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Thursday 02.16.2017

Mortgage delinquencies among some homeowners just spiked, spelling trouble

A troublesome signal just appeared in the housing market and could put taxpayers at risk.

Federal Housing Administration mortgage delinquencies jumped in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2006, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The FHA insures low down-payment loans and is a favorite among first-time homebuyers.

The seasonally adjusted FHA delinquency rate increased to 9.02 percent in the fourth quarter from 8.3 percent in the third quarter, MBA data show. The jump, which followed the lowest delinquency rate since 1997, was driven by loans made since 2014 and early-stage delinquencies, those just 30 days past due.

t's too soon to know if it is a blip or a trend, but the jolt is clearly a warning. "We had been experiencing great credit quality for so long, and to suddenly see this quarter-over-quarter reversal was a surprise, and we're looking closely at it," MBA CEO David Stevens said.

1.3 Million Jobs Created By Closing Trade Deficit Says Think Tank

Trade pressure and faltering U.S. competitiveness, not automation was the main reason the U.S. lost 5.7 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

“We keep hearing from economists and pundits that the United States has lost the bulk of its manufacturing jobs to automation, so there’s nothing we can do to get them back. But that’s simply not true,” said Adams Nager, ITIF’s economic policy analyst and the report’s author.

“It’s time to stop blaming manufacturing job losses solely on robots and start recognizing the impact of America’s lagging competitiveness and other countries’ unfair trade practices,” Nager added.

“The good news is there’s something we can do about both issues. If policymakers focus on rolling back foreign innovation mercantilism, especially in China, and develop a robust national competitiveness and productivity agenda, then America can close its manufacturing trade deficit and create manufacturing jobs.”

Money managers no longer hate gold, saying it’s undervalued

The world’s biggest and most powerful money managers usually hate gold. But not today.

The latest survey of nearly 200 money managers worldwide, controlling more than half a trillion dollars in investment assets, shows a sudden and rare burst of bullishness about the yellow metal.

They’re worried about inflation, stagflation and global protectionism, and they think gold is the best insurance against all three. And at less than $1,300 an ounce, they also think, for only the third time in a decade, that it is undervalued.

This is the surprising and remarkable takeaway from the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch monthly global fund manager survey. The survey is a key indicator each month of mainstream opinion among those who run the world’s investments. BofA surveyed 175 money managers with $543 billion in assets under management. By a net margin of 15%, opinion among money managers is that gold is undervalued. That ties the record set in January 2009.

American Dream vs. Fed Induced American Nightmare

Trump starts making changes to Obamacare

It issued a proposed rule Wednesday aimed mainly at quelling insurers' concerns and stabilizing the marketplace for 2018.

While President Trump wants Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act as quickly as possible, his hands are tied by two important factors: He has promised to have an orderly transition out of Obamacare, so people don't lose their coverage, and he must defer to Congress to actually change the law.

However, his administration can adjust regulations even before lawmakers act.

The rule change would tighten the provisions to apply for coverage outside of open enrollment and require consumers to pay any back premiums due before signing up again. And it would cut the open enrollment period for 2018 in half, so that Americans could only sign up between November 1 and December 15. Insurers would gain greater flexibility in how much their policies would cover in each tier -- for instance, Silver plans currently must cover 70% of out-of-pocket costs, on average.

Millennials expect more than half of their retirement money to come from personal means — but 42% haven't even started saving yet

A retirement crisis has been looming in the US for some time. As more Americans grow older and live longer, the prospect of a traditionally secure retirement plan funded primarily by employers and the government has become something of folklore to younger generations.

In fact, a new report from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave found that 52% of millennials (US adults aged 25 to 39) believe the nation's mounting financial inequality has rendered a secure retirement a luxury afforded to only a select few. By contrast, 47% of Gen Xers and just 30% of baby boomers, the parents' of millennials, consider a secure retirement unattainable.

The report, which surveyed nearly 5,000 people age 25 and above, revealed that aside from the nation's current retirees — primarily the silent generation (those older than 70) — every other generation anticipates relying significantly on personal means to fund their retirement, and each one at a higher clip than the previous generation.

