1597127714 vexsome tldr: A shorter front page of the internet


1. Middle classes losing out to ultra-rich

The report says the middle classes are being "Hollowed out", with declining chances of rising prosperity and growing fears of job insecurity. The report warns of social consequences if the middle classes lose trust in the system, beyond their own economic self-interest. Instead of upwards social mobility and growing prosperity, the report says the middle classes are more worried about slipping downwards. The report, Under Pressure: The Squeezed Middle Class, says that totems of middle class family life, such as access to housing and higher education, have become increasingly expensive. The widening gap of incomes has pushed more people to the extremes of rich and poor, so that millennials in their 20s are less likely to be in middle-income households than baby boomers in their 50s and 60s. "A strong and prosperous middle class is important for the economy and society as a whole," says the study.

2. April 15 is the day when the five largest tobacco companies pay US$9 billion dollars to state governments, each and every year, forever, because of a 1998 legal settlement

April 15 is also the day when the five largest tobacco companies pay US$9 billion dollars to state governments, each and every year, forever, because of a 1998 legal settlement meant to compensate states for the costs of tobacco-related illness such as cancer, emphysema and heart disease. Actual payments made by the tobacco companies vary year to year because of adjustment factors written into the settlement; each of the states' payments varies as well. Payments from tobacco companies, as well as tobacco taxes, help to support health care and other services for low-income people served by state Medicaid programs. Even though the federal government supports each state's Medicaid program by paying at least half the costs, many states have difficulty finding revenues to pay the remaining share. Determining how much tobacco use costs states' Medicaid programs puts the payments from tobacco companies into perspective.

3. Forget market downturns, this is the biggest threat facing the US economy, survey finds: More than 40% of participants in a Bankrate.com poll believe the political environment in Washington is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy over the next six months.

More than 40% of participants in a Bankrate.com poll believe the political environment in Washington is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy over the next six months. Political feuding in Washington is keeping Americans up at night. In all, 44% of participants in a recent survey by Bankrate.com said the biggest threat facing the economy over the next six months is the political environment in the nation's capital. "Despite the highly polarized political environment, Americans agree that Washington doesn't cut the mustard when it comes to resolving these issues," Hamrick said. Though survey participants are worried that political gridlock could affect the economy, few of them are doing much about it.

4. Davis Solomon Sees a Positive Trend in the US economy

David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, expressed his relief that now he can see positive signs in the US economy. According to Solomon, the risks facing the US economy are now less pronounced. One of the factors behind this trend is the increasingly dovish policies by central banks. They expected the recent slowdown in the American economy and the global economy at large to linger. The same department in other similar banks showed better performance during the same market conditions in recent years.

5. Sears sues ex-CEO Lampert, Treasury's Mnuchin, others for alleged 'thefts' from bankrupt retailer

Sears on Thursday lodged a lawsuit against its former CEO, Eddie Lampert, for allegedly stealing billions of dollars from the once storied retailer. "Altogether, Lampert caused more than $2 billion of assets to be transferred to himself and Sears' other shareholders and beyond the reach of Sears' creditors," the lawsuit alleged on Thursday. Sears on Thursday lodged a lawsuit against its former CEO, Eddie Lampert, and a string its high-profile board members, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for stealing allegedly billions of dollars from the once storied retailer. Sears' unsecured creditors have repeatedly argued that Lampert was the cause, not the mere solution to Sears' downfall. The suit names numerous defendants besides Lampert and Mnuchin, including two high-profile directors Bruce Berkowitz, a hedge fund manger who was a large investor in Sears, and Kunal Kamlani, president of ESL. "ESL Investments, Inc. vigorously disputes the claims in the debtors' complaint against ESL, Mr. Lampert and Mr. Kamlani, which repeats baseless allegations and fanciful claims. As we have previously said, the debtors' allegations are misleading or just flat wrong," a spokesman from ESL said.

6. Wall Street opens higher after strong retail sales data

NEW YORK - Industrials led Wall Street higher on Thursday in the wake of upbeat economic data and a string of healthy corporate earnings. Industrial stocks provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Dow following positive quarterly results and remarks from China's commerce ministry spokesman that progress has been made in U.S.-China trade negotiations. With reporting season in high gear, January-March S&P 500 profits are expected to have dropped 1.7% year-on-year, which would mark the first decline in quarterly earnings since 2016. First quarter earnings are beating estimates, "But not by enough to be a catalyst for significantly higher stock prices," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago. The property & casualty insurer's stock gained 3.0%. Union Pacific Corp shares advanced 4.9% after beating earnings estimates as the railroad offset the impact severe weather and midwest floods through price hikes.

