Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

Stocks: All eyes on Bernanke

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. stocks were headed for a higher open Friday as investors await Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech later in the day.

U.S. stock futures rose between 0.6% and 0.8%.

Bernanke will deliver his highly anticipated speech on the economy in Jackson Hole, Wyo. at 10 a.m. ET. Investors are still hoping for hints about the possibility of new stimulus measures, such as a new round of quantitative easing.

Wall Street has high expectations for Bernanke to make a bold statement about future policy. However, some positive recent economic data could make it more difficult for the Fed to justify any major change in policy, pushing the action to come from the European Central Bank instead.

Related: Investors and economists agree: No QE3

ECB President Mario Draghi wrote in an op-ed this week that “exceptional measures” may be justified to stabilize financial markets. The ECB will hold its next policy meeting on Sept. 6, and investors are keen to hear Draghi’s plans.

U.S. stocks fell Thursday.

Fear Greed Index

World Markets: European stocks rose in morning trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged higher 0.6%, the DAX in Germany added 01.3% and France’s CAC 40 gained 1.3%.

Euro area unemployment for July was unchanged from June, holding at a record-breaking 11.3%, according to the European Union’s statistic office. At over 25%, Spain had the highest jobless rate in the region.

Asian markets ended in the red. The Shanghai Composite shed almost 0.3%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.4%, and Japan’s Nikkei dropped 1.6%.

Economy: The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index for August is due at 9:45 a.m. ET from economic consulting firm Kingsbury International. The index is expected to come in at 53.8, according to a survey of analysts by, up from 53.7 in the month prior.

Also due before the bell, the University of Michigan will release the final version of its Consumer Sentiment Index for August, which is expected to stand at 73.6, up from 72.3 in July.

At 10 a.m. ET, the Census Bureau will publish data on July factory orders, which are expected to have increased by 2.0%.

Companies: Shares of government contractor SAIC (SAI, Fortune 500) rose following the firm’s announcement that it planned to split into two separate, publicly traded companies.

Shares of software maker Splunk (SPLK) rallied after the company reported a loss that handily beat estimates and raised its outlook.

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

Oil for October delivery rose 65 cents to $95.27 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery gained $1.20 to $1,660.40 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.62% from 1.65% late Thursday.

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Eastwood’s inflated unemployment count

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Clint Eastwood’s biting criticism of President Obama was a big hit with the crowd at the Republican National Convention. But his reading of the nation’s unemployment situation missed by a wide margin.

Eastwood’s speech on Thursday night mocked supporters of the president like Oprah Winfrey, who cried the night Obama was elected for years ago.

“I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there are 23 million unemployed people in this country,” Eastwood said. “This administration hasn’t done enough to cure that.” (Related: Jobs data boost Obama’s chances)

But the U.S. Labor Department, which puts out the official government jobs data, counts 12.8 million people as unemployed — not 23 million.

Even if you add in unemployed people who are not counted in that total because they are not actively looking for work — a category the Labor Department terms “marginally attached” — that number rises to just over 15.3 million.

To get to the number Eastwood cited, you need to also count part-time workers who wish they were working full-time. That adds just over 8.2 million. Total: about 23.6 million.

The Romney campaign itself has used the 23 million figure, including in a four-minute campaign video entitled “A few of the 23 million.”

The video doesn’t explicitly say that the 23 million are unemployed. Instead, it says “millions of Americans are struggling under the Obama economy. Here are a few of their stories.” While many of the people in the film are unemployed, some have part-time jobs like digging graves or helping a neighbor’s moving business.

The Romney campaign defended Eastwood’s speech.

“Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work,” a campaign spokeswoman said in a statement. “He rightly pointed out that 23 million Americans out of work or underemployed is a national disgrace and it’s time for a change.”

Related: Obama’s economy – a snapshot

Despite the back and forth over Eastwood’s remarks, government data show that the 23 million number is largely unchanged from when Obama took office.

When Obama was sworn in, about 22.2 million people were unemployed, jobless and not looking for work or working part-time while looking for full-time jobs. That number jumped to 23.7 million by February 2009.

