Faced with exasperated lawmakers upset by shifts in bailout strategy, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson launched a spirited defense Tuesday of his handling of the $700 billion program and expressed fresh reservations about tapping the pool for mortgage guarantees to relieve skyrocketing home foreclosures.
Members of the House Financial Services Committee grilled Paulson for not doing enough to help distressed homeowners and for failing to force banks that get some of the bailout money to specifically use it to bolster lending to customers, one of the prime reasons behind the rescue package.
“It is essential” that some of the bailout money be used to ease foreclosures, said the panel's chairman, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. Associated Press
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Home Depot Inc. gave investors a welcome surprise Tuesday, posting a better-than-expected third-quarter profit and offering Wall Street a second straight day of good news for the battered home improvement sector.
But the 31 percent drop in earnings still shows just how badly the chain has been pummeled by the economic meltdown – which executives warned was unlikely to abate anytime soon as they predicted a steeper drop in full-year sales.
“This is a difficult environment,” Chief Executive Frank Blake said. “The view we had at the start of the quarter, that we might be nearing the bottom … gave way to the financial crisis in September and beyond.”
Same-store sales – a retail industry metric of sales at stores open at least a year – fell 8.3 percent during the period as shoppers eschewed everything from custom kitchens to hardwood floors amid fear of a prolonged recession and the turmoil affecting the financial markets. Associated Press