Thursday Links: 10,000 Applications, Glass Steagall Day, TARP

The Washington Post reports on the jobless “recovery,” a term it’s still too early to use for the economy given that we’ve had one quarter of positive GDP growth and that was entirely due to increased government spending. But it’s a nice look at how this plays out. Imagine where the job market would be without that government spending.

Davis Construction of Rockville has cut back to 400 employees from 500 over the past year as business has slowed. The bulk of its work these days is government-funded buildings, such as a project at Aberdeen Proving Ground that’s part of the military base’s consolidation effort.

And this is dispiriting: “General Electric received 10,000 online applications for 90 $13-an-hour positions assembling washing machines at a plant in Louisville.”

Bloomberg takes a good look at the new momentum to get tough with the banks—a push coming from Congress, not the Administration:

Seven Wall Street lobbyists trooped to Capitol Hill on Nov. 9, hoping to convince Representative Paul Kanjorski’s staff that his plan to dismantle large financial firms was a bad idea.

They walked out with a sobering conclusion, according to the accounts of two attendees who requested anonymity because the meeting was private. Not only was Kanjorski serious, he planned to offer the legislation as early as next week — and it just might pass.

Bloomberg notes that Congress, pushed by President Clinton, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers, repealed Glass-Steagall ten years ago today with the infamous Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and even gets Phil Gramm himself on the horn to issue a not-very-convincing denial of responsibility for his baby.

The Wall Street Journal gets the scoop on an Obama administration plan to use leftover and returned TARP funds, which right now total about $210 billion, to lower the budget deficit. But it will also lower the projected cost of the TARP—money it expects to never get back by $140 billion or so to $200 billion The press ought to keep a close eye on that that move to make sure it’s on the up and up.

It’s a gamble. If the crisis flares up again—which is not as unlikely as you might think— it’s fair to say the administration won’t be getting much more money from Congress to put out the fire. But it’s unclear how much of the excess funds would be used to reduce the deficit. Some will be reserved for an emergency, the WSJ reports.

UPDATE: Tweaked the headline and a word in the first graph a couple of minutes after posting. Sent it out the door a bit early.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.