7. Expectations for first-quarter growth have suddenly surged past 2%

First quarter growth perked up late in the quarter, to well above 2% after looking to be 1% or less when the economy was being hit by winter storms and the government shutdown. Economists surveyed by CNBC/Moody's Analytics Rapid Update raised their growth estimates by 0.3 percentage points to a median 2.4% Thursday, following a sharp jump in March retail sales and a report on business inventories. The first read on first-quarter GDP is expected April 26. Economists had expected tepid growth for the first quarter after sub-zero temperatures and snow hit a big swath of the country this winter. The government shutdown, which lasted five weeks, including nearly the entire month of January, was also seen as reducing growth by several tenths.

8. Consumers are buying contaminated meat, doctors' group says in lawsuit

A group of doctors has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pushing for new rules to prohibit the sale of raw poultry, pork and beef that contain traces of animal waste - something that is currently allowed under law. "Americans deserve fair notice that food products deemed 'wholesome' by USDA would be deemed disgusting by the average consumer and adulterated under any reasonable reading of federal law," the group said in a 2013 petition it filed with the USDA, seeking the changes. "It's no surprise that the pseudo-medical animal rights group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine doesn't know the difference between fecal contamination and bacteria on meat products," McCullough said. A spokesman for the National Chicken Council, a trade group for the poultry industry, said USDA has "a zero-tolerance policy for fecal material entering the chiller," referring to a large container of cold water and antimicrobial chemicals that chicken carcasses are placed in after slaughter and cleaning. In 2011, the group tested 120 chicken products sold by 15 grocery store chains in 10 U.S. cities for the presence of fecal bacteria.

9. China and Russia Buy Gold as US Keeps Gold Prices Artificially Low

This behavior has artificially suppressed the price of gold and has enabled China and Russia to buy gold cheaply. With gold prices still depressed, we may begin to see other countries' central banks follow the lead of China and Russia. Some analysts speculate the reason for doing so was to hurt the US. A US creditor selling US debt could send the prices of treasuries higher, though Russia doesn't own enough US debt to make much of an impact. Whatever the case may be, tensions with the US have pushed Russia to buy gold. If China and Russia prove that gold is not just a viable alternative to the US dollar, but a favorable one, it will further threaten the US' global influence.

10. New Evidence on Debt as an Obstacle to US Economic Growth

From the founding of the nation until 1968, government debt moved up and down without a trend, but over the past 50 years, debt relative to the size of the economy has increased continuously. Using a new econometric technique for threshold autoregression and a debt measure that includes private debt as well as public debt, we estimate that in the period 1995 to 2014, US economic growth was more than 1 percentage point lower than it would have been at a debt level below the threshold. Other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries also had lower growth rates as a result of high debt levels. Many countries have recently adopted some form of fiscal rule, including balanced budgets, intended to limit debt and raise growth rates. Fiscal rules involve a tradeoff between limiting debt and preserving flexibility to respond to economic shocks.

11. US weekly jobless claims lowest since 1969; unemployment rolls shrink

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 192,000 for the week ended April 13, the lowest level since September 1969, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 6,000 to 201,250 last week, the lowest reading since November 1969. The claims data covered the survey week for the nonfarm payrolls portion of April's employment report. The four-week average of claims decreased by 19,250 between the March and April survey weeks. Thursday's claims report showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid declined 63,000 to 1.65 million for the week ended April 6.

12. Exxon and other oil giants say the crude they bought from the U.S. government’s reserves was tainted with poisonous gas

Exxon Mobil Corp. is the latest company to raise concerns that a stockpile of U.S. government crude is tainted with poisonous gas. Analysts have pointed to the stockpile as a safeguard against tightening crude supplies after U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela curbed their oil exports. The prospect of tainted crude in the reserve complicates future sales of U.S. oil, a key tool for funding government programs. Exxon took 1.5 million barrels of Bryan Mound sour crude - a high sulfur oil that's recently become more expensive as global supply shrinks - by pipeline to Texas City. If crude quality issues persist, that could have implications for the future sales of oil from the SPR, which is about 60 per cent sour crude.

