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Industrial Alliance Insur
08 ноября 2013, 16:19

Frontrunning: November 8

Fed Anxiety Rises as QE Raises Risk of Loss With Political Cost (BBG) Iran Nuclear Deal Expected as Early as Friday (WSJ) Israel rejects mooted interim Iran nuclear deal, Kerry heads to talks (Reuters) JPMorgan Banker Backed $200 Million Madoff Loan in 2008 (BBG) Unleashing the food nazis - FDA Says Trans Fats Aren't Safe in Food (WSJ) Draghi Aggression Shows Pledges Backed by Rate Surprise (BBG) S&P Cuts France's Credit Rating by One Notch to Double-A (WSJ) S&P criticises France’s high tax rates for stifling growth (FT) Payroll Gains in U.S. Probably Cooled Amid Government Shutdown (BBG) What to Watch for in October’s Jobs Report (WSJ) US spent $2bn on furloughed workers (FT) Snowden persuaded other NSA workers to give up passwords - sources (Reuters) Reno Better Than Manhattan for Buyers Demanding Yield (BBG) Super Typhoon Haiyan Slams Philippines With Category-5 Power (BBG)  Overnight Media Digest WSJ * Iran and world powers expect to announce an initial deal as early as Friday to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions, a step that would mark the first breakthrough in a decade. * The FDA ruled for the first time that trans fats aren't generally considered safe in food, a sharp policy shift that could lead to banning them in baked goods and other foods. * Thousands of middle-class Syrians are trying to get to Europe's northern countries to seek asylum, but many refugees are stuck in the continent's south. * Twitter shares launched without incident Thursday, skirting the troubles that plagued rival Facebook in its debut last year and delivering the kind of hefty "pop" that investors in initial public offerings covet. * Exports rebounded sharply in October from a September slump, in a potentially positive sign for the global economic outlook. * Senators will press Janet Yellen on a number of issues during a confirmation hearing on her nomination to lead the Fed, but one likely topic is a matter over which she has no control: a key vacancy on the Fed board. * The European Central Bank's action reflects heightened worries in Europe that dangerously low inflation threatens the region's tepid economic recovery. * Gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the third quarter, which was higher than economists expected, but consumer caution and political friction could be a drag in the coming months. * Goldman Sachs Group Inc is known as Wall Street's smartest trading firm, but a dismal third quarter has raised questions on whether the firm needs to take bold steps to right the ship. * Fairfax Financial said its partners in a $1 billion investment in smartphone maker BlackBerry include a Qatar-based sovereign wealth fund and several Canadian investment funds.  FT NEW BATTLE FOLLOWS HARD ON OBAMA WIN Barack Obama returned to Washington on Wednesday after his electoral victory over Mitt Romney, braced for emergency negotiations with Congress over the budgetary impasse that threatens to send the U.S. economy back into recession. CULT OF EQUITY KILLED OFF BY PENSION FUNDS UK pension funds are holding more bonds than equities for the first time since the so-called cult of equity in the 1950s, say leading City fund managers. MISSED DEBT TARGET TOPS BRITAIN'S AGENDA Leading members of the coalition are in urgent talks about how to handle a failure to meet the government's public debt target as ministers move into the final month before the December 5 autumn statement. EU HITS BACK AT IMF OVER AUSTERITY Brussels' defence is part of an economic forecast that shows several eurozone countries - including France, Belgium and Spain - are on track to miss their EU-mandated deficit targets, meaning they may be forced to impose yet more austerity to get budgets back in line. EUROPE FEARS U.S. ENERGY GAP Europe's ability to compete against the US as a manufacturing centre is being damaged by rising energy costs as North America benefits from cheap natural shale gas, Germany's biggest companies have warned. CANTAB HITS CAPACITY AS IT BUCKS TREND Cantab Capital Partners, the Cambridge-based hedge fund set up by an astrophysicist and former Goldman Sachs partner, is to stop accepting new money after its assets under management doubled this year to $4.5 billion. EADS OFFICES RAIDED IN BRIBERY PROBE Several EADS offices in Germany were raided by German state prosecutors and police on Tuesday as part of an investigation into alleged bribes paid to smooth the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Austria five years ago. PEARSON IN CONFLICT OF INTERESTS PROBE Pearson is being investigated in the UK over possible conflicts of interest within its role as both a publisher of textbooks and an issuer of academic qualifications, as regulators seek to ensure that schools buying its teaching resources do not get any unfair advantages. NORDIC GROUPS TO SLASH HEADCOUNT Three of the biggest companies in the Nordic region on Wednesday announced plans to slash thousands of jobs in a further sign that Europe's economic problems are catching up with businesses in what was perceived as a haven. NYT * The Royal Bank of Scotland agreed on Thursday to pay the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission $153.7 million to settle charges that it misled investors into buying a risky mortgage-backed security offering, the latest move in a crackdown on mortgage practices that fueled the financial crisis. * Twitter reached a valuation of $31.7 billion as it began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, a figure the company will have to justify by showing a profit sooner rather than later. * Federal safety investigators said they would review an accident in Tennessee in which a Tesla Model S caught fire, the third such fire in recent weeks. * Dylan Davies, a security officer hired to help protect the United States Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, gave the FBI an account of the night that terrorists attacked the mission on Sept. 11, 2012 that contradicts a version of events he provided in a recently published book and in an interview with the CBS News program "60 Minutes." * The White House has thrown its weight behind a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $10 an hour. * Walt Disney ended its fiscal year in blockbuster style on Thursday, reporting solid growth in fourth-quarter profit, unveiling a substantial Netflix deal and savoring a stock price that has climbed 35 percent over the last 12 months. * Federal safety officials missed or ignored warning signs before four deadly crashes involving heavy trucks or intercity buses in the last year, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Thursday. * The White House on Thursday nominated Stefan Selig, a top executive at Bank of America, to a senior Commerce Department post, a rare appointment of a Wall Street banker by the Obama administration. * A combination of Canadian, American and Qatari investors are helping to finance Fairfax Financial Holding's planned $1 billion investment in struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry , a filing shows. * Salix Pharmaceuticals said Thursday that it would acquire Santarus, a maker of gastrointestinal medications like Zegerid and other specialty drugs, for $2.6 billion in cash, or $32 a share.  Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * Canadian investors are lining up to provide 80 percent of the $1 billion in new financing for BlackBerry Ltd with Brookfield Asset Management Inc and a unit of Power Financial Corp headlining the list of institutions joining Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd in its bet that the smartphone maker will succeed. * Federal New Democrats provoked a debate about Keystone XL pipeline on Thursday in the Commons with a motion that opposes the controversial project on the grounds that it will send oil-industry processing jobs to the United States and therefore "is not in Canada's best interests." Reports in the business section: * The introduction of new two-year cellphone contracts slowed subscriber growth for some of Canada's biggest carriers during the back-to-school season, a sign that consumers are spurning those higher-priced plans even before they become the industry standard in December. * Both of Canada's most widely traded insurers, Manulife Financial Corp and Sun Life Financial Inc, as well as Industrial Alliance Insurance beat analysts' expectations for the quarter as they reported in the last two days, while Great-West Lifeco Inc met consensus. NATIONAL POST * Veterans injured in the line of duty could soon find themselves at the front of the line when it comes to federal job openings thanks to a proposal unveiled by the Conservative government on Thursday. * U.S. investors are readying legal action against the Canadian government over Quebec's resistance to Strateco Resources Inc's Matoush uranium mining project, the company's chief executive says. FINANCIAL POST * The new interim chief executive is worth a lot to struggling BlackBerry Ltd - enough to warrant up to $3 million in yearly salary, and 13 million restricted shares. * France's Total SA is upsizing its flagship Joslyn oil sands mine in northern Alberta by at least 50 percent in a bid to spread costs thin over larger volumes, the chief executive of its Canadian arm says.  China CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL - The simulation of CSI 300 stock index options contracts trading started on Friday. The move indicates the introduction of stock index options is not far off, said unnamed sources. - China Merchants Property Development Co Ltd approved a 6.5 billion yuan ($1.07 billion) A-share financing program on Thursday. The transaction is still subject to regulatory approval. SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS - The reforms in China's Shanghai free trade zone could be extended nationwide after three years, said Ai Baojun, Shanghai's deputy major, on Thursday at a round table forum. SHANGHAI DAILY - In Shanghai, air pollution on Thursday rose to a PM2.5 density, nearly four times the national limit. It peaked at a hazardous level of about 270 micrograms per cubic meter, four times the national limit of 75. PEOPLE'S DAILY - Certain local authorities in China engage in protectionist behaviour, by for example issuing official documents to 'protect' local products, said the paper which acts as the mouthpiece of the Chinese government. It is important to reform this attitude in order to better develop the market, it said. Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot ANALYST RESEARCH Upgrades AkzoNobel (AKZOY) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan Alaska Air (ALK) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays Amarin (AMRN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup Aspen Insurance (AHL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS BlackRock Kelso (BKCC) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Wells Fargo Brandywine Realty (BDN) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill Broadridge (BR) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan Concho Resources (CXO) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust Corporate Office Properties (OFC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill Eastman Chemical (EMN) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan Peabody Energy (BTU) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Republic Airways (RJET) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Evercore Salix (SLXP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at BMO Capital SolarWinds (SWI) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Needham Downgrades AECOM Technology (ACM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS AVG Technologies (AVG) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan Apollo Global (APO) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup Deere (DE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill Health Net (HNT) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo Nationstar (NSM) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Evercore Nationstar (NSM) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley Santarus (SNTS) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray Tremor Video (TRMR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord United Continental (UAL) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Barclays Whole Foods (WFM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Initiations Antero Resources (AR) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies Brinker (EAT) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital Burger King (BKW) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital C&J Energy (CJES) initiated with a Buy at Guggenheim CNH Industrial (CNHI) initiated with an Underperform at BofA/Merrill Chipotle (CMG) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital Community Health (CYH) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital Darden (DRI) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital Dunkin' Brands (DNKN) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital EchoStar (SATS) initiated with an Outperform at Raymond James HCA Holdings (HCA) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital Health Management (HMA) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital LabCorp (LH) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital LifePoint Hospitals (LPNT) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital McDonald's (MCD) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital Noodles & Company (NDLS) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital Peugeot (PEUGY) initiated with a Reduce at Nomura Quest Diagnostics (DGX) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital Starbucks (SBUX) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital Tenet Healthcare (THC) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital Texas Roadhouse (TXRH) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital Twitter (TWTR) initiated with a Neutral at Wedbush Universal Health (UHS) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital Wendy's (WEN) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital Yum! Brands (YUM) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital HOT STOCKS UBS (UBS) paid $3.76B to buy back StabFund from Swiss National Bank S&P lowered long-term ratings on France to 'AA'; outlook stable Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP) to acquire Santarus (SNTS) for $32 per share in cash or $2.6B Talisman Energy (TLM) announced C$1.5B all cash sale for portion of Montney position NVIDIA (NVDA) announced additional $1B under stock repurchase plan Disney (DIS) to release next Star Wars film in December, 2015 Advanced Semiconductor (ASX) to collaborate with Infineon (IFNNY) on auto product assembly Liberty Property (LRY) to sell 97 properties for $705M Groupon (GRPN) acquired Korea’s Ticket Monster for $260M Ensign Group (ENSG) to spin-off real estate assets into REIT EARNINGS Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include: Covidien (COV), Atwood Oceanics (ATW), Alamo Group (ALG), AVG Technologies (AVG), Molycorp (MCP), Franklin Covey (FC), NVIDIA (NVDA), Disney (DIS), CareFusion (CFN), Stifel Financial (SF), Groupon (GRPN), bebe stores (BEBE), priceline.com (PCLN), Air Lease (AL) Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include: Atlas Resource Partners (ARP), Denison Mines (DNN), Bio-Rad (BIO), PharmAthene (PIP), Darling (DAR), Ensign Group (ENSG), Tallgrass Energy (TEP), Erickson Air-Crane (EAC), Allscripts (MDRX), Monster Beverage (MNST) Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include: Great Plains Energy (GXP), Northern Oil and Gas (NOG), Demand Media (DMD), CTPartners (CTP) NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES Declining sales of high-end cameras and lenses are raising an alarming question for companies like Canon (CAJ) and Nikon (NNOY): Could the proliferation of camera-enabled, app-heavy smartphones be crushing not only the simple point-and-shoot, but premium models as well? the Wall Street Journal reports Boeing (BA) warned that it could look to build its planned 777X jetliner outside Washington state, amid signs of union resistance to a proposed contract designed to keep the production work at the aerospace giant's traditional manufacturing base, the Wall Street Journal reports Coca-Cola (KO) will invest over $4B in China and build new plants between 2015 and 2017, to counter competition which is chipping away at its share of the country's $69.12B soft drinks market, Reuters reports A U.S. judge gave Southwest Airlines (LUV) permission to file a brief asking that US Airways Group (LCC) and American Airlines (AAMRQ) be required to give up take-off and landing slots at key U.S. airports should they merge, Reuters reports The longer the Federal Reserve continues its bond-buying stimulus, the higher the odds it will face a year without any money to give the Treasury after taxpayers received a record $88.4B profit in 2012, Bloomberg reports Lenovo Group (LNVGY), the largest maker of PCs, will triple the number of markets in which it sells smartphones by focusing on emerging economies where Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone is seen as too costly, Bloomberg reports SYNDICATE Addus HomeCare (ADUS) files to sell 4.95M shares of common stock for holders Boise Cascade (BCC) 7M share Secondary priced at $22.50 CST Brands (CST) 13.1M share Secondary priced at $31.00 Constellium (CSTM) 17.5M share Secondary priced at $17.00 DURECT (DRRX) files to sell common stock FalconStor (FALC) files to sell 13.17M shares of common stock for holders Sprouts Farmers Markets (SFM) files to sell 22.5M shares of common stock for holders Toll Brothers (TOL) 6.25M share Spot Secondary priced at $32.00 U.S. Silica (SLCA) files to sell 10.5M shares of common stock for holders ZELTIQ Aesthetics (ZLTQ) 4.5M share Secondary priced at $13.00        

Выбор редакции
06 ноября 2013, 21:22

Industrial Alliance shares rise on stronger profit

TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares of Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services rallied as much as 6 percent on Wednesday after the life insurer, Canada's fourth largest, reported a stronger than...

27 марта 2013, 15:34

Frontrunning: March 27

What bread... What circuses... JPMorgan Chase Faces Full-Court Press of Federal Investigations (NYT) European Regulators to Charge Banks Over Derivatives (WSJ) ... but forgive us if we don't hold our breath Cyprus readies capital controls to avert bank run (Reuters) Cyprus Capital Controls First in EU Could Last Years (BBG) Damage ripples through Cypriot economy (FT) G4S readies guards as Cypriot banks prepare to open (Reuters) Global pool of triple A status shrinks 60% (FT) Customers Flee Wal-Mart Empty Shelves for Target, Costco (BBG) BOE Says U.K. Banks Have Capital Shortfall of $38 Billion (BBG) U.K. Banks Facing Capital Shortfall (WSJ) Berkshire to Pay Nothing to Be Among Top Goldman Sachs Holders (BBG) Cyprus Details Bank Revamp (WSJ) Kazumasa Iwata Joins Kuroda Naysayers as BOJ to Meet (BBG) BRICS Nations Need More Time for New Bank, Russia Says (BBG) Foxconn Plant in Peanut Field Shows Labor Eroding China Edge (BBG)   Overnight Media Digest WSJ * Leave it to Warren Buffett to find a way to get hold of 10 million Goldman Sachs Group Inc shares without handing over a penny. The billionaire chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc accepted the stake in exchange for giving up his company's right to purchase a larger number of Goldman shares at a below-market price, according to terms of the deal announced on Tuesday. * Barrick Gold Corp co-chairman Peter Munk signaled he is looking to pass the scepter at the gold-mining giant he founded about 30 years ago. His call comes amid a shake-up in the top ranks of the mining industry, where a raft of high-profile leaders have stepped down, or been replaced, amid shareholder revolts over overpriced acquisitions and generally poor share-price performance. * CBS Corp acquired half of TV Guide Network and will enter a 50-50 partnership with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp for the entertainment channel and website. * DuPont Co agreed to pay Monsanto Co $1.75 billion as part of a series of licensing agreements for genetically modified seed technology that spell a truce in the rivals' bitter patent disputes. * Large global banks' legal tab is poised to soar beyond $100 billion as investors, insurers and municipalities pursue damages for actions tied to the mortgage meltdown, the financial crisis and the rate-rigging scandal. * Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is in the process of co-organizing a political advocacy group made up of top technology leaders that would push federal legislative reform on issues ranging from immigration to education, said people familiar with the development. * Honda Motor Co Ltd expects its U.S. new-car sales to increase by 8 percent in March over a year ago, led by a surge in demand for its redesigned Accord sedan, a senior executive said on Tuesday. * Health-care companies are circling around the $7 billion market for injectable drugs that are widely used by hospitals to treat conditions from cancer to pain - but which have often been in short supply. * A highly productive informant has led U.S. federal prosecutors to another group of alleged insider traders, one that includes a hedge-fund analyst and the investment chief for Wyoming's retirement system. * Mediaset SpA, Italy's largest private broadcaster, posted its first net loss since going public in 1996, as the company's slow response to new competition and a plummeting ad market in Italy takes its toll.   FT Start-up banks in Britain will not need as much capital as their established rivals starting from April, Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) said. The Federal Reserve has ordered Citigroup Inc to better police for the risk of money laundering. Warren Buffett agreed to become Goldman Sachs Group Inc's biggest shareholders by converting his warrants into shares. Deutsche Bank has provisioned for 500 million euros to cover possible fines for the alleged manipulation of Libor interest rates. Britain's Kingfisher Plc reported sharply lower profits as cash-strapped consumers cut back on home improvements in the economic downturn. T-Mobile USA will eliminate device subsidies and two-year service contracts that are favoured in the mobile industry to sell expensive handsets.   NYT * In a previously undisclosed case, prosecutors are examining whether JPMorgan Chase & Co failed to fully alert authorities to suspicions about Bernard Madoff, according to several people with direct knowledge of the matter. * With time running out until Cyprus's devastated banks must reopen their doors to the public, Cypriot and European officials are scrambling to put in place a set of measures that would allow jittery depositors access to their savings while preventing many billions of euros from fleeing the country. * CBS Corp announced on Tuesday that it had completed a deal to buy a half-interest in TVGN, formerly the TV Guide Network, fulfilling a longstanding goal of adding a general entertainment basic cable network to the company's media portfolio. * American mobile carrier T-Mobile, which has struggled against rivals like AT&T and Verizon, will offer the iPhone 5 cheaper than the competition, and most important, customers would not have to sign a contract. * DuPont Co will pay Monsanto Co at least $1.75 billion over 10 years for the rights to technology for genetically engineered soybeans that are resistant to herbicides. * Gains in housing and manufacturing propelled the U.S. economy over the winter, according to reports released on Tuesday. Home prices rose 8.1 percent in January, the fastest annual rate since the peak of the housing boom in summer 2006. * A squabble between a group fighting spam and a Dutch company that hosts Web sites said to be sending spam has escalated into one of the largest computer attacks on the Internet, causing widespread congestion and jamming crucial infrastructure around the world.   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * More than a day after industrial waste water leaked from a Suncor Energy Inc site into the Athabasca River, the oil-sands giant and the province were still trying to determine which, if any, toxic materials were carried into the major Alberta waterway. Reports in the business section: * Suzuki Canada Inc will end its 30-year run of selling vehicles in Canada next year, the final withdrawal of Suzuki Motor Corp from markets it once thought so important that it manufactured vehicles here. * Canadian and South Korean officials are playing down Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's assertion that a free-trade deal between the countries is imminent. Flaherty, who is on a four-day trip to drum up business in Asia, said Monday after a speech in Hong Kong that Canada is "very close" to wrapping up an agreement with South Korea. NATIONAL POST * Canadians continue to pay more to fund a "gold plated" parliamentary pension plan that spending watchdogs say has taxpayers ultimately contributing more than C$25 for every dollar from MPs. The federal government announced last fall it is overhauling the parliamentary pension plan - including tripling MP contributions and increasing retirement age - after the next election. FINANCIAL POST * Target Canada president Tony Fisher addressed Tuesday the sticker shock gripping some consumers who expected the retailer's prices would be on par with its U.S. stores when it opened outlets across the country this month.   China CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL -- Net profits at 793 Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed companies hit 1.05 trillion yuan ($169.05 billion) in 2012, according to data from Chinese firm Wind Information. -- Poly Real Estate will keep its annual growth at 20 percent over the next seven years, said chairman Song Guangju. Property tightening policies should not change the firm's plans for growth and expansion, he added. SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS -- New loans from China's big four banks in March are estimated to have increased against previous months, and new loans from all financial institutions could reach 850 billion yuan ($136.85 billion), according to the official Chinese daily. CHINA DAILY -- A week-long drought in northwest China has hit 4.35 million people in Gansu province. The dry spell, expected to last until the end of April, has left 650,000 people facing water shortage and affected 398,667 hectares of farmland, according to the provincial civil affairs department. PEOPLE'S DAILY -- China will subsidise a total of 170 billion yuan to support grain farmers in 2013, the finance ministry told the official Chinese paper. SHANGHAI DAILY -- Global tech giant Apple is heading to court this afternoon for a pre-hearing related to a patent dispute over the U.S.-based firm's Siri voice-activated software. The pre-hearing will be held at Shanghai's No.1 Intermediate People's Court. -- U.S. retailer Wal-Mart will close three stores in China in May to streamline its sales network. In a statement the firm said it would still continue to invest and open new stores in Shanghai, where it has over 20 currently.   Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot ANALYST RESEARCH Upgrades AOL (AOL) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at BarclaysCapital Product (CPLP) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/MerrillCliffs Natural (CLF) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at GoldmanDSW (DSW) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at CitigroupGenomic Health (GHDX) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at LeerinkGol Linhas (GOL) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond JamesMattress Firm (MFRM) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond JamesSykes Enterprises (SYKE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells FargoTrulia (TRLA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche BankVMware (VMW) upgraded to Strong Buy from Buy at ISI GroupViroPharma (VPHM) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan Downgrades Charles River Labs (CRL) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells FargoCliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan StanleyEnphase Energy (ENPH) downgraded to Underperform at Raymond JamesObagi Medical (OMPI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth CapitalSun Bancorp (SNBC) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Sterne AgeeWestern Alliance (WAL) downgraded to Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette Initiations Crimson Exploration (CXPO) initiated with a Hold at CanaccordFifth Street Finance (FSC) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorganMasTec (MTZ) initiated with a Buy at Lazard CapitalVascular Solutions (VASC) initiated with an Overweight at Piper JaffrayWeingarten Realty (WRI) initiated with an Equal Weight at EvercoreWestern Digital (WDC) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital HOT STOCKS The BOE says U.K. banks have around GBP25B capital shortfallCBS Corporation (CBS) and Lionsgate (LGF) entered into a 50/50 partnership for TVGN and the website TVGuide.com. The venture will combine CBS's programming, production and marketing assets with Lionsgate's resources in motion pictures, television and digitally delivered contentVenaxis (APPY) announced plans to accelerate European market development for its APPY1 appendicitis testLogMeIn (LOGM) announced that a federal jury in Eastern District of Virginia found that LogMeIn products do not infringe on U.S.Patent No. 6,928,479, as asserted by 01 CommuniqueShah Capital offered to acquire UTStarcom (UTSI) for $3.20 per share EARNINGS/GUIDANCE Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:Anthera Pharmaceuticals (ANTH), SAIC (SAI), Landec (LNDC), Envivio (ENVI) Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:Mattress Firm (MFRM), Metabolix (MBLX) NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES European authorities may soon bring a case against some of the region's big banks alleging collusion in the $27T market for credit derivatives, the Wall Street Journal reports.Ericsson (ERIC) is in talks to buy Microsoft's (MSFT) IPTV business, Reuters reports. Wells Fargo (WFC) said its online banking website was experiencing an unusually high volume of traffic that it believes stems from a denial-of-service cyber attack, reports Reuters. J.C. Penney (JCP) CEO Ron Johnson has reportedly started to raise prices across the company's stores, the New York Post reports. According to sources, the hikes are "significant," with prices returning to previous levels before the "fair and square" initiative. SYNDICATE Access Midstream (ACMP) 9M share Spot Secondary being re-offered at $39.86BioMed Realty (BMR) files to sell 15M shares of common stockFrancesca's (FRAN) files to sell 7.4M shares of common stock for holdersGarrison Capital (GARS) 5.333M share IPO priced at $15.00NV5 Holdings (NVEE) 1.4M share IPO priced at $6.00Towerstream (TWER) files to sell 433,673 shares of common stock for holdersTumi (TUMI) files to sell 10.14M shares of common stock

26 марта 2013, 02:58

The Noisy Fight Over Quiet Electric Cars

From Mother Nature Network's Jim Motavalli: Electric cars are quiet. Too quiet. One of the biggest virtues of the battery vehicle is that it is virtually silent in operation. And heaven knows, in today’s marketplace, the EV needs every advantage it can get. But a quiet car can be a deadly car for the blind or disabled, and that’s led to federal government rulemaking that will require EVs to produce some kind of sound until they reach 17 mph. Exactly what those sounds will be is now being hotly debated. I talked to Wade Newton of the Auto Alliance, which represents 12 carmakers and filed public comments last week looking to postpone the federal rule, and highly critical of the form it takes now. The alliance is walking a fine line — it supports the federal rule in principle, but doesn’t want consumers to be turned off by noisy, annoying EVs. It’s also worried about cost. “Let the engineers figure out the best way to make it work,” Newton said. “We want a car to sound like a car, and we want some level of differentiation within a basic framework — so a sedan might sound slightly different than a coupe, for example. And if the sound is audible to the motorist, we want it to be relatively pleasing to them. But no one wants a wild west of different ringtones.” Ah, ringtones. When I talk to people about this, they invariably get captivated by the idea of having the car produce its own personalized ringtone — a “signature” sound, so to speak. But think about it a bit: an unfamiliar ringtone conveys no recognizable message to a blind person, who’s going to hear what could be a passing car radio. The alliance calls the ringtone thing “a Pandora’s box,” and that’s about it. Newton also points out another big problem. “Any sound the car produces will be heard very differently in Times Square and a rural road in upstate New York,” he said. So do you optimize the sound for loud environments or quiet ones? The automakers also want the sound to cut off at 12.4 mph, not 18.6, because they say above that speed tire noise makes the car audible anyway. The federal rule is supposed to begin phasing in September of 2014, but the carmakers want to forget phasing it in and delay implementation to 2018. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the cost at $30 to $35 per car, but the alliance says it’s way higher. The safety agency says it’s a vital matter of, well, safety. “NHTSA estimates that if this proposal were implemented, there would be 2,800 fewer pedestrian and pedalcyclist injuries over the life of each model year of hybrid cars, trucks and vans and low-speed vehicles, as compared to vehicles without sound,” the agency said. The National Federation of the Blind is highly supportive of the legislation and was instrumental in shaping it. “Quiet vehicles are highly problematic for blind pedestrians, who depend on the sound emitted by cars in order to travel safely and independently. “We feel strongly that the industry must take measures to insure the safety of blind and sighted pedestrians,” NFB says. “We believe that vehicles can be designed to emit an inoffensive sound that will give pedestrians the information they need.”

