AMERICA IS IN FOR SOME HARD DAYS AHEAD!———–“The Obama administration expects the federal deficit over the next decade to be $2 trillion bigger than previously estimated, White House officials said Friday, a setback for a president already facing a Congress and public wary over spending.—“It is easy to find the courage necessary to support a moral position if that position benefits oneself. True moral courage, however, is proven when one chooses to support that which is morally and ethically right even when such a position is to one’s one detriment.

The people of the United States find themselves in such a position right now, forced to choose between a moral and ethical position that carries with it the potential for “inconvenience”, or supporting the status quo and having to admit to themselves that they are not the champions of justice they imagine themselves to be. By the end of this article, you will know for yourself which one you are.”

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The new projection, to be announced on Tuesday, is for a cumulative 2010-2019 deficit of $9 trillion instead of the $7 trillion previously estimated. The new figure reflects slumping revenues from a worse economic picture than was expected earlier this year. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity ahead of next week’s announcement.

Ten-year forecasts are volatile figures subject to change over time. But the higher number will likely create political difficulties for President Barack Obama in Congress and could create anxiety with foreign buyers of U.S. debt.

Earlier this week, the White House revealed that it expects a budget deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 to be nearly $1.6 trillion. That figure was lower than initially projected because the White House scratched out $250 billion that it had initially added to the budget as a bank rescue contingency. The administration ultimately did not ask Congress for that money.

Still that number, together with the 10-year projection, represents a huge obstacle for an administration trying to undertake massive policy overhauls in health care and the environment.

Economists predict a slow recovery from the recession, further testing Obama’s goal of cutting the deficit to $512 billion in 2013. Even as he seeks higher revenues to pay for new climate change and health care measures, the president could face pressure to increase revenues or make deep spending cuts to tame the deficit.

Earlier long-term estimates released in February and May relied on now-outdated projections of economic growth. Then, the White House predicted the economy would shrink by 1.2 percent this year, but the economy shrank 6.4 percent in the first quarter, the worst in nearly three decades.

Both the White House and the Congressional Budget Office scheduled announcements for Tuesday on their new budget estimates. Relying on more pessimistic economic projections than the White House, the CBO earlier this year predicted deficits totaling $9.1 trillion over 2010-19. Those predictions were based on expectations that the economy would shrink by 2.2 percent this year.

In its earlier projections, the White House said the deficit would be manageable if it slides to 3 percent of gross domestic product. Earlier projections barely met that standard — even after relying on optimistic assumptions like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costing $50 billion a year instead of the $130 billion budgeted for 2010.

Now, the deficits could easily exceed 4 percent of GDP, even after cost-cutting efforts or new revenues claimed in Obama’s budget.

Such deficits have always prompted Congress and the White House to take politically painful steps to curb them, such as former President Bill Clinton’s tax-heavy 1993 deficit reduction plan. A companion effort by Obama could force him to break his promise to not raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/08/19/national/w165507D80.DTL&tsp=1#ixzz0OyELFuRS”————“What rebound? Foreclosures rise as jobs and income drop
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Story | Florida leads nation in distressed mortgages
Story | Forget about economic recovery without housing recovery
Story | Homeowners tell how banks failed to modify mortgages
Story | More nightmares from the world of mortgage modifications
Story | No surprise here: Fewer Americans own their own home
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By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Delinquency and foreclosure rates for U.S. mortgages continued to rise in the second quarter, with loans to the most qualified borrowers going bust at an unnerving clip, especially in hard-hit states such as Florida and California.

The numbers reported Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association show clearly that rising job losses are worsening the nation’s housing troubles and threaten the Obama administration’s efforts to keep owners from losing their homes.

The quarterly National Delinquency Survey showed that almost one in 10 homeowners with a mortgage was at least one payment late, and thus delinquent, while another 4 percent had entered the foreclosure process on their loan.

Nowhere is there less sunshine in this picture than Florida. The survey found that from April to June, 12 percent of all Florida mortgages were in the foreclosure process and about 23 percent of all Florida mortgages_ almost one in four_ were late on payments or under threat of foreclosure.

In California, 10.8 percent of all mortgages were 90 days or more past due or in foreclosure. While the Golden State accounts for 13.3 percent of U.S. mortgages, it’s also the site of almost 20 percent of foreclosure starts from April to June.

More worrisome is a trend emerging deeper in the numbers: Subprime loans given to the weakest borrowers are now a declining portion of delinquency and foreclosure rates, while prime loans, given to the most highly qualified borrowers, are a rising share.

“The rise in prime delinquencies . . . is a clear indication that employment is the driver of mortgage performance, with the worst performance coming in those areas that are combining jobs losses with large drops in home values like California and Florida,” Jay Brinkmann, the group’s chief economist, told McClatchy. “We won’t see a turnaround in delinquencies until we see improvements in employment, most likely the middle of next year.”

