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PFTF May 2 2012 Big Rant about the economy
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Post PFTF May 2 2012 Big Rant about the economy
Ontario electricity rates going up


Get ready for a heftier hydro bill. Ontario residents will start paying more for electricity starting Tuesday.

A typical household using 800 kilowatt hours a month will see the 'electricity' line on their hydro bill increase by nearly $6, while consumers using smart meters — or time-of-use pricing — will see an increase of about $4.

The Ontario Energy Board, which reviews the rates twice a year, said prices are changing as coal-fired generation declines and is replaced with natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy.

But critics say the governing Liberals' expensive foray into wind and solar power is the main culprit behind higher hydro rates.

Ontario pays up to 80.2 cents a kilowatt hour for small rooftop solar power and 13.5 cents per kWh for wind power.

Ontario Power Generation, the government-owned utility, is paid 5.6 cents a kWh for nuclear power and between two cents and 3.5 cents per kWh for power from its hydro-electric facilities.

Residential consumers pay between 6.2 cents and 10.8 cents a kWh.

High electricity rates will drive away businesses that Ontario needs to grow its economy, said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

"It's hitting families hard in the pocketbook and it's chasing jobs out of the province," he said.

"We're on the wrong path. We just can't afford to keep paying 10 times the price of power for wind and solar."

Energy Minister Chris Bentley said the rate increase mainly reflects the cost of upgrading Ontario's electricity system, not what the province pays for green power.

"The reality is that very little of the price increase we see is as a result of the renewable energy approach," he said. "That will come on more in the future."

The province announced in March that it would lower the guaranteed rate for wind and solar power, but the reduced rates only apply to new contracts.

Thousands of contracts were approved during the first two years of the feed-in-tariff program at the higher rates that will last for 20 years.

Electricity rates will continue to rise, but there are many factors at work, including inflation and investments in conservation, transmission and distribution, said Elise Herzig, president and CEO of the Ontario Energy Association.

Green energy is only a small portion of the May rate increase, she said. Last year, only three per cent of Ontario's power came from wind and solar.

"But they will be the bulk of the cost increases over the next five years," Herzig added.

In 2010, the government warned that hydro bills would jump 46 per cent over five years and green energy would be responsible for 56 per cent of that increase.

Nuclear power is another reason why hydro rates are going up, according to the New Democrats.

Consumers who are still paying for Ontario's last nuclear build will see prices go up again when the government moves ahead with its $26-billion plan to refurbish its aging nuclear fleet, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

"If people think that we're refurbishing Darlington for free, then they have another thing coming," she said.

"It's costing billions of dollars for new nuclear builds on the horizon and, of course, we know that these projects never come in on time and they never come in on budget."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/s ... rates.html



Energy sector earnings help boost TSX, traders look to U.S. manufacturing data


TORONTO - Strong earnings from the energy sector helped push the Toronto stock market slightly higher Tuesday.

Traders also digested positive Chinese manufacturing data and looked ahead to the release of a key American economic barometer.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 7.29 points to 12,299.98 while the TSX Venture Exchange was up 3.13 points to 1,427.16.

Shares in Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU.TO - News), Canada’s largest energy company, were up 65 cents to $33.28. The company booked quarterly operating earnings, which are adjusted for one-time items, of $1.33 billion, or 85 cents per share. That beat the average estimate of 81 cents per share.

Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (TSX:COS.TO - News) said first-quarter profits were $321 million, or 66 cents per share, down from $324 million, or 67 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue was $1.04 billion, up from $1.01 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were on average expecting earnings of 54 cents per share and revenue of $944 million.

The Canadian dollar declined 0.04 of a cent to 101.18 cents US. The dip followed a slide of almost three-quarters of a cent Monday after data showed the Canadian economy contracted by 0.2 per cent in February, which suggested to traders that the Bank of Canada would be in no rush to raise key interest rates.

U.S. markets were mainly weak ahead of the release of the Institute for Supply Management's index on manufacturing. The ISM report is expected to show continued expansion of the sector, but at a slower pace. Economists expected the index to come in at 53, down slightly from the March reading of 53.4.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 12.94 points to 13,200.69.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.74 points to 3,050.1 while the S&P 500 index added 0.09 of a point to 1,398.