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Stocks: Bernanke-inspired bounce

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Click chart for stock market data.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — August was a painfully quiet month on Wall Street but stocks still managed to end the month with solid gains.

Investors slogged through the month with few market moving events, ending August on a high note after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that additional stimulus could be on the way.

The Dow Jones industrial average, the SP 500 and the Nasdaq finished the day between 0.5% and 0.7%. That helped all three indexes end the month higher: the Dow gained 0.6%, the SP 500 rose 2% and the Nasdaq climbed 4%.

But trading volume was at its lowest in five years in August so it remains to be seen if the gains will be sustained into September. Next week brings Europe back into sharp focus, with the European Central Bank meeting Thursday. And in the United States, investors will get the latest monthly jobs report on Friday.

At his speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Friday, Bernanke said the Fed is still willing to take whatever action is necessary to prop up the economy, leaving the door open to a third round of asset purchases known as quantitative easing.

Related: Bernanke paves the way for more stimulus

He also defended the Fed’s previous two rounds of stimulus measures, saying they created 2 million jobs and supported stock prices.

Investors had been apprehensive that Bernanke would put the kibosh on stimulus after a recent spate of improving economic reports. And it’s still not a done deal, said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors.

Whether or not the Fed announces more stimulus is completely “data-dependent,” he said. Investors will be analyzing every economic report very closely during the weeks leading up to the Fed’s next policy meeting in mid-September — especially the government’s big jobs report due next Friday.

“The Fed has laid out their case [for stimulus] and said they will be vigilant and will pull the trigger if needed,” said Orlando. “We still don’t think QE3 is going to be acted on in the next meeting, but if economic data takes a substantial move to the downside, the Fed would absolutely step up.”

Fear Greed Index stuck in greed

World markets: European stocks closed mixed. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged down 0.1%, the DAX in Germany added 1.1% and France’s CAC 40 gained 1%.

Euro area unemployment for July was unchanged from June, holding at a record-breaking 11.3%, according to the European Union’s statistic office. At over 25%, Spain had the highest jobless rate in the region.

Asian markets ended in the red. The Shanghai Composite shed almost 0.3%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.4%, and Japan’s Nikkei dropped 1.6%.

Economy: The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index slipped to 53 in August, down from 53.7 in July, according to economic consulting firm Kingsbury International. That was lower than the reading of 53.8 that analysts surveyed by had expected.

The University of Michigan’s final version of its Consumer Sentiment Index for August edged up to 74.3, from 73.6 in the previous month.

July factory orders jumped 2.8%, following a decline of 0.5% in June, according to the Census Bureau.

Companies: Shares of government contractor SAIC (SAI, Fortune 500) rose following the firm’s announcement that it planned to split into two separate, publicly traded companies.

Shares of software maker Splunk (SPLK) rallied after the company reported a loss that handily beat estimates and raised its outlook.

Shares of U.S. Airways (LCC, Fortune 500) and AMR Corp (AAMRQ, Fortune 500), the parent company of American Airlines, rose more than 2% on reports that they are in talks about a potential merger.

Facebook’s (FB) stock fell to a new all-time low after Bank of America-Merrill Lynch analysts cut their price target and said the stock faces selling pressure from the expiration of lock-up periods, when company insiders and major stakeholders can sell shares.

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

Oil for October delivery rose $1.85 to settle at $96.47 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery rallied $30.50 to $1,687.60 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.56% from 1.65% late Thursday.

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Bernanke paves the way for more stimulus

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Investors hung on every word of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, as he spoke in Jackson Hole Friday morning.

JACKSON HOLE, WYO. (CNNMoney) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made his strongest case yet for more easing, during a high-profile speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Friday.

Bernanke staunchly defended the Federal Reserve’s two previous rounds of large asset purchases, saying they drove stocks higher, improved financial markets and created more than 2 million jobs. He also refuted several potential risks associated with those policies and talked up their benefits.

“The odds are strong that the Fed’s asset purchases will make money for the taxpayers, reducing the federal deficit and debt,” Bernanke said. “And, of course, to the extent that monetary policy helps strengthen the economy and raise incomes, the benefits for the U.S. fiscal position would be substantial.”

