March 15 marks the beginning of “Sunshine Week,” an annual initiative by the American Society of Newspaper Editors to remind people of the importance of open government and access to public information. Read more by clicking on the following citation.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Professor Simon Johnson, formerly chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, is an Economics Professor at M.I.T. In his website, The Baseline Scenario, Johnson states that finance ministers and central bankers at the G20 meeting could agree only that “nothing that will make any difference” in the current economy crisis. This does not bode well for the official G20 conference April 3-4. Johnson talks about politicians manipulating the press. For his short op ed go to: http://baselinescenario.com/category/op-ed/
‘‘American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009’’. All 4o7 pages of the act are now available for the public to read (in case there was some misunderstanding). Click on the following:
This Op-Ed from the Christian Science Monitor calls for a cultural/economic change in both new importers and exporters. It really is a call for a move to a new world order as far as international trade. Click on the following, to read this story:
Why Workers Were Left Out to Dry in Texas
by Olga Pierce, ProPublica - March 13, 2009 4:57 pm EDT
Gov. Rick Perry (Office of the Governor Rick Perry)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry officially rejected money from the stimulus bill when he turned away $550 million that would have expanded unemployment insurance benefits.
As we have pointed out in the past , this is interesting, given that in Texas only one in five unemployed workers receives benefits—a percentage that earns the state the rank of 49th out of 51 jurisdictions. The federal funding would pay for benefits for 45,000 Texans who otherwise would not qualify.
Perry and other governors who also have threatened to refuse  the unemployment insurance funding say the bill would force them to raise taxes on businesses to sustain the expanded benefits in two years, when the federal money runs out.
That part could be true. States have to change their laws to qualify for the money. And despite claims to the contrary, even by some members of Congress , the bill’s language prohibits a sunset provision. In other words, you can’t write a law that specifically expires as soon as the federal money runs out.
There would, however, be nothing—other than public opinion and political will—preventing states from scaling eligibility back down.
But what are the changes in the bill? Are they so vile that they should be reversed as soon as the recession ends?
Here is a guide to the provisions  (PDF):
- Every state hoping to get funds must begin calculating eligibility for unemployment insurance using something called an alternative base period. All but 12 states currently require workers to have earned a fixed amount in the first three of the last four quarters to qualify for benefits. This dates back to the olden days, when it took time to wrangle paper records. Problem is, it often excludes people in lower income brackets who earn a lower wage and tend to cycle in and out of work. (Wealthier people tend to hit the earnings requirement more easily.) The alternative base period would allow the beginning and end of the assessment period to be adjusted so people are not ineligible on a technicality—and many advocates for low-income workers think this change should have been made a long time ago.
- States are also required to do two of the following: cover part-time workers; cover people with compelling family reasons to leave their jobs, such as domestic violence or a sick child; cover people in job training programs; or offer beneficiaries at least $15 per week extra for each dependent child.
While some states are rejecting funding, other states are embracing the stimulus package. Iowa became the first state to pass a law qualifying it for the extra money. As a result, $70 million in federal funds will soon be deposited in Iowa’s unemployment insurance fund.
Here is very interesting story on a small Illinois bank which concentrated (too much) on construction loans. It owners are wiped out and FDIC on the hook for a sizeable possible loss. AMCORE is not the same case, but there are some similarities with AMCORE. Comptroller of the Currency, ordered AMCORE to improve its loan underwriting and administration practices calling for a change in lending practices back in the Spring of 2008. Click on the following to read the story:
The company is adjusting production schedules weekly trying to align production with the rapidly falling demand for new cars in the worldwide economic recession. To read the short article click on the following: