Home » Economic News » Economic News Articles in The Great Recession Blog, week of 07/08/2012

Economic News Articles in The Great Recession Blog, week of 07/08/2012

China brings its big bird in for an easing landing • Europe founders in the doldrums of its own making • The early-winter warmth that appeared to thaw the U.S. economy has turned into an economic drought • while Iran keeps the heat on from the Middle East.


China glides in for an on-target landing

Last week’s economic news ran in the same direction as my predictions for China. While China’s economy has slowed down as planned, it has not slowed below the government’s target. As it now appears to have entered that target zone — intended to curb housing inflation — China’s premier indicated last week that China will now apply the throttle again. This skillful approach is no different than reducing engine thrust to bring a jetliner down and then raising engine thrust just before the airliner comes to the runway to keep the big bird from dropping quite as fast so that it makes a soft landing. China appears to be skillfully bringing its ponderous craft in for an easy by-the-book landing.

There’s one caveat with all of this. So much of what we have known about China depends on Chinese government statistics, and communist governments have been notorious for hyping their statistics whenever it suits their advantage. (I’m sure Obama wishes he had that advantage right now.) So, who even knows if the former boom was as big as China claimed it was. They may have just been skillfully trying to lure investors and Western know-how into the Chinese economy.


Euro kidding, right?

If the Chinese data about the Chinese economy are as transparent as the Yangtze River, other theme’s I’ve made predictions on became much clearer throughout last week’s economic news: the Euro summit did not fail to live down to my expectations. Most reports from that zone amounted to the deal being too late to do any good this year, and likely too late forever.

The long timeframe for the euro summit deal’s full approval — if it even makes it through the hurdles to get approval — means the deal will not do much good this year. In that case, will there be a Eurozone around next year to be saved? In short, the Eurozone has lacked the right depth of unity/integration from the beginning to succeed, so it will fall apart … possibly to some smaller grouping of nations that tries to hold on to the ideal..


A Summer of drought for the U.S. economy

The early-winter warmth that seemed to thaw the U.S. economy has turned into an economic drought. If you listen to this channel for the economic forecast, you’ve been anticipating this. The withering corn crops across an area of the U.S. that has been declared the largest disaster zone in the nation’s history are an apt metaphor for the economy as a whole. Early in the year, balmy weather had many commodities marketeers and a good number of farmers anticipating a record crop. But the warm weather that made early planting possible turned out to be the head of a long drought. So, it is with the warmer weather that showered us with a microburst of winter/early-spring jobs. That resulted in a withering of new jobs later on, and summer shows no signs of bringing any refreshment to the job market.

Last week was filled with economic news headlines about sagging corporate profits, banking losses, a stagnant jobs market, deepening consumer depression,

You can expect the U.S. — unlike China with its vast surplus of cash reserves — to come in for a hard erratic landing. The president will try his best to goose the economic engines enough to keep his campaign from crashing while Republicans try their best to sabotage all of his efforts in order to get the passengers to throw him out of the pilot’s seat. Like their European counterparts, members of congress think they have ample time before they need to get to work fixing the economy — enough time that they will risk the greatness of a nation by squandering the small economic window we have for salvation in order to expoit this time for their own political empowerment. For the most part, this profligate congress has been leaving salvation of the nation up to the Fed to such an extent that even the Fed has hinted at some disgust for congress’s lack of work.

Thus, the U.S. remains mired in the Great Recession, and even as a Dust-Bowl-like drought settles upon it … just like the drought that settled over the Great Depression. Odd how history spirals along, moving forward and making cycles at the same time.

All of this dry economic news did not prevent a broad range of the old experts and forecasters from crawling out from under their rocks to sing yet another untimely hallelujah chorus. They brought out their only repertoire of gladsome hymns to herald the improvement of the economy in coming months, thanks, they said, to lower oil prices and new signs of life from sectors like automobiles and housing. Good luck with that, Boys. You’re singing into the wind, and the wind is a Scirocco.


Iranium heat

And that dry, desert wind, is going to blow in from Iran where the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) stepped up his rhetoric this past week, stating that the U.S. has already inoculated Iran against any affect from its sanctions by giving Iran so much hardship throughout the past that it is seasoned to enduring hardship. The U.S.-led sanctions have holes in them big enough to navigate a supertanker through anyway. Even under sanctions, Iran is allowed to sell more than half the volume of oil it once sold. It also continues to trade in gold since it has been cut out of the financial markets by SWIFT.

