Laura's on a much needed vacation this week, so I'm back at Planet Money HQ to help on the blog.
Last week, we posted a scary chart showing plummeting Japanese wages. This week, there's some good news for Japan — their recession is over. Japan is the world's second-largest economy, and this recovery comes after four successive quarters of negative GDP growth. Let's hope an increase in wages will come out of this.
The Financial Times reports that U.S. bank regulators have set today as a deadline for bids to buy Guaranty Financial. The FDIC is trying to find a buyer for the troubled bank, which said last month that it will likely fail soon. If it does, it could be the largest bank failure of the year.
On the health care front, the Obama administration signaled yesterday that it could be willing to drop the creation of a 'public option' from its health care reform plan. Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said yesterday on CNN that the public plan was "not an essential element" of reform. The move is sure to bring some conservatives into the fold, but some left-leaning Democrats, including Howard Dean, say that the public option is indispensable.
And with new regulations governing credit cards set to go into effect on Thursday, credit card companies are rushing to raise their rates. Once the regulations are in place, companies will need to give consumers 45 days' notice if they are raising fees or interest rates, instead of the the 15-day notice required right now. The regulations also ensure that consumers will have a longer period to pay credit card bills before getting slammed with late fees, but the companies are making up for that by — raising those fees as well.