Looking at the Last Four Years to Decide the Future

Looking at the Last Four Years to Decide the Future

This week, people were busy looking at the economic past to decide their futures.

Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, after several months of growth so lackluster the economy seemed to need a push, got investors' hopes up by indicating that the Fed may soon act to stimulate it. People will eagerly be awaiting the Fed's moves next week.

During the Labor Day weekend pause between the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, the Republicans changed the subject from Clint Eastwood to fire off the first salvo of the fall election season.

"Are you better off than you were four years ago?" dominated the news cycle over the weekend and into this week. (We answer that question today, in the story below.)

In his DNC speech, Bill Clinton gave an answer that looked further back than four years. He noted that since 1961, 24 million private-sector jobs were created under Republican presidents, whereas 42 million private-sector jobs were created while Democrats occupied the White House.

And August job numbers, just released, could help Obama, too: They showed a higher increase (201,000 jobs) than expected (145,000 jobs).

The economy was also big news in Europe, where the European Central Bank unveiled a program to buy short-term bonds from struggling European countries such as Spain and Italy. The move effectively makes the ECB a lender of last resort to these countries, helping them finance their debt at a time when their borrowing costs are soaring. The news pushed up European stocks and Wall Street.

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This week, as fall kicks into gear, we look at the big election question of the week, plus at the controversial issue of whether credit cards should be marketed on college campuses.

Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

Republicans are asking: Are we better off than when Obama took office in January of 2009? We attempt to answer that question.

Are Credit Card Companies Exploiting College Students?

Despite new regulations, predatory debit and credit card marketing to college students is still a major issue, and college students are suffering. Find out how banks get students to open cards, and whether anything can be done about it.

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