BEHIND THE NEWS: Fear in the air

November 17, 2008 12:57:24 PM PST
You can pretty much smell it out there, the fear that is slowly creeping into people's psyche. And it's not pretty.

For a society that depends on a combination of risk taking and boldness, playing defensively with money is a big change.

It's hard to blame anyone, for feeling the fear.

And today's announcement about Citigroup doesn't help: The New York-based financial giant is cutting a reported 50,000-plus jobs - the third largest since 1993.

The cuts are the latest in a string of bad-news announcements from the company that sought to re-write the rules of the game in the financial industry: Citigroup has had four consecutive quarterly losses, including nearly $3 billion in red ink in the third quarter.

With all the losses, it's a welcomed sign -- if not surprising -- that both UBS and Goldman Sachs are cancelling year-end bonuses for their top executives. They're getting lots of praise, but, really, isn't it a no-brainer?

Meanwhile, the New York State budget continues to be a mess. Lawmakers can't seem to agree on how to fill the estimated $2 billion deficit, and now Gov. David Paterson is blasting his former colleagues for not agreeing to some remedies before this week's emergency session.

We'll have the latest on the economic crisis - in the private and government sectors - tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we'll have the latest on the Obama transition. The President-elect met with Sen. John McCain today. Nothing dramatically newsworthy - no mention of McCain becoming a member of the Obama Administration. No surprise.

Obama making news because of his inauguration, however. Tickets are apparently in such demand, that a bill was introduced today to make scalping the otherwise free tickets a crime - punishable by a fine and up to a year in jail.

The black-market tickets are reportedly selling for up to $40,000 each.

And one more economic sign of the times that we're dealing with tonight: the demise of the neighborhood supermarket. And it's happening, as our Sandra Bookman reports tonight at 11, more frequently in poor communities. Many people are now being forced to buy their groceries from the most-expensive corner bodegas. And, perhaps more importantly, these bodegas usually don't carry fresh fruits and vegetables, and that has some health officials worried. It's a disturbing story.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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