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Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Vice President Biden at West Point

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm

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Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/05/31/vice-president-biden-west-point

My First Job: John Holdren

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It’s about helping people find their first jobs.

Today John Holdren is the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In the video below he talks about his first job — working on the Midas satellite project. Holdren explains that he was responsible for keeping track of transistor and capacitor stock, and even though his work wasn’t always that interesting, he enjoyed learning from those the people he met on the job.

So far, employers have listed more than 300,000 jobs, mentorships, and other employment opportunities this summer through Summer Jobs+.

 You heard about John Holdren ’s first job. Now go find yours.


Learn more

Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/05/31/my-first-job-john-holdren

Prioritizing Low-Income Families and Creating Pathways to Opportunity for All Americans

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Ed. Note: This op-ed first ran in The Grio

Throughout his distinguished career, Bob Herbert has helped shine a spotlight on the lives of Americans living in poverty – a group that is too often ignored. That was certainly true of his May 21st column, in which he told the story of 20 poor children from the Bronx who are growing up in truly appalling conditions. It was heartbreaking to hear about the children Mr. Herbert met: The girl who told him, “I never feel safe.” The child who said she felt there was no purpose to her existence. The stories they told about too many shootings, and too few jobs.

Mr. Herbert expressed understandable frustration that our political discourse rarely focuses on the notion that the American dream is closed off to far too many of our citizens. But when Mr. Herbert suggested that President Obama has “given up” on the idea of opportunity and upward mobility, he was simply wrong.

There’s a basic bargain in America. It says that no matter who you are or where you’re from, if you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules you should be able to find a good job, feel secure in your community, and support a family. I have worked in the White House since the day President Obama took office. At every juncture-every big decision, every major policy development, every negotiation — I have seen President Obama fight for the things that help our country preserve that bargain for all Americans, rich or poor.

There are times when this bargain is tested. Economic crisis is one of those times. When President Obama took office, the United States economy was losing over 800,000 jobs a month. For some, it’s possible to get by without a job for a while.  But for too many Americans working hard to be a part of the middle class, job loss means slipping into poverty. That’s why during his first months in office, President Obama took swift action to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs-giving tax cuts to working families, keeping teachers in the classroom, and keeping first responders on the streets.

For those Americans who fell on hard times and lost their jobs through no fault of their own, President Obama has acted to prevent millions from slipping into poverty and helped build a path to the middle class.  To help families put food on the table and make ends meet, President Obama signed an expansion of the SNAP program and nine extensions of unemployment insurance. There are new opportunities for those on unemployment as well. Two months ago, in addition to extending benefits, President Obama signed unemployment insurance reforms to help job seekers develop the skills they need for their next job through apprenticeships and training programs.

Our country has been struggling with these issues for decades before the economic collapse in 2008. And while we won’t solve these problems overnight, President Obama believes the first step in the process is to invest in an education system that opens up opportunity to every hard working student.

President Obama has invested in early childhood education, including Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance, benefiting more than 360,000 poor children. We have invested in new child nutrition programs, to make sure more young people have enough to eat, and have the chance to eat healthy food. The President has devoted more than $4 billion to turning around our lowest performing schools, many of which have already made double-digit gains in reading and math proficiency.

President Obama has also fought to make college more affordable. He has supported an expansion of Pell Grants to 3 million more students and raised the maximum Pell Grant award by nearly $1,000. In addition, President Obama established the American Opportunity Tax Credit, providing over nine million students and families with up to $10,000 for four years of higher education. Because of President Obama’s commitment, more children like the ones Mr. Herbert documented will be able to go to an early childhood education program, a high-performing public school, and a two-year or four-year college.

Of course, these are just a few of the initiatives the Obama Administration has undertaken to help more Americans reach the middle class. One of the first bills the President signed into law, the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, has helped ensure that millions of children have access to health care. In fact, the number of uninsured children fell by one million between 2006 and 2010.
We have built on the success of not-for-profits such as Harlem Children’s Zone, and worked with partners in government, business, and the not-for-profit sector to introduce innovative new approaches to fighting poverty. This includes our Summer Jobs+ program, which will provide more than 250,000 poor youth with a pathway to employment this summer.

