Posts Tagged ‘budgets’

State Bankruptcy Option Is Sought, Quietly –

A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens


Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.

But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.

Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides.

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How Brazil Can Defend Against Financialization

How Brazil Can Defend Against Financialization

and Keep Its Economic Surplus for Itself

restorer works in the undergrounds of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy on June 2010. Rome's Colosseum, soon to open its arena, underground and highest level after extensive restoration. For the first time tourists will be able to visit the underground, where gladiators once prepared for fights and lions and tigers were caged before entertaining a bloodthirsty public. Restorers have been hard at work cleaning and restoring travertine columns and ancient bricks. Rome's Colosseum, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire was completed in 80 AD with a capacity of up to 75,000 spectators. It was mainly used as a venue for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. Photo by Eric Vandeville/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

Courtesy of Michael Hudson

CDES Conference, Brasilia, September 17, 2010

I would like to place this seminar’s topic, ‘Global Governance,’in the context of global control, which is what ‘governance’ is mainly about. The word (from Latin gubernari, cognate to the Greek root kyber) means ‘steering’. The question is, toward what goal is the world economy steering?

That obviously depends on who is doing the steering. It almost always has been the most powerful nations that organize the world in ways that transfer income and property to themselves. From the Roman Empire through modern Europe such transfers took mainly the form of military seizure and tribute. The Norman conquerors endowed themselves as a landed aristocracy extracting rent from the populace, as did the Nordic conquerors of France and other countries. Europe later took resources by colonial conquest, increasingly via local client oligarchies.

The post-1945 mode of global integration has outlived its early promise. It has become exploitative rather than supportive of capital investment, public infrastructure and living standards.

In the sphere of trade, countries need to rebuild their self-sufficiency in food grains and other basic needs. In the financial sphere, the ability of banks to create credit (loans) at almost no cost on their computer keyboards has led North America and Europe to become debt ridden, and now seeks to move into Brazil and other BRIC countries by financing buyouts or lending against their natural resources, real estate, basic infrastructure and industry. Speculators, arbitrageurs and financial institutions using “free money” see these economies as easy pickings. But by obliging countries to defend themselves financially, their predatory credit creation is ending the era of free capital movements.

Does Brazil really need inflows of foreign credit for domestic spending when it can create this at home? Foreign lending ends up in its central bank, which invests its reserves in US Treasury and Euro bonds that yield low returns and whose international value is likely to decline against the BRIC currencies. So accepting credit and buyout “capital inflows” from the North provides a “free lunch” for key-currency issuers of dollars and Euros, but does not help local economies much.

The natural history of debt and financialization

Today, financial maneuvering and debt leverage play the role that military conquest did in times past. Its aim is still…
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Munis About to Blow Up

Munis About to Blow Up

Courtesy of John Rubino at Dollar Collapse and TIME 

So I’m sitting here trying to turn a pile of (mostly terrifying) data on muni bonds into a post that explains why this is the next domino to fall, and here comes Time Magazine with a feature on that subject:

Municipal Bonds: The Next Financial Land Mine?

As Wall Street nervously watches the sovereign debt crisis unfold in Greece, another potential landmine is looming closer to home, one that could bring U.S. cities and towns to their knees, force the federal government to cough up another bailout package, and potentially send the unemployment rate much higher. The danger this time? Municipal debt.

State and local governments are frantically scrambling to meet budget shortfalls as high unemployment and shaky consumer confidence mean less income tax and smaller sales tax revenue for government coffers. At the same time, falling home prices and rising foreclosures will start to hit municipalities hard this year as all those property reassessments done over the past 18 months kick in.

A couple of municipalities, such as Los Angeles and Detroit, have even whispered the “B” word. Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan argued in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that the city will likely have little choice but to declare bankruptcy between now and 2014. Also, several smaller markets, such as Harrisburg, Pa., and Jefferson County, Ala., have openly talked about filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy — a reorganization available only to municipalities.

In general, municipalities try to avoid Chapter 9 filings. Although such filings make it easier for a city to break onerous labor contracts or make other politically tough cost cuts, they can have hidden costs, such as distracting politicians, alienating business and making it more difficult for a city to raise cash in the capital markets going forward. The city of Vallejo, Calif., for example, has been in Chapter 9 since spring 2008, and observers say the process has been costly and hurt the city’s ability to attract new business. “It’s been two years and the case is still going on and there’s still significant disputes with the unions,” says Eric Schaffer, a partner at Reed Smith LLP. “Ultimately you hope to bring everybody to the table and share the pain, but that can be a messy

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this is how the end begins

this is how the end begins

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker

This what the end will look like, at least the beginning of the end.

Let’s use the suburban sprawl-community of Colorado Springs as an example…

From the Denver Post:

COLORADO SPRINGS — This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won’t pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.

"I guess we’re going to find out what the tolerance level is for people," said businessman Chuck Fowler.

By all means, keep trading stocks and flipping real estate and eating Chipotle and watching 24.  Everything is fine.


