Attention President Obama: One Third Of U.S. Households Can No Longer Afford Food, Rent And Transportation

While the Fed has long been focusing on the revenue part of the household income statement (which unfortunately has not been rising nearly fast enough to stimulate benign inflation in the form of nominal wages rising at the Fed’s preferred clip of 3.5% or higher), one largely ignored aspect of said balance sheet has been the expense side: after all, for any money to be left over and saved, income has to surpass expenses. However, according to a striking new Pew study while household spending has returned to pre-recession levels (the average household spent $36,800 in 2014) incomes have not.

Specifically, while the median income had fallen by 13% from 2004 levels over the next decade, expenditures had increased by nearly 14%. But nobody was more impacted than the one-third of households which the study defines as “low-income.” Pew finds that while all households had less slack in their budgets in 2014 than in 2004, lower-income households went into the red by over $2,300. Continue reading

U.S. States Aren’t Prepared for the Next Fiscal Shock

U.S. states, still grappling with the lingering effects of the longest recession since the 1930s, are even more vulnerable to another fiscal shock.

The governments have a little more than half the reserves they’d stashed away before the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009, according to a report last month by Pew Charitable Trusts. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Arkansas have saved the least.

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Obama to create world’s largest protected marine reserve in Pacific Ocean

President Obama will use his legal authority Thursday to create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the central Pacific Ocean, demonstrating his increased willingness to advance a conservation agenda without the need for congressional approval.

By broadening the existing Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument from almost 87,000 square miles to more than 490,000 square miles, Obama has protected more acres of federal land and sea by executive power than any other president in at least 50 years and makes the area off-limits to commercial fishing.

The proclamation will mean added protections for deep-sea coral reefs and other marine ecosystems that administration officials believe are among “the most vulnerable” to the negative impacts of climate change.

While the new designation is a scaled-back version of an even more ambitious plan the administration had floated in June, it marks the 12th time Obama will have exercised his power under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect environmental assets. The decision to continue to allow fishing around roughly half the area’s islands and atolls aims to limit any economic impact on the U.S. fishing interests. Continue reading

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