Russia’s Pulkovo Observatory: “we could be in for a cooling period that lasts 200-250 years”
Scientists at Russia’s famous Pulkovo Observatory are convinced that the world is in for a period of global cooling.
Companies and small businesses... are in good shape and have money to spend. So why aren't they pumping more capital back into the economy, creating jobs and fueling the country's economic engine?
Quite simply, if firms can't see a clear road to economic recovery ahead, they're not going to hire and they're not going to spend. It's what economists call a "deadweight loss"—loss caused by inefficiency.
Today, there is uncertainty about regulatory policy, uncertainty about monetary policy, uncertainty about foreign policy and, most significantly, uncertainty about U.S. fiscal policy and the national debt. Until a sensible plan is created to address the debt, America will not fulfill its economic potential.
Uncertainty comes with a very real and quantifiable price tag—an uncertainty tax, so to speak. Over the past two years, amid stalled debates in Washington and missed opportunities to tackle the debt, the magnitude of this uncertainty tax has gotten short shrift.
Three economists, Stanford University's Nicholas Bloom and Scott Baker and the University of Chicago's Steven Davis, have done invaluable work measuring the level of policy uncertainty over the past few decades. Their research (available at policyuncertainty.com) shows that, on average, U.S. economic policy uncertainty has been 50% higher in the past two years than it has been since 1985.
Based on that research, our economists at Vanguard isolated changes in the U.S. economy that we determined were specifically due to increases in policy uncertainty, such as the debt-ceiling debacle in August 2011, the congressional supercommittee failure in November 2011, and the fiscal-cliff crisis at the end of 2012. This gave us a picture of what the economy might look like if the shocks from policy uncertainty had not occurred.
We estimate that since 2011 the rise in overall policy uncertainty has created a $261 billion cumulative drag on the economy (the equivalent of more than $800 per person in the country). Without this uncertainty tax, real U.S. GDP could have grown an average 3% per year since 2011, instead of the recorded 2% average in fiscal years 2011-12. In addition, the U.S. labor market would have added roughly 45,000 more jobs per month over the past two years. That adds up to more than one million jobs that we could have had by now, but don't.
Worried by reports of rising defaults, investors turned up their noses at a new $225 million bond issue by Sallie Mae, the federal agency that packages individual student loans into large securities. The loan company canceled the offering after two weeks on the market. The WSJ reports:
…rising defaults could have crimped the cash flow of the federally backed loans supporting the new securities, because more defaults would mean less excess, or residual, income after holders of the original loans were paid.What’s more, regulators and lawmakers have become concerned about growing levels of student debt, raising the risk political decisions could alter the bond market for student loans, said Jeffrey Klingelhofer, a portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management. For instance, a program that would allow borrowers to refinance their loans would reduce cash flow, Mr. Klingelhofer said.
Are student loans turning into junk bonds? With something like $1 trillion of student loan debt outstanding, investor skittishness is not good news.
Dr. Freire and his colleagues put Einstein to the test in a cosmic laboratory 7,000 light years from earth, where two exotic stars are circling each other. One, known as a white dwarf, is the cooling remnant of a much lighter star. Its companion is a pulsar, which spins 25 times every second. Though the pulsar is just 12 miles across, it weighs twice as much as the sun.
"When you have such a big mass in such a small space you have extremely high gravity," said Charles Wang, a theoretical physicist at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, who wasn't involved in the study.
The gravity on the pulsar's surface is 300 billion times as great as the gravity on Earth. The conditions there approach the relentless, overwhelming power of a black hole, which swallows even light.
"We're testing Einstein's theory in a region where it has never been tested before," said Dr. Freire.
The pulsar and white dwarf pair emit gravitational waves and the binary star system gradually loses energy. As a result, the stars will move closer to each other and orbit faster. Einstein's theory suggests the stars' orbital periods—the time they take to go around each other—ought to shrink by about eight-millionths of a second per year.
Dr. Freire's and his colleagues used several telescopes to take precise measurements of the two-star system. Their results perfectly matched the Einstein-based prediction.Einstein's theory was published in 1916. 97 years later, using technology he could not have envisioned, a theory that made a prediction about gravity with a precision in the millionths of a second is proven true... again.
There is concern in some quarters that the provision requiring lawmakers and staffers to join the exchanges, if it isn’t revised, could lead to a “brain drain” on Capitol Hill, as several sources close to the talks put it.
