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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- January 20, 2013

Looking in Fort Knox for its Gold - The International Forecaster - Alfred Adask - January 12, 2013 - Only a fraction of gold in Fort Knox was ever allowed to be seen, No audit of Fort Knox in over 60 years, If you believe government routinely lies, why would you believe government's claim to have retained 8,200 tons of gold for the past 30 years—especially when government refuses to provide or even allow any independent verification of its claim? The only reason to currently believe that government has retained 8,200 tons of gold is that a contrary belief is too fantastic to accept...                "An audit of the US gold holdings has  been demanded by some for years, but the government will not allow it.   The gold belongs to the American people, so why won't they let us see  it?  Many think it is because it is no longer there.  If that is indeed  the case, do we not face a 'financial Armageddon'?                     "At first it may sound shocking, but the last audit of gold stored in Fort Knox took place in 1953. No typo here, 1953, just after U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower took office. [However,] No outside experts were allowed [during that audit] and the audit team tested only about 5% of gold hoarded in the fort. So, there hasn’t been a comprehensive audit of Fort Knox in over 60 (!!!) years."...

Do You Want To Scare A Baby Boomer? - The Economic Collapse Blog - If you want to frighten Baby Boomers, just show them the list of statistics in this article. The United States is headed for a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and we are woefully unprepared for it. At this point, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching the age of 65 every single day, and this will continue to happen for almost the next 20 years. The number of senior citizens in America is projected to more than double during the first half of this century, and some absolutely enormous financial promises have been made to them. So will we be able to keep those promises to the hordes of American workers that are rapidly approaching retirement? Of course not. State and local governments are facing trillions in unfunded pension liabilities. Medicare is facing a 38 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years. The Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years. Meanwhile, nearly half of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. The truth is that I was being incredibly kind when I said earlier that we are "woefully unprepared" for what is coming. The biggest retirement crisis in history is rapidly approaching, and a lot of the promises that were made to the Baby Boomers are going to get broken.                     The following are 35 incredibly shocking statistics that will scare just about any Baby Boomer...

Gas tax revenue down, officials eye mileage levy - With gas tax revenues down, state officials eye tax on 'vehicle miles traveled' - Associated Press through Yahoo - Dave Gram - January 18, 2013 - Montpelier, Vermont - Carpooling, higher fuel economy, hybrids and electric cars may be good for the environment, but they're bad for government transportation funding, which relies on gasoline and diesel taxes to help pay for the building and upkeep of roads and bridges.                       Now some states, including Vermont, are mapping out a possible alternative: taxing drivers not based on how much fuel is burned but how far each vehicle travels.                             Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said calculating how much of a VMT tax is owed would be done through the global positioning system devices that are expected to be standard equipment in cars later this decade.
"It's a GPS device that is capable of tracking location, time," he said, adding that he was aware that might raise privacy concerns.                         It did with Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.                          "I'm sure there's going to be a big public outcry when people hear about this," he said.                        But Adrian Moore, who has studied VMT tax implementation as vice president with the California-based Reason Foundation, said fears of Big Brother are overblown. He said a range of technologies are being tested in pilot studies, including one device that records miles traveled since a fill-up and then communicates with the gas pump on the next fill-up how much tax is owed.                       If a GPS device can tell a driver when to take a left, it can tell what road the car is traveling on, and eventually could determine how much of the tax is owed to a city, a county or a state, depending on whether the motorist was using a city street, a county road or a state highway, Moore said.                          James Whitty, a manager in the Oregon Department of Transportation's Office of Innovations and Alternative Funding, said the legislation there would let motorists choose between several technologies, as well as a range of public and private sector vendors that would calculate and collect the tax and relay it to the government.          (The Hound: The communists main goal is to limit your mobility, just as the Soviets used to. If you are driving fewer miles and cars are getting better gas mileage, then there should be less wear and tear on the roads and environment. And logically the gubment shouldn't need as much money for maintenance. Hasn't that been their stated goal in implementing the increased standards over the years?  Do you really want them placing a tracking device on your car? They minimize the Big Brother angle after all of the abuses we have seen over the last decade.)