Meanwhile, China’s manufacturing sector expanded for a fifth straight month in April.

The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Tuesday that its purchasing managers index, or PMI, rose 0.2 percentage points to 53.3 per cent in April, up from March’s 53.1 and February’s 51.0.

The world’s second biggest economy has been an important prop for a slowly recovering global economy. But there has been nervousness as Beijing tries to engineer a so-called soft landing for its economy as it battles high inflation.

China’s economic growth declined to 8.9 per cent in the final quarter of last year after Beijing hiked interest rates and tightened other controls.

http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/energy ... 34606.html

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Tue May 01, 2012 8:25 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 2 2012
German Jobless Unexpectedly Up in April as Crisis Flared


German unemployment unexpectedly rose for the first time in six months in April as the sovereign debt crisis damped economic growth.

The number of people out of work increased a seasonally adjusted 19,000 to 2.87 million, the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said today. Economists forecast a decline of 10,000, the median of 34 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey shows. The adjusted jobless rate was 6.8 percent.

“The positive trend on the labor market remains intact, but the economy has lost momentum,” said Frank-Juergen Weise, the agency’s president, in an emailed statement.

German export growth this year may slow to less than half its 2011 pace as the debt crisis curbs demand in primary European markets, the government forecast on April 25. Europe’s biggest economy may grow just 0.7 percent, equal to France’s performance, according to the Berlin-based Economics Ministry.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-0 ... lared.html

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Wed May 02, 2012 3:07 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 2 2012
A series of quakes hit Mexico

May 1, 2012 — A series of moderate quakes hit portions of Mexico Tuesday

A magnitude-5.0 earthquake stuck off the coast of Baja California Tuesday, swaying buildings 996 km away in Mexico City.

Officials from La Paz in Baja California Sur say the tremor was not felt in the city.

About an hour later, a magnitude-5.7 quake rumbled through the state of Michoacan.

The strongest quake to hit region Tuesday was a magnitude-6.3 quake that shook the state of Chiapas at 5:43 p.m. local time.

There have been no immediate reports of damages or injuries from any of the affected regions.

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/s ... _category2

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Post Re: PFTF May 2 2012
Seattle mayor issues emergency order after May Day mayhem

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he's making an emergency declaration allowing police to confiscate items that can be used as weapons following violent May Day protests that left storefronts and car windows shattered.

Police said officers made at least three arrests after hundreds of people marched through downtown Tuesday afternoon. A 23-year-old man was arrested for vandalism and a 19-year-old man with a knife was also arrested.

Protestors dressed in black clothing smashed windows of retail stores and banks, and spray-painted parked cars, reported Q13 FOX News. NikeTown, American Apparel, HSBC, and Wells Fargo were among the businesses protesters vandalized.

McGinn said protesters were using items that looked like flagpoles as weapons. He said his order would enable police to take those items away from people before they are used to cause damage. McGinn said his action would help protect public safety as protests continued into Tuesday evening.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/01/se ... z1thKqMDAm



May Day ignites massive protests around the world... but here in Britain police launch Operation Overkill as 50 officers guard just SEVEN sit-in demonstrators in London

Anti-capitalist demonstrators tonight moved into Paternoster Square, home to the London Stock Exchange, in what they said marked a small victory - even if they were kicked out within a few hours.

As May Day rallies were staged across the world, four people were arrested as 150 activists - who were prevented from setting up camp in the area in October - accessed the square with tents and supplies at around 7pm.

An Occupy London spokesman claimed their successful arrival proved their movement was a 'force that will not be stopped'.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1thP27BiC

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Wed May 02, 2012 3:11 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 2 2012
Indictment reveals former small-town city official stole more than $53 million from city

Federal prosecutors say the former city comptroller for a small Illinois town stole more than $53 million from the city government in a scheme that lasted more than two decades.

MyFoxChicago reports 59-year-old Rita Crundwell was indicted Tuesday on one count of wire fraud for embezzling money from the city of Dixon, which is the boyhood home of former President Ronald Reagan.

