Daily Digest

Daily Digest 12/28 - Germany €2T In Debt, Metal Theft 'Menace' Blights Britain, High-Deductible Health Plans On The Rise

Wednesday, December 28, 2011, 10:42 AM
  • Japan Recommends Temporary State Control for Tokyo Electric
  • Germany more than 2 trillion euro in red: data
  • State budget cuts delay forensic tests
  • 1,000 metal thefts every week as growing 'menace' blights Britain
  • Greek retailers say Christmas sales worst in years amid acute financial crisis
  • Taiwan economy shows further weakening in November
  • U.S. cracks down on foreign tax evasion
  • Rises in taxes and bills cost families £5 a day
  • High-deductible health plans on rise
  • Iran threatens to stop Gulf oil if sanctions widened
  • College Debt? Where is your Sugar Daddy?
  • Feisty Italy union chief stands between Monti and reform

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Japan Recommends Temporary State Control for Tokyo Electric

The order came after Tokyo Electric Power requested ¥689.4 billion, or $8.8 billion, in government aid to help pay for its response to the nuclear accident at its Fukushima site. The calamity, caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people and led to a massive radiation leak.

The utility may have to pay ¥4.5 trillion in compensation payments by 2013, a government panel said in October, a sum that threatens to render the company insolvent. The company will also most likely be forced to decommission all six nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi at a huge cost, while the future of four other reactors at a second site is also on the line after a national outcry over the disaster.

Germany more than 2 trillion euro in red: data

The total figure represents more than 80 percent of Germany's gross domestic product of 2.5 trillion euros in 2010, way above the 60-percent ceiling laid down by the European Union.

Nevertheless, the German debt ratio is better than many other eurozone countries. Italy's, for example, stands at 120 percent, and the eurozone average at more than 85 percent.

State budget cuts delay forensic tests (Alabama)

State Forensic Sciences Direc­tor Michael Sparks said his agen­cy's funding has been cut 33 per­cent in the past three years and there are 27 fewer employees than in 2009.....She said the delays are causing grand jury proceed­ings to be delayed, slowing down how long it takes for indictments to be brought against suspects. Casey said she had a drawer in her office in Oneonta that contains about 700 cases that need to go be­fore a grand jury.

She said in many of those cases the laboratory work has not been completed. She said the state's district attorneys have already been told more budget cuts are coming in the session of the Legislature that begins in February. "I don't see how we can be cut anymore," Casey said.

1,000 metal thefts every week as growing 'menace' blights Britain

Thieves have targeted railway lines, church roofs, community centres, war memorials, irreplaceable works of art, manhole covers and even plaques in cemetaries.

The number of thefts from churches has doubled in the past three years alone. .....As thieves become increasingly desperate for targets to cash in on record metal prices, it is estimated that two offenders are killed trying to steal metal every month. Meanwhile thefts of street lighting from roads and copper cables from railways are putting the lives of workers and members of the public at risk.

In some areas, metal theft is reported to represent a tenth of total recorded crime while the British Transport Police now ranks the issue second only to fighting terrorism in its priorities.

Greek retailers say Christmas sales worst in years amid acute financial crisis

Greek retailers say sales fell an estimated 30 per cent this Christmas, in the worst festive showing for shopowners in years as the country grapples with a debt crisis and a severe recession.

Preliminary figures from the National Confederation of Greek Commerce Tuesday found clothes and shoe sales took the heaviest hit, falling 40 per cent compared to last Christmas. It added that consumption of food and drinks fell 15 per cent, while toy sales suffered least. The statement said 90 per cent of Greeks spent less in Christmas 2011, "out of necessity, not choice."

Taiwan economy shows further weakening in November

CEPD officials said the European debt crisis, the anemic global economy and weakening consumerism were the main factors that contributed to the slowdown in Taiwan's financial, trade, and manufacturing sectors.

The global economic situation has also affected business confidence, the officials said. With the index at 17 in November, it was just one point above the "blue" indicator, which would point to a recession, CEPD officials noted.

U.S. cracks down on foreign tax evasion

With the U.S. fiscal deficit running stubbornly high, the country is looking for more ways to help balance the budget and cut debt. For the 2012 financial year, the U.S. government will slap more rigorous penalties on those who have been hiding assets overseas from the tax department.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. residents or foreign immigrants with more than 50 thousand dollars in assets or 10 thousand dollars in deposits, have to report their overseas financial situations to the U.S. tax authorities. People who cheat would be fined up to 10 thousand dollars per month. Experts say the new measure will affect many Chinese in America, and that they may rather give up their residency, in order to maintain their own assets.

Rises in taxes and bills cost families £5 a day (UK)

The rising cost of living and changes to the tax regime have cost middle-class families £1,650 since January, equivalent to almost £5 per day, research by The Daily Telegraph has revealed.

The figure represents the biggest squeeze on household incomes for at least 80 years, economists said. The rapid decline in people’s quality of life highlights the toll that the UK’s stuttering economic recovery is having on households.

“Over 2011 there has been the biggest squeeze on incomes since the 1920s,” said Douglas McWilliams, the chief executive of thinktank the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

High-deductible health plans on rise

“Small businesses are trying to keep coverage for their employees,” said Jim Brown, Tennessee director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “We did a survey in 1994, I believe it was, and 70 percent of our members were offering health insurance to their employers. Seven out of 10. The last time we did a survey was 2008, and it was down to 42 percent. That was before the recession really kicked in.”

Iran threatens to stop Gulf oil if sanctions widened (Posted by woomera)

Iran threatened on Tuesday to stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz if foreign sanctions were imposed on its crude exports over its nuclear ambitions, a move that could trigger military conflict with economies dependent on Gulf oil.

College Debt? Where is your Sugar Daddy?

College students graduated to one of the highest unemployment rates for grads in US history this year. They are on average burdened with over 25,000 dollars in debt.....An anonymous Ivy League college grad RT spoke with, is facing tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt. With no job and financial aid, she wants a sugar daddy. “Prostitution should be legal. I am not looking for love. I am looking for someone who I can casually date who might be able to provide some kind of financial support for myself,” she said.

The former student believes relationships for money are on their way to becoming a trend. “Given hikes in tuition, and the current state of the economy, more and more people are looking for alternative ways to finance their educations. There are plenty of young men looking to date older women,” she explained. Men like Joseph. Also burdened by college debt, he is looking for a rich lady to take care of him.

Feisty Italy union chief stands between Monti and reform

A formidable battle is taking shape over the future of Italy's labor market between Prime Minister Mario Monti, a detached, professorial economist and Susana Camusso, the pugnacious, chain-smoking leader of the country's largest trade union. After years of division the three main union confederations appear to have united against reforms Monti says are vital to regain financial markets' faith, and analysts say he must move fast while his popularity is high and the sense of emergency over Italy's debt crisis is acute.

Led by Camusso, the unions not only have the ability to put millions on the streets but also have a powerful lobbying presence that may shake the parties Monti depends on for his parliamentary majority as the scale of changes become clear.

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