Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Weekly Address: Passing the Buffett Rule So That Everyone Pays Their Fair Share

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 6:05 pm

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Mega Millions: Other giant jackpots

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Mega Millions player Milton Smith showed off his lottery tickets in Hawthorne, Calif. on Thursday. He spent $1,080 on tickets, in the hope of scoring the $640 million jackpot.

Mega Millions player Milton Smith showed off his lottery tickets in Hawthorne, Calif., on Thursday. He spent $1,080 on tickets, in the hope of scoring the $640 million jackpot.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Mega Millions players came out in droves right up to Friday night’s deadline, inspired by the fattest jackpot in American history.

And that jackpot reached an estimated $640 million.

Before this, the largest Mega Millions jackpot was $390 million in 2007. It was split by two separate winners — a married couple in New Jersey and a truck driver from Georgia — who selected the same combination of numbers. (Mega Millions latest – CNN)

Jackpots are often split by multiple winners. One of the more extreme examples happens every year in Spain, which has the largest lottery jackpots in the world.

Spain’s annual Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo (the Fat One), is the largest of them all. El Gordo’s jackpot exceeded $900 million last year, but the winnings were divided by an entire village.

And, keep in mind that a winning ticket isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. The curse of the lottery is that many winners have destroyed their lives with the sudden influx of cash.

What a lottery jackpot can buy

The most infamous example of a tainted winner is Andrew “Jack” Whittaker, the owner of a construction company in West Virginia. He was already a self-made millionaire when he scored a $315 million Powerball jackpot in 2002.

Whittaker opted to cash out, at $111.7 million, and pledged 10% of his winnings to the Church of God.

Whittaker said he was “blessed,” at the time. “It’s really going to excite my daughter and granddaughter,” he said. “They’re going to be spending the money.”

Things went quickly downhill. His life became a series of tragic mishaps, including reports of lawsuits, divorce, drunk driving and the untimely deaths of his daughter and granddaughter.

In one of his more infamous blunders, Whittaker reportedly took a briefcase stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars into a strip club. The briefcase was stolen after he got drunk and passed out.

The lottery curse was famously featured on the ABC television series “Lost.” Hurley, played by Jorge Garcia, worked at a fast food franchise and lived with his mother until he won the fictional Mega Lotto Jackpot, which prompted him to buy the franchise and move into a mansion.

But then the franchise was destroyed by a meteorite, his beloved uncle dropped dead from a heart attack, and Hurley caught a flight on the ill-fated Oceanic 815.

That hasn’t stopped people from playing Hurley’s winning combination of numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. More than 41,000 gamblers played those numbers during a Mega Millions drawing last year and got four of six numbers correct. They each won $150.

The lottery rewards those who pick some of the numbers correctly, even if they don’t get all six. Second-place winners of the Mega Millions jackpot, who pick the first five numbers out of six, will walk away with $250,000.

Tickets for the current drawing were sold until 10:45 p.m. ET on Friday, for $1 apiece. In New York, $1.6 million worth of tickets were sold between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

The odds of winning were one in about 175 million, according to the Mega Millions website.

The winning number was announced at 11 p.m. ET: 2, 4, 23, 38, 46 and 23. The winner can choose to take the jackpot in annual payments or in a lump sum of cash, which is $462 million for a $640 million jackpot.

If more than one winner picks the correct six-number combination, the jackpot will be divided among them. If no one picks correctly, the jackpot will increase to an estimated $975 million for a drawing on April 3. To top of page

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Gearing Up for the Second Annual National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 6:04 am

I am excited to announce that next week, several senior White House officials including Valerie Jarrett, Joshua DuBois and I will be joining other federal, state and local policymakers, advocates and community leaders at the Second Annual National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence. Valerie and I participated in this dynamic Summit last year, and I can’t wait to learn more about all the progress that has been made.  I know the six cities involved in the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention have made great strides on their comprehensive plans to reduce youth violence in their communities, and we can all learn from the successes and the challenges they have to share.

I am thrilled that the issue of youth violence prevention will receive the attention it deserves from federal and local officials who are working hard each day to make our communities safer.  At the Summit, we will hear from Cabinet officials including Attorney General Holder, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  We will also hear from Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia, Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, and the Mayors of the six cities currently participating in the Forum: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas, and San Jose.   