06 марта 2013, 04:03

Dan Solin: Every Company Needs a Chief Wealth Officer

I have a proposal for corporate America: Every company should have a Chief Wealth Officer (CWO). The function of the CWO would be to act as a resource for employees, with the goal of increasing their wealth. The position would be salaried for companies large enough to warrant the expense of a full-time CWO. It could be outsourced for smaller companies. The CWO could have no conflicts of interest and would receive no compensation other than from the company. Why is this an idea whose time has come? Because there's a direct connection between financial health and productivity. The financial security of employees continues to be eviscerated by the securities industry, which often operates without ethical or even legal constraints. The connection between financial security and productivity is well established. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 68 percent of employees surveyed indicated they were distracted at work because of financial worries, among other concerns. An article in The New York Times described pressure applied to brokers in the wealth management unit at JPMorgan Chase to sell the bank's own products. One former JPMorgan Chase broker lamented his inability to "do the right things for our clients." I have reviewed hundreds of portfolios and can confidently state that JPMorgan Chase is not alone in seemingly placing its interests above those of the clients it is supposed to serve. I speak to groups of employees at major companies and am struck by the breadth of their concerns and how poorly they are being served. Their 401(k) plans are often run by major fund families, who populate the investment options with proprietary funds, when less expensive and better performing funds are readily available. They are besieged by brokers who put them into high-cost, actively managed funds and variable annuities, when low-cost index funds have higher expected returns. They are confused by issues relating to traditional versus Roth IRAs, rent versus buy decisions, insurance issues (whole versus term, disability, umbrella, automobile, and long term care), estate planning, selecting investment options from the often poor choices in their 401(k) plans, tax planning, withdrawal strategies, and myriad other issues. While many brokers claim to offer guidance on these issues, their advice is conflicted and often a pretense for their overriding goal of gathering assets. A CWO would act as an independent liaison between the employees and independent vendors. The CWO would be a source of objective, unbiased advice. This resource is sorely lacking in the workplace. Employees are left to fend for themselves and few of them are capable of swimming with the sharks, eager to "advise" them. Every company likes to talk about how much it values its employees. It can demonstrate the sincerity of its commitment, and improve their productivity, by hiring a Chief Wealth Officer, with the background and experience to give sound, academically based, financial advice. 7 Steps to Save Your Financial Life Now is available on Amazon, B&N, and iTunes. Dan Solin is the director of investor advocacy for The BAM ALLIANCE and a wealth advisor with Buckingham Asset Management. He is a New York Times best-selling author of the Smartest series of books. The views of the author are his alone and may not represent the views of his affiliated firms. Any data, information, and content on this blog is for information purposes only and should not be construed as an offer of advisory services.

01 марта 2013, 22:45

CEPR News February 2013

The newsletter highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.CEPR on the Minimum Wage President Obama's call for an increase in the minimum wage during his State of the Union address drew much attention from the media, providing CEPR with an opportunity to inform the debate. CEPR released a new paper that finds that moderate increases in the minimum wage – such as the one proposed by President Obama – have little impact on employment, due to adjustments by employers and workers. The paper, "Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?" by CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt,reviews evidence on eleven possible adjustments to minimum-wage increases that may help to explain why the measured employment effects are so consistently small. The strongest evidence suggests the most important adjustments are: reductions in labor turnover; improvements in organizational efficiency; reductions in wages of higher earners ("wage compression"); and small price increases. "This is one of the most studied topics in economics, and the evidence is clear: modest minimum wage increases don't have much impact on employment," said John. Brad Plumer wrote a long summary of the report for Ezra Klein's Wonkblog, and it was mentioned on several other blogs from the National Journal to Jared Bernstein's blog (Jared called the report a "must read" in a subsequent post). Paul Krugman cited the paper in a post where he supported the proposed increase, and he linked to John’s paper in the online version of his New York Timescolumn. Rachel Maddow highlighted the report on her MSNBC show, and it was also mentioned in this piece on CBS News' Moneywatch. Newspapers across the country ran articles on the report, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Minnesota Daily. John gave several radio interviews about the paper, including this one for WNUR's This is Helland this one for KBAI's The Joe Show. The paper also served as the basis for John's testimony on February 25th before a Select Committee of the Minnesota state legislature and his remarks at a separate public event on the minimum wage sponsored by JOBS NOW Coalition at the University of Minnesota. John also penned this post for the CEPR Blog responding to an ad in Politico by the conservative Employment Policies Institute claiming that the minimum wage harms low-wage workers, as well as this post on his Dissent article with Colin Gordon on benchmarking the minimum wage CEPR Co-director Dean Baker weighed in with this piece for the Huffington Post, and he was mentioned in this highly-viewed piece on Yahoo!Finance. Dean also wrote this post for the CEPR Blog, where he and co-author CEPR Domestic Intern Will Kimball showed what the minimum wage would be if it had kept up with productivity growth over the past 44 years. CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad wrote thesetwo CEPR blog posts on the issue. CEPR on Ecuador Ahead of the February 17th presidential elections in Ecuador, CEPR released a paper that examined Ecuador’s financial and regulatory reforms during the past five years. “Ecuador’s New Deal: Reforming and Regulating the Financial Sector,” written by CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot, Research Associate Jake Johnston, and Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre, found that the financial reforms carried out by the Rafael Correa administration are in large part responsible for the economic success Ecuador has experienced over the past several years. Mark wrote this op-ed on the paper for the Guardian (which was mentioned in this piece that appeared on Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s blog), and he was quoted in this AFP article. Director of International Programs Deborah James presented the paper’s findings on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story Americas, and Senior Associate for International Policy Alex Main summarized the paper for CEPR’s Americas Blog. CEPR’s paper received additional press after Ecuador President Rafael Correa easily won re-election. Mark was on The Real News and Sojourner Truth Radio (KPFK) while Deborah James appeared on KPFK radio’s Strategy Sessions. Director of International Communications Dan Beeton wrote this post for the Americas Blog critiquing media coverage of Ecuador leading up to the election, and he and Jake wrote an additional post correcting numerous errors in both the Washington Post’s and the Miami Herald’s editorials on the election results. Dan elaborated on his post in this interview with FAIR’s Counterspin. The paper also received attention in Latin America, where it was discussed in Ecuador’s El Telégrafo newspaper, Chile’s Diario Financiero, and Mexican newspaper La Jornada. CEPR on Work Hours and Climate Change CEPR’s paper “Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change,” by Economist David Rosnick finds that significant reductions in carbon emissions are possible through reducing work hours, and could help to reduce climate change. The study finds that 8 - 22 percent of every degree of warming through 2100 would be cut by an annual 0.5 percent reduction in work hours. “As productivity increases, especially in high-income countries, there is a social choice between taking some of these gains in the form of reduced hours, or entirely as increased production,” said David. “For many years, European countries have been reducing work hours – including by taking more holidays, vacation, and leave – while the United States has gone the route of increased production. The calculation is simple: fewer work hours means less carbon emissions, which means less global warming.” The paper received a great deal of media attention, with Fox Business and Fox News shows each interviewing Mark the week it was released, as well as CBC television, which conducted a less confrontational, more informative interview. David Rosnick did several interviews with radio stations such as KGO Newstalk AM 810 in San Francisco. The paper was also written up in articles in dozens of media outlets such as CBC News, CBS’ Moneywatch, Fox News, U.S News and World Report, the International Business Times, The Vancouver Sun, Global Post, Grist, The Guardian (U.K.), Mother Jones, The Daily Mail (U.K.) and Forbes. Many more blogs also summarized and commented on the paper. David wrote a CEPR blogpost on the paper, partly in response to the distorted and often careless coverage the paper received. The right wing media generally ignored the productivity dividend, which is crucial to understanding the paper’s findings. CEPR on the FMLA February 5, 2013 was the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), passed with bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The law guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for eligible workers in case of their own serious health problem, to care for a seriously ill family member, or to bond with a new child. CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum wrote this op-ed for U.S. News and World Report to mark the occasion. Eileen worked with the Small Business Majority on developing and interpreting data from their survey of small businesses on experiences with FMLA and attitudes toward paid leave for their release of survey results on Mon Feb 4. Eileen was also an invited participant in the February 8th White House Roundtable on the new 2010 Department of Labor (DOL) FMLA survey results. Eileen penned a four part series on the FMLA for the CEPR blog. The first, “What Do the DOL Surveys Tell Us About How the FMLA Can Be Strengthened?,” revealed that two decades after passage of the FMLA, about a third of all workers (34 percent) still have not heard about the Act and employers at nearly a quarter of work sites subject to the FMLA do not know that the FMLA applies to them. In the second, Eileen examines what the DOL surveys tell us about the possibilities for expanding coverage of the FMLA to work sites with fewer than 50 employees, many of which already allow employees to take leave for FMLA qualified reasons. The third part examines the need for paid family and medical leave. FMLA leaves are unpaid, creating undue hardship for many families when leave is necessary. The final post examines employers’ experiences with the FMLA and finds it was a ‘non-event’ for the overwhelming majority. CEPR on the SOTU CEPR made watching the State of the Union address more fun with the first-ever CEPR SOTU Economics Bingo game. Whenever the President mentioned an issue related to the economy, players could click on each topic and then scroll down to learn more about the issue from CEPR. CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo detailed the rules of the game in this post for the CEPR Blog. Meanwhile, Dean was busy offering his post-SOTU analysis on CNBC, and he stayed late to weigh in onMarco Rubio’s response. CEPR on the Sequester Dean discussed sequestration with Paul Krugman on MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes. Here is the clip in four parts: one, two, three and four. Dean also discussed the sequester on Background Briefing with Ian Masters, while Nicole’s Sinclair Broadcasting interview  aired on over 40 TV stations across the country. Nicole was also on Let’s Talk About It  (Nicole joins the program at 13:15) CEPR on Haiti CEPR responded tothe U.N.’s refusal to take responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti last week with this press release in which Mark condemned it as “a failure of the U.N. system.” Despite overwhelming scientific evidence pointing to U.N. troops as the cause of Haiti’s cholera epidemic, the U.N. claimed immunity in response to a lawsuit by over 6,000 cholera victims, also stating that the complaint was related to “policy.” CEPR was cited in articles from Inter Press Service and RT. Posts on CEPR’s Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog examined both the U.N.’s immunity claim and the cholera eradication plan which the Haitian government finally released this week, and which involves U.N. agencies. CEPR’s Alex Main, Dan Beeton and Jake Johnston also have commented on recent developments in the case against former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier for human rights crimes. Recent blog posts commented on the case and ways in which the U.S. government has hindered rather than helped efforts to bring Duvalier to justice. A related op-ed was published by Truthout and Common Dreams, and in Spanish by la Agencia Latinoamericana de Información and other outlets. CEPR on the FTT This past week was a big one for proponents of the financial transaction tax, or FTT. Om Thursday February 28th Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced legislation that would subject financial trades to a 0.03 percent tax. CEPR released this statement by Dean, who said “The modest tax would discourage an enormous amount of short-term trading while having almost no impact on the ability of markets to finance productive investment. The cost of the tax would be born almost entirely by the financial industry, since for most investors the money saved as a result of lower trading volume will offset the higher cost of trades. CEPR has long called for a small tax on financial transactions. Earlier in the week, European leaders were in Washington, calling on the U.S. to re-think its opposition to the FTT. Nicole was quoted in this article on the EU’s recent announcement that 11 member states were preparing to impose the law beginning next year. The article also quotes Algirdas Semeta, the European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, who was in Washington for talks with U.S. supporters of the FTT. CEPR on Medicare Drug Benefits In this issue brief titled “Reducing Waste with an Efficient Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit,” Dean shows that by having Medicare negotiate drug prices comparable to those in other advanced nations, the federal government could save from $230 billion to $541 billion over the next 10 years. Additionally, state governments could save from $31 billion to $72 billion, and consumers could save from $48 billion to $112 billion over the same period. CEPR’s paper was released to coincide with the launch of a grassroots effort to educate the public and lawmakers about the substantial benefits that drug-price negotiations could offer. Seattle-based Alliance for a Just Society gathered support from nearly 300 organizations nationwide to urge Congress and the President to enable Medicare to negotiate prescription prices with drug makers and suppliers. Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is coordinating legislative and field activity in states across the country to achieve the goal. News from the CEPR Blogosphere:CEPR Blog Dean wrote several posts on Social Security, including this one on how the upward redistribution of income has affected Social Security solvency, and this one on the Chained CPI. Shawn wrote this post on the Kristof-Greenstein debate and this one on Temporary Assistance programs. John penned this post on gender, debt and dropping out. The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber Alex wrote several posts for CEPR’s Americas Blog, including these two on killings in Honduras. CEPR International Intern Arthur Phillips wrote this post on scandals surrounding New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and this one on the Honduran government’s plan to build model cities. In this post, Dan critiques Ricardo Hausmann’s misleading Guardian op-ed on Venezuela. Mark’s post on Venezuela’s currency devaluation received a lot of attention in the U.S. and in Latin America, where it was cited by various media outlets. In Other CEPR News… --Mark wrote this McClatchy column on the new health insurance exchanges that appeared in over 40 newspapers, including Sacramento Bee (CA), Anchorage Daily News (AK),Raleigh News and Observer (NC) and the Kansas City Star (KS). --Dean was the featured “Newsmaker” at a press conference held at the National Press Club on February 28th. Dean’s presentation was titled “The Path to Sustainable Economic Growth: Why the Dollar’s Value Should Decline.” --CNBC billed this clip as “Bond Market Battle: Santelli Vs Baker”. Guess who won? --Dean answered “Does the Government Need to Do More?” when New York Times’ Room for Debate asked for questions for Jack Lew’s confirmation hearings. And he answered “NO” to U.S. News and World Report’s question: “Is the New Bowles-Simpson Plan a Good Deficit Reduction Proposal?” Dean’s post was number one, earning the most “up votes” at 532 (compared to Former Senator Alan Simpson’s 226, as of today). -- Mark debated the sustainability of economic policies in Argentina and Venezuela opposite Professor Arturo Porzecanski on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story Americas. --Alex Main was on the Real News talking about CELAC – the hemispheric regional grouping that includes all the countries of the Americas except the U.S. and Canada. --Dean wrote this piece for The Nation on the “Fix the Debt Campaign.” He was also on NPR’s Planet Money, answering the question “Should the U.S. Import More Doctors." --CEPR’s latest graphic economics shows single-family housing starts from 2000 – 2013.

25 февраля 2013, 00:55

Gregory D. Squires: HUD's Disparate Impact Rule Praised by Fair Housing Advocates: Misunderstood by Critics

On Feb. 8, 2013, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a rule clarifying the circumstances under which certain housing practices may violate the Fair Housing Act (FHA) as a result of a discriminatory effect. Referred to as the disparate impact rule, this directive explains the longstanding prohibition under the FHA of practices that have a discriminatory effect even where there may not be evidence of discriminatory intent. Barbara R. Arnwine, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, praised HUD's announcement, offering that "This regulation will foster the goals of the Fair Housing Act and benefit the clients and constituents of our organization. It provides a national standard for courts, housing providers, municipalities and the financial and insurance industries." Shanna Smith, CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, added, "We applaud this Administration for taking this step to strengthen our economy by promoting open, efficient markets free from discrimination." Under the law, as clarified by the new rule, when a practice results in the denial of a service (e.g., refusing to rent an apartment or approve a mortgage loan) or unfavorable terms and conditions under which that service is available to members of protected classes, it would violate the Act if it did not serve a substantial, legitimate, and nondiscriminatory interest. (Protected classes under the FHA are race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.) If the practice did serve such a purpose, but the complainant can show a less discriminatory alternative is available that would equally serve that purpose, the practice in question would also violate the law. However, the rule also makes clear that those practices having a negative impact on racial minorities and other protected classes are fully in compliance if they serve a significant business objective and no less discriminatory alternative is available to serve that interest. There have long been misunderstandings of the disparate impact. The new rule should resolve these misunderstandings and provide greater consistency, clarity, and effectiveness in fair housing enforcement efforts. While the rule is new, the disparate impact standard is not. This rule does not change the substance of the law in any way. It simply clarifies a longstanding policy in fair housing enforcement. For more than 40 years HUD, the Department of Justice, and other enforcement agencies, under Democratic and Republican Administrations, have enforced the disparate impact standard. All 11 circuit courts that have considered the issue of whether or not Congress intended for the law to prohibit such practices that had a discriminatory effect have ruled that this in fact was the intent. There have been some minor variations among the courts in the ways the disparate impact standard has been carried out. For example, in some circuits it is the defendant who has had to prove there was no lesser discriminatory alternative that would serve the business purpose of a challenged practice that had a discriminatory effect in order for the practice to be in compliance. But in most circuits it was the complainant who had to show there was such an alternative in order for the practice to be struck down as a violation of law. Under this rule, it is now clear that it is the complainant who must make the case. Despite the few variations that have existed across the circuits, all have confirmed that there is a disparate impact standard under the FHA. This rule eliminates those inconsistencies. Consequently, HUD and other fair housing enforcement agencies will be able to more effectively realize the objectives of the FHA. The FHA has a dual mandate: eliminating housing discrimination and creating truly balanced and integrated living patterns. Enforcement of the disparate impact standard has been, and will continue to be, critical to progress on both objectives. But in order to more fully realize the objectives of the law, it appears certain key misunderstandings must be clarified, particularly on the part of some housing providers. One concern that has, mistakenly, been attributed to the FHA and related fair housing rules is that they virtually require housing providers, particularly mortgage lenders, to implement racial quota systems. In its editorial titled "The Loan Quota Rule," (Jan. 27, 2012) the Wall Street Journal argued that HUD "is pushing through a rule to support racial loan quotas... forcing banks to lend to minorities." But this rule will not require a quota or any other specific remedy. It does require housing providers to offer evidence that a practice having a discriminatory effect serves an important business objective. So the rule increases, rather than reduces, the likelihood that mortgage lending, and the provision of other housing related services, will be based on objective evidence rather than subjective judgment, reducing the incentive to introduce anything like a quota system. The fact that evidence of intent to discriminate is not a requirement to establish that a given practice violates the FHA does not translate into a requirement to meet any particular numerical target. A question arises as to why any housing provider, would want to continue a practice that did have a discriminatory effect but served no business objective. A related concern is that the new rule will require lenders to make loans to unqualified borrowers, precisely the practice that (once again it is wrongly argued) led to the foreclosure crisis, undermining efforts to revitalize communities that have been adversely affected by previous, and possible future, crises. The Fair Housing Act and other fair lending and fair housing rules require lenders and other housing providers to make loans and offer other services on the basis of objective, non-racial considerations. In the mortgage lending area, this has meant requiring lenders to use fair, transparent, and sound underwriting. The foreclosure crisis resulted from the many lenders who refused to do so. So-called "liar loans" where income was not verified (or worse, was fraudulently overstated) and other predatory practices resulted in many loans underperforming. That is what led to the housing bubble and foreclosure crises that followed. The settlement of recent lawsuits and administrative complaints against Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other major financial service providers are illustrative. When Wells Fargo loan officers referred to predatory, high cost loans as "ghetto loans" for "mud people," this hardly reflected sound underwriting. Fair, objective, and non-discriminatory policies and practices are essential for any city to pursue successful community revitalization initiatives. For example, following Hurricane Katrina, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center filed a lawsuit, against HUD ironically, claiming that its Road Home program discriminated against African Americans because assistance was based on the lesser of the pre-storm value of the home or the cost of repairs. Because property values were lower in African American neighborhoods many residents in those communities received insufficient support to rebuild their homes. No evidence of intent was provided, but the discriminatory effect was clear. A settlement was reached that enabled far more families, particularly in African American communities, to begin rebuilding their homes and their lives. Perhaps the most provocative interpretation of the new rule is, as Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, argued incorrectly in a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 2, 2012), "The disparate-impact approach... is flatly at odds with the color-blind ideals of the civil rights movement and the laws for which it fought." In fact, by clarifying the disparate impact standard, this rule will discourage race-based decisionmaking. By encouraging housing providers to justify, with objective evidence, their practices which have a discriminatory effect, the provision of those services will increasingly be based on fair and equitable criteria rather than subjective and potentially discriminatory criteria. This will benefit both consumers and providers of housing and housing related services. For example, in the 1990s several major insurance companies were the targets of lawsuits and administrative complaints because they frequently refused to insure older and lesser valued homes. Such homes, of course, tend to be concentrated in African American and Latino neighborhoods. Yet those rules were not effective in predicting losses resulting in claims paid by those insurers. Elimination of those underwriting rules created opportunities for residents of previously underserved communities to obtain coverage and for insurers to find previously untapped yet profitable markets. Finally, there is concern that the disparate impact rule will encourage expensive, unnecessary, and often frivolous lawsuits. Again, by clarifying the longstanding policy and removing the inconsistencies in the enforcement of the disparate impact standards, lawsuits should be minimized. Providers of housing and housing related services will be better informed about the requirements of the law thus enabling them to more effectively avoid legal action. Such enhanced voluntary compliance will result in the initiation of fewer lawsuits. In addition, courts have tools available to readily dismiss truly frivolous lawsuits. By clarifying what the law requires, HUD's disparate impact rule will resolve many of the current misunderstandings of the FHA, resulting in far fewer legal actions. One consequence will be the targeting of scarce enforcement resources to those cases where there are more likely to be violations, thus enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of fair housing law enforcement. A portion of this essay was published under the title "Disparate Impact Rule Works, Critics Notwithstanding" by the American Banker, Feb. 14, 2013. Gregory D. Squires is a professor of sociology and public policy and public administration at George Washington University.

