Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Economics

States’ Pension Woes Worsening

Massachusetts AFL-CIO

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The latest study by The Pew Center on the States shows not only that states have not funded the promises they made to their employees when they retire, but that the gap between those promises and the states’ contributions to pay for those promises is widening.

According to Pew, the shortfall is at least $1.26 trillion (with a t), but could approach $5 trillion depending upon rate of return assumptions. Because of the precipitous decline in revenues in 2009, states were able to pay only

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High Gas Prices Set to Cause Double Dip Recession

Fuel Guage

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“I’m sure the rising cost of energy is bothering the market,” said Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist at D. A. Davidson & Company last week. “I do think the uptick in gasoline prices will have an impact on consumer spending in the next few quarters.”

One could scarcely call it an “uptick,” with gasoline prices up by $.70 a gallon since the first of the year, and approaching $4 a gallon. The American Automobile Association said at that level consumers “will have to start cutting back to pay their fuel expenses. This could adversely affect restaurants, malls, and entertainment venues that count on people driving to get there.”

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Speculators and High Oil Prices Explained

Super Contrails as the 767 flies through cloud...

Super Contrails as the 767 flies through cloud… (Photo credit: AvgeekJoe)

Last Thursday, speaking in Reno, Nevada, President Obama announced that the Department of Justice was going to examine the role of “traders and speculators in the gasoline and oil markets,” and how they contribute to high gas prices.

The Attorney General [is] putting together a team whose job it is to root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices, and that includes the role of traders and speculators. We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of American consumers for their own short-term gain.

What do speculators do? Here is a cogent explanation by Victor Niederhoffer, a well-known speculator and author of The Education of a Speculator:

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Gold at $1,500 an Ounce and Moving Higher

gold cast bar

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The price of one ounce of gold exceeded $1,500 yesterday, and immediately the media was filled with explanations. Jan Harvey, writing for Reuters, said gold was benefiting from “the threat of a downgrade to the United States’ triple-A credit rating this week and fresh worries over euro zone debt [that] fueled fears over the outlook for both the dollar and the euro.”

The possible termination of the Federal Reserve’s program of buying U.S. Treasuries (called Quantitative Easing, or QE2) in June adds uncertainty to the markets, and “There is still going to be a lot of uncertainty over the strength of growth in the United States,” according to Macquarie analyst Hayden Atkins. Simon Weeks, head of precious metals at the Bank of Nova Scotia, added:

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Government to Sell GM Stock Before It Declines Further

2011 Chevrolet Volt exhibited at the 2010 Wash...

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When the federal government took over General Motors in July of 2009, it was “the only way to avoid an economic calamity,” according to President Obama.

Stuffed full of $50 billion of taxpayers’ money, GM began to revive, a little. It had lost an amazing $103 billion over the previous five years, partly by acceding to union demands for generous compensation packages (including payments to workers even when the plants where they worked weren’t even running!), and partly by

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Standard & Poor’s: Clock is Ticking on U.S. Debt

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 16:  A trader works on the...

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Within minutes of Monday morning’s announcement by the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s that “we have revised our outlook on the long-term rating [for US government debt] to negative from stable,” the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 200 points.

In its announcement, the agency tried to soften the blow:

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Investors in U.S. Debt at Tipping Point?

Teeter-Totter Crossing

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When Terence Jeffrey, writing for CNSNews.com, noted that true federal spending for the fiscal year 2010 wasn’t $3.7 trillion after all, but closer to $11 trillion, he discovered an old accountant’s trick to make things look worse (or better) than they are: either double count, or don’t count at all.

In the process of sorting out the accountant’s trick, however, Jeffrey uncovered an unnerving fact:

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$4 Trillion in Cuts Proposed by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

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During an interview on “Fox News Sunday”, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), chairman of the House Budget Committeeoutlined many of the details of the GOP‘s 2012 budget proposal that will officially be announced on Tuesday. He said, “We can’t keep kicking this can down the road. The President has punted. We’re not going to follow suit. ” Implying that the proposal would cut the deficit by “much more than” $4 trillion over the next decade, he offered a synopsis of what to expect on Tuesday:

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Cato Puts Budget-Cutting Debate in Perspective

Cato Institute

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The Cato Institute’s just-announced ad campaign in major newspapers around the country asks rhetorically, “This is leadership?” and then neatly summarizes numerous areas where major budget cuts could be made. The ad questions the debate currently taking place over almost invisible cuts to the federal budget: “The House Republican leadership has proposed $61 billion in spending cuts—but that’s less than 4% of this year’s massive $1.65 trillion federal deficit.” And the Democrats have managed to squeeze out an even more modest proposal of

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Funding of Bretton Woods II by George Soros Exposed

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 27JAN10 - George Soros, Cha...

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When billionaire George Soros wrote two years ago that what the world needed now was “a new world architecture,” he was already laying plans for Bretton Woods II, April 8-11, 2011, to be held at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

Soros wrote:

While international cooperation on regulatory reform is difficult to achieve on a piecemeal basis, it may be attainable in a grand bargain that rearranges the entire financial order.

