Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Obama: Recession Unlikely

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama insisted the U.S. is not in danger of falling into another recession, but acknowledged in a televised interview aired Sunday that his re-election will hinge on the economy.

In the interview with CBS News taped last week – after a new Gallup poll found just 26 percent approve of the way he is handling the economy – Obama said, “I’m the president of the United States and when people aren’t happy with what’s happening in Washington … I’m going to be impacted just like Congress is. And you know, I completely understand that and we expected that.”

Another recession unlikely— agree or disagree?

Spence: Dems Should Look In Mirror

Frankly, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for her - particularly when, in a recent interview with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, she assessed her own performance the past three years as “job well done.” What a spectacularly self-serving fantasy. In 1974, after two years of Watergate scandals and the resignation of President Richard Nixon, Republicans only lost 49 House seats. This year, Democrats are on track to lose 63 seats - yet Pelosi has “no regrets.” She feels she did good work. She isn’t alone in that. Other Democratic leaders share her view. Rather than take ownership and accept responsibility — rather than step back and consider the possibility that their arrogant, shove-it-down-the-public’s-throat strategy on health care reform and the perennial “what, me worry?” approach to federal spending may have caused the party’s defeat — they blame the recession/William Spence, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Or congressional Democrats victims of the recession or over-reaching?

Mortgage Down the Drain?

This is a switch in topics for Community Comment.  Let’s talk mortgage.  Remember when your Dad told you that having a mortgage was better than renting.  Remember how it used to be that if you rented, you were essentially just throwing your money down the drain.  A mortgage would build your credit and your equity.  Today, not so much.

arliacne put me onto an article about this very subject.

Although it talks about ordinary home owners with ordinary mortgages that they are keeping up to date, it is true that foreclosures are on the upswing and the recession is still a wild animal out of control.

I have a friend who can barely make her mortgage payment, something that she has faithfully kept up for over 20 years.  But now, when she is squeezing a turnip to try to make ends meet, the mortgage company is unsympathetic and doesn’t want to wait until the 5th of the month, when her husband gets paid, to accept her payment which is due on the 1st of the month.  You can hardly envy her position - she’s damned from the start.  Here she is, trying to pay a mortgage that would build equity and she also can’t give up and start renting because renting has become almost prohibitive.

My son and his wife have put their house up for sale to move to where her job is in Moscow, Idaho.  They have been paying for the house for about 24 months.  The majority of each payment has been in interest - so there is very little equity in the house.  Where’s the value?

Anyway, I thought this was of interest.

Do you feel you are getting the true value for your home and not throwing your money away each month?

~Jeanie~ (Thanks to arliacne for this subject)


Idaho Leading USA Out Of Recession

Texas, North Carolina, Idaho and a handful of other states are leading the nation’s crawl out of the worst recession since the 1930s, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Since the recession officially ended in June 2009, a group of about 10 states that have outperformed the nation almost continuously for 25 or more years again is generating new income at a faster pace than the rest of the nation. … Idaho ranked 10th in personal income growth in the year since the recession’s end, up from 50th among states and Washington, D.C., during the recession. That’s the USA’s biggest rebound/Dennis Cauchon, USA Today. More here.

Question: Surprised?

Forecast: Idaho On Way To Recovery

Idaho is on track for an economic recovery in 2011, according to the state’s latest official forecast - though state lawmakers and the governor set a pessimistic budget for 2011 that requires historic cuts in education. The newest state forecast, issued in May, says, “Idaho’s economic recovery should be well established after this year, entering a period of modest growth beginning in 2011. … It has been awhile, but it is beginning to feel like a recovery.” The forecast is considerably sunnier in tone than the last official state forecast, which was issued in January; that one suggested “cautious optimism” and said, “Admittedly, risks to the economy exist, but it appears the worst is behind us”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Are you better off today than your were when the recession started?

Arpie: Recession Stopped Fancy Dancers

Arpie: Stickman’s comments make me realize how the recession has (at least temporarily saved Sandpoint. The “Fancy Dancers” were just starting to take over town when the recession hit. Now one can drive by mothballed developments, half built marinas and a 15 hole golf course knowing those people won’t be here for a few more years. It’s been refreshing to go out on the town these days- say to a movie or a concert at the Panida and see people you know and people dressed north Idaho style instead of the fancy dancers.

Question: Does it bother you that developments such as John Stone’s Riverstone expansion are on hold as a result of the recession? Or are you relieved that the recession has slowed down the onslaught of the fancy dancers?

Full economic recovery still years off

The economic recovery is on the horizon, but it will take four years or longer to erase the stain of the recession, an economist and a marketing professional told business and community leaders in Spokane this morning.

“I’m reasonably, vaguely optimistic” the Inland Northwest is headed into a recovery, said Grant Forsyth, professor of economics at Eastern Washington University.

This will be a modest year of employment growth, Forsyth predicted. The unemployment rate in the Spokane area will remain around 9 percent through 2010, he said.

The region also can expect little wage growth this year, he told a gathering hosted by Greater Spokane Incorporated at The Davenport Hotel.

Forsyth said the economy here is turning around, but he estimated it will take until summer 2013 to reach the employment peak seen in March 2008.

How does your income stack up?

Where do you rank as a taxpayer? You may not feel rich earning $35,000 a year, but you’re in the top half of taxpayers. Make $70,000, and you earn more than 75 percent of fellow taxpayers.

….More than 40 million Americans are officially living in poverty. And you might be surprised at how little income it takes to not be considered poor by the federal government. For 2008, the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65 was an income of $11,201, or less than $1,000 a month. For a family of four, the threshold was $21,834. For a family of six, $28,769. Full story.


