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The Biz Roundup March 7

We’re going to need a bigger boat.

The world’s biggest economies may require even more spending to boost growth, yet they also must take steps to address precarious longer term finances, the International Monetary Fund said Friday. . . .

On average, G20 countries were planning stimulus measures amounting to 1.5% of gross domestic product in 2009, and 1% in 2010, the IMF estimated.

“Risks (to the economic forecast) appear clearly weighted on the downside,” the IMF said. “Thus, further fiscal policy support may be needed.”

(“IMF: Big economies need bigger stimulus,” CNN Money, March 6) In case the headline above whiffled over your head, it’s a line from Jaws. You know, the scene where Roy Scheider gets his first up close and personal encounter with the white shark? So, which “D” risk you do you want? Depression? Default? You can have both! It’s like not having your cake and not eating it, too!

You heard it here first at this blog.

The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.

Among those institutions are Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, each of which received roughly $6 billion in payments between mid-September and December 2008, according to a confidential document and people familiar with the matter.

(“Top U.S., European Banks Got $50 Billion in AIG Aid,” Wall Street Journal, March 7) I have been saying since I first began writing this blog: the AIG bailout was all about bailing out everyone else. The one and only one purpose of the AIG bailout was to allow AIG to pay off its creditors, even if they are profitable or located in some distant land. It was a feast everyone gobbled down, but only AIG looked like the selfish glutton. And now that the table has been wiped out, the Wall Street Journal is starting to name names.

Now’s the time to hire a foreign worker.

. . . small businesses, which usually have fewer resources to throw at the application process and no foreign offices in which to temporarily place talented candidates awaiting visa approval. As a result, many are disproportionately affected by the cap on H-1Bs. But this year, analysts say, could be different.

Immigration experts expect H-1B applications for 2009 to be at their lowest levels in years. Some even suggest that after April 1, the first day on which applications may be filed, it could take a week or more to fill the quota of 85,000 visas. (65,000 visa spots are open to all applicants, while an additional 20,000 are earmarked for those with graduate degrees from U.S. universities.) In past years, it’s taken as little as 48 hours for the queue to fill up.

(“Demand down for foreign worker visas,” CNN Money, March 5) Analysts are predicting that 100% of H1-B visas will be granted this year — great news for tech start-ups. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool believer in importing the most talented people to the United States, even if unemployment is high, as the most “business-friendly” and “economic-growth-friendly” policy possible. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs and small businesses, the people most in need of this talent, are almost always shut out of the draft.

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