Authorities had originally said they believed Crundwell had stolen $30 million from the city since 2006 when they arrested her April 17.

However, they now say further investigation has led them to believe Crundwell pocketed more than $53 million of city funds and that her scheme may have lasted more than two decades.

Crundwell had served as the city's comptroller since 1983, and had handled all of the city's finances.

Federal prosecutors allege Crundwell created phony invoices that she characterized as being from the state of Illinois. She then allegedly put that money from a city account into another account, which she repeatedly used for personal use.

According to the news release obtained by the Associated Press, Crundwell said she used the state's much-publicized dire financial straits to her advantage, telling city officials that the state was late in payments as a way to conceal her transfers of funds and her spending.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/01/fe ... z1thLYeVg9

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Wed May 02, 2012 3:14 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 2 2012
One million homeowners hit by mortgage rate rise... and there's more pain on the way

850,000 Halifax borrowers affected by move that will see many mortgage repayments rise by £40 a month

Others lenders set to follow suit in coming months

Rises due to difficulties borrowing from European money markets caused by financial crisis

Hike in interest rates expected to add £300m to UK mortgage repayments over course of 2012

Council of Mortgage Lenders say repossessions set to rise by 22 per cent

Around one million homeowners were hit by a sharp rise in mortgage repayments yesterday.

Families described the increase in standard variable rate loans by the Halifax, the Co-op and Yorkshire Bank as a ‘disaster’.
Lenders came under fire for the rises as the Bank of England has not changed the base rate, currently at a historic low of 0.5 per cent, for more than three years.


For a customer with a £150,000 loan, the increase by the Halifax will add an extra £40 a month, or £480 a year.

The bank, which was rescued from the brink of collapse by Lloyds in 2008, is raising its SVR from 3.5 per cent to 3.99 per cent, a move which will hit around 850,000 of its three million mortgage customers.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said one in seven customers were ‘already struggling with their repayments’, even before the price rise comes into effect.

The biggest losers will be the so-called ‘mortgage prisoners’ – those who cannot switch their loan to a rival bank, which means they have to pay the higher rate.



Around 40 per cent of the 3,400 polled by Which? said higher mortgage repayments would mean they have to ‘cut back on regular spending’, while one in ten would ‘not have enough for essentials’. Mr Vicary-Smith said: ‘These SVR rises are the consequence of the lack of competition in the market, and the failure of the Government to take action to promote competition.’

Experts warned other lenders were likely to follow suit in the coming weeks.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1thNiqWmV



Bank of Canada head sees long-term commodity boom

Carney, asked to name potential mistakes that investors could make, told a business audience that one error "would be to think that ... current elevated levels of commodity prices are a temporary phenomenon."


Commodity prices are likely to remain high for longer than in previous booms, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said on Tuesday, while repeating the central bank's recent warning that interest rates may need to rise.

Carney, asked to name potential mistakes that investors could make, told a business audience that one error "would be to think that ... current elevated levels of commodity prices are a temporary phenomenon."

"Eventually, all commodity booms end, but this one in our view will go on for some time," he said, noting that Canada is well positioned in a global "commodity super cycle."

The comments came after the central bank last month surprised markets with unexpectedly hawkish language in its interest rate announcement, fueling bets on a hike later this year.

Carney reiterated that message on Tuesday.

"We've observed that with an economy that has been growing above potential, with underlying inflation dynamics firming, that some modest withdrawal of some of the exceptional considerable monetary stimulus that's currently in place may become appropriate," he said.

EUROPE PROBLEMS NOT JUST FISCAL

Carney, who is also chairman of the global Financial Stability Board, cautioned that any rate hikes would be weighed carefully within the context of international risks, such as Europe's debt crisis, which he said Canada is not completely insulated against.

He added that Europe should not think that it will fix its problems merely by shoring up the banks and restoring order to public finances because the euro zone also has a balance-of-payments crisis.

