• Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for August 18th on 08:57

    These are my links for August 18th from 08:57 to 09:01:

    • Morgan Stanley Cuts 2011 Global Growth Forecast – US and EU Close to Recession – Morgan Stanley slashed its global growth forecast for 2011 and 2012, saying the U.S. and the euro zone were "dangerously close to a recession", and criticized policymakers in Washington and Europe for not acting more decisively to contain the sovereign debt crisis.

      The bank cut its global gross domestic product growth forecast to 3.9 percent from 4.2 percent for 2011, and to 3.8 percent from 4.5 percent for 2012.

      "Our revised forecasts show the US and the euro area hovering dangerously close to a recession — defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction — over the next 6-12 months," Joachim Fels, who co-heads Morgan Stanley's global economics team, said in a research note dated Wednesday.

      That was not the bank's base case scenario, he said, noting the corporate sector still looked healthy and lower inflation will ease pressure on consumers' pocketbooks, while central banks such as the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank could try to loosen policy further.

      Still, "it won't take much in the form of additional shocks to tip the balance," he added.

      "A negative feedback loop between weak growth and soggy asset markets now appears to be in the making in Europe and the US."


      Read it all

    • If Only Improving the Economy Was Like Playing Space Invaders – I'm sure the economic benefits of faking an alien invasion will inspire a few PhD. dissertations, but let's be serious and do something to actually improve economic growth like reforming the regulatory system which, according to the Wall Street Journal, cost the Ruby liquefied natural gas pipeline to be only 23% over budget, or taking Sen. Rob Portman's advice and passing the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

      Let's walk away slowly before Krugman starts speculating about how random X-Files episodes could fix the European Union's debt problems.


      Read it all….

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for June 20th on 15:01

    These are my links for June 20th from 15:01 to 15:07:

    • Sarah Palin® Trademarks Her Name – A few months ago, an attorney for Sarah and Bristol Palin put in an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark their names. (One of many things that suggests that profit, and not the presidency, is what's motivating Palin.) For Sarah Palin, the intent was a little less clear cut than it was for her daughter, as this article in Politics Daily made clear:

      For Sarah Palin's application, there are two classes of commercial service for which her name would be a registered trademark. One is for "information about political elections" and "providing a website featuring information about political issues." The second is for "educational and entertainment services … providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values."

      The "Bristol Palin" application is for "educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices."

      According to the same reporter, the deadline to challenge Palin's application passed on Friday and — amazingly — nobody seems to have challenged it. So it looks like the Patent and Trademark Office will award both patents in the near future.


      Why would anyone oppose this?

    • Help for jobless homeowners arrives via Obama Administration – A long-delayed federal program aimed at helping hundreds of unemployed Massachusetts homeowners pay their mortgages is finally being launched today, with $61 million earmarked for the state.

      The US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the nonprofit NeighborWorks America said the program will provide hundreds of local borrowers with interest-free loans of up to $50,000 over a two-year period. In some cases, the money will not have to be paid back.

      The $1 billion national program is expected to benefit 30,000 unemployed homeowners in 27 states and Puerto Rico with financial assistance.


      Note: In some cases the money will NOT have to be paid back

    • $1 Billion in Homeowner Aid Offered by Obama Administration – Homeowners facing foreclosure can now tap into a $1 billion program of emergency loans to help tide them over a temporary financial crisis, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced.

      Beginning today, homeowners in 27 states can file preliminary applications for the Emergency Homeowner's Loan Program (EHLP). Eligible homeowners can obtain interest-free loans of up to $50,000 to help cover mortgage expenses for up to two years.

      The program is available to homeowners who have seen their incomes fall and who could lose their homes to foreclosure due to circumstances beyond their control, including involuntary unemployment, underemployment, economic conditions or an illness.

      The program is a counterpart to the $7.6 billion Hardest Hit Fund and is available only to homeowners in states not covered by that program. The Hardest Hit Fund provides foreclosure avoidance assistance to homeowners in states that have been most seriously affected by the declining housing market and economic downturn.


      Borrowing more to shore up re-election.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for June 2nd on 11:02

    These are my links for June 2nd from 11:02 to 11:42:

    • California State Senate approves bill allowing counties to raise vehicle fees – Individual counties could vote to raise vehicle fees under a bill that earned Senate approval today.

      "This gives counties a tool they currently don't have in a time of crisis," said bill author Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

      In 2003, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped the rate of what essentially is an annual tax on a vehicle's present value. The rate change from 2 percent to 0.65 percent took away a chunk of revenues counties relied on to pay for public safety and social services. A temporary increase to 1.15 percent went into effect in May 2009 and expires at the end of this month. Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plan calls for moving the expiration to 2016.

      The proposal that passed the Senate by a 23-15 vote today allows a county board of supervisors, with a two-thirds vote, to authorize a vote for higher fees on county residents. If a majority of county voters signs off on the plan, their vehicle fee effectively would return to the original 2 percent rate.