While millennials, the youngest generation surveyed, expect 65% of their retirement funding to come from personal means, 42% haven't yet started squirreling away money. Moreover, they plan to continue working into retirement, anticipating income from a job will make up nearly one-fourth (24%) of their overall retirement fund. The remainder, they presume, will come from savings and investments (29%), government programs (21%), employers (14%), and family (12%).

Fiat Chrysler issues layoff notice for 3,200 Toledo workers

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has confirmed it will temporarily lay off 3,200 workers from its Toledo Assembly Complex starting April 7 as the company shifts production of the Jeep Cherokee out of Toledo to make room for the next-generation Jeep Wrangler.

The move has been expected for some time, though Fiat Chrysler just recently filed notice of the layoffs with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The company did not say how long the workers will be out, reporting only that the layoff is expected to exceed six months. Company officials have not said when production of the new Wrangler will begin, but The Blade has previously reported normal production is expected to begin in November.

All jobs are expected to be preserved. Fiat Chrysler has previously said it will spend $700 million to prepare the plant for the new Wrangler, which is expected to debut sometime this year.

Production of the Cherokee will move to an Fiat Chrysler plant in Belvidere, Ill. That plant recently received $350 million in capital investment to prepare it for the Cherokee. Fiat Chrysler said 300 jobs would be created in Illinois as a result of the move.

Whatever Happened to Inflation after All This Money Printing? It Has Arrived!

Consumer prices surged 0.6% in January from December, double the consensus forecast of a 0.3% rise. The sharpest monthly increase since February 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Energy prices jumped 4% month over month, including gasoline which jumped 7.8%. Food prices edged up 0.1%. Within this group, “food at home” was unchanged, but prices for “food away from home” – restaurants, taco trucks, and the like – rose 0.4%. In just one month, the prices of apparel rose 1.4%, of new vehicles 0.9%, of auto insurance 0.8%, of airline fares 2.0%. Shelter rose “only” 0.2%, as the national numbers are now feeling the downward pressure on rents in some of the most expensive rental markets in the US.

This chart shows just how sharp that jump in monthly price increases is, compared to recent years:

Compared to January a year ago, consumer prices as measured by CPI-U surged 2.5%, after having already jumped 2.1% in December. The rate of inflation has now accelerated for the sixth month in a row. It has surged one full percentage point over the past four months and hit the highest rate since March 2012.

Will Trump Fix the Growing Student Loan Crisis?

Forty-three million American students currently have outstanding student loan debt, totaling more than $1.4 trillion, a troubling figure that surpasses total outstanding credit card and auto loan debt.

This growing debt crisis isn’t limited to only young people. As tuition and fees have grown, so too has the burden placed on parents and grandparents. In a new report issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, researchers found the number of Americans age 60 or older with student loan debt grew from 700,000 in 2005 to 2.8 million in 2015, a 300 percent increase.

Much of the rising debt can be attributed to high tuition rates, which have skyrocketed in recent years. The average combined cost of a full-time undergraduate’s tuition, fees, and room and board at a four-year college was $25,409 in 2015, 25 percent higher in inflation-adjusted dollars than it was in 2008.

The plan proposed by President Donald Trump to help students manage their growing debt burden offers many long-term benefits. Under the Trump proposal, borrowers eligible for the federal government’s Revised Pay as You Earn income-based repayment plan, which covers virtually all students with significant federal student loan debt, would be required to pay 12.5 percent of their annual income toward their federal student loans. After 15 years of making payments, students’ federal loans would be forgiven.

Aetna CEO: Obamacare in 'Death Spiral'

Aetna Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini escalated his criticism of the Affordable Care Act, saying Obamacare’s markets are nearing failure as premiums climb and healthier individuals drop out.

“It is in a death spiral,” Bertolini said in a video interview with the Wall Street Journal that aired Wednesday on the newspaper’s website. He predicted that more insurers will drop out of the market for 2018, following Humana Inc.’s decision to quit Obamacare entirely for next year.

Aetna, too, is mulling whether to further reduce its presence in the markets set up by the ACA. The company cut its footprint to four states for this year, from 15, after losing about $450 million on sales of ACA plans last year.

Bertolini has been saying for months that the ACA’s markets are deteriorating. In October, he said that rising rates would push healthy people away from Obamacare, leaving insurers with sicker customers, and forcing premiums even higher. The increasing burden of medical costs as fewer and fewer healthy customers enroll are among the conditions that create an insurance death spiral.

