Tag Archive: Gross Domestic Product

The New American

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 13:14

Polish Government Seizes Private Pension Assets

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Authorities in Poland last week announced the confiscation of bonds held in private pension funds without compensation, implausibly claiming that the move did not amount to a nationalization of the assets. While Polish officials engaged in rhetorical games and semantics to conceal the severity of the “transfer” of privately owned assets to a “state pension vehicle” known as ZUS, the controversial move is still fueling confusion and fierce criticism from analysts and economists. Some experts fear other governments may follow suit.

The private pension funds, many managed by prominent foreign firms, declared the scheme unconstitutional because private property was being seized without compensation. Some even suggested the private pension system may shut down entirely. While authorities have not yet confiscated equities from the private pensions — to which Polish workers have been obligated to contribute — officials defended the bond confiscations by arguing that they helped avoid even more radical options, such as seizing everything outright, including company stocks held by the funds.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced that future enrollees in the mandatory pension scheme would no longer be required to pay into the private element, known as OFE, of the hybrid government-private system. Analysts said that could result in even fewer resources held in the private funds, which currently hold assets worth about 20 percent of GDP and represent the largest investors in the Polish stock market.

Tusk, however, tried to paint the confiscation as a positive development. “The system has turned out to be built in part on rising public debt and turned out to be a very costly system,” he said at a press conference, drawing swift criticism. “We believe that, apart from the positive consequence of this decision for public debt, pensions will also be safer.” Of course, seizing private wealth may reduce government debt for the time being, but it was not clear how “safety” was being improved.

Critics lambasted Tusk’s statement from all angles, pointing out that confiscating private assets does not make them any safer and that, in essence, the government simply had too much outstanding debt to be able to issue even more debt. Some analysts also suggested the move was actually a half-baked ploy to build political support with voters by increasing its ability to borrow and spend more money on government programs.

Indeed, among the primary official justifications for the scheme was a bid to reduce government debt by about eight percent of the country’s GDP, according to estimates cited by Polish Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski. With the national government already officially owing more than 50 percent of GDP, above a threshold that makes it more difficult to borrow, the transfer of assets to government balance sheets will allow authorities to continue creating more debt and borrowing more money — a move celebrated, unsurprisingly, by Poland’s central bankers.

“Changes to the pension system are positive and create a chance for an impulse, for a growth engine, in the form of investments that are so important,” Polish central bank policymaker Anna Zielinska-Glebocka claimed in a statement to Reuters, alleging that the post-announcement decline in the value of its fiat currency, the zloty (shown), was only temporary. “This will be helping the economy in 2014, although mostly in 2015…. Investments and consumption demand are key for the Polish economy. A healthy economy must be based on domestic demand, not just exports. From this perspective changes to pensions are a good move.”

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Polish central banker says pension changes can boost economy

New members of the Polish Monetary Policy Council meet at the National Bank of Poland headquarters in Warsaw February 23, 2010. Jan Winiecki (L-R), Andrzej Bratkowski, Anna Zielinska-Glebocka, Zyta Gilowska, Adam Glapinski, Slawomir Skrzypek, Elzbieta Chojna-Duch, Andrzej Kazmierczak, Andrzej Rzonca, Jerzy Hausner. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW | Sat Sep 7, 2013 3:10am EDT

(Reuters) – A Polish central bank policymaker has defended the government’s decision to transfer more than half of private pension fund assets to the state, saying the move would give the economy a vital investment boost.

Anna Zielinska-Glebocka told Reuters Poland would not be able to reach potential growth levels of 3.0-4.0 percent, up from 0.8 percent, unless domestic demand reinforced the current main driver, exports.

“Changes to the pension system are positive and create a chance for an impulse, for a growth engine, in the form of investments that are so important. This will be helping the economy in 2014, although mostly in 2015,” Zielinska-Glebocka said in comments made on Thursday and authorized for release on Saturday.

“Investments and consumption demand are key for the Polish economy. A healthy economy must be based on domestic demand, not just exports. From this perspective changes to pensions are a good move,” she said.