      Leno introduced the same bill last year, but it did not clear the Assembly floor.

      Automobile manufacturers and dealers are opposed to attaching fees to vehicles, saying there's already a long list of hidden government costs.

      None of the Republicans present voted for Leno's bill.

      "This is another example of the insatiable appetite we have for raising taxes around this building," Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said on the Senate floor.

      Senate Bill 223 is one of several measures moving through the Legislature with a goal of giving local officials a chance to collect more revenues. The most high-profile proposal has been Senate Bill 653 by Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.


      A tax is a tax to Californians – either from the state or the county.

    • Job Data May Be Key to Obama’s Job – No American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2 percent.

      Seventeen months before the next election, it is increasingly clear that President Obama must defy that trend to keep his job.

      Roughly 9 percent of Americans who want to go to work cannot find an employer. Companies are firing fewer people, but hiring remains anemic. And the vast majority of economic forecasters, including the president’s own advisers, predict only modest progress by November 2012.

      The latest job numbers, due Friday, are expected to provide new cause for concern. Other indicators suggest the pace of growth is flagging. Weak manufacturing data, a gloomy reading on jobs in advance of Friday’s report and a drop in auto sales led the markets to their worst close since August, and those declines carried over into Asia Thursday.


      Read it all

      It is all about the economy going into the Presidential race of 2012.

    • Why Barack Obama may be heading for electoral disaster in 2012 – To say this has been an extremely bad week for the Obama administration on the economic front would be a serious understatement. As The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, home prices in the United States have sunk to their lowest levels since 2002, falling 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011. At the same time, employment growth is stalling, with only 38,000 Americans added to the workforce in May, the smallest increase since September. This compares with 179,000 jobs added in April. There has also been a steep slowdown in the manufacturing sector, and a downturn in the stock market on the back of weak economic news.

      Bill Clinton’s labour secretary Robert Reich summed up the grim mood in a hard-hitting op-ed in The Financial Times, which took aim at both the administration and Congress:

      The US economy was supposed to be in bloom by late spring, but it is hardly growing at all. Expectations for second-quarter growth are not much better than the measly 1.8 per cent annualised rate of the first quarter. That is not nearly fast enough to reduce America’s ferociously high level of unemployment… Meanwhile, housing prices continue to fall. They are now 33 per cent below their 2006 peak. That is a bigger drop than recorded in the Great Depression. Homes are the largest single asset of the American middle class, so as housing prices drop many Americans feel poorer. All of this is contributing to a general gloominess. Not surprisingly, consumer confidence is also down.


      Read it all

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for May 31st on 09:43

    These are my links for May 31st from 09:43 to 09:48:

    • Palin’s Bus Destinations: The MSM Isn’t Cleared for That Information – I see this comment, from an unnamed Palinite insider to Shushannah Walshe of the Daily Beast: “According to a source with knowledge of Palin’s operation and thinking, keep a careful eye on how long the tour lasts, because it is intended as a way to test the presidential waters. If the road trip ends abruptly, it’s a sign she didn’t get the enthusiastic responses she believes she needs to launch a campaign. If the tour heads to regions outside of the Northeast like Iowa and South Carolina that, the source says, is a “big indicator” that Palin will pull the trigger.”


      More importantly will be polls next week showing how well she matches up against Romney

    • Economists Downgrade Prospects for Growth – A growing number of forecasters are downgrading their predictions for economic growth, the Wall Street Journal notes, which "raises a deeper question about the economy's health: Has it emerged from the financial turmoil of 2008 and 2009 with a chronic growth problem?"

      "Since the recession officially ended in mid-2009, the economy's annualized growth rate has averaged 2.8%. That's no better than its performance after the much-milder 2001 recession, and far worse than the 7.1% growth rate after the similarly deep 1982 recession."

    • Sarah Palin: The Call at Gettysburg – When I first visited Gettysburg years ago, I was overwhelmed with the sense of sacrifice made to secure our union, but my most recent visit this morning was even more significant as subsequent visits allow reflection on the state of our union today. Striking to me is how ready and willing troops and civilians were in 1863 to lay their lives on the line. Are we as ready and willing to accept the call for sacrifice today in order to keep our union secure?

      Hopefully the kids on school field trips whom we met this morning grasped the poignant irony at the site we toured together: that such a beautiful stretch of the Pennsylvania countryside should have been the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. But perhaps it’s fitting that such a sacred place should be so beautiful now in order to commemorate the terrible sacrifices made to bring about, in the words of Lincoln’s famous address, "a new birth of freedom."

      But this "new birth of freedom" wasn’t fully realized by the generation that paid the price for it. Over 100 years after the battle, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and declared, "Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children." It took the struggle for Civil Rights to truly complete what Lincoln called "the unfinished work" for which the heroes of Gettysburg "gave the last full measure of devotion."

