Officially, the United States’ federal budget deficit for 2011 will be roughly $1.3 trillion, a staggering and almost incomprehensible amount of money. But this doesn’t even come close to the actual shortfall faced by the Treasury this year. “The $1.3 trillion budget deficit would be $4.2 trillion if the change in the current cost of Social Security and Medicare promises during fiscal 2011 were included,” according to a Washington Post op-ed by Bryan R. Lawrence, founder of New York-based investment partnership Oakcliff Capital.
In the face of escalating sanctions imposed by the European Union and the U.S. government, supposedly related to the Iranian nuclear program, officials in Iran announced that the nation would accept gold and currencies other than the dollar in international trade. China, Russia, India, and other major economies have continued to do business with the Islamic Republic despite the growing Western pressure.
As duplicative and wasteful federal programs go unreformed, a report published Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) affirms that the government is wasting "tens of billions of dollars" every year. According to the GAO, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, nearly every agency of the Executive Branch could use improvement.
In a moment of unexpected and unsettling candor, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, in his testimony on Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee, said that he really doesn’t know what’s happening to the economy. In his best professorial manner and without blinking an eye, the chairman said, "In light of somewhat different signals received recently from the labor market than from indicators of final demand and production…it will be especially important to evaluate incoming information to assess the underlying pace of the economic recovery."
Federal regulators are proposing more intervention in the U.S. automobile industry, as new safety regulations would require automakers to furnish all new vehicles with rearview cameras by 2014. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be transmitting a final copy of the proposed regulation to Congress today — which is expected to be approved — after the rule was originally proposed in 2010.
Congress should reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) signed by President Obama on October 1, 2011.
As reported in The New American here, the difference in wages between Chinese and American workers is narrowing rapidly. Part of the reason is that China has passed the Lewis Turning Point.
The Washington politicians were in full self-congratulatory form recently when the Republicans and Democrats in Congress finally displayed a moment of bipartisanship and passed the payroll tax cut extension that keeps in place the two percentage point cut in the tax that funds Social Security.
JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for February 27 - March 4, 2012.
The Group of 20 meeting in Mexico City over the weekend decided that the best course of action was inaction, putting off making any decisions on how to “rescue” the European Union from its financial and economic difficulties until next month at the earliest. The statement justifying kicking the can down the road for another month or so was breathtaking in its obfuscation: putting off any decisions, it said, “will provide an essential input in our ongoing consideration to mobilize resources…” This is how finance ministers and world economic experts explain that, after two days of meetings, the best thing to do was nothing at all.