Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
Wall Street was nervous early in the week – seeing its second biggest drop in four years. Investors have been shaken by the sub-prime lending industry which provides mortgages to people with poor credit.
The investor angst came on news that *late mortgage payments shot up to a 3 1/2 year high in the final quarter of last year and *new foreclosures surged to a record high.
Another piece of unwelcome news is *consumer inflation, which rose by four-tenths of a percent, reflecting the rising costs for food and gasoline.
Trying to control fuel prices, by seeking biofuels alliances with neighboring countries, was one of many goals sought by President Bush during his recent swing through Latin America.
President Bush wrapped up a weeklong tour of five Latin American countries designed to emphasize U.S. aid in the region while countering attacks that the United States has neglected its neighbors to the south.
President George Bush: "It's in the interest of the United States that there be a prosperous neighborhood, and one way to make sure there is prosperity in Central America is for them to become energy producers."
Bush kicked off the tour in Brazil on March 9th where he met with President Lula da Silva (Loo la duh Sil va) and toured an ethanol plant. Both expressed hope that increased production of biofuels would reduce pollution, help small farmers, create jobs and benefit both countries.
President Lula da Silva: "I am convinced President Bush that the United States with its great technological and entrepreneurial capabilities will be an extraordinary partner in this undertaking."
But, President da Silva also warned President Bush that the elimination of trade barriers would be the only way the fuel of the future could reach its potential. However, Bush refuses to reduce the 54 cent per gallon U.S. tariff on Brazilian ethanol imports.
In Mexico, the last stop on President Bush's tour of Latin America, the talks turned to immigration. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, felt the time had come for the U.S. to make Mexico a priority and to address the issues of drug trafficking, free trade and immigration.
While Bush was committed to smoothing strained relationships between the United States and Mexico, the president didn't budge when it came to border security and immigration.
President George Bush: "Amnesty's not going to fly. There's not going to be automatic citizenship. It just won't work."