This week's financial news was marked by extremes and touched with more than a little drama - and we're not just talking about Warren Buffett's appearance in GEICO's latest TV commercial. Buffett rocked out (although rather serenely), but political and economic storm clouds were rolling in over the markets; an index of leading economic indicators for February showed the least growth in a year, and political struggles over new regulation show there's still a lot of work to be done behind the scenes. (If you missed last week's news, check out Water Cooler Finance: We're Getting Richer And Spending More.)

Baby Buffett Portfolio: His 6 Best Long-Term Picks

Bailout Fallout
The big word in the headlines this week was undoubtedly "bailout". On Monday, The U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Christopher Dodd unveiled the details of a bill designed to overhaul financial regulation and protect taxpayers from having to bail out the financial system in the future.

An announcement by the Congressional Budget Office that the U.S. government's $700 billion bailout program is projected to snatch $109 billion from taxpayers' pockets, rather than the $99 billion figure estimated in January, followed closely on the heels of the bill's announcement. If the bill becomes law, virtually all financial products - from payday loans to derivatives - would face scrutiny from state attorneys general and the powers of the Federal Reserve and FDIC would be expanded. (For background info on government bailouts, see Top 6 U.S. Government Financial Bailouts.)

It goes without saying that the financial industry hates the idea. Banks have been repaying their TARP loans: Comerica (NYSE:CMA) repaid its loan this week, and Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) and Hartford Financial Services (NYSE:HIG) announced that they would repay theirs soon. Nevertheless, many of the bigger banks are up to their old tricks again, as news of big bank CEO bonuses continues to emerge.

The Greek Crisis
Greek protests over the government's proposed spending cuts have settle down, but workers in various sectors are still on strike or threatening to start. Meanwhile, the country is flirting with economic insolvency, as arguments emerged over whether the ailing economy should receive aid from its EU peers. While Germany, the Eurozone's largest economy, turned up its nose at providing direct financial aid, Greece responded by threatening to turn to the IMF, which many EU member would see as an embarrassment. (For more insight, see What Is The International Monetary Fund?)

A Lifeline for the Jobless
The Obama Administration has also been hard at work this week as it pushed through a major jobs bill in a rare bipartisan vote. The bill is designed to spur employment by giving businesses incentive to hire new workers. Although the number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance fell in the week ended March 13 and is expected to decline more over the coming weeks, the country's jobless rate still hovers at 9.7% and according to the most recent figures released by the Labor Department, 35 cities are suffering with jobless rate above 15%. (This rate is open to interpretation. Find out how to read between the lines in The Unemployment Rate: Get Real.)

An O.J. Moment for Hybrids
Remember the highly publicized video of the speeding Prius that reportedly accelerated out of control last week? It was a bit reminiscent of the infamous O.J. Simpson car chase. The incident occurred as Toyota was working to turn the tide of negative publicity that occurred as a result of recent recalls for cars that suddenly accelerated and added a little additional taint to the company's recall scandal.

But when the car was finally brought to a stop and Toyota (NYSE:TM) investigated the incident, the driver's story did not match up with data retrieved from the car's computer, which indicated that both the brakes and accelerator were being depressed during the incident.

Yet Another Debt Repayment Plan
Michael Jackson has been dead for months, but Sony is singing long live the king. It signed a deal with Jackson's estate to produce 10 albums over seven years to the tune of more than $200 million, the biggest recording contract in history. Jackson died with a major debt load, so his estate's ongoing earning power should take some of the pressure off his heirs in terms of paying off the King of Pop's lavish lifestyle. (To read more about Jackson's spendthrift ways, see Myth of the Week: Millionaires Don't Have To Worry About Money.)

The Icing on Some People's Week
To top it all off, reports were circulated this week that the maligned fraudster Bernard Madoff, who is currently serving 150 years for stealing money from investors in his fund, was assaulted in prison. What was the fight over? According to the New York Times, Madoff may have owed the other inmate money.

Related Articles
  1. Active Trading

    10 Books Every Investor Should Read

    Want advice from some of the most successful investors of all time? Check out our reading list.
  2. Wealth Management

    A Look At Britney Spears' Net Worth and Her Conservatorship

    Discover how Britney Spears' net worth plunged in 2007 and has since been growing under the management and direction of her conservatorship.
  3. Financial Advisors

    Financial Fraud: 6 Tips to Avoid It

    A good financial planner should work with you and for you. Ensure you are paying attention if you don't want to be the victim of fraud.
  4. Economics

    Investing Opportunities as Central Banks Diverge

    After the Paris attacks investors are focusing on central bank policy and its potential for divergence: tightened by the Fed while the ECB pursues easing.
  5. Professionals

    4 Must Watch Films and Documentaries for Accountants

    Learn how these must-watch movies for accountants teach about the importance of ethics in a world driven by greed and financial power.
  6. Economics

    Long-Term Investing Impact of the Paris Attacks

    We share some insights on how the recent terrorist attacks in Paris could impact the economy and markets going forward.
  7. Stock Analysis

    What Exactly Does Warren Buffett Own?

    Learn about large changes to Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio. See why Warren Buffett has invested in a commodity company even though he does not usually do so.
  8. Investing Basics

    4 Iconic Financial Companies That No Longer Exist

    Learn how poor management, frauds, scandals or mergers wiped out some of the most recognizable brands in the finance industry in the United States.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    10 Ways to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

    Are you hoping to launch your own business and work for yourself? If so, here are the top 10 tips for entrepreneurs.
  10. Economics

    Could Saudi Arabia Really Go Bankrupt?

    The IMF warned that Saudi Arabia may run out of the financial assets needed to support spending within five years. Is Saudi Arabia's government doing enough?
  1. Does working capital include stock?

    A certain portion of a company’s working capital is generally composed of earnings; however, current short-term assets that ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are some high-profile examples of wash trading schemes?

    In 2012, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) was accused of a complex wash trading scheme to profit from a Canadian tax provision, ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the major laws (acts) regulating financial institutions that were created ...

    Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in conjunction with Congress, signed into law several major legislative responses ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are examples of inherent risk?

    Inherent risk is the risk imposed by complex transactions that require significant estimation in assessing the impact on ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between wash trading and insider trading?

    Wash trading is an illegal trading activity that artificially pumps up trading volume in a stock without the stock ever changing ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the International Monetary Fund?

    Established following World War II to help with post-war recovery, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) serves as a lender ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center