Posts Tagged ‘budgets’

State Bankruptcy Option Is Sought, Quietly – NYTimes.com

A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens

By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH, NY Times

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.

Continue here: State Bankruptcy Option Is Sought, Quietly – NYTimes.com.


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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.

Source:

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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Phil's Favorites

How high will unemployment go? During the Great Depression, 1 in 4 Americans were out of work

 

How high will unemployment go? During the Great Depression, 1 in 4 Americans were out of work

Unemployed people wait outside a government office in NYC in 1933. AP Photo

By Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University

CC BY-ND

The U.S. unemployment rate climbed from a half-century low of 3.5% to 4.4% in March – and is expected to go a lot higher.

But could the rate, as ...



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Zero Hedge

Mysterious Colorado Doomsday Shelter For When "Law & Order Breaks Down" Sees Spike In Interest

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

As the pandemic unfolds across the US, city dwellers are getting the hell out of dodge and escaping to rural areas. We noted this last week, with many leaving large metro areas in California, fleeing for the mountains and rural communities to limit their probabilities of ...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Why wear face masks in public? Here's what the research shows

 

Why wear face masks in public? Here's what the research shows

People have resorted to using scarves and bandanas as face masks to protect against spreading coronavirus. While cloth masks aren’t as effective as surgical masks, research suggests they can limit the spread of droplets. Jens Schleuter/Getty Images

Hector Chapa, Texas A&M University

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social...



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ValueWalk

Junior gold stocks offer a place of refuge in a falling market

By Michelle Jones. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Junior gold stocks have taken a beating alongside other stocks, but history suggests this could be the time to dive in. The Vaneck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF is down from where it was in February, although it’s starting to show signs that it could revive soon.

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Crescat likes junior gold stocks

In their March update to investors, Crescat Capital said junior gold stocks retested the lows of a nine-year bear market. ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Depression Coming or Is the Bottom Already In? Joe Friday Says Your Answer Lies Here!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Are we headed towards a Depression or is the worst already behind us? In today’s world, comparisons to the great depression are easy to find.

Are the Depression concerns well founded or are the declines of late already pricing in a bottom?

In my humble opinion, this chart and the upcoming price action of this index will go miles and miles towards telling us if we are headed towards very tough times or if the huge declines of late are actually in a bottoming process.

This chart looks at the Thomson Reuters Equal Weighted Commodity Index on a monthly basis over the past 54 years. The index has been heading south, reflecting weakness in demand for basi...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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The Technical Traders

Founder of TradersWorld Magazine Issued Special Report for Free

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Larry Jacobs owner and editor of TradersWorld magazine published a free special report with his top article and market forecast to his readers yesterday.

What is really exciting is that this forecast for all assets has played out exactly as expected from the stock market crash within his time window to the gold rally, and sharp sell-off. These forecasts have just gotten started the recent moves were only the first part of his price forecasts.

There is only one article in this special supplement, click on the image or link below to download and read it today!

...

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Chart School

Big moving Averages and macro investment decisions

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

When price is falling every one wonders where demand will come in.


RTT black screen Tv videos study the simplest measure of price (simple moving average). What has happen before guides us now. 














Changes in the world is the source of all market moves, to catch and ride the change we believe a combination of Gann Angles, ...

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Members' Corner

10 ways to spot online misinformation

 

10 ways to spot online misinformation

When you share information online, do it responsibly. Sitthiphong/Getty Images

Courtesy of H. Colleen Sinclair, Mississippi State University

Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections.

Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where people’s limited attention spans push them to ...



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Digital Currencies

While coronavirus rages, bitcoin has made a leap towards the mainstream

 

While coronavirus rages, bitcoin has made a leap towards the mainstream

Get used to it. Anastasiia Bakai

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

Anyone holding bitcoin would have watched the market with alarm in recent weeks. The virtual currency, whose price other cryptocurrencies like ethereum and litecoin largely follow, plummeted from more than US$10,000 (£8,206) in mid-February to briefly below US$4,000 on March 13. Despite recovering to the mid-US$6,000s at the time of writin...



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Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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