Friday, July 23, 2010
And after Labor Day, Fred Rozell, director of Retail Pricing at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), sees prices retreating from summer levels. Because crude prices remain relatively steady and the economy looks like it's "going to be in malaise for quite some time," Rozell says, "I would suspect after the hurricane season you'll see prices decrease. I don't think they'll get as low as $2, but they could get down to around $2.20 or $2.30."
Still, whether costs dip or not, gasoline is a downright bargain for Americans compared to what many of our overseas neighbors pay. Even in the Western U.S., where gas prices are now running at nearly $3.50 a gallon, they'd still be the envy of many drivers in big cities across the globe. (more)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2010
President Obama signed a six-month extension of emergency jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed on Thursday, restoring aid to nearly 3 million people whose checks have been cut off since the program expired in early June.
The White House signing ceremony came barely three hours after the House approved the $34 billion measure on a vote of 272 to 152. The Senate passed the measure Wednesday after a months-long stalemate.
"Americans who are fighting to find a good job and support their families will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times," Obama said in a statement. He called on Congress to swiftly approve additional measures to create jobs and bolster the sluggish recovery, including a package of small-business incentives that faced a battery of GOP objections in the Senate late Thursday. (more)
Stocks and other assets with greater exposure to risk fell, while U.S. Treasurys gained sharply as Bernanke delivered his much-awaited semiannual address to Congress, describing the economic outlook as "unusually uncertain."
The Fed chairman reiterated the central bank's official view that interest rates would stay near zero for "an extended period." But although he stressed that it is "prepared to take further policy actions as needed to foster a return to full utilization of our nation's productive potential," he offered no new policy options for reversing the recent slowdown in the U.S. economic recovery.
In answer to senators' questions, Bernanke later explored the possibility of further stimulus measures "if the recovery seems to be faltering," but in failing to address this in his prepared remarks he left investors disappointed. (more)
Almost one in five Americans are estimated to be insecure in 2010, compared with less than one in eight in 1985, according to the report from the New York-based philanthropy Rockefeller Foundation, and Jacob Hacker, a political science professor at Yale University.
"There is a clear long-term upward trend in the economic insecurity of American families," Hacker said in a statement.
"And while economic insecurity is substantially higher for less affluent and educated Americans than for other groups, it has risen across virtually all parts of American society -- it's an issue squarely confronting the American middle class." (more)
Some companies operating in U.S. waters off the Gulf Coast pulled nonessential workers on forecasts a tropical depression off the Bahamas could become a storm over the next 12 hours.
Forecasts call for the storm to pass over key oil and natural gas production areas before making landfall in Louisiana or Texas in four days.
All of the weather models forecast the depression to skirt south of Florida and move northwest across the oil producing central Gulf of Mexico before hitting the coast of Louisiana or Texas.
U.S. crude oil for September delivery settled up $2.74, or 3.58 percent, at $79.30 a barrel, the highest settlement since May 5. Trading ranged from $76.16 to $79.42, highest intraday peak since prices reached $80.39 on May 6, and breaking through key resistance in afternoon activity. (more)
The three companies below don't have the highest dividend yields among S&P 500 index members, however, they have announced the largest increases, committing to spend 25% to 50% more than they had been. (more)
One of the first things people change as they emerge from poverty is their diet. They move toward more meat and a greater variety of fruits and vegetables. So while we may wonder about how many cars or toasters the brave new world's top consumers will want, we know for sure they'll eat more food.
But the web of food production shivers and shakes in the short term in response to economic pressures. Farmers cut back - like everybody else - in 2008 and 2009. One of the things they cut back on was fertilizer. They used 30-40% less potash than usual, for instance. Potash, a key fertilizer ingredient, saw six consecutive quarters of falling volumes.
Farmers ran down their inventories. All that deferred buying pushed North American potash inventories below their five-year averages - first time that's happened since November 2008. In some cases, farmers didn't apply potash at all. Potash stays in the soil for up to two years, so you can skip applications. But you can do that for only so long. (more)
Mish: Ponzi "Shark Loans" Fuel China's Housing Bubble; Home Sales Plunge 44% in Xiamen; Bubble Busts in Tianjin
In China's case, the pool of fools is heavily involved in "loan shark" schemes where speculators hope property values rise fast enough to cover the interest.
Ponzi Loan Shark Operations Fuel Bubble
Please consider The Secret Engine Behind China’s Housing Bubble- The Ponzi Shark Loan Finance
This is how this Ponzi scheme works: (more)
Through the end of this year, the federal estate tax rate is zero — thanks to the package of broad-based tax cuts that President Bush pushed through to get the economy going earlier in the decade.
But as of midnight Dec. 31, the death tax returns — at a rate of 55% on estates of $1 million or more. The effect this will have on hospital life-support systems is already a matter of conjecture. (more)
Ford /quotes/comstock/13*!f/quotes/nls/f (F 12.21, +0.12, +0.99%) is expected to report earnings of 40 cents per share and revenue of $29.5 billion for the second quarter of 2010, according to Fact Set.
Honeywell /quotes/comstock/13*!hon/quotes/nls/hon (HON 42.50, -0.16, -0.38%) is expected to report earnings of 57 cents per share and revenue of $8 billion for the second quarter of 2010.
Verizon /quotes/comstock/13*!vz/quotes/nls/vz (VZ 27.10, +0.10, +0.37%) is expected to report earnings of 56 cents per share and revenue of $27 billion for the second quarter of 2010.
Amazon /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 106.88, -13.19, -10.99%) reported a strong gain in net earnings for the second quarter on Thursday, but the final results missed Wall Street's estimates thanks to higher-than-expected costs for the period. The company said it earned $207 million, or 45 cents a share, for the period ended June 30. The online retailer saw its shares take a big hit in after-hours trading, falling by 14%, following the results. (more)