Mid-Morning Must Reads: Joblessness and Foreclosures rise, Fortune 500 Reveal

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–Stuart Schweitzer, a JP Morgan strategist, was in earlier in the week making the case that the recovery could be better than expected because of the recent quick dip in new jobless claims, effectively dubbing this the jobless-less recovery. Well that argument seems a little compelling this morning. The government is out with new data and new Jobless claims had a surprise jump to 484,000 last week. It’s the second week in a row where we have seen a jump in the newly unemployed. Maybe time to give up hope for a V-recovery.

–Today’s real estate news supports the claim made yesterday by the Congressional Oversight Panel that the government is not doing enough to fight the foreclosure crisis. According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures rose 19% in March to a monthly high. Banks seized 257,000 properties in March alone. That’s a huge number. For all of 2009, banks took back a total of just over 900,000 houses. So we are on pace to more than double that number. Yikes.

–Our sister publication, Fortune is out this morning with its annual list of top 500 companies, and the winner is: Wal-Mart. The magazine says the mega retailer was helped by a image make-over. One small takeaway from the list from me is that it looks like many of the firms that are on the top of the list spent the last year cutting their way to profits. Of this year’s Fortune 10, only one, Bank of America, added employees, and while I haven’t done the math yet, I would guess that the only reason BofA’s payroll grew was because it acquired Merrill Lynch. I would bet the firms’ combined staff is down as well. So even the strongest companies in America are swinging the axe. That’s going to have to change before we hit the sweet spot of the recovery.

–Our man in Detroit Joe Sczcesny is out with a story today about GM’s pension. Everyone knows that GM can’t afford to pay its ex-workers what it promised. But Joe comes in with the amount that the ailing automaker is short: $27 billion. That’s a lot of Buicks.

–Swampland, which has been doing a great job of covering the financial reform battle, has another post today on McConnell v. Corker. Even Republicans can agree on whether resolution authority ends “too big to fail.” My take from a week ago is that it gives the authority to end too big to fail, but we need set rules on when regulators must act to really end bailouts.

–And oh yeah. It’s tax day. The NYT’s confessional is open. You think any Tea Partiers will post.

Anything I miss?