Daily Digest 11/20 – Zero Real Yields Are Tripping Up Investors, The ‘Internet As We Know It’ Is Off In Iran

Economy

Illinois Pension Costs Skyrocketed By 500%, Crowding Out Government Services (Saxplayer00o1)

State spending on everything from child protection, state police, college aid for low-income students and more has fallen by nearly one-third during that time.

State spending on pensions for government workers, meanwhile, grew by a whopping 501% – on top of a 127% increase in spending on health care costs for state workers.

For municipal defaults, booms are just as dangerous as busts (Saxplayer00o1)

The working paper, published by the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank and wrote by one of its researchers, Grey Gordon, along with Pablo Guerron-Quintana of Boston College, put it simply: “In response to rapid population growth, cities overborrow expecting future entrants to help repay the debt.”

Illinois Cellphone Taxes Are Highest In Nation, Average $374 a Year (Saxplayer00o1)

Lightfoot inherited four city pensions that are $29 billion in debt and only 25% funded. Chicago residents are responsible for eight local public pension systems that total $46 billion in pension debt, with payments expected to rise by $1 billion during the next four years.
Add to that the nation’s worst statewide pension debt – pegged at $137 billion by the state’s estimates, but at $241 billion by a less-generous analysis – and the reason Illinois ranks as the “least tax-friendly” state in the nation becomes clear.

Fed’s Williams: Risks to U.S. economy still to the downside (Saxplayer00o1)

“Are these global factors or other things causing the U.S. economy to slow more than expected and slow below trend growth on an ongoing basis? That would be an argument for some more accommodation. Similarly, if inflation were to move in the wrong direction on a sustained basis, that would be an argument to consider more accommodation,” Williams said.

Zero Real Yields Are Tripping Up Investors (Saxplayer00o1)

State pension funds have cut their expected returns, but their 7.25% average forecast is likely to be proven a fantasy. Funds with more than $1 billion in assets had a median return of 6.8% in the year ending June 30, the lowest since 2016. They’ll need to do better. Large public funds had $4.4 trillion in assets as of June 30, or $4.2 trillion less than they need to pay promised future benefits, according to the Federal Reserve. And the situation is deteriorating, with liabilities up 64% since 2007 but assets gaining only 30%, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.

China central bank governor says will step up credit support to economy (Saxplayer00o1)

Pressured by slowing global demand and a bruising trade war with the United States, China’s gross domestic product rose just 6.0% year-on-year, the slowest clip in nearly 30 years and at the lower end of the government’s 6.0% to 6.5% target range.

The ‘internet as we know it’ is off in Iran. Here’s why this shutdown is different (Sparky1)

“Internet will return to the life of the Iranian people soon and the government [will] continue to develop it,” Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said, according to Press TV. He added that some essential online services had been switched to Iran’s National Information Network (NIN), a centralized national intranet.

Iran: More than 100 protesters believed to be killed as top officials give green light to crush protests (TS)

“The frequency and persistence of lethal force used against peaceful protesters in these and previous mass protests, as well as the systematic impunity for security forces who kill protesters, raise serious fears that the intentional lethal use of firearms to crush protests has become a matter of state policy.”

Oil Sinks As Trade War Sentiment Turns Sour (Michael S.)

The exemptions wrecked the market for renewable identification numbers (RINs), the credits that refiners buy and sell to meet federal requirements. Lower prices and weaker demand for ethanol have also forced some ethanol producers out of business.

Dan Murphy: Farm Payment Failure (Don R.)

Even as USDA announced last week that the department would begin the second round of “trade aid” payments to farmers — some $16 billion as part of its Market Facilitation Program (talk about euphemisms) — a scathing new report from the minority caucus of the Senate Agriculture Committee cast serious doubt on the effectiveness of those billions, if not the rationale for the payments themselves.

Agriculture, the Millennial Side Hustle: The Story of ‘Telephone Farmers’ (tmn)

But Rago has another pastime, a more lucrative one –farming. “I’ve been farming potatoes in Narok County on a one-acre plot of land,” said Rago. “I cracked the numbers and realized I could be making some tidy sum of surplus cash from the hired piece of land, after I’ve deducted all my expenses.”Rago’s rented potato plot is in Erongitok, five kilometres from Narok town.

Gold & Silver

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