A new Bretton Woods conference, like the one that established the international financial architecture after World War II, is needed to establish new international rules…reconstitute the International Monetary Fund (IMF)…[and] to reform the currency system…

Claiming that the international monetary system “cannot survive in its present form,” Soros argues that it could and should be revamped so that American leadership would be “re-established…in a more acceptable form.”

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Portugal PM Resignation Rattles EU

Sócrates

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When the Portuguese Parliament failed to pass an austerity bill on March 23, the country’s Prime Minister, Jose Socratesresigned. That move leaves Portugal leaderless for at least two months while facing a significant financial crisis: it must refinance nearly $13 billion of short-term debt by June. Investors have already pushed interest rates on Portugal’s sovereign 10-year debt to almost 8 percent, while credit-rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s both downgraded that debt’s quality on March 24.

The European Union (EU) has already bailed out Greece and Ireland, and a top official announced that the EU has the resources to rescue Portugal, if necessary. The bailout would cost an estimated $60 billion to $80 billion.

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Housing Decline: Only Halfway Home

House

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When Reuters and CNBC.com announced the awful housing numbers from February, most observers were surprised. The housing market appeared to have found a bottom last fall, and many economists were expecting small but predictable improvements every month.

The Commerce Department, however, doused whatever positive expectations there were when they announced that new home sales for February compared to January declined by

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Trillion-dollar Tax Holiday Sought by Multinationals

Oracle logo at the Oracle headquarters.

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Claiming that granting a “tax holiday” for her company (and other large multinationals) would be beneficial to the United States, Oracle president Safra Catz said that such a holiday would allow earnings sitting in idle accounts abroad to be “repatriated” and freed up for better use here in the United States. “It’s an absolute no-brainer,” she said. If the money flows back to the United States, “it will

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Shutting Down Fannie and Freddie: Locking the Barn Door

House key

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It appears that there is at least one thing the Obama administration and the GOP can agree on, and that is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have got to go.

Given the immense role these two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) had in the Great Meltdown, they remain an embarrassment for every politician even remotely related to them. As noted cryptically in his latest book, Rollback, Professor Thomas Woods said,

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Increasing Gas Prices: What’s Seen and Not Seen

Pumping Fuel

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With the national average price of gasoline hitting the highest level in history for this time of the year, the impact of that increase reaches far beyond the pocketbook of the average worker driving off to work in the morning. For every 25-cent increase in the price of gas (which has increased almost 70 cents per gallon in the last year, and by nearly 30 cents in just the last month), consumers are forced to spend an extra $3 billion that

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The Great Recession and American Boomer Reality

Gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date

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In its extensive study of how the Boomer generation is faring, the Wall Street Journal focused mostly on their difficulties, challenges, disappointments and missed opportunities. It had little to say about the outside event no one saw coming, the Great Recession, and nothing at all about the resilience of the individuals moving into what used to be called the “golden” years.

For example, Steven Rutschmann, age 60, has a 401(k) plan with about $500,000 in it, and his wife also has a 401(k) plan and is expecting a small pension when she retires from her nursing position. They went to see a financial planner who told them that

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GOP Uses Flyswatter to Defend Against Incoming Debt Missile

WASHINGTON - MAY 21:  House Minority Leader Jo...

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Even with only  modest cuts in the continuing resolution bill offered by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, it is highly unlikely to see the light of day when the Senate returns from recess, just before the March 4th deadline. Despite strong rhetoric from House Speaker John Boehner who said “When we say we’re going to cut spending, read my lips. We are going to cut spending, ” this reminded one of the identical words (“read my lips”) uttered by Republican Presidential candidate George H. W. Bush in 1988, which cost him his chance for re-election in 1992 when he voted for higher taxes the year before. Boehner’s words also generated a protest of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who accused Boehner of

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Defense Department Builddown Coming?

Thirteen C-17 Globemaster III aircraft fly ove...

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As calls for cuts in the defense budget increased, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates knew what he would have to do: throw the cutters a bone, and then dig in against any further reductions. By admitting that he could shave $78 billion out of the defense budget over the next five years, Gates then went to work defending any further suggested incursions into the future spending plans by the military-industrial complex.

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Obama Budget Sleight of Hand

Of all the explanations, statistics, projections, and conjecture about the Obama administration’s new budget, nothing has had the impact of this simple graph in showing the assumptions, misstatements, and downright falsehoods that are required to “make the numbers work.”

The source for this very telling graph is the Obama administration’s Office of Management in budget. Below is the graph, as it appears in the Wall Street Journal.

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Spending on Military and Wars Rising but Cuts are Off-Limits

USS DWIGHT D EISENHOWER CVN-69: Iranian aircra...

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In an exciting, well-researched and gripping novella in the December issue of Popular Mechanics, author Erik Sofge concludes that the war between China and the United States in the year 2015 will be won by China.

It is August, 2015 and the fight is over whether Taiwan’s status as an independent nation will remain intact, or whether it will become, finally and forever, part of the People’s Republic. The big fight, however, is “between an old superpower and a new one.” Using the latest technology, the United States finds itself at a major disadvantage when China is able to render useless the high-tech and very expensive communications network relied upon by the United States. Says the author,

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.