The chairman also hinted that a third round of asset purchases known as quantitative easing — or QE3 — could be coming, by reiterating the Fed’s willingness to pull the trigger.

“The Federal Reserve will provide additional policy accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability.”

Bernanke added that the economy “is obviously far from satisfactory,” pointing to 8.3% unemployment and the weak job market as a “grave concern” causing “enormous suffering and waste of human talent.”

The Fed also sees the fiscal cliff and Europe’s debt crisis as major threats to U.S. economic growth, and that gloomy outlook seems to have lowered the bar for the Fed to provide more stimulus.

In previous statements, the central bank has pledged to provide stimulus only if the economy weakens further, but more recently that language has changed to say the Fed will act if the economy merely stays the same.

Bernanke seemed to back up that view Friday, suggesting that the Fed needs to consider acting preemptively, to “take out insurance against the realization of downside risk” — a view often expressed by his number two in command, Vice-Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

U.S. stocks initially pulled back when Bernanke began speaking, but quickly moved higher after investors digested the speech as an assurance that additional stimulus is likely.

Related: Bernanke: Fed still has room to run

In addition to quantitative easing, the Fed still has several tools that it could consider at its next policymaking meeting in September. Among them are options to forecast low interest rates further out into the future, and reduce the rate the Fed pays banks to park excess reserves at the central bank.

The Fed has exhausted its usual tool for boosting the economy, by keeping interest rates near zero since late 2008.

Since then, the Federal Reserve has resorted to unconventional policies to try to lower interest rates further, including quantitative easing.

The Fed has also tried to boost the economy merely by changing expectations for the future. For example, it has recently signaled it expects to keep interest rates “exceptionally low” until late 2014.

That date is more like a forecast than a promise, but some Fed members have recently suggested the Fed could have a far greater impact if it made a firmer commitment. For example, the Fed could pledge to keep rates low until it meets explicit targets for economic growth, inflation or the unemployment rate.

Participants at the Jackson Hole meeting seemed to think this was one of the most likely options for the Fed when it meets September 12-13.

In the past, the Federal Reserve chairman has used his annual speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo. to hint at major moves to come. The most notable case was in 2010, when Bernanke vaguely hinted that the Fed was considering QE2. Stocks rallied shortly after.

But the FOMC waited until its November meeting, more than two months later, to officially launch the bond-buying program.

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Isaac damages could hit $2 billion

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Tropical Storm Isaac could cause up to $2 billion in insured losses.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — Tropical Storm Isaac’s slow, rainy march up the Mississippi River valley is expected to cause as much as $2 billion in insured losses, according to one disaster modeling firm.

The storm, which hit Louisiana Tuesday night as a Catagory 1 hurricane, continues to wreak havoc, with heavy rainfall flooding waterways. Working its way up to Missouri, the storm has left more than 800,000 without power in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, power companies told CNN. Hundreds of residents in coastal areas and along rivers have had to be rescued. And 28 Louisiana parishes were without safe, clean water on Friday.

The catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide said early Friday they estimate the storm has caused between $700 million and $2 billion in insured losses. That includes residential property, commercial property, energy production and the interruption of business but excludes most flooding damage.

“Isaac’s slow forward speed and refusal to dissipate will exacerbate wind damage,” said Tim Doggett, chief scientist at AIR.

Related: Gas prices rise again on Isaac impact

Earlier this week, another modeling firm, Eqecat, a catastrophe modeling firm, suggested onshore insured damage would run between $500 million and $1.5 billion. The firm has yet to update its figures.

Both firms exclude flooding because the federal government insures against flood damage for most properties.

At those estimates, Isaac, with winds topping out at 80 miles an hour, is far less damaging than Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm, with winds around 125 per hour. Some 1,800 people died after that storm when New Orleans levees failed to hold back rising flood waters. Katrina caused $45 billion in private insurance damage, excluding flood losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

But Isaac resembled Hurricane Gustav, a 2008 Category 2 storm that followed a similar path and caused $2 billion in insured damages.

While flooding isn’t included in the newly released damage estimates, Isaac’s total economic damages, including damage due to floods, are expected to grow, as the storm slowly crawls through Arkansas today. More flash flooding and tornadoes are expected.