So, while it is experiencing greater hardship, Iran is by no means under a siege that will starve it out of its present situation. As the talks go on, Iran is enriching uranium faster than ever, and the only side to have scaled back slightly on its demands is the West, being willing now to consider some enrichment.

The Ayatollah is making the nuclear conflict about Islam:

The leaders of the Zionist regime are well aware that they are more vulnerable today than any other time and that every misstep and every inappropriate move will strike them like a thunderbolt…. The efforts made by the political communities of the world to magnify the threat posed by a nuclear Iran are based on nothing but a lie because they are afraid of an Islamic Iran, not a nuclear Iran. (FARS: “Supreme Leader Warns Enemies against Military Action“)

His argument to his own people is that the West is concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions solely because Iran is solidly Muslim, and the West fears Islam. Moreover, he says we ought to be:

What the enemies of Iran fear, and must fear, is not a nuclear Iran but the Islamic Iran. (FARS: “Enemies Fearing Islamic Identity of Iran“)

The Ayatollah is not just saying that the West is is xenophobic and, therefore, fears Islam. He states that the West “must fear” Islam — “must fear” an Islamic Iran. The Supreme Cleric, himself, is saying the basis for fearing Iran should be that Iran is Islamic, but why “must” we fear an Islamic Iran if it is militarily harmless? If “Islamic Iran” gains nuclear weapons, however, then it becomes clear why we will have to fear an Islamic Iran. That is what Khamenei wants to see — a West that “must” fear Iran.

Ayatollah Khamenei added that when the Iranian nation achieves the peaks of progress, the enmities and malevolent hostilities will stop. Unless the “peak of progress” he envisions is the potent nuclear tip of a missile, it is hard to imagine what progress he imagines will silence the West. Does he think those “enmities” he perceives from the West and Israel against Iran will stop because Iran has the best cancer medicine?

Let’s let the Supreme Leader clarify what he means by “progress” with his own words from this same article:

Over the past 33 years [the amount of time Iran has been an official Islamic Republic], the Iranian nation has overcome all the political, military, security and economic plots that were designed and implemented with the aim of wiping out the Islamic Republic. And this truth is one of the most important signs of the progress that the Iranian nation has made.

So, the peak of progress in the context of his speech would be technology that brings of political, military, and security to its peak. Those are three of the four main areas where he sees progress as most important. And what would be a more definitive peak than nuclear weapons? Is that not the peak of military technology anywhere in the world and the guarantor of political cache in the world … as much as a strong economy. Is it not the peak of security as a deterrent? Such an achievement would be the ultimate empowerment of an Islamic government that, according to the Ayatollah should be feared because it is Islamic.

Of course, the Ayatollah is making his case for perseverance in the face of sanctions to his people, and he knows they will tolerate a lot of heat if they perceive it is their cherished religious beliefs that are being attacked. For that, they will make sacrifices. Thus, it is the Ayatollah’s hope to make this a conflict about Islam, not about nuclear treaties. To him, this is about the nuclear empowerment of Islam.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Obama must keep Israel out of the action, and he is doing this by beefing up the U.S. presence in the gulf to demonstrate to Israel that he means business and will take action if necessary. This action is also to make certain that Iran does not mine the Straight of Hormuz or in some other way manage to block it and raise the price of oil, which would further minimize the impact of sanctions against Iran, given that it continues to sell about 60% of the oil it is accustomed to selling.

Last week we learned Iran has also made significant strides toward ICBMs capable of striking the U.S., according to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta. He anticipated another three years before Iran could hit the U.S. directly with a nuclear missile.


Recap of economic news articles on The Great Recession Blog last week

(Current week’s news is posted in the right sidebar each day.)


China syndrome — following the Great Recession to the Great Wall

07/08 China’s premier warns economy under pressure Trying to curb runaway housing prices, China set an annual economic growth target of 7.5% for 2012, yet China’s economy grew an annual 8.1% in the first quarter of 2012 — its slowest pace in nearly three years, but higher than the government’s target.

07/10 China’s growth may be slowing faster than gov’t stats, raising risks for world economy Second-quarter GDP official data are expected to show China’s economy grew 7.5% from a year earlier, the slowest pace since the depths of the global financial crisis. Shipyards there have laid off thousands and half-built vessels have been left to rust.

