More than 8 million consumers stopped using credit cards over the past year. The decline stems from a combination of consumer choices and bank actions.
An analysis by credit reporting agency TransUnion found that use of general purpose credit cards bearing MasterCard or Visa logos, or issued by Discover or American Express, fell more than 11 percent in the third quarter, compared with the July to September period last year.
About 62 million people now have an active card, compared with 70 million a year ago.
The Chicago company found that consumers in the subprime category, or those with low credit ratings, were believed to be without cards mostly because they were shut down by banks after payments fell behind or balances were written off.
Lion Fund Management Co. will raise up to $500 million in China to invest in overseas exchange- traded funds backed by gold, the first in the country be approved to do so, a company executive said today.
The fund manager has received approval from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange and the China Securities Regulatory Commission, Yang Zi, an executive at Lion Fund’s marketing deparment said by phone from Beijing. Both retail and institutional investors can buy into the fund via banks, she said.
“We will be the first fund in China to offer an access to invest in overseas gold-backed ETFs,” Yang said. “Given the inflationary environment we are in right now, Chinese investors have great enthusiasm for gold investments.”
China doesn’t have a gold-backed ETF and investors normally buy physical gold jewelry, bars or coins, or invest through gold contracts traded on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, the Shanghai Futures Exchange or through banks.
Lawmakers will get a chance Monday to undo a piece of health care reform that businesses big and small say will cost jobs.
The Senate is set to consider whether to repeal the new requirement that businesses notify the Internal Revenue Service of purchases over $600.
The provision was adopted in March as part of the massive health care reform law.
Starting in 2012, businesses will be required to issue 1099 tax forms not only to contracted workers (as they already do) but also to any individual or corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a year.
By now, most are familiar with Wikileaks, a web site that openly releases confidential documents and videos from businesses and foreign governments (namely the USA).
Next up for the international web site operator Julian Assange, who has been condemned by many as an Enemy of the State: Assange intends to bring down a major financial institution.
If that particular institution deserves it, then we can only hope that itÃ¢â¬â¢s true:
The following interview excerpt was conducted by Andy Greenberg of Forbes. The interviewee is Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks.
YouÃ¢â¬â¢ve been focused on the U.S. military mostly in the last year. Does that mean you have private sector-focused leaks in the works?
Yes. If you think about it, we have a publishing pipeline thatÃ¢â¬â¢s increasing linearly, and an exponential number of leaks, so weÃ¢â¬â¢re in a position where we have to prioritize our resources so that the biggest impact stuff gets released first.
So do you have very high impact corporate stuff to release then?
Yes, but maybe not as high impactÃ¢â¬Â¦I mean, it could take down a bank or two.
That sounds like high impact.
But not as big an impact as the history of a whole war. But it depends on how you measure these things.
These megaleaks, as you call them that, we havenÃ¢â¬â¢t seen any of those from the private sector.
No, not at the same scale for the military.
Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, thatÃ¢â¬â¢s a megaleak. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but itÃ¢â¬â¢s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.
Is it a U.S. bank?
Yes, itÃ¢â¬â¢s a U.S. bank.
One that still exists?
Yes, a big U.S. bank.
The biggest U.S. bank?
When will it happen?
Early next year. I wonÃ¢â¬â¢t say more.
What do you want to be the result of this release?
[Pauses] IÃ¢â¬â¢m not sure.
It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume.
Usually when you get leaks at this level, itÃ¢â¬â¢s about one particular case or one particular violation. For this, thereÃ¢â¬â¢s only one similar example. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s like the Enron emails. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed, through court processes, thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal, and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations.
This will be like that. Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that cames out, and thatÃ¢â¬â¢s tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.
You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But itÃ¢â¬â¢s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight thatÃ¢â¬â¢s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think theyÃ¢â¬â¢re fulfilling their own self-interest. The way they talk about it.
Love him or hate him, very few people in this world are willing to take the kind of risks Julian Assange takes by releasing confidential and secret documents from governments, military, and private industry.
Given that Assange has managed to carry through with the release of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents on more than one occasion, we suspect that there are several executives at financial institutions getting ready for the shit to seriously hit the fan come first quarter 2011.
Maybe, just maybe, some of those responsible for ripping off the American people will soon be held to account.
Parents of children attending a N.C. elementary school say theyÃ¢â¬â¢re baffled by a letter they received from the school district requiring doctorsÃ¢â¬â¢ notes for Chapstick, the Charlotte Observer reported Thursday.
