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The agenda: The fear is back

"The fear is back," the Boston Globe writes. "The fear in capital markets is different from the near panic experienced in September and October, before governments around the world began organizing plans to deal with a global credit freeze. The cause is different this time, and many of the symptoms vary. But this fear may be more serious, and it's driving markets even further down a very dark hole. That was painfully clear to anyone watching stock markets over the past two days, as the Dow Jones industrial average sunk by 872 wrenching points, or 10.3 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, struggling through its worst year in an 80-year history, sunk to its lowest level in 11 years." 
 
"Jarred by new jobless alarms, Congress raced to approve legislation Thursday to keep unemployment checks flowing through the December holidays and into the new year for a million or more laid-off Americans whose benefits are running out." 
 
"Unable to reach a deal on how to help the ailing auto industry, congressional leaders announced [yesterday] afternoon they'll try again in a second lame-duck session the week of Dec. 8 -- if auto executives come up with a plan. 'Unless they can show us a plan, we can't show them the money,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi."

More from Roll Call on the second lame duck session: "Punting the issue until December gives Pelosi and other Democratic leaders time to craft legislation that could include other carrots to assuage environmentalists and the public, as well as more time for the pressure to build on reluctant lawmakers. And requiring the auto companies to come back to the table puts pressure on the companies to propose concessions and accountability measures that would give lawmakers more political cover."