Last year, conservative pundit Glenn Beck warned his viewers to stock up on clothing for their kids, as he predicted that the price of cotton would increase dramatically. As usual, he was mocked mercilessly for his assertions. Recently, however, a report from the National Inflation Association announced that the cost of cotton has increased by 54 percent, though the huge commodity price increase hasn't made its way onto the shelves of American stores just yet.
William C. Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, defended the Fed’s recent announcement to print more money (called Quantitative Easing) to stimulate the moribund economy. Dudley, who is also the vice chairman of the Fed’s FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee), and former chief United States economist for Goldman Sachs, said that the decision to increase the supply of money was only to reduce interest rates further and not to devalue the dollar. He said, “We have no goal of pushing the dollar up or down. Our goal is to ease financial conditions and to stimulate a stronger economic expansion and more rapid employment growth.”
California is drowning in public debt. The California Legislative Analyst’s office, which is nominally nonpartisan and objective, projects that for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, the state will have a deficit of $6.1 billion — over $150 for one year for every man, woman, and child in California.
New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini made a name for himself back in 2005 by predicting the Great Recession long before others did. Fortune magazine wrote “In 2005 Roubini said home prices were riding a speculative wave that would soon sink the economy.” The New York Times said he predicted “homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt.” In September, 2006 Roubini warned that “the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence, and, ultimately, a deep recession.”
Speaking on one of the political television shows before the election, Vice President Joe Biden proposed to make a deal with Republicans on tax increases. Democrats, who just raised the Medicare tax by 0.9 percent on those earning over $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers), want to increase their political capital by making the Bush tax cuts — due to expire this year — permanent. The sticking point is the $250,000 threshold at which Democrats want “the rich” to begin to pay higher tax rates. Biden said the Obama administration was willing to consider raising the threshold. “I don’t have any problem with wealthy people getting a tax cut. I mean, for real,” Biden explained. “I mean, these are good guys.”
While average Americans have seen their wages and benefits stagnate, decrease, or even vanish altogether in recent years, federal workers have been doing very well for themselves. In August USA Today reported that “federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn” and that these same “workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row.
As world leaders have gathered in Asia for the Group of 20 (G-20) summit to discuss measures to revitalize the frail global economy, tensions have risen over struggling currencies and trade. Likewise, President Obama and other world leaders in Seoul, South Korea for the two-day summit are having to contend with one another's opposing strategies for fostering a more stable economic environment and preventing a looming financial meltdown.
Before the Internet, Robert Zoellick’s brief outline of suggested topics for the G20 meeting this week in Seoul, Korea, might have been considered just an interoffice memo. It appeared in London’s Financial Times, contained obscure references to arcane subjects that would be of interest only to international bankers determined to push their agenda for a world currency, and was written by a certified member of the internationalist “insider” cabal. But when Zoellick wrote that the “cooperative monetary system … should also consider employing gold as an international reference point…,” Internet bloggers picked up on it immediately, and the cover was blown.
Even though 151,000 new real jobs were added in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate stayed at 9.6 percent. This announcement not only successfully masked the fact that fewer people were looking for work, which made the rate look better, but also that more people are staying unemployed longer.