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Consumer Confidence Hits the Skids

“NEW YORK (Reuters) – Consumer confidence fell to a four-month low in December as a looming budget crisis sapped what had been a growing sense of optimism about the economy, a private sectorreport released on Thursday showed.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes fell to 65.1 from a downwardly revised 71.5 in November. Economists had expected a reading of 70.0, according to a Reuters poll.

November’s number was originally reported as 73.7.

While the present situation index rose to 62.8 from an upwardly revised 57.4, its highest in more than four years, the overall survey suggested most consumers expect things to worsen.

“Consumers’ expectations retreated sharply in December resulting in a decline in the overall index,”Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement. “The sudden turnaround was most likely caused by uncertainty surrounding the oncoming fiscal cliff.”

The fiscal cliff refers to $600 billion of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January unless Congress acts to stop them. President Barack Obama and Republican leaders have failed to agree to a long-term deficit reduction deal that would avert the situation.

The expectations index fell to 66.5 from a downwardly revised 80.9. December’s reading was the lowest in more than a year…”

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State of the Union: More Young People Join the Homeless After the Great Recession

“Duane Taylor was studying the humanities in community college and living in his own place when he lost his job in a round of layoffs. Then he found, and lost, a second job. And a third.

Now, with what he calls “lowered standards” and a tenuous new position at a Jack in the Box restaurant, Mr. Taylor, 24, does not make enough to rent an apartment or share one. He sleeps on a mat in a homeless shelter, except when his sister lets him crash on her couch.

“At any time I could lose my job, my security,” said Mr. Taylor, explaining how he was always the last hired and the first fired. “I’d like to be able to support myself. That’s my only goal.”

Across the country, tens of thousands of underemployed and jobless young people, many with college credits or work histories, are struggling to house themselves in the wake of the recession, which has left workers between the ages of 18 and 24 with the highest unemployment rate of all adults.

Those who can move back home with their parents — the so-called boomerang set — are the lucky ones. But that is not an option for those whose families have been hit hard by the economy, including Mr. Taylor, whose mother is barely scraping by while working in a laundromat. Without a stable home address, they are an elusive group that mostly couch surfs or sleeps hidden away in cars or other private places, hoping to avoid the lasting stigma of public homelessness during what they hope will be a temporary predicament…”

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Got Brains: Make Your Own Deficit-Reduction Plan

“Unless lawmakers can agree on measures to reduce the deficit, standing legislation will do it for them. Under the “Fiscal Cliff” scenario, the Congressional Budget Office projects a deficit of $142 billion by 2020, or a $1.102 trillion deficit if some tax cuts are extended and other policies remain in effect. Try your hand at balancing the budget by selecting from some options outlined by the CBO: “

Balance the budget here

Cut spending here

Fuck with people’s benefits here

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US Household Wealth Rises to Near 2007 High

“The net wealth of U.S. households rose in the third quarter to its highest since late 2007, providing a hopeful sign for future consumer spending.

Net financial wealth grew $1.72 trillion to $64.77 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.

That left household wealth $1.2 trillion short of where it stood in the fourth quarter of 2007, just as the economy was sinking into a severe recession. Wealth peaked at $67.3 trillion in the third quarter of that year.

Rising home prices helped drive the increase in the latest quarter. The value of real estate owned by households rose about $300 billion, the Fed said. Stock holdings climbed by about $520 billion…”

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Forget Fiscal, 2.1 Cliffs to Really Think About

2 real cliffs to consider. The third suggestion only gets a 0.1 from my viewpoint as i do not believe in man’s ability to change climate change one way or the other. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for less pollution, conservative behavior, and preventive behavior….it’s just not clear to me that man is causing or even accelerating the climate change scenario.

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$GS: Shale Drilling to Lift the Phoenix From the Ashes

Who knew shale gas in the U.S. could have such profound and potentially long last affects on a plebs life. You thought oil was for rich men drawing blood, but now every pleb can be thankful for the shale revolution.

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America Positioned Properly for Austerity

“What does the drama in Washington over the “fiscal cliff” have to do with strikes and work stoppages among America’s lowest-paid workers at Walmart, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Domino’s Pizza?


Jobs are slowly returning to America, but most of them pay lousy wages and low if non-existent benefits.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that seven out of 10 growth occupations over the next decade will be low-wage — like serving customers at big-box retailers and fast-food chains.

That’s why the median wage keeps dropping, especially for the 80 percent of the workforce that’s paid by the hour.”

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Anecdotal Economic Data

“When the official headline economic indicators don’t work, savvy investors turn to the unconventional economic indicators.