The 10 Most Hated Companies in America - 24/7 Wall St. - January 12, 2013  

Companies with Record Layoffs in 2012 - 24/7 Wall St. - January 4, 2013 - Whatever recovery the jobs market posted in 2012, mass layoffs remained impressively high. Dozens of companies each fired thousands of workers, with failing firms at the top of the list based on total cuts.                  Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), which is so badly off that investors now question its viability, fired 27,000 people in May. That number could rise rapidly as some of its core tech divisions struggle for sales. The botched buyout of Autonomy almost certainly will cause more job cuts in that division, which has, according to HP, much lower profits than forecast. CEO Meg Whitman has said HP sales may not improve for two years or more.                       Hostess moved into Chapter 11 so quickly that the public only watched the process in its late stages, when it became clear that Twinkies might disappear. Friction between management and labor did not improve during negotiations, and 18,500 people lost work.                       From tech to food to travel: AMR, the parent of American Airlines, also in Chapter 11, fired 13,000 people as the company attempted to show it can be profitable. The actions were part of a plan to emerge from bankruptcy either as an independent or an attractive target for another large carrier. Those plans have come to fruition. US Airways Group Inc. (NYSE: LCC) probably will buy American. A new consolidation between the airlines will cause another round of jobs cuts.

Gaston plant closing, 220 to lose jobs - Gaston Gazette - Ragan Robinson - January 10, 2013 -
Some 220 Apex Tool Group employees will lose their jobs when the company closes its Gastonia plant in June.                       Work done in Gastonia today will go to Apex factories and warehouses in Dallas, Texas, and in China, a spokeswoman for the toolmaker said Thursday.                                  Operations at the Isley Drive plant will begin slowing over the next few months, which could leave some employees out of work before the June deadline.                               The site has been home to tool making since 1978 when it was owned by the Moore Co., according to spokeswoman Kelly Blazek.                               Apex Tool Group, formerly Danaher, has traditionally been known for its American-made Craftsman tools, although the company manufactures, packages and ships dozens of other brands.                         Apex Tool says the Gastonia plant is the only one it plans to close.                   Bain Capital, a private equity firm once run by presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in October announced a deal to acquire the company, which formed in 2010 from Danaher Tool Group and Cooper Tools. Businessweek reported this month the toolmaker is looking for more than $1 billion in loans to back the buyout.

The Cost of America's Crumbling Roads and Bridges - CNBC - Michelle Caruso-Cabrera - January 15, 2013 - The decrepit state of the nation's infrastructure will knock more than $3 trillion off the nation's gross domestic product through the end of the decade if more money isn't spent to upgrade the country's roads, bridges, airports and ports, according to a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.                       Based on current trends in the U.S., ASCE estimates the infrastructure investment needs will total $2.7 trillion, and yet they estimate only $1.6 trillion will be spent, leading to an investment gap of $1.1 trillion.                                      The biggest gap in funding is in surface transportation, in other words roads and bridges, which will need a whopping $846 billion. Airports will need $39 billion, and marine ports and waterways will need $16 billion. The costs are measured in terms of such things as unreliable transportation services, and less reliable water and electricity.                              The impact from not filling that investment gap means $484 billion fewer in exports, and $1.1 trillion in lost total trade. That, in turn, leads to 3.5 million fewer jobs than would otherwise be created, the report said.

Intel profit sinks 27% on dreadful PC sales - CNN Money - David Goldman - January 17, 2013 -  The world's largest chipmaker reported a quarterly profit on Thursday that fell 27% from year-ago results, dragged down by slumping PC chip sales.                      Intel sold 6% fewer PC chips in the fourth quarter -- its biggest business, and one that accounts for nearly two-thirds of its overall revenue.                           The results weren't unexpected. Worldwide PC shipments fell by 5% in the fourth quarter and 3.5% for 2012, according to Gartner. It was the first time since the dot-com bust of 2001 that PC shipments fell from one year to the next. (The Hound: The World is turning to smart phones and tablets.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Minor point Thom. Asphalt, which comprises the majority of road/street/highway material, including parking lots, actually holds up better when it's driven on than when it's left and the traffic volume is light or non-existent. What really hampers road life is weight, the preparation of the road bed/base prior to paving, drainage, and materials used.

Where I think the transporation system has erred is, they siphon off funds to build new roads and neglect maintenance. The rationale of thought there is, "we'll do it this way on the cheap, and by the time it's a problem or it fails, it will be someone else's problem." Ultimately, the taxpayer pays twice.

Like patching concrete with asphalt. They expand and contract at different rates during the heat/cooling cycles. And people wonder why the asphalt seperates from the concrete. Now, they are just paving over the concrete with asphalt. Look at Germany. The Autobahn was built in the 30's and it is still a viable concrete highway. Why? Road base for one. Another is highway thickness. While the American interstates are 14-16" thick, the Autobahn is almost 30" on average. The other is vehicle weight. Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) was 48,000 pounds when the Interstate system was proposed in the 50's. Now, 80,000.

We don't need a GPS tracker system to raise revenues. Cut the weight limits back on the big trucks, go back to shipping by rail, and use the maintenance money to maintain, not build new roads because of poor traffic planning.