Welcome to the weekly roundup of great articles, facts and figures. These are the weekly finds that made our eyes pop.
Exxon Profits Soar 69%
Exxon Profits increased 69% from a year ago, or $11 billion in a quarter. Most oil companies profits also soared in Q1. President Obama blasted oil company U.S. taxpayer subsidies in his weekly address, as well as soaring gas prices. Below is great AP video coverage on gas prices.
Note how the oil companies claim speculators are the ones driving up prices. Well, gee if that's true Oil Multinationals, you sure are getting a nice happy ride regardless.
Thar's Gold In Them Thar Central Banks
Bloomberg is reporting central banks are buying gold, which may extend the already record high prices.
Central banks that were net sellers of gold a decade ago are buying the precious metal to reduce their reliance on the dollar as a reserve currency, signaling demand that may extend a record rally in prices.
As developing countries accelerate purchases, gold may reach $2,000 an ounce this year, compared with a record of $1,569.80 today in New York, said Robert McEwen, the chief executive officer of producer U.S. Gold Corp. Euro Pacific Capital’s Michael Pento, who correctly predicted gold’s highs for the past two years, forecasts a 2011 high of $1,600.
Calculated Risk has an overview on housing vacancies:
Goldman Sachs put out an estimate yesterday of 3.5 million units based on the HVS: "Based on data from the Census Bureau, we estimate that about 3.5 million housing units currently sit vacant, above and beyond normal seasonal and frictional vacancies." They calculated a range of 2.5 to 4.5 million units based on different assumptions.
Trillion Dollar Gap Gets Wider
The gap between the promises states have made for public employees’ retirement benefits and the money set aside to pay for them grew to at least $1.26 trillion in fiscal year 2009—a 26 percent increase in one year—according to a Pew report.
Check out some of these statistics:
- Pension funding shortfalls accounted for $660 billion of the $1.26 trillion gap, and unfunded retiree health care costs accounted for the remaining $635 billion.
- States had only about $31 billion, or 5 percent, saved toward their obligations for retiree health care benefits.
- State pension plans were 78% funded, declining from 84% in 2008.
American Middle Class Under Stress
The New America Foundation has put together a slide show, fact list on how the U.S. Middle Class is being strangled:
High unemployment and the restructuring of the labor market have eroded middle-class incomes after decades of stagnation. Meanwhile, the cost of health care, education, and other essential middle-class goods have increased, consuming a larger share of household income. And the bursting of the housing bubble has wiped out trillions of dollars in home equity that the majority of Americans rely on as the primary source of wealth and retirement security.
In their latest presentation, Sherle R. Schwenninger, Director of the Economic Growth and American Strategy Programs at the New America Foundation, and Samuel Sherraden, Policy Analyst for the Economic Growth Program, evaluate the state of America's middle class after the Great Recession.
Happy Royal Wedding Coverage Escape!