      Today, when we speak of "fundamentally restoring all that is good in America," we remember the debt of gratitude we owe to those who sacrificed to create and preserve our union. From the Civil War to the struggle for Civil Rights, generations of Americans have made great sacrifices necessary to pass on to us this great gift of freedom. It’s our duty to them to preserve it, cherish it, and pass it on to our children, so "that these dead shall not have died in vain…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

      When duty calls, are we willing to answer today? Please remember that freedom isn't free – the price paid for our liberty has been great.

      The reminders of the past costs are seen at Gettysburg. The way forward in protecting our unified body is encapsulated in Lincoln's 2nd inaugural address: "…with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."

      – Sarah Palin

  • Obamacare,  Polling

    Poll Watch: Economy Ranked as Top Issue By Voters

    Importance of issues

    It is the economy, stupid – at least in the polls.

    The economy once again takes the top spot on the list of 10 important issues among voters, but interest in health care has surged and is now at its highest level in nearly two years.

    A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 84% see the economy as a very important issue, up three points from the end of May. Another 10% see the issue as somewhat important, while only two percent (2%) say it’s not important at all.

    Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters say health care is a very important issue, marking an 18-point jump from May and the highest level found since September 2007. It is now the third most important issue to voters after coming in seventh in the last poll.

    Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Democrats say health care is very important, as do 64% of Republicans and 55% of voters not affiliated with either party.

    But more Americans (49%) now oppose the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats than favor it (46%).

    Government ethics and corruption come in second again among voters this month, with 78% who say it is a very important issue, up two points from May.

    Unaffiliated voters put government ethics and corruption at the top of their list of important issues last month. But it fell to second place behind the economy this month, although 72% still say it is a very important issue.

    Social Security and national security are each seen as very important issues to 62% of voters this month, putting them in a tie for fourth on the list of 10 voter issues. The last poll saw a drop in importance on the issue of national security and the War on Terror.

    What the poll does not reveal is why the increase in interest in the health care issue. Might it be because voters are afraid the economy will force their employers to reduce or eliminate coverage? They are supportive or object to Obamacare?

    In any case, the Obama Administration is being defined by the economy and all of the rest is peripheral.

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  • Barack Obama,  John McCain,  President 2008

    Barack Obama Watch: It Is The Economy, Stupid

    Barack Obama

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., second from right, Olympic athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and others, applaud at a Chicago 2016 Olympic rally, Friday, June 6, 2008, at the Daley Center Plaza in Chicago.

    News Item: Biggest jobless jump since ’86 — Wall Street sinks

    Pink slips piled up and jobs disappeared into thin air in May as the nation’s unemployment rate zoomed to 5.5 percent in the biggest one-month jump in decades. Wall Street swooned, and the White House said President Bush was considering new proposals to revive the economy.

    Help-wanted signs are vanishing along with jobs, so the unemployment rate is likely to keep climbing, a government report indicated, underscoring the toll the housing and credit crises are taking on jobseekers, employers and the economy as a whole.

    Adding to the pain, oil prices soared to a new record high, while the value of the dollar fell.

    The Dow Jones industrials tumbled almost 400 points.

    The White House snapped into crisis-management mode. The president is now considering further plans to help energize the economy, which had already been teetering on the edge of recession, said counselor Ed Gillespie. Bush acknowledged, “This is a time of turbulence in the housing market and slow growth for our overall economy.”

    And, Barack Obama is starting a tour on Monday as the presumptive Democrat Presidential nominee focusing on what?

    The economy, stupid

    The Obama campaign announced today that Senator Obama will launch a two-week economic swing—the “Change that Works for You” tour—on Monday, June 9. Obama will travel across the country, talking to Americans about how the economy affects their everyday lives. He’ll hold events with voters where they work and where they live, discussing the challenges we face and his plans to turn the economy around.

    The tour will kick off on Monday with an economic speech in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    “The middle class has always been the engine of prosperity in this country—but for nearly eight years we’ve had an administration that tells working people ‘you’re on your own,’” Senator Obama said. “Not when I’m President. I’ll reform our tax code to benefit the middle class instead of the big corporations. I’ll make sure that quality health care is affordable and accessible for every American. And I’ll provide real relief from the housing crisis by creating a foreclosure prevention fund, providing a tax break for homeowners, and cracking down on fraudulent lenders. Those are the kind of solutions that will make a difference for working Americans—and that’s the kind of change we’ll be discussing on this tour.”

    The WRONG prescription for the economy, Barry. But it sounds good to the voters and the voters are already pissed about $4 plus gasoline prices.

    If the economy begins to “tank” there will be no chance for John McCain to win the Presidency and the GOP will face a wipe out in the Congress.

    In a tough year for the GOP, the economy is making it just that much tougher.

    Look for President Bush to take more stimulus action and FAST.