07/13 China economic growth slows to 7.6% In March, Beijing cut its growth target for 2012 to 7.5%. So the lowered growth is in keeping with Beijing’s target, intended to ease inflationary pressures. Analysts allay fears of a hard landing.

07/13 China Slows Despite Stimulus “I wouldn’t read too much out of the second-quarter data. If growth continues on the low side, Beijing likely will continue with more steps and the economy is going to avoid a hard landing.” says Louis Kuijs, an economist at a Hong Kong think tank.

07/13 Video: China practices “stealth easing” China’s official figure is 8.1% growth, though the realistic number is 7.6%. China appears to be boosting stimulus while denying it is as it tries to boost the economy while slowing inflation.


Economic indicators and stock market responses in the news of the week

07/08 Get ready for the end of record corporate profits this week For almost three years, investors have been soothed through a rough economy by rising corporate profits, but the list of companies that have recently warned of trouble is long and varied, and that list will start making its earnings known this week.

07/08 June Jobs: Five Things You Need to Know It’s the second year in a row that a spring spurt in jobs has jumped the rails. Last month’s report, it was widely agreed, was a disaster; so, too, this month’s. Unemployment plus underemployment have held steady at 15% of the workforce for five months

07/08 U.S. Economy slows and now comes the earnings season Growing disillusion over the latest steps to resolve Europe’s debt crisis will dominate market sentiment in the coming week, with equity investors also braced for a new company reporting season. Europe has become again and will remain center stage.

07/09 Alcoa Kicks Off Earnings Season With a Slight Beat Alcoa’s reported quarterly earnings and revenue were not as bad as Wall Street expected. Nevertheless, it showed a net loss of $2 million (0 cents/share) compared to net income last year of $322 million (28 cents/share). Revenue fell 10% from last year.

07/09 Wall Street falls on profit, growth worries Corporate outlooks are at their most negative in nearly four years, and companies that have already reported have shown lackluster growth. Nearly two dozen S&P firms have already cited Europe’s woes – which seem to be worsening – as a concern.

07/10 Stocks Sink as Profit Warnings Rise US stocks fell for a fourth day on Tuesday as more pessimism from US companies compounded worries the sluggish world economy is taking a toll on US profit growth. “Signs indicate that earnings are going to be mediocre.”

07/11 USDA Slashes Corn Outlook; Sends Prices Surging A drought that has not seen worse since the Dust Bowl years has slashed corn yields by much more than analysts expected. The USDA lowered its estimates by twenty bushels per acre, reducing final stocks by 37% compared to last month’s estimate.

07/12 30-year mortgage rate falls to record 3.56% Mortgage rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to historic lows once again this week, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac as long-term U.S. Treasury bond yields eased somewhat this week due to a lackluster employment report for June.

07/12 California municipal bankruptcies are only the beginning Many municipalities in California and around the nation are struggling to cover their costs as the economic malaise continues to hurt tax revenue streams, experts said. This will lead to more municipal bankruptcies, which have been rare until now.

07/12 Jobless claims plunge to 4-year low, but the drop is considered an anomaly The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits plunged during the week that included the July 4th holiday. The drop was a huge surprise to some, but filing was closed during the Fourth, and seasonal adjustments account for the fall.

07/12 Stocks close lower on gloomy economic outlooks in U.S. US stocks closed lower Thursday for what will be a sixth day of the downward trend as concern spread that weaker global economic growth and the European debt crisis will hurt U.S. corporate earnings. The Dow headed for its longest losing streak since May.

07/12 Stocks Fall as Fed Fails to Lift Hopes The Fed-dependent market sold off as hopes for monetary stimulus faded, and the Dow threatened a 6th consecutive losing day. Major indexes all moved into the red, and a drop in jobless claims brought no relief as investors wrote it off as a distortion.

07/13 Consumer Sentiment In U.S. Drops To Lowest This Year U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly declined in July to the lowest level this year as Americans grew more pessimistic about their finances. The gauge was projected to rise. Stocks snapped the longest losing streak since May.

07/13 In Latest Data on Economy, Experts See Signs of Pickup Despite the recent run of disappointing economic data, a broad range of experts and forecasters expect the economy to improve slightly in coming months, thanks to lower oil prices and new signs of life from sectors like automobiles and housing.