Poland, the largest of central Europe’s emerging economies, said on Wednesday it would transfer many of the assets held by private pension funds, including treasury bonds, to a state vehicle. This means the government can book those assets on the state balance sheet to offset public debt, giving it more scope to borrow and spend.

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Earth Watch Report  –  Global Seismic Activity

GSN Stations

These data update automatically every 30 minutes. Last update: February 26, 2013 02:49:06 UTC

Seismograms may take several moments to load. Click on a plot to see larger image.

CU/ANWB, Willy Bob, Antigua and Barbuda

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CU/BBGH, Gun Hill, Barbados

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CU/BCIP, Isla Barro Colorado, Panama

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CU/GRGR, Grenville, Grenada

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CU/GRTK, Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands

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CU/GTBY, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

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CU/MTDJ, Mount Denham, Jamaica

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CU/SDDR, Presa de Sabaneta, Dominican Republic

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CU/TGUH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

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IC/BJT, Baijiatuan, Beijing, China

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IC/ENH, Enshi, China

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IC/HIA, Hailar, Neimenggu Autonomous Region, China

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IC/LSA, Lhasa, China

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IC/MDJ, Mudanjiang, China

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IC/QIZ, Qiongzhong, Hainan Province, China

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IU/ADK, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA

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IU/AFI, Afiamalu, Samoa

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IU/ANMO, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

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IU/ANTO, Ankara, Turkey

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IU/BBSR, Bermuda

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IU/BILL, Bilibino, Russia

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IU/CASY, Casey, Antarctica

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IU/CCM, Cathedral Cave, Missouri, USA

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IU/CHTO, Chiang Mai, Thailand

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IU/COLA, College Outpost, Alaska, USA

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IU/COR, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

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IU/CTAO, Charters Towers, Australia

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IU/DAV,Davao, Philippines

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IU/DWPF,Disney Wilderness Preserve, Florida, USA

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IU/FUNA,Funafuti, Tuvalu

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IU/FURI, Mt. Furi, Ethiopia

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IU/GNI, Garni, Armenia

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IU/GRFO, Grafenberg, Germany

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IU/GUMO, Guam, Mariana Islands

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IU/HKT, Hockley, Texas, USA

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IU/HNR, Honiara, Solomon Islands

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IU/HRV, Adam Dziewonski Observatory (Oak Ridge), Massachusetts, USA

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IU/INCN, Inchon, Republic of Korea

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IU/JOHN, Johnston Island, Pacific Ocean

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IU/KBS, Ny-Alesund, Spitzbergen, Norway

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IU/KEV, Kevo, Finland

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IU/KIEV, Kiev, Ukraine

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IU/KIP, Kipapa, Hawaii, USA

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IU/KMBO, Kilima Mbogo, Kenya

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IU/KNTN, Kanton Island, Kiribati

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IU/KONO, Kongsberg, Norway

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IU/KOWA, Kowa, Mali

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IU/LCO, Las Campanas Astronomical Observatory, Chile

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IU/LSZ, Lusaka, Zambia

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IU/LVC, Limon Verde, Chile

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IU/MA2, Magadan, Russia

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IU/MAJO, Matsushiro, Japan

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IU/MAKZ,Makanchi, Kazakhstan

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IU/MBWA, Marble Bar, Western Australia

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IU/MIDW, Midway Island, Pacific Ocean, USA

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IU/MSKU, Masuku, Gabon

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IU/NWAO, Narrogin, Australia

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IU/OTAV, Otavalo, Equador

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IU/PAB, San Pablo, Spain

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IU/PAYG Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands

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IU/PET, Petropavlovsk, Russia

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IU/PMG, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

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IU/PMSA, Palmer Station, Antarctica

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IU/POHA, Pohakaloa, Hawaii

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IU/PTCN, Pitcairn Island, South Pacific

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IU/PTGA, Pitinga, Brazil

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IU/QSPA, South Pole, Antarctica

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IU/RAO, Raoul, Kermandec Islands

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IU/RAR, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

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IU/RCBR, Riachuelo, Brazil

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IU/RSSD, Black Hills, South Dakota, USA

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IU/SAML, Samuel, Brazil

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IU/SBA, Scott Base, Antarctica