The issue of youth violence prevention is important our nation and it has been an honor to work with folks at the Federal and local levels.  I look forward to hearing from a diverse set of committed stakeholders on how we can continue to amplify the national conversation around youth violence by bringing cities together and creating long term plans to address this problem. Additionally, We’re excited to have representatives from communities across the U.S. join us and hear about opportunities to get involved with the Forum. In 2012, the Forum will expand its reach through inviting new cities into the network, continuing to provide technical assistance, and rolling out a brand new online toolkit for any city confronted by youth violence.

Youth violence is not inevitable, but in order to make communities safe for all of our young people, everyone must be at the table. Initial findings from what will be an ongoing assessment of the Forum are promising, showing increased levels of collaboration and enthusiasm in the six cities. Next week’s Summit is exciting because it will convene Federal officials, mayors, law enforcement, leaders of the faith community, school officials; youth outreach organizations, and youth themselves as active participants in this important dialogue.  By coming together and speaking out, we will send a message to communities and young people across the country that you are not alone, and we are in this together. I can’t imagine a better way to start the week.

Click here for more information on the National Forum on Preventing Youth Violence

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More Than 2.2 Million Records Released

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 6:04 am

In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in December 2011. Today’s release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 2.2 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.

Ed. note: For more information, check out

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Introducing the White House Facebook Timeline

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 6:04 am

We’re excited to introduce the White House’s Facebook timeline, which highlights special moments from our rich history, dating back more than 200 years. Explore the inaugurations of our forty-four Presidents and peek inside life at the White House, from FDR’s first “fireside chat” to the first White House website, created in 1994. You can also see photos featuring famous visits and even first pets.

We plan to update our timeline frequently, adding more historical photos and including milestones ranging from the first cornerstone being laid through events happening in the present. Be sure to “like” the White House on facebook for the latest news and a glimpse into history. Take a look around and let us know what you think. 

So, what’s your favorite White House historical photo or interesting fact? Join us in celebrating the dynamic and colorful history of the White House, and share your thoughts with us on FacebookGoogle+ or on Twitter with the hashtag #WhiteHousefb.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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"Let’s Go, Let’s Play, Let’s Move!": Easter Egg Roll 2012

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 6:04 am

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Weekly Wrap Up: “We Need to Keep at It”

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 6:04 am

A quick look back at the week on

From Dartmouth to the World Bank: On Friday, the President named Dr. Jim Yong Kim – president of Dartmouth college, co-founder of Partners in Health and global health and development expert – as his choice to head the World Bank. “[Despite] its name, the World Bank is more than just a bank,” the President explained. “It’s one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce poverty and raise standards of living in some of the poorest countries in the planet.”

Nuclear Security Summit: Just after midnight on Saturday morning, President Obama boarded Air Force One and departed for a trip to South Korea. His three-day trip included a tour of the DMZ and a meeting with U.S. troops stationed at the border; a talk with students at Hankuk University; and a series of bilateral and trilateral meetings with foreign leaders – including President Hu Jintao of China, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.

All Right, Let’s Plant!: Students and Girl Scouts from across the country joined the First Lady on the South Lawn Monday for a sunny afternoon planting the White House Kitchen Garden.

Big Data, Big Deal: On Thursday, the Obama Administration announced the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative, ”which promises to help accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, strengthen our national security, and transform teaching and learning.

Facebook Timeline: The White House’s Facebook timeline launched on Friday, now providing both the latest news and a glimpse into history. The timeline highlights special moments from our rich history, including all forty-four presidential inaugurations, FDR’s first “fireside chat,” and the launch of the first White House website.

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Consumer spending jump highest since July

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 12:00 am

Spending posted the biggest gain since July in February.

Spending posted the biggest gain since July in February.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Consumer spending jumped in February due to higher prices, far outpacing more modest gains in income.

The government reported that spending rose 0.8% compared to January, the biggest one-month jump since July of last year. But when adjusted for inflation, spending increased only 0.5%, a sign that higher prices for staples such as gasoline were driving much of the increase.

