Archive for September 29th, 2012

Australia To Push For Adoption Of Arms Trade Treaty With U.N. Security Council Seat

In “The Land Down Under,” international gun “control” could soon be one of their more high-profile exports. Sid Maher wrote on The Australian website this morning:

AUSTRALIA will push harder for a tough new international gun control regime if it wins a seat at the UN Security Council, in a move to crack down on civil unrest, gang violence and criminal activity.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr told The Weekend Australian that under a draft treaty being pushed by Australia, all states would be held responsible for what happened to their weapons after they left their shores.

The Arms Trade Treaty failed to win the necessary backing last month amid opposition from the US and Russia. But Australia will use a UN Security Council seat to press for the adoption of the treaty, which remains on the UN negotiating table in draft form.

The treaty will also seek to limit the international movement of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and Kalashnikovs.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“To crack down on civil unrest.” Interesting.

In 1996, the Australian government implemented a gun “buy back” program and placed severe restrictions on the public ownership of firearms.

I know what some readers are probably thinking right now.

Less “control,” more Foster’s please.

Source:

Maher, Sid. “UN council bid aimed at gun control.” The Australian. 29 Sep. 2012. (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/un-council-bid-aimed-at-gun-control/story-fn59niix-1226483780192). 29 Sep. 2012.

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Gold Up 11 Percent Last Quarter, Biggest Gain In More Than 2 Years

For several years now, gold’s naysayers have predicted on numerous mainstream financial and investing websites that the precious metal was headed for a lasting beat-down.

Their claims grew louder starting in the middle of the last decade.

Notwithstanding the traditional violent corrections associated with the yellow metal, the gold price kept going higher.

As it did in the third quarter of this year.

Frank Tang reported on the Reuters website Friday afternoon:

Gold eased on Friday, but the metal posted its biggest quarterly gain in more than two years as market stimulus and easy monetary policies by central banks around the world boosted bullion’s inflation-hedge appeal.

The metal is within reach of its 2012 high, while open interest for U.S. gold futures surged to a one-year high on heavy buying related to fund positioning before the quarter end.

Gold priced in euro terms hit a record for a second straight day, highlighting the currency’s weakness and bullion’s safe-haven status among Europeans in times of economic uncertainty…

Gold still climbed around 11 percent this quarter, its best quarterly gain since the second quarter of 2010. September’s gain of almost 5 percent also extended its monthly rise to a four consecutive month.

Tang noted that other precious metals also had a good third quarter, with spot silver up around 25 percent to $34.37 an ounce, spot palladium up around 9 percent to $634.40 an ounce, and spot platinum up around 15 percent these past three months, to $1,659.24 an ounce.

On the topic of silver, the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this week that global banking group BNP Paribas is forecasting an average silver price of $32.75 an ounce for 2012 and $41.45 for 2013.

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Sources:

Tang, Frank. “Gold posts biggest quarterly gain in over two years.” Reuters. 28 Sep. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/28/us-markets-precious-idUSBRE88Q0J320120928). 29 Sep. 2012.

Clarke, Laura. “Silver Appears Set to Continue Its Upward Move.” Wall Street Journal. 26 Sep. 2012. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443916104578019703001560168.html?mod=googlenews_wsj). 29 Sep. 2012.

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Survey: Almost A Quarter Of Americans Have Less Than $100 Saved Up For An Emergency

Saw the following on the local evening news the other day. From a September 25 press release from Chicago-based CashNetUSA, an online leader in payday loan services:

Americans are facing a drought of rainy day funds to handle unexpected emergencies. Twenty-three percent of Americans have less than $100 in savings to cover an emergency expense if it happened today while forty-six percent report having less than $800, according to a new national survey conducted by online lender CashNetUSA.com. The findings reflect the growing percentage of individuals with varying socio-economic backgrounds living paycheck to paycheck.

Fifty-five percent of Americans surveyed with children under the age of 18 report having less than $800 to handle an emergency. Individuals living in the Northeastern and Western regions are more likely to have $800 or more in savings (at 60 percent respectively) while 31 percent of those living in the North Central region have less than $100.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Sounds to me like Joe Six-Pack might be “tapped-out.”

And yet, some people still foolishly pin their hopes on Main Street spending us back to economic prosperity in the near future.

You can read the entire press release and results of the national survey on the CashNetUSA website here.

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Not Raising Fees, Fines, Or Taxes To Plug Projected $298 Million Budget Gap In 2013

Because there’s more material I want to talk about before calling it a week, I’ll be publishing a few posts this Saturday morning.

The last couple of days I’ve been blogging quite a bit about Chicago’s shaky finances. Namely, a projected $298 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2013 along with a pension funding gap that could reach $700 million in a couple of years. Well, the following came across the newswire last night. From Hal Dardick on the Chicago Tribune website:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday he will not increase taxes, fines or fees in next year’s budget but will rely on unspecified spending cuts and better tax collections from an improved economy to close an estimated $298 million shortfall.

“No new taxes, fines and fees,” Emanuel said in a telephone interview with the Tribune.

And then there was this from Fran Spielman on the Chicago Sun-Times site:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’s decided to hold the line on taxes, fines and fees in his 2013 budget and count on rebounding revenues, continued cost-cutting and dunning deadbeats to erase a revised $298 million shortfall.

“Through the reforms and cuts and efficiencies, we’ll be able to have a budget that’s balanced without any taxes, fines or fees that we control. The only tax that will be dealt with is the employee head tax—and that will be eliminated,” Emanuel said.

I took away a couple of things from this.

First, while Chicago residents can hope for minimal erosion to city services as operations are streamlined and made more “efficient,” there’s a good chance the opposite could happen. “Efficiency” for politicians, bean-counters, and others with minimal contact with the rest of society doesn’t often mean the same for the rest of us end-users on Main Street.

Look for jawboning from City officials to increase more than it already has should municipal services deteriorate.

Second, City of Chicago employees and their respective unions should be concerned. Seriously concerned.

Third, and finally, what kind of economic outlook is being provided to Mayor Emanuel and City Hall? Which is a big deal, as the Mayor is depending quite a bit on an “improved economy” to plug that projected $298 million budget gap. Why is it that the really smart people who correctly-predicted the 2008 global financial crisis- among other events like the U.S. housing crash and “Great Recession”- now warn of a tough 2013 in addition to possible recession and resumption of the economic crisis, while those who didn’t see any of the above coming (or just didn’t want to believe it) are the ones saying that a sustainable economic recovery is in place? Who would you believe? The group that’s already established its “street cred,” or the others who refuse to go away like the rest of their former colleagues who came to accept they’d been discredited and would have to seek another line of work to earn a living?

The Internet sure is a bitch when it comes to leaving a record of one’s bad financial and investing advice.

That being said, I hope economic conditions are indeed favorable in the coming fiscal year for Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago to successfully plug the projected budget deficit without giving away too much in terms of operational integrity and true efficiency.

Sources:

Dardick, Hal. “No new taxes, fines or fees, mayor vows.” Chicago Tribune. 28 Sep. 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-no-new-taxes-fines-or-fees-mayor-vows-20120928,0,6124447.story). 29 Sep. 2012.

Spielman, Fran. “Read Rahm’s lips: No new taxes in next city budget.” Chicago Sun-Times. 28 Sep. 2012. (http://www.suntimes.com/15441323-761/read-rahms-lips-no-new-taxes-in-next-city-budget.html). 29 Sep. 2012.

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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