Ã¢â¬ÅI just donÃ¢â¬â¢t see how Chapstick can even remotely be perceived as medicine,Ã¢â¬Â said Stephanie Boyd, a parent at West View Elementary School. Ã¢â¬ÅIs it me or has common sense just gone out the window lately? They seem to ban something new every single year.Ã¢â¬Â
Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Terri Sessoms defended the bizarre mandate, stating that the crackdown on contraband lip balm (and, cough drops)ÃÂ is being enforced by the county health department in response to concerns allegedly expressed by kidsÃ¢â¬â¢ parents.
President Barack Obama will announce a two-year pay freeze for federal employees that the White House says is necessary to put the country on sound fiscal footing.
The White House said Monday that the freeze would apply to all civilian federal employees, including those working at the Department of Defense, but would not affect military personnel. The freeze will save $2 billion during fiscal year 2011, according to the White House.
Obama is expected to announce the pay freeze at the White House later Monday.
The chairman of Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission has proposed a three-year freeze in pay for most federal employees as part of its plan to reduce the nation’s growing deficit. The commission’s final report is due to be released later this week.
The Plan B, it appears, is to generate a war between amongst the Korean peoples. Nope, not as good as getting the whole planetary populace whipped up about the Israeli’s and Jews versus the Farsi and Islamists, but hey? what can you do…it’s a plan B. Ok, so mostly Korea is too far away from the energy (oil) center of the planet, (note that location matters to tptw in their majic plots, so to have to move their war is quite irritating indeed), and outside the usual emotional framework of the hundreds of millions of sheeple that tptw (the powers that were) are trying to herd, but what the hell. In cases of desperation, you take what you can get.
So they are trying to promote this latest [nu-war] effort into their [coup-de-grace] that would, in their twisted reptilian minds, lead to WW3, then the N W O, and their wet dream of the great harvest of souls.
They are desperately working their Plan B, this is, by the way, their response to the Chinese submarine continental ballistic missile signal off the coast of California. All this shit is connected…in case you were not paying attention. The Plan B, again as an aside, is no where near their ideal energy draining control-of-planetary-humans optimum, and they, that is the former powers-that-be, are in a desperate, and intensely fearful state, as they realize just how shaky their position has become. They know they are in deep and sinking fast.
So look for them to be both stupid, and careless.
Since the former-powers-that-be are trapped in ritualistic, even reptilian, thinking, they will re-run one of their previous hits, which is to say, expect another ‘gulf of tonkin’ incident. Only this time in the seas off of Korea, and considerably more violent. In fact, judging from our emotional quantifiers and the steady erosion of emotional tone sums within the FPTB (Former ThePowersThatBe) entity in our modelspace, they will likely have to pretty much totally destroy at least 1/one large, American carrier group in the Gulf Of Tonkin Incident, Part Deaux.
Now please note…if you are ignorant of what the Gulf of Tonkin Incident is, and how it affected your life and the social fabric of the planet, you should go look it up now. We will wait till you get back…
Judge Napolitano, Tom Woods (author of Nullification), Libertarian professor Randy Barnett, and conservative radio host Monica Crowley discuss States’ rights and whether or not the Constitution allows for the process of nullification, which would allow States to nullify Federal laws like Obamacare and the Patriot Act.
Given all the negative news, one would think a dollar collapse is imminent.ÃÂ Such a scenario would send the price of nearly everything into the stratosphere in a matter of weeks.
But donÃ¢â¬â¢t go running for the hills just yetÃ¢â¬Â¦
The rug may get pulled out from underneath the U.S. Dollar bears.
The debt problems in Europe are coming to boil again.ÃÂ Ireland is begrudgingly accepting a bailout and now Portugal and Spain are coming into focus.ÃÂ The whole situation is a nightmare for the European Union.
The last time we saw this type of stress was when Greece was on the ropes.ÃÂ In early 2010, there were fears of Greece buckling under debt pressures.ÃÂ The news sent the Euro plummeting downward for months.ÃÂ Of course, this sent the U.S. Dollar surging to the upside.
Are we about to see a big break higher in the dollar?
If you take a look at a monthly chart of the U.S. Dollar Index, youÃ¢â¬â¢ll see something interestingÃ¢â¬Â¦
Take a look at the green trendline.ÃÂ This is a rising support zone the dollar has reacted off in the past.ÃÂ Notice how the dollar is finishing strongly to the upside in recent weeks (blue circle).
We saw the same thing in December of 2009Ã¢â¬Â¦
You can see what happened the last time the dollar hit this support area. It went up for months and made dollar bulls some nice returns.ÃÂ Meanwhile, the bears were sent into hibernation licking their wounds.
