According to Laura Chanthalath, manager at High’s Chimney Service, business is booming. Located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, her company might rebuild one chimney a day during the summer when business is slow. But now, thanks to Irene, “We’re completely booked. This has been a big boost to our business because the summer is extremely slow, especially in the chimney business. So it’s been good for us.”
Next week President Obama will roll out his strategic jobs growth plan in a major speech, and has announced that his new chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger (left), is just the man to help him with it. Krueger comes from the same mold as the man he is replacing, Austan Goolsbee. Goolsbee graduated from Yale, Krueger from Cornell. Goolsbee got his PhD from MIT, Krueger got his from Harvard. Goolsbee worked for the National Bureau of Economic Research, and so did Krueger. Goolsbee is returning to the University of Chicago, while Krueger is leaving Princeton to join Obama.
In its annual Index of Economic Freedom, the joint effort by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, Canada ranks 6th among the 179 countries of the world, ahead of the United States (9th), the United Kingdom (16th), Japan (20th) and Germany (23rd). Considering ten components of economic freedom (among them: Business Freedom, Fiscal Freedom and Government Spending), the report ranks countries on the degree to which “individuals are free to work, produce, consume and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state.”
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon believes that there is a global environmental crisis that requires looting the Western economies to the tune of trillions of dollars in coming years. But such financial plundering apparently will not be standing in the way of a quite substantial pay increase for United Nations employees.
In his report to a Senate subcommittee Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe (left) spelled out clearly why the U.S. Postal Service can’t make any money: too many cooks in the kitchen. Hamstrung and limited by rules and “stakeholders” with differing and often competing agendas, what’s remarkable is that the postal service isn’t deeper in the hole.
Roger Jinkinson is a British writer, and he lives in a remote Greek village on the island of Karpathos (left). Although the village is not immune to the meltdown of the Greek economy caused by a huge problem with sovereign debt creditworthiness, simmering most furiously in the ancient capital of Athens, 400 kilometers away, the small village has found its own way to survive the crisis.
With the raising of the debt ceiling, the “official” federal debt immediately surged past a new and unwelcome benchmark: The national debt now exceeds 100 percent of the gross domestic product for the first time since the Second World War era. With the debt now at $14.58 trillion and climbing vertiginously every day even as the economy continues to stagnate, it will not be very long before the national debt reaches 200 percent and higher. In fact, with over $45 trillion owed to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid recipients both present and future, the actual size of the national debt is already more than four times the GDP.
Since its inception almost a century ago, the Federal Reserve has enjoyed a cloak of secrecy that has grown more opaque over the years. When the economy imploded in 2008, Bernanke’s Fed swung into action behind the scenes, handing out immense sums in bailouts to a host of ailing financials, through direct loans to the very biggest banks — what Robert Litan, a former Justice Department official, called “the aristocracy of American finance.” The exact figures, however, have been a closely guarded secret, until now.
The state of Nevada was the fortunate recipient of a $490,000 federal grant to grow trees and plants — and of course, to "stimulate" the state’s economy. The only problem is the stimulus spawned a whopping 1.72 permanent jobs. In 2009, the U.S. Forest Service awarded the federal money to Nevada’s Clark County Urban Forestry Revitalization Project with the intent of enlivening urban areas of the county with trees and plants, and of providing green-industry training.
Wall Street professionals' expectations are modest over Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s highly anticipated remarks at the Jackson Hole symposium this Friday. Unlike last year when the chairman announced the start of his program to purchase government securities in order to keep the economy from slipping into a recession and possibly deflation, known as Quantitative Easing II (QE2), his options now are much more limited. The anticipated bounce in the economy has fizzled, inflation is increasing, the banks are stuffed full of reserves but few are borrowing, and interest rates are already at zero and are expected to remain there well into 2013.
It is strangely apt that the stock market this week has been experiencing turbulence, in the wake of Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S credit and fears of a double-dip recession. After all, this week marks the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s removal of the United States from the last vestiges of the gold standard, an action that ushered in 40 years of fiat monetary instability. For four decades we’ve been in a state of almost constant financial crisis, from the stagflationary ‘70s through the savings and loan debacle and stock market crash of the ‘80s to the more recent dot-com and real estate bubbles and their messy aftermaths.