♦ Lawmakers and officials are moving close to ironing out a second stimulus bill after Fed chair Ben Bernanke endorsed the idea. [Bloomberg, NYT]
♦ The Treasury Department is pushing bigger banks to use the rescue package to acquire smaller, weaker rivals. [NYT]
♦ The Dow's 413-point rise yesterday was attributed to signs the credit market is beginning to thaw. [NYT]
♦ Some people are still making out nicely: Peter Kraus, the head of strategy at Merrill, will be leaving the firm after just a couple of months with as much as $25 million. [WSJ]

♦ Kirk Kerkorian is selling his shares in Ford. [WSJ]
♦ This will be the worst year history for hedge funds, as you probably suspected. [Financial Week]
♦ China's booming economy is slowing, which means it's unlikely the Chinese will escape the global financial meltdown. [WSJ]
Jim Cramer has a new foe: new AIG CEO Ed Liddy. [Deal Journal]
♦ BlackRock reported that third-quarter earnings fell 15 percent as investors pulled money from its stock, bond and money-market funds. [Bloomberg]
♦ "The stock market may be way up on expectations of a credit thaw on Wall Street—and there has already been a minor one—but don't hold your breath on Main Street. The dirty little secret of the government's $250 billion handout to nine banks to get them lending again is this: So far, they have stuffed it under their mattress like the rest of us." [NYT]