21 февраля 2013, 20:52

Michele Simon: Top 10 Reasons to Care About Food Workers

With the release of Saru Jayaraman's new book, Behind the Kitchen Door, I've been writing about the powerful influence of the National Restaurant Association, for example, in lobbying against paid sick days for workers. Sadly, most of my colleagues in public health and the good food movement don't pay enough attention to the many injustices workers face every day. So here is my attempt to help correct that situation. 1. Millions of Your Fellow Humans. Maybe this number alone will convince you: 20 million workers toil every day -- often under inhumane conditions -- harvesting fields, killing and cutting up animals, packing boxes, driving trucks, cooking meals, ringing up orders, serving tables, and cleaning up your mess. 2. Worker Conditions Tied to Food Safety. Research has shown a connection between worker conditions and food safety. For example, speeding up lines in slaughterhouses puts food at higher risk for contamination, and endangers worker safety. Also, workers who experience labor violations in restaurants are more likely to be forced to perform duties that might harm consumers. So better treatment of workers in the fields, in meat packing plants, and in other settings means safer food for everyone. 3. Sick Workers Mean Sick Customers. As I wrote about before, the health of restaurant workers is especially tied to food safety. Obviously it's not a good thing for restaurant workers to be sneezing all over your meals. That's why we need to support paid sick days for all workers. 4. Workers Risk Lifelong Injuries. While many food-related jobs are backbreaking work, meatpacking plants are especially notorious for being extremely dangerous places to work. If you care about how animals are treated on factory farms, you should also care about the workers suffering along with them. 5. Farm Workers Exposed to Pesticides. While most foodies are concerned about their own exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals used in agriculture, remember those most at risk are the farm workers who have to spray the crops and work in the fields. In other words, it's not enough to just buy organic, we need policies that protect workers, too. 6. Food Workers Living in Poverty. According to this must-read report from the Food Chain Workers Alliance, "The Hands that Feed Us," "more than 86 percent of workers reported earning sub-minimum, poverty, and low wages." If you only care about how this effects you, consider that nearly 28 percent of food system employees are on Medicaid, more than a third use the emergency room for primary care, and especially tragic is how food system workers use food stamps at 1.5 times the rate of others U.S. workers. In other words, the low standard of living suffered by most food workers effects us all through higher insurance costs and taxpayer programs. This is a fancy way of saying we are all subsidizing an industry that pays its workers slave wages. 7. Wage Theft. While I obviously live a privileged life, I like to consider myself fairly knowledgeable about the plight of those less fortunate. However, "wage theft" is a term I am ashamed to admit I only heard of fairly recently, in relation to farm workers and others working in the food system. (Of course, it can apply to any work sector.) It means exactly what it says: that employers simply fail to pay what their workers rightfully earned. It's commonplace with immigrant workers who often have no recourse to complain. 8. Race and Gender Discrimination. Also applicable to the workplace in general, but in her book, Jayaraman paints an especially dire situation in restaurants, where women and workers of color are often not promoted to higher-paying positions. The Darden Group, which owns such chains as Olive Garden and Red Lobster has been hit with a class action for discriminating against workers in its Capital Grille outlets, along with wage theft and other labor law violations. 9. Healthy Food Is More Than Nutrition. One of the most troubling short-comings among many of my public health colleagues is to only see "healthy food" in terms of fiber grams and vitamins. This is far too narrow a lens for many reasons, including the moral obligation to also care about how the food was grown, raised, harvested, prepared, and served. This is why I cannot blindly support partnerships such as this one between Let's Move and United Fresh (the trade association for fresh produce) to promote fruits and vegetables to children. We have to also ask how such a group treats its workers. 10. A Sustainable Food System Must Include Workers. Hopefully this is obvious by now, but we cannot talk about sustainability without including the workers, who are on the front lines of all the problems that food policy wonks complain about. Every public health, environmental, and animal welfare problem that has been written about for decades intersects with the plight of food workers. We need them to help inform our analysis and to help forge solutions. Also, as good food advocates, we have a moral obligation to help ensure they can live sustainable lives. We are in this fight together.

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15 февраля 2013, 23:03

Industrial Alliance shares rise on profit beat

TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares of Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services rose more than 4 percent to hit an 18-month high on Friday after the Canadian life insurer reported a...

12 февраля 2013, 23:28

The First Lady's Box at the 2013 State of the Union

For nearly three decades, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the State of the Union Address have been invited to join the First Lady in her viewing box. From students to teachers and innovators, to entrepreneurs and those serving in our armed forces – use the interactive feature below to learn more about the remarkable individuals who will join First Lady Michelle Obama for the 2013 State of the Union Address. #sotu-block-chairs h3 { font-family: arial; font-size:14px; font-weight:bold; text-transform: uppercase; padding-bottom: 5px; margin-bottom: 10px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; width: 100%; } #sotu-block-chairs p { color:#646464; font-family:arial; margin-bottom:10px; } #share { clear:left; } #sotu-block-chairs .flotus-img { float: left; margin-right: 16px; } /* Chairs */ .sotu-chair { width: 24px; height: 32px; background: transparent url("/sites/default/files/image/chair_rollover_gray.png") scroll no-repeat 0px 0px; margin: 5px 22px 5px 0; float: left; } /* SOTU page only */ .sotu #sotu-chairs { padding-right: 50px; } .sotu #sotu-block-chairs { width: 704px; /* this is ok since it is hidden for mobile */ } .sotu #flotus-vid-link { display: inline !important; } The First Lady's Box at the 2013 State of the Union First Lady Michelle Obama Michelle Obama is the First Lady of the United States. Continuing a longstanding tradition, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the President’s State of the Union Address attend the event as guests of the First Lady. '> Dr. Jill Biden Jill Biden is the wife of Vice President Biden. An educator and a proud Blue Star mom, Dr. Biden works to highlight the importance of community colleges, to raise awareness about the sacrifices made by military families, and to bring attention to women’s health issues. '> Valerie Jarrett Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She is also the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and she oversees the Offices of Intergovernmental Affairs; Public Engagement; Urban Affairs; and Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport. '> Sergeant Sheena Adams Vista, California A native of Kauai, Hawaii, Sergeant Adams joined the Marine Corps in 2003. Sergeant Adams was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as a member of the Female Engagement Team (FET) from September 2010 to April 2011. Sergeant Adams received her Combat Action Ribbon and Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal (second award) after successful completion of the deployment. In September 2011, Sergeant Adams returned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Advisor Training Cell, as Team Advisor/Liaison and lead FET instructor, where she re-engineered the Period of Instruction for future FETs. '> Alan Aleman Las Vegas, Nevada Alan Aleman was born in Mexico City, Mexico and attended high school in the U.S. Determined to get a good education, Aleman was one of the first to sign up when he heard the news that the Obama Administration was going to provide Deferred Action for undocumented youth like him to emerge from the shadows. When his application was approved, Aleman said, “I felt the fear vanish. I felt accepted.” Today, Aleman is in his second year at the College of Southern Nevada, studying to become a doctor and he hopes to join the Air Force. '> Jack Andraka Crownsville, Maryland Jack Andraka, 16, of North County High School, was awarded first place for his new method to detect pancreatic cancer at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2012. Motivated by the death of his uncle due to pancreatic cancer, Jack created a simple dipstick sensor based on diabetic test paper to test blood or urine to determine whether or not a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy and showed his patent-pending sensor to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests. '> Susan Bumgarner Norman, Oklahoma Susan Bumgarner has been an early educator for more than twenty years in Oklahoma, which is a national leader in providing access to high quality preschool for all children. Bumgarner, who was educated at the University of Oklahoma, has written curriculum, trained Head Start teachers, taught infants and toddlers, and prepared parents through Early Birds readiness classes. In 1992 Bumgarner began teaching pre-kindergarten at what is now Wilson Arts Integration Elementary School. “My work is enthralling and my students are amazing, creative, intelligent people,” she said. “It is an honor to facilitate their playful transition into the formal world of learning.” '> Deb Carey New Glarus, Wisconsin For Deborah Carey and her husband Dan, a master brewer, New Glarus Brewing Company is a true family effort. In 1993, they sold their home and raised $40,000 in seed money, but still needed more funding, which came after investors heard the story Carey pitched to local newspapers. Today, New Glarus Brewing Company has grown to 50 full-time employees, and registered growth in profits of 123 percent from 2007 to 2009, becoming Wisconsin’s number one micro-brewery relative to sales volume. '> Sergeant Carlos Evans, USMC Cameron, North Carolina Sergeant Carlos Evans, born in Puerto Rico, was on his fourth overseas deployment when he sustained injuries in Afghanistan that resulted in the loss of both of his legs and his left hand. Sergeant Evans credits the support he has received from private organizations to the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s efforts in Joining Forces. In 2012, he received a custom home from Operation Coming Home and now resides in North Carolina with his wife and two young daughters. '> Tim Cook Cupertino, California Before being named CEO in August 2011, Tim Cook was Apple‘s Chief Operating Officer and was responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace. Cook earned an M.B.A. from Duke University, where he was a Fuqua Scholar, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University. '> Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr.Chicago, Illinois Cleopatra and Nathaniel’s daughter Hadiya Pendleton was murdered on January 29, 2013, when she was shot and killed in Harsh Park on Chicago’s South Side. Hadiya had participated in President Obama’s public inaugural celebration on January 21, 2013. She was an honor student and band majorette at King College Prep High School. First Lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya’s memorial service on Saturday, February 6. '> Menchu de Luna Sanchez Secaucus, New Jersey When Hurricane Sandy cut the power at NYU Langone Medical Center, Menchu Sanchez, a Registered Nurse, devised a plan to transport twenty at-risk infants to intensive care units around the city, directing the staff to carry the babies down eight flights of stairs with cell phones lighting the way. Sanchez’s own home was flooding, but she thought only of the babies in her care. Sanchez immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in the 1980s and has worked as a nurse in New York for over 25 years. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children, both of whom are in college. '> Bobak Ferdowsi Pasadena, California Bobak Ferdowsi, aka NASA’s “Mohawk Guy,” is a member of the Mars Curiosity rover team at NASA and Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. After the Curiosity’s successful landing in August 2012, President Obama called to congratulate the team on their success, and singled out Ferdowsi for the unique haircut that captured the imagination of millions of people around the world. Ferdowsi is an Iranian-American and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professional who, in addition to his work on the Mars mission, volunteers as a FIRST robotics mentor to get more boys and girls excited about STEM education. '> Bradley Henning Louisville, Kentucky His high school had one of the best machining programs in the state, and upon graduation Bradley Henning had taken enough vocational classes to get hired as a full-time apprentice with Atlas Machine and Supply in Louisville, Kentucky. Today, at 23, he is a card-carrying Journeyman Machinist at Atlas, and responsible for mentoring the next generation of apprentices. Henning is committed to a career in manufacturing and sees a bright future ahead. “This will be my lifelong career,” he said. “I come in every day with a smile on my face. I learn something new every day…I love that.” '> Tracey Hepner Arlington, Virginia Tracey Hepner is a co-founder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), which provides support, resources, education, and advocacy for LGBT military partners and their families. Hepner works full time for the Department of Homeland Security as a Master Behavior Detection Officer. She is married to the first openly gay or lesbian general officer in the military, Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith. '> Peter Hudson Evergreen, Colorado Dr. Peter Hudson, the co-founder and CEO of iTriage, is a physician and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience founding and growing healthcare-related businesses. His focus has been on creating efficiencies within the healthcare delivery system, and empowering healthcare consumers with technology. Using open government data, in 2009 Dr. Hudson launched his company focused on prompting citizens to actively engage in their own healthcare. His app enables smartphone users to locate nearby providers based on their symptoms, make appointments, store their personal health records, save medication refill reminders, and learn about thousands of medications, diseases and procedures. '> Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR) Governor John Kitzhaber has built on his experience as a former emergency room doctor to transform health care delivery in Oregon. Now in his third term, Governor Kitzhaber is working with the Obama administration to scale up innovative models that show how government can do more with less. These performance partnerships, which emphasize federal flexibility and local accountability, are key to building the infrastructure we‘ll need to unleash the 21st century economy and achieving improved health care outcomes and efficiencies and better results for our students. '> Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers Avondale, Arizona Marie Lopez Rogers served on the Avondale City Council for 14 years before being elected as the city’s first Latina Mayor in 2006. Growing up in migrant farm labor camps and picking cotton alongside her parents, Mayor Rogers never imagined that she would be guiding the transformation of the region. In Dec. 2012, she was named president of the National League of Cities, an organization dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. She and her husband Ed have been married for 43 years and have three children and six grandchildren. '> Amanda E. McMillanJackson, Mississippi For years Amanda McMillan worked as a secretary, doing many of the same duties as male salespeople but at lower pay. When she repeatedly asked for a promotion, McMillan was told sales was too dangerous for a woman, and that she would not be a good mother if she were on the road meeting customers. She sued the company for sex discrimination, and won. McMillan brought the suit because, “it was wrong. I could never look my girls in the face and then tell them they live in America and could be anything they wanted to be.” A mother of three, she lives in Jackson, MS. '> Lee Maxwell Wilton, Iowa In 2012, Lee Maxwell graduated from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Maxwell gained twenty six separate certifications in everything from reading blueprints to driving forklifts, and today, he’s responsible for turning on the power for new wind turbines that are being built all around the country. Kirkwood started its wind technician training program three years ago in partnership with Iowa-based Clipper Windpower, combining an industry-based curriculum with donated equipment to give students the hands-on experience they need to succeed. '> Lieutenant Brian Murphy Oak Creek, Wisconsin Lieutenant Brian Murphy was the first police officer to arrive at the scene of the tragic Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last August. Lt. Murphy confronted the shooter, and took fifteen bullets to his head, neck, and body before the rest of the police force arrived. Lt. Murphy has served as a police officer for over twenty years and previously served in the Marine Corps and the United National security force. He lives with his wife and children in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. '> Lisa RichardsArlington, Virginia Lisa Richards was one of thousands of Americans who shared stories about what paying $2,200 more in taxes would mean for them. The single mom wrote, “It‘s 20 weeks of groceries, two years worth of gasoline, 1/3 of a new roof (which I need), six months of utilities.” With the passage of the middle class tax cuts at the beginning of the year,Richards and millions of Americans like her did not see did not see an income tax increase. Richards and her seven-year old daughter live in Arlington, Virginia. '> Katlin Roig Greenwich, Connecticut Kaitlin Roig has been a first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School for six years. Passionate about education and working with children, Roig received her Master’s degree from the NEAG School of Education at the University of Connecticut, where she was a member of the Order of Omega Honor Society, the Historical Honor Society, and the NEAG honor society. Roig started a running club called Marathon Mondays for third and fourth grade students at Sandy Hook Elementary. She will be running the New York City Marathon this year. '> Abby Schanfield Minneapolis, Minnesota Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Abby Schanfield would have lost coverage upon turning 21 and would not have been able to obtain care due to her several pre-existing conditions. Schanfield was influenced by her experiences growing up with a chronic illness, and the privileges that come with being insured. A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Schanfield hopes to work in public policy, focusing on women’s and community health. '> Haile Thomas Tuscon, Arizona At 12, Haile Thomas is a Youth Advisory Board member with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Co-Founder/Director of the HAPPY Organization, an Arizona nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and wellness of youth through education, outreach, and advocacy about proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. Haile produces online cooking videos aimed at encouraging kids to get cooking, created the Healthy Girl Adventures Club to inspire girls to embrace healthy habits, and hosts an annual H.E.A.L. (healthy eating, active lifestyle) Festival in Tucson. '> Desiline Victor Miami, Florida Desiline Victor, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti and retired farmworker, is 102 years old. On October 28, Victor inspired other early voters with her determination to cast her ballot, waiting three hours in vain, and then returning a second time. Mission accomplished, she emerged with an “I Voted” sticker as thousands of waiting voters erupted into applause. Known as “Granny” among the city’s Haitian community, Victor enjoys attending church services and cooking her own meals. '> $('.bt').bt({ contentSelector: "$(this).attr('data-sotu')", fill: "#FFFFFF", shrinkToFit: true, padding: "16px", cornerRadius: 4, width: 330, strokeStyle: "#666666", positions: ['top', 'bottom', 'left', 'right'] }); Check out WhiteHouse.gov/sotu for an enhanced viewing experience of President Obama's State of the Union address and check out opportunities to engage online with White House officials and even President Obama himself. Learn more about the State of the Union: Inside the process of making  a State of the Union Address Watch the enhanced version of the 2012 State of the Union Address Video: Go behind the scenes as the President prepared his 21012 State of the Union speech Photo Gallery: Scenes from the 2012 State of the Union

