Editor's Choice for August 31, 2009: Market-Moving News for This Week

Japan, car sales, and unemployment numbers are highlights of the week

For only the second time since the end of World War II, Japan's Liberal Democratic Party has ceded power to a rival, the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan, which has promised to be more assertive toward the U.S. and encourage more consumer spending among the notoriously frugal Japanese. See BusinessWeek's perspective on the investing implications of the election.

On September 1, U.S. automakers release August car sales figures, which were propelled by the cash-for-clunkers campaign (a lesser-known stimulus plan for appliance manufacturers has had less impact, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Ted Kennedy's death has refocused the spotlight on healthcare reform, but a surprising take on reform comes from former Senator Dollar Bill Bradley, who recalls in an Op-Ed how he and some other Democrats helped Ronald Reagan implement his seminal tax cuts in the 1980s.

The SEC and the CFTC will hold joint meetings on September 2 and 3 on harmonizing certain market regulations, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be in London for the start of the long Labor Day holiday--whose lateness has extended summer this year--for a meeting of G20 finance ministers. Limits on bankers' pay is likely to be on the agenda.

Productivity numbers for the second quarter will be released on September 2: the consensus is that they will have grown by 6.5%, compared to Q1's final of +0.3%. Finally, there has been some heartening signs that the hemorrhaging of jobs has begun to slow--see last week's numbers showing a decline in laid-off workers seeking first-time unemployment claims--but on September 4 we'll learn of August unemployment; for July it was 9.4%; the consensus for August is 9.5% (but the consensus was wrong last month, as you may recall).

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