Daily Digest

Daily Digest 8/24 - Moody's Downgrades Japan, Port Authority Raises Tolls, Rare Earth Shortages Cause Price Hikes

Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 10:43 AM
  • Moody's downgrades Japan's debt rating
  • Greek Bond Yields Climb to One-Month High on Loan-Deal Discord
  • California Prison Doctor’s Pay Defies Deficits
  • Alabama agencies cutting 1,100 employees
  • California state colleges ready for another round of budget cuts
  • Report: D.C. to collect $100m in parking fines, ‘onerous tax’ to balance budgets
  • Port Authority board raises tolls, fares
  • Squatter problem balloons in Detroit
  • Georgia food stamp needs up 42 percent in the last 2 years
  • Korea's External Debt Nears US$400 Bil. Mark
  • Cost of living for students rises by £42 in 12 months
  • Rare earth shortages cause Havells to raise fluorescent prices
  • Red-Light Cameras Bring the City Millions in Revenue
  • Orange Co. Could Get More Red Light Cams
  • FDIC Must Face $10B Suit Over WaMu Loans

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Economy

Moody's downgrades Japan's debt rating

Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded its rating on Japan's debt. The agency said it lowered the rating because of Japan's large budget deficits and growing government debt.

Moody's cut Japan's government bond rating to Aa3 from Aa2. The new rating is three notches below Moody's top Aaa rating. It said the outlook for the rating is stable.

Greek Bond Yields Climb to One-Month High on Loan-Deal Discord

Greek government bonds slumped, with 10-year yields climbing to the highest level in a month, amid concern tensions between countries are putting a new loan package for the Mediterranean nation at risk.

The spread between Greek and German two-year yields widened to a record 39 percentage points. Europe is in the midst of agreeing on 159 billion euros ($229 billion) in new public aid for Greece. Some nations, including Finland, have demanded collateral in return for loans.

California Prison Doctor’s Pay Defies Deficits

Wang made $382,519 in 2010, including overtime and extra- duty compensation. He was one of almost 100 doctors, dentists and other medical practitioners in the state who got at least $300,000 last year to work behind bars, according to the controller’s office....One psychiatrist earned $566,029 last year, including overtime and extra-duty pay.

California taxpayers shelled out $770 million to medical, dental and mental-health staff to care for convicts last year, even as lawmakers slashed programs for poor children and the elderly to erase a $20 billion deficit.

Alabama agencies cutting 1,100 employees

The courts' legal director, Griffin Sikes, said they've gone beyond cutting fat and muscle. "We're down to cutting bone," he said.

The public is already seeing the impact in shorter hours for court clerks' offices and delayed trials. The most prominent was that of Gabe Watson, the Birmingham man charged with killing his wife on a honeymoon diving trip to Australia. A judge postponed Watson's trail nine months to February 2012 because of a shortage of bailiffs and other court personnel caused by layoffs.

California state colleges ready for another round of budget cuts

Each system could lose another $100 million if that comes to pass. In the current state budget CSU, with 23 campuses, lost $65 million, while the 112-campus community colleges saw a loss of $400 million.

Both chancellors say additional cuts this year would result in fewer courses, larger classes, scrapped summer sessions and, of course, even higher fees.

Report: D.C. to collect $100m in parking fines, ‘onerous tax’ to balance budgets

The group reports the District had collected $50.1 million as of May, according to information gather through a Freedom of Information Act request in April. The group said the $80.4 million collected in fiscal 2010 equals roughly $1.5 million a week, $450 a minute or $8 a second.

“More cities, including the District, have increased or plan to increase parking fees and meter rates to balance their budgets, and it has created a backlash from residents, motorists, and business owners, who see such hikes as another onerous tax,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs.

Port Authority board raises tolls, fares (New York, New Jersey)

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey last Friday approved toll and fares hikes on its bridges, tunnels and trains....Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have promised a "stringent audit" of the Port Authority's "practices."

"How can the Port Authority justify asking families and businesses to pay substantially more in tolls, while at the same time fail to control overtime costs, allow capital construction projects to go billions of dollars over budget and fail to document over $1 billion in service contracts?" asks Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., R-Merrick, the chair of the Senate's Transportation Committee. "The answer is that they can't, and that's exactly why Gov. Cuomo and Gov. Christie should re-evaluate the Port Authority's current leadership..."

