Archives for FUBAR

Consumers seem willing to shop again

Consumers may be slowly regaining their appetite to shop, as the prices they encounter in stores remain low. One benefit of the recession is that inflation is nowhere to be seen, as consumer prices have barely grown in months. Rising unemployment, stagnant wages and tight credit have restrained consumer demand, making it difficult for retailers to raise prices. Most economists expect that pattern to continue when the Labor Department on Thursday reports the September Consumer Price Index. Economists forecast that consumer prices rose just 0.2 percent in September, after a 0.4 percent gain in August and a flat reading in July.
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Foreclosures rise another five percent

The number of households caught up in the foreclosure crisis rose more than 5 percent from summer to fall as a federal effort to assist struggling borrowers was overwhelmed by a flood of defaults among people who lost their jobs. The foreclosure crisis affected nearly 938,000 properties in the July-September quarter, compared with about 890,000 in the prior three months, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac Inc. That puts foreclosure-related filings on a pace to hit about 3.5 million this year, up from more than 2.3 million last year.
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It’s official: No COLA for Social Security

The Social Security Administration makes it official Thursday: There will be no cost of living increase for Social Security recipients next year, the first year without one since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. The announcement comes as President Barack Obama and key members of Congress call for a second round of $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors, veterans, retired railroad workers and people with disabilities. The payments would be equal to about a 2 percent increase for the average Social Security recipient. The cost: $13 billion. Obama called on Congress Wednesday to approve the payments, and several key members of Congress said they would.
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Insurance costs will rise in 2010

As health care "reform" lumbers it way towards an uncertain fate in the halls of Congress, one reality remains certain for Americans who still have health insurance: They will pay more for coverage in 2010. Employers, faced with rising costs for health plans, are increasing the share employees must pay and those with pay the full cost of insurance will find sticker shock as insurers send out their new rates.
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Health care industry: From ally to enemy

President Barack Obama openly courted the health insurance industry as he attempted to craft a coalition to craft a health care reform bill. But that industry turned out to be the wolf in the hen house, keeping its powder dry and waiting for the right time to try and torpedo any serious attempt at reforming the system that provides them with huge profits while saddling Americans with crippling costs.
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Still on the job but working & earning less

Those lucky enough to still have jobs don't necessarily have it made. Many face wage cuts, demotions to lower-paying positions or reductions in the numbers of hours they work. The New York Times says airline captains now fly as first officers, a reduction not only in rank but in pay -- as much as 50 percent less. Hourly workers find themselves cut from full-time to part-time and some face loss in benefits as well. It's the new economy and one where such cutbacks are the worst since the great depression. Less work means less money which translates into less buying power and and a resulting impact on the economy.
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Health care report may backfire on industry

In the health care reform debate, where playing nice has been the rule, a scathing insurance industry report looked to critics Monday like a grenade aimed at scuttling progress in Congress. But it also looked to some like too little, too late. Not only did the report land many months into the debate — with Democrats on the cusp of passing bills through five committees — it infuriated some of the very people the industry group hoped to influence. “I don’t view the impact of the report as a bill-stopper as much as a bill-changer,” said Robert Blendon, a health policy pollster and political analyst at Harvard University. “The momentum is way too far [in favor of passing a reform bill], and there is a sense out there that something has to be done.”
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A continued U.S. failure in Afghanistan

Even as President Obama leads an intense debate over whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, administration officials say the United States is falling far short of his goals to fight the country’s endemic corruption, create a functioning government and legal system and train a police force currently riddled with incompetence. Interviews with senior administration and military officials and recent reports assessing Afghanistan’s progress show that nearly seven months after Mr. Obama announced a stepped-up civilian effort to bolster his deployment of 17,000 additional American troops, many civil institutions are deteriorating as much as the country’s security.
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Unemployed grads: A bright, lost generation

Bright, eager—and unwanted. While unemployment is ravaging just about every part of the global workforce, the most enduring harm is being done to young people who can't grab onto the first rung of the career ladder. Affected are a range of young people, from high school dropouts, to college grads, to newly minted lawyers and MBAs across the developed world from Britain to Japan. One indication: In the U.S., the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has climbed to more than 18%, from 13% a year ago.
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Insurance report undercuts health care claims

A report commissioned by America's Health Insurance Plans says the Senate Finance Committee legislation will cause health care costs to go up faster than under the current system. The report, which was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, has caused some buzz among Hill GOP aides and infuriated the Obama White House. The report will drop ahead of a crucial vote on the bill Tuesday in the Finance Committee, and could figure into the discussion there. At the very least, expect to hear a lot more about the report from Republicans, who are looking to slow any kind of momentum for the Democratic health care reform proposals after the Congressional Budget Office's positive analysis last week.
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