Over the last two years – time and time again -Republicans in Congress have sought to ignore, or harshly cut, the investments we need to create opportunity and pathways to the middle class. There’s no way to know what would have happened if President Obama didn’t act when the economy was on the brink of collapse, but to this day Republicans in Congress treat the Recovery Act like a political football. In fact, when tax relief for working families was scheduled to expire at the end of 2010 and 2011, President Obama stood up to Republicans attempts to block the extension. Today, a combined 17.6 million low-income working parents are still eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit because of the President’s leadership.

Almost every Republican lawmaker voted to reduce funding for the SNAP program by nearly 20 percent, and cut Medicaid by one third. Representative Paul Ryan, who authored the Republican budget, has said our social safety net is in danger of becoming a “hammock,” and argues it must be radically scaled back.  As President Obama has publicly pointed out, this vision of America would hurt poor children, kids with disabilities, and students.

There is more work to do, but President Obama is moving our country forward.  He believes that your success should not be determined by your background or your zip code; that everyone should get a fair shot, everyone should do their fair share, and everyone should play by the same set of rules. Republicans in Congress believe that everyone should be left to fend for themselves. The difference between these two positions could not be more clear.

The question we are debating in Washington today is simple: Will we meet our responsibilities to these children? Will we invest in their educations, or ignore their potential? Will we help rebuild their neighborhoods, or turn a blind eye to the difficulties they live with every day? Will we provide them with the tools they need to achieve the American dream, or will they fall further and further behind?

The outcome of the debates between the President and Republicans in Congress matters. The direction we choose will affect the lives of poor children in the Bronx and throughout our country. We owe it to them to be clear about the choices we face.

Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to President Obama, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and she oversees the Offices of Intergovernmental Affairs, Public Engagement, and Urban Affairs.

Read more on the President’s plan to Create Pathways to Opportunity for All Americans.


Article source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/05/31/prioritizing-low-income-families-and-creating-pathways-opportunity-all-americans

Foreclosures made up 26% of U.S. home sales in first quarter

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Homes in some stage of foreclosure accounted for more than one in four homes sales during the first three months of the year, according to RealtyTrac.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Homes in some stage of foreclosure accounted for more than one in four home sales during the first three months of the year, according to a report released Thursday.

Distressed properties that were either in default, scheduled for auction or bank-owned accounted for 26% of all residential sales during the first quarter, up from 22% in the previous quarter and 25% a year earlier, RealtyTrac said.

foreclosure fiasco

Altogether, 233,299 distressed properties were purchased during the quarter, an 8% increase from the previous quarter. Those homes sold for an average of $161,214, 27% below the average price of a home not in foreclosure.

“Foreclosure-related sales picked up in the first quarter, particularly pre-foreclosure sales where a distressed homeowner is selling to avoid foreclosure typically via a short sale,” Brandon Moore, chief executive of RealtyTrac said in a statement.

Pre-foreclosure sales, which are often sold as short sales, hit a three-year high during the quarter “even as the average pre-foreclosure sales price dropped to a record low,” Moore said.

There were nearly 110,000 short sales in the quarter, up 25% from a year earlier and comprising 12% of all homes sold during the first quarter, according to RealtyTrac.

In short sales, borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, agree with their bank to sell their homes at the lower market value. In return, the bank agrees to absorb the loss.

During the quarter, homes sold in short sales went for an average price of $175,461, the lowest level since RealtyTrac began tracking foreclosures in 2005.

Short sales are becoming the preferred method for banks to unload properties in default.

Banks typically get about 20% more for a short sale than they would for a foreclosed home. In addition, short sale deals get done much more quickly than foreclosures, which can take years to unload, during which expenses, like property taxes and insurance, mount up.

During the first quarter, it took an average of 306 days to complete a short sale, compared to 370 days for a foreclosure.

“Lenders are approving more aggressively priced short sales, which in turn is resulting in more successful short sale transactions,” Moore said.

Meanwhile, sales of properties repossessed by the banks, called REOs, fell 15% year-over-year to 123,778, comprising 14% of all sales during the quarter.

Nevada, where housing bubbled during the boom and sank during the bust, had more distressed property sales than any other state, followed by California and Georgia, RealtyTrac said. To top of page

Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_latest/~3/tfMsmCdAJso/index.htm

Goodbye benefits: Employers still cutting back

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Gordon Bowen, with his wife Linda, had his wages frozen in 2007. He has not received a raise since then.

