products of expansion) it follows the stock market is going up this year.

7. MOBILE: Windows Phone 7 sales top 2 million

Is there a serious third choice to the iPhone and all those Android phones? Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is apparently selling well – even if those reports are slightly skewed. “Microsoft now says it’s sold more than 2 million Windows Phone 7 devices since launch,” reports CNet this morning. But there’s a big but: “That number represents handsets sold to mobile operators and retailers and not necessarily consumers.” Hmm…

8. HIGH FINANCE: Goldman Sachs Got Billions From AIG For Its Own Account, Crisis Panel Find

Just when we were all calming down about those crooked financial institutions getting bailed out. This morning, The Huffington Post reports, “Goldman Sachs collected $2.9 billion from the American International Group as payout on a speculative trade it placed for the benefit of its own account, receiving the bulk of those funds after AIG received an enormous taxpayer rescue.” Arrgh!

9. ADVERTISING: Facebook’s ‘sponsored stories’ turns your posts into ads

Our like-hate relationship with Facebook may be tilting back to “hate” with the company’s latest annoying innovation. “A new Facebook advertising product, sponsored stories, plans to pull content out of members’ posts for use in advertisements that will appear on their friends’ Facebook pages,” CNN Money reports. “Here’s the annoying part: You can’t opt out.”

10. CONSUMER: Our top picks for a Big Game HDTV

If you plan to forget the bad economic news listed above by splurging on a new HDTV for next month’s Super Bowl, Consumer Reports has done the hard work for you: “Sporting events like the Super Bowl can really bring out the best – and worst -in an HDTV by pushing it to its performance limits, revealing flaws that might go unnoticed with less-demanding types of content.”

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

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