07/13 U.S. foreclosures up for second straight month U.S. foreclosure starts rose 4% year-over-year in June for the second consecutive month, as banks continued to clear their backlog of inventory following the $25 billion nationwide foreclosure abuse settlement. California rose by 18%.


Economic predictions / forecasts that made news headlines

07/13 Federal Reserve predicts new economic crisis Even though the Fed is at odds regarding what to do to spur economic growth, the official forecast from the bank suggests the US may be sliding into a catastrophic crisis. Lack of initiative on the part of congress was particularly sited as a concern.

07/13 Shale will free US from oil imports, says ex-BP boss Lord Browne told a conference in Oxford the US would be “completely independent of imported oil, probably by 2030″ due to big growth in oil extracted from shale by franking. He also said the amount of shale gas in the US was “effectively infinite”.


Euro crisis updates as the Great Recession goes viral

07/09 Spanish Yields of 7% Show Summit Shortfall, El-Erian Says Spanish bond yields at levels that have led to past bailouts show that last month’s European summit didn’t do enough to stem the region’s debt crisis, according to PIMCO’s CEO. “It didn’t break the link between weak banks and weak sovereign credit.”

07/10 European Finance Ministers Give More Time to Spain, Speed up Bank Bailouts European finance ministers decided to speed up their promised bailout for Spanish banks, while also giving the cash-tight government more time to rein in its budget deficit. Thirty billion euros will be made available to banks by the end of the month.

07/11 Analysis: Euro zone fragmenting faster than EU can act The rush to put the new crisis plan in place by next year may come too late. A trillion euros cash injection earlier this year bought only a few months help. Meanwhile, an invisible financial wall as dangerous as the Iron Curtain is slowly rising between north and south.

07/11 Eurozone risks losing 4.5 million more jobs The eurozone economy could lose 4.5 million more jobs in the next four years unless the region shifts away from austerity, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned. “It’s not only the eurozone…. The entire global economy is at risk of contagion.”

07/11 Spain unveils new austerity under European pressure Analysts said the draconian economic savings plan, tearing up several of the PM’s campaign promises, showed Madrid is already under supervision from Brussels even though it has not requested a bailout. Some said the tax increases could exacerbate Spain’s recession.

07/12 Italy’s economy to shrink at least 2.4% this year “In a best-case scenario, Italy’s GDP will go down 2.4 percent in 2012 and probably even more,” Giorgio Squinzi said at a conference in Rome. “It is hard to see an improvement in the second half of the year.” The official government estimate is is expected to be revised downward.

07/12 Worried about the rise in Italian bond yields, Italy says it could seek Eurozone aid Finance ministers struggled to convince markets they are getting a grip on the euro debt crisis, which a top European Central Banker said could escalate. Mario Monti said Italy could be interested in tapping the euro zone’s rescue fund for bond support.

07/13 Italy passes market test after credit rating downgrade, concern persists Italian banks came to the rescue on Friday after the country suffered a ratings downgrade. Rome cut its three-year borrowing costs, but a rise in 10-year bond yields highlighted concern about Europe’s debt crisis. News for the moment is that the crisis simmered down.

07/13 Moody’s downgrades Italy debt rating 2 notches Moody’s surprised markets by downgrading Italy’s government bond rating to Baa2 — two notches above junk — and warned it could cut it further, piling on pressure just before Italy launches its latest bond sale. Moody’s blamed persistent Eurozone woes.


Federal Reserve actions tracked in the economic headlines

07/09 Bankers Declining to Dance the Bernanke Twist Wall Street banks are increasingly choosing to hoard their U.S. bonds rather than sell them to the Federal Reserve under Operation Twist as speculation grows that a slowing economy and global financial turmoil will only make them more dear.

07/11 Fed Held Lively Debate on More Action, Minutes Show Fed officials at their June meeting seemed split over more stimulus. “A few members” thought “further policy stimulus likely would be necessary. “Several others” thought new action from the Fed “could be warranted” if the economic loses momentum.

07/13 U.S. Stock Market Dependent on Fed? Stocks Might Be 50% Lower Without Fed The Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that the bulk of equity returns for over a decade are due to the US central bank. The S&P would be more than 50% lower if bullish pricing preceding Fed announcements was excluded. “It’s a Q.E. world.”

07/14 Fed’s Williams Sees 8% Unemployment Into 2013 With Slowdown Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said, “Progress on bringing down the unemployment rate has probably slowed to a snail’s pace and perhaps even stalled. Economic growth is far short of what’s needed to keep bringing it down.”