Gordon Bowen, with his wife Linda, had his wages frozen in 2007. He has not received a raise since then.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Slashed health care coverage and frozen wages were the hallmark of the recession — at least for those who held onto their jobs. Yet even though the economy has improved, many of the employee benefits that were once guarantees are starting to look like a thing of the past.

Over the past five years, 40% of working adults have seen their employer-sponsored benefits reduced or eliminated entirely, according to a survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education, or NEFE.

Harris Interactive conducted the survey on behalf of the nonprofit, polling 2,210 adults in the U.S. — more than half of whom were employed.

An overwhelming majority, or 72%, of those who saw their benefits cut said their health insurance coverage was hardest hit, NEFE said. As employers cut back, employees shouldered more costs, including higher deductibles and co-pays, as well as more expensive premiums.

This year, workers’ out-of-pocket costs rose 5.8% to an average of $3,470 for a typical family of four, according to data compiled by independent actuarial and health care consulting firm Milliman Inc.

By 2017, cost and competitive pressures are expected to prompt more than 50% of large Fortune 1000 organizations toward dropping health care coverage altogether, according to a recent study by the Corporate Executive Board, a Washington, D.C.-based research firm.

Once those businesses have a viable alternative — such as the insurance exchanges that enable workers to purchase their own insurance that are laid out in the Affordable Care Act — then there are not a lot of reasons for them to continue to offer health care coverage, said Brian Kropp, Corporate Executive Board’s managing director.

“The vast majority of organizations are better off taking those resources and offering employees something else, like more money or paid time off. You get a much bigger bang for your buck,” Kropp said.

But currently, most employees aren’t getting those trade-offs. More than two out of every five workers, or 41%, have had their pay raises suspended and another 23% said their bosses stopped giving performance bonuses, NEFE’s survey found.

Not only are employees making less but saving for retirement and other expenses has gotten harder, too. One quarter, or 25%, of those surveyed by NEFE said their company cut back on their 401(k) match and 13% said their employer stopped matching altogether.

Gordon Bowen, a professor at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., said his employer used to make a contribution to his retirement savings account that was equal to 7.5% of his income, but the college temporarily suspended that benefit in 2007.

Around the same time, the private college froze his wages. Since then, Bowen says his retirement contribution has been reinstated at 3% of his annual income but he hasn’t received a raise in 5 years.

Three-quarters of the U.S. employers that suspended their 401(k) plan matching contributions during the economic downturn have since restored them, according to an analysis of 260 organizations by benefits consultant Towers Watson. However, many of them are now offering benefits at a lower rate.

Bowen’s wife Linda, a public school teacher in Virginia has had a similar experience. “The state has also chosen to use this climate of belt tightening to scale back all kinds of benefits,” Bowen said.

“It’s been a good life, but it’s being corroded by reckless disregard of the implications of year after year of wages freezes, not just for me but for my wife,” said Bowen.

“That’s a sobering thing to deal with,” said Ted Beck, NEFE’s president and CEO. “But there’s a tough love message in there, [American households] have to figure out how to do it on what they have.” To top of page

Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_latest/~3/eue4qrtggPw/index.htm

No more unemployment checks for seasonal workers

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

School bus drivers in Savannah, Ga. protest a new state rule that restricts them for applying for unemployment benefits when school is out of session.

School bus drivers in Savannah, Ga. protest a new state rule that restricts them for applying for unemployment benefits when school is out of session.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Should seasonal workers be allowed to collect unemployment checks in their downtime?

A growing number of states are saying no.

From school bus drivers to ballet dancers to lifeguards, many workers whose jobs only last for a portion of the year have traditionally been eligible for jobless benefits. But now states across the country are starting to crack down, trying to save money and rescue insolvent jobless funds.

Federal law gives each state the option to decide whether or not to allow seasonal workers to take benefits. Now strapped for funds, many states are stripping some workers of their eligibility.

For example, earlier this year, New Jersey Republicans introduced a bill that would require the state to identify specific seasonal industries that operate about 9 months of the year or less, and deny those workers unemployment benefits in the off-season.