Colorado Springs Cuts Into Services Considered Basic By Some (Denver Post)


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Escalating Pension Crisis Will Bankrupt San Diego

Escalating Pension Crisis Will Bankrupt San Diego

Courtesy of Mish

Telescope at a lookout point, San Diego Bay, Coronado Island, San Diego, California, USA

The pension crisis is affecting budgets in city after city and in ever increasing amounts. Please consider the latest in San Diego: Millions needed for city pensions.

Just when San Diego city officials thought they had closed a $179 million budget gap, another has opened up because more money will be needed to pay for employee pensions.

The city will have to contribute $231.7 million to the retirement fund in the fiscal year that starts in July. That’s up $19 million from the forecast used when the last budget gap was closed in December.

The increase is a result of the fund’s investment losses and more employees signing up for pension benefits because of fears they will be cut.

The higher payment most likely will be funded by cutting more services in the next few months, as opposed to the 18-month balanced budget promised when a deal was reached to reduce library hours, lay off 200 workers and end public-safety programs such as horse-mounted patrols.

“This cutting and reducing is going to go on until somebody takes seriously the solutions for solving the city’s pension mess,” Councilwoman Donna Frye said yesterday.

A new report from the city’s pension system indicates that the city has 66.5 percent of the money it needs to cover promised pensions — the lowest level since 2004. The amount the city lacks to meet its long-term pension liability is $2.1 billion as of June 30, up from $1.3 billion in June 2008.

Frye said she sees a trend of pension obligations gobbling up more of the city’s general fund, which pays for fire, police, parks, libraries and recreation centers. Unless labor unions and the city come together to find solutions, “I believe the city will someday go into bankruptcy,” she said.

Mayor Jerry Sanders has resisted any such suggestion.

San Diego Already Bankrupt

San Diego is already bankrupt, they just don’t know it yet. There is no way it can fund its pension liabilities.

I commend Councilwoman Donna Frye. She should run for mayor.

Tax hikes and fees are not the answer. The core issue is unsustainable pension benefits. The system is broke. Toying around with little cuts here and there will not help. And as bad as…
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Union Battles In Las Vegas, Simi California, Hawaii, Massachusetts

Union Battles In Las Vegas, Simi California, Hawaii, Massachusetts

Courtesy of Mish

Union battles over benefits are starting to appear all over the place. Here are a few stories from the past two days.

USA, Nevada, Las Vegas, The Strip at dusk, elevated view

Las Vegas: City firefighters launch campaign against cutbacks

Las Vegas’ firefighters union has taken a hard stance against the city’s budget cuts, alleging that reductions will hurt emergency responses along with fire insurance rating for homes and businesses.

City officials, meanwhile, said the union is engaging in irresponsible “scare tactics” at a time when the city is facing economic difficulties.

The back-and-forth comes as the city readies for a series of town hall meetings scheduled from January to March to hear resident feedback on what city services are most important.

It also comes as the city is considering back-to-back 8 percent salary rollbacks and freezes for all employees, including firefighters, although a union official declined to comment today on the union’s positions on these wage proposals.

The union has created a Web site as well as a radio advertisement warning that cuts could increase response times, result in fewer people on duty, reduce the city’s ability to respond to disasters and hurt the city’s fire insurance rating, which is at the highest level.

This discussion is just one part of the ongoing wrangling over the city’s budget, which has seen an ever-widening deficit since the economic downturn began.

The city has already cut operating costs, eliminated vacant positions and announced some layoffs. City management has also proposed an 8 percent wage rollback in each of the next two budget years to avoid layoffs, a proposal being evaluated by the unions that represent city workers.

My recommendation to Las Vegas is to declare bankruptcy and let the unions see what they can get in court.

Simi California: Simi, police union agree to contract

The Simi Valley City Council on Wednesday approved a new agreement with the Simi Valley Police Officers’ Association for an 18-month employee contract that includes a 3 percent salary decrease for sworn police officers and sergeants.

The unanimous approval came after the council went into a closed session meeting late Wednesday afternoon with attorneys and representatives from both the city and police association.

Significant provisions of the MOU approved Wednesday include:

For fiscal year 2009-2010, the base

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After California: Which States Are in the Most Peril?

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After California: Which States Are in the Most Peril?

Courtesy of TIME, written by Barbara Kiviat

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger California is the poster child for dysfunctional state finance. A week past the legal deadline for passing a budget, the state has yet to close a $26 billion hole. State workers are — yet again — being told to stay home. The National Park Service is threatening to take back parks it gave to California should the state try to save money by closing them. Taxpayers are getting IOUs in the mail instead of refund checks since there’s no cash to pay them what they’re owed. You can now buy the IOUs on eBay.

California’s crazy budget laws make it an extreme case, but that doesn’t mean it’s alone in financial duress — there are plenty of other states in serious hot water. (See how Americans are spending now.)

All but a handful of states with fiscal years ending on June 30 have taken wrenching steps needed to pass new budgets: mainly, a raft of tax hikes and service cuts. Vermont is shutting down highway rest stops and decimating its Agency of Natural Resources. In Washington, 40,000 people are losing their state-subsidized health care, and public-college tuition could be going up as much as 14%. New Jersey is hiking taxes on high-income earners, cigarette smokers (an extra 12.5 cents a pack) and drinkers (a 25% increase on wine and liquor).