The Iranium Reaction as it makes and shakes the news

07/08 Washington Post Opinion: Oil sanctions against Iran will not be enough Predictably, last week’s “expert level” talks with Iran were no more fruitful than previous rounds, leaving little optimism for a negotiated resolution to the nuclear crisis anytime soon. Western policymakers appear content to give sanctions more time.

07/09 WSJ Opinion: Iran Has No ‘Right’ To Enrich Uranium A central Iranian negotiating demand is acknowledgment of its “right” to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Although spurious, this assertion has gone without a forceful public challenge. The treaty gives no such right.

07/09 WSJ Opinion: Obama’s Iran Loopholes Though economic sanctions still haven’t slowed or stopped Iran’s nuclear drive, the Obama Administration has decided to make them even weaker. The Iran sanctions regime is looking like the U.S. tax code—filled with loopholes.

07/10 Iran’s Leader: Enemies Fearing Islamic Identity of Iran “What the enemies of Iran fear, and must fear, is not a nuclear Iran but the Islamic Iran,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated. Iran’s leader underscored that the Islamic Republic of Iran is today more powerful than ever before and will not back down.

07/10 Iran’s Supreme Leader Warns Enemies against Military Action Ayatollah Khamenei said “The leaders of the Zionist regime [Israel] are well aware that they are more vulnerable today than any other time and that every misstep and every inappropriate move will strike them like a thunderbolt.”

07/11 What’s Iran doing with Turkish gold? Turkey’s trade with Iran in May rose a whopping 513.2 per cent to hit $1.7bn. Of this, gold exports to its eastern neighbour accounted for 84% of the increase. What’s going on? Turkey is skirting sanctions and SWIFT by trading for oil with gold.

07/12 Floating Base Gives U.S. New Footing in the Persian Gulf One of the Navy’s oldest transport ships, now converted into one of its newest platforms for warfare, arrived in waters off Bahrain late last week, a major addition to the enlarged presence of American forces in the Persian Gulf designed to counter Iran.

07/12 Khamenei dismisses sanctions, says Iran strong “Westerners are being sensational about sanctions but they don’t understand that they themselves vaccinated Iran,” said the supreme leader. Khamenei says the country is “100 times stronger” than before.

07/12 U.S. sends forces to Persian Gulf ahead of possible clash with Iran The US is building up navel power in the Persian Gulf. Deployments were meant to bolster the U.S. military presence in the region while reassuring Israel that the Iranian nuclear issue is being handled and to make sure the Straight of Hormuz remains open.

07/13 Panetta report on Iran’s military capabilities stirs Republican criticism of Obama A sobering Pentagon assessment of Iran’s military capabilities showed large strides toward intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the U.S. and widespread continuance of its sponsorship of terror by Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban.

07/13 US believes Syria moving part of chemical stockpile US officials said that Syria has started to move its chemical weapons arsenal out of storage. The country’s undeclared stockpiles of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide have long worried US officials and their allies in the region, the report said. [Not Iranium Reaction news, but related to tension in the Oil Belt.]


Articles of Justice during the Great Recession

07/14 New Fraud Inquiry as JPMorgan’s Loss Mounts JPMorgan disclosed on Friday that losses on its botched credit bet could climb to more than $7 billion Mounting concerns about valuing the trades led the company to announce that its earnings for the first quarter were no longer reliable and would be restated.

07/14 Visa and Mastercard pay $7.25bn in illegal fees settlement The case that dragged on for seven years over firms colluding to fix the fees that stores pay to process credit and debt card payments has been settled. The settlement is thought to be the largest of its kind in US history.


U.S. banking / financial crisis as it shapes the economic news of our times

07/11 Should Goldman Sachs go out of business? Philip Purcell, the former CEO of Morgan Stanley – and the architect of the megamerger between Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter – wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that shareholders would get better value if the big banks broke themselves up.

07/12 Scandal over bank rate-fixing is about to hit the US It may seem like an obscure British banking scandal, but there are many reasons you should care about the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal now roiling the world’s most powerful banks, including that it probably cost you money and will end in massive lawsuits.

07/13 JPMorgan raises trading losses to $4.4bn, cans top execs The bank said executives responsible have been dismissed without severance, and the bank will claw back two years’ pay. It also found evidence some traders may have been trying to hide their losses, resulting in overstatement of 2nd quarter profits.