“Individuals who work in a truly seasonal industry know that the work will not continue past a certain time,” said New Jersey assemblyman Sean Kean, when he co-sponsored the bill. “Therefore, it makes sense to end seasonal workers’ unemployment benefits. This is a common sense measure that will save taxpayers and help the state’s unemployment insurance fund.”

In all, about 15 states currently restrict the payment of unemployment benefits to workers who earned some or most of their wages in seasonal jobs. They all define seasons differently, some based on time frames and others based on industries.

Federal law already prohibits professional athletes from accessing unemployment benefits between two seasons. Similarly, teachers who work directly for school districts have been ineligible to take unemployment during the summer, ever since Congress amended federal law in the 1970s.

But for other workers, it’s up to the states to decide. For example, private educational contractors — like bus drivers, crossing guards, janitors and cafeteria workers — have been entitled to unemployment benefits in many states, any time school is out of session.

Landscapers and construction workers can often apply for unemployment in the winter.

Entertainment workers like actors, stagehands, television producers, ballet dancers and opera singers sometimes collect between seasons.

And in some states, even workers in the hospitality industry can submit claims when the tourist season ends.

Now, some policymakers are picking and choosing specific industries to restrict, with school contract workers being a common target.

Jerome Irwin has collected unemployment benefits every summer, for the last 10 years. A school bus driver in Savannah, Ga., he is typically out of work for two to three months each year. During that time, he relies on unemployment benefits, usually amounting to about $285 a week.

But this year, the unemployment checks won’t come. Not after Georgia’s Department of Labor enacted a rule restricting school contractors from jobless benefits. School bus drivers in the state are planning a protest against the rule this week.

“We’re going to have people losing their homes, losing their cars, and not being able to feed their families,” Irwin said. “Once we reach our last paycheck, we have to apply for some kind of assistance — welfare, food stamps or any other kind of assistance we can find.”

Tennessee passed a similar law last year, and Massachusetts appointed a task force to study the issue. Arizona and Kansas already have specific restrictions for school contractors written into their laws.

“Our limited resources for unemployment benefits are reserved for people who have lost their job through no fault of their own and are seeking another job,” Mark Butler, Georgia’s Department of Labor Commissioner, said in a statement explaining the change.

In Virginia, Republican state Delegate Manoli Loupassi has proposed a bill that would target symphony workers in particular.

“They’re not unemployed. They know they’re coming back. They always come back,” Loupassi told the Richmond Times Dispatch in January. “They just have a job that’s seasonal. Baseball players don’t get to collect unemployment in the off season.”

In Massachusetts, Colorado and Pennsylvania seasonal workers can no longer apply for benefits unless they’re laid off during their typical working season. A ski instructor, for example, could only collect unemployment if they lost their job in the winter. To top of page

Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_latest/~3/Cvj5wvJKjnw/index.htm

Find value in funds: Invest for the long run

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

When looking for value funds that can go the distance, try ones like the Yacktman fund which uses a value investment approach.

When looking for value funds that can go the distance, try ones like the Yacktman fund which uses a value investment approach.

(MONEY Magazine) — Over the past 10 years, the Yacktman fund has delivered 11% annualized gains, putting it in the top 1% of its peers (and attracting a flood of money).

But the strategy of buying quality businesses with big cash cushions and beaten-down stock prices has led to lean stretches too.

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Yacktman (YACKX) languished from 2004 to 2006 and ranks in the bottom 5% of similar funds over the past six months.

Co-manager and fund president Donald Yacktman is unfazed. “Our approach won’t work every quarter or every year,” he says, “but over 10 years it will.”

Patient with his picks, Yacktman doesn’t sell holdings often.

Once Yacktman and his co-managers — his son Stephen and Jason Subotky — add a stock to the portfolio, it settles in for a long stay, even during rough patches.

The second-largest holding, News Corp. (NWSA, Fortune 500) (8% of assets) has been in the fund since 2008. When Britain’s phone hacking scandal sent shares down last summer, Yacktman picked up more.

Morningstar analyst Kevin McDevitt cautions investors who have recently piled in — assets top $7.6 billion today, up from less than $300 million in 2008 — to channel Yacktmanesque patience during dry spells. But, he adds, “long term, there is no question this is a great fund.” And because the fund favors shares of big companies, the managers are well positioned to handle the growth.

