BUSINESS
05/29/2012 07:53 am ET

America To Long-Term Unemployed: Drop Dead: Seven And A Half Things

Thing One: Time And Money: Good news, people who have been unemployed forever: You're getting your jobless benefits cut off, which means the wealthy will get to keep their tax cuts, which means they will be creating jobs for you any minute now.

Congress earlier this year grudgingly passed an extension of federal unemployment benefits, to help address the pain of long-term unemployment. With more than 5 million Americans out of work for 27 weeks or more, this seemed like a good idea. The extension was supposed to last through 2012, but because of the federal budget deficit, and in order to keep these lucky ducks from just sitting back letting the government checks roll in, sacrifices had to be made. So Congress in its wisdom also built in some curbs on the program, cutting back on the number of extra weeks available and making it harder for states to qualify for additional benefits. As a result, close to half a million people will lose benefits prematurely this year, The New York Times reports, a situation so dire that it even made an American Enterprise Institute economist wince, just a little.

Meanwhile, there's also good news for factory workers: You know those jobs you wanted to get back from China? Well, you're getting them back. The less-great news is you're getting them back at lower wages, the Wall Street Journal writes. Hey, what do you expect? We've got to keep wages low to compete with the Chinese. At least there is one piece of actual, non-sarcastic good news: Gas prices aren't rising any more.

Thing Two: Home Prices On The Range: Speaking of not rising: Home prices. They continued to not-rise in the latest Case-Shiller home-price index, due this morning. In fact, economists think home prices fell yet again in March, according to Briefing.com. But surely we're near the bottom, many experts believe, much as they have been believing for the past three years. The Case-Shiller index is down 35 percent from its peak, but home prices have shown some signs of stabilization lately, writes the Wall Street Journal's Spencer Jakab. And if you believe that, I've got a house in New Jersey I'd like to sell you.

Thing Three: Spanish Dim Position: Spain had to bail out its biggest mortgage lender, Bankia, last week to the tune of $24 billion. But the country insists it won't have to bail out any other banks, a claim nobody else in the world believes, the Financial Times writes. Investors are voting with their feet, fleeing Spanish bonds and sending Spanish borrowing costs soaring. 10-year Spanish bonds recently yielded nearly 6.5 percent, "close to the 7 percent level that led to bailouts in Greece, Ireland and Portugal," The New York Times writes. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank still hasn't quite gotten a plan together for dealing with a run on a European bank, Reuters warns. Give them a break, Reuters: The debt crisis has only been going on for two years now. These things take time.

Thing Four: JPMorgan's Money Chase: Remember when JPMorgan had only lost $2 billion on stupid credit-derivative bets? You know, the Good Old Days? Well, with its stock-price decline, the bank has lost more than $30 billion in shareholder value. And Reuters points out that JPMorgan has had to sell good assets to cover the losses in the bad assets, costing them untold billions more (not to mention the hit to the bank's reputation, the cost of future regulations, etc.). Meanwhile, just what JPMorgan needs, it has now been implicated in a Japanese insider-trading probe, Reuters writes.

Thing Five: Facebook Fear: Not one but two major U.S. newspapers -- The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal -- lead off today with stories about how retail investors are fleeing the stock market more than ever following the Facebook IPO disaster. Don't say the Huffington Post didn't warn you.

Thing Six: Dewey Screwem & Howe: The massive law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for bankruptcy protection, making it the largest law-firm bankruptcy in U.S. history. Apparently leveraging yourself to the hilt to pay king's ransoms to ruthless corporate lawyers who will abandon you at the first sign of trouble is not a recipe for long-term success, writes Peter Lattman in The New York Times.

Thing Seven: Mind Games: Like most Americans, you love video games, but you get exhausted moving your thumbs back and forth over and over again. Well, take heart: A company called NeuroSky Inc. has devised video games you control entirely with brain waves, the Wall Street Journal writes. This is actually pretty cool, and the technology is slowly being applied to real-world objects, too. Twenty years from now we'll just be stone-cold moving things around with our brains like the X-Men. What could possibly go wrong?

Thing Seven And One Half: On this day in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain, at more than 29,000 feet. Since then, more than 3,100 people have climbed Everest, most in the past decade. An estimated 225 people have died trying, including at least four so far this season, in part because the route to the summit has become so crowded.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

9:00 a.m. ET: Case-Shiller Home-Price Index for March

10:00 a.m. ET: Consumer Confidence for May

Corporate Earnings:

Nothing much.

Heard On The Tweets:

@jmackin2: If you think Facebook had a bad IPO, just be thankful you didn't buy Bankia last July. Nationalised in under a year

@mattyglesias: Solution: Eurozone-wide deposit insurance, German government borrows money to send retirees on free Mediterannean vacations.

@JamesGRickards: #JPMorgan runs reckless leverage using VaR models that say it's all good. Did I mention that JPM invented VaR in 1996? #HowConvenientForThem

@moorehn: It's "the LOVE of money". RT @danmartell: If you think money is the root of all evil, you’re unlikely to ever get your hands on any.

@zerohedge: Since all paper money will be gone? RT @euHvR: Change is the only way forward. If we want to shape our future we must embrace change.

@ReformedBroker: Instagram just lit up this Memorial Day weekend, so cool to see everyone hanging with family, doing what they love.

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja

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