A mass exodus of North Korean workers from the Far East of Russia is under way, according to reports coming out of the region. As the two Koreas edged towards the brink of war this week, it appears that the workers in Russia have been called back to aid potential military operations.
Vladnews agency, based in Vladivostok, reported that North Korean workers had left the town of Nakhodka en masse shortly after the escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula earlier this week. “Traders have left the kiosks and markets, workers have abandoned building sites, and North Korean secret service employees working in the region have joined them and left,” the agency reported.
Is this the case that will break the presidential eligibility question wide open?
The Supreme Court conferred today on whether arguments should be heard on the merits of Kerchner v. Obama, a case challenging whether President Barack Obama is qualified to serve as president because he may not be a “natural-born citizen” as required by Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution.
Unlike other eligibility cases that have reached the Supreme Court, Kerchner vs. Obama focuses on the “Vattel theory,” which argues that the writers of the Constitution believed the term “natural-borncitizen” to mean a person born in the United States to parents who were both American citizens.
“This case is unprecedented,” said Mario Apuzzo, the attorney bringing the suit. “I believe we presented an ironclad case. We’ve shown standing, and we’ve shown the importance of the issue for the Supreme Court. There’s nothing standing in their way to grant us a writ of certiorari.”
If the Supreme Court decides to grant the “writ of certiorari,” it may direct a federal trial court in New Jersey to hear the merits of the case, or it may choose to hear the merits itself. The court’s decision on the writ could be announced as early as Wednesday.
The debt crisis in Europe escalated sharply Friday as investors dumped Spanish and Portuguese bonds in panicked selling, substantially heightening the prospect that one or both countries may need to join troubled Ireland and Greece in soliciting international bailouts.
The draining confidence in Western Europe’s weakest economies threatened to upend bond markets, destabilize the euro and drag out the global economic recovery if it is not quickly contained. It also underscored the mounting problems facing countries that during the past decade have both over-borrowed and overspent, and are now in danger of losing investor faith in their ability to make good on their massive piles of debt.
The perceived risk of debt defaults in Portugal and Spain drove their borrowing costs to near-record highs Friday, with the interest rate demanded on Portuguese bonds at a point where it could effectively cut the Lisbon government off from raising fresh cash to run the country.
As a result, Portugal was coming under pressure to immediately request a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Officials in Lisbon responded by pushing through a painful round of budget cuts meant to reassure investors and rejected claims that they needed an emergency lifeline. Italian and Belgian borrowing costs also rose Friday.
The bigger fears, however, surrounded eroding confidence in Spain, whose faltering economy is more than twice the size of the Greek, Irish and Portuguese economies combined – meaning that a bailout there could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.
President Barack Obama needed 12 stitches in his lip after taking an errant elbow during a pickup basketball game Friday with a group of family and friends visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House said.
First word of the injury came in a statement from press secretary Robert Gibbs nearly three hours after the incident saying that Obama was inadvertently struck by someone’s elbow. The individual was not identified.
Obama received the stitches under local anesthesia in the doctor’s office on the ground floor White House after he returned home. Doctors used a smaller filament than typically used, which increases the number of stitches but makes a tighter stitch and leaves a smaller scar.
The president had gone to nearby Fort McNair to indulge in one of his favorite athletic pursuits, a game of basketball. It was a five-on-five contest involving family and friends. Among the players were Obama’s nephew Avery Robinson, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Reggie Love, Obama’s personal assistant who played at Duke University.
The White House said none of those named caused the injury, which happened during their fifth and final game when the unidentified player turned to take a shot and hit Obama, who was playing defense, in the mouth with his elbow.
The Wall Street insider trading investigation may lead everyday investors Ã¢â¬â already rattled by a stock market meltdown, a one-day “flash crash” and the Madoff scandal Ã¢â¬â to finally conclude that the game is rigged.
“A large part of trading has to do with trust, and I don’t have it,” says Mark Swenson, a 43-year-old plumber from New Hampshire who refuses to buy individual stocks.
“When a stock moves up 10 percent, you don’t know why,” he added. “We can pretend that everyone has access to the same information, but they don’t.”
Even before news broke that federal investigators were looking into whether hedge funds traded on inside information, small-time investors were pulling their money out of stocks Ã¢â¬â despite a remarkable run for the market since the spring of 2009.
Americans have pulled $60 billion out of U.S. stock funds this year, according to the Investment Company Institute, a trade group. Meanwhile, investors have piled money into Treasuries and bond funds that are considered safer investments, even if they don’t return as much money. And at the same time, banks like Wells Fargo have reported that money is moving into checking and savings accounts.