“It’s looking more disorganized, but it is still putting out quite a bit of rain,” said Charles Dalton, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Little Rock, which was expected to get 5 inches of rain on Friday.

The longer the storm lasts, the risk that more flooding damage occurs, said Michael Kistler, director of model solutions at RMS, another catastrophe modeling firm.

“Because of it’s staying in one place a long time, there’s the potential for storm surge,” Kistler said. “This is not a Katrina,” he added later.

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CNN’s Lateef Mungin contributed to this report.

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Will turmoil overseas hurt my retirement portfolio?

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Demonstrators shout slogans against the Syrian regime during a protest.

NEW YORK (Money Magazine) — My $200,000 retirement fund is sitting in cash because the political situation in the Middle East has me very concerned about the future of the stock and bond markets. How do you think I should be invested if I plan to retire in 30 years? —M.N., West Boylston, Mass.

I don’t think the turmoil in the Middle East should play much of a role, if any, in developing an investing strategy for your retirement savings, especially since you probably won’t even tap that stash for another 30 years.

That’s not to say that the political upheaval and violence there isn’t upsetting. Or that unrest in that part of the world can’t influence the price of all sorts of assets in the short run, oil being an obvious example.

But as far as your retirement nest egg is concerned, the issue is whether problems there are likely to depress your returns over the long-term. A quick look at long-term returns in the wake of past flare-ups in the region suggests that’s not the case.

Over the 30-year span following the 1956 Suez Canal crisis, for example, U.S. stocks returned an annualized 10%. After two other major incidents — the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War — U.S. stocks managed 30-year annualized gains of roughly 12%. Those figures are pretty much in line with the stock market’s annualized return of 10% or so since 1926.

Related: Emerging-markets investing for the long haul

Besides, even if it became apparent that problems in that part of the world were so severe that they’d affect the financial markets for decades to come, I’m not sure what you could do about it.

Asset values adjust instantaneously as millions of investors worldwide react to new information. Even if you were able to figure out which investments were going to be the winners and losers in the years ahead, by the time you scoop them up chances are their prices will already reflect the new reality. Any advantage you hoped to gain would be blunted.

So while I certainly wouldn’t discourage you from following events in the Middle East — or Europe, Asia, Latin America or anywhere else — I also wouldn’t recommend you overhaul your investing strategy every time tensions build in that region or any other.

How, then, should you divvy up your dough in a world where political turmoil or the threat of it is pretty much a constant?

Clearly, going to cash is the wrong move. Cash equivalent investments like money market funds and FDIC-insured accounts provide security, but the returns are too low to create a large enough nest egg to maintain your standard of living once the paychecks stop rolling in.

Stocks, on the other hand, have a track record of providing solid long-term gains. But the stock market also goes into periodic funks, which can be frightening.

So even though you should be more concerned about the potential size of your nest egg at retirement — as opposed to its value next week or even next year — you don’t want to put so much into stocks that you’ll panic and sell if the market tanks.

That’s where bonds come in. Investing a portion of your retirement stash in bonds can help dampen the market’s ups and downs and provide a bit of emotional comfort in times of market distress.

Arriving at a mix of stocks and bonds that can provide sufficient growth and adequate protection is highly subjective. Generally, though, investment pros recommend that investors who still have 30 years of their career ahead of them keep 80% to 90% of their retirement savings in stocks and 10% to 20% in bonds.

Related: 25 and scared stiff of making an investing mistake

If you’re a Nervous Nellie type, you might want to reduce that stock stake to 70% or so. Just remember that the more protection you want from short-term setbacks, the more you’ll give up in long-term returns.

Once you’ve settled on a blend of stocks and bonds that’s right for you, leave it alone except to rebalance every year or so.

When you’re older and capital preservation becomes more important, you’ll want to shift more of your money into bond and, after you retire, bonds and cash.

For now, though, just focus on getting the tradeoff between growth and stability that’s right for you, which you can do by checking out Morningstar’s Asset Allocator tool.

