Stand up against the penny

 Portugal making private placement of bonds (Reuters) – Portugal is in the process of making a private placement of bonds to diversify its investor base, the finance ministry said on Friday without giving any details of the operation. "I can confirm that an operation is taking place but we will make no comment about the buyer," a spokeswoman at the finance ministry told Reuters when asked about market talk that China could be buying Portuguese bonds. Portugal is viewed by many economists as the peripheral euro zone country that is most likely to follow Ireland and Greece to seek an international bailout as it grapples to cut its debts and borrowing costs.
 

ActivistPost: Food Emergency: Millions of Americans Are Heading to Foodbanks for the First Time in Their Lives – The good news is there’s no reason anyone should ever starve to death in America. The bad news is more and more working Americans, many earning what were once middle class incomes, are spending their time and scarce money to find their next meal.

"We’re seeing a large number of families that have never needed food assistance before," reports Traore.  Here’s the surprise: a large portion of the people needing food assistance today are working, and especially among FBSJ’s new clients, many are earning incomes nearly twice the

poverty line

of $22,055 per year for a family of four (up to 185% of poverty).

Who are the hungry and why can’t they afford to feed themselves and their families? Increasingly, the shocking answer is this: If you are not financially independent, the odds are good that someday you could be waiting in line to feed yourself and your family.

CNN: Louisiana officials: Parts of coastline still heavily oiled – video – More than eight months after an oil rig explosion launched the biggest oil disaster in U.S. history, Louisiana officials say they’re still finding thick layers of oil along parts of the state’s coastline. On Friday, Robert Barham, secretary of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, joined Nungesser on a tour of portion of Louisiana’s coastline still heavily oiled by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to a statement from the wildlife and fisheries department.  "It has been eight months since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, and five months since the well was capped. While workers along the coast dedicated themselves to cleaning up our shores there is still so much to be done," Barham said in the statement.

MercuryNews: Jerry Brown’s to-do list really begins after shock-and-awe Monday – By all accounts, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday will roll out a budget with "shock and awe” cuts and reveal his plan for the most radical restructuring of California government since the passage of tax-slashing Proposition 13 turned the Capitol upside down more than 30 years ago. But Monday will be the easy part. The hard part comes over the next couple of months as Brown tries to sell his vision and build a bipartisan alliance, convincing all sides that the worst thing they can do now is fight to keep the status quo as California’s financial train rumbles toward the cliff. So, what’s on Jerry Brown’s to-do list to save California? There are the obvious biggies: persuading Democrats to swallow massive cuts to treasured social programs to close a $28.1 billion deficit; convincing Republicans to support placing a measure on the June ballot to extend "temporary” tax hikes; and winning over voters who have already shot down extending those hikes.

TheDailyBail: BOMBSHELL: Check Out This Industry Catalog And Price Sheet For FABRICATED Foreclosure Documents – You wanted concrete proof of widespread lost mortgage documentation?  Feast your eyes upon this. A foreclosure lawyer sent this little beauty by email.  I had no idea the market was so robust for missing mortgage documents.  And apparently there is inflation within the foreclosure fabrication circles.  Prices to replace missing documents keep going up…;-)

 

Peacockery – Krugman – Greg Ip is too kind in this article, in which he questions why Paul Ryan should have received an award for fiscal responsibility. Ip makes it out as if Ryan is a former good guy who has fallen astray; but there was never any reason to take his claims of being a deficit hawk seriously. In particular, why would anyone consider a plan to replace Medicare fee-for-service with vouchers an effective way to curb future expenses? We’ve already done that: it’s called Medicare Advantage. And it has been a fiscal disaster: instead of unleashing the magic of the marketplace to reduce costs, it has ended up being a serious drain on the budget. Now, Ryan created apparent savings by coupling a plan for vouchers with an arbitrary limit on the size of these vouchers.  But what happens when it turns out that the vouchers aren’t enough to buy adequate insurance? The point is that it takes more to be serious about deficits than to scribble down some numbers and claim that you’re being tough. Tell me what you’re actually going to cut and/or how you’re going to raise more revenue, and then let’s talk.
 
Greenspan Warns of Risks From U.S. Debt – Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said the U.S. could face a bond-market crisis if politicians don’t act soon to start cutting the nation’s debt. In an interview with Kelly Evans, Alan Greenspan discusses the dangers of current fiscal policy while challening his critics to prove him wrong on any decision he made as Fed Chairman. In an interview Friday with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Greenspan said that eventually Congress would pass a budget that includes many proposals by a White House debt-reduction panel. "I think that the type of budget agreement that was put together by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles is the type of budget that will be passed by Congress," Mr. Greenspan said. "The only question is, will it be before or after the bond-market crisis."
 
BP to Cut Alaskan Oil Production –  The company that operates the Trans Alaska Pipeline told operators on the North Slope to cut crude production by 95%, after discovering an oil leak. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.’s order was a big blow for BP PLC, the largest oil producer in Alaska. The centerpiece of BP’s operations in the state is at Prudhoe Bay, the largest producing oil field in the U.S.  The North Slope of Alaska produces about 630,000 barrels of oil a day—about 9% of total U.S. output. BP accounts for nearly two-thirds of that. The order affects BP and other producers, such as ConocoPhillips. Alyeska is jointly owned by BP, Conoco, Exxon Mobil Corp, Unocal Corp. and Koch Industries. BP spokesman Steve Rinehart called the incident a "significant event."
 
Combating Peak Oil with Wind and Smarter Electric Power – We spend a lot of time on this site discussing the risks posed by Peak Oil. It’s important to us that you understand the magnitude of our national/global predicament and take appropriate preparations. But in addition to tracking the gathering stormclouds (of which there are many), our info scouting efforts also look for developments with potential to change the situation positively. In the podcast below, Chris and Willett Kempton explore the potential of wind power to reduce the energy pinch threat posed by depleting fossil fuels. Dr. Kempton is an electrical engineering professor at the University of Delaware and director of the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration. Turns out, while still early in the game, there’s action going on in wind and electricity-management that offers real promise.
 
The Bill Daley Problem – Until this week, Bill Daley was on the top operating committee at JP Morgan Chase.  His bank – along with the other largest U.S. banks – have far too little equity and far too much debt relative to that thin level of equity; this makes them highly dangerous from a social point of view.  These banks have captured the hearts and minds of top regulators and most of the political class (across the spectrum), most recently with completely specious arguments about why banks cannot be compelled to operate more safely.  Top bankers, like Mr. Daley’s former colleagues, are intent of becoming more global – despite the fact that (or perhaps because) we cannot handle the failure of massive global banks.  The system that led to the crisis of 2008, and the recession that has so severely damaged so many Americans, encouraged excessive risk-taking by major private sector financial institutions and, yes, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other Government Sponsored Enterprises (although these were most definitely not the major drivers of the crisis
 

A Tale of 2 Employment Surveys, at a Glance – The unemployment rate fell sharply last month, to 9.4 percent from 9.8 percent in November, yet employers didn’t add that many jobs. So why did the rate fall so much? It’s because of the way the government calculates who’s employed and who isn’t. The government does two employment surveys each month. One is called the payroll survey. It asks companies and government agencies how many people they employ. This survey produces the number of jobs gained or lost during the month. In December, the payroll survey showed a net gain of 103,000 jobs. That was higher than November’s 71,000 total but below October’s 210,000. The other is called the household survey. Government workers ask households about the employment status of adults living there. Those without jobs are asked whether they’re looking for one. If they’re not, they’re no longer considered part of the work force and aren’t counted as unemployed. The household survey produces the unemployment rate each month. The number of unemployed fell by 556,000 to 14.5 million last month, according to the household survey. Slightly more than half, or 297,000, of those people said they had found jobs. That’s many more than the 103,000 new jobs that employers said they created. .

 
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