"Even if you fix the banks, which you need to do, and even if you get your budgets under control, which they need to do, you won't have solved an underlying problem, which is relative competitiveness, for example of Spain versus Germany," said Carney

http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/bank-c ... 44700.html

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Wed May 02, 2012 3:23 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 2 2012
Debt crisis: Live

Poor manufacturing data from Italy, Spain, France and Germany erodes early gains on European markets, while Occupy London protesters set up camp outside the London Stock Exchange

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/debt ... -Live.html



Gold retreats as U.S. data eases economy worries


Gold edged down on Wednesday after hitting a two-week high in the previous session as upbeat U.S. manufacturing data soothed worries about the economy and dampened hopes of further monetary easing.

Spot gold edged down 0.4 percent to $1,654.89 an ounce by 02:14 a.m. EDT (0614) GMT, after rising to $1,671.20 in on Tuesday.

U.S. gold also lost 0.4 percent to $1,656.

After a recent run of weak data, the Institute for Supply Management said that U.S. manufacturing grew in April at the fastest pace in 10 months, easing concerns the world's largest economy had lost momentum at the start of the second quarter.

Stronger economic growth will lessen the need for the U.S. Federal Reserve to further ease monetary policy, and dent investor appetite in bullion which benefits from low real interest rates.

http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/gold-e ... 25387.html

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Wed May 02, 2012 3:39 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 2 2012
ddd ddd eee eee bunch of idiots up here tried to tell me our banks never got any money when SHTF in 2008...well now I have something to rub their noses in...




Banks got $114B from governments during recession

Support for banks 'more substantial than Canadians were led to believe': CCPA report


Canada's biggest banks accepted tens of billions in government funds during the recession, according to a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Canada's banking system is often lauded for being one of the world's safest. But an analysis by CCPA senior economist David Macdonald concluded that Canada's major lenders were in a far worse position during the downturn than previously believed.

Macdonald examined data provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the big banks themselves for his report published Monday.

It says support for Canadian banks from various agencies reached $114 billion at its peak. That works out to $3,400 for every man, woman and child in Canada, and also to seven per cent of Canada's gross domestic product in 2009.

The figure is also 10 times the amount Canadian taxpayers spent on the auto industry in 2009.

"At some point during the crisis, three of Canada's banks — CIBC, BMO, and Scotiabank — were completely under water, with government support exceeding the market value of the company," Macdonald said.

"Without government supports to fall back on, Canadian banks would have been in serious trouble."

During October 2008 and June 2010, the banks combined to report $27 billion in profits on their balance sheets.

CMHC mortgage program aided banks

One of the most well-known ways in which policymakers helped the banks during the crisis is through a $69-billion CMHC program whereby the housing agency took mortgages off the balance sheets of big Canadian banks. In contrast with other support facilities, all of the funds granted by the CMHC were through selling assets (in this case mortgages) to the housing agency. They were not funds that had to be paid back.

The CMHC has provided the aggregate total of how much was given out, but has yet to release specifics on which banks sold how much to them, and when, the CCPA says.

When asked for comment in reaction to the CCPA report, the Canadian Bankers Association noted that the $69 billion that Canada's big banks sold into the CMHC program is in fact only 55 per cent of what was allocated for the program.

"Many of the mortgages were already insured and therefore, created no additional risk for the government," the CBA noted in an email to CBC News. The CMHC estimates that by the time the program is wound up, it will have generated $2.5 billion in profit as those mortgages are paid off, the bankers' group noted.

Calling the CCPA report "completely baseless," Department of Finance spokesperson Chisholm Pothier noted that the mortgage program has already generated more than $1.2 billion in net revenues for the CMHC's coffers.

But Canadian lenders also dipped into a program set up by the U.S. Federal Reserve aimed at providing cash to keep American banks afloat. CIBC and BMO took almost $3 billion each out of the fund, RBC and TD took out $8 billion and Scotiabank drew down almost $12 billion, the CCPA report found.


That data came from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which released it publicly. But Macdonald's analysis found that Canadian banks got a comparable amount — $41 billion — from Bank of Canada facilities, an agency that has been far less transparent in sharing information.

"Despite Access to Information requests for the data, the Bank of Canada refuses to release it," the CCPA report states.