Looming Economic Crisis to be Blamed on Trump, Experts Warn

An economic crisis of potentially historic proportions appears to be just around the corner, and the establishment may be setting up President Donald Trump and other anti-globalist forces to take the blame for it. So says former congressman and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul and other economic experts with a proven track record of accuracy who have studied the issue. And at this point, there is probably nothing that can be done to stop it.

While the groundwork for the upcoming financial chaos was actually laid down early in Obama's term — and even before — by the Federal Reserve System, the figurative chickens will likely be coming home to roost under the new Trump administration. “The Federal Reserve's policies of printing trillions of dollars back in '08-09 have locked into place a serious financial crisis at some point in our future,” Paul warned. “It's unavoidable, and even Donald Trump can't stop it. Trump will unfairly get the blame though.”

“There are some dire predictions that say in the next year, or 18 months, we have something arriving worse than 2008 and 2009, the downturn is much worse,” Paul said in a recent interview with liberty-minded anti-globalist radio host Alex Jones. “They'll say, ah, it's all Trump's fault. No. It wasn't. 08 and 09 wasn't Obama's fault. It was the fault of the Federal Reserve, it was the fault of the Keynesian economic model, the spending too much, the deficit. So, unfortunately, there's nothing he can do — Trump can't do it.”

Paul, a medical doctor who took a keen interest in economics throughout his celebrated career as a constitutionalist in Congress, said Trump could “help” the situation by pursuing good policies. “But you can't avoid the correction, the correction is locked in place, because the deficits are there, the malinvestment, everybody agrees interest rates have been too low too long,” he said in the late January interview. “The only thing he can do is allow the recession to come, get it over with, liquidate the debt. Politically, nobody wants that, so you're going to see runaway inflation before you see this country wake up.”

Lowe's to hire more than 1,700 full-time workers

Lowe's, which previously said it would bring on tens of thousands of seasonal workers to meet its springtime rush, said Wednesday that it will now add more than 1,700 full-time workers to its payroll.

The big box retailer, which specializes in garden and building supplies, will hire the new employees by October to take on tasks ranging from scheduling repairs for customers to coordinating production.

“While home improvement inspiration and product selection often begins online and progresses at the store, the work starts at home,” Jennifer Weber, Lowe's chief human resources officer said in a statement. “We want to be there every step of the way as customers move this work forward, whether it’s answering questions for (do it yourself) customers or coordinating the work for them through installation services.''

The new positions will be based at Lowe's customer support centers or central production offices in Indianapolis, Wilkesboro, NC., and Albuquerque, NM. The company said it could not provide specifics on salaries, saying only that they vary by positions and pay ranges are market competitive. However, full-time staffers qualify for such benefits as tuition reimbursement and a 10% employee discount.

Gerald Celente-Debt Crisis Builds-Buy Gold

Yahoo Warns Users Their Email Accounts May Have Been Hacked – Yes, Again

On the same day as a report that says Verizon is renegotiating its offer to buy Yahoo at a $250 million discount, the internet company is — for the third time in less than six months — warning users that there’s potential their email accounts may have been hacked.

Yahoo confirmed today that it was notifying users that their accounts may have been accessed illicitly between 2015 and 2016 but declined to say how many people were affected. However, sources familiar with the matter tell Consumerist that notifications have gone out to a reasonably final list of users and the security investigations are in their final stages.

“Based on the ongoing investigation, we believe a forged cookie may have been used in 2015 or 2016 to access your account,” the company wrote in an email to users today.

Yahoo first mentioned those “forged cookies” by Yahoo in December, when it announced the hack of one billion accounts: The company believes some some bad actors got access to proprietary code in order to forge cookies that let them log into users’ accounts without even having a password, stolen or otherwise.

Now You Can Apply For A Job On Facebook

Starting today job seekers will have a new place to go when searching for the perfect position: Facebook.

The social network is now allowing businesses in the United States and Canada to post job openings on their pages, as well as a new jobs bookmark. Within Facebook—and Facebook Messenger—businesses will be able to track applications and communicate directly with applicants.

The feature has been in testing for a while now and is already being used by a few small businesses that have reported back success with the platform.

"It took three minutes to fill out the information and put it out there. Then someone saw the post, we talked, and it was done," Wendy Grahn, co-owner of the Chicago-based Lakeview Kitchen and Market said in a statement.