Yacktman managers mostly traffic in fortress-like multinationals with rock-solid balance sheets, plenty of free cash flow (what’s left after covering operating costs), and compelling valuations based on risk/reward projections for the next 10 years. Typically that leads them to established firms with impressive market share, such as PepsiCo (PEP, Fortune 500) and Procter Gamble (PG, Fortune 500).

Yacktman tends to take bigger stakes than average. More than one-third of the portfolio is in consumer staples, nearly triple the weight of that defensive sector in the SP 500. That big bet paid off in the third quarter last year. Yacktman Fund fell 9%, compared with a 16% drop for the average large-cap value fund.

Yacktman also owns fewer stocks than average — meaning a big bet on the favorites. More than half of the fund’s total assets are in its top 10 holdings. The average large-cap value fund has 31.5% of its total assets in its top 10 holdings, according to Morningstar.

When the team can’t find quality at an alluring price, it doesn’t buy. In early 2008 more than a third of the fund was in cash, allowing Yacktman to load up on blue chips that had been washed out with the tide.

Today the fund’s cash stake is 13%, pretty bullish for Yacktman, who says he’s not hurting for places to put his money: “It’s unique to have such high-quality firms selling at such compelling relative values.”

Yacktman took heat in the 1990s for not buying tech, but now he has a combined 9% riding on Cisco Systems (CSCO, Fortune 500) and Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500). Tech shares make up 16% of the portfolio — because the price is right.

Just as Warren Buffett warmed up to IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) last year, Yacktman found these “old techs” had morphed into his sort of investment: big market share, gobs of free cash, and low prices.

Sources: Morningstar, Standard Poor’s

Do you know a Money Hero? MONEY magazine is celebrating people, both famous and unsung, who have done extraordinary work to improve others’ financial well-being. Nominate your Money Hero.  To top of page

Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_latest/~3/YhzCaT-wBCI/index.htm

Stocks: GDP, jobs disappoint

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

premarkets

Click on chart for more premarket data.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. stocks were headed for a positive open Thursday, the last day of a wretched month that saw Treasury yields in the U.S. fall to record lows, while Spain and Greece kept contagion worries front and center.

Investors kept markets higher despite modestly disappointing reports on U.S. initial jobless claims and manufacturing, which cast a cloud over hopes that the domestic economy is improving.

A report on private sector hiring from payroll services firm ADP showed a gain of 133,000 jobs, less than the 157,000 gain forecast by economists. Additionally, the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose 10,000 to 383,000 in the latest week, which was higher than the expected 368,000 forecast by analysts.

Meanwhile, gross domestic product for first quarter was revised lower to 1.9%.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), SP 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were all up about an hour before the open, although stocks slipped from earlier levels after the ADP report. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Germany’s unemployment figures along with a decline in eurozone inflation helped lift sentiment in overseas markets. Germany reported an adjusted unemployment rate at a two-decade low of 6.7%.

“Any good news coming out of Europe is a positive, so the slightly better than expected German unemployment can give the markets a lift,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds.

Kelly also believes the markets have become oversold in May, as the major indexes in both the United States and Europe are down between 6% and 7% for the month heading into the last trading day. Kelly said that any sell-off can open the way for moves higher on relatively modest nuggets of good news.

Later Thursday, voters in Ireland are expected to approve more stringent budget rules in a referendum. The struggling country could lose access to additional bailout funds if voters reject the fiscal treaty, so a positive vote could reassure investors. Markets have been nervous that Greek voters could reject austerity measures and force that country out of the eurozone.

U.S. stocks also fell sharply Wednesday on heightened concerns about Europe’s debt crisis.

Investors are still worried about Spain not being able to fund bank bailouts that could reach as much as €100 billion. Yields on 10-year Spanish debt soared to 6.6% Wednesday, but retreated slightly in Thursday morning trading..

CNNMoney’s Fear Greed Index, which measures investor sentiment, remained firmly in “extreme fear” territory where it has been for more than two weeks.

World Markets: European stocks were all higher in morning trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 (UKX) rose 0.7%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany edged up 0.3%, while and France’s CAC 40 (CAC40) added 0.6%.

In Asia, major indexes closed slightly in the red after recovering from earlier steep losses. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) shed 0.5%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong lost 0.3% and Japan’s Nikkei (N225) closed 1.1% lower.