Income rose only 0.2% in the same period, meaning that consumers were dipping into savings to spend at the higher levels. The level of savings fell by $70.8 billion to $438.7 billion. That reduced the so-called savings rate, which compares after-tax income to spending, to 3.7% from 4.3% in January.

“At least in the February numbers, it does not appear that higher gasoline prices are deterring consumers,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist with PNC Financial. “Instead, they appear to be lowering their saving in order to finance their spending. As the labor market continues to improve, income growth will allow consumers to boost spending.”

The job market has been showing signs of improvement, which has helped lift overall income. Hoffman said he believes the estimated rise in income is likely to be revised higher in coming months, given that the employers have added more than 200,000 jobs a month in recent readings.

Hoffman said he was encouraged by the fact that Friday’s report showed a 1.6% increase in spending on durable goods, which are typically big-ticket items. That was driven by strong auto sales during the month, as automakers reported the best new-car sales in four years.

Best auto sales in 4 years

Spending on nondurable goods, such as food and gasoline, rose 0.9%. with virtually all of that increase due to the higher prices.

But spending on services, such as airfare and cable TV, grew only 0.4%, which kept the overall spending increase to 0.8%.

I have jobs, but no one wants them

February’s income gain was less than the 0.3% rise forecast by economists surveyed by, while spending was more than forecasts of a 0.6% rise.

But the willingness of consumers to spend is a good sign for economic growth, since consumer spending represents more than two-thirds of the nation’s economic activity. To top of page

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Stocks end spectacular quarter

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 12:00 am

u.s. stock market

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. stocks closed mixed Friday, with the Dow and SP 500 ending their best first quarter in over a decade, as investors weighed a report on consumer spending and a boost in the eurozone bailout fund.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) gained 66 points, or 0.5%, to end at 13,212. The SP 500 (SPX) added 5 points, or 0.4%, to 1.408. The Nasdaq (COMP) edged down 4 points, or 0.1%, to 3,090.

Friday’s gains capped a stellar three months for stocks, with the Dow and SP posting the biggest first-quarter gain since 1998. Despite Friday’s decline, the Nasdaq had its best first quarter since 1991, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

For the quarter, the Dow gained 8.1%, the SP 500 advanced 12% and the Nasdaq rose a whopping 19% since New Year’s Day.

The Dow and SP 500 are at their highest levels since 2008, while the Nasdaq is at its highest point since 2000.

The gains were driven by improving economic data in the United States and easing concerns about the debt crisis in Europe. Stocks have also been supported by expectations the Federal Reserve will continue to support the economy.

“That’s been enough to put the risk back on in the first part of this year versus last year,” said Peter Tuz, a portfolio manager at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va.

On Friday, stocks opened higher as investors focused on personal spending data and news that eurozone finance officials agreed to raise their financial firewall to €700 billion.

The highest earning hedge fund manager is …

But the market wavered as the morning progressed, with shares of Apple weighing on the Nasdaq, said Ben Schwartz, chief market strategist at Lightspeed Financial.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) has had an outsize impact on the market this quarter. The stock has driven roughly 15% of the SP 500′s performance so far this year, according to Barclays Capital.

Other top performers this quarter include Sears Holdings (SHLD, Fortune 500), Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) and Netflix (NFLX). The main laggards were Apollo Group, (APOL, Fortune 500) Supervalue (SVU, Fortune 500) and FirstSolar (FSLR).

Schwartz said the market is becoming more volatile as investors gear up for corporate reports due out later next month. But he suggested that stocks could find some support as the recent rally draws so-called retail investors off the sidelines.

“You’re starting to see the market move a bit,” he said. “But we’re waiting for more volume to come in to support the rally we had over last three months.”

Meanwhile, traders said institutional investors have been making big moves recently as they rebalance portfolios ahead of quarterly statements to clients.

“Hedge fund and mutual fund managers have used the last two weeks to get their portfolios competitive,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist with Prudential Financial in Newark, N.J. “This is a quarter in which you did not want to be lagging the market performance.”