12 февраля 2013, 21:18

Guest List for the First Lady's Box at the State of the Union Address

First Lady Michelle Obama   Dr. Jill Biden   Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President   The following individuals will be seated in the box with the First Lady and Dr. Biden at the State of the Union Address:  Sergeant Sheena Adams (Vista, CA) Team Advisor & Lead Instructor, Female Engagement Team A native of Kauai, Hawaii, Sergeant Adams joined the Marine Corps in 2003 and attended recruit training in Parris Island, S.C.  In 2010, Sergeant Adams joined the Female Engagement Team (FET) and was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan from September 2010 to April 2011 in direct support of 1st Battalion 8th Marines in Musa Qal’eh District.  Sergeant Adams received her Combat Action Ribbon and Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal (second award) after successful completion of the deployment.  In September 2011, Sergeant Adams returned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Advisor Training Cell, as Team Advisor/Liaison and lead FET instructor, where she re-engineered the Period of Instruction for future FETs.  Alan Aleman (Las Vegas, NV) DREAM Student Alan Aleman was born in Mexico City, Mexico.  In high school, Alan watched his friends come of age – driving around town with their new licenses and earning some extra cash from their summer jobs at the mall.  Although Alan knew he could not do those things because of his immigration status, he was determined to get a good education.  Last year, when Alan heard the news that the Obama Administration was going to provide Deferred Action for undocumented youth like him to emerge from the shadows, he was one of the first to sign up.  Alan was among the first people in Nevada to get approved.  In that moment, Alan said, “I felt the fear vanish.  I felt accepted.”  Today, Alan is in his second year at the College of Southern Nevada.  He’s studying to become a doctor and he hopes to join the Air Force.  Alan is currently working at Hermandad Mexicana, where he is in charge of final review for DACA applications.  Jack Andraka (Crownsville, MD) Winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Jack Andraka, 16, of North County High School, was awarded first place for his new method to detect pancreatic cancer at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2012, a program of Society for Science & the Public. Motivated by the death of his uncle due to pancreatic cancer, Jack created a simple dip-stick sensor based on diabetic test paper to test blood or urine to determine whether or not a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy and showed his patent-pending sensor to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests. President Obama strongly believes that we need more students like Jack who are passionate about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and has hosted two White House Science Fairs to celebrate students participating in such competitions.  Susan Bumgarner (Norman, OK)                                         Early Childhood Educator Susan Bumgarner's home state of Oklahoma is a national leader in providing access to high quality preschool for all children, and she has been an early educator in the Oklahoma system for more than twenty years. Susan was educated at the University of Oklahoma and influenced by family members who taught and studied there.  Susan has written curriculum, trained Head Start teachers, taught infants and toddlers, and prepared parents by teaching Early Birds readiness class.  In 1992 Susan began teaching pre-kindergarten at what is now Wilson Arts Integration Elementary School, a public school. “My work is enthralling and my students are amazing, creative, intelligent people,” she said. “It is an honor to facilitate their playful transition into the formal world of learning.”  Deb Carey (New Glarus, WI) Small Business Owner, New Glarus Brewing Company Deborah Carey’s decision to start New Glarus Brewing Company was rooted in doing what was best for her family.  As she worked on a business plan, her husband Dan, a master brewer, gathered the materials, grains and equipment needed for start-up.  In 1993 they negotiated to rent a warehouse in New Glarus, exchanging the lease for stock in the New Glarus Brewing Company.  They sold their home and raised $40,000 in seed money, but still needed more funding. Deborah pitched her story to local newspapers, and the media attention brought $200,000 from investors.  In the early days, the couple worked hard to establish the brewery’s reputation for consistent quality beers and developed a very loyal customer base. Today, New Glarus Brewing Company has grown to 50 full-time employees, and registered growth in profits of 123 percent from 2007 to 2009, becoming Wisconsin’s number one micro-brewery relative to sales volume. Sergeant Carlos Evans, USMC (Cameron, NC) Wounded Warrior Sergeant Evans, born in Puerto Rico, was on his fourth overseas deployment when he sustained injuries in Afghanistan that resulted in the loss of both of his legs and his left hand.  Recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, Sergeant Evans met the First Lady and later visited the White House for a Wounded Warrior Tour.  At that time, the President signed his prosthetic arm.   He credits the support he has received from private organizations to the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s efforts in Joining Forces.  In 2012, he received a custom home from Operation Coming Home and now resides in North Carolina with his wife and two young daughters.   Tim Cook (Cupertino, CA) CEO of Apple Before being named CEO in August 2011, Tim was Apple's Chief Operating Officer and was responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace. Prior to joining Apple, Tim was vice president of Corporate Materials for Compaq and was responsible for procuring and managing all of Compaq’s product inventory. Previous to his work at Compaq, Tim was the chief operating officer of the Reseller Division at Intelligent Electronics. Tim also spent 12 years with IBM, most recently as director of North American Fulfillment where he led manufacturing and distribution functions for IBM’s Personal Computer Company in North and Latin America. Tim earned an M.B.A. from Duke University, where he was a Fuqua Scholar, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University.  Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr. (Chicago, IL) Cleopatra and Nathaniel’s daughter Hadiya Pendleton was murdered on January 29, 2013, when she was shot and killed in Harsh Park on Chicago’s South Side. Hadiya had participated in President Obama’s public inaugural celebration on January 21, 2013.  She was an honor student and band majorette at King College Prep High School.  First Lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya’s memorial service on Saturday, February 6th.   Menchu de Luna Sanchez (Secaucus, NJ) Registered Nurse, NYU Langone Medical Center When Hurricane Sandy cut the power at NYU Langone Medical Center, Menchu Sanchez, a Registered Nurse, devised a plan to transport twenty at-risk infants to intensive care units around the city.  She organized the nurses and doctors to carefully carry the babies down eight flights of stairs with only cell phones to light the way.  Even as Menchu’s own home was flooding, she thought only of protecting the babies in her care.  Menchu was born, raised, and educated in the Philippines and she immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.  She has worked as a nurse in New York for more than 25 years, and has been at NYU since 2010.  Menchu currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children, both of whom are in college.  Bobak Ferdowsi (Pasadena, CA) Flight Director, Mars Curiosity Rover Bobak Ferdowsi, aka NASA’s “Mohawk Guy,” is a member of the Mars Curiosity rover team at NASA and Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.  After the successful landing of the Curiosity rover in August 2012, President Obama called to congratulate the team on their success, and singled out Bobak for his unique haircut that captured the imagination of millions of people around the world. The Curiosity rover is a car-sized robot equipped with a laser, chemistry set, and drill for assessing whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms. Bobak is an Iranian-American and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professional who, in addition to his inspiring day-to-day work on the Mars Curiosity mission, volunteers as a FIRST robotics mentor to get more boys and girls excited about STEM education. Bradley Henning (Louisville, KY) Machinist, Atlas Machine and Supply Bradley Henning’s high school has one of the best machining programs in Kentucky.  He got hooked on machining in his sophomore year, and by the time he graduated, Bradley had taken enough vocational classes to get hired as a full-time apprentice with Atlas Machine and Supply in Louisville, Kentucky.  For the past four years, Bradley has worked under a veteran machinist and is taking additional classes to earn his full certification. Today, at 23, he is a card-carrying Journeyman Machinist at Atlas, and responsible for mentoring the next generation of apprentices.  Bradley is committed to a career in manufacturing and sees a bright future ahead. “This is going to be my lifelong career,” he said. “I come in every day with a smile on my face. I learn something new every day…I love that.” Tracey Hepner (Arlington, VA) Co-Founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition Tracey is a co-founder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), which provides support, resources, education, and advocacy for LGBT military partners and their families.  Outside of her work with MPFC, Tracey works full time for the Department of Homeland Security as a Master Behavior Detection Officer.  She is married to the first openly gay or lesbian general officer in the military, Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith. Peter Hudson (Evergreen, CO) Co-Founder and CEO, iTriage Dr. Peter Hudson, the co-founder and CEO of iTriage, is a physician and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience founding and growing healthcare-related businesses. His focus has been on creating efficiencies within the healthcare delivery system, and empowering healthcare consumers with technology.  Using open government data, Dr. Hudson launched iTriage in 2009, a company focused on prompting citizens to actively engage in their own healthcare. Through the app, an example of government inspired innovation, smartphone users can locate nearby providers based on their symptoms, make appointments, store their personal health records, save medication refill reminders, and learn about thousands of medications, diseases and procedures.  Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR) Governor John Kitzhaber has built on his experience as a former emergency room doctor to transform health care delivery in Oregon. Now in his third term, Governor Kitzhaber is working with the Obama administration to scale up innovative models that show how government can do more with less. These performance partnerships, which emphasize federal flexibility and local accountability, are key to achieving improved health care outcomes and efficiencies, better results for our students and building the infrastructure we'll need to unleash the 21st century economy.  Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers (Avondale, AZ) Marie Lopez Rogers served on the Avondale City Council for 14 years before being elected as the city’s first Latina Mayor in 2006.  Growing up in migrant farm labor camps and picking cotton alongside her parents in fields where her City Hall now stands, Mayor Rogers never imagined that she would be guiding the transformation of the region.  Mayor Rogers currently serves as Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments.  In Dec. 2012, she was named president of the National League of Cities, an organization dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. She and her husband Ed have been married for 43 years and have three children and six grandchildren. Amanda E. McMillan (Jackson, MS) Pay Discrimination Victim For a number of years Amanda McMillan worked as a secretary for the owner of a Forrest City Grocery Company. She was doing many of the same duties as male salespeople, but at lower pay. Despite repeatedly asking to be officially promoted to the better and higher-paying job in sales, she was told by the company that the job of a salesman was too dangerous for a woman, and that she would not be a good mother if she were on the road meeting customers. With the help of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), she sued the company for sex discrimination. The lawsuit charged that Forrest City Grocery denied sales positions to an employee because she was a woman and paid McMillan less than men doing the same work. When asked why she has pursued the case, McMillan said, “I’m doing this because it was wrong and I could never look my girls in the face and then tell them they live in America and could be anything they wanted to be.”As a result of the suit, Forrest City Grocery agreed to pay $125,000 in monetary damages and agreed to disseminate employment policies to employees and provide ongoing training for management on sex discrimination. Amanda, a mother of three, currently lives in Jackson, MS. Lee Maxwell (Wilton, IA) Graduate, Kirkwood Community College Wind Technician Program In 2012, Lee Maxwell graduated from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.   He gained twenty six separate certifications in everything from reading blueprints to driving forklifts.  Today, he’s responsible for turning on the power for new wind turbines that are being built all around the country.   Kirkwood started its wind technician training program three years ago in partnership with Iowa-based Clipper Windpower, combining an industry-based curriculum and donated equipment to give students the hands-on experience they need to succeed. Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Oak Creek, WI) Lieutenant Brian Murphy was the first police officer to arrive at the scene of the tragic Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last August.  Lt. Murphy directly confronted the shooter, and took fifteen bullets to his head, neck, and body before the rest of the police force arrived.  When his fellow officers moved to assist him, he waved them off and told them to protect the threatened citizens who remained in the temple. When asked how he was able to respond with such bravery, Lt. Murphy responded, “That’s just the way we’re made.” Today, Lt. Murphy is on medical leave from the force and still recovering from his injuries.  Lt. Murphy has served as a police officer for more than twenty years and previously served in the Marine Corps and the United National security force.  He lives with his wife and children in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Lisa Richards (Arlington, VA) #My2K Participant Lisa Richards, a single mom, was one of thousands of Americans who shared stories about what paying $2,200 more in taxes would mean for her family by using #My2K. She wrote, “It's 20 weeks of groceries, two years worth of gasoline, 1/3 of a new roof (which I need), six months of utilities.” With the passage of the middle class tax cuts at the beginning of the year, Lisa and millions of Americans like her did not see did not see an income tax increase. Born in Philadelphia and raised in New York and Dallas, Lisa has called the Washington, DC area home for more than 25 years. She now lives in Arlington, Virginia with her seven-year-old daughter working freelance and contract work for a variety of website clients.   Kaitlin Roig (Greenwich, CT) 1st Grade Teacher, Sandy Hook Elementary School Kaitlin Roig has taught first grade for six years at Sandy Hook Elementary, and has always had a passion for education and working with children.  She attended and received her Master’s degree from the NEAG School of Education at the University of Connecticut, where she was a member of the Order of Omega Honor Society, The Historical Honor Society, and the NEAG honor society.  In addition to her teaching, Kaitlin also started a running club called Marathon Mondays for third and fourth grade students at Sandy Hook Elementary.  She will be running the New York City Marathon this year.  Abby Schanfield (Minneapolis, MN) ACA Beneficiary Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Abby would have lost coverage upon turning 21 and would not have been able to obtain care due to her several pre-existing conditions.  Abby is a member of TakeAction Minnesota’s healthcare team, a grassroots organization that advocates for progressive policies ranging from health care to economic reform.  Abby was influenced by her experiences growing up with a chronic illness, and the privileges that come with being insured.  A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Abby hopes to work in public policy, focusing on women’s and community health.  Haile Thomas (Tucson, AZ) Let’s Move! Champion Haile Thomas is a 12 year-old Youth Advisory Board member with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  She is Co-Founder/Director of the HAPPY Organization, an Arizona nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and wellness of youth through education, outreach, and advocacy about proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. Haile hosts an annual H.E.A.L. (healthy eating, active lifestyle) Festival on Global Youth Service Day in Tucson. She created the Healthy Girl Adventures Club to inspire girls to embrace healthy habits, and produces online cooking videos aimed at encouraging kids to get cooking. Haile is also the Youth Spokesperson and Jr. Chef Consultant for Hyatt Hotels. Desiline Victor (Miami, FL) Desiline Victor, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti and retired farmworker, is 102 years old. On October 28, the first Sunday of early voting in Florida, Desiline went to vote at her polling place, a local library. When she arrived at 10:00 a.m., wait times were up to six hours. Determined to vote, she stood in line for three hours, until 1:00 p.m. After citizen advocates complained that the elderly woman was struggling on her feet, a poll worker asked Desiline to come back at a later time. On Desiline’s second visit that evening, she was finally able to cast her ballot. When she emerged from the building with her “I Voted” sticker, the crowd of thousands of waiting voters erupted into applause. Several voters remarked that the lines were long, and they needed to get home, but because of Desiline they would continue to stand and wait. Desiline resides in North Miami, where she is lovingly known as “Granny” among the city’s Haitian community. A spirited and independent centenarian, she enjoys attending church services and cooking her own meals.

