This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
United States is already one year into a recession. That was the news this week
from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The downturn is the longest since
a recession that began in nineteen eighty-one and lasted sixteen months.
generally wait for production to shrink for six months in a row before they
declare a recession. But the bureau, a private group, uses a wider set of
information to measure the economy. The news only confirmed what many people
already knew: that the world's largest economy is weak and may not recover
Worsening conditions have led to a big drop in spending,
especially on costly products like new cars. Even Japanese automaker Toyota saw
its sales fall thirty-four percent in the United States in November from a year
heads of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors returned to Congress this week to
again ask for federal aid. Congressional leaders denounced them two weeks ago
after they came in private jets with no clear plans for saving their industry.
This time, the chiefs drove to Washington in
fuel-saving hybrid vehicles. And their companies presented detailed
restructuring plans. The request for aid has risen from twenty-five billion
dollars two weeks ago to thirty-four billion in loans and credit lines.
G.M. wants almost half of that, and says
it needs four billion dollars this month. It warned that without support it
cannot continue to operate.
Ford is in a better position. But the sharing of
suppliers means it could be affected if G.M. or Chrysler fails. Ford is asking
for a nine billion dollar credit line in case it needs it.
is the smallest and most troubled of America's Big Three. It says it needs a
seven billion dollar loan by the end of the month.
Two days of congressional hearings began
Thursday in the Senate Banking Committee. The chairman, Democrat Chris Dodd,
said he would support helping the automakers for the good of the economy. But
the committee's top Republican, Richard Shelby, expressed opposition
to a bailout.
main root of the world financial crisis is the weak housing market in the
United States. The Treasury Department has been under pressure to help troubled
homeowners. Now comes news that the department is developing a plan aimed at
reducing interest rates on mortgage loans for some buyers of homes. That could
be good for homeowners trying to sell.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics
Report, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.