The problem stems from whether members and aides set to enter the exchanges would have their health insurance premiums subsidized by their employer — in this case, the federal government. If not, aides and lawmakers in both parties fear that staffers — especially low-paid junior aides — could be hit with thousands of dollars in new health care costs, prompting them to seek jobs elsewhere. Older, more senior staffers could also retire or jump to the private sector rather than face a big financial penalty.
Obama backs out of Planned Parenthood keynote address
President Obama has canceled plans to deliver a keynote address at Planned Parenthood’s annual fundraising dinner Thursday night after critics decried his high-profile role at the abortion rights group amid new concerns about the brutality of illegal forms of abortion.
White House spokesman Jay Carney announced the decision to cancel the keynote speech at the gala during his daily press briefing with reporters Wednesday. He attributed the schedule change to Mr. Obama’s desire to spend more time at a memorial service in Waco, Texas, for family members of the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion.
Mr. Carney said the president will still address Planned Parenthood and its supporters Friday morning. Still, the shift to a lower-profile address at a more low-key morning event, rather than an evening gala fundraiser, is significant.
Earlier this week, abortion opponents pressed Mr. Obama to rescind his agreement to speak at the Planned Parenthood fundraiser, considering the gruesome revelations emanating from the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.
Lila Rose, who heads the anti-abortion group Live Action, said the accounts by Mr. Gosnell’s former clinic staff have “shell-shocked the nation.”
“It is incumbent upon the president to reconsider his support for the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood, which last year profited from abortion $87 million committing over 300,000 abortions,” she said Tuesday.
I have said it before and I will say it again: there is no player in major-league baseball more valuable to his team on a daily basis than Yadier Benjamin Molina.
I don’t give a damn if other players hit more home runs, get more attention from ESPN, or are overlooked in the official MVP voting by hopelessly inattentive baseball writers that should know better.
You want a stat?
Well, here’s a stat:
Since Molina became the Cardinals’ full-time catcher in 2005, the team has a winning percentage of .577 when he starts a game, and a winning percentage of .489 when he doesn’t start a game.
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told lawmakers that the first weddings could be as soon as June.
"We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they'll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families," she said.
Small sellers with no profits could be subject to audits in dozens of states. Each of the nearly 10,000 local tax jurisdictions could specify a different tax rate. Businesses would also have to figure out how to handle the complexity of integrating as many as 46 state government-supplied software packages into Web ordering systems....
Taxpayer advocates say Enzi's amendment amounts to a multibillion dollar tax hike on American consumers that shouldn't be rushed into law without a single hearing (S.743 was introduced last week). The National Taxpayers Union set up a petition to Congress saying: "I do not want to be made vulnerable to out-of-state tax collectors." Last month, 15 conservative groups sent a letter to members of Congress saying an Internet tax law is "is bad news for conservative principles and the cause of limited government."
They're joined by a coalition called True Simplification of Taxation, which includes the American Catalog Mailers Association, the Direct Marketing Association, NetChoice, and the Electronic Retailing Association. A scorecard (PDF) compiled by the group says S.743 meets only a fraction of 12 important simplification requirements.
Senator Max Baucus (D, Mont.) will retire in 2014 rather than face a tough reelction battle, according to the Washington Post, which cites Democratic strategists familiar with his plans.
Baucus, who helped author the federal healthcare law, is currently serving his sixth term in office. His involvement in the drafting and eventual passage of Obamacare, which remains deeply unpopular, meant that he would have faced a difficult race in 2014 if he chose to run for a seventh term. The Montana Democrat made headlines last week when he referred to Obamacare as a “train wreck.”You think Baucus suddenly realized that the campaign ads for his opponent would write themselves?
When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries.
“How do you feel about America?” he was asked. His response: “I say, I teach my children and that’s what I feel myself, this is the ideal microworld in the entire world. I respect this country, I love this country. This country, which gives chance to everybody else to be treated as a human being and to just to be human being — to feel yourself human being. That’s what I feel about this country.”Here's the whole thing:
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the chairman of the chamber's powerful Finance Committee and a key architect of the healthcare reform law, said he fears people do not understand how the law will work.
"I just see a huge train wreck coming down," he told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a Wednesday hearing. "You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet."