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IU/SDV, Santo Domingo, Venezuela

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IU/SFJD, Sondre Stromfjord, Greenland

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IU/SJG, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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IU/SLBS, Sierra la Laguna Baja California Sur, Mexico

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IU/SNZO, South Karori, New Zealand

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IU/SSPA, Standing Stone, Pennsylvania USA

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IU/TARA, Tarawa Island, Republic of Kiribati

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IU/TATO, Taipei, Taiwan

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IU/TEIG, Tepich, Yucatan, Mexico

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IU/TIXI, Tiksi, Russia

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IU/TRIS, Tristan da Cunha, Atlantic Ocean

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IU/TRQA, Tornquist, Argentina

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IU/TSUM, Tsumeb, Namibia

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IU/TUC, Tucson, Arizona

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IU/ULN, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

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IU/WAKE, Wake Island, Pacific Ocean

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IU/WCI, Wyandotte Cave, Indiana, USA

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IU/WVT, Waverly, Tennessee, USA

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IU/XMAS, Kiritimati Island, Republic of Kiribati

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IU/YAK, Yakutsk, Russia

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IU/YSS, Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, Russia

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Published on Jan 31, 2013

During the 2012 Presidential election, President Obama boasted about the third quarter growth of the America’s GDP, but the fourth quarter is a completely different story. The country experienced a decline in GDP in the last quarter for the first time since 2009 and many critics believe that somehow the Obama administration manipulated the data to come out victorious in the November election. Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, gives us his take on how the government could have played with numbers.

By Michael,

Please be warned – the statistics about the economy that you are about to read are likely to completely blow your mind.  The U.S. economy is in far, far more trouble than the mainstream news would have you believe.  Most Americans are still convinced that the economic downturn that we have been experiencing will soon be over and that things will shortly get back to “normal”.  But that is not what is happening.  What we are actually witnessing is the disintegration of the foundations of the U.S. economic system.  The survival of the American middle class is now in serious jeopardy.  In fact, the survival of the American way of life is now in serious jeopardy.  Today, more Americans are living in poverty than at any other time in history.  Millions upon millions of Americans are out of work and it now takes the average unemployed worker an average of over 35 weeks to find a job.  Home sales are at near record lows.  Home foreclosures are at record highs.  Factories and jobs continue to leave the United States at a dizzying pace and the U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world with no end in sight.  So yes, the U.S. economy is in a deep, deep state of crisis, and there is not much hope that things are going to get much better any time soon.

Because of the exploding U.S. trade deficit, every single month far more wealth goes out of the United States than comes into it.  Every single month more good jobs and more factories leave our shores never to return.  America was once the greatest industrial power on the globe, but today the U.S. is being de-industrialized at a staggering pace.  Every single month state and local governments go even deeper into debt.  Every single month the U.S. government goes even deeper into debt.  Today, the total of all consumer, business and government debt in the United States is equivalent to approximately 360 percent of GDP.  At no point during the Great Depression did we ever even come close to such a level.  It would be hard to understate exactly how much danger the U.S. economy is in.

Yes, things really are that serious.

The following are 44 statistics about the U.S. economy that will send a deep, deep chill down your spine….


Read Full Article Here

Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

Sustainability :  Gardening – Small Family  Organic  Farms


Russia’s small-scale organic agriculture model may hold the key to feeding the world

by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Imagine living in a country where having the freedom to cultivate your own land, tax-free and without government interference, is not only common but also encouraged for the purpose of promoting individual sovereignty and strong, healthy communities. Now imagine that in this same country, nearly all of your neighbors also cultivate their own land as part of a vast network of decentralized, self-sustaining, independent “eco-villages” that produce more than enough food to feed the entire country.

You might be thinking this sounds like some kind of utopian interpretation of historical America, but the country actually being described here is modern-day Russia. It turns out that Russia’s current agricultural model is one that thrives as a result of the millions of small-scale, family-owned and -operated, organically-cultivated farms that together produce the vast majority of the food consumed throughout the country.

Do Russians have more food freedom, independence than Americans?

