Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 4/1 - The Secret Life Of A Food Stamp, Can CA Farmers Weather Epic Drought?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 9:44 AM

Economy

The Secret Life Of A Food Stamp (jdargis)

One in seven Americans uses food stamps today—that’s more than twice 2000’s number. The fastest-growing group of participants is people like Ballard: people with jobs, who work all year round. Many of these workers are employed by big retail chains that take in tens of billions of dollars in food stamps.

The Budget Box and Containing the Craziness (GE Christenson)

Monetize the bonds. The Fed “prints” a few $Trillion, buys bonds from the Treasury, and government spends. When there are more dollars in circulation, each dollar is worth less and buys a smaller amount of food, gasoline, and other essentials. Gasoline now costs $3.50 to $4.00 when it used to sell for $0.15 – because many more dollars are now in circulation and that means higher prices.

Mark Cuban rips high-frequency trading (Herman J.)

“The risk isn’t so much about the small investor,” he said. “The risk is all these different high-frequency traders playing a game with their algorithms, trying to trick each other, to get in front of each other to make that trade. And because we don’t know all the algorithms, because we don’t know the end factorial, all of the different ways they may interact and the negative consequences that occur as a resul, that introduces a market risk. That market risk has an unquantifiable cost.”

Health Care Signups Reach Frenzy in Final Day to Enroll (jdargis)

Though HealthCare.gov, the federal website, performed markedly better on Monday than on the day it opened, many consumers still struggled to enroll. The site unexpectedly stopped taking applications for several hours early Monday because of a software problem discovered during scheduled maintenance overnight, said Aaron Albright, a spokesman at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency running the site. For at least an hour at midday, the site again thwarted people trying to create accounts so they could buy insurance online.

A new microbe might have accelerated the Great Dying (jdargis)

The end-Permian extinction has generally been blamed on massive volcanic eruptions that took place at the same time. But now in a new analysis, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argue that the mass extinction event may have been instigated by microbes. These microbes led to a perturbation of the carbon cycle that caused environmental shocks, such as global warming and ocean acidification. The shocks wiped out species in great numbers over a period of tens of thousands of years—a blip on geological scales.

Can Organic Farmers Weather California’s Epic Drought? (jdargis)

“It’s important for our customers to know that with grass-fed beef we don’t have a lot of options,” says Fouch. “A lot of guys can send their cattle to feedlots right now and weather it like that but we can’t do that, we just rely on the grass so that’s why our prices may be a little bit more, it’s not as easy as conventional beef.”

Westman echoed Fouch’s concerns about higher prices, and whether consumers will fork out extra dollars during a tough year.

Bacteria Soon to Grow Photovoltaic Cells? (James B.)

MIT researchers observed that there are many biological examples of efficient energy production. While Nature has created efficient energy generation using organic materials humanity has not yet done so, up to now using instead inorganic materials that are frequently inordinately expensive. The MIT research is accordingly seeking a way to engineer living materials so that they can be used to build more effective photovoltaic materials.

Earthship: Radically Sustainable Buildings (JChief)

Earthships can be built in any part of the world and still provide electricity, potable water, contained sewage treatment and sustainable food production. The Most Versatile and Economical sustainable green building design in the world.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 3/31/14

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

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The Secret Life of Food Stamps

One line in that article in particular caught my attention.

"When Walmart announced disappointing profits and store sales last quarter, company executives blamed bad weather and the reduction in SNAP benefits that went into effect in November 2013, after an economic stimulus bill expired."

Reminded me of Chris's posting the other day about companies blaming weather for down profits. Not sure how a few bad weather days affects an entire quarter at a retailer like Walmart, especially in the context of this article. Living in New England I see bad weather as a boon for the grocery business. You say Nor'easter coming and the store shelves empty like food will never be available again!

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