04 февраля 2013, 04:16

Obamacare: A Deception

Introduction by Paul Craig Roberts The article below is the most comprehensive analysis available of “Obamacare” – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The author, a knowledgeable person who wishes to remain anonymous, explains how Obamacare works for the insurance companies but not for you. Obamacare was formulated on the concept of health care as a commercial commodity and was cloaked in ideological slogans such as “shared responsibility,” “no free riders” and “ownership society.” These slogans dress the insurance industry’s raid on public resources in the cloak of a “free market” health care system. You will learn how to purchase a subsidized plan at the Exchange, what will happen when income and family circumstances change during the year or from one year to the next, and other perils brought to you by Obamacare. It is one of the most important articles that will be posted on my website this year. Americans will be shocked to learn the extent to which they have been deceived. The legislation neither protects the patient nor are the plans affordable. The author shows that for those Americans whose income places them between 138% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, the out-of-pocket cost for one of the least expensive (lower coverage) subsidized policies ranges from 2% to 9.5% of Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI), a tax base larger than the Adjusted Gross Income used for calculating federal income tax. What this means is that those Americans with the least or no disposable income are faced in effect with a substantial pay cut. The author provides an example of a 35 year-old with a MAGI of $27,925. The out-of- pocket cost to this person of a Silver level plan (second least expensive) is $187.33 per month. This cost is based on pre-tax income, that is, before income is reduced by payroll and income taxes. There goes the car payment or utility bill. The lives of millions of Americans will change drastically as they struggle with a new, large expense – particularly in an era of no jobs, low-paying jobs and rising cost of living. The author also points out that the cost of using the mandated policies will be prohibitive because of the large deductibles and co-pays. Many Americans will find themselves not only with a policy they can’t afford, but also with one they cannot afford to use. Those who cannot afford the insurance, even with a subsidy, will be faced with a costly penalty, and in many cases, this, too, will be difficult, if not impossible, to pay. As each year’s subsidy is based on last year’s income, there will be a substantial year-end tax liability for those who must repay the subsidy in whole or part because their income increased during the year. The stress alone from such a regressive scheme is, without a doubt, not conducive to good health and well-being. Diets will worsen for millions of Americans as they struggle with a new large expense. Thus, the effect of Obamacare will be to worsen the health of millions. Indeed, a “glitch” in the legislation allows millions to be priced out of coverage. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/obamacare-glitch-priced-out-of-health-care_n_2585695.html?view=print&comm_ref=false Alternatively, Americans might be able to acquire health insurance coverage but have no doctors willing to treat them. http://www.californiahealthline.org/road-to-reform/2013/access-denied-implications-of-medi-cal-pay-cut.aspx# The demand that Obamacare places on household budgets in which there is no slack makes me wonder where the president’s economists were while the insurance lobby crafted the product that serves the profits of insurance companies. Two well-known economic facts are that real family income has been stagnant or declining for a number of years and Americans are over their heads in debt. How does Obama preside over a recovery when consumer purchasing power is redirected to insurance company profits? Obamacare not only rations health care by what a person or family can afford, but also has implications for Medicare patients. Hundreds of billions of dollars are siphoned from Medicare to help pay the cost of Obamacare. The health care provided to Medicare patients will decline with the reduced payments to care providers. Health care seems destined to be rationed according to the age and illnesses of Medicare patients. Those judged too old and too ill could be denied expensive treatments or procedures that would prolong their lives. Obama will rue the day that his name was put on this special interest legislation, and most Americans, once they realize what has been done to them, will be angry that special interests again prevailed over the health of the nation. OBAMACARE: DEVILS IN THE DETAILS The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, commonly referred to as the ACA or Obamacare, will go into full effect in 2014. This decree mandates that all Americans must purchase and maintain government-approved health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS. Touted as a plan to provide all Americans with access to medical care, in reality, this compulsory shakedown commands everyone to purchase insurance that for many will be too expensive, even with government subsidies – or unaffordable to use – or both. The ACA was not selflessly designed with the intent of providing affordable and equitable medical services to those in need, but rather to acquire taxpayer money for the private insurance companies under the seemingly helpful guise of health care and the ideological excuse of personal responsibility. It takes money from ordinary people and gives it to a medical insurance industry that profits handsomely from this legally-enforced corporate welfare – all while keeping Americans locked in the same broken system that puts profit before patients. The law was essentially written by business executives from the industry so that special interests would not be upset and profits assured. There’s a lot to digest about how the ACA works and much is buried in a complex, convoluted maze of regulations and procedures. A few websites contain explanations, but very important details have either been left out or glossed over. These details are well worth understanding so you will know what’s at stake for you and your family. This lesson is not meant to convey a political opinion. This is how the ACA works and under this law, there are no sacred cows. In today’s lesson, you will learn why 2013 is an important year for many of you with regard to your income and the ACA. We will discuss 1) use of Modified Adjusted Gross Income, 2) tax credits (help paying for insurance), 3) your share of the premium, 4) paying back the tax credits to the IRS, 5) expansion of Medicaid and estate recovery which could affect you if you are put into that plan, 6) inadequate coverage in most subsidized plans, 7) penalties, 8) exemptions and 9) a few tidbits. We’ll also take a look at the agenda of Enroll America and the Health Insurance Exchanges, and what you can expect to hear in the very near future. Here we go. Fasten your seat belts. 1. HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE BASICS In 2014, each state will have an Affordable Insurance Exchange where qualified individuals and families with incomes between 138 and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) can shop for commercial insurance policies. Most individuals and families with incomes at or below 138 percent FPL will be put into Medicaid. You may be eligible for help paying for your insurance in the form of a tax credit. In most states, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will continue to cover children in families with incomes up to at least 200 percent FPL. Some states may offer a Basic Health Plan for those who earn up to 200 percent FPL and are not eligible for Medicaid. Under limited circumstances, you may also be eligible for a cost-sharing credit. Eligibility to receive a tax credit, the amount of your tax credit and your out-of-pocket share for the insurance will be determined by your income and where you fall in the Federal Poverty Level Guidelines (FPL). This is easy to understand. Your annual gross income determines which FPL you’re in. For example, based on 2012 FPL Guidelines, an individual with an annual income of $33,510 is at 300 percent FPL; a family of 4 with an annual income of $69,150 is at 300 percent FPL. To see where you’re at, try the handy calculator at this link. FPL Guidelines are revised every January, so the 2013 edition should be up soon. http://www.safetyweb.org/fpl.php The ACA requires use of MODIFIED ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME (MAGI) instead of Adjusted Gross Income for all determinations made by an Exchange including eligibility for Medicaid except in certain cases. So, in this lesson, we’ll refer to annual income as MAGI. Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is defined as Adjusted Gross Income PLUSa) all tax exempt interest accrued or received in the taxable year;b) the non-taxable portion of Social Security benefits provided under Title II of the Social Security Act which includes old-age benefits, disability benefits, spousal benefits, child benefits, survivor benefits and parental benefits;c) tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits that are not includible in gross income; andd) the exclusion from gross income for citizens or residents living abroad. The adoption of MAGI, created by the ACA, is defined in a new section of the IRS code. 2. DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY FOR A TAX CREDIT The tax credit is to help you pay for insurance. The ACA says it must be based on annual income for the tax year it’s received, but since you will need help paying for your plan during that year, the ACA allows for advance payment of the tax credit. Here’s an example of what that means: Let’s say you apply for insurance at an Exchange in 2014. Therefore, 2014 is the tax year you will receive your tax credit, and per the ACA, the amount you receive must be based on that year’s MAGI. But, that year’s MAGI won’t be available until 2015 when you file your 2014 tax return and you need help paying for your insurance plan when you buy it in 2014. So, the amount of your tax credit has to be determined on information that is available such as your prior-year (2013) tax return. Thus, the tax credit morphs into an ‘advance payment of the tax credit’ (also referred to as an advance premium assistance credit). Now you see why 2013 is an important year for many of you. The ACA allows for limited disclosure of tax return info in order for an Exchange employee to verify your citizenship status and MAGI, and, not only to let you know how much your advance tax credit will be, but also to see if you are eligible to receive this in the first place. An Exchange can also consider using your real-time income by looking at your state’s most current quarterly wage database, or it may agree to accept paper verification (pay stubs, etc.) as a last resort or an attestation of your income with no verification. Creation of a federal ‘data services hub’ is in the works so your income information will be more readily accessible. But, no matter how this plays out, you’ll still receive an advance payment of the tax credit because your actual MAGI for 2014 will not be known by you nor can it be verified by an Exchange until you file your 2014 tax return in 2015. Ultimately, no matter which method is used – prior year or partial current year – this advance payment of the tax credit carries with it some heavy-duty consequences which are discussed in topic 4 of this lesson. 3. TAX CREDITS AND YOUR SHARE OF THE PREMIUM The amount of your tax credit will be based on the second lowest-cost Silver plan in the area where you live and your MAGI. Here’s how this works – it’s quite simple: a) First, the amount you will pay out of your pocket for that Silver plan – copays and deductibles not included – will be a specific percentage of your MAGI, and you will pay this to the insurer on a monthly basis. The way this percentage will be calculated is described a few lines down. b) Next, your share will be deducted from the cost of that Silver plan and the difference will be your tax credit which the government will pay directly to the insurer on a monthly basis when you purchase a plan. The specific percentage you will have to pay for the second lowest-cost Silver plan will be based on your FPL using a well-greased sliding scale. As your FPL increases little by little, the percentage you will pay increases. The same percentage applies to an individual or a family. Here’s how much of your MAGI you will pay for that Silver plan: — up to 138 % FPL: 2% for people legally present less than 5 full years and residents of states that do not expand Medicaid — 138-150% FPL: 3 to 4% — 150-200% FPL: 4 to 6.3% — 200-250% FPL: 6.3 to 8.05% — 250-300% FPL: 8.05 to 9.5% — 300-400% FPL: 9.5% – there’s no range, but the dollar amount of your share will change because 9.5% of a lower MAGI is less than 9.5% of a higher MAGI. Here are two examples in dollars using 2012 FPL Guidelines and an estimate for a second lowest-cost Silver plan which will vary depending where you live – actual costs are not yet available: a) You are 35 years old and the price of the second lowest-cost Silver plan for an individual in the area where you live is $4,750 with no tax credit. If your MAGI is $33,510 ($2,792.50 per month) putting you at 300 percent FPL, your share for that Silver plan, per the chart above, would be 9.5 percent of your MAGI which comes to $3,183 ($265.25 per month). Your tax credit would be $1,567 which is the difference between the unsubsidized cost of that Silver plan and your share. b) You are 35 years old and your MAGI is $27,925 ($2,327 per month) putting you at 250 percent FPL, so, your share of that Silver plan would be 8.05 percent of your MAGI which comes to $2,247.96 ($187.33 per month) and your tax credit would be $2,502. If the second lowest-cost Silver plan is too expensive, you can apply your tax credit to a Bronze plan which will be cheaper but less comprehensive. If you want a better plan than the Silver, you will have to pay the full difference in the premium. Don’t forget that your share of the monthly premium will be figured on your MAGI which is pre-tax income. So, after you deduct your income taxes and your share of an insurance plan, will you be able to cover your monthly basic living costs including paying off debt you may owe and still have some cash left to pay for medical care if you have to use your insurance? Check out topic 6 in this lesson for a rundown of plans and coverage you can expect to find at an Exchange. Hope you don’t faint. Once you purchase a plan, your share and your tax credit won’t change until the next enrollment period unless, before that time, your income goes up or down enough to bump you into a different FPL or you get a job with insurance. You can let your Exchange know by phone or via your online account, or, your Exchange might notice while cruising the data services hub you learned about in topic 2 and notify you that you must ‘up’ your coverage or that you’ve been tossed into Medicaid if your MAGI has decreased enough to make you eligible for that plan. Exchanges will be encouraged to use as many different avenues as possible including private databases to keep tabs on your income. Thus, you could end up bouncing from Medicaid to a subsidized plan or vice versa. By the same token, you could take some extra work to help pay the bills or to save for a vacation, and, oops, you went over 400 percent FPL and are no longer eligible for a tax credit. The Exchange may not find out about this unless you spill the beans, but, no matter how it all plays out, income changes will catch up with you when you file your tax return. To be eligible for a tax credit you must file your tax return no later than April 15. Married taxpayers must file a joint return. Individuals who are listed as dependents on a return are ineligible for a tax credit. If you are eligible for Medicaid, you will not be allowed to receive a tax credit or a cost-sharing credit although some states impose premium and cost-sharing charges on certain Medicaid enrollees per the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) and clarified in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. On January 22, 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed allowing states to further increase Medicaid premiums and out-of-pocket costs by 5 percent. The most egregious part of this proposed rule says that states may allow providers to deny services for failure to pay the required cost-sharing in certain circumstances. The Obama administration is behind this proposed rule hoping to persuade states to expand Medicaid since many have refused and others are still undecided – the expansion of Medicaid is an integral part of the ACA. Allowing states to further increase premiums and cost-sharing for the poorest segment of the population underscores the existing political bias toward low-income Americans despite rhetoric which claims otherwise. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/01/22/2013-00659/medicaid-childrens-health-insurance-programs-and-exchanges-essen- tial-health-benefits-in-alternative#h-186 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/health/medicaid-patients-could-face-higher-fees-under-a-proposed-federal-policy.html Affordability rates (the percentage of your MAGI the government has decided you can afford to pay for insurance) are based on boardroom formulas which don’t take particular individual needs into account such as housing costs, property taxes, debt, education, transportation, retirement savings, etc. Also, FPL Guidelines are standard across the country and do not take into consideration those who reside in a more expensive region or vice versa. They are one-size-fits-all with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. See topic 8 in this lesson to learn about exemptions. Check out what self-proclaimed health care expert Jonathan Gruber says about affordability and get a load of all the “formulas.” According to Mr. Gruber, you may be having too much fun in life and need to get serious, buy health insurance and live under a rock in order to pay for it. He was involved with Romneycare in Massachusetts and was also Mr. Obama’s go to man under a no-bid contract. Per a bar graph on page 6 of a report prepared by Stan Dom for the Urban Institute, subsidized plans under the ACA are estimated to cost 2 to 3 times more (give or take) than the subsidized plans under Romneycare. Per several surveys during the years that Romneycare has been in effect, many low and modest income MA residents have had difficulty paying for those plans and the out-of-pocket costs to use the insurance, particularly chronically-ill residents.http://ebookbrowse.com/1493-gruber-will-affordable-care-act-make-hlt-ins-affordable-reform-brief-v2-pdf-d124754327http://www.statecoverage.org/files/TheBasicHealthProgramOptionUnderHealthReform.pdf 4. PAYBACK OF TAX CREDITS TO THE IRS Perhaps you recall hearing politicians including Mr. Obama say if you can’t afford to pay for health insurance, the government will help you. That was one of the key talking points repeated non stop. We just went over the help part – the tax credits. Now we’ll look at what Mr. Obama et al didn’t tell you which is important to understand because it could cause you some serious financial distress. Remember the “advance payment of the tax credit” in topic 2 of this lesson? Well, essentially, that was a loan from the government which was paid in advance to the insurer on your behalf when you purchased your plan, and, as you know, loans have to be paid back. So, when you file your tax return for the year you received your “advance tax credit” (your loan), if your income has changed, you have to settle this with the IRS. Here’s the deal: a) If your MAGI is higher and the increase puts you into a higher FPL, you may have to pay back a portion or all of the tax credit because it was based on a lower MAGI. In other words, you could have an additional tax liability on top of the income taxes you already paid (or still owe) because you received a higher tax credit than you were entitled to. b) If your MAGI is lower and the decrease puts you into a lower FPL, a refund could be coming to you because you were eligible for a larger tax credit than the government paid to the insurer. In other words, you overpaid for your portion of the insurance premium. c) If you earned a bit more or less, but your extra earnings or loss didn’t bump you into another FPL, you’re home free. To figure out your payback, you will have to enter the relevant figures on the reconciliation page of the tax return. Changes in filing status such as the number of people in your household will also have an impact. For those of you who marry or divorce, the rules for the payback amount as well as the amount of the tax credit you are eligible to receive will make your head spin – the computation includes pre- and post-marriage FPL and uses the highest FPL of the two people involved. Ditto for divorce. Here is one of the reconciliation explanations in IRS-speak: Your liability for an excess tax credit you received must be reflected on your current year income tax return subject to a limitation on the amount of such liability. Oh! Limitation on the amount of such liability. That sounds good. Let’s take a peek at the payback limitations on record at the time of this writing. “At the time of this writing” are the operative words because the cap has been increased twice since the ACA was signed into law. The original payback was capped at $400 for families under 400 percent FPL and $200 for individuals. We’ll skip over the first increase. The story behind the second one is that a particular revenue stream was removed from the original law, so something had to be done to compensate for this lost money. Thus, an amendment was passed that increased the cap using a sliding scale, thereby putting a huge financial burden on the backs of the very people the ACA claims to help. In other words, tag, you’re it. You are the cash cow. Here are the current sliding-scale caps: If the household income (expressed as a percent of poverty line) is: less than 200 percent, the applicable dollar amount is $600 at least 200 percent but less than 300 percent, the applicable dollar amount is $1,500 at least 300 percent but less than 400 percent, the applicable dollar amount is $2,500 Effective date: the amendment made by this topic shall apply to taxable years ending after December 31, 2013. Very truly yours, House Ways and Means Committee The name of this bloodsucker is The Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011.http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-112publ9/html/PLAW-112publ9.htm But wait, there’s more! a) Update: Today (Feb. 17) (2011) the House Ways and Means Committee approved the 1099 repeal bill which requires consumers earning more than 400 percent of the poverty line to pay back the [entire] subsidy. http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/144847-1099-repeal-gets-trickier-with-house-billb) Also, per IRS final regulations: for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2014, the payback caps may be adjusted to reflect changes in the consumer price index. Payback amounts are reduced to one-half for unmarried individuals who are not surviving spouses or filing as heads of households. There is no help if you get hit with a payback and many of you will have difficulty paying this liability. Chances that you may have received an incorrect tax credit are not exactly slim because this poorly thought-out scheme does not take into account the unpredictable and complex financial situations that confront the low and modest income population. Keep in mind that by ending up in a higher FPL, you may also have to pay more out of your pocket for an insurance premium. You learned how that works in topic 3. If you can’t afford a higher premium and drop your insurance, you may still owe a payback plus a penalty for being uninsured which is also MAGI-based. Penalties are discussed in topic 7. If your MAGI puts you over 400 percent FPL, you just knocked yourself into left field and are on your own paying for an insurance plan on the open market. And, you may also be required to payback the entire tax credit. If you get a job during the current year that offers health insurance which is not more than 9.5 percent of your total salary and the coverage is not less than 60 percent, you must take that insurance or pay a penalty for being uninsured. But, you may owe a payback for the months you received a tax credit before you landed the job. How large that payback is will depend on your MAGI for the entire tax year, not just on your income during the months you received the tax credit. Or, you may lose a job during the year and have a significantly reduced income even though the amount reported on your tax return is high because you had a job for part of the year. In this case as well, your payback will be based on your MAGI for the entire tax year. More interest income from taxable and tax-exempt savings or a year-end bonus could also contribute to an increased MAGI and the possibility of a payback as well as taking extra work to help pay the monthly bills, house and car repairs, educational aspirations or a vacation. So, whether or not you end up in payback land will depend on how close you are teetering on the edge of an FPL. Ditto for your share of the premium and the amount of your tax credit. The payback may stop many of you from purchasing insurance at the Exchange because you know in advance you will not have the money to pay it. If this is the case, you may be allowed to negotiate a lesser tax credit by paying more out of your pocket for your monthly insurance premium in order to avoid or decrease the payback. It’s a crap shoot. Considering what you’ve learned so far in today’s lesson, many of you will find yourselves between a rock and a hard place under the ACA, and you will be forced to make untenable choices. Given the skyrocketing costs of food, heat and other basics, how will you even tread water under this set-up, nevermind get ahead? Being told you will receive help from the government if you can’t afford to purchase insurance and finding out at tax time this was really a loan and you owe the IRS a substantial debt on top of your income taxes is outright shameful. But most politicians have no shame – which brings us to the next topic. 5. MEDICAID EXPANSION AND ESTATE RECOVERY In order to expand Medicaid, several Medicaid regulations were changed: a) the income limit for eligibility was increased to 133 percent FPL, but since states must apply a 5 percent disregard, this effectively raises the eligibility to 138 percent FPLb) Modified Adjusted Gross Income will be used in most cases to determine eligibility (also applies to certain CHIP applicants)c) the age limit was increased to 64, childless adults will be eligible; andd) the asset test was dropped except for certain groups such as the elderly and people on Social Security Disability – BINGO! The fact that the asset test was dropped is very important, but before we look at why, you must first understand that if an Exchange determines you are eligible for Medicaid, you have no other choice. Code for Exchanges specifies, “an applicant is not eligible for advance payment of the premium tax credit (a subsidized plan) or cost-sharing reductions to the extent that he or she is eligible for other minimum essential coverage, including coverage under Medicaid and CHIP.” Therefore, you will be tossed into Medicaid unless there are specific rules as to why you would not be eligible. If you are enrolled in a private plan through an Exchange and have been receiving a tax credit, and your income decreases making you eligible for Medicaid, in you go. If you are allowed to opt out because you don’t want Medicaid, you will have to pay a penalty for being uninsured unless you can afford to purchase insurance in the open market. Just so you’re clear on this: the ACA stipulates that the system will ensure that if any individual applying to an Exchange is found to be eligible for Medicaid or a state children’s health insurance program (CHIP), the individual will be enrolled in such a plan. Furthermore, to increase enrollment in health coverage without requiring people to complete an application on their own, states are advised to automate enrollment whenever possible by using existing databases for social services programs such as SNAP (food stamps) to enroll people who appear eligible for Medicaid but are not currently enrolled. Therefore, you could find yourself auto-enrolled in Medicaid against your will if your state acts on this advice. Many times over Mr. Obama et al told you that all Americans would have choice. Choice was another big talking point. Are poor and low-income Americans undeserving of choice? Is the ACA a class-based system? Maybe they meant that for this segment of the population, the choice would be between Medicaid or a penalty for remaining uninsured. This is blatant discrimination. Here’s why dropping the asset test got the BINGO – Estate Recovery! You won’t find the following info in the ACA. It’s in the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA 1993) – a federal statute which applies to Medicaid, and, if you are enrolled in Medicaid, it will apply to you depending on your age. a) OBRA 1993 requires all states that receive Medicaid funding to seek recovery from the estates of deceased individuals who used Medicaid benefits at age 55 or older. It allows recovery for any items or services under the state Medicaid plan going beyond nursing homes and other long-term care institutions. In fact, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) site says that states have the option of recovering payments for all Medicaid services provided. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) site says at state option, recovery can be pursued for any items covered by the Medicaid state plan. b) The HHS site has an overview of the Medicaid estate recovery mandate which also says that at a minimum, states must pursue recoveries from the “probate estate,” which includes property that passes to the heirs under state probate law, but states can expand the definition of estate to allow recovery from property that bypasses probate. This means states can use procedures for direct recovery from bank accounts and other funds. c) Some states use recovery for RX and hospital only as required by OBRA 1993; some recover for a few additional benefits and some recover for all benefits under the state plan. Recovery provides revenue for cash-strapped states and it’s a big business. Your estate is what you own when you die – your home and what’s in it, other real estate you may own, your bank account, annuities and so on. And even if you have a will, your heirs are chopped liver. Low-income people often have only one major asset – the home in which they live and, in some cases, this has been the family home through several generations. So what this boils down to is: if you are put into Medicaid – congratulations – you just got a mandated collateral loan if you use Medicaid benefits at age 55 or older! States keep a running tally. Estate recovery can be exempted or deferred in certain situations after your death, but the regulations for this are limited and complicated with multitudes of conditions. You may not have an attorney on speed dial, but with regard to this hundred pound gorilla, it sure would be handy. Should you decide to ask your congresscritter about estate recovery, be prepared for responses such as: — “Estate recovery doesn’t apply to you.” (Great news. Please overnight a copy of the amendment to OBRA 1993 that stipulates estate recovery is no longer required and no longer allowed. Here’s my address.)— “Oh, estate recovery is state, I’m federal.” (Wrong – estate recovery is federally mandated although the estate recovery program itself is administered by each state.)— “I don’t know anything about this.” (Highly unlikely because the expansion of Medicaid is an integral part of the ACA and estate recovery is not a secret.)— “The ACA wasn’t about revamping Medicaid.” (As explained above, Medicaid regs were revised in order to expand Medicaid.)— “I’ll look into that and get back to you.” (Don’t hold your breath – they don’t want to go there.) If you ask about estate recovery when you contact an Exchange or speak with an outreach agency, you’ll probably run into a brick wall or be told it doesn’t apply to you – whatever. But, it doesn’t matter because what you are told is not legally binding. What is legally binding is your signature on the Medicaid application which indicates that you agree to the terms of the contract – which brings us to another item in OBRA 1993. Read on. OBRA 1993 also contains procedural rules intended to ensure that individuals are informed about Medicaid program requirements including disclosure of estate recovery before they complete the application process and also during the annual re-determination process. Notification of estate recovery should be on the signature page of your state’s Medicaid application and is usually a one-liner: I understand that if I am aged 55 or older, (name of your state’s Medicaid plan) may be able to get back money from my estate after I die. (Use of the word ‘may’ doesn’t mean if the state feels like it – it means recovery will take place unless there are specific circumstances for exemption or deferment as mentioned above.) There are also strict recovery/repayment clauses for injury-related settlements disclosed on the signature page and a few other ditties that apply to you or a family member who is enrolled in Medicaid. All of these items must also be disclosed in your state’s Medicaid handbook. Under the ACA and proposed federal rules for implementation, states will be required to provide a single, simple application to apply for and enroll in Exchange plans, Medicaid and CHIP, and consumers must be able to apply by phone, in person or online. The Secretary (HHS) is charged with this task and it’s in the works. This begs an answer to the following questions: — Will Medicaid applicants be diligently informed about estate recovery and other rules that apply to Medicaid enrollees on this single application? Failure to do so would be in non compliance with OBRA 1993 and would also be deceptive.— Will applicants be provided with a signature page that contains appropriate disclosure of these rules so they can be reviewed before signing on the dotted line?— How will appropriate disclosure and obtaining a signature work for those who are bumped into Medicaid due to a decrease in income or who might be auto-enrolled because they were presumed eligible through a database. If an applicant or someone who has been bumped or auto-enrolled in Medicaid is not satisfied with the terms of the Medicaid contract, lack of another health insurance option that is in the best interest of low-income earners represents undue and unconscionable advantage being taken of this segment of the population under a law that mandates health insurance or a penalty. Do the health insurance policies enjoyed by lawmakers on Capitol Hill and paid for by taxpayers include an estate recovery program? Medicaid is poor, underfunded, overstretched and constantly bombarded by state budget cuts – even before an ACA expansion. It offers a low quality of care in many states, and, in general, represents inequities in care. Office-based doctors typically refuse to accept Medicaid patients, thus, millions thrust into this plan will have difficulty finding a primary-care doctor or a specialist. A perfect example is the December 2012 federal appeals court decision that allowed California to cut reimbursements by 10 percent to doctors, pharmacies and others who serve low-income residents under the state’s Medi-Cal plan (a version of Medicaid) due to state budget issues. California was already at the bottom of the rate-reimbursement heap which made finding doctors difficult for residents in Medi-Cal. This decision will further reduce the number of health care providers willing to take new Medi-Cal patients, thus jeopardizing their access to primary and specialized care. Under the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, state budget crises across the nation will exacerbate the ongoing problems regarding access to care for Medicaid patients, particularly in states that have a high low-income population. http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Medi-Cal-cuts-upheld-by-appellate-court-4116971.php 6. INSURANCE PLANS AT THE EXCHANGES Below are the 4 plan levels that will be offered at Exchanges for people between 138 and 400 percent FPL. Each one has government- approved benefits including prescription coverage. You will be entitled to one free preventive visit each year. Per the most recent study commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation, several cost-sharing options were estimated for non-group (individual and family) Bronze and Silver plans. Cost-sharing is the amount you must pay to use your insurance. Your share of the premium is not part of cost-sharing. http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/8303.pdf The way this works is you will pay for all your medical care until you reach the annual deductible. Then you’ll pay the applicable percentage of coinsurance until you reach the annual out-of-pocket spending cap which will be set on a sliding scale. Annual means these amounts start again the following year, and if they change, you will find out when you re-apply for insurance. There will also be copays – an amount you will pay to the doctor for an office visit. Here are the current estimates: Bronze: cheapest and dry as dust with 60/40 coverage – a win-win for insurersa) annual deductible of $4,375 for an individual (double for a family) with 20 percent coinsurance, b) annual deductible of $3,475 for an individual (double for a family) with 40 percent coinsurance Silver: next cheapest – offers an illusion of coverage at 70/30a) annual deductible of $2,050 for an individual (double for a family) with 20 percent coinsurance, b) annual deductible of $650 for an individual (double for a family) with 40 percent coinsurance Gold: expensive – 80/20 – better coverage Platinum: most expensive – 90/10 – most comprehensive coverage A fifth plan will be available for the under-30 crowd and people who have been granted a hardship exemption. See topic 8 in this lesson. Coverage in this plan will be less comprehensive than the Bronze – it is primarily for major-medical expenses except that it has a free preventive visit. Cost-sharing for people at 138 to 200 percent FPL is estimated to be a bit less than the Bronze and Silver estimates mentioned above.  The high deductibles in all but the two most expensive plans could saddle you with mounting bills for routine care and may stop you from seeking necessary treatment for illness or injuries. Many of you will find that the promise of access to affordable health care really means access to inadequate coverage at a price the government has decided you can afford to pay. The number of drugs in each plan at an Exchange will vary from state to state. In some states, plans will offer up to 99 percent of available drugs and others only 45 percent which means you may not have access to the specific drugs you need. Perhaps Big Pharma will change its stance on this before 2014. The cost of plans at an Exchange will vary from state to state based on where you live and your age. The ACA allows insurers to charge older customers up to three times more for a plan, even if they are in good health, as long as the state in which an Exchange is located doesn’t have a law that caps age-rating. Some Exchanges will tuck an administrative fee of 2 to 4 percent into premiums to help cover operating expenses. Cost-sharing tax credits will be available if you are below 250 percent FPL to protect you from high deductibles and copays – but only if you purchase a Silver plan. If you buy the cheaper Bronze plan, you won’t be eligible for these credits, which are, by the way, direct federal payouts to private health insurance companies. Obamacare has no cost controls. There is nothing stopping the insurance companies from increasing their rates, and Washington has already estimated higher premium costs at the Exchange for 2016 which doesn’t mean that 2015 won’t have an increase. Sounds like 2014 prices will be an Introductory Offer. Get ‘em while their hot! 7. PENALTY FOR BEING UNINSURED The ACA requires that people who have been deemed able to purchase health insurance but decide not to buy it starting in 2014 will owe a penalty (a tax) to the IRS. Here’s what this looks like: a) In 2014, the annual penalty will be $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $285 or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater.b) In 2015, the penalty will be $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $975 or 2 percent of family income, whichever is greater.c) In 2016, the penalty will be $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $2,085 or 2.5 percent of family income, whichever is greater. The IRS collects the penalty, but the ACA stipulates that taxpayers shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty, tax liens, seizure of bank accounts or garnishment of wages for failure to pay it and no accumulation of interest on the unpaid balance. So, it appears that all the IRS can do is deduct the penalty from a refund it owes you, and if you’re not due a refund, then you’ll have an outstanding tax obligation. Keep in mind that the penalty is described in annual amounts but is really monthly. So, if you are uninsured for only part of the year, you will accrue only 1/12 of the total for each month you are uninsured unless you qualify for an exemption. 8. EXEMPTIONS FROM THE PENALTY You may be eligible for official permission that excuses you from having to pay the penalty for being uninsured. The requirements are: a) If the cheapest health care plan available costs more than 8 percent of your MAGI after subtracting the tax credit or employer contribution, whichever is applicable.b) Your income is so low that you aren’t required to file federal income taxes.c) You are between jobs and without insurance for up to three months.d) You have a sincerely-held religious belief that prevents you from seeking and obtaining medical care.e) You are in jail.f) You are an undocumented immigrant.g) You are a member of an Indian tribe or a religious group currently exempt from paying Social Security tax. If item d) is the case, you must file a sworn statement as part of your tax return, and should you obtain care during the tax year, the exemption will no longer apply and you will have to pay a penalty for being uninsured. Per H.R. 6597, medical care is defined as acute care at a hospital emergency room, walk-in clinic or similar facilities. Medical care excludes treatment not administered or supervised by a medical doctor such as chiropractic, dental, midwifery, personal care assistance, optometry, physical exams or treatment where required by law or third parties such as an employer, and vaccinations.  If you think you can’t afford the amount the government has decided you can afford to pay for your insurance plan, and you don’t fit into any of the categories described above, you can apply for a Hardship Waiver. Details have not yet been provided regarding hardship eligibility requirements under the ACA, but, for an idea of what they might look like, let’s check out what the deal is in Massachusetts which already has a mandated health insurance law – Romneycare! In fact, Romneycare was the model for Obamacare. That’s why some people call Obamacare, Obamneycare. To qualify for a Certificate of Exemption under Romneycare, a Massachusetts resident must demonstrate that health insurance is not affordable due to one of the following: 1) homelessness; 2) eviction or foreclosure notice; 3) domestic violence-related medical trauma; 4) major long-term illness of a child; 5) death of your spouse; 6) your house burned down; or 7) “you can establish that the expense of purchasing health insurance would cause you to experience serious deprivation of food, shelter, clothing or other necessities.” Ya gotta luv number 7. And in Massachusetts, exemptions come with an expiration date, so you have to clean up your act in short order. Under the ACA, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will determine if, indeed, you have suffered a hardship that keeps you from being able to pay for coverage. 9. OTHER TIDBITS There is much more in the ACA including all kinds of rules and penalties for employers, employees and the self employed as well as the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model which will be mandated starting in 2014. The latter works as follows: under the simplest option available, a small group of doctors and hospitals – an ACO – will manage your care and be graded and paid based on the outcome of all patients who seek treatment with that ACO. The ACO will also be rewarded with a share of the savings in health costs it achieves by following best treatment practices and reaching specific benchmarks set by CMS. The second option, “shared savings plus risk,” is for larger ACOs. Providers will receive a lump-sum payment to treat their patients and assume a portion of the risk for above target spending but are eligible to keep a greater portion of the savings. Either of these options reduce patient care to numbers and paperwork because doctors are essentially controlled and incentivized by an administrator in some far-flung office. The ACO model is the insurance industry’s version of “budgeting” the cost of health care which ultimately benefits insurers at the expense of doctors and their patients. Doctors say that basing their pay on treatment outcomes creates an incentive for them to avoid tough cases whose outcomes could “kill my numbers.” “Paradoxically,” writes Dr. G. Keith Smith, “doctors who are doing sham surgery will be the ones with the best outcomes, as their patients, many of whom don’t need surgery in the first place, will exhibit great, basically perfect outcomes. Physicians who don’t do unnecessary surgery will be pushed to do so to improve their ‘scores.’ ‘Pay for performance’ trends in medicine are not a good idea in my opinion. Paying based on patient outcomes will have perverse effects, not the least of which will be the complete denial of care to the very sick.” http://www.medibid.com/blog/2012/10/your-disease-can-kill-you-in-more-than-one-way/?utm_source=Registered+Physicians&utm_campaign=8f9028ddaf-October_Physician_Newsletter11_17_2012&utm_medium=email The ACA also requires Health Insurance Exchanges to establish a navigator program to inform the uninsured about the availability of government-approved subsidized plans at an Exchange and to facilitate enrollment in these plans, but it leaves the design of the program up to each Exchange. Depending how an Exchange sets up its program, some Navigators will sell plans offered by an Exchange while others will be responsible for maintaining the existing market but may also be allowed to sell Exchange plans. All seller Navigators will be compensated either by Exchanges or insurance carriers for the plans they sell. Many options are being considered by Exchanges including using insurance agents. Hopefully, Navigators and insurance agents will not be knocking on your door or contacting you by phone. That would be over the top. Here’s a link to read what the California Exchange is pondering with regard to its Navigation program. http://www.healthexchange.ca.gov/StakeHolders/Documents/CHBE,DHCS,MRMIB_StatewideAssistersProgramDesignOptionsRecommendationsandWorkPlan_6-26-12.pdf 10. ENROLL AMERICA, HERNDON ALLIANCE & THE EXCHANGES – MASTERS OF SPIN Since many Americans don’t know about the ACA, somehow the word has to get out and people must be encouraged to purchase health insurance either in the open market or at an Exchange. And who better to do this? Enter “Enroll America” – a nonprofit 501(c)3, financially backed by Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealth, America’s Health Insurance Plans, hospitals, associations that represent drug manufacturers and nonprofits with vested interests. For insurers and pharma, the ACA is manna from heaven – scratch that – manna from Capitol Hill – and the dollar signs in their eyes are on fire! These profit seekers and connected nonprofits will be using every avenue possible to maximize their bottom lines. The mission of Enroll America per its website is to “ensure that all Americans are enrolled in and retain health coverage.” It’s Board of Directors and Avisory Council reads like a Who’s Who in the Medical Industry Cartel – CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and directors of such entities as the American Hospital Association, Express Scripts, Medicaid Health Plans of America, Kaiser Permanente and many others – the list is long. If you would like to donate to these mega-profit vultures, you can do so on the Enroll America home- page. The goal is $100 million by 2014.http://www.enrollamerica.org In its publication, “Ten Ways to Make Health Coverage Enrollment and Renewal Easy,” Enroll America has recommended availability of web-based applications to increase the places where people can enroll in coverage: at home, at grocery stores, community health centers, state fairs, sporting events, places of worship, and more. Gee, you can apply for insurance while you pray. How thoughtful. http://www.enrollamerica.org/best-practices-institute  The strategy for insurers and state Exchanges to persuade you to purchase insurance and warn you about the penalties includes using ads, social media, blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, hospitals, health centers, McDonald’s, in-store radio announcements, ballparks, county fairs, libraries, laundromats, community events, libraries, county fairs and drugstores – you name it. Blue Cross Blue Shield has partnered with H & R Block. Health insurers are already setting up shop inside some supermarkets so they can answer your questions and sign you up for coverage while you do your grocery shopping. They will likely be showing up in shopping malls – maybe even in parking lots, on street corners and at church fairs. And, their aim is to recreate themselves from the bloodsucking leeches that they are to your new, cool-dude friends. We’ll be living in Occupied Territory. Let’s connect some dots. The executive director of Enroll America is Ron Pollack, also president of Families USA – a nonprofit and friend of the industry. On its website, Families USA bills itself as “a national non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high quality, affordable health care for all Americans.” Philippe Villers and Robert Crittenden, M.D. are on Families USA Board of Directors. Mr. Villers is also on the BOD of Herndon Alliance, Bob Crittenden is a Herndon staff member and Ron Pollack is a Herndon founder. http://www.familiesusa.org Herndon Alliance is an influential health care spinmeister creating messaging to change public opinion and tweaking each message to reach particular groups. Herndon has close ties to Capitol Hill and helped market the ACA providing words politicians and supporters should use to promote the bill. For example, during the national health care debacle a few years ago, you heard Mr. Obama et al continually talk about ‘choice,’ ‘we need a uniquely American solution,’ ‘fair rules,’ ‘investing in America’s future’ and ‘high-quality, affordable healthcare.’ That last one is used in Families USA mission statement. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance, a frontgroup for the industry, gets right to the point – its name. Ron Pollack worked with the Obama administration to help reshape public opinion of Mr. Obama’s unpopular health care bill. Leading up to 2014 when the Exchanges are scheduled to open, there will most likely be a blitz of TV ads in which you will hear many of these same nebulous, feel-good words. And, you’ll undoubtedly read or hear plenty of Herndon spin from your Exchange and throughout your state in the immediate future. In the interest of coming up with messaging, Enroll America held a few focus groups and commissioned a nationwide survey in fall 2012. Research was provided by Celinda Lake from Lake Research Partners, a national public opinion and political strategy research firm. One takeaway was when a monthly premium cost was given, the majority of people polled thought that it was too expensive and the ACA would not provide affordable and comprehensive coverage even with the government tax credits (subsidies). So, Lake Research Partners advised Enroll America not to mention specific costs but to use the phrase ‘free or low-cost plans.’ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/us/officials-confront-skepticism-over-health-law.html?ref=us&_r=0&pagewanted=all Herndon has been working on messaging various parts of the ACA that will be used by outreach partners, insurers and state Exchanges. Its messaging is not based on truth or evidence – Herndon actually stays away from any mention of facts as you read above regarding the cost of plans. Instead, its messaging is designed to mislead an uninformed public. A few of Herndon’s target populations include voters, people of color, red states, skeptical audiences, and you’ll love this one – Elevator Language with a list of succinct scripts to use based on the person you’re speaking to during the ride. You must check out Herndon’s website and read the many instructions of what to say and what not to say. You’ll either get very annoyed or laugh yourself silly. http://herndonalliance.org/resources/research/communications-tips-exchange-talking-with-voters.html http://herndonalliance.org/resources/implementation-basics/communications-tips-to-use-with-skeptical-audiences.html Here are some examples of Herndon spin regarding the ACA: — Use “family values” when talking to the public about the expansion of Medicaid. Is estate recovery a family value? http://herndonalliance.org/resources/what-s-new/talking-about-medicaid-connecting-with-the-public.html — When talking about the ACA’s required Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model that will pay doctors according to patient outcomes and reward them for savings they achieve, Herndon says to call this “Coordinated Patient Care” and “do not connect pricing with rewards or incentives for doctors” or “with lump-sum payments for medical care” and do not mention “payment based on positive patient outcomes.” Why not? The three do-nots are how ACOs work. (ACOs are described in topic 9.) http://herndonalliance.org/resources/system-change/payment-reform-quality-care-pricing.html http://herndonalliance.org/resources/system-change/coordinated-patient-care.html — Here’s an award winner: “Members of Congress will purchase their insurance at the Exchange. If members of Congress are part of the marketplace then it’s got to offer quality plans and protections.” http://herndonalliance.org/resources/research/communications-tips-exchange-talking-with-voters.html — Stressing that under the ACA insurers won’t be able to deny coverage for pre-existing diseases is a Herndon biggie. In fact, you heard this many times over from Mr. Obama and other politicians. But a loophole in the law allows insurers to rescind (cancel) your policy if you intentionally put false or incomplete information on your application. The ACA says you must be given at least 30 days’ notice before your coverage can be rescinded, giving you time to appeal the decision or find new coverage. So, if your care becomes costly for the insurer and you didn’t mention you had a rash on your arm when you were 15, that’ll work. How can you prove if leaving this out was intentional or not? It’s them against you. Enroll America’s Best Practices Institute is publishing a series of briefs on the best way to write and design websites and marketing materials, no doubt, using Herndon messaging. PR and marketing firms are helping various state Exchanges come up with appealing branding such as using a name everyone will like and spiffy logos with cool type styles in colors that will appeal to all audiences. Branding lessons include advising Exchanges which words to ‘embrace’ such as emphasizing choice, control, transparency and competition. Other messaging includes, “the Exchange should be viewed as an educator, not an enforcer” and using the word ‘marketplace’ instead of Exchange is a must. Tennessee Health Care Campaign will be telling potential customers “. . . the exchange offers us more choices, greater control over our health care, and more competition to control costs.” It’s all Herndon’s handywork in one form or another. http://dhmh.maryland.gov/exchange/pdf/Brand_Recommd_may182012_final.pdf http://www.thcc2.org/PDFs/rtm_exchange_talking_point.pdf More choice means choice of insurance companies, not choice of doctors and hospitals. In rural areas, there may be only one insurer offering plans which means one network and doctors may not be taking new patients. This happened in MA under Romneycare, and on top of that, many doctors would not accept people in the subsidized plans because of time-consuming red tape and low reimbursement rates. Under the ACA, insurers are planning to limit networks in the cheaper plans at the Exchanges. Having too few doctors in a network is a means of suppressing the use of health care which increases an insurer’s profits. Further on in this lesson, you’ll learn that the Maryland Exchange has been advised to ignore negative problems such as not enough doctors to serve the newly insured. http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2013/January/23/HMO-limited-networks-comeback-in-exchanges.aspx Choice is definitely a non starter for people found eligible for Medicaid – the ACA allows no other choice for this segment of the population and many doctors do not accept Medicaid. As for giving you greater control, considering all the rules about income and FPL, not to mention the data-mining to monitor your income during the year and those nasty tax credit paybacks, it’s you who is being controlled. And competition? Read this stunning op-ed by Nomi Prins: “Real Danger of “Obamacare” Insurance Company Takeover of Health Care.” http://www.nationofchange.org/real-danger-obamacare-insurance-company-takeover-health-care-1352648027 In Enroll America’s January 15, 2013 press release, Executive Director Rachel Klein says the ACA offers the promise of “access to comprehensive, affordable health coverage.” That is a false promise. As you learned in this lesson, coverage in the plans that will be offered at the Exchanges, with the exception of the two most expensive, is anything but comprehensive – the cheaper plans are unaffordable to use. Furthermore, how can she claim that the cost of the plans are affordable? Ms. Klein should be well aware of the nationwide survey Enroll America commissioned in which the majority of people polled said that the plans are too expensive. http://files.www.enrollamerica.org/news-room/press-releases/Enroll_America_Plans_Major_Affordable_Care_Act_Enrollment_Campaign_1-15-13.pdfhttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/us/officials-confront-skepticism-over-health-law.html?ref=us&_r=0&pagewanted=all Currently PR firms are working with some state Exchanges to develop effective communications plans and advertising campaigns. Names include Mintz & Hoke, Hill & Company Communications and Weber Shandwick just to name a few. Ask the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector – the prototype of an Exchange in the land of Romneycare – how much it spent on PR contracts over the years. In 2007, board members signed off on a two-year contract with Weber Shandwick for $1.85 million the first year with nearly $3 million for advertising – commission on media buys not included. And, by the way, the MA Connector upper management boasts six-figure salaries. Former MA Connector Executive Director Jon Kingsdale’s salary in 2007 was $225,000 and increased in 2008 to $231,750. In 2007, Deputy Director Rosemary Day alternated between a four-day and five-day work week to the tune of $175,000. These are only two examples of the many high-flying salaries at the MA Connector, an operation run by politicians and unelected political appointees and influenced by executives from the private insurance industry, http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/news/x497793387/Connector-re-ups-contract-with-Cambridge-based-Weber-Shandwick http://www.boston.com/yourlife/health/other/articles/2007/01/27/6_figure_pay_for_care_plan_overseers/?page=full http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-166773095.html Add up pay scales like that for every Exchange in the country, throw in some bennies, a PR contract for each Exchange, campaign costs and compensation paid by Exchanges to Navigators for plans they sell – a grand and costly effort to push more people into America’s for-profit health care system. Your tax dollars at work and mega bucks that could be used for actual hands-on medical care. The Maryland Exchange has three campaign funding levels – Basic, Plus and Full-Scale – with a total for year one, two and three. Basic funding for year one is $2,450,000, Plus is $4,000,000 and Full-Scale is $6,300,000. See p.137 at this link for years two and three. http://www.dhmh.maryland.gov/exchange/pdf/FinalAdvertisingReportWeber.pdf  The following, from the maryland link above, gives you an idea of some of the strategies that will be in play, most likely in all states. The Maryland Exchange has been advised by Weber Shandwick to “establish a system to monitor newspaper, radio, TV and online conversations about the Exchange and the program and to establish procedures and priorities for responding to negative media stories, op-eds, blogs and reports.” You can find this in the Risk Management and Responses section of Maryland’s strategic marketing plan. In the Earned Media/Public Relations section, advice includes “ . . . putting out stories on the first effective enrollees, enrollment number milestones, and enrollee testimonials. Each of these becomes the focus for positive, brand-reinforcing stories. There will also be the risk of negative stories, including potential topics such as enrollment snafus, delays in issuing insurance cards, the cost of Qualified Health Plans [government-approved plans], claims of ‘shoddy’ Bronze coverage, incidents of physicians refusing to accept enough new patients to serve the uninsured and other negative topics.” “While coverage is bound to include some level of criticism it can be success- fully countered by putting a human face on heatlh reform.” The Social and Digital Media section advises an invasion of the Internet including social media to market health insurance by “delivering the right messages to the right audience at the right time,” (probably using Herndon spin) to “help drive enrollment in the Exchange,” and also flooding newspapers with op-eds to contradict reported adverse effects of the ACA. More details can be found at the Maryland pdf link below. It’s worth looking at this presentation to grasp the big business approach of Exchanges which is clearly profit-driven. The Maryland Exchange strategy is just one example. The goal of Exchanges is sell, sell, sell. http://www.dhmh.maryland.gov/exchange/pdf/FinalAdvertisingReportWeber.pdf Exchanges certainly have a lofty goal – promote success stories only and be ready to contradict and cover up the bad stuff as quickly as possible. Massachusetts residents have been there. The Connector and state politicians including the governor made sure that anyone being harmed by Romneycare would not be heard in spite of statewide survey reports put together by outreach agencies advising state legislators and powerplayers that low-income people were not faring well under this law. Various issues were spelled out and testimonials were included, but residents’ concerns about the adverse effects of Romneycare were ignored. MA national legislators also went along with this agenda as did the mainstream media. When $130 million was needed in 2009 to balance the Massachusetts state budget, the Connector – with the blessing of MA Gov. Deval Patrick and the MA legislature – removed about 28,000 legal immigrants – working people paying taxes – from their insurance plans. Another 8,000 or so were barred from enrolling in insurance plans because the MA legislature voted to cap enrollment in the subsidized plans. This took place at the same time Mr. Obama was trying to sell the ACA to the nation, so, under pressure from Washington, the MA legislature restored some of the money, and the Connector dumped these people, without their consent, into an out-of-state plan with higher copays, less comprehensive coverage and next to no doctors or safety net hospitals in its network. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/iyah-romm/lessons-from-massachusett_b_380718.html This has huge implications for the ACA. If legal immigrants can be removed from their plans and others denied enrollment when a state budget is squeezed, which vulnerable segment of the population is next in line? The good news is these legal immigrants in MA sued the Connector and its then-Executive Director, Jon Kingsdale, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that the state could not violate their right to equal protection under the state and federal constitutions and fiscal considerations alone can not justify a state’s invidious discrimination against them. As a result of this decision, the state had to come up with some bucks, and the Connector was forced to put the plaintiffs back into their original plans.http://www.healthlawadvocates.org/priority-areas?id=0015 Getting back to Enroll America, Herndon Alliance and some of the less-than-honorable Exchange strategies – it’s one thing to inform Americans about the ACA and Exchanges that offer the possibility of either purchasing high-deductible or catastrophic coverage with a loan from the government to help pay for it or being tossed into expanded Medicaid – but, mounting a costly, massive campaign to purposely deceive and manipulate the public with the unstated goal of more profit for the already extremely lucrative health insurance industry is disgraceful. ———————————————- Is the ACA a fair law if it helps only one small segment of the population but hurts and exploits a larger number to do so? The way this law works is fundamentally unfair and will not bring medical care to the many, but, instead will progress to greater personal debt for individuals and families who can’t afford the “affordable” insurance as well as those who must keep an eye on their income to avoid the many traps and false ends this law creates. At their expense, the forced purchase of health insurance will bring increased revenue to the industry, not to mention more kickbacks to Congress, and in the very near future, the health insurance industry will be “too big to fail.” The ACA is most definitely a “uniquely American solution” which has little to do with reforming this country’s barbaric health care system. It merely controls peoples’ finances and choices while leaving insurance companies in charge and does virtually nothing to end their abuses. It will leave many millions of Americans uninsured and millions more underinsured at a staggering cost to taxpayers.  Politicians, health care policy wonks and vested interests will brush aside the ACA’s adverse effects. You’ll hear that some have fallen through the cracks of health care reform but the problems can be easily tweaked. You will also witness the usual dog-and-pony show on Capitol Hill in which the two parties play the blame game. The bought-and-paid-for mainstream media will regurgitate whatever Washington feeds it, and TV talking heads will chime in, inviting their “experts” to analyze the situation while real people in the real world struggle to get by under this law or fall by the wayside. Good luck everyone and watch out for the folding chairs. addendum: Obamacare architect leaves White House for pharmaceutical industry jobhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/05/obamacare-fowler-lobbyist-industry1 Physician payments based on outcomeshttp://www.medibid.com/blog/2012/10/your-disease-can-kill-you-in-more-than-one-way/?utm_source=Registered+Physicians&utm_campaign=8f9028ddaf-October_Physician_Newsletter11_17_2012&utm_medium=email  The post Obamacare: A Deception appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