So when it comes to investing your retirement fund, don’t get too worked up about the geopolitical scene. If you pull out of the market every time there’s trouble looming in the Middle East or anywhere else, you’ll probably spend more time sitting in cash than invested in the markets, and end up with an undersized nest egg for retirement.

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The low-wage jobs explosion

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Sure, the economy is adding jobs these days…but most of those positions pay pretty poorly.

Some 58% of the jobs created during the recovery have been low-wage positions, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project. Only 22% have been mid-wage jobs and 20% higher-wage positions. These low-wage jobs pay $13.83 an hour or less.

“The recovery continues to be skewed toward low-wage jobs, reinforcing the rise in inequality and America’s deficit of good jobs,” said Annette Bernhardt, NELP’s policy co-director. “While there’s understandably a lot of focus on getting employment back to pre-recession levels, the quality of jobs is rapidly emerging as a second front in the struggling recovery.”

The explosion in low-wage job growth comes after the Great Recession hammered the mid-wage job sector. Some 60% of the jobs lost during the downturn were mid-wage, as opposed to 21% of low-wage and 19% of higher-wage positions.

The fastest growing low-wage jobs include retail salespeople, food prep workers, laborers and freight workers, waiters and waitresses, personal and home care aides, office clerks and customers representatives.

Employment in low-wage jobs has been expanding since the start of the century, rising 8.7% since the beginning of 2001. Mid-wage employment, meanwhile, dropped 7.3%. High-wage staffing rose by 6.6%.

“The economy has fewer good jobs now than it did at the start of the 21st century,” said Bernhardt.

NELP looked at employment trends in 366 occupations between 2008 and 2012. Low-wage jobs had median hourly wages between $7.69 to $13.83, while people in mid-wage positions earned between $13.84 and $21.13. High-wage jobs had a median hourly wage of $21.14 to $54.55.

Related: America’s workers: A year of ups and downs

The NELP study backs up a separate report from the Department of Labor that showed more than half of displaced workers who lost their jobs during the recovery and found new ones were working for lower wages.

Only 46% of these re-employed, full-time workers were earning as much as they did at the jobs they lost. About one-third reported taking a pay cut of 20% or more.

The Labor Department looked at workers who had lost their jobs from 2009 through 2011 because their plant or company moved or closed, there wasn’t enough work for them to do or their shift was abolished. They had to have been working at the job for at least three years.

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Record Labor Day gas prices won’t last

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Gas prices are at a record high for Labor Day.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Gas prices are higher than they’ve been going into any other Labor Day weekend on record, but experts predict some relief at the pump is coming fairly soon.

According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of regular gas was $3.83 on Friday. That’s up 9.4% from the end of July, meaning that August suffered the biggest percentage gain in gas prices in more than three years. But it’s still short of the high of the year of $3.94 reached in April.

According to Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, many factors combined to send prices steadily higher in August. Among them were issues at a number of refineries — such as a fire at a major Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500) facility in Richmond, Calif. on Aug. 6, and the shutdown of a significant share of the nation’s refinery capacity in advance of Hurricane Isaac over the last week.

It’s wasn’t just refinery issues lifting pump prices, though. Global issues helped to lift oil futures about 7% over the last month. Worries about the European sovereign debt crisis began to ease. Expectations that the Federal Reserve was preparing to provide more economic stimulus grew, while worries about Iran’s nuclear program — and the strict sanctions imposed on the oil-rich nation — flared up again.

Related: Isaac gas price spike reaches to Ohio

But Kloza said a number of factors are likely to lower gas prices fairly soon. The damage from Hurricane Isaac is not believed to be serious, which should allow Gulf Coast refineries to get back to work quickly. The end of the summer blend of gasoline on Sept. 15 could bring prices down 20 cents a gallon over the next month or so. And Kloza believes concerns about Europe could again start to hit oil prices globally in the coming weeks.

“I think that $3.25 a gallon for gasoline for the last month of the year is achievable,” Kloza said.

Related: Rules to double U.S. fuel economy to 54.5 mpg

Friday’s average gas price beat the previous record of $3.67 heading into the 2008 Labor Day weekend. That summer, oil and gas hit their highest prices of all time. But prices plunged later, due to the meltdown in financial markets that followed the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.

