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    Daily Digest 3/2 – Prices On All Goods Continue To Rise, Unemployment To Remain Constant, Students Protest School Cuts

    by saxplayer00o1

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011, 3:44 PM

  • Bernanke says unemployment rate would not return to a more normal level for years
  • Kodak to raise prices on digital, conventional plates
  • Michelin to raise passenger, LT tire prices
  • Clothing prices to rise 10 percent starting in spring
  • Thousands of poor Utahns face less help with heating bills
  • Tuition rates continue to rise across the board, UCCS included
  • School Lunch Prices Increase Tuesday
  • Truckers Rally Against Fee, Tax Proposals
  • As College Costs Continue to Soar, Students Head Abroad
  • U.C. Davis Braces For Cuts
  • Crime-Filled Paterson, N.J. Staring At 100-Plus Police Layoffs
  • Poverty levels spike in local schools
  • Students plan walkouts to protest budget cuts
  • Social Security offices across U.S. to protest cuts
  • USD Students Rally Against State Budget Cuts To Education
  • Delaware Social Services In High Demand Amid Cuts
  • House approves stopgap spending bill
  • Gold Hits Record High
  • Bernanke Unfazed By Gold Standard, Currency History Queries
  • Oil prices push past US$98 a barrel after Iran imprisons opposition leaders
  • Diesel prices up 14.3 cents in the last week, says EIA
  • Supermarkets are raising prices faster than inflation, says UBS

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Economy

Bernanke says unemployment rate would not return to a more normal level for years

The increase in inflation resulting from the recent spike in oil prices will be modest and temporary, Bernanke said in his prepared remarks…. He also said that the nation’s unemployment rate would not return to a more normal level for years and that the Fed would continue its bond-purchase program. And Bernanke again highlighted options available to the Fed besides raising the central bank’s target overnight rate to tighten policy when the time comes.

“The tone of his remarks suggest that the turn in the rate regime is distant, and still likely more distant than what the market is now expecting,” said Eric Green, chief U.S. rates strategist at TD Securities.

Kodak to raise prices on digital, conventional plates

Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group will increase prices of digital and conventional plates May 1, 2011, in all regions of the world. According to the company, this move is necessitated by the sustained, universal rise in costs for key raw materials and utilities used in the production of offset plates.

Increases for digital plates will be in the range of 5% to 10%, while the increase for conventional plates will be between 15% and 20%. Details of the new pricing structure will be communicated in April to all customers and dealers.

Michelin to raise passenger, LT tire prices

On May 1, Michelin North America Inc. will be increasing prices on Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal and private and associate passenger and light truck replacement tires sold in the United States by up to 8.5% due to increasing raw material costs.

Clothing prices to rise 10 percent starting in spring

Brooks Brothers’ wrinkle-free men’s dress shirts now cost $88, up from $79.50. Levi Strauss & Co., Wrangler jeans maker VF Corp., J.C. Penney Co., Nike and shoe seller Steve Madden also plan increases.

“All of our brands, every single brand, will take some price increases,” said Eric Wiseman, chairman and CEO of VF Corp., which makes clothes for The North Face, Nautica, Wrangler and Lee brands.

Thousands of poor Utahns face less help with heating bills

Beginning Wednesday, Utahns will receive lower average payments from the Home Energy Assistance Target (HEAT) program. The state benefit will drop from an average of $510 to an average of $360 per household.

HEAT is Utah’s version of the national LIHEAP program (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) which is federally funded. Its national budget from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is dropping from more than $5 billion to $2.5 billion. Utah’s funding is being cut from $30.1 million to between $14 and $17 million.

Tuition rates continue to rise across the board, UCCS included

UCCS is no exception: for the 2010-2011 academic year, tuition at UCCS rose by an astounding 7 percent over the previous year, equating to an additional $420 to $450 per year for the average undergrad.

The outlook for next year isn’t looking particularly rosy either, as the University of Colorado system expects a $77 million budget gap they will need to fill; directors have already requested permission to raise our tuition beyond the 9 percent-per-year cap mandated by the state legislature.

School Lunch Prices Increase Tuesday (Hawaii)

The price of school lunches at Hawaii’s public schools will increase Tuesday from $2.20 to $2.35. It will be the second price increase in 14 months.

Truckers Rally Against Fee, Tax Proposals (Maryland)

The truckers planned to encircle the Lowe House Office Building while industry representatives tell lawmakers how proposals to raise revenue will cripple their businesses, inflate consumer prices and stall the economic recovery. Registration fees would go from the current $1,800 to $2,700, according to Louis Campion of the Maryland Motor Truck Association.

Also on the table is a 10-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase, he said.

As College Costs Continue to Soar, Students Head Abroad

With the cost of college skyrocketing here in the U.S., some students are washing their hands of the American education system, grabbing their passports, and seeking cheaper degrees abroad. The number of students doing so has increased 2 percent annually in recent years, according to the Dept. of Education, although the data does include the more traditional semester abroad category.