Squatter problem balloons in Detroit

The foreclosure crisis has led to a surge of complaints about squatting in Detroit, and city officials acknowledge they're not sure what they can do about the problem. In a city with more than 100,000 vacant properties, city officials and residents say they're increasingly seeing people take over empty houses and call them their own. Once they're in, it's tough to get rid of them: Michigan law places the burden of proof on rightful owners, and the eviction process can take months.

Gretchen Barrow knows the problem all too well. She fought for months to remove two families in her neighborhood on the west side and fears the situation will only worsen. "With families losing houses, they've got to go somewhere," said Barrow, 57.

Georgia food stamp needs up 42 percent in the last 2 years

The economic slowdown of the past few years has led to a big jump in the number of Georgians receiving food stamps. One of every seven families in the state benefits from the food stamp program.

That’s a total of 1.8 million food stamp beneficiaries in Georgia, a 42 percent increase in the last two years.

Korea's External Debt Nears US$400 Bil. Mark

Experts have warned that 400-billion in foreign liabilities could rattle Korea's financial market, as it will likely spark fears over a shortage in foreign reserves and a liquidity crisis, affecting investor sentiment.

According to the Bank of Korea and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance on Tuesday, Korea's external debt stood at 398-billion dollars during the second quarter, a 15.4 billion dollar increase from the previous quarter.

Cost of living for students rises by £42 in 12 months (UK)

Overall costs have increased by 34 per cent since 2004. The monthly cost of living for students at that time was just £561. The annual rise equates to inflation of over five per cent each year and increased tuition fees will add substantially to this in the coming years.

Rare earth shortages cause Havells to raise fluorescent prices

China controls around 95 per cent of the world’s REE supply, so its strategic reduction in exports, coupled with a growing demand for REEs driven by the increased consumption of electronic consumer products and fast growing hybrid technologies, has put certain elements on the critical list. Havells said costs have increased ten-fold in just five months, driving production costs of fluorescent lamp and luminaire products steeply upward.

Red-Light Cameras Bring the City Millions in Revenue (NY)

New York City's red-light cameras generated more than $52 million in fines last year from careless drivers who run red lights, reported the Daily News.

While there are 150 red-light cameras across the five boroughs, the state legislature wants to add 40 new "speed cameras," which can measure whether a motorist is driving too fast. These cameras capture clear pictures of a car's license plate, and then a $50 red-light summons is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. "I think we should have 'em on every corner if we could," Mayor Bloomberg told reporters Monday during a press conference.

Orange Co. Could Get More Red Light Cams

Commissioners in Orange County will talk on Tuesday about adding 80 new red light cameras to intersections.There are just 10 cameras up and running right now, and in six months they've caught more than 8,000 drivers and have generated a half million dollars.

FDIC Must Face $10B Suit Over WaMu Loans

Deutsche Bank, as trustee for securitized pools of more than a half million home loans, in 2009 sued both the FDIC and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), which bought WaMu after it was seized by regulators in 2008.

The trusts at issue in the lawsuit were the focus of an investigation by a Senate subcommittee, which revealed that WaMu's own internal reviews found that "loans marked as containing fraudulent information had nevertheless been securitized and sold to investors."

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2 Comments

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saxplayer00o1
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Rich offer to pay more tax to ease EU debt

http://www.theage.com.au/world/rich-offer-to-pay-more-tax-to-ease-eu-debt-20110824-1ja9l.html

Rich offer to pay more tax to ease EU debt
Henry Samuel
The Age
August 25, 2011

PARIS: A group of France's wealthiest people, including the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, have signed a petition to pay more tax.

Published on the website of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur on Tuesday by 16 executives, business leaders and ''wealthy citizens'', it called for the creation of a ''special contribution'' from the country's biggest earners.

Signatories included Christophe de Margerie, the head of the Total oil company, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, the president of Air France KLM, and the 89-year old Ms Bettencourt, Europe's richest woman, who faced an investigation last year for failing to declare $107 million in Swiss bank accounts to tax authorities.

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