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    Daily Digest 1/12 – Food Prices to Soar, Portugal Debt Woes Grow, Restaurants Could Be Food Stamp Option

    by saxplayer00o1

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 4:00 PM

  • US EIA Jan Outlook: Sees Oil Prices At $99 By End-2012
  • Governor To Disconnect 48,000 Cellphones In Hands Of State Workers (California)
  • Food Prices To Soar
  • Christie Calls for New Jersey Pension Overhaul, Education Cuts
  • Fiscal Challenges Deepen For Md. Lawmakers
  • Japanese Pledge Eases Tension In European Markets
  • Newark Losing Police Horses Due To Budget Woes
  • Atlantic City Casino Revenue Falls To $3.57bn In 2010
  • Villaraigosa Threatens Layoffs And Furloughs (Los Angeles)
  • Portugal Debt Woes Grow As Economy Now Seen Shrinking In 2011
  • Texas’s Perry Faces Record Budget Gap on Revenue Drop
  • Restaurants Could Be Food Stamp Option For Some (San Diego)

Our ‘What Should I Do?’ guide offers tips for how to stay healthy in an emergency.

Economy

US EIA Jan Outlook: Sees Oil Prices At $99 By End-2012

EIA expects a continued tightening of world oil markets over the next 2 years. World oil consumption grows by an annual average of 1.5 million barrels per day (bbl/d) through 2012 while the growth in supply from non-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (non-OPEC) countries averages less than 0.1 million bbl/d each year. Consequently, EIA expects the market will rely on both inventories and significant increases in production of crude oil and non-crude liquids in OPEC member countries to meet world demand growth.

Governor To Disconnect 48,000 Cellphones In Hands Of State Workers (California)

Alarmed at discovering that the state pays for 96,000 cellphones, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Monday seeking to cut in half the number of devices being billed to taxpayers. Requiring 48,000 cellphones to be turned in by June 1 will save the state about $20 million a year. “It is difficult for me to believe that 40% of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cellphones,” Brown said. “Some state employees, including department and agency executives who are required to be in touch 24 hours a day and seven days a week, may need cellphones, but the current number of phones out there is astounding.”

Food Prices To Soar

Food will become much more expensive in the next decade thanks to a burgeoning middle class around the world, according to a new consumer report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. “Greater consumption leads to a greater strain on resources,” says the Consumer 2020 report, presented this week at the National Retail Federation in New York. “Without sustainable consumption, it will become increasingly difficult to meet the collective expectations and aspirations of the world’s new consumers.”….Last year, U.S. wheat futures prices jumped 47%, corn climbed above 50% and soybeans rose 34%. In addition to bad weather, increased Asian demand is fuelling the spike; it is predicted China will buy 60% of the global trade in soybeans in 2011-2012 twice what it purchased of the commodity just four years ago.

Christie Calls for New Jersey Pension Overhaul, Education Cuts

Christie may face a deficit next year equivalent to more than a third of his current $29.4 billion budget, the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services projected in July. This fiscal year, which ends June 30, he closed a record $10.7 billion gap by slashing school and municipal aid and skipping a $3 billion pension payment. Pension Gap New Jersey’s pension-funding gap increased $8.05 billion, or 18 percent, this year to $53.9 billion, from $45.8 billion as of June 2009. Christie, in a Jan. 4 interview, said the deficit would have grown even if he made the recommended payment. He said his ability to make a partial payment of $512 million next fiscal year will depend on the state’s financial condition.

Fiscal Challenges Deepen For Md. Lawmakers

Maryland’s $1.6 billion shortfall for the next fiscal year is presenting an increasingly difficult challenge for Gov. Martin O’Malley and lawmakers after four years of tough budget conditions. The Maryland General Assembly’s 90-day session begins Wednesday. O’Malley, who was re-elected in November, says the new budget is the most difficult he has ever put together. He says he’s balancing the budget entirely with cuts, and plans to submit his proposal to lawmakers later this month. While the state has contended with bigger shortfalls under O’Malley, the state does not have federal stimulus money this time to help soften the blow.

