Archive for the ‘News – US Economy’ Category
Goldman Sachs, Wall Street’s largest investment banking firm, has been under a lot of media and governmental scrutiny for its roles and actions in the financial meltdown of 2007 and 2008. Lawmakers and members of the Senate panel grilled former and current executives at Goldman with a vast array of criticisms and questions regarding the moves Goldman Sachs made during the beginning of the housing market collapse in 2007. The session lasted eight hours yesterday. They have been accused of marketing false product. According to the Daily Princetonian, “The charges claim Goldman Sachs led clients to believe that a financial product was high quality while simultaneously betting that the product was low quality. Like a cliche used-car salesman, it sold its clients a lemon. When the housing market collapsed, Goldman got rich and its clients went belly-up.” They have been accused by the committee of making up to 3.7 billion dollars in the process of betting heavily against the housing markets. The Security and Exchange Commission had also brought up a case against Goldman Sachs earlier in the month charging them with the defrauding of investors in the sale of a mortgage investment. The executives feel little remorse or emotion for the charges put upon them. According to CNN, “Regret to me is something you feel like you did wrong,” said Daniel Sparks, the former head of Goldman’s mortgages department. “I don’t have that.”We can only wait to see how this entire case plays out.
New Jersey, New York, and many other states in the tri-state area have begun to make drastic cuts in education programs and staff. Well, surprisingly enough, Philadelphia is going in the opposite direction. Governor Rendell wants to increase funding for the PA school system by nearly $355 million this year and only increase that number as the years go on. With the murder rate being the highest it’s ever been in PA, it is finally time to hear some good news coming out of the government’s office. Rendell stopped by several schools in the Philadelphia area with hopes of rallying support for his 6.4 percent increase in education funding, “I believe with all my heart and soul that it is our moral obligation to provide an education system that will allow each and every child to reach his or her potential.” The governor is hoping that the state will have enough money to fund the budget without new revenues. I certainly hope Rendell has a plan for the Philadelphia school system as their records in the past few years haven’t been up to the highest standards. Then again, there is nothing that Philadelphia can’t handle.
There are currently about 6.5 billion $100 bills in circulation in the United States. Of these 6.5 billion bills, two thirds are in the pockets and wallets of foreigners. Alien counterfeiters often target the $100 banknote because it yields an impressive profit for just a few successful scams, and it relatively easy to reproduce–that is until February 2011. The new design for a counterfeit resistant $100 bill was unveiled on Wednesday, and is set to go into circulation early next year. The new note will include three dimensional graphics printed on a blue ribbon that winds around the bill. Depending on what angle the bill is viewed from, the graphics change between bells and “100”s. The most attractive thing about the new design, however, is that all security measures can be checked by nothing more than the naked eye; no special lights required. With so many currency counterfeiters situated outside of the U.S., this change could potentially affect the world economy at large.
Recent reports reveal that the number of state prisoners nationwide is on the decline for the first time in 40years. As glorious as this sounds, Pennsylvania’s prison population continues to fly through the roof and is showing no signs of a let up. Thousands and thousands of prisoners in PA are being shipped to Virginia and Michigan because there aren’t enough cells in PA to house all of them. From 1980 to 2009 the amount of prisoners in PA has risen from 8,243 to 51, 326 and the local prisons have nearly 7,700 more inmates than they can house. This cuts into the state budget and has led to a request for $1.9 billion in state funding to help support and house all these prisoners. As a result, this money comes out of our budget, the peoples budget. Prison officials have said that prisoners are being locked up for longer terms, therefore taking up more space and in the end costing more money. It is not a good sign when a state ships nearly 7,000 inmates to other states due to a lack of space.
Power plants are under more stress than ever to provide the world with electricity. A good portion of the power distributed goes towards a productive end, but as much as 20 percent of power used ends up doing nothing at all. So where does this energy go? Certain appliances and electronics, dubbed “vampires,” slowly sap power even when not in use. Chief among these energy hogs is the cellphone charger. Even when the phone is charged, even when the phone is off, and even when the phone is disconnected, cellphone chargers still draw current. AT&T, however, has decided to do something about it. The new AT&T ZERO charger shuts down completely when not in use, meaning no vampire suck and no teeth marks in your electricity bill. The ZERO is compatible with all AT&T smart-phones as well as the iPhone or any other USB charged devices. Selling at about 15 or 20 dollars, the ZERO costs about as much as a regular replacement charger, but will pay for itself quickly. Now I’m going to unplug my cellphone charger.
One of the companies that has suffered more from the international financial crisis, American International Group (AIG), seems to be recovering their good status. They were the first to be financially rescued by the US government, and now they just sold all they had in Asia for $35,000 million to the British insurance company Prudential. This money will allow AIG to get rid of the debt they had with the federal Reserve of New York, and with AIA, which is how the company is known as in Asia. “This transaction is the most significant achievement to date in the efforts of AIG of returning the money to contributors”, Ben Benmosche, adviser and delegate of the company said. “It also gives us flexibility to advance in the restructuring and allows us to focus in reinforce the value of our business.” The operation had a strong effect on the company’s stock already, which this morning was 6.98% up.
It was already freezing cold up in the Northern states and to top things off there has been heavy snowfall and whiteout conditions predicted for areas all over the mid-Atlantic. Already, nearly hundreds of flights have been canceled and more snow and flight cancellations are eminent. School startings have been delayed and many schools have been closed all week. Cities that are enduring the most damage include; Baltimore, Maryland, and Philadelphia. Even Washington DC has a record of two and a half more feet of snow predicted to fall within 24 hours. Delta Airlines has canceled nearly 200 connecting flights and United Express has canceled nearly 400. News stations are reporting that it is best to stay off the road as much as possible and to avoid traveling to other states. For now, people need to stay put within their house as much as possible, until some of the damage can be cleared. As much as I miss Philadelphia and being home, it certainly isn’t the worse thing being in Florida avoiding all the snow and cold weather.