Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 1/16 - Flood Insurance Premiums On The Rise, The Cost Of Our Crumbling Infastructure

Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 11:33 AM


Report: Germany to repatriate part of its gold reserves worth $200 billion from US, France

Germany's central bank will repatriate some $200 billion worth of gold reserves it has stored in the United States and in France, a business daily reported Tuesday.

The Bundesbank plans to bring back to Germany some of its 1,500 tons of gold stored in the vaults of the Federal Reserve in New York, and all of the 450 tons currently stashed with the Bank of France in Paris, according to Handelsblatt.

The central bank declined to comment on the report but on Wednesday will present a new plan to manage the gold reserves, which total about 3,400 tons, or 270,000 gold bars.
Most of Germany's massive reserves have been stored abroad since the Cold War over fears of a Soviet invasion.

Trillion-dollar gap seen in infrastructure spending

The exclamation point on the reports, titled “Failure to Act,” came Tuesday in an ASCE paper: A $2.7 trillion investment is needed by 2020; likely funding available, $1.1 trillion less than that.

“Job losses will mount annually, and by 2020 it is predicted that there will be 3.5 million fewer jobs throughout the country,” the paper said. “The expected impact for every household in the U.S. will be an average loss of more than $3,000 per year though 2020 in disposable personal income . . . due to job cutbacks and declining business productivity.”

The Cost of America's Crumbling Roads and Bridges

Same info as the link above, but includes CNBC video

U.K. Cuts Starting Pay for Police to 19,000 Pounds

U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May will cut the annual starting salary for rank-and-file police officers by 17 percent to 19,000 pounds ($30,500) as the government reviews officers’ working conditions amid budget cuts.

IMF’s Zhu Says Japanese Debt Overhang Is Getting More Serious

International Monetary Fund official Zhu Min said Japan’s debt burden is becoming “more serious” as the government takes extra steps to stimulate growth in the world’s third-biggest economy.

“The debt overhang is becoming more serious so they need to go further in fiscal consolidation,” Zhu, a deputy managing director at the IMF, said in an interview in Hong Kong today, where he’s attending the Asian Financial Forum.

Venezuela struggles with sporadic food shortages

Mireya Bustamante spent most of the day trying in vain to find flour to bake a birthday cake for her 4-year-old son.

Like most Venezuelans, the single, 33-year-old office worker has periodically struggled with such food shortages for years, and, like many in the country, thinks they're getting worse. She blames price and currency controls imposed by the government, though authorities contend unscrupulous business owners are at fault.

Florida colleges rank high in ‘sugar daddies’ paying student tuition

Imagine you’re a college student, struggling to pay steep tuition and living expenses.
Mid-bite of boxed macaroni and cheese, you stumble upon the option of joining a free, “mutually beneficial” online service that promises to pair you with a wealthy man or woman who will chip in for school costs.

Flood insurance premiums will be on the rise for many in 2013

The Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) held a meeting on January 10, 2013, which was attended by leaders and representatives from local municipalities from New Jersey, at which they were informed that the owners of non-primary residences that were constructed before 1968 would soon see a whopping 25 percent increase to their flood insurance premiums.

401(k) breaches undermining retirement security for millions

A large and growing share of American workers are tapping their retirement savings accounts for non-retirement needs, raising broad questions about the effectiveness of one of the most important savings vehicles for old age.

More than one in four American workers with 401(k) and other retirement savings accounts use them to pay current expenses, new data show. The withdrawals, cash-outs and loans drain nearly a quarter of the $293 billion that workers and employers deposit into the accounts each year, undermining already shaky retirement security for millions of Americans.

Chicagoans Fight Back Against Red-Light and Speed Cameras

Chicago is the red-light camera capital of the U.S., with 383 cameras shooting video and still photographs at 190 intersections around the city, research shows. The fines amount to more than $60 million in a typical year.

"It's just an added tax — this is another way to generate revenue," Hinton said. "What was it? $61 million in 2010? It's unreal for them to present it as a safety measure and reap the benefits of that revenue."

Portugal's Central Bank Forecasts Deeper Downturn

Portugal's central bank on Tuesday forecast a deeper slump this year than it predicted two months ago but said the economy will likely start improving by the end of the year and return to growth in 2014.

The Bank of Portugal now expects the economy to contract 1.9% this year, more than the 1.6% it forecast in November. It revised export growth downward to 2% from 5%.

Geithner expects debt ceiling breach in February or March

In a letter to Congress on Monday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said his department is already taking "extraordinary measures" to avoid breaching the $16.4 trillion debt limit.

"Treasury currently expects to exhaust these extraordinary measures between mid-February and early March of this year," Geithner wrote. "We will provide a more narrow range with a more targeted estimate at a later date."

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The Middle Class Squeeze

New reports out today from AARP and its Public Policy Institute underscore how the tough economy has taken a toll on the middle class, including those over age 50.

The group says today’s workers are much less likely to enjoy a secure retirement, let alone the kind of retirement that their parents or grandparents enjoyed. They say these workers have seen their incomes fall, their savings shrink, and have gone deeper in debt.


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Digital Money

Well I had nightmares about million, billions, and trillions last night. Since electronic data is just ones and zeros translating into a financial number of a trillion dollars was so large it was like the planet was being smothered by tribbles.

Greg Hunter at "usawatchdog.com" has a couple of good interviews. (Greg did say that the substance in the punch bowl is "poisen".) Catherine A Fitts and Dr. (Professor) Kitlikoff are the guests, would love to hear them with Chris as well.

AK Granny

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Natural gas, oil prices: why the long-term forecasts are wrong

Here's the short version of why forecasts of low long-term oil and natural gas prices are almost certainly wrong: It costs more than that to get the stuff out of the ground. Only two things could actually lead to low long-term prices: 1) Somebody could invent and deploy some genuinely brand new technology that makes it really cheap once again to get oil and gas out of the ground or 2) we could have a deep and grinding deflationary depression that brings demand for oil and natural gas down so much that prices collapse.

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Another monster storm

This one is headed towards Alaska. The winter time equivalent of a Cat 4 hurricane


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US Oil Rig Count Declining

US Oil Rig Count Declining - chart - Given the very high decline rates of the shale-oil plays that most of these rigs are drilling in, it seems this means that the US oil production increase will also have to slow sharply or stop in 2013/2014.  Unless the rig count starts increasing again - it's not clear to me why it stopped, so it's hard to say whether or not the climb will resume.


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