Last month, Chicago saw its debt cut to junk at Moody's, triggering billions in accelerated payment rights and jeopardizing efforts to improve the city's finances in the face of a budget gap that's set to triple over three years. Citi has more on the dreaded "downgrade feedback loop."
"In a forthcoming report triggered by an Associated Press investigation, the top watchdog at the Social Security Administration found the agency paid $20.2 million in benefits to more than 130 suspected Nazi war criminals, SS guards, and others who may have participated in the Third Reich's atrocities during World War II," AP reports.
Humans desperately need a new story to live by. The old one is increasingly dysfunctional and rather obviously headed for either a quite dismal or possibly disastrous future. One of the chief impediments to recognizing the dysfunction of the old story and adopting a new one is the most powerful of all human emotional states: Denial. But here we are, 40 years after the Club of Rome and 7 years after the Great Financial Accident of 2008, collectively pretending that neither was a sign warning of the dangers we face -- as a global society -- if we continue our unsustainable policies and practices that assume perpetual growth.
In a hilariously absurd twist of fiscal fate, we can now add "incarcerated bikers" to the list of things which are imperiling state and local government finances in America. It should also be noted that this serves to validate an important point we made earlier this month. Namely, that when it comes to "true biker shootouts", accurately assessing the fallout ahead of time is virtually impossible.
The "average" American isn't doomed to die from a heart attack. According to a recent study by the CDC looking at the most distinctive deaths by state, by which they mean which type of death is abnormally represented relative to the national mean, Americans have a veritable cornucopia of ways in which they "pass" depending on which state they call home.
“When you’re borrowing money for pensions, you’re getting a new credit card to pay off the old one, and you still haven’t paid off the old one.”
2015's heavily-indebted graduating class of college seniors has a lot of options. Not paying their loans is one of them. Read on...
- Developed-Country Growth Slows, OECD Says (WSJ)
- Charter Agrees to Buy Time Warner Cable for About $55 Billion (BBG)
- Dollar hits one-month high as periphery woes weigh on Europe (Reuters)
- IMF Says Yuan No Longer Undervalued Amid Reserve-Status Push (BBG)
- Hanergy secured $200m loan ahead of solar group stock tumble (FT)
- Congressional Inaction Threatens NSA Spy Program (WSJ)
- Germany sees progress on Greece, EU officials to confer on Thursday (Reuters)
- Hayes ‘motivated by greed’, prosecutor says in Libor case (FT)
- Whistleblowers Find SEC Rewards Slow and Scarce (WSJ)
In downgrading the city, Moody’s said it expected “Chicago's credit challenges will continue, both in the near term and in the long term [as] unfunded liabilities of the Municipal, Laborer, Police, and Fire pension plans grow and exert increasing pressure on the city's operating budget.” That looks to have been an accurate assessment, because as Bloomberg reports, Chicago’s budget gap is set to triple by 2017.
Murray Energy, the third-largest coal producer in the US, will layoff 21% of its employees with the majority of the cuts coming in West Virginia, which is staring down a $195 million budget gap thanks to the slide in coal prices. Meanwhile, CEO and founder Robert Murray is buying more coal mines.
"Protesters hailing from as far away as Kansas City and New York City participated in a demonstration at McDonald's Oak Brook headquarters Wednesday, urging that hourly wages for the burger giant's front-line workers be increased to $15 an hour", the Chicago Tribune reports. Police estimated the crowd at about 2,000 people. Organizers had projected that upward of 5,000 would participate in the demonstration.
"Six years after the recession ended, many U.S. states are hard pressed to balance budgets because of a sluggish recovery and their own policy decisions and in fact, thirty-two states faced budget gaps in fiscal 2015 or 2016 or both." Bloomberg reports. Indeed, state and local governments are so broke that "even Republican governors loath to raise taxes have proposed higher levies."
Following an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that struck down a pension reform plan aimed at closing a $100 billion funding gap, Moody's downgrades Chicago to junk, giving the city the dubious distinction of being the only major city "in recent history" to carry such a low rating other than Detroit. Chicago now faces accelerated payments to creditors of more than $2 billion.
At least 22 states are facing budget shortfalls thanks to a combination of fiscal mismanagement and falling oil prices. The negative impact on the public sector has been dramatic suggesting that in the event of a sustained economic downturn, citizens' patience for austerity could wear thin leading to political instability and social unrest.