And there could be plenty more pain ahead. Revenues — from income, sales and property taxes — continue to fall. True, states have already plowed through a lot of tough decisions to close the $102 billion shortfall they collectively faced during the last budget cycle. But already it looks like this year’s gap will be $121 billion, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Two of the worst-off states by that count are Alaska and Nevada. Each of them will need to spend 30% more than what state tax officers think they’ll be collecting. And neither has a state income tax, relying on oil and tourism taxes, respectively, for most of their revenues.

Steven Gottlieb / GettyIn other states, however, it’s the extra volatility that comes from dependence on personal-income tax that is exacerbating the problem. Research by economists at the Chicago Fed…
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Zero Hedge

Introducing Yield Purchasing Power

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The monetary debate seems artificially limited. On one side is Federal Reserve policy based on discretion. On the other is policy based on rules. It’s Keynes vs. Friedman. It’s central planning of our economy based on the reactive whims of wise monetary planners vs. central planning of our economy based on the proactive rules written by … wise monetary planners.

On the rules side, there is a sub-debate. Should we have central planning based on unemployment and the Consumer Price Index (as now) or switch to central planning based on another metric such as GDP?

Whether one is on team Keynes or team Friedman, whether one ...

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The Biggest Risk of a Clinton Presidency


The Biggest Risk of a Clinton Presidency

Courtesy of Cullen Roche, Pragmatic Capitalism

Hillary Clinton will be a one term President. The reason I say this is because I suspect that her economic plan will not be very stimulative and I think that four more years of weak economic growth will be intolerable. And the main driver of my thinking here is deeply rooted in Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Back in the late 90’s the US government ran a brief budget surplus. It was heralded as an act of “fiscal responsibility” at the time. Of course, when the economy tanked immediately following the surplus the government was driven back in the red as tax receipts cratered and automatic spending jumped.


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Global Asset Management 3Q16 - Cash is a Capital Allocation Strategy

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Global Asset Management commentary for the quarter ended September 30, 2016.

Also see


Dear Friends,

Year-to-date we’v...

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Market News

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Financial Markets and Economy

The Brexit economy: falling pound and rising inflation fuel fears of slowdown (The Guardian)

The British economy’s post-Brexit vote bounce is losing momentum as the weak pound and higher inflation herald a squeeze in living standards, according to a Guardian analysis.

S&P 500 Skew Unwind Shows Complacency Over Clinton Win: Analysis (Bloomberg)


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Swing trading portfolio - week of October 24th,2016

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Banks- This is putting a smile on this sector

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Historically, when strong bull markets have taken place, Banks go along for the ride. Since the summer of 2014, banks have under performed the broad market by around 12%, as the S&P is just a couple of percent from all-time highs. Are banks about to act healthier and put a smile on this sector, which could help the S&P breakout above the 2,150 level?

Below looks at the Bank Index (BKX)



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Oct 23, 2016

Courtesy of Blain.

The week that was…

A sleepy week indeed as almost all the “action” came out of a gap up Tuesday morning and a gap down Friday morning (which was met with buyers).  Outside of those events, the indexes stuck closely to unchanged most of the week.  Earnings began in earnest but outside of some individual high profile stories it was a lot of beating lowered expectations.

“Despite a couple of good reports, we’re in the midst of another earnings season that is hardly painting a bright picture,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “Having another quarter where profits contract is not an underpinning for stocks to advance, and the market is searching for, if not demanding, a catalyst to move higher. At the moment, one is lackin...

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Members' Corner

The Orlando Massacre Part 3

Courtesy of Nattering Naybob.

A continuation of a Naybob of IT's Natterings from Part 1 and Part 2...

While many Christian churches expressed grief and offered free funeral services for the victims of the Orlando shooting, the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church held an anti-gay protest during the funeral of the victims.

But the Westboro Baptist Church's protest rally was blocked by about 200 people who formed a human barricade on the main street in downtown Orlando, ...

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Mapping The Market

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

Via Jean-Luc

Good article on investing success:

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

By Morgan Housel

There is a reason no Berkshire Hathaway investor chides Buffett when the company has a bad quarter. It’s because Buffett has so thoroughly convinced his investors that it’s pointless to try to navigate around 90-day intervals. He’s done that by writing incredibly lucid letters to investors for the last 50 years, communicating in easy-to-understand language at annual meetings, and speaking on TV in ways that someone with no investing experience can grasp.

Yes, Buffett runs an amazing investment company. But he also runs an amazing investor company. One of the most underappreciated part of his s...

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Digital Currencies

Gold, Silver and Blockchain - Fintech Solutions To Negative Rates, Bail-ins, Currency Debasement and Cashless

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

By Jan Skoyles

I was so pleased yesterday by the announcement that I have joined the Research team at GoldCore as it meant that I could finally start talking about it and was back in a role that lets me indulge in my passion by researching and geeking out on all things gold, silver and money.


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Epizyme - A Waiting Game

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer.  One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."

Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.  

Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.'  Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color).  Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.

To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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