In his latest Breakfast With Dave note, David Rosenberg visits a signal being sent by the restaurant sector:

Our hedge fund desk has always told me that among the most reliable cyclical indicators for the American consumers is the restaurant sector. Traffic is slowing down precipitously and the companies are issuing negative guidance.”

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$AAPL Rises to the Call to Arms


“Your next Mac could be assembled in America. Apple is assembling at least some of the new, ultra-thin iMacs within the USA. The backside stamp containing the serial code and FCC logo generally says “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” But several owners of the new model quickly discovered their machine was made in the good ol’ US of A.

Apple long made its products in the US. Its Elk Grove, California complex opened in 1992 and retrofitted from a distribution center into a manufacturing plant in 1995. During the iMac’s heyday, it employed more than 1,500 people and pumped out computers seven days a week. The plant made its last computer in 2004 when then SVP of Worldwide Operations, Tim Cook, consolidated Apple’s manufacturing in what would be a successful move to maximize efficiency and margins.”

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Debt Ceiling to Be Hit by February – March of 2013

“The independent Congressional Budget Office issued its new estimate of when the federal government will reach its debt ceiling — late February or early March. In its “Federal Debt and the Statutory Limit, November 2012,” the agency reported that the Treasury Department could use “extraordinary measures” to extend the date for when the current limit of $16.394 trillion is hit. Congress and the administration may use the revision to claim that a compromise on budget matters and tax cuts can be extended beyond the end of the year. That will not allay the anxiety that both businesses and individuals have about year’s end and the automatic budget and tax changes to be triggered according to current law.”

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Consumer Spending Grows Less Than Expected

Consumer spending in the U.S. grew less than forecast in the third quarter, underscoring why Federal Reserve policy makers are zeroing in on fighting unemployment to spur the world’s largest economy.

Household spending climbed at a 1.4 percent rate, the smallest gain in more than a year and down from a previously reported 2 percent advance, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. Gains in inventories and a smaller trade deficit more than offset the slowdown to propel gross domestic product to a 2.7 percent rate, exceeding the 2 percent pace previously reported.

“The economy is moving forward at a moderate pace,” saidChris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo- Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “The pace of consumer spending was disappointing, but it seems less worrisome given that some other sectors of the economy are doing better, like housing.”

Fed policy makers such as William Dudley say joblessness remains too high as central bankers consider whether they need to step up record stimulus heading into the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts that may take effect next year if lawmakers fail to reach a compromise. At the same time, another report today reinforced signs of a rebound in housing that is helping underpin consumer confidence.”


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State of the Union:( Food Stamp Use Jumps 10%


“NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The number of American households receiving food stamps jumped nearly 10% in 2011.

Nearly 15 million households were on food stamps at some point last year, up from 13.6 million in 2010, newly released Census data shows. That’s an increase to 13%, up from 11.9% in 2010.”

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The Oil and Gas Boom is Increasing The Heartlands Income and Wealth

“9:01AM EST November 27. 2012 – The nation’s oil and gas boom is driving up income so fast in a few hundred small towns and rural areas that it’s shifting prosperity to the nation’s heartland, a USA TODAY analysis of government data shows.

The 261 million people who live in cities and suburbs still haven’t recovered earning power lost in the economic downturn. Average income per person fell 3.5% in metropolitan areas between 2007 and 2011 after adjusting for inflation, according to data released Monday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

By contrast, small-town America is better off than before: Inflation-adjusted income is up 3.8% per person since 2007 for the 51 million in small cities, towns and rural areas.

The energy boom and strong farm prices have reversed, at least temporarily, a long-term trend of money flowing to cities. Last year, small places saw a 3% growth in income per person vs. 1.8% in urban areas.

Small-town prosperity is most noticeable in North Dakota, now the nation’s No. 2 oil-producing state. Six of the top 10 counties are above the state’s Bakken oil field.”

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$IBM: Cyber Monday Spending Increases 30% YoY

$IBM’s call

“NEW YORK – Americans clicked away on their computers and smartphones for deals on Cyber Monday, which was expected to be the biggest online shopping day in history.

Shoppers were expected to spend $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday, up 20 percent from last year, according to research firm comScore. That would not only make it the biggest online shopping day of the year, but the biggest since comScore started tracking shoppers’ online buying habits in 2001.

Online shopping was up 26.6 percent on Cyber Monday compared with the same time period a year ago, according to figures released Monday evening by IBM Benchmark, which tracks online sales. Sales from mobile devices, which include tablets, rose 10.2 percent. The group does not track dollar amount sales.

The strong start to Cyber Monday, a term coined in 2005 by a shopping trade group that noticed people were doing a lot of shopping on their work computers on the Monday following Thanksgiving, comes after overall online sales rose significantly during the four-day holiday shopping weekend that began on Thanksgiving.”

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