Japanese Pledge Eases Tension In European Markets

Japan’s pledge to support Europe’s bailout efforts helped ease the pressure on markets Tuesday ahead of a Portuguese bond auction that may show whether the highly indebted nation needs a bailout soon. The news from Japan gave investors much-needed relief as they face a string of crucial European government debt sales. Portugal plans a bond auction of a little over euro1.2 billion ($1.55 billion) Wednesday, followed by bigger issues Thursday from Spain and Italy. Earlier short-term bill auctions from Greece and Italy went through fairly smoothly….. Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced Tuesday that his country is “considering buying more than 20 percent of bonds” issued by Europe’s bailout fund to pay for Ireland’s rescue.

Newark Losing Police Horses Due To Budget Woes

The Newark, N.J., police department is disbanding its 120-year-old mounted unit this month, sending its 18 crime-fighting steeds to pasture or other cities’ mean streets. “Because of monetary issues we have to do what we have to do,” Det. Josephine Santaniello, a police spokeswoman, said on Tuesday. The mounted unit’s 16 police officers are being reassigned to squad cars and foot patrol in Newark, which consistently ranks among the 30 most dangerous cities in America, according to CQ Press, which tracks crime statistics.

Atlantic City Casino Revenue Falls To $3.57bn In 2010

Since hitting a $5.2 billion peak in 2006, Atlantic City’s casinos have continued four years of steady decline to reach $3.57 billion of revenue in 2010. Although last year’s 9.6% fall was below the record 13% drop in 2009, the dismal situation has left Atlantic City’s casinos struggling to survive, with 6 of the 11 casinos having had to restructure their debt or declare bankruptcy during the economic crisis. If that wasn’t bad enough, there would seem to be little hope for improvement just yet with casino consulting firm Spectrum Gaming Group predicting more bad news for the year ahead. As Spectrum explains: “Our projection of $3.1 billion in gaming revenue for Atlantic City in 2011 is down 40.8 percent, or a staggering $2.13 billion, from its historical peak year of 2006.”

Villaraigosa Threatens Layoffs And Furloughs (Los Angeles)

The city is trying to cope with a $62million shortfall in this year’s budget and prepare for another $348 million deficit next year. It will bring to more than $1 billion the amount cut from the budget in the past four years…. As the council reviewed the various options to reduce budgets of individual departments, Councilman Bill Rosendahl asked for a report on how many city workers are paid more than $200,000 a year. He also asked if those making more than that amount would agree to a voluntary pay cut. City Council members are paid $178,000 a year.

Portugal Debt Woes Grow As Economy Now Seen Shrinking In 2011

Portugal’s prime minister Jose Socrates insists his country doesn’t need a bailout and is cutting its debt faster than promised. However, his comments fall on deaf ears as the country’s central bank now expects the country to fall back into recession next year. In its latest quarterly update, the Banco de Portugal says it thinks the economy will shrink 1.3% in 2011 as the far-reaching spending cuts announced by the government begin to take their toll. In the previous bulletin it said the economy would not grow this year.

Texas’s Perry Faces Record Budget Gap on Revenue Drop

The second-most-populous U.S. state planned to spend about $86 billion in the two years through August, including more than $6 billion in federal economic-stimulus money that is winding down, Combs said. With a growing population, Texas will need about $99 billion to keep services at current levels, which suggests a $27 billion funding gap, Dick Lavine, a senior analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin.

Restaurants Could Be Food Stamp Option For Some (San Diego)

A slice of the county’s food stamp recipients soon may be able to redeem their benefits at area restaurants should a proposal supported by San Diego County Supervisors Bill Horn and Ron Roberts and initiated by a local restaurant association gain favor Tuesday. The number of people receiving food stamps countywide has spiked by 79 percent in two years to 210,000, according November 2010 figures provided by the county.

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