Silence on U.S. Housing Doldrums Makes Obama, Romney Sound Alike


Jerry Howard, chief executive officer of the National Association of Homebuilders, says he wants to know when President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are going to outline plans for reviving the U.S. residential property market.

He’s not the only one. So far, discussions about housing by Obama and Romney on the campaign trail have been limited and vague, which makes the two politicians sound like they support most of the same ideas.

[…]While the housing market is showing signs of recovery, the improvement is still meager compared to the damage. New home sales are still 50 percent below the average rate over the past 40 years. Almost 11 million families are “underwater” — saddled with more debt than their homes are worth after five years of declining home prices.

After nearly four years in the White House, Obama is facing criticism that his relief programs for borrowers have lacked broad and aggressive measures and have reached fewer families than intended.


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Record 17.9 million U.S. households Didn’t Have Enough Food

You won’t hear about this outrage at the Democratic convention:

Record numbers of U.S. households struggled at times to feed their families last year, according to a report Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the state of hunger in America.

A lack of resources forced others to cut back on meals and disrupt their usual eating patterns, it says.

A record 17.9 million U.S. households – 700,000 more than in 2010 – didn’t have enough food at all times last year to sustain active, healthy lives for all family members, according to the USDA.

This “food insecurity” affected a record 14.9 percent of U.S. households and more than 50 million people, about one in six U.S. residents.

Moreover, more than one in three “food insecure” households – 6.8 million – had “very low food security,” meaning that one or more family members cut back on eating last year because of a lack of either money or other access to food, according to the report. That’s an increase of 400,000 households over 2010.

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Are We Already Falling Off the Fiscal Cliff?

Is it possible to be injured falling off a cliff before you even get to the edge? In the real world, no. But in the economy, yes. There is increasing evidence that businesses are already turning cautious out of fear over the fiscal cliff—that the $600 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in early 2013 will chill growth in the new year. That caution is slowing the economy today—so the fiscal cliff is doing genuine damage before it’s even been reached.

The latest evidence comes from the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, released on Aug. 29. According to a count by economist Paul Dales of Capital Economics, the Fed report has 12 mentions of the fiscal cliff. There was just one in April, but the number has steadily risen in the months since. The Beige Book is an anecdotal summary of businesses’ views on economic conditions collected by the staff of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks. The Philadelphia Fed, for example, said: “Many customers are delaying purchases due to uncertainty stemming from … fiscal policy. There are concerns about the impact of the fiscal decisions that will follow the election.”

via Are We Already Falling Off the Fiscal Cliff? – Businessweek.

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Economist: "This Is Going To Be A Lot Worse Than 2008"

Disaster is coming. And we are still ignoring the warning signs. The media and political establishment are busy spewing talking points for either Presidential candidate. All the talk is about who’s ahead in the polls. The problems are serious. But they are being swept under the rug until after the election in November:

Noted expert Peter Schiff says the U.S. economy is on the verge of an economic collapse worse than 2008 and is warning investors to take immediate steps to protect themselves.

In a gripping interview on Yahoo Finance, Schiff warns that while any moves the Fed makes could “artificially” bolster the economy – and bring investors false hope that things are turning around – the truth is that the government will only be delaying the “Day of Reckoning.”

“If the Fed ultimately comes through with QE3… it won’t strengthen the economy, but it will weaken the dollar,” Schiff said, noting that Bernanke’s policies will eventually lead to a Greek style debilitating sovereign debt crisis where the dollar plunges and consumer prices and interest rates spike.

“We have a much bigger collapse coming, not just the markets, but of the economy. It’s like what you’re seeing in Europe right now only worse,” Schiff said.

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Family Farmer: 'It was the system that failed us'

Not only does the family farmer have to fight climate change. They must also suffer at the hands of the federal government:

Triple-digit temperatures and sparse rain this summer produced one of the most severe and widespread U.S. droughts in a half-century. Most headlines have focused on the extent of the drought — the fact that it enveloped more than half the country; or that temperatures in July were the hottest for any month on record in the continental United States. Somewhat lost in that national conversation are the stories of Argall and other small-scale farmers who are being pushed out of the only line of work they’ve ever known.

For them — and for the rural communities that depend on their incomes — the drought is far more than a news item. It’s an earth-shattering event, one they worry could lead the dairy communities of southern Missouri to unravel.

And, perhaps saddest of all, farmers say the sell-offs could have been avoided.

“We didn’t fail. We did everything right,” said Argall’s wife, Jeanette. “It was the system that failed us.”



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Obama Takes Credit for Poor Employment News

That’s what it’s come to. The President was quick to claim credit for economic news that is mediocre at best. The unemployment rate actually rose. He thinks that’s good news. Doesn’t sound like ‘change you can believe in” to me. Instead we have the hairsplitter-in-chief:

 Your daily technically-accurate-but-politically-cringe-inducing-spin moment came courtesy of the chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, who took issue Friday with reports that the unemployment rate rose in July from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent.

“More precisely, the rate rose from 8.217% in June to 8.254% in July,” Krueger wrote on the official White House blog, adding: “Acting BLS Commissioner John Galvin noted in his statement that the unemployment rate was ‘essentially unchanged’ from June to July. “

The actual unemployment rate is even higher:

Once again, a bad jobs report comes out, and both the White House and the media trumpet it as “good” news and a sign the economy’s turning around. It is in fact a dismal jobs report, as the numbers clearly show.

[…]”This morning we learned that our businesses created 172,000 new jobs in the month of July,” he said. “That means that we’ve now created 4.5 million over the last 29 months and 1.1 million new jobs so far this year.”

But “we” haven’t in fact created any jobs. As a matter of fact, since Obama has entered office, some 1.1 million payroll jobs have disappeared.

This year, businesses have created 151,000 new jobs a month on average — way below the 300,000-plus per month job creation in a typical recovery-expansion.

If that still sounds good, understand this: Just to keep up with the natural rate of growth in the workforce, the economy has to create about 130,000 new jobs a month. So at this rate, it’ll take us four years and four months just to get back to the number of jobs we had in 2007.

Sound like progress to you?

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"For the U.S. Economy the News Is Bad and Worse"

Source: Mortimer Zuckerman, US News:

The bad news is the disappointing June unemployment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The worse news is that we are failing to train tomorrow’s labor force for employment in a world of accelerating competition.

Jobs, first. The headline unemployment number remains at 8.2 percent, although President Barack Obama cited the 84,000 new private sector jobs last month as “a step in the right direction.” He had the grace to add: “But we can’t be satisfied.” He can say that again. That 8.2 percent only measures people who have actively applied for a job in the last four weeks by going to an interview or filling out an application. It is not a relevant measure. People who have been unemployed for many months don’t go through the business of applying for a job every four weeks.

Given that the median period of unemployment is now in the range of five months, vast numbers who want to work are just not counted. If we include, as we should, people who have applied for a job in the last 12 months, and those employed part time who want full-time work, the real unemployment number is closer to 15 percent. And we’ve made virtually no progress in reducing this number. We need 150,000 jobs every month just to take into account the people entering the labor force. Today we are looking at monthly job creation estimates of only 75,000 over the last three months.

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American Family Wealth has Dropped 39%

It’s a good thing that the 1 percent have seen their wealth skyrocket during that same period or we would all be in a big mess:

The recent recession wiped out nearly two decades of Americans’ wealth, according to government data released Monday, with middle-class families bearing the brunt of the decline.

The Federal Reserve said the median net worth of families plunged by 39 percent in just three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. That puts Americans roughly on par with where they were back in 1992.

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