COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Blame it on Europe, not the election. That's what we were told yesterday after the Dow Industrials fell 313 points, 2.4 percent, in the first day of trading following the re-election of President Obama. It was the biggest loss so far in 2012 and all 30 of the stocks in the Dow finished lower. To be sure, Europe is a mess. Once again the people of Greece have gone on a rampage following the approval of a new austerity program. Sort of makes you wonder why the EU doesn't just cut its losses and let Greece go its own way.

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Yesterday's 2.4 percent drop in the Dow was big, but not nearly as big as four years ago. When Obama defeated John McCain in the 2008 election, the markets fell 5.1 percent, the biggest post-election day decline on record. Of course, the U.S. economy was mired at the time in a deep recession that ultimately took the Dow down to 6,547 on March 9, 2009, only to then rally in the following months and years to regain the 13,000 mark.

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Unemployment lines were a bit shorter in the past week. The Labor Department said initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 8,000 to 355,000. The number, however, may have been kept lower because of Superstorm Sandy, as many people out of work were prevented from getting to employment offices to file for benefits because of Mother Nature.

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Speaking of Sandy, it is now estimated more than 250,000 cars and other vehicles were destroyed during the storm. Pictures of cars and trucks piled on each other were just one of the visual images from the surge that moved everything in its way. As is often the case, this will actually prove to be a bit of an economic plus as people take insurance checks and go out and buy a new car.

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Shares of Qualcomm are sharply higher this morning after reporting strong earnings and profits in the past quarter. "We delivered record revenues, earnings and MSM chipset shipments driven by increasing global consumption of wireless data across a diverse range of devices, particularly smartphones," said CEO Paul Jacobs. The stock is up almost 7 percent at $62.

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Fidelity is reporting the average balance in the 12 million 401(k) retirement accounts it manages rose to $75,900 at the end of the third quarter. It is the highest balance since the company began tracking data more than 12 years ago. The average participant set aside 4.6 percent of their annual salary to save for retirement, up from 2.8 percent a year earlier. And, more employers are raising their matching 401(k) contributions to employee accounts.

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SDG&E is warning customers of a potential payment scam. People posing as utility employees are calling customers and threatening to turn off service if payment is not made immediately. Customers are being told to purchase a pre-paid credit card, notify the scammer of the card number and then have the money stolen. The utility company stresses to customers it "does not proactively contact them and ask for credit card information over the phone."

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Back in the mid-1980s Steve Jobs was booted out of Apple, the company he had co-founded. He used the opportunity to form a new company, NeXT, which ultimately became known as Pixar, which ultimately produced animated movies like "Toy Story." Pixar ultimately was purchased by Walt Disney, where Jobs became one of the largest shareholders and created a big portion of his personal wealth. Pixar has now paid tribute to Jobs by naming the company's headquarters building in Emeryville "The Steve Jobs Building."

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