Economy: The latest batch of jobs reports comes before the government’s closely-watched monthly jobs report, which is due Friday. Analysts surveyed by CNNMoney expect that the U.S. economy added 150,000 jobs in May, including 12,000 government cuts. The unemployment rate is expected to stay at 8.1%.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager Index, which tracks manufacturing activity in much of the Midwest, is expected to come in at 57 for May, up from 56.2 in the month prior. The report is seen an indicator of what will happen with the national reading on manufacturing from the Institute of Supply Management, due on Friday.

Foreclosures accounted for for 26% of home sales during the first three months of the year, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac.

Companies: Shares of Joy Global (JOY) fell nearly 1.5% in premarket trading, after the mining equipment maker easily beat forecasts but lowered its guidance.

Networking equipment maker Ciena Corp. (CIEN) reported earnings that blew past analysts’ estimates and issued a forecast in line with expectations, lifting shares 5.6% in premarket trading.

Shares of TiVo (TIVO) fell 5.7% in premarket trading after the DVR maker reported a larger-than-expected quarterly loss after the bell Wednesday.

Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) fell 3.5% in premarket trading after the film studio reported a net loss for the quarter late Wednesday, citing acquisition costs.

Shares of Facebook (FB) edged higher in premarket trading after briefly slipping below $28 Wednesday.

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

Oil for July delivery rose 11 cents to $87.93 a barrel.

Gold futures for June delivery slipped $1.40 to $1,562.00 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.61% from Wednesday’s record low close of 1.62%.  To top of page

Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_latest/~3/9YrYA4sL9a0/index.htm

Short subway line, $4.5 billion price tag

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — New York City is building a new subway line, one of the largest public works projects in American history.

The Second Avenue Subway — a project more than 40 years in the making — has a budget of $4.5 billion for the first mile-and-a-half segment. With three stops and a new entrance to an existing station, the cost of construction is more than a billion dollars a stop.

What contributes to the mammoth tab?

Big machinery, for starters. At $800,000 a piece, equipment such as hydraulic drill jumbos and load-haul-dump loaders can rack up a bill for the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The single biggest piece of equipment — the two-story, 22-foot in diameter tunnel boring machine — takes 20 people to operate and costs approximately $12 million.

The tunnel boring machine makes the process much less disruptive to life above ground than the old-fashioned cut-and-cover method of building subways, digging underground from street level.

Now, highly specialized laborers do the work underground. Sandhogs, or urban miners, work alongside operating engineers who drive and maintain machinery. Between salary, benefits, FICA and other expenses, each worker costs about $1,000 per day, according to Tom Peyton, who’s with construction manager Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Completing the entire proposed line — running nearly the length of Manhattan Island — would cost even more, between $22 billion to 24 billion, according to estimates from Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction.

“Everything is big (and) costs money. But everything we do costs money,” Peyton said. “In 2016, when we swipe our card and ride our first train — it’s gonna feel real good.” To top of page

Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_latest/~3/pWI7f-iiWOU/index.htm

European stocks get lift from new reports

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

chart_ws_index_euronext100_201253172016.top.png

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Investors in Europe welcomed slightly upbeat economic news Thursday, driving stocks in the region higher.

Germany’s unemployment rate fell to 6.7% and retail sales in the country were better than expected in May. The United Kingdom saw a surprising rise in home prices and Switzerland reported an acceleration in economic growth in the first quarter.

All this positive news came against a backdrop of fear about the region’s debt crisis. Ireland is voting Thursday on the fiscal compact that most European Union leaders signed in March, but results aren’t expected until Friday.

Meanwhile, Spain is still grappling with a banking crisis and in Greece, the final public opinion polls are trickling in ahead of the next round of parliamentary elections on June 17.

European indexes edged higher, with London’s FTSE 100 (UKX) gaining 0.8%, Frankfurt’s DAX (DAX) rising 0.6% and Paris’ CAC 40 (CAC40) rising 0.7%.

In Asia, the trading session was marked by gloomier news. Japan reported weaker-than-expected industrial production in April and India said its economic growth slowed sharply in the first quarter.

The Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong finished down 0.3% and the Nikkei (N225) in Tokyo slipped 1.1%. China’s Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) lost 0.5%. To top of page

Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/money_latest/~3/ncO3YYeXkcc/index.htm