A far cry from the unsustainable, chemical-dependent, industrialized agriculture system that dominates the American landscape today, Russia’s agricultural system, which is not technically a system at all, is run by the people and for the people. Thanks to government policies there that actually encourage autonomous family farming, rather than cater to the greed of chemical and biotechnology companies like they do here in the states, the vast majority of Russians are able and willing to grow their own food on privately-owned family plots known as “dachas.”

According to The Bovine, Russia’s Private Garden Plot Act, which was signed into law back in 2003, entitles every Russian citizen to a private plot of land, free of charge, ranging in size from 2.2 acres to 6.8 acres. Each plot can be used for growing food, or for simply vacationing or relaxing, and the government has agreed not to tax this land. And the result of this effort has been phenomenal, as Russian families collectively grow practically all the food they need.

“Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world — and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat,” writes Leonid Sharashkin, editor of the English version of the The Ringing Cedars series, a book collection that explains the history behind this effort to reconnect people with the earth and nature. (http://www.ringingcedars.com/)

Most food in Russia comes from backyard gardens

Back in 1999, it was estimated that 35 million small family plots throughout Russia, operated by 105 million people, or 71 percent of the Russian population, were producing about 50 percent of the nation’s milk supply, 60 percent of its meat supply, 87 percent of its berry and fruit supply, 77 percent of its vegetable supply, and an astounding 92 percent of its potato supply. The average Russian citizen, in other words, is fully empowered under this model to grow his own food, and meet the needs of his family and local community.

“Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year — so in the U.S., for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today; however, the area taken up by lawns in the U.S. is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens — and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.”

The backyard gardening model is so effective throughout Russia that total output represents more than 50 percent of the nation’s entire agricultural output. Based on 2004 figures, the collective value of all the backyard produce grown in Russia is $14 billion, or 2.3 percent of Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) — and this number only continues to increase as more and more Russians join the eco-village movement.

Sources for this article include:



Politics, Legislation and Economy News

Economic News

Risk of US double-dip recession rises: S&P


The odds the United States will slip back into recession next year have risen, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said, citing risks from the European debt crisis and budget tightening at year-end.

The US ratings firm raised the chance of the US falling into recession to 25 percent, up from a 20 percent chance estimated in February, as the world’s largest economy struggles to recover from a severe 2008-2009 slump.

It also pointed to the looming possibility of the government being forced by existing law to severely cut spending and increase taxes on January 1, the so-called fiscal cliff that would crunch the economy.

“Economic activity has downshifted sharply from earlier this year,” S&P said in a report on North American credit conditions amid global uncertainty, dated August 20.

“At the same time, possible contagion from the European debt crisis, the potential so-called ‘fiscal cliff’, and the risk of a hard landing for China’s economy have added greater uncertainty to US economic prospects,” it said.

In the second quarter, the world’s largest economy grew at a 1.5 percent annual rate, a sharp slowdown from late last year as unemployment remained stuck above 8.0 percent.

S&P underscored concern about the impact of a recession in the 17-nation eurozone, whose economy contracted 0.2 percent in the second quarter. S&P forecast a 0.6 percent contraction this year.

“A double-dip recession in Europe that transmits financial turmoil to the US could push it into recession,” the agency said.

However, S&P said its baseline scenario for the US economy — remained “modest growth,” projecting a gross domestic product expansion of about 2.1 percent for this year.

S&P also said it expected that politicians would agree before year-end to change the current severe budget cut and tax hike mandates to avoid the fiscal cliff fate.

However, it said, “We do not believe the US and European economies will improve substantially in the next year.”

Italian economy contracts 0.7% in second quarter

General Confederation of Italian Workers protest Austerity measures have deepened Italy’s recession

Italy’s economy shrank 0.7% in the second quarter, underlining a deepening recession, as government austerity measures continue to affect everything from factory activity to consumer spending.

Italy’s GDP fell for the fourth quarter in a row, preliminary figures showed.

Compared with a year earlier, growth slumped by 2.5%, Istat said.

GDP fell by 0.8% in the first quarter compared with the final three months of 2011, the statistical agency said.

Earlier, data showed that factory output in June slumped 1.4% compared to May and 8.2% year on year.

