Thursday October 30, 2014 8:21 AM
(Kitco News) - Gold prices are lower and hit a three-week low in early U.S. trading Wednesday. The precious metals are feeling the bearish effects of rally in the U.S. dollar index that was prompted by a hawkish FOMC statement Wednesday afternoon. Silver futures prices hit a four-year low overnight. December Comex gold was last down $21.60 at $1,203.30 an ounce. Spot gold was last quoted down $8.30 at $1,203.75. December Comex silver last traded down $0.594 at $16.67 an ounce.
The market place is still digesting Wednesday afternoon’s FOMC statement that was deemed surprisingly hawkish on U.S. monetary policy. The Fed ended its monthly bond-buying program (quantitative easing), which was expected. However, the FOMC statement emphasized the improving U.S. economy, which led many to believe U.S. interest rates will be raised in 2015. The majority of traders and investors were looking for a dovish lean from the FOMC statement. The U.S. dollar index has posted a solid rally in the wake of the FOMC meeting and hit a three-week high overnight. The greenback is hovering near a four-year high. Meantime, the Euro currency and gold prices slumped on the FOMC statement. U.S. stock indexes sold off a bit on the FOMC news Wednesday, and were under modest pressure in early electronic trading Thursday.
Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.
“They’re going after people who are really not criminals,” said David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. “They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.”
On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by “exceptional circumstances.”
Richard Weber, the chief of Criminal Investigation at the I.R.S., said in a written statement, “This policy update will ensure that C.I. continues to focus our limited investigative resources on identifying and investigating violations within our jurisdiction that closely align with C.I.’s mission and key priorities.” He added that making deposits under $10,000 to evade reporting requirements, called structuring, is still a crime whether the money is from legal or illegal sources. The new policy will not apply to past seizures.
Just a reminder that Paul has an interest in the outcome of this Amazon vs Hachette horse race. While Paul Krugman is not a Hachette author to my knowledge - Paul does sell through Amazon, and his books are mostly textbooks that come with the outrageously inflated prices that most textbooks tend to have. I’d love to read his textbooks (yes, that’s the sort of wonk that I am,) but I sure can’t afford the kindle price for them. Is Paul displaying some unusual self interest here? You be the judge.
If you haven’t been following the recent Amazon news: Back in May a dispute between Amazon and Hachette, a major publishing house, broke out into open commercial warfare. Amazon had been demanding a larger cut of the price of Hachette books it sells; when Hachette balked, Amazon began disrupting the publisher’s sales. Hachette books weren’t banned outright from Amazon’s site, but Amazon began delaying their delivery, raising their prices, and/or steering customers to other publishers.
You might be tempted to say that this is just business — no different from Standard Oil, back in the days before it was broken up, refusing to ship oil via railroads that refused to grant it special discounts. But that is, of course, the point: The robber baron era ended when we as a nation decided that some business tactics were out of line. And the question is whether we want to go back on that decision.
Does Amazon really have robber-baron-type market power? When it comes to books, definitely. Amazon overwhelmingly dominates online book sales, with a market share comparable to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market when it was broken up in 1911. Even if you look at total book sales, Amazon is by far the largest player.
The New York Times
October 17, 2014
BOSTON — Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, said Friday that she was concerned about the growing inequality of wealth and income in the United States and that chances for people to advance economically appeared to be diminishing.
“I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity,” Yellen said.
Speaking at a conference on inequality organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Yellen described four sources of economic opportunity: the means to raise children, access to education, owning a small business and inheritance.
She said recent Fed research showed that those building blocks were increasingly distributed unequally. The share of wealth held by the lower half of households fell to 1 percent in 2013, from 3 percent in 1989, according to the Fed’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, a survey of 6,000 households.
Publicly-funded family planning services help low-income Americans avoid serious health conditions while saving billions of dollars each year, according to a new analysis — benefits that go beyond providing contraception that can prevent unintended pregnancies.
Past research from the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports publicly funded family programs, already found that family planning services helped prevent an estimated 2.2 million unintended pregnancies in 2010, which would have resulted in about 1.1 million unplanned births.
A new Guttmacher report out Tuesday morning finds that the public investment in family planning actually saved taxpayers $13.6 billion in 2010 from the costs of those unintended pregnancies, as well as from other services the programs provide, like testing for sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer.
This is a recovery greater than when Reagan was President? By a few cherry picked measures. but certainly not overall as this study implies.
It’s not just middle-class America that is feeling the crunch of dismal wages and stubborn unemployment levels. Even the corporations that sign the paychecks say workers aren’t making enough money.
Sixty-eight percent of the top 100 retail companies in the U.S. — a group that includes, Walmart, Apple, McDonald’s and J.C. Penney — say the country’s stagnant wages pose a major threat to their bottom lines, according to a new report by the Center For American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.
Researchers analyzed the most recent SEC 10-K filings of the largest 100 retailers in the country and found that more than two-thirds of these corporations issued warnings to investors that profits could be hampered by flat wages, high unemployment and low consumer spending. The trend is hammering companies that target high-income customers, like Whole Foods and Dillard’s, and those that market to low-income shoppers, like Dollar General and T.J. Maxx, according to the report.
The researchers pointed out that only half as many top 100 retailers identified flat wages as a business risk in 2006, the year before the Great Recession.
Ireland’s Ministry of Finance announced that Ireland will phase out its controversial (but legal) tax scheme known as the “Double Irish,” which lets companies, especially tech companies, drastically reduce their overseas tax burden.
“I am abolishing the ability of companies to use the ‘Double Irish’ by changing our residency rules to require all companies registered in Ireland to also be tax resident,” Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement accompanying the government’s new 2015 budget on Tuesday. “This legal change will take effect from the 1st of January 2015 for new companies. For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020.”
The move will affect many tech firms that take advantage of this arrangement such as Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. Last year, for example, Google alone cut billions off of its tax bill.
I’ve seen all these point brought up before but this article is the first I’ve seen that puts them all in one place.
I can attest to the efficacy of providing a person with a decent place to live. I was homeless for a while. Then I lived in a group home. Neither helped the condition that lead to my homelessness.
A few years ago, I got a subsidized apartment. Things have improved enormously for me since then.
By design I may add. Predatory banking, savings and loan, mortgage, medical and now educational practices have helped drag this nation down except for those at the very top who tell you every day how hard it is. So very hard. Rent to own. No credit needed. Pay forever. Payday lending. Bankruptcy forbidden for medical and student debt. Wealth sitting on more money than they can count while stripping staff and benefits and shipping every last job they can offshore. Benefit contracts being torn up daily. Voters rights being trampled. Police militarized beyond recognition. Yellow journalism revived into AM radio and TV “News”. Banks and oil and gas companies and Wall Street pay themselves with your money. A part of our population forever locked into fear and loathing over Muslims, blacks, immigrants, Islam, gays, and now Ebola. Who will protect them? Why your new Kings will, honey. At what point do we, as a nation, wake up? That’s the question.
Democracy, if not in a ditch with a slug in it’s head, is surely in the trunk of the car on the way to the deed.
Last June, Fox & Friends aired a funny segment in which the hosts took seriously a fake social media campaign, supposedly led by feminists, to get rid of Father’s Day. Susan Patton, author of Marry Smart (2014), saw a sinister plot: “They’re not just interested in ending Father’s Day; they’re interested in ending men.”
Host Tucker Carlson added, “There’s a reason there are more women living in poverty now than at any time in my lifetime—it’s because there are fewer married women. I mean, when you crush men, you hurt women.”
Second, Carlson assumes there are more women in poverty now because of single motherhood. Senator Marco Rubio regularly makes the same point. But is it right?