99ers Legislation Blocked In Senate – Legislation by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to help the "99ers" — unemployed people who’ve exhausted the 99 weeks of unemployment insurance available in some states — failed in the Senate on Wednesday, to nobody’s surprise. Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) objected to Stabenow’s unanimous consent request. Stabenow’s bill would have provided an additional 20 weeks of benefits in states where the unemployment rate is above 7.5 percent, and it would have boosted a tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed workers. Stabenow said she wanted the bill to be designated "emergency spending" and exempt from "pay-as-you-go" rules, as is customarily the case with unemployment benefits. "The reality for us in America is that we will never get out of debt with more than 15 million people out of work," said Stabenow. "So when folks talk about the deficit and leaving the deficit for our children, we will never get out of debt had this country until people get back to work, until they have good-paying jobs, and in between times, we will not move this economy forward until we are helping people be able to keep going in this recession."
$27.5m Because The Feds Don’t Like the Font…..New York City will change the lettering on every single street sign – at an estimated cost of about $27.5 million – because the feds don’t like the font. Street names will change from all capital letters to a combination of upper and lower case on roads across the country thanks to the pricey federal regulation (see photo above). MADISON AVE. will become Madison Ave. and will be printed in a font called Clearview, the city Department of Transportation says. The Federal Highway Administration says the switch will improve safety because drivers identify the words more quickly when they’re displayed that way – and can sooner return their eyes to the road. from NY Daily News
The Donkey in the China Shop – President Obama has just issued a blackmail to Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China: “You immediately revalue the yuan or else…”Surely, this is a most unseemly use to which the sacred grounds of the Security Council, dedicated as it is to the maintenance of peace and prevention of war, have ever been put. The reason given for Obama’s most unusual procedure is that he and his Congressional cohorts are “protecting U.S. interests: American jobs and American competitiveness”. Of course, Obama would never pay the blackmail if China wanted to force upon the U.S. an unpalatable dollar-policy, e.g., demand that the dollar be immediately put back on a gold standard on the theory that the present dispute would not have arisen if the dollar were gold redeemable as it had been before Nixon’s default. Obama has grossly overplayed a very weak hand. The U.S. has never been in a weaker bargaining position. All the trump cards are in the Chinese hand.
End the Credit Rating Addiction – IMFdirect – One of the earliest take aways from the global financial crisis was the importance of access to information for effectively functioning financial markets. And, in that regard, credit ratings can serve an incredibly useful role in global and domestic financial markets—in theory In practice, credit ratings have inadvertently contributed to financial instability—in financial markets during the recent global crisis and more recently with regard to sovereign debt. To be fair, the problem does not lie entirely with the ratings themselves, but with overreliance on ratings by both borrowers and creditors.In one of the background papers for the Fall 2010 Global Financial Stability Report that I prepared with IMF colleagues, we recommend that regulators should reduce their reliance on credit ratings. Markets need to end their addiction to credit ratings
Where Does the Laffer Curve Bend – A while back, Dylan Matthews asked where the Laffer Curve bends. A few numbers were thrown out. I would tend to estimate something around 70%. However, I want to talk Laffer Curve Theory for a minute. So leaving behind for a moment the important issues of avoidance and evasion it’s key to remember that there is no particular reason to think taxes in and of themselves have any impact on people’s incentives. What matters is the net of tax return to the activity, working, saving, etc. So suppose that for whatever macro-economic reasons the return to being a hedge fund manager has increased 2 fold over the last 10 years. Now suppose that I raise that hedge fund manager’s total marginal tax rate from 44% (including state and local) to 72%, so that her take home ratio falls from 56% to 28%. Even though I have radically increased her taxes, her return to work is essentially the same as it was a decade ago. If a decade ago it made sense to become a hedge fund manager and work 90 hours a week, it will still make sense today.
Ireland: A problem soon to be shared – Small countries shouldn’t make gigantic bets. That’s the lesson that Iceland learned early. When the crisis hit, the country’s three largest banks had foreign debts worth more than six times the country’s GDP. There was never any prospect of Iceland’s taxpayers covering that lot – and they didn’t. In Ireland, the decision was less clear-cut. There was always the possibility – however slim – that the Irish economy would be able to come through the crisis without stiffing the foreign creditors that lent the country the equivalent of five times its annual GDP. So, Dublin has had a slow-motion crisis rather than an Icelandic bonfire of the creditors – and Ireland’s roughly 2 million taxpayers are picking up the tab for tens of billions of misplaced private bets. But, as the finance minister Brian Lenihan knows well, Ireland has one crucial advantage which Iceland lacked. It is a member of the euro. That means its problems are also the eurozone’s. It also means that the European Central Bank (ECB) – and other eurozone governments – will have a big say in where Ireland goes from here.
McDonald’s Health Plan ObamaCare Casualty? – Among the unintended but not unforeseen consequences of the new health care law is that companies who were previously offering some health coverage may stop altogether. WSJ reports that McDonald’s may do just that. McDonald’s Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul. The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers’ health plans as the law ripples through the real world.
How progressive ideology is holding back the healthy schools movement – If integrating a school garden into curriculum can help teach kids subject matter better and get them to eat healthier, then I’m all for it. Likewise, I think improving school lunches and making them healthier are something worth spending money on. People like TV chef Jaime Oliver and school garden maven Alice Waters who are working to push these issues into mainstream deserve praise. Unfortunately, it seems that these genuinely useful policies and programs are being bogged down with wasteful progressive ideas.
Women Confront Deficit Commission Over Social Security – Last month Former Senator and Deficit Commission co-chair Alan Simpson said this about Social Security, and by extension about government itself, "We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits!" Nice. We work and pay into Social Security all our lives, we pay our taxes, but when it comes time to retire our leaders say we’re nothing more than freeloaders sucking off the tits of the "milk cow." The Deficit Commission is meeting today and the National Organization for Women showed up and delivered 1,500 nipples to Simpson’s commission. They called it "1500 Tits for an Ass."
Unemployment, Economy Forcing Savers To Give Up $5 Billion A Year – Savers are giving up $5 billion in annual income as concerns about the dampening recovery and increasing unemployment push the prudent to keep their money in cash and away from investments, new research shows. Over the past year, consumers moved $542 billion from certificates of deposit to money market deposit accounts, according to Market Rates Insight, a San Anselmo, Calif.-based data provider. Representing about one-fifth of the $2.6 trillion savers have in CDs, the shift from investments that offer a fixed rate of return over a specific time period to near-zero-yielding money market accounts is a reflection of the dour economy and the fear and uncertainty that it breeds, analysts said. The average CD yielded 1.15 percent in August. The average money market account yielded 0.31 percent, or about a quarter of the average CD, according to the California-based researcher. Applied to $542 billion, the difference in interest over the course of a year equals about $5 billion in lost annual income.