13. Jet Airways Shutdown: 16,000 Permanent Employees Jobless Now, Says Employee's Union

Cash-strapped Jet Airways, which decided to suspend all its operations from Wednesday, has rendered 16,000 permanent employees jobless while 22,000 employees have been affected indirectly, said Kiran Pawaskar, Nationalist Congress Party leader and president of All India Jet Airways Officers and Staff Association addressing a press conference. Jet employees have not got their salary for the last few months. Pawaskar said, no other company is willing to take Jet Airways employees now. The employee's union also questioned bank's decision to oust Naresh Goyal out of the Jet board. Jet Airways has a debt of over Rs 8,000 crore on its books.

14. Airbus sells longer-range A321, expects quick end to Boeing crisis

TOULOUSE, France - Airbus sales chief Christian Scherer said it is selling longer-range versions of its A321, while signaling a shift away from chasing market share at any cost and predicting Boeing will emerge quickly from the grounding of its rival 737 MAX. Scherer, who took on the top sales role in September, told Reuters that Airbus is seeing more demand for longer-range versions of roughly 200-seat planes previously used for medium-haul routes, blurring boundaries with bigger jets. Scherer's remarks are the strongest indication yet that Airbus has quietly launched the A321XLR, a keenly awaited new version of its single-aisle plane that competes with the 737 MAX and could brush up against a proposed new Boeing mid-market jet. Airbus and Boeing compete ferociously for sales of single aisle jets like the MAX and A320 or A321 and the effort to expand Airbus' lead in the market for its cash cow predates last month's grounding of the 737 MAX following two crashes. Scherer is up against a relentless dealmaker in Boeing sales chief Ihssane Mounir, who snatched the orders crown last year, while Airbus had a negative first quarter on orders due to cancellations. Scherer, who keeps a model in his office of a jet code-named A30X, which would have seen the light of day if Boeing had opted for a new jet instead of the MAX, is focused on current business but acknowledges Airbus is shaping its ideas beyond the A320neo.

15. Investors think the economy is more crucial to Trump's reelection chances than the Mueller report

The release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report is unlikely to change the growing sense in markets that President Donald Trump can win reelection if the economy remains solid, analysts say. The attorney general said Mueller did not establish conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians. "The risks of impeachment are very low even if there's something in that report. I think the consensus view holds, and does it make it easier to get a China deal through? The answer is yes." "I think a loss of the Republican side would have Wall Street's expectations dialed back, and there would be concerns around regulations and different tax policies. I think that would hurt outlooks. To the extent it would move the needle one way or other, it would have impact, but I don't think it will," he said. "I think there's a growing sentiment that the Democratic field is not particularly strong, and I think there's a growing sentiment if the economy stays in decent shape, yes, he is the favorite," said Valliere.

16. Eliminate Federal Student Loans

Step 1: The federal government should stop making college loans itself and cease guaranteeing any such loans. Step 2: It should prohibit educational lending by federally regulated financial institutions or, if that seems too heavy-handed, require the application of ordinary credit standards in any private educational lending, treating the student himself as the main credit risk in all cases, including those of secured or unsecured loans taken out by parents or other third parties for that student's educational expenses. The current system is exploitative: The students essentially function as a conveyor belt carrying government money into the universities, leaving borrowers instead of taxpayers on the hook because it looks better from an accounting point of view: If we just gave the universities money, that would show up on the books as an expenditure; lending it to students allows us to pretend that we have created an asset when all we have actually created is a great deal of debt and horses**t. If you want to know how much money has been transferred to the nation's bartending academies, the Professional Golfers Career College, or the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building under the guise of student lending, look here. Don't reform student lending, don't try to lower the interest rates or create special debt subsidies for college graduates who follow careers of which the people with political power approve.

17. Phantom Auto raises $13.5M to expand remote driving business to delivery bots and forklifts

Phantom Auto co-founder Elliot Katz emphasized that the company is still working with customers deploying autonomous passenger and commercial vehicles on public roads. Phantom Auto isn't providing a full list of customers yet. Katz told TechCrunch that customers include companies launching autonomous delivery robots. Phantom Auto's teleoperation platform allows a remote driver, sometimes located thousands of miles away, to take control of an autonomous vehicle if needed. Phantom Auto isn't employing the remote drivers in this use case.