Forty-one states notched a rise in their foreclosure rate for prime fixed-rate mortgages in the second quarter, and prime fixed-rate loans accounted for one in three foreclosure starts. A year ago they were one in five starts.

Prime fixed-rate loans are 65 percent of all U.S. mortgages outstanding, but more than 32 percent of foreclosure starts from April to June. They also constitute 27 percent of all U.S. loans now in foreclosure, up from 17 percent in the comparable 2008 period.

The rising delinquency and foreclosure rate for prime loans creates new problems for the Obama administration, which inherited a complicated housing situation.

The administration has unveiled a number of incentives for lenders and mortgage servicers, who collect mortgage payments on behalf of investors, to modify distressed mortgages by refinancing into lower rates or lowering monthly payments.

The Making Home Affordable effort, however, is geared toward borrowers who have jobs and income. The increased rate of delinquency and foreclosure on prime fixed-rate loans reflects massive job losses occurring nationwide. Workers losing jobs won’t qualify for housing help.

“The reason people are defaulting on these (loans) is they simply don’t have income, and there aren’t any loan modification programs for someone who does not have income,” said Rick Sharga, the vice president of the Irvine, Calif., firm RealtyTrac, which specializes in foreclosure research.

The trend will grow worse.

“The rising levels of unemployment will probably, over the next nine to 12 months, become the primary impetus for foreclosure activity,” Sharga said. “That’s the wave that is just starting to hit and we’re just starting to see the problems now.”

There was more bad news on the employment front Thursday, with the Labor Department reporting for a second consecutive week an unexpected rise in initial jobless claims. The 576,000 claims last week, following 561,000 the week before, likely sets up a bad employment report for August after a July reprieve.

The unemployment rate stood at 9.4 percent in July but is expected to peak above 10 percent. That means more foreclosures, which will put a drag on recovery.

“It will definitely slow down the housing market a bit, which will have a corollary effect on the overall economy coming back” to life, Sharga said.


MBA findings

Homeowners tell how banks failed to modify mortgages

More nightmares from the world of mortgage modification


To ask a question about this story or any economic question, go to McClatchy’s economy Q&A

Florida leads nation in home foreclosures

Fighting false health care claims, Obama repeats one of his own

Out-of-network costs cripple many patients financially

New limits on credit card issuers begin to take effect (finally)

McClatchy Newspapers 2009″————————————–

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The limits of US influenceWith rising debt and a stretched military, America is no longer a superpower. Its promises to aid allies overseas ring hollow
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Stanley Kober guardian.co.uk, Thursday 20 August 2009 20.00 BST Article historyDuring his recent trip to Georgia and Ukraine, vice-president Joe Biden assured them the United States would not recognise any spheres of influence. Countries can “choose their own partnerships and their own alliances”. In short, Nato membership is still open.

That position has a certain nobility. It is, however, wildly unrealistic.

In the first place, spheres of influence exist, even if some choose to not recognise them. The power of a state is like gravity: it has its greatest influence on those objects closest to it. As a saying popular in this hemisphere goes: “Poor Mexico: so far from God, so close to the United States.”

The most dangerous crisis of the cold war, the Soviet placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba, was settled on the basis of mutual acknowledgement of spheres of influence. Moscow agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba after the US provided assurances that it would remove similar missiles from Turkey. Even though Turkey was a member of Nato, the US in effect recognised that, at least for this purpose, it was within a Soviet sphere of influence.

If Georgia or Ukraine has a confrontation with Russia, there is not much the US can do. There are certain realities of geography that present military technology simply cannot overcome. They border Russia, and the US is far away.

American promises would be as valuable as the French assurances to Poland before the second world war. It is not well known, but France had pledged to launch an attack on Germany within 15 days of any German attack on Poland. Unfortunately for the Poles, the French promise was not serious. When Germany invaded, France declared war – and did nothing.

Placed in a similar circumstance, that is what the US would do – nothing. The US would do nothing because there is nothing it can do. Geography cannot be changed. In addition, American forces are now fully engaged. In order to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan, the US will have to reduce them in Iraq. Apparently, 200,000 American troops are now all that can be deployed in combat theatres at any one time.

For all the talk about the lone superpower, that number needs to be kept in mind. In Vietnam, the US deployed 500,000 in theatre at the peak, with a smaller population, and was not responding to an attack on its territory.

Today the US can deploy far fewer troops. Something has changed in American society. With defence spending increasing to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, George Bush did not even propose a way to pay for the war, either through raising taxes or by cutting other expenditures. No war bonds were issued. The country just quietly accumulated debt.

A political judgment was made: the American people were told to go shopping. The war would not touch the general public. Only an honoured few would bear the burden.

The US did not take war seriously, but was not alone in underestimating the costs and complications of war. After 9/11, Nato invoked Article 5 to show its solidarity with the United States. Nato forces took increasing responsibility in Afghanistan. Thinking the war had been won, they focused on postwar reconstruction.