07/13 Libor rate rigging scandal: Banks may face penalties worth $22 billion Twelve global banks involved in the Libor rate-rigging scandal may face a combined $22 billion in penalties and damages, according to Morgan Stanley analysis. That excludes the potential fallout from ongoing US and European Union cartel investigation.

07/14 The Games Played By JP Morgan Chase to Show a Profit The bank arbitrarily reduced its loan loss reserves by the quite formidable figure of $2.1 billion. If it had not taken these “paper profits,” last quarter would have been reduced to $2.9B from $5B. $00M in scandalous losses were also moved back to Q1.

07/13 U.S. Treasurer Geithner identified Libor problems in ’08 Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner suggested ways to prevent banks from manipulating the Libor rate in a memo to the Bank of England back in 2008, when he was president of the New York Federal Reserve, according to a copy of the memo published Friday.


U.S. government moves (and blunders) in articles about the economy

07/09 Obama Calls For One-Year Extension Of Bush-Era Tax Cuts For Those Making Less Than $250,000 President Barack Obama gave another push to Congress to let families keep Bush-era tax cuts. “Pass a bill extending the tax cuts for the middle class, I will sign it tomorrow.” Obama explained tax cuts on income above that add $1 trillion to the debt.

07/09 WSJ Opinion: Republicans Are Blocking Obama’s Jobs Plan Nine months ago, Obama outlined his American Jobs Act. Independent economists said it would create 1.9 million jobs. Congress has failed to act on the president’s plan to put housing construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads and bridges.

07/11 Obama threatens veto of bill combining tax cuts for middle class, top earners President Obama is threatening to veto any legislation that extends all the tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, as he presses Congress to extend those cuts only for families whose yearly income is less than $250,000.

07/12 ‘Robin Hood’ tax on financial trades would help turn economy around Some think there is a better way to raise more money from the people who who helped cause America’s financial crisis — Wall Street speculators. A new measure, backed by Bill Gates and George Soros, would impose a $0.0003 tax on high-speed computer trades

07/14 Democrat governors: House GOP hurting economy to aid Romney Dem’s pointed to GOP efforts to block stimulus and job legislation, sacrificing America to bolster their case against Obama. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that in their calculations … they are hoping for the economy to slow before the election.”


Other economic updates / miscellaneous news articles

07/08 “Green Fleet” sails, meets stiff headwinds in Congress The Pentagon hopes to prove the Navy looks good burning biofuel. Republican lawmakers have seized on the fuel’s $26-a-gallon price, compared to $3.60 for conventional fuel, but do we want our military dependent on the oil of nations is may be fighting?

07/11 Russia’s Putin says West in decline “Domestic socio-economic problems that have become worse in industrialized countries as a result of the (economic) crisis are weakening the dominant role of the so-called historical West,” Putin told a meeting of Russian ambassadors.

07/12 Hard Cold Facts about Cash Many are touting the coming of a cashless society: economists, social scientists, and, most recently, Fortune. Credit and debit cards have long given cash — pardon us — a run for its money.

07/12 The death of cash Here’s how major tech companies plan to achieve cash-free nirvana. Smartphone payments, already popular in asia and Europe, are coming to the U.S. in a big way. Everyone wants in, from big phone companies to the credit card networks to Google and bay.

07/13 CA County Considers Eminent Domain As Foreclosure Fix San Bernardino County would use eminent domain to buy loans that are underwater at a discount large enough to enable new lenders to refinance at a lower mortgage amount then sell the house back to the owner with the lowered mortgage in place.

07/13 Student Debt: America’s $1 Trillion Time Bomb A report from Barclays helps illuminate the degree to which $1 trillion of student-loan debt is becoming one of America’s structural challenges, more than the government’s TARP bailout program. Gov’t will lose $255 billion in subsidies and write-offs.

07/13 The $64,000 Question: How Much Has Debt Increased Per Taxpayer Under Obama? Answer: The national debt has now increased by more than $64,000 per federal taxpayer since Barack Obama was inaugurated president, an increase of the total debt by five-trillion dollars.

07/14 How to ruin the global economy: follow the experts’ advice When a poll conducted by The Economist magazine asked which economist had the most important ideas for a post-crisis world, Rajan ranked highest. He argues that the primary issue isn’t the lack of demand and cannot be solved by encouraging people to take

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