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Morning Money Links: Bernanke's job on the line; California's 'good news' employment report; thank China for cheaper oil

January 22, 2010 | 10:55 am

--- Is Ben Bernanke’s job in danger? That’s the buzz in Washington and on Wall Street today, as the Times’ Johanna Neuman reports. The Federal Reserve chairman’s Senate confirmation hearing now has been delayed until next week at the earliest. Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) today announced they’ll vote against giving him a second term. One more thing weighing on the stock market, which is down for a third day. Meanwhile, Henry Blodget thinks Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has become so marginalized that he might as well quit.

--- No jobs for the rest of us, either: California’s unemployment rate held at 12.4% in December, which actually constitutes good news if you consider that the jobless rate rose in 43 other states. We still lost a net 38,800 jobs for the month.

--- The silver lining, such as it is: Rising fears about an economic slowdown in China continue to drive commodity prices lower. Crude oil is below $75 a barrel today for the first time in a month. Weak U.S. gasoline demand also is helping the price trend.

--- Fannie and Freddie, RIP?  House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) says he wants to abolish the mortgage giants, at least in their current forms. Not a new idea, actually, but the stocks are sinking today in any case. Fannie is in danger of falling below $1 a share again.

-- Tom Petruno

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