25 января 2013, 09:01

Could Latinos Save Unions?

People of color used to not be allowed to join unions. Now, non-whites could be unions' only hope of survival. While unions are still about 70 percent white, that is beginning to change. Unions lost a record-breaking 547,000 white members in 2012. Meanwhile, membership increased among other races -- particularly Latino. In 2012, unions gained 156,000 new Latino members, 82,000 new black members and 45,000 new Asian members, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data sent to The Huffington Post. In comparison, in 2011, Latino membership was flat, unions lost 20,000 Asian members, gained 30,000 new black members and lost 10,000 white members. One reason for the stark difference between white and non-white membership changes is that the non-white population is increasing at a faster rate. But there were 83,000 new white jobs in 2012 and still a net loss of white union workers. Meanwhile, 11 percent of new Latino jobs were union, 11 percent of new black jobs were union and six percent of new Asian jobs were union. "A decade ago, unions wanted to keep immigrant workers out on the theory that it would undercut wages and benefits here. But if you can't beat 'em, you join 'em," William Gould IV, who was chairman of the NLRB under President Bill Clinton and is now a law professor at Stanford University, said. "Now the unions' goal is to join immigrants and align with their aspirations." And a key immigrant aspiration is a pathway to citizenship. "The unions have switched gears completely and are now advocating for immigration reform," Gould said. And so far, it's worked. "Latino workers have proved receptive to organized labor's message, and demographic changes may also help build unions in other states, such as Nevada and even Texas," John Logan, director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University, told HuffPost. Gould agrees that Latinos may be particularly receptive to collective organizing. "Latino workers are not imbued with the Horatio Alger story of individualism which has been used against white workers in the United States," Gould said. "[Latinos] are often involved in institutions with a collective mentality, such as religious institutions." One state to watch -- because it often sets the precedent for the rest of the country -- is California, where the labor chant "Si, se puede" (Yes, we can) seems to be coming true for unions. While national union membership is at a record low of 11 percent (versus 20 percent in 1983), union membership is, in fact, growing in California. While the nation shed about 400,000 union members in 2012, California signed up about 110,000 new union members, according to BLS data. One of the main reasons why, in addition to California's liberal legislature, is Latinos. "There's no question that California has been at the forefront of organizing immigrant workers," Danny Feingold, communications director for the nonprofit Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, told HuffPost. Union organizing has increasingly involved Latinos for the past two decades, with the help of Latino leaders such as AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Maria Elena Durazo and the late Miguel Contreras. "Certain labor leaders realized that the vast number of largely Latino immigrant workers could be a game changer for rebuilding the strength of unions and improving conditions in low-wage industries," Feingold said. Mobilizing minorities, he continued, will help "rebuild the middle class" by moving workers out of poverty. The median weekly earnings of union members in 2012 were $943, compared to $742 for nonunion workers, according to the BLS. While unionized manufacturing workers saw their average weekly wage rise by $36 (to $872) in 2012, their non-union counterparts experienced an average weekly wage increase of just $6 (to $786). Manufacturing is an industry that saw one of the largest hits to union membership in 2012, losing 86,000 union members. Union workers also had greater access to health insurance, a retirement savings plan, and sick and vacation leave. Latino workers in California have begun to enjoy some of these benefits as more sectors become organized by unions, including janitors and security guards, car wash workers, hotel workers, port trucking workers, and nursing home and home health care workers. Gould argues that if Latinos see unions as not just advocating for better working conditions but also for immigration reform that Latinos could become a louder voice against anti-union legislation like recent laws passed in Wisconsin and Michigan. "The unions have to find a way to reach Latino workers in other states besides California, because the demographics are changing there too," Gould said. "And we've seen nationally that Latinos can affect the political landscape as never before."

25 января 2013, 09:01

Could Latinos Save Unions?

People of color used to not be allowed to join unions. Now, non-whites could be unions' only hope of survival. While unions are still about 70 percent white, that is beginning to change. Unions lost a record-breaking 547,000 white members in 2012. Meanwhile, membership increased among other races -- particularly Latino. In 2012, unions gained 156,000 new Latino members, 82,000 new black members and 45,000 new Asian members, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data sent to The Huffington Post. In comparison, in 2011, Latino membership was flat, unions lost 20,000 Asian members, gained 30,000 new black members and lost 10,000 white members. One reason for the stark difference between white and non-white membership changes is that the non-white population is increasing at a faster rate. But there were 83,000 new white jobs in 2012 and still a net loss of white union workers. Meanwhile, 11 percent of new Latino jobs were union, 11 percent of new black jobs were union and six percent of new Asian jobs were union. "A decade ago, unions wanted to keep immigrant workers out on the theory that it would undercut wages and benefits here. But if you can't beat 'em, you join 'em," William Gould IV, who was chairman of the NLRB under President Bill Clinton and is now a law professor at Stanford University, said. "Now the unions' goal is to join immigrants and align with their aspirations." And a key immigrant aspiration is a pathway to citizenship. "The unions have switched gears completely and are now advocating for immigration reform," Gould said. And so far, it's worked. "Latino workers have proved receptive to organized labor's message, and demographic changes may also help build unions in other states, such as Nevada and even Texas," John Logan, director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University, told HuffPost. Gould agrees that Latinos may be particularly receptive to collective organizing. "Latino workers are not imbued with the Horatio Alger story of individualism which has been used against white workers in the United States," Gould said. "[Latinos] are often involved in institutions with a collective mentality, such as religious institutions." One state to watch -- because it often sets the precedent for the rest of the country -- is California, where the labor chant "Si, se puede" (Yes, we can) seems to be coming true for unions. While national union membership is at a record low of 11 percent (versus 20 percent in 1983), union membership is, in fact, growing in California. While the nation shed about 400,000 union members in 2012, California signed up about 110,000 new union members, according to BLS data. One of the main reasons why, in addition to California's liberal legislature, is Latinos. "There's no question that California has been at the forefront of organizing immigrant workers," Danny Feingold, communications director for the nonprofit Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, told HuffPost. Union organizing has increasingly involved Latinos for the past two decades, with the help of Latino leaders such as AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Maria Elena Durazo and the late Miguel Contreras. "Certain labor leaders realized that the vast number of largely Latino immigrant workers could be a game changer for rebuilding the strength of unions and improving conditions in low-wage industries," Feingold said. Mobilizing minorities, he continued, will help "rebuild the middle class" by moving workers out of poverty. The median weekly earnings of union members in 2012 were $943, compared to $742 for nonunion workers, according to the BLS. While unionized manufacturing workers saw their average weekly wage rise by $36 (to $872) in 2012, their non-union counterparts experienced an average weekly wage increase of just $6 (to $786). Manufacturing is an industry that saw one of the largest hits to union membership in 2012, losing 86,000 union members. Union workers also had greater access to health insurance, a retirement savings plan, and sick and vacation leave. Latino workers in California have begun to enjoy some of these benefits as more sectors become organized by unions, including janitors and security guards, car wash workers, hotel workers, port trucking workers, and nursing home and home health care workers. Gould argues that if Latinos see unions as not just advocating for better working conditions but also for immigration reform that Latinos could become a louder voice against anti-union legislation like recent laws passed in Wisconsin and Michigan. "The unions have to find a way to reach Latino workers in other states besides California, because the demographics are changing there too," Gould said. "And we've seen nationally that Latinos can affect the political landscape as never before."

23 января 2013, 01:28

S&P Climbs To 5-Year High

* Blue chips: Travelers up after results, J&J slips * Google, IBM and Texas Instruments to report after the bell * Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P 500 up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.01 pct By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Cyclical sectors led the Standard & Poor's 500 to a five-year intraday high on Tuesday as traders gobbled up bank and commodity shares on hopes the global economy continues to mend. The market also gained on signals that Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives aim on Wednesday to pass a nearly four-month extension of the U.S. debt limit. The White House welcomed the move on Tuesday, saying it defuses fears of a U.S. default on its debt. Adding to the upbeat sentiment, Portuguese 10-year debt yields fell below 6 percent for the first time since late 2010 on news that the country was set to tap the bond market this week for the first time since it was bailed out in 2011. "Cyclicals underperformed late last year because of the fear of the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling," said Jack de Gan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He said overall better economic numbers in the United States and China, as well as more stabilization in Europe, were driving buyers into sectors associated with economic growth. Gains were limited, however, as investors were cautious ahead of an increase in earnings reports and the S&P 500 was rising for the fifth straight day. "Not very often do you go very far beyond that in the short term," De Gan said, "so any (bearish) news could turn us down for a day or so." The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47.43 points or 0.35 percent, to 13,697.13. The S&P 500 gained 4.18 points or 0.28 percent, to 1,490.16. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.25 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to 3,134.96. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold led gains in the materials sector after it reported a 16 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on higher production. Shares gained 5.4 percent to $35.44. Technology shares underperformed as concerns about Apple's ability to continue to grow at hyper speed and a weak outlook from Intel Corp have diminished optimism about the sector's prospects. The S&P technology index was off 0.2 percent. Major tech companies scheduled to report results after the market's close on Tuesday include Google Inc, IBM and Texas Instruments. Tech bellwethers Apple and Microsoft Corp are set to report earnings later this week. "Any one of those, if there is a big surprise up or down, could shift the balance in the markets. So investors are being far more cautious than normal, especially with the market averages having broken out to five-year highs," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co, in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Four Dow components have already reported earnings Tuesday, and three rose on the results. Insurer Travelers was the standout, climbing 2.1 percent to $77.93. Blue chips DuPont, the largest U.S. chemical company by market capitalization, and Verizon Communications also posted revenue that beat forecasts. DuPont's shares gained 1.6 percent to $47.74 while Verizon's rose 0.4 percent to $42.73. On the downside, shares of Johnson & Johnson, the diversified health company, slipped 0.8 percent to $72.66 after it forecast 2013 earnings below expectations. Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning showed that of the 74 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 62.2 percent have topped expectations, roughly even with the 62 percent average since 1994, but below the 65 percent average over the past four quarters. Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are forecast to have risen 2.6 percent. That estimate is above the 1.9 percent forecast from the start of earnings season, but well below the 9.9 percent fourth-quarter earnings forecast from Oct. 1, the data showed. U.S.-listed shares of Research in Motion jumped 11.3 percent to $17.63 a day after its chief executive said the Canadian company may consider strategic alliances with other companies after the launch of devices powered by RIM's new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