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Fact checking small business talk at the Republican convention

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Small business played a major role during the Republican convention this week.

Nearly every speaker at the convention in Tampa, Fla., had something to say about companies and how much they’ve suffered during the past four years, particularly small ones. All focused their aim at President Obama.

But were their points true?

On regulation: John Thune, a U.S. Senator from South Dakota, criticized the president for using big government to meddle with the rural way of life.

“Instead of preserving family farms and ranches, President Obama’s policies are effectively regulating them out of business. His administration even proposed banning farm kids from doing basic chores,” he said.

It’s true, the Labor Department did make that proposal last year. Federal officials sought to outlaw having kids younger than 16 engage in activity deemed dangerous, such as driving tractors or handling pesticides. That riled up farmers, to whom having a young teen maneuver a tractor is an everyday chore. Taking part in farm work is also seen as a way to pass along the craft to the next generation.

Related: Eastwood’s inflated unemployment count

There are dangers to that, though, and labor officials were looking at statistics that some may find surprising. More kids get hurt working agricultural jobs than any other. Those jobs claimed the lives of 200 kids between 1992 and 1998, according to the most recent report from the Labor Department.

Labor officials backed away from the proposal in April, citing a respect for “the rural way of life” and instead promising to rely on educational programs to reduce the number of accidents.

As for Thune’s other criticism, it’s a stretch to say the president’s policies are destroying family farms. Census data shows that as of 2010, the number of farms is actually up slightly to 2.2 million.

Also, the Obama administration has instituted specific programs to help farmers through the Agriculture Department in a “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign. The program tries to connect consumers with producers, offering an online map to find things like local farmers markets.

On (even more) regulation: Sher Valenzuela, who’s running for lieutenant governor of Delaware, had this to say about government pressures on businesses.

“They’re on track to create 109 million new paperwork burden hours, and by year’s end, $110 billion worth of new regulatory costs will be laid on the back of business owners and taxpayers,” she said.

Her speech, prepared by convention staff, relied on statistics compiled by the Republican-led American Action Forum. The group’s director of regulatory policy, Sam Batkins, said they keep track of all new paperwork by relying on government announcements.

It’s worth putting these 109 million hours into perspective. In 2010, Americans spent 8.8 billion hours filing federal paperwork for their businesses or in their personal lives, according to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. That’s about 37 hours a year for each adult. Adding 109 million hours through new regulations would tack on only another 1% to the total.

More importantly, though, the total number of hours has actually gone down sharply during the Obama administration. It rose from about 7 billion to nearly 10 billion during the Bush years. Obama ordered that agencies get “rid of absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money” and get more business-friendly.

Related: Etch A Sketch cashes in on Romney aide gaffe

On “building that”: House Speaker John Boehner and many others at the convention frequently repeated references to Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment.

“So, President Obama, with all due respect, don’t tell me that my parents didn’t build their business,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to much applause.

Actually, the president didn’t say that at all. It’s a criticism based on a false premise that’s been debunked various times by many, including CNN. To clarify, here’s what the president stated during a July 13 speech.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that,” he continued. “Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

When put into context, it’s clear Obama was referring to infrastructure and society’s role in every person’s successes.

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West Wing Week: 8/31/12 or, "It’s Summer Mailbag Time!"

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It’s the summer’s special Mailbag Edition of West Wing Week, featuring Elizabeth Olsen, Director of Presidential Correspondence.  This week we’re taking a moment to pick out a few of your letters from the thousands that arrive everyday here at the White House and answer some of your questions on immigration, healthcare, and the economy.  That’s August 24th to August 30th or, “It’s Summer Mailbag Time!”

First, we went over to the National Economic Council to see Deputy Director, Brian Deese, who answered some of your letters about the economy.

Then we went over to the Domestic Policy Council to talk with Cecilia Muñoz about some of the letters she’d read about healthcare refom and the new deferred action process.

Tuesday, August 28th:

  • The President made a statement about preparedness for the arrival of Hurrican Isaac.

Thursday, August 30th:

  • We sat down with Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who spoke about the upcoming two year anniversary of the end of the war in Iraq for ‘The Rhodes Ahead.’

Thanks for checking out your West Wing Week.

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