U.C. Davis Braces For Cuts

Up to 500 jobs could be eliminated, and students could face higher fees under a proposal being circulated by U.C. Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. In a letter released by her office, Katehi projects a shortfall of $107 million next year, as a result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget cuts.

Katehi is interested in offering admission to more out-of-state students, because they pay higher tuition.

Crime-Filled Paterson, N.J. Staring At 100-Plus Police Layoffs

Budget problems may result in fewer police patrolling the streets of one of the Garden State’s most violent cities.

A third of the officers are scheduled to be laid off, fueling fears that the cuts will mean a rise in crime, reports CBS 2’s John Metaxas.

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Poverty levels spike in local schools (Santa Rosa)

Seven out of 10 elementary students in Santa Rosa City Schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, reflecting a rising level of poverty in the city’s core schools, according to guidelines established by the federal government. Less than a decade ago, about half of the elementary students in Sonoma County’s largest school district were eligible for subsidized lunches.

Today, at four of the district’s 10 elementary schools, income levels are so low that more than 90 percent of students get help in paying for their lunches.

Students plan walkouts to protest budget cuts (Washington)

Students say they’re protesting budget cuts that state lawmakers are considering. The Legislature has asked college and university presidents to estimate the impact if the state has to cut higher education by $180 million more than the $600 million Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed for the next two years.

The University of Washington’s president warned lawmakers just last week, that a 30 percent budget cut at the UW would lead to layoffs, fewer students, and big tuition hikes.

Social Security offices across U.S. to protest cuts

Social Security workers around the country will take the path of their counterparts in state governments, picketing Wednesday to protest budget cuts.

While tensions continue in Wisconsin and at statehouses elsewhere over Republican efforts to restrict union rights and reduce state workers’ pay, demonstrations are planned at 75 Social Security offices from Rhode Island to Montana over a House Republican plan to cut $1.7 billion from the Social Security Administration’s $11.4 billion budget.

USD Students Rally Against State Budget Cuts To Education (South Dakota)

When Gov. Dennis Daugaard presented his budget in January for fiscal year 2012, he proposed cutting at least 10 percent from each state-funded program, including education. That leaves the University of South Dakota’s budget an estimated $4.9 million short — a difference that may be made up with a tuition increase.

To express their opposition to the governor’s proposal, a group of roughly 30 students staged a “Cut Class for Budget Cuts” rally on the lawn of the Muenster University Center over the noon hour Monday.

Delaware Social Services In High Demand Amid Cuts

Medicaid cases also are rising quickly, causing budget troubles. Between 2008 and 2011, the state’s Medicaid caseloads have risen from 156,000 to nearly 196,000 — an increase of more than 25 percent. There was a similar rise in demand for food stamps.

House approves stopgap spending bill

The House bill funds operations through March 18. Without a stopgap bill, many operations would grind to a halt on Saturday, leading to the first government shutdown since the mid-1990s. Reid said the Senate will approve the plan and turn to longer-term funding of the government.

Gold Hits Record High

Gold prices settled at a new record high on Tuesday, as unrest in North Africa and the Middle East pushed the safe-haven commodity north of $1,430

Bernanke Unfazed By Gold Standard, Currency History Queries

Bernanke, appearing before the Senate Banking Committee, was pressed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) on the viability of a return to a gold-backed economy or the idea of the Treasury Department issuing bonds payable in gold. Bernanke, who has studied the issue, said a return to the gold standard wouldn’t work.

“It did deliver price stability over very long periods of time, but over shorter periods of time it caused wide swings in prices related to changes in demand or supply of gold. So I don’t think it’s a panacea,” Bernanke told DeMint.

Energy

Oil prices push past US$98 a barrel after Iran imprisons opposition leaders

Oil prices surged 13 per cent last week, peaking above US$100 per barrel, as Libyan protesters expanded their control over the country. While the Libyan uprising continued Tuesday, news agencies reported that Iranian authorities had imprisoned opposition leaders in Tehran. Iranian authorities denied the reports.

Pro-reform groups have clashed with the Iranian government. Jailing opposition leaders would be a major escalation of the country’s political crisis. Iran exports about 2.5 million barrels of oil and natural gas liquids per day, about three per cent of global demand.

Diesel prices up 14.3 cents in the last week, says EIA

Diesel prices saw their single largest weekly price hike since a 14.6 cent increase during the week of June 8, 2009, with a 14.3 gain, bringing the price per gallon up to $3.716, according to data from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). On an annual basis, diesel prices are up 74.1 cents.

Environment

Supermarkets are raising prices faster than inflation, says UBS (UK)

Supermarkets are ripping off British shoppers by raising food prices faster than inflation, risking another competition inquiry, the investment bank UBS has warned in a new report. According to the bank’s analysis, commodity price inflation in the past few months would justify a 3pc-3.5pc increase in processed food prices, but supermarkets have increased prices by 6pc-6.5pc.

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