Post Falls To Seek 2% Tax Hike

Item: Time to trim: Post Falls plans 2 percent property tax hike amid revenue decline/Brian Walker, Press

More Info: Keck said the city will see an overall decline in revenues due to the recession, but the budget includes a proposed 2 percent increase (3 percent is allowed) in the local property tax rate that will generate $182,506 more than the current year.

Question: Should local government increase taxes in the current recessionary climate?

Minnick: Slow Recovery Ahead

Item: Minnick foresees slow recovery: Expect another year of job losses and budget woes, the congressman tells Boise business leaders/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman.

More Info: U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick said Tuesday that he sees hopeful signs in construction, real estate and retail sales that justify “cautious optimism” for recovery. But Minnick warned the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce that unemployment will rise, commercial foreclosures will escalate, and governments will face budget woes. “The next 12 months are going to be very difficult and people are going to be very impatient, because the economy is like the Queen Mary and the Queen Mary is headed south right now,” said Minnick, D-Idaho. “It’s going to take a long time to swing it around to the point where economic growth is noticeable to the average person.”

Question: How much longer do you expect our economy to be in the tank?

How happy are we? Miserable

You may have heard of the Misery Index — a measure developed during the 1970s that essentially adds the unemployment rates to the inflation to come up with a larger picture of the economy.

Now there’s the Happiness Index, developed at Mainstreet.com. It’s a similar kind of thing — it takes a state’s non-mortgage debt, bankruptcies and unemployment rate and comes up with a measure of that state’s fiscal happiness.

The bad news: Washington and Idaho are scoring low on the Happiness Index, at Nos. 42 and 43, respectively.

Top of the list is Nebraska, followed by other Midwestern states. At the bottom was Oregon, though the indexers cautioned that the fortunes of any given state could change:

There are some interesting trends that can be gleaned from the Happiness Index. Not surprisingly, many of the states that experienced a boom during the housing bubble have more recently fallen by the wayside with increased foreclosures and debt.

Just as the U.S. economy evolves, so too will the MainStreet.com Happiness Index. Although Oregon currently falls at the bottom of our list, the state is well positioned for a boost in the future due to its potential for an influx of green jobs.

The opposite case can be made for Nebraska, which could fall from the top of the list with time. Its economy relies heavily on corn production, which is subsidized by the government to create corn ethanol - an alternative energy source. But the future of corn ethanol is uncertain.

New recession index: facial hair

The typical hallmarks of this recession are well-known: unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies…

Now you can add beards — at least for some men. The rise of the “recession beard” has drawn commentary in some quarters, and now there’s a contest for the best recession beard at WalletPop, the frugal-living web site. The rules are pretty simple: to enter, a man must be unemployed and bearded.

WalletPop attempts to answer the question: why beards?

The consensus opinion seems to be that unemployment offers the beard grower a greater level of freedom to experiment with his appearance. Many workplaces frown on facial hair, and those that allow it often have rules about length and cut. As unemployment releases the worker from the strictures of the office, the theory goes, he can use his newfound freedom as an opportunity to explore his chin locks.This theory explains a lot, but barely shaves the surface of the phenomenon. It completely ignores the evolutionary power of whiskers. Facial hair is a visible, outward sign of one’s masculinity; by growing beards, unemployed workers suggest that, evidence to the contrary, they have not been “unmanned” by their recent job troubles.

Frank talk for kids

Are your kids worried about the economy?

You may assume they’re not. But if you are, chances are decent that they’re feeling your anxiety and wondering what’s going on. Teen-agers, especially, are mature enough to be scared — and to be given some straight talk about your situation.

A report from Money magazine says that an up-front discussion with your teenagers is a chance to allay their fears and teach them values about economic life.

The biggest question on your kids’ minds is probably: What does this mean to me? Answer this as straightforwardly as you can. “You don’t want to convey anxiety, just the facts,” says Gresham, who specializes in financial issues. Start with what’s not at risk: their allowance, say, or your ability to pay the mortgage. …

Then say what could be vulnerable: your job, for example, or your ability to cover all their college costs. Tell them exactly how you plan to cope. “You can’t just say, ‘We’re going to be okay,’ ” says New York City psychologist Marlin Potash, who focuses on money and relationships. “You must explain why you’re going to be okay.”

Tax tips for tough times

For people who are feeling the direct effects of the recession — whether it’s a foreclosure or a drop in pay — this year’s tax season brings some changes.

The New York Times has collected a list of 10 tax tips for people hurt by the economy. Among the suggestions: Scour your circumstances for potential deductions, such as:

If you’re on the hunt for a new job, many of your costs may also be deductible, as long as you itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. Deductible expenses include résumé paper, printing, travel expenses, long-distance calls and faxes, postage, even meals and lodging expenses. But job expenses are considered a miscellaneous deduction, which means you can only deduct costs that exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. Since other expenses can also be included in the miscellaneous bucket — from tax preparation fees to work uniforms — be sure you’re including them all, said George Jones, a senior tax analyst at CCH.

Why not just give me $10,000?

This may be a little macro for this blog, but CNN.com has put together a good Q-and-A about the economic stimulus package. If you’re trying to get your mind around some of this stuff, it’s a good place to start.

The post starts with a question that a lot of us have asked: Instead of giving huge sums to banks, why not give $10,000 to each family in the country? Wouldn’t that stimulate the economy?

Two economists answer. One, Lakshman Achuthan, managing director, Economic Cycle Research Institute, is dubious about the $10,000 plan.

“The government could give money to you or me, and that would create demand, which could be a very good way to break the recession. But you and I are not very confident about the economy, and if you think about what I’ll do, there’s a good chance I’m going to save it.

But the government is looking to have that money get spent and to have it multiplied somehow. Our economy is based on people spending money. So people saving money doesn’t help.”