"The federal government claims it was offering the banks 'liquidity support,' but it looks an awful lot like a bailout to me," says Macdonald. "Whatever you call it, Canadian government aid for the country's biggest banks was far more indispensable than the official line would suggest.

"The support for Canadian banks was much more substantial than Canadians were led to believe," Macdonald said.

The Canadian Bankers Association disputes the notion that the funds in question were any sort of bailout, arguing they were routine transactions aimed at keeping the financial system liquid.

"These funding measures were put in place to ensure that credit was available to lend to businesses and consumers to help the economy through the recession," the CBA said. "These funding measures were not put in place because banks were in financial difficulty."

Since the start of the recession, the CBA notes 436 U.S. banks have failed. No Canadian financial institution went under, but Canada's banking sector was hit by an overall crisis of confidence in the banking sector that caused some of the banks' normal lending sources to dry up, the CBA says.

Canadian banks get about two-thirds of their funding from consumer and business deposits, but the other third comes from credit markets.

"It was these markets that were seizing up. Funding was less available," the CBA says. "Canadian banks continued to lend and increased their lending after some non-bank lenders pulled out of the Canadian market."

While some of the funding came from government sources such as the Bank of Canada, the bankers' association points out that the central bank itself says Canadian banks needed less official central bank liquidity support than their foreign counterparts.

"The credit was extended at competitive interest rates to protect taxpayers," Pothier said. "Financial institutions accepting this credit paid interest on the loans."

To show the scale of the funding, the CCPA report contrasted the total value of the support Canadian banks took against the bank's total value at the time. Under that comparison, CIBC received $21 billion in support — almost 1.5 times the value of the company at the time. BMO maxed out at $17 billion or 118 per cent, Scotiabank peaked at $25 billion or 100 per cent of its value, while TD and RBC maxed out at $26 billion and $25 billion — good enough for 69 and 63 per cent, respectively, of the total value of those companies at the time.

"It would have been cheaper to buy every single share in these companies," Macdonald said.

But the CBA disputes those numbers too, saying comparing a bank's value to the level with which it participated in a liquidity program aimed at boosting confidence in the market is "an apples to oranges comparison as the two factors are not at all related."

"The Oxford dictionary defines bailout as 'financial assistance to a failing business or economy to save it from collapse," the Canadian Bankers Association noted.

"That definitely was not the case here: not one bank in Canada was in danger of going bankrupt or required the government to buy an equity stake under taxpayer-funded bailouts."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2 ... -ccpa.html

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Wed May 02, 2012 3:45 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 2 2012
Fed presidents: Too soon to call a U.S. slowdown


Two Federal Reserve presidents said Tuesday that it's too early to say whether the United States is seeing a longer-term slowdown, but the recent ebb in economic growth is certainly worrisome.

Chicago Fed president Charles Evans and Atlanta Fed Dennis Lockhart made it clear that we're nowhere near normal economic times.


The economy continues to recover at a modest pace," Lockhart said Tuesday, during a sit-down with reporters at the Milken Institute Global Conference. "Of course we have some vulnerability to shocks [and] the economy has a certain amount of fragility associated with it."

Lockhart, who is currently a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, wouldn't say whether the United States' economy has hit a "soft spot" yet.

Lockhart's views are being closely watched because he's considered moderate on monetary policy and could possibly be a deciding vote in favor of, or against, another round of bond buying.

Fiscal cliff: What should Congress do?

Both Fed presidents agreed that the latest reading of first-quarter U.S. gross domestic product, which showed the economy slowing to 2.2% growth from 3%, was concerning.

Both Lockhart and Evans see potential shocks coming from Europe's debt problems or a continued rise in oil prices, but neither could say which scenario was more troublesome.

The recent double-dip recessions seen in European Union nations, including Spain and England, were largely factored into economic predictions, they said.

Fed presidents and the central bank's chairman, Ben Bernanke, are seemingly omnipresent at conference and media events these days. In addition to Evans and Lockhart, the heads of the San Francisco and Dallas Federal Reserve banks spoke at the Milken Conference.

http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/01/markets ... ?iid=HP_LN

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Wed May 02, 2012 3:59 am
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