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Real News in the Age of Infotainment: Weekly Economic Roundup

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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 03:37 PM
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Real News in the Age of Infotainment: Weekly Economic Roundup
Will be Posted at Practical Vision Sunday:

What follows is a collection of economic news and opinion gone unreported or underreported in the top media outlets of the country.

In the Age where news is now an entertainment industry for profit rather than to serve the public interest, news selection is predicated on an assessment of what will generate ratings, keep an appropriate consumer base, etc. This means in many cases, critically important yet unsexy news is ignored in favor of the latest car wreck, local homicide, or plane crash. So here are some of the stories you might have missed:

NEWS

Costly COBRA: For the jobless, health care costs may exceed unemployment benefits - The lack of affordable health care in the United States is especially acute among the countrys growing ranks of unemployed. Thanks to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1986, workers who are laid off from their jobs may keep their employer-sponsored insurance at their own expense for up to 18 months. Without additional federal supports, these COBRA costs would easily consume the bulk of an individuals unemployment benefits.

Income Gaps Hit Record Levels In 2006, New Data Show: Rich-Poor Gap Tripled Between 1979 and 2006 - New data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) show that in 2006, the top 1 percent of households had a larger share of the nations after-tax income, and the middle and bottom fifths of households had smaller shares, than in any year since 1979, the first year the CBO data cover. As a result, the gaps in after-tax incomes between households in the top 1 percent and those in the middle and bottom fifths were the widest on record.

African Americans see weekly wage decline - Over the last two years (from the first quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2009), black workers 25 to 54 years old experienced a 3.7% declinea drop of about $23in their inflation-adjusted median weekly wage (see Chart). No other major racial or ethnic group showed a decline over this period.

A Hardcore Debate Awaits on Campaign Finance, Soft Money - The Supreme Court is preparing to re-hear oral arguments in a major campaign finance regulation case -- Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission -- that could change the nation's entire campaign finance system, including laws that today prohibit corporations and unions from making independent political expenditures.

Stimulus Spending Fails to Follow Unemployment, Poverty - Since the economic stimulus bill passed nearly six months ago, the Obama administration has repeatedly pledged that the money would reach middle America, seeping into the communities hardest hit by the recession. But analysis of the most comprehensive list of stimulus spending to date found no relationship between where the money is going and unemployment and poverty.

Oregon, Florida Banks Fail Friday - Three more banks failed Friday, bringing the total for the year to 72. Two of the casualties were in Florida, and the third was in Central Oregon. The banks were small players in their respective states, and their closings cost the FDICs deposit fund only a combined $185 million. The FDIC selected out-of-state buyers to purchase the deposits of the failed institutions.

U.S. Running Out of Benefits - The program was created in the 1930s as a means to sustain the unemployed through their toughest times, but the fund is quickly running out. According to The New York Times, 500,000 beneficiaries will be cut off by the end of September. An additional million or more will lose benefits by the end of the year. With initial unemployment claimants on the rise and the job market looking particularly bleak, there may be little help for those who run out.

OPINION / ANALYSIS

What to Watch For in the New Census Income and Poverty Numbers - While improvements in incomes and poverty would certainly be good news, they should be viewed within the context of the expansion as a whole. 2007 marked the sixth and probably the last full year of the expansion, which began in late 2001. (See box below.) During the expansions first several years, median incomes fell, while poverty rose. (See Figure 1). In recent economic cycles, incomes have often fallen and poverty risen for a year or two after a recession ends, but the post-2001 expansion took longer than previous ones to show improvements in these areas.

As a result, the 2007 figures may well show something unprecedented. For the first time on record, poverty and the median income of working-age households may be worse at the end of a multi-year economic expansion than they were at the bottom of the previous recession.

Robert Reich: New Employment Numbers - Things are Worsening More Slowly - The economy is getting worse more slowly. That's just about the only clear reading that's coming from the economic reports, including this morning's important one on employment. The pace of job losses slowed -- payrolls fell by 247,000, after a 443,000 loss in June, and the official jobless rate dropped from 9.5 to 9.4 percent.

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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 10:37 PM
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1. Kick.
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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-09-09 11:28 AM
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2. kick
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PA Democrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-09-09 11:56 AM
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3. Great Info. K & R
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nilram Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-09-09 07:47 PM
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4. excellent, thanks
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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-10-09 01:10 PM
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5. kick.
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