14 января 2013, 09:01

The Road Forward: Employment Problems Loom Over Obama's Second Term

WASHINGTON -- On election night in Chicago two months ago, President Barack Obama triumphantly pledged to fight for a middle class he'd appealed to relentlessly -- and successfully -- on the 2012 campaign trail. "I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class," Obama said. "I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard ... you can make it here in America." The central challenge of Obama's second term is whether he can keep that founder’s "promise" to working Americans. It won't be easy, and in an era of divided government and amid cries for austerity and budget cuts, it does not seem likely that the president will offer sweeping new proposals to do so. The administration has said that its top two priorities at the outset of its second term are immigration reform and gun control. Despite an ongoing jobs crisis, creating quality jobs seems to have fallen a few slots on the president's to-do list. As Obama implicitly acknowledged, the American middle class has fallen on hard times, saddled with historic levels of debt, skyrocketing health care costs and flat wages. By most accounts, middle-class Americans are no better off than they were when the president took office in 2009, in the wake of an unprecedented financial crisis and in the midst of the Great Recession. The arithmetic is stark. Median household income is lower than when Obama took office, according to Census Bureau data -- lower even than when President Bill Clinton left office in 2001. The middle 60 percent of households -- those earning between $20,262 and $101,582 -- captured a smaller share of aggregate income in 2011 than they did in 2009, while the top fifth, which already made more than the other groups combined, captured more. Surveys of public opinion reveal a middle class that is smaller, poorer and less optimistic than ever. And although the unemployment rate fitfully has fallen below 8 percent for the first time since Obama's 2009 inauguration, most new jobs are too low-paying to sustain middle-class families. There is more to the plight of the American middle class than numbers can express -- and a greater threat to the country than economists can quantify. Democracy, after all, can't thrive without a broad, strong, educated core of citizens. But today they find themselves buffeted by the remorseless dictates of global capital, the need for evermore education and training and the burdens of higher taxes to pay for social programs they need, such as health care. Battling these global and cultural trends is difficult. In fact, it is unfair to ask any one person -- even a president, even Barack Obama -- to overcome them all. The president’s first responsibility in 2009 literally was to do his part to save the world’s frozen capital, banking and trade systems -- without which the American middle class would have had no prospects at all. Most fair-minded observers would say that Obama did his part, and acquitted himself well under crushing circumstances. A workable and affordable health care system, the central legislative success of his first term, can (if he sets it up properly) be of great benefit to middle-class workers. But now he must make good on his own promise -- not always central to his discourse or decision making -- to find more good-paying middle class jobs. How? On the stump this year, the president made manufacturing a centerpiece of his vision, arguing that a combination of tax reform, investment and education could help repatriate quality jobs to U.S. soil and stabilize the middle class. Perhaps sensing the political popularity of such an idea in Rust Belt states like Ohio and Michigan, the Obama campaign set the lofty but achievable goal of creating a million new manufacturing jobs during the president's second term. In a recent interview on "Meet the Press," the president renewed his commitment to investing in infrastructure, which he called "broken," as another way to create good-paying jobs. With the conversation in Washington focused not just on austerity but how much austerity to apply to a sputtering economy, it's hard to imagine what kind of rebooted jobs plan the president could propose for his next term while staying within the bounds of political reality. "In the short term, we are in a pretty difficult spot," said John Schmitt, an economist with the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research who studies economic inequality and unemployment. "Even if there was a serious commitment on the part of the administration towards a jobs program of some sort, it would run into a lot of trouble in the Congress." Without a clear and politically viable policy objective for jobs -- unlike, say, banning high-capacity magazines to address mass shootings -- the administration is likely to continue the piecemeal approach to economic recovery that it took for most of the president's first term, observers say. Obama's landmark 2009 stimulus bill pumped billions of dollars into the ailing economy, stemming the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs each month. The bill addressed the short-term fallout in the private sector by cutting taxes and pouring money into infrastructure projects and expanded unemployment insurance benefits. But since then, additional spending has been all but off the table. Obama has repeatedly proposed more infrastructure spending, but the White House has routinely given up such demands in negotiations with congressional Republicans. The lack of stimulus since the initial package -- aside from the repeated extensions of long-term unemployment insurance -- has exasperated left-leaning and centrist economists. "The answer is very clear: We need substantial additional stimulus to support the economy," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a left-of-center think tank. "We are choosing, as a country and as a town [Washington], not to do it, with millions of jobless workers." To address the decline in manufacturing jobs, the Obama administration has undertaken a number of modest initiatives, such as launching a manufacturing institute in Youngstown, Ohio, with $30 million in federal funding, a joint effort between industry and schools to train workers for tomorrow's manufacturing jobs. The Youngstown facility focuses on training workers for 3-D printing technology, the kind of modern manufacturing industry where observers see a lot of potential. The facility is an acknowledgment that tomorrow's manufacturing jobs will be different from the ones of the past. Gone are the days when a new high school graduate could show up at the factory door, get trained on the shop floor and earn a good wage and a pension. Jobs like those in 3-D printing require more advanced training and a certain degree of computer literacy. The same goes for other areas where experts, as well as the White House, see promise, like industrial robotics or nanomanufacturing. Obama's own tech advisers have warned that the country's "historic leadership" in manufacturing technology is "at risk" if it can't cultivate the right talent for these fields. In his 2013 budget proposal, Obama called for devoting $1 billion to create a national network of institutes like the one in Youngstown -- a recommendation that hasn't exactly become a priority for Congress. Neither have the loftier goals of his earlier manufacturing package, such as extending tax breaks to companies that return jobs to U.S. shores. They appear unlikely to move forward in a second term, even if the president chooses to champion them. "The administration has done some things but could do a lot more to help manufacturing," said Scott Paul, director of the non-profit Alliance for American Manufacturing. What the White House has done so far is "not well-publicized or well-known. They will ultimately be helpful, but so much of the debate has become politicized, it's hard to make progress on some of the meaningful issues." And in the end, the manufacturing plan still faces some cold mathematics. The U.S. lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs in the first decade of this century, falling from 17 million to 12 million. Fewer than 9 percent of American workers have manufacturing jobs, compared with more than 20 percent in 1979. Creating a million new such jobs puts only a dent in that sector's -- and the middle class's -- long-term woes. "It doesn't come close to restoring manufacturing employment to what it had been," Paul noted, adding that he still found the goal admirable. Even setting aside the immediate joblessness crisis, Obama still faces the long-term problems of deteriorating wages and growing income inequality for the poor and middle class. Since 1979, the top 1 percent of American households captured more than 38 percent of income growth, while the bottom 90 percent received just shy of 37 percent, according to EPI. The Great Recession technically ended halfway through 2009, but the economic recovery of the past few years is replacing office workers, real estate brokers and insurance claims adjusters with retail salespeople, restaurant workers and warehouse hands. Mid-wage jobs -- ones with median hourly wages ranging from $13.84 to $21.13 -- accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, according to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. During the recovery since then, mid-wage jobs have represented just 22 percent of growth. Jobs earning less than $13.84 per hour made up 58 percent of recovery growth, according to the NELP. The president pledged during his 2008 campaign that by 2011 he would have the minimum wage raised to $9.50 and pegged to inflation, a move that worker advocates have clamored for for years, claiming it would help raise the wage floor for the working poor and the middle class. But the federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour, well below a living wage in most areas. Many of those same worker advocates tie the stagnation of real wages to the decline of collective bargaining in the workplace. The rate of unionization in the U.S. has fallen to a historic low, with just 7 percent of private-sector workers now belonging to a union. Labor leaders believe that labor law needs to be amended to make it easier for workers to join unions. Their best shot came and went under the president's watch, when Democrats failed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act when they controlled both chambers of Congress. "I do feel disappointment," said Schmitt, the Center for Economic and Policy Research economist. "That said, we're also in a [political] context where it's extremely difficult to make any progress on the concerns of low- and middle-wage workers." Despite those shortcomings, and despite the acrimony on Capitol Hill, liberals like Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO federation of unions, are bullish on Obama's second term, given the focus on the middle class and jobs during the election. "It all starts with the political will, or the national appetite, to again create jobs that are going to be family-supportive and middle-class producing, and I think that's underway right now," Trumka said. "People are talking about it. That's the difference between this election and the ones in the past. We actually had a debate about what's hollowing out the country and what isn't. And our side won, big time." Now the president’s challenge is to turn that political victory into an economic one for the people who supported him. This article is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post that closely examines the most pressing challenges facing President Obama in his second term. To read other posts in the series, click here.

14 января 2013, 09:01

The Road Forward: Employment Problems Loom Over Obama's Second Term

WASHINGTON -- On election night in Chicago two months ago, President Barack Obama triumphantly pledged to fight for a middle class he'd appealed to relentlessly -- and successfully -- on the 2012 campaign trail. "I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class," Obama said. "I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard ... you can make it here in America." The central challenge of Obama's second term is whether he can keep that founder’s "promise" to working Americans. It won't be easy, and in an era of divided government and amid cries for austerity and budget cuts, it does not seem likely that the president will offer sweeping new proposals to do so. The administration has said that its top two priorities at the outset of its second term are immigration reform and gun control. Despite an ongoing jobs crisis, creating quality jobs seems to have fallen a few slots on the president's to-do list. As Obama implicitly acknowledged, the American middle class has fallen on hard times, saddled with historic levels of debt, skyrocketing health care costs and flat wages. By most accounts, middle-class Americans are no better off than they were when the president took office in 2009, in the wake of an unprecedented financial crisis and in the midst of the Great Recession. The arithmetic is stark. Median household income is lower than when Obama took office, according to Census Bureau data -- lower even than when President Bill Clinton left office in 2001. The middle 60 percent of households -- those earning between $20,262 and $101,582 -- captured a smaller share of aggregate income in 2011 than they did in 2009, while the top fifth, which already made more than the other groups combined, captured more. Surveys of public opinion reveal a middle class that is smaller, poorer and less optimistic than ever. And although the unemployment rate fitfully has fallen below 8 percent for the first time since Obama's 2009 inauguration, most new jobs are too low-paying to sustain middle-class families. There is more to the plight of the American middle class than numbers can express -- and a greater threat to the country than economists can quantify. Democracy, after all, can't thrive without a broad, strong, educated core of citizens. But today they find themselves buffeted by the remorseless dictates of global capital, the need for evermore education and training and the burdens of higher taxes to pay for social programs they need, such as health care. Battling these global and cultural trends is difficult. In fact, it is unfair to ask any one person -- even a president, even Barack Obama -- to overcome them all. The president’s first responsibility in 2009 literally was to do his part to save the world’s frozen capital, banking and trade systems -- without which the American middle class would have had no prospects at all. Most fair-minded observers would say that Obama did his part, and acquitted himself well under crushing circumstances. A workable and affordable health care system, the central legislative success of his first term, can (if he sets it up properly) be of great benefit to middle-class workers. But now he must make good on his own promise -- not always central to his discourse or decision making -- to find more good-paying middle class jobs. How? On the stump this year, the president made manufacturing a centerpiece of his vision, arguing that a combination of tax reform, investment and education could help repatriate quality jobs to U.S. soil and stabilize the middle class. Perhaps sensing the political popularity of such an idea in Rust Belt states like Ohio and Michigan, the Obama campaign set the lofty but achievable goal of creating a million new manufacturing jobs during the president's second term. In a recent interview on "Meet the Press," the president renewed his commitment to investing in infrastructure, which he called "broken," as another way to create good-paying jobs. With the conversation in Washington focused not just on austerity but how much austerity to apply to a sputtering economy, it's hard to imagine what kind of rebooted jobs plan the president could propose for his next term while staying within the bounds of political reality. "In the short term, we are in a pretty difficult spot," said John Schmitt, an economist with the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research who studies economic inequality and unemployment. "Even if there was a serious commitment on the part of the administration towards a jobs program of some sort, it would run into a lot of trouble in the Congress." Without a clear and politically viable policy objective for jobs -- unlike, say, banning high-capacity magazines to address mass shootings -- the administration is likely to continue the piecemeal approach to economic recovery that it took for most of the president's first term, observers say. Obama's landmark 2009 stimulus bill pumped billions of dollars into the ailing economy, stemming the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs each month. The bill addressed the short-term fallout in the private sector by cutting taxes and pouring money into infrastructure projects and expanded unemployment insurance benefits. But since then, additional spending has been all but off the table. Obama has repeatedly proposed more infrastructure spending, but the White House has routinely given up such demands in negotiations with congressional Republicans. The lack of stimulus since the initial package -- aside from the repeated extensions of long-term unemployment insurance -- has exasperated left-leaning and centrist economists. "The answer is very clear: We need substantial additional stimulus to support the economy," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a left-of-center think tank. "We are choosing, as a country and as a town [Washington], not to do it, with millions of jobless workers." To address the decline in manufacturing jobs, the Obama administration has undertaken a number of modest initiatives, such as launching a manufacturing institute in Youngstown, Ohio, with $30 million in federal funding, a joint effort between industry and schools to train workers for tomorrow's manufacturing jobs. The Youngstown facility focuses on training workers for 3-D printing technology, the kind of modern manufacturing industry where observers see a lot of potential. The facility is an acknowledgment that tomorrow's manufacturing jobs will be different from the ones of the past. Gone are the days when a new high school graduate could show up at the factory door, get trained on the shop floor and earn a good wage and a pension. Jobs like those in 3-D printing require more advanced training and a certain degree of computer literacy. The same goes for other areas where experts, as well as the White House, see promise, like industrial robotics or nanomanufacturing. Obama's own tech advisers have warned that the country's "historic leadership" in manufacturing technology is "at risk" if it can't cultivate the right talent for these fields. In his 2013 budget proposal, Obama called for devoting $1 billion to create a national network of institutes like the one in Youngstown -- a recommendation that hasn't exactly become a priority for Congress. Neither have the loftier goals of his earlier manufacturing package, such as extending tax breaks to companies that return jobs to U.S. shores. They appear unlikely to move forward in a second term, even if the president chooses to champion them. "The administration has done some things but could do a lot more to help manufacturing," said Scott Paul, director of the non-profit Alliance for American Manufacturing. What the White House has done so far is "not well-publicized or well-known. They will ultimately be helpful, but so much of the debate has become politicized, it's hard to make progress on some of the meaningful issues." And in the end, the manufacturing plan still faces some cold mathematics. The U.S. lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs in the first decade of this century, falling from 17 million to 12 million. Fewer than 9 percent of American workers have manufacturing jobs, compared with more than 20 percent in 1979. Creating a million new such jobs puts only a dent in that sector's -- and the middle class's -- long-term woes. "It doesn't come close to restoring manufacturing employment to what it had been," Paul noted, adding that he still found the goal admirable. Even setting aside the immediate joblessness crisis, Obama still faces the long-term problems of deteriorating wages and growing income inequality for the poor and middle class. Since 1979, the top 1 percent of American households captured more than 38 percent of income growth, while the bottom 90 percent received just shy of 37 percent, according to EPI. The Great Recession technically ended halfway through 2009, but the economic recovery of the past few years is replacing office workers, real estate brokers and insurance claims adjusters with retail salespeople, restaurant workers and warehouse hands. Mid-wage jobs -- ones with median hourly wages ranging from $13.84 to $21.13 -- accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, according to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. During the recovery since then, mid-wage jobs have represented just 22 percent of growth. Jobs earning less than $13.84 per hour made up 58 percent of recovery growth, according to the NELP. The president pledged during his 2008 campaign that by 2011 he would have the minimum wage raised to $9.50 and pegged to inflation, a move that worker advocates have clamored for for years, claiming it would help raise the wage floor for the working poor and the middle class. But the federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour, well below a living wage in most areas. Many of those same worker advocates tie the stagnation of real wages to the decline of collective bargaining in the workplace. The rate of unionization in the U.S. has fallen to a historic low, with just 7 percent of private-sector workers now belonging to a union. Labor leaders believe that labor law needs to be amended to make it easier for workers to join unions. Their best shot came and went under the president's watch, when Democrats failed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act when they controlled both chambers of Congress. "I do feel disappointment," said Schmitt, the Center for Economic and Policy Research economist. "That said, we're also in a [political] context where it's extremely difficult to make any progress on the concerns of low- and middle-wage workers." Despite those shortcomings, and despite the acrimony on Capitol Hill, liberals like Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO federation of unions, are bullish on Obama's second term, given the focus on the middle class and jobs during the election. "It all starts with the political will, or the national appetite, to again create jobs that are going to be family-supportive and middle-class producing, and I think that's underway right now," Trumka said. "People are talking about it. That's the difference between this election and the ones in the past. We actually had a debate about what's hollowing out the country and what isn't. And our side won, big time." Now the president’s challenge is to turn that political victory into an economic one for the people who supported him. This article is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post that closely examines the most pressing challenges facing President Obama in his second term. To read other posts in the series, click here.

30 октября 2012, 14:21

47%

The very smart Mike Konczal: Four Histories of the Right's 47 Percent Theory: [T]he distribution of the tax burden isn't what the 47 percent theory is about. The 47 percent theory is all about grand political battles…. [T]here are two distinct parts to a good 47 percent theory. The first is who creates and sustains the 47 percent as a political agent. This can't be the bipartisan set of policymakers who wanted to do income support through work requirements as well as expand… the child credit; it needs to be agents with specific, outside political goals…. Who does it? The second part of a good 47 percent theory is that the consequences need to be terrible…. But how high are those stakes, and what do they represent?>Let's start at the beginning. Where does this meme start? Trickle On Trickle Down: The Lucky Duckies of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page…. [T]his looks like an internal fight among conservatives and Republicans…. The Bush tax cuts are going to be across all families, and the editorial is warning that… it should focus just on the rich…. The editorials seemed more concerned that the federal tax code will retain its progressivity under this tax cut, rather than the lucky duckies initating a new culture war…. The Battle: Right Wing Think Tanks and the New Culture War…. As Mark Schmitt wrote, "this theory that we're headed toward a radical egalitarian state is being developed is the American Enterprise Institute, the oldest of the conservative think tanks and one that, much like Romney, has forsaken the traditional business-minded conservatism of, say, the first President Bush, for hard conservatism in which everything is a grand showdown of incompatible worldviews."… The "30 percent" are the ones behind this expansion of people who don't pay federal income taxes…. The 30 percent are a group of people who "reject the free enterprise system culturally." The free enterprise system stands in "stark contrast to European-style social democracy." The 30 percent "twists equality of opportunity into equality of outcome."… Consequences?… [T]his locks young people into… the intellectual space of the 30 percent coalition…. The Hammock…. Paul Ryan… at Heritage…. Who? The do-gooders who created the social safety net.  It's too generous…. Consequences?… People will be beyond the ability to help themselves, hypnotized as they are by the siren's call of the welfare state. This is why Romney can say "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." 4. Takers and Public Choice…. Steve Doocey on Fox and Friends: "Coming up! A controversial question. With 47% of Americans not paying taxes – 47% – should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?" Who? The 47 percent themselves… those at the bottom half of the income scale vote into office people willing to take from the top half of the income scale…. Consequences? The system eventually collapses… those at the margin work less and also join in demanding more… John Quiggin: 47 per cent true: Romney’s main hope… is the expectation that very few people will actually regard themselves as part of that 47 per cent…. The parallel universe constructed by the right is built primarily on talking points, of which “47 per cent of Americans pay no tax” is a great example. These talking points work well, within the rightwing universe, no matter how misleading they are…. The 47 per cent line got a good run in the Republican primary campaign, and didn’t cause any trouble for Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann (they caused enough for themselves). Things change when a point like this escapes into a general election campaign…. Mitt Romney won’t tell senior citizens or low-wage workers in North Carolina that they are part of the 47 per cent he’s written off, but the Obama campaign will…. [H]is remarks imply that the EITC and child tax credit are in the firing line…. All of this is coming at a time when the centrist media is finally feeling the heat for its decades of “he said, she said” reporting… Jonathan Chait: Arthur Brooks' Book The Battle: How The Fight Between FREE ENTERPRISE And BIG GOVERNMENT Will Shape America’s Future: If there is one dream of the Obama presidency that died a swift, merciless death with no hope of resuscitation, it was the hope that President Obama would usher in a new era of bipartisan technocracy…. The problems that Obama proposed to address—economic collapse, global warming, the costliest and cruelest health care system in the advanced world—could hardly be called mere excuses to impose liberal ideology. They were undeniably, empirically, crises…. George W. Bush had initiated bailouts of the finance and auto industries… had employed Keynesian fiscal stimulus in 2001 when the case… was nowhere near as strong. Obama’s health care plan relied upon private insurance and resembled the plan that Republicans had formulated in 1993. His cap-and-trade program closely resembled a proposal by John McCain. The new president genuinely seemed to believe that he and the opposition could look upon the same set of facts, consult with the economic experts, and reason together toward agreeable solutions. We now know that each of Obama’s proposals was met by overwhelming and often hysterical opposition…. Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, both advocates for and offers anthropological evidence of the right’s embrace of totalistic rejection…. The premise… is that America is fighting a “culture war”… over economic [issues]… a zero-sum fight between two antithetical values in which compromise is impossible…. It is a curious premise. After all, economics is very different from social issues precisely because it is rife with positive-sum outcomes…. Democrats do not advocate communism and Republicans do not advocate anarchy. Both parties favor some mix of market and state…. Is it really not possible to imagine a compromise between these two visions? If you conceive of Obama’s domestic agenda as… an attempt to solve technical challenges… the frenzied and unremitting Republican opposition is an expression of blind fanaticism and partisan calculation…. Brooks sounds certain that… Obama’s economic stimulus program is not even intended to address the economic crisis at all, because economic panic benefits Obama…. The only motive that he imputes to the president and the Democrats is hatred for rich people and the free enterprise system. Did Obama appoint top economists to his  administration? Well, yes, concedes Brooks--but: he had to if he wanted the public to believe… government understands the financial crisis and can solve it with aggressive action…. And when he describes the Democrats’ response to the economic crisis, it is not as an application of misguided Keynesian policies, but as a plot to increase their own control: Obama’s objective has been to tell a story about the financial crisis that leverages it into a game-changer for American culture…. Brooks does not entertain the possibility that Obama blames deregulation for the financial crisis because he actually believes that deregulation caused the crisis…. Brooks is a prototypical member of the modern Republican elite. His ideology is rooted centrally in the class war, a struggle between what he calls “the makers” and “the takers.” He inhabits an imaginary world in which the former are being hounded nearly to extinction by the latter. “At some point,” he sorrowfully predicts, “the rich (as defined by the 30 percent) will pay all the income taxes in America. For the 30 percent coalition, this is fair and just.” Brooks’s portrait of a world in which the rich are ruthlessly exploited in the name of absolute equality is long on hysterical rhetoric and very short on data. What little data Brooks presents is almost invariably wrong. “In America,” he declares, “the top 5 percent of earners bring in 37 percent of the income but pay 60 percent of the taxes.” This is false. The top 5 percent of income earners pay 38.5 percent of all taxes. And a system where the richest 5 percent earn 37 percent of the income and pay 38.5 percent of the taxes is not, I would submit, a draconian left-wing imposition. Where does Brooks get this wildly wrong figure? The number he cites describes the share of federal income taxes paid for by the richest 5 percent…. When conservatives portray the tax code as unfair to the rich, they usually cite just the income-tax burden, calculating that their audience will fail to notice that “income taxes” do not mean taxes as a whole. Brooks uses the term “taxes” when he means “income taxes.” He has fallen for his own ruse…. Brooks is unequivocal about the centrality of equality of opportunity to his argument…. Equality of opportunity is an extremely radical, even utopian proposition. The Battle betrays no signs whatsoever of having considered what equality of opportunity would mean. It is, alas, a nearly impossible ideal to fulfill, since one of the most valued ways for parents to spend their wealth is to impart greater opportunity to their children…. Just how hard is it to go from poor to rich in the United States? A person born into the poorest fifth of the income distribution who manages to obtain a college degree is less likely to wind up in the top fifth of the income distribution than a person who was born into the top fifth but did not obtain a college degree…. Creating actual equality of opportunity—that is, a world in which a child of extremely poor parents is just as likely to succeed as an equally talented child of rich parents—is probably an unrealizable goal…. His advocacy of “equality of opportunity” is limited to assuming that such a thing exists already (but is under attack), as a justification for unchecked income inequality. Brooks does not attempt to demonstrate that the United States offers equality of opportunity, or any faint approximation thereof…. The central question of The Battle is how the “30 percent coalition,” despite its anti-capitalistic, anti-entrepreneurial views, managed to gain control…. The feverish, incoherent explanation that Brooks offers is a nice illustration of the extent to which Republicans view Obama’s presidency not merely as wrong, but as essentially illegitimate…. [A]cademics, the media, Hollywood, minorities, young people, and a few “predictable geographic enclaves such as San Francisco, California,” along with Seattle, Boulder, and the like. (If you have ever visited those places, you know how deeply entrepreneurship is despised. Just try attending a party there and admitting that you’ve started, oh, a software business. They will spit in your face)… a minoritarian and fundamentally alien and cunning alliance…. The 30 percent coalition won power, Brooks argues, by seizing upon the economic crisis in 2008…. Then they managed to enact their agenda through a campaign of intimidation. “When Republican Congressional leaders objected to the scale of the spending, the new president sought to silence them with two words of fact: ‘I won,’ ” Brooks recounts. “Across the country, those who complained or urged restraint were marginalized.” Silenced? Marginalized? There is a distinctly Chomskyite ring here, an imputation that we have a public debate that is free in name only. But Chomsky’s opinions are mercifully confined to a few cult books, alternative broadcasts, and tiny-circulation magazines, so that his radical critique of American democracy, his self-pity, is at least psychologically understandable…. Brooks’s worldview, by contrast, blares twenty-four hours a day on Fox News, talk radio, and countless other organs of mass communication. Chomsky may misunderstand the cause of his ideological marginalization, but he is not imagining the fact of his marginalization. Brooks and his positions, by contrast, are everywhere to be found. His claim that they have been silenced is comic…. “The sad truth is that the 30 percent coalition did not start governing this country with the advent of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid,” he laments. “They’ve been in charge for years.” So wait. Now this small minority has been governing the country not just as a result of a “temporary panic,” but for years? And a collection of hippies, minorities, and liberal professors was somehow pulling the strings of the Bush administration? If this explanation appears muddled and unsatisfying to you, you are not alone. The most inadvertently damning indictment of Brooks’s argument was made by Newt Gingrich, a senior fellow at AEI. Writing generously of his boss, Gingrich gently notes that “he sets the stage for someone (maybe another AEI scholar) to develop the historical explanation of how this usurpation of the people by the elite came to be.” But of course that explanation is supposed to be the central argument of Brooks’s book. And more puzzlingly, this damning passage appears in Gingrich’s foreword to The Battle. It is very odd to see a book purporting to explain why an event happened that includes a foreword expressing the desire that some other author step forward to explain why the event happened…. What we have here, then, is the emergence of the anti-empiricist think tank president. And this is a notable signpost, not on the road to serfdom, but on the road to idiocy.

23 октября 2012, 15:29

Frontrunning: October 23

Moody’s Cuts Ratings on Catalonia, Four Other Spanish Regions (Bloomberg) And the market top: Billionaire Ross Interested in Buying Spanish Bank Assets (Bloomberg) Japan Jojima denies govt seeks $250 bln BOJ asset buying boost (Reuters) China hints at move to strengthen Communist rule (Reuters)... well everyone else is doing it Euro-Area Bailout Fund Faces Challenge at EU’s Highest Court (Bloomberg) Obama, Romney now tied in presidential race: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Reuters) Former China Leader Jiang Resurfaces Before Political Transition (Bloomberg) Some in Congress look to $55 billion fiscal cliff 'fallback' (Reuters) CLOs stage comeback in US (FT) TXU Teeters as Firms Reap $528 Million Fees (Bloomberg) China’s Factories Losing Pricing Power in Earnings Threat (Bloomberg) ECB needs regulation authority over all euro zone banks – Constancio (Reuters) Cameron signals EU budget deal to Berlin (FT) Japan's Justice Minister Resigns (WSJ)   Overnight Media Digest WSJ * Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for a firmer demonstration of American strength on the world stage, while President Barack Obama argued his opponent offered an inconsistent and reckless global vision, as the two candidates met Monday night in their third and final debate. * Marissa Mayer has injected a feeling of hope inside Yahoo Inc, but her first quarterly report card points to a tough slog for the long-ailing internet pioneer. * BP Plc confirmed it is selling its stake in its troubled Russian venture TNK-BP in a deal that will make the British giant a one-fifth holder of the Kremlin's oil champion, a company that will control nearly 40 percent of Russian output. * Four people filed phone-hacking claims against Trinity Mirror Plc's Mirror Group Newspapers on Monday afternoon, marking the first batch of major civil phone-hacking cases to be filed against British newspapers not owned by News Corp. * Caterpillar Inc said it is going ahead with opening new U.S. assembly plants despite a glut of unsold construction and mining machinery that forced it to lower sales and profit forecasts for 2012 and to predict flat demand for 2013.   FT MIRROR GROUP FACES HACKING CLAIMS British newspapers belonging to Trinity Mirror are facing legal claims for phone hacking by four people, including former England football coach Sven Goran Eriksson. ROSNEFT TO TAKE FULL CONTROL OF TNK-BP BP announced on Monday it had agreed to sell its stake in its Russian joint venture TNK-BP to Rosneft for about $26 billion. SAVILE TAKES TOLL AS COVER-UP FEARS GROW Pressure is growing on BBC chief George Entwistle to explain why the media organisation axed its own expose of alleged abuse of underage girls Jimmy Savile. LOW RATES BLAMED FOR INSURERS' RISK TAKING Persistent low interest rates are creating potentially big risks for the UK insurers, the City of London watchdog has warned. MEGAFON POSTPONES ITS LONDON OFFERING Russian mobile phone company MegaFon said on Monday it will not start a roadshow for a stock market listing in London. WPP RESEARCH UNIT SETTLE ONLINE CLAIM An internet research group owned by advertising conglomerate WPP has settled U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated federal law and deceived consumer. BAE SHAREHOLDERS CALL FOR CHAIRMAN TO GO A group of BAE Systems shareholders has demanded the resignation of chairman Dick Olver. VODAFONE TO EXPAND M-PESA TRANSFERS Vodafone will launch an international mobile money transfer service as part of a wider expansion of the M-Pesa financial services platform.   NYT * President Obama and Mitt Romney wrapped up a series of defining debates on Monday night with a bristling exchange over America's place in the world as each sought to portray the other as an unreliable commander in chief in a dangerous era. * Leveraged buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management has been lining up at least $4 billion in financing to support a potential bid for embattled supermarket operator Supervalu Inc , a person briefed on the matter said. * Standard & Poor's released an analysis on Monday contending that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, more than any other Wall Street giant, could suffer under the so-called Volcker Rule. * Five people may have died over the past three years after drinking Monster Energy, a popular energy drink that is high in caffeine, according to incident reports recently released by the Food and Drug Administration. * A British government study found that the increasing prevalence of computerized trading might lead to isolated incidents of instability in the financial markets.   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * Dalton McGuinty won't be challenging Justin Trudeau for the federal Liberal leadership. The Ontario premier has decided to look for challenges outside politics altogether. McGuinty has been under mounting pressure to run for the federal party's top job since he shocked the nation last week by announcing his intention to resign as premier. * A national index of well being, to be released Tuesday, shows that growing economic output since the recession has not translated into a better quality of life for many Canadians. Reports in the business section: * The federal government's surprise move to block the takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp is adding to growing concerns about a "Canadian discount" that weighs on share prices and frustrates companies' ability to raise capital and do deals. The government's decision immediately reminded investors of previous high-profile deals in Canada that fell apart amid government or regulatory scrutiny, and has created uncertainty about the bid for Calgary's Nexen Inc by China's CNOOC Ltd. * TransCanada Corp said on Monday it had restarted its major oil pipeline to the central United States from Canada following a five-day outage to check for a potential defect on the line in the U.S. Midwest. NATIONAL POST * U.S. President Barack Obama repeatedly attacked Republican challenger Mitt Romney on foreign policy on Monday in their third and final debate in an effort to blunt his opponent's surge in the polls with two weeks left until election day. * Despite accusations that they are "killers of the sick and elderly," a growing number of British Columbia healthcare workers are resisting a mandatory flu shot, arguing that it is an issue of personal choice. FINANCIAL POST * Several reports stated that Royal Bank of Canada is on the verge of a deal to acquire the Canadian operations of Ally Financial Inc, the former auto finance arm of General Motors Corp now majority owned by the U.S. Treasury, for around $4 billion. RBC and Ally both declined to comment on the matter, but analysts speculated that a sale, whether to the Royal or another Canadian bank, is likely. * Canadian National Railway Co's third quarter result came in slightly ahead of expectations. But the country's largest railway also warned it was expecting a "challenging end to the year" given the uncertainty in the broader economy and some rising expenses that will likely carry on into 2013.   China CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL --As of Oct. 22, 247 China A-share listed companies have released their third quarter earnings results. Of these, 85.9 percent achieved profitability. --China State Construction Engineering Corp said in a statement that it has signed five major contracts, worth a total of 26.8 billion yuan ($4.28 billion). SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS --Qianhai, a city close to Shenzhen in southern China, is expected to release detailed regulations on new tax and financial regulations governing its special economic zone by the end of the year. Beijing recently established a test zone to try out full yuan convertibility in Qianhai. CHINA BUSINESS NEWS --China's total income tax revenue rose 8.6 percent in January to September from a year earlier.   Fly on the Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot ANALYST RESEARCH Upgrades Check Point (CHKP) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorganCleco (CNL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at GoldmanCleco (CNL) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells FargoMcClatchy (MNI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at CitigroupPower Integrations (POWI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne AgeePublic Storage (PSA) upgraded to Hold from Sell at CantorRenaissanceRe (RNR) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe BruyetteTeekay Offshore Partners (TOO) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorganXL Group (XL) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe BruyetteYahoo! (YHOO) upgraded to Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna Downgrades AMC Networks (AMCX) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorganAccess Midstream Partners (ACMP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBSBank of Marin (BMRC) downgraded to Hold from Buy at WunderlichEdison International (EIX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at GoldmanMicroStrategy (MSTR) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO CapitalMonster Beverage (MNST) downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at GoldmanNetApp (NTAP) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW BairdOmega Healthcare (OHI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at JefferiesPeabody Energy (BTU) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at GoldmanPinnacle West (PNW) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at GoldmanSunTrust (STI) downgraded to Neutral from Positive at SusquehannaVentas (VTR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at JefferiesWillis Group (WSH) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette Initiations Delta Air Lines (DAL) initiated with a Buy at BuckinghamDunkin' Brands (DNKN) initiated with a Hold at Miller TabakPennantPark (PNNT) initiated with an Outperform at Credit SuisseQualys (QLYS) initiated with a Neutral at Credit SuisseQualys (QLYS) initiated with an Outperform at JMP SecuritiesQualys (QLYS) initiated with an Outperform at RBC CapitalQualys (QLYS) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorganSummit Midstream (SMLP) initiated with an Outperform at RW BairdSummit Midstream (SMLP) initiated with a Neutral at GoldmanTransDigm (TDG) initiated with an Underweight at Morgan StanleyUS Airways (LCC) initiated with a Buy at BuckinghamUnited Continental (UAL) initiated with a Buy at Buckingham HOT STOCKS Moody's downgraded five Spanish regions, confirms ratings of other five regionsCelanese (CE) sees FY13 earnings growth of 12%-14%Texas Instruments (TXN) sees weak demand environment continuing into Q4Said customers are cautious, delaying ordersHas no plans of taking any more capacity off-line Starwood (STWD) to sell interest in first mortgage and mezzanine financing to Vornado (VNO)Western Digital (WDC): Global macroeconomic weakness impacting overall IT spendingYahoo (YHOO) said not prepared to give guidance at current timeSaid top priority is a "focused coherent mobile strategy" Looking for smaller scale acquisitions that align with overall business F.N.B. Corp. (FNB) announced merger agreement with Annapolis Bancorp (ANNB) CFTC ordered Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MS) to pay $200,000 for violationsDuPont (DD) restructuring plan to cut about 1,500 jobs worldwide Kimco Realty (KIM) executed a purchase and sale agreement for InTown SuitesPepsiCo (PEP) and Suntory agreed to form strategic beverage alliance in VietnamSempra Mexico (SRE) to construct pipeline network in MexicoBBCN Bank (BBCN) announced acquisition of Pacific International BancorEmerald Oil (EOX) announced 1-for-7 reverse stock split BGI-Shenzhen extended tender offer for Complete Genomics (GNOM) to November 21 EARNINGS Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include: United Technologies (UTX), Centene (CNC), Whirlpool (WHR), Signature Bank (SBNY), Crane (CR), F.N.B. Corp. (FNB), Celanese (CE), Wilshire Bancorp (WIBC), Zions Bancorp (ZION), Hexcel (HXL), Western Digital (WDC), Yahoo! (YHOO), W. R. Berkley (WRB) Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:DuPont (DD), RadioShack (RSH), Carlisle (CSL), JAKKS Pacific (JAKK), BBCN Bank (BBCN), Helix Energy (HLX), Texas Instruments (TXN), Health Management (HMA) Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:1st United Bancorp (FUBC), Supertex (SUPX), Chemical Financial (CHFC) NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES Extremely low U.S. interest rates are squeezing bank profits, complicating the industry's  recovery from the financial crisis. Net interest margin has fallen to its lowest level in three years. The measure tracks how much banks earn when they borrow from depositors and then lend or invest those funds, the Wall Street Journal reportsApple’s (AAPL) expected announcement today of a new, smaller iPad is more than another product launch. It is a chance for the company to prove it is still ahead of the curve, the Wall Street Journal reportsFrance wants PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUGY) to appoint government and worker representatives to its board, reduce job cuts and guarantee plants in return for a lending bailout, says Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, Reuters reportsThe Obama administration should pressure Exxon Mobil (XOM) to slow down dealings with Iraqi Kurdistan as they could worsen disputes between Baghdad and the northern province, says Jabir Habeb, Iraq's ambassador to the U.S., Reuters reportsU.S. home values increased 1.3% in Q3, the biggest gain since 2006, in an uneven recovery across the country, according to property data company Zillow, Inc. (Z), Bloomberg reportsBillionaire Wilbur Ross, who’s taken stakes in distressed U.S. and European lenders, said he’s interested in Spanish banking assets as the country takes steps to resolve bad loans stemming from its real-estate bubble, Bloomberg reports SYNDICATE Navarre (NAVR) files to sell $20M of common and preferred stockVirtusa (VRTU) files to sell $100M of common stock ACTIVIST/PASSIVE FILINGS Comcast (CMCSA) reports 12.8% stake in Clearwire (CLWR)Ken Langone reports 5% stake in Unifi (UFI)Park West reports 5.5% passive stake in CafePress (PRSS)Steadfast Capital reports 5.07% passive stake in Chicago Bridge & Iron (CBI)

22 октября 2012, 15:28

Frontrunning: October 22

Dead Heat for Romney, Obama (WSJ) The Cheerful Billionaire Who Thinks Obama's a Socialist (Businessweek) "Get to work, Mr. Japanese Chairman": Japan Exports Tumble 10% as Maehara Presses BOJ to Ease (Bloomberg) Chinese Investors Fear Chill in Canada (WSJ) Rosneft Buys BP’s TNK-BP Stake for $26 Billion in Cash, Shares (Bloomberg) Hong Kong Defends Its Currency Peg for First Time Since 2009 (Bloomberg) Democrats threaten payroll tax cut consensus (FT) Spain's Rajoy gets mixed message in regional votes (Reuters) Merkel to warn UK on Europe budget veto (FT) Netanyahu says doesn't know of any U.S.-Iran talks (Reuters)... neither does Iran, so near certainty Der Kurrency Tsar: ECB’s Knot Backs Schaeuble Call for Stronger EU Budget Power (Bloomberg) Fannie Mae Limiting Loans Helps JPMorgan Mortgage Profits (Bloomberg) China’s top brass seek ambitious economic reform (Reuters) China leftists urge parliament not to expel Bo Xilai (Reuters) S. Korea Blocks Activists Sending Anti-N. Korea Leaflets (Bloomberg) Overnight Media Digest WSJ * Canada's rejection of Petronas's bid for a Canadian natural-gas producer has sown worry among Chinese investors that Ottawa might be rolling up the welcome mat it has long had out for Asian companies. * Royal Bank of Scotland Group is facing pressure from the British government to sell its Citizens Financial Group, which has nearly 1,500 branches in 13 U.S. states. * Denver's Prospect Global Resources reached a $2 billion agreement to deliver potash to Sichuan Chemical, illustrating how Chinese demand is reshaping the market for agricultural goods. * BP plans on Monday to announce a preliminary agreement to sell its 50 percent stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft, a deal that would dramatically alter BP's presence in the world's largest energy market.' * Patrick Fitzgerald, the former Chicago U.S. attorney who led a string of high-profile criminal prosecutions over the past decade, is joining the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. * British police officers probing allegations of sexual abuse against a deceased British Broadcasting Corp host have officially opened a criminal investigation related to the matter, escalating a scandal that has been roiling Britain's publicly funded network for weeks.   FT MERKEL TO WARN UK ON EUROPE BUDGET VETO Germany is planning to warn Britain that it will seek to cancel next month's European budget s ummit i f David Cameron, the prime minister, insists that he will veto a n y deal other than a total freeze on spending. UK BANKS TO BE FORCED TO INCREASE BUFFERS Britain's banks will be forced to hold eight times bigger buffers than before the financial crisis to guard against new threats, an FSA executive said. LLOYDS EYES SHAKE-UP OF BANKER BONUSES Lloyds Banking Group is examining whether to ditch the concept of annual bonuses for senior staff and extend the timeframe of longer-term incentives to up to 10 years. BP TO SELL TNK-BP STAKE TO ROSNEFT BP's board has approved a deal with the Russian state oil company Rosneft to sell its stake in TNK-BP . DOWNGRADE SHAKES TRADE CREDIT INSURERS Insurance brokers have warned that a decision by Standard & Poor's to cut its rating for Atradius to near "junk" status threatens far-reaching consequences. NISSAN PLANS TO SELL CHEAPER LEAF Nissan plans to offer a lower-priced version of its Leaf to help spark sales of the electric car. 'SUPER-CONNECTED' DIGITAL CITY FACES CHALLENGE The first in a series of "super-connected" digital cities under a 100 million pound ($160.23 million) government scheme has been challenged by key broadband providers. EU'S FEMALE BOARD QUOTA PLAN SET TO FAIL An EU-wide plan to impose a 40 percent female quota on listed company boards looks likely to be blocked on Tuesday. NATIONWIDE EYES BRANCHES IN RBS SELL-OFF Nationwide Building Society has not ruled out making a bid for the several hundred branches of Royal Bank of Scotland.   NYT * A radical new design of Microsoft Corp's flagship operating system is likely to cause some head-scratching when Windows 8 goes on sale this Friday. * The Weather Channel Companies became the Weather Company, signifying a shift to media outside television. * BP's board has approved an offer from the Russian state oil company, Rosneft, to buy most of BP's business in Russia for cash and shares in Rosneft, further consolidating Russia's control of its oil industry, an executive with knowledge of the decision said. * Canada could still approve the $5.2 billion acquisition of Progress Energy Resources by the Malaysian state oil company Petronas, the country's finance minister said Sunday, despite blocking the deal late last week.   China FINANCIAL NEWS -- A commentary says the People's Bank of China (PBOC) has not been able to ease monetary policy further since July as data shows that total social financing jumped in the first three quarters of this year, indicating that pumping more money into the banking system will create inflationary pressures. -- A return to purchasing foreign exchange by the PBOC and Chinese banks in September from sales in August, as shown by central bank data released on Friday, indicates more capital inflows into China after the Federal Reserve's launch of the third round of quantitative easing (QE3) in mid-September. SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS -- Shanxi Securities announced plans to buy Green Futures, a Chinese commodity futures trading firm, in a deal worth around 1.137 billion yuan ($182 million). CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL -- China's four biggest banks were estimated to have extended new yuan loans worth 80 billion yuan to 100 billion yuan in the first 19 days of October, banking sources said. SECURITIES TIMES -- China will widen an experimental reform to convert corporate income tax into value-added tax so as to improve its tax system to encourage corporate expansion, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said at a meeting over the weekend.   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * The lawn of the British Columbia (B.C.) legislature is expected to be filled with protesters Monday for a mass sit-in against the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline. Scorched by the growing opposition, the B.C. government has already adopted a more hostile stand toward the project. * Martin Rennie's scowl soon turned into a smile Sunday night. The Vancouver Whitecaps coach was thrilled as his team became the first Canadian franchise to qualify for the Major League Soccer playoffs. Report in the business section: * Ottawa's decision to spike the takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp promises to ripple through stock markets Monday, hitting not only the natural gas company in question, but possibly others that investors believed could at some point yield fat takeover premiums. NATIONAL POST * Canada's parliamentary budget officer says he'll file court action this week over the refusal of some federal departments to hand over details of billions of dollars in planned cuts by the Harper government. * Prime Minister Stephen Harper called three federal byelections Sunday, a move Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair says is an important warmup for the clash of visions he expects in the next general election. FINANCIAL POST * The foreign financial backer for new wireless provider Wind Mobile moved Sunday to take control of the startup carrier. Orascom Telecom Holdings SAE, an Egypt-based international wireless operator, said it plans to exercise its option to convert a 65 percent economic interest in Wind into voting equity, a move that would transfer control from Toronto-based Globalive Communications.   Fly on the Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot ANALYST RESEARCH Upgrades BB&T (BBT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at CitigroupBeam Inc. (BEAM) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan StanleyCablevision (CVC) upgraded to Buy from Hold at CanaccordMeritor (MTOR) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at BarclaysSPS Commerce (SPSC) upgraded to Buy from Hold at CanaccordWright Express (WXS) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan Downgrades Air Products (APD) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/MerrillBB&T (BBT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne AgeeBancorpSouth (BXS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrustCliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche BankDDR Corp. (DDR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBSDentsply (XRAY) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at UBSEdwards Lifesciences (EW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at CitigroupEl Paso Pipeline (EPB) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells FargoEquity Residential (EQR) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at GoldmanKansas City Southern (KSU) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&TManitowoc (MTW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at GoldmanPSEG (PEG) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit SuisseSL Green Realty (SLG) downgraded to Hold from Buy at ISI GroupSanDisk (SNDK) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC CapitalTalisman Energy (TLM) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Initiations Extra Space Storage (EXR) initiated with a Conviction Buy at GoldmanMatson (MATX) initiated with a Hold at BB&TPublic Storage (PSA) initiated with a Neutral at GoldmanRyland Group (RYL) initiated with an Overweight at BarclaysUnited Natural Foods (UNFI) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman HOT STOCKS Visa (V), MasterCard (MA) signed class action settlement involving interchange feesMerchants seek preliminary approval of $7.25B settlementCablevision (CVC), AMC Networks (AMCX) settled VOOM HD litigation with DISH (DISH)DISH Network (DISH) resumed broadcast of the AMC (AMCX) channelLDK Solar (LDK) signed a share purchase agreement with Heng Rui Xin EnergyBP (BP): 90 day period set out in TNK-BP shareholder agreement has concludedAmerican Greetings (AM) formed committee to review offer for outstanding sharesVolcano (VOLC) reported favorable ruling in St. Jude Medical (STJ) patent lawsuitAvnet (AVT) to acquire BrightStar Partners and BSP Software Macerich (MAC) announced plans to acquire Kings Plaza and Green Acres MallGrainCorp said "not yet formed a view" on ADM (ADM) proposalAncestry.com (ACOM) confirmed it will be acquired by Permira for $1.6BSociete Generale (SCGLY) announced sale of Geniki Bank to Piraeus Bank EARNINGS Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include: SunTrust (STI), Hasbro (HAS), MetroCorp (MCBI), Edwards Lifesciences (EW) NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES Canada's rejection of Petroliam Nasional's bid of about $5.21B for a natural-gas producer worries major Chinese investors about Ottawa, and raised uncertainty over the pending deal of $15.1B by Cnooc (CEO) for Nexen (NXY), the Canadian independent energy producer, the Wall Street Journal reportsMicrosoft (MSFT) testing new tactics to refashion its software for the mobile-device era, and the reactions have ranged from excitement to consternation from the computer makers and others it relies on as partners, the Wall Street Journal reportsWoodside Petroleum (WOPEY) submitted a bid to buy a share of Leviathan, a major natural gas find off Israel's Mediterranean coast. The partners in Leviathan said the bid was part of a strategic process to find an international partner for up to 30% of the rights, Reuters reportsSiemens (SI) will sell its solar energy business as part of its cost-saving program, and is already holding talks with potential buyers, Reuters reportsThe world’s biggest bond traders said the Fed will decide before the end of the year to buy Treasuries in addition to purchasing $40B of mortgage bonds a month as gains in U.S. employment and consumer confidence prove unsustainable. All 21 primary dealers that trade with the central bank expect its latest quantitative-easing measures to be expanded to include government securities, according to a survey by Bloomberg NewsGeneral Motors (GM) is making progress on implementing its alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUGY), said CEO Dan Akerson, Bloomberg reports BARRON’S Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) investors should resist bottom-fishingAnnie's (BNNY) stock could fall 30%-plus if earnings growth faltersBB&T's (BBT) drop represents a good entry point for long-termMonster Beverage's (MNST) shares are down, but not brokenTexas Industries (TXI) should benefit from revival in housingNational Oilwell Varco (NOV) is poised to grow rapidly over the next few yearsAs the PC era wanes, smartphones and tablets will dominateMicrosoft (MSFT) and its PC brethren to face more challengesIt may be time to buy Google (GOOG) sharesAMD (AMD) is feeling tremendous pressure from post-PC transformation SYNDICATE Wisdom Tree (WETF) files to sell 29.87M shares of common stock for holders ACTIVIST/PASSIVE FILINGS Praesidium raises stake in JDA Software (JDAS) to 8.9% from 7.8%Stilwell Value reports 9.2% stake in Hamilton Bancorp (HABK), hopes to work with management