18. Argentina: 70% of Pensioners Can’t Cover Their Basic Needs

A recent study conducted by the Argentinean Ombudsman's Office for the Senior population estimates that since April 1, 2019, approximately 70 percent of pensioners are unable to cover basic need products, included in their market basket. The director of the state agency, Eugenio Semino, explained that only 30 percent of pensioners, who receive the minimum wage, can actually cover their market basket needs. Currently, Argentinean pensioners receive the minimum wage for retirement, which is about 10,400 pesos, yet the market basket for the elderly has gone up to 30,524 pesos by March 2019, meaning they can only cover a third of it, affecting more than 2,500,000 seniors. "More than 70 percent of the elderly aren't able to cover their basic needs," he said. The Argentinean Ombudsman's Office for the Senior has asked the government for an increase of 6,000 pesos to the minimum wage for pensioners.

19. The IMF and World Bank Create Cryptocurrency

Generally, institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are considered to be traditional, conservative and cautious. According to a report published in The Financial Times, the two entities have launched their own cryptocurrency, called Learning Coin. This currency will not be available on public exchanges, or available to the public for that matter. In a statement, the IMF stated that due to the rapid increase in technology and its use, financial institutions and other entities did not update their knowledge quickly enough, resulting in a gap between the regulators and entities they are responsible for regulating. Learning Coin will be awarded to staff members as a reward for reaching educational milestones on the subject, and whilst they will not have any value, the entities behind the project are looking at potential rewards to motivate their staff to learn.

20. Cain says he won't back down, wants to be nominated to Fed

Cain told The Wall Street Journal in a Wednesday interview that he will not withdraw from consideration for a nomination to the Fed board after GOP senators all but doomed his appointment. ADVERTISEMENT. The 2012 GOP presidential candidate told the Journal he's "Very committed" to seeing the vetting process through after Trump announced earlier this month he intended to nominate Cain to the Fed if he passed a background check. Four of the Senate's 53 Republicans announced last week that they would refuse to vote for Cain, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate, if he was formally nominated by Trump. Sen., who has bucked his party to support other Trump appointees, also said last week he wouldn't vote for Cain. Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Tuesday that the administration had been interviewing potential candidates to replace Cain and Stephen Moore, who Trump also floated for a Fed seat.

21. The European Parliament in the transnational financial regulatory arena

"The global financial crisis brought into the spotlight the role of transnational networks in the regulation of international financial markets [] The autonomy of overly technocratic networks once considered one of their strengths, became the subject of strong criticism." The global financial crisis brought into the spotlight the role of transnational networks in the regulation of international financial markets. "The production of financial standards should be opened up to involve non-technical players in policymaking matters, as a minimum through notice and comment procedures. In this way, a wider range of stakeholders, including civil society, could have access to the financial regulatory arena without affecting transnational networks' independence." In Europe, the European Parliament envisioned the possibility of a) giving the ECB/SSM a binding mandate for negotiations covering subject matters where the European Parliament is co-legislator with the Council, b) adopting "Guidance resolutions", setting out European Parliament general policy orientation, and c) establishing a "Financial dialogue" with a view to adopting guidelines on the position the EU should adopt in relevant fora. It would provide the European Parliament with the chance to directly convey its position to the BCBS, enhancing its links with the transnational level, thereby contributing to the decision-making process concerning financial standards, without affecting the BCBS's ability to achieve consensus.

22. Shares for another company called Zoom are flying, but some might be trading the wrong stock

Zoom Technologies is not the company Zoom Video Communications that began publicly trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday. Shares of Zoom Technologies hit a trading volume on Thursday that was quadruple the amount of shares that change hands on the average day. Shares of Zoom are in high demand on Thursday morning but there's one problem: It appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Within two hours of trading, shares of ZOOM surged more than 80%, with trading volume that was quadruple the amount of shares that change hands on the average day. Zoom Video Communications stock is in high demand, as Nasdaq indicated the stock is set to IPO at about $62 a share - nearly double the $36 a share the company priced at on Wednesday.