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Chief critic Thomas Hoenig to retire from Fed

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig will retire Oct. 1, marking nearly four decades of central bank service. Get the full story »

Fourth-quarter GDP revised up to 3.1%

The U.S. economy grew more quickly than previously estimated in the fourth quarter as businesses maintained fairly solid spending and restocked shelves. Gross domestic product growth was revised up to an annualized rate of 3.1 percent, the Commerce Department said in its final estimate, close to its initial estimate of 3.2 percent. Get the full story »

U.S. Postal Service cutting 7,500 managers

(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Postal Service will cut 7,500 managers and shut the Carol Stream and six other district offices, responding to record losses and declining mail volume as more people communicate by e-mail and texts and pay bills online. The reduction in postmasters, supervisors and other employees represents a 20 percent cut in middle-management jobs — people not involved in actual physical moving of mail.

The cuts come as part of the agency’s previously disclosed plan to close as many as 2,000 post offices and consolidate regional mail-processing centers in the next 12 months. Get the full story »

Fed, in historic shift, to brief media on policy

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will start holding regular media briefings on monetary policy next month, a historic shift to greater openness at the traditionally secretive U.S. central bank. Get the full story »

FDA ruling clears tobacco lozenges for sale

Tobacco maker Star Scientific Inc. said Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration has informed it  that two of its dissolvable tobacco lozenges aren’t covered by the law regulating tobacco, clearing the way for them to be marketed. Get the full story »

Melanoma drug likely to get OK this week

Bristol-Myers Squibb may win U.S. approval as early as this week for the first drug shown to extend survival for patients with a deadly form of skin cancer. Get the full story »

Treasury to start mortgage-backed securities sales

The U.S. Treasury Department will begin selling about $10 billion a month of mortgage-backed securities as the government winds down emergency programs set up during the financial crisis.

The announcement of a fresh supply of high-quality debt coming to market surprised traders, but they said later it should be manageable. The Treasury has a $142-billion portfolio of MBS, acquired in 2008 and 2009, and estimates it will take about a year to dispose if it. Get the full story »

GOP bill would kill Fannie, Freddie

Freddie Mac's offices in McLean, Va. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

A key Republican in the House of Representatives Thursday said he would try for the third time to eliminate mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac within five years.

“We have waited for years to do something. It is time to start doing something,” Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the fourth ranking House Republican, said in an interview with a small group of reporters in his office. Get the full story »

Princeton bank among 142 to skip Treasury payment

Nearly 150 U.S. banks, including  Princeton National Bancorp, failed to pay a Feb. 15 dividend on bailout money borrowed from the U.S. Treasury. That’s  up from the 123 that skipped their payouts in November.

The study by SNL Financial, tracker of banking industry data, showed that 142 U.S. lenders deferred the dividend payment due under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Get the full story »

Housing starts see biggest drop since 1984

U.S. housing starts posted their biggest decline in 27 years in February while building permits dropped to their lowest level on record, suggesting the beleaguered real estate sector has yet to rebound from its deepest slump in modern history. Get the full story »

Illinois pension crisis eludes easy solutions

Lawmakers in Illinois say they may try to fix the state’s ailing pension system by asking current workers to pay more into the plan, though the approach faces substantial legal and political obstacles.

The lawmakers are also entertaining the politically difficult idea of applying broader pension changes made this year for newly hired employees to current workers. Those include raising the retirement age and scaling back on annual cost-of-living raises.

Whatever approach is embraced, it remains unclear whether such strategies would fix the Illinois system, which is 45 percent funded. That makes it the most under-funded state plan in the U.S., according to Moody’s Investor’s Service. Get the full story »

U.S. panel issues mixed final verdict on bailouts

The government’s bailout of banks, auto makers and insurers helped prevent a more severe economic crisis, but might have sowed the seeds of the next one, a congressional watchdog group said Wednesday in its final report.

The Congressional Oversight Panel said that the government’s rescue fund may have prevented an economic depression by sending billions of dollars to companies crippled in financial crisis that erupted in 2008. But little has been done to aid to homeowners facing foreclosure or others far from Wall Street, it said. Get the full story »

Bills introduced to delay debit-card swipe-fee limits

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday formally launched their legislative attack on the Federal Reserve’s plan to regulate debit-card transaction fees, a move cheered by banks and credit unions but slammed by retailers.

The bill, dubbed the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act, comes amid mounting concerns over the Fed’s proposed fee caps and calls for a two-year time out on the regulation. Get the full story »

Fed sticking with $600B bond program

The Federal Reserve is sticking with its $600 billion Treasury bond-purchase program to strengthen the economy as Japan’s nuclear crisis raises worries around the globe. Get the full story »

Kraft’s Rosenfeld a no-show in Cadbury probe

Creme Eggs move down the line at the Bournville production plant. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

Executives from Kraft Foods Inc. appeared at a parliamentary hearing Tuesday over the company’s 11.9 billion-pound acquisition of confectioner Cadbury a year ago, but the absence of Chief Executive Irene Rosenfeld drew criticism from lawmakers.

U.K. lawmakers on the Business, Innovation & Skills committee are discussing with Kraft — maker of Oreo cookies, Philadelphia cream cheese and Maxwell House coffee — the commitments it made a year ago following the takeover, as well as seeking reassurances on jobs and investment into research.

Last April, lawmakers said in a report that Northfield-based Kraft acted “irresponsibly” and “unwisely” during its acquisition of Cadbury and damaged its reputation in the U.K. Get the full story »