Baucus pressed Sebelius for details about how the Health Department will explain the law and raise awareness of its provisions, which are supposed to take effect in just a matter of months.
"I'm very concerned that not enough is being done so far — very concerned," Baucus said.Train wreck is putting it mildly. Obamacare entails (a) higher costs for coverage; (b) higher transaction costs (meaning the bureaucratic headaches and time involved) for getting coverage; (c) low penalties for not being covered (the relatively toothless mandate); (d) disincentives for providing coverage (if you're a small business); and, of course, the famous provision that you can't be turned down for a pre-existing condition. The combination of higher costs, bureaucratic disincentives, and moral hazard obviously means there will be more uninsured under Obamacare, not fewer..... which was the whole point of the exercise. Add in the utter confusion of the "exchanges" and you have a disaster. Did anybody at all in the government stop to think that taking the single most aggravating and complicated and confusing bureaucracy in America (the health care industry) and adding another layer (or set of layers) of additional aggravating and complicated and confusing bureaucracy (the federal government) wasn't going to work very well? (Note: I could have stopped the last sentence with "Did anybody at all in the government stop to think?")
Imagine if, during the campaign of 2008, someone had written the following: “If Barack Obama is elected president, then each year from now on the federal budget will be a trillion dollars in the red. He will pile up in two terms more debt than all previous presidents combined. Interest rates will stay at near zero; 7.6 percent unemployment will be proof of progress in creating jobs. Record use of food stamps, unemployment, and disability insurance will be hallmarks of recovery. The government will take over health care, and the costs will skyrocket. During Obama’s second term, ammunition will vanish from America’s store shelves in panic buying. Gay marriage will become uncontroversial. Women will be eligible for infantry combat. The only question about amnesty for illegal aliens will be when, not if, it is enacted. States will begin legalizing marijuana.” Obviously, such a conspiracist would have been dismissed as an unhinged nut.
The Rutgers basketball story continues to transfix the media, and why shouldn’t it? Mike Rice, the disgraced former Rutgers basketball coach allegedly killed a woman and at least seven viable, born-alive babies “by plunging scissors into their spinal cords” in his filthy, macabre “house of horrors” abortion clinic.
Oh wait, my mistake. Rice was fired last week from Rutgers over video of him shoving, kicking and yelling at his players, throwing basketballs at them and – most damning – using “homophobic slurs.” That’s made Rice the most notorious villain in America. And in one week it earned him 36 network news stories clocking in at 41 minutes, 26 seconds of air time on ABC, CBS and NBC.
Now, had Rice been accused of killing a woman and eight babies, he’d be enjoying the same anonymity as Kermit Gosnell – provided the killings were carried out in an abortion clinic. Gosnell is the West Philadelphia abortionist who ran an unimaginable charnel house of a “clinic,” for 30 years. Witnesses testified that he may have murdered over 100 babies outside the womb. Gosnell’s trial, underway for weeks, has featured wrenching testimony and horrific details. And it has received exactly zero seconds of airtime on the broadcast networks.Apparently you can't call a huge athletic college basketball player a "fairy" if he fails to hustle in practice, but, if you had managed to get to him twenty years before, just after he was born, it would have been OK to murder him. That's American civilization ca. 2013, at least according to the MSM.
You can't wish this stuff away. Over time, returns are going to be subpar and the contributions demanded from cities across California and companies across America are going to go up and more dominoes are going to fall. San Bernardino and seven other California cities may also be headed to Chapter 9. The more Chapter 9 filings, the less money Calpers receives, and the more strain on the fictional expected rate of return until the boiler bursts.
Sadly, the only thing left is to cut retiree payouts, something Judge Klein has left open. There are 12,338 retired California government workers receiving $100,000 or more in pension payments from Calpers. Michael D. Johnson, a retiree from the County of Solano, pulls in $30,920.24 per month. As more municipalities file Chapter 9, the more these kinds of retirement deals will be broken. When Wisconsin public employees protested the state government's move to rein in pensions in 2011, the demonstrations got ugly—but that was just a hint of the torches and pitchforks likely to come.
"My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day's work for an honest day's pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police."Anybody really believe that American wouldn't be a better place if we all thought like this? Instead we have a nation of disability scammers and assorted layabouts; a nation of borrowers, buying ephemeral pleasures today while impoverishing our children and our children's children; a nation of defaulters; a nation of scofflaws.