But as the fighting has intensified and their casualties have mounted, public support for the Afghanistan mission has sagged. “No one will say this publicly, but the true fact is that we are all talking about our exit strategy from Afghanistan,” a senior European diplomat revealed during last April’s Nato summit. “We are getting out. It may take a couple of years, but we are all looking to get out.”

When the cold war ended, the US concluded that its power was overwhelming. The appearance of relatively easy victories in the first Gulf war and in the Balkans reinforced that conviction.

But those triumphs now seem the exception, rather than the rule. Americans thought all their enemies in the future would crumble the way enemies in the 1990s did. They were wrong.

And yet the US continues to make promises. And people will believe in them. And if they get in trouble, they will wonder why the US does not help them.

It is time to be honest – with Americans, and those that depend on their promises.”——

“The Fall of America


The Dreadful Times of America

1 America, and especially North America, has entered into the time that was predicted by Moses and the prophets between him and Jesus. In the 24th chapter of Matthew there is a prophecy made by Jesus of the present time of America, without mentioning her name.

2 He referred to the country as a world, because this part of the earth is referred to in many places, by prophets and by Jesus himself, as a wilderness. The name America is not yet 500 years old, so the prophets referred to it as a wilderness in their prophecy.

3 It is terrible. I use the word “terrible” because it is not a thing that can be described as something mild, or something that is moving slowly, nor something that can be recognized as easily by the common people.

4 It is clear to all who can see that America has reached the stage about which she always has been warned. She always has wanted to keep it a secret, because of her so-called Negro slaves.

5 She never desired for the slave to know too much of what was in store for her, because of her enslaving and mistreating her slaves. She has reared them for the past 400 years — and she knows them. She knows how they think and how they react to her teachings, and she knows their fear of her. She knows her slaves, but the slaves do not know America — their slavemaster.

6 The great, dreadful and awful day (doom) is now in the doors and windows of America, and of the church — the religion of America. As long as Christianity worked, America thought she was safe, because it is one of the most deceiving and outright misleading religions of the world.

7 Allah (God) taught me that, if carefully examined, everything in the religion of Christianity is designed to make a slave out of Black people. If Christianity was in a wet rag and wrung out, every drop would write slavery for the Black man.

8 The world knows this now but the spiritually blinded, deaf and dumb American so-called Negroes, to whom I am calling and appealing to reason. I am calling them to reason with me on the truth and their own salvation, that is now in truth of self and kind and of the enemy of self.

9 There will not be an end to the clashes between Black and white America — and throughout the world — until wrong, evil, murdering, deceiving and robbing the poor Black man of the earth, is destroyed and righteousness and justice are practiced.

10 This is the day of God Almighty to set up justice and equality throughout the earth. He is to free the Black man — the American so-called Negro — from his deceitful, evil and murderous enemies.

11 America wishes to oppose Allah (God) in this work of bringing justice and freedom to her once slaves, but this is just what Allah (God) wants. He (Allah) wants America to attack Him, to get the fight started and to bring His judgment against her with the fullness of His strength and power.

12 America is bringing about political gloom. Here politicians are unable to carve out a future for America. The plan of deceiving the so-called Negro politicians to work against their own freedom, justice and equality (salvation) that Allah (God) has brought to them, is making the so-called Negroes in high offices become the enemy of his own people’s freedom, justice and equality.

13 Such offices are held out as a bribe to get Black politicians to work against the spread of the truth of their salvation. They are happy — and their boss knows that they are — to have a place near him in such offices just for the purpose of trying to oppose Allah and His Messenger in freeing the poor Black man who is in the mud.

14 This is causing the political confusion and complete destruction of the house divided against itself.

15 I am asking, in the name of Allah, that the American government agree on the separation of her once slaves and their master. Of course, Allah (God) is sufficient.

16 We want a home on this earth we can call our own. We do not want to be slaves anymore to white people. We do not want to be free “Uncle Toms” for white people. We want to do something for self and go for self. However, America, with her blind, deaf and dumb politicians and clergy class of the so-called Negroes, will bring a swift destruction upon their heads, along with the doom that is inevitable against the enemy.

17 It is not twenty years in the future — nor fifteen years. Let no one deceive you. It is here at our doors now. The dreadful plagues and confusion of America are beginning to boil. Their fuel making it boil will not cease until it is boiled down to the last of the dregs.

18 The present promise of a better future that America is making to the so-called Negroes will prove to be false. All of her false promises to the American so-called Negroes, will be short-lived by both — because the time of her doom has approached. America would have to do a miraculous thing of justice (a square deal) to turn it back.

19 A fantastic show of tempting the Negro to filth and evil will not work. It takes justice to work, to postpone the dreadful days of America. America’s loss of world friendship is speeding her doom.”

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