Retails sales tick up in January, as consumer confidence grows

US retail sales rose more than expected in January, totaling $472.1 billion, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Economists had predicted a gain of 0.1 percent, but sales overall reached a 0.4 percent increase. The surge, pointing to a sustained domestic demand and improving economic prospects, will likely reflect economic growth in the first quarter, analysts say.

Based upon a strong month in December, in which sales were revised to show a 1.0 percent rise instead of the previously reported 0.6 percent advance, retail analysts forecasted a growing year for retail, and the new data is in line with the prediction.

“The economy is on firm ground as we head into 2017 and is expected to build on the momentum we saw late last year,” the National Retail Foundation (NRF) president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said in a statement on Feb. 8. “With jobs and income growing and debt relatively low, the fundamentals are in place and the consumer is in the driver’s seat.”

While consumers pulled back on holiday shopping online in December, Americans spent more than expected at department stores, electronic and appliance stores, and clothing and sporting goods retailers in the new year, the report shows.

Illegal Alien Rosa Ortega Says She Did Not Know What She Was Doing When She Voted Illegally 5 Times

The Globalists Strike Back With A Major Push Toward A Cashless Society

Their agenda may be on the rocks in the United States at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that the globalists are giving up. In fact, a major push toward a cashless society is being made in the European Union right now. Last May we learned that the 500 euro note is being completely eliminated, and just a few weeks ago the European Commission released a new “Action Plan” which instructs member states to explore “potential upper limits to cash payments”. In the name of “fighting terrorism”, this “Action Plan” discusses the benefits of “prohibitions for cash payments above a specific threshold” and it says that those prohibitions should include “virtual currencies (such as BitCoin) and prepaid instruments (such as pre-paid credit cards) when they are used anonymously.”

This new document does not mention what an appropriate threshold would be for member states, but we do know that Spain already bans certain cash transactions above 2,500 euros, and Italy and France already ban cash transactions above 1,000 euros.

This is a perfect way to transition to a cashless society without creating too much of an uproar. By setting a maximum legal level for cash transactions and slowly lowering it, in effect you can slowly but surely phase cash out without people understanding what is happening.

And there are many places in Europe where it is very difficult to even use cash at this point. In Sweden, many banks no longer take or give out cash, and approximately 95 percent of all retail transactions are entirely cashless. So even though Sweden has not officially banned cash, using cash is no longer practical in most situations. In fact, many tourists are shocked to find out that they cannot even pay bus fare with cash.

Drug catapult found attached to Arizona-Mexico border fence

U.S. Border Patrol agents discovered a catapult used to throw bundles of marijuana over the Arizona-Mexico border into Douglas, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

While patrolling an area near the Douglas Port of Entry on Feb. 10, agents saw several people quickly retreating from the fence as the agents approached, officials said.

When agents arrived, they searched the area and located two bundles of marijuana, weighing more than 47 pounds combined, as well as a catapult system attached to the Mexico side of the border fence.

Mexican law-enforcement authorities responded to the area and seized the catapult system, which was dismantled by the U.S. Border Patrol, officials said.

Has the IRS Driven the First Nail Into Obamacare’s Coffin?

One of the first orders that President Donald Trump signed on the day he was inaugurated was a directive requiring federal agencies to minimize the economic and regulatory burdens of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) appears to be the first to step up to the plate.

The IRS has quietly let tax preparers and makers of tax prep software know that the agency will not summarily reject 2016 tax returns that fail to reveal whether the taxpayer had health insurance during the tax year. Without the requirement, it is essentially impossible to enforce the ACA’s individual mandate requiring that all Americans have insurance coverage or pay a penalty.

The IRS ruling essentially tips over the three-legged stool on which the ACA was built: community rating (no disqualifications for pre-existing conditions and only limited differentials in premium based on age and whether the person is a smoker); universal coverage (everyone must be covered either by an employer or an individual plan or pay a penalty); and subsidies for low-income Americans.

The first leg of the stool is very popular; the other two not so much, especially the part about universal coverage that forces people either to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Under previous IRS instructions, taxpayers were required to prove they had coverage or they would be assessed a penalty ranging up to $695 a year per adult and half that for each child under 18.

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