“The austerity measures are obviously weighing on the economy,” said Vincenzo Bova of MPS Capital Services. “Investments and consumption, both private and public, are the hardest-hit areas,” he added.

Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government is implementing a series of austerity measures worth 20bn euros (£15.8bn) as it grapples with rising borrowing costs, driven by market fears over the widening eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

But investors are worried Italy – the eurozone’s third biggest economy – may be next in line to suffer the same ordeals that have hit Greece, Portugal and now Spain.

‘No sign of change’ from recession

Italy’s government has the biggest debt burden of any of the major eurozone countries at 123% of GDP, which makes it particularly susceptible to a loss of market confidence – something that would make it impossible for the government to roll over its debts as they come due for payment.

Despite the austerity measures investors have continued to dump Italian sovereign bonds, which have pushed their yields close to unsustainable levels as markets fear a breakdown of the euro.

Italian business confidence fell last month, as company executives are increasingly pessimistic over the country’s economic prospects and expect the recession to worsen in coming months.

Employers’ lobby group Confindustria predicts that the economy will shrink 2.4% this year, with unemployment hovering around 11%. The government’s forecasts the economy to contract by 1.2%.

“There is no sign of any change of trend for Italy,” said Annamaria Grimaldi, an analyst at Intesa Sanpaolo.

Mr Monti has been trying to persuade other European leaders to give Italy some breathing space to allow its economy to grow, rather than sticking to tight fiscal targets that have contributed to the recession’s deepening.

In an interview with Der Spiegel at the weekend, Mr Monti said: “If everything goes according to plan, I will remain in office until April 2013, and I hope that I can rescue Italy from financial ruin by then – and this with moral support from a few European friends, led by Germany. But I will also say very clearly: moral support, not financial.”

Germany and other countries “should allow a bit more leeway to those states in the euro zone that follow European guidelines the most closely”, he added.

But Mr Monti has struggled to rebuild public confidence in his leadership back home, where his popularity has plunged from record levels since he took office last year. In fact, there is mounting speculation that his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi may be making a comeback.

Politics and  Legislation

Senate rejects Blunt amendment to limit birth-control mandate

By Josiah Ryan and Sam Baker – 03/01/12 03:18 PM ET


Punchy Obama hits Republicans over auto bailout


Amid rising gas prices, Obama to call for vote on killing oil tax breaks

By Ben Geman – 03/01/12 06:08 AM ET

Israel legalizes unsanctioned settler enclave


Defense Ministry clarifies presence of Iran warships in Jeddah



GDP Records 3 Percent Annual Increase in Fourth Quarter


Stop Starving Public Universities and Shrinking the Middle Class


The Keystone XL Flim-Flam


Financial Firm Fined for Misleading Investors on Magnetar Bets


On Regaining a Spirit of Defiance: “I’m Worried Now But I Won’t Be Worried Long”


China Dumps $100+ Billion In USTs In December Per Revised TIC Data; UK Is Now Russia’s Shadow Buyer


Fed officials flag soft economy but mum on easing


Factory growth cools, spending stagnant


Inflation Is A Tax And The Federal Reserve Is Taxing The Living Daylights Out Of Us


Nasdaq cracks 3,000; stocks dip as Bernanke speaks


IRS battling conservatives over tax-exempt status


Kingdom’s foreign trade jumps to $358 billion


New Exposé Tracks ALEC-Private Prison Industry Effort to Replace Unionized Workers with Prison Labor



Oil price jumps to 43-month high on Saudi blast reports



Wars  and  Rumors of War

Pentagon prepares “aerial refueling” for Israeli planes striking Iran


Israel unveils sophisticated bomb shelters in Tel Aviv


US confirms placement of US forces at a radar site in Malatya


Russia Upgrades Air Defense Radar; Iranian Underground Nuke Facilities Vulnerable


Senators Concerned About Risk to U.S. Forces over Syrian Chemical Weapons


Creator Explains Message Behind “Bomb Iran” Billboard


Counter-terrorism: US special forces stationed in India, reveals Pentagon



Fracking Bans that Can Stand


Occupy Education: Teachers, Students Fight School Closings, Privatization, Layoffs, Rankings