U.S. stocks bounced around Thursday and ended little changed. Both the SP 500 and the Nasdaq closed in the red for the third straight day, while the Dow broke a two-day losing streak.

Economy: A report released before the opening bell showed that personal spending increased 0.8% in February, topping analyst predictions of a 0.6% jump.

Meanwhile, personal income grew by 0.2%, less than the 0.3% predicted rate.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index for March fell to 62.2, down from 64 in February and below expectations of 63. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The March edition of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 76.2, from 74.3 in February. Analysts were expecting the index to remain flat.

Companies: Shares of Apple were slightly lower a day after a heavily anticipated report on working conditions at supplier Foxconn’s China facilities was released. The report documents dozens of major labor-rights violations, including excessive overtime, unpaid wages and salaries that aren’t enough to cover basic living expenses.

Shares of credit card payment processor Global Payments (GPN) fell 9% after the company disclosed a major data breach that could involve more than 10 million card numbers.

Representatives from MasterCard (MA, Fortune 500) and Visa (V, Fortune 500) confirmed that a breach has potentially compromised credit and debit card information from all of the major card brands.

On Friday, retailer Finish Line (FINL) said it earned 81 cents per share last quarter — a number in line with analyst estimates. The company reported better-than-expected revenue, but shares tumbled.

Research in Motion (RIMM) shares were higher even after the BlackBerry-maker missed expectations on revenues and earnings. The company said it’s considering strategic alternatives, and one director left its board.

World markets: European stocks ended modestly higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 (UKX) increased 0.4%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany rose 0.6% and France’s CAC 40 (CAC40) gained 0.7%.

Eurozone finance ministers agreed to increase the size of the region’s capacity for crisis lending to €700 billion.

Like a bear in a China shop

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) added 0.5%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong and Japan’s Nikkei (N225) dropped 0.3%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar lost ground against the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Oil for May delivery added 24 cents to settle at $103.02 per a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery rose $17.10 to end the day at $1,669.30 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped, pushing the yield up to 2.17% from 2.16% late Thursday.  To top of page

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Euro firewall raised to €700 billion

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 12:00 am

Euro firewall raised to ?700 billion

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg politician who heads the Eurogroup of finance ministers, backed a plan to boost the euro area?s bailout resources.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Euro-area finance ministers agreed Friday to expand their financial firewall to €700 billion by combining the resources of two bailout funds.

Under the agreement, bailout programs worth a combined €200 billion for Greece, Ireland and Portugal will continue to be financed by the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

This will enable a permanent fund, called the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), to reach its full lending capacity of €500 billion. The €200 billion in existing bailouts was originally set to be rolled into the ESM, which comes into effect in July.

Taken together, the “overall ceiling” for the combined funds will be “raised” to €700 billion, the ministers said in a joint statement.

Greek debt swap just one more step, not the solution

In addition, the EFSF will be able to fund new programs during a “transitional period” through mid-2013 while the ESM set up, according to the statement.

Once the transitional period is complete, the ESM’s lending capacity will be set at €500 billion, although the combined resources will remain at €700 billion.

Including another €102 billion worth of bailout funds that have already been paid out to Greece and other countries, the ministers said the overall firewall is worth about €800 billion, or $1 trillion.

“Finally, robust firewalls have been established,” the statement said. “This comprehensive strategy has paid off and led to a significant improvement of market conditions.”

G-20 chiefs: Europe needs a bigger financial firewall

However, the €700 billion in overall bailout funds falls short of the €1 trillion firewall that has been called for by the International Monetary Fund and members of the Group of 20 economic powers.

The G-20 said earlier this year that euro-area officials need to build a “strong and credible” firewall before the group will consider boosting IMF resources.

The IMF is seeking to raise $500 billion to meet an estimated $1 trillion in funding needs over the next few years.

Euro-area governments have already pledged to provide €150 billion, or about $200 billion, worth of “bilateral loans” to the IMF. But the United States, the largest IMF backer, has made clear that the fund’s resources are sufficient.

IMF director Christine Lagarde welcomed the agreement, saying in a statement that combining the funds “will strengthen the European firewall and support the IMF’s efforts to increase its available resources for the benefit of all our members.” To top of page

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