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The election of South Korea’s Moon Jae-in could mean big changes for the Pacific Rim

The election of South Korea’s Moon Jae-in could mean big changes for the Pacific Rim

The election of South Korea’s Moon Jae-in could mean big changes for the Pacific Rim.
South Korea’s Moon Jae-in declared victory in the presidential election.
A Moon victory could lead to warmer relations with North Korea and China.
Liberal candidate Moon Jae-in has declared victory in South Korea’s elections on Tuesday, and his projected win could lead to a shift in the region’s dynamics.
A Moon victory would bring an end to roughly a decade of conservative leadership in South Korea, and could lead to shifts in the the country’s relationships with North Korea and China.
He’s also in favor of re-opening the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint project between North and South Korea, in a step that would run counter to attempts to isolate the North.
There is also the possibility that a Moon presidency could lead to improved relations with China, according to Scott Seaman, Asia Director at Eurasia Group, which could prove an even bigger deal than Moon’s attention-grabbing stance North Korea. “With the US withdrawal from [the Trans-Pacific Partnership] and China’s stated pro-globalization stance South Korea’s longer-term interest may be shifting towards China and away from the US, especially if the US becomes more protectionist.”
Moon also said the decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system was made hastily, and that he would “review” its future if he were elected.
Therefore, there won’t be a transitional period and Moon will step into office immediately.

Job openings increase slightly in March

Job openings increase slightly in March

Job openings increase slightly in March.
WASHINGTON – Steady job growth has left U.S. employers with an increasingly shallow pool of unemployed workers to consider hiring, something that could lead to faster wage gains.
The number of job postings for each unemployed person fell in March to its lowest level in more than 16 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Labor Department.
This means that businesses may face fewer qualified applicants for jobs and could choose to increase pay in order to attract workers — possibly causing wages to accelerate after several years of sluggish growth.
Employers posted a seasonally adjusted 5.7 million jobs in March, a slight 1.1 percent increase from February.
But more Americans felt confident enough in March to quit their jobs, as the number of quits rose 2.6 percent to 3.1 million.
Workers typically quit either when they have another job or are optimistic they can find one — and possibly receive a pay raise.
But on average over the past three months, employers have added 174,000 jobs a month — an average that economists say is closer to the underlying trend.
The unemployment rate dipped a tenth of a point to 4.4 percent.
Those figures are net gains after layoffs, quits and retirements are subtracted from overall hiring.

Fed’s Rosengren cites risk of sharp U.S. unemployment drop

Fed’s Rosengren cites risk of sharp U.S. unemployment drop

Fed’s Rosengren cites risk of sharp U.S. unemployment drop.
NEW YORK, May 9 (Reuters) – Unemployment in the United States has dropped below its natural equilibrium and could overheat the economy and prompt faster interest-rate hikes if it were to drop below 4 percent, a Federal Reserve policymaker said on Tuesday.
Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, in a speech that reiterated concerns about high U.S. real estate prices , said the current jobless rate at 4.4 percent has already fallen below his 4.7-percent estimate of “natural employment.”
This theoretically is the lowest level possible before wage pressures push inflation too high.
He cited a survey in which private economists give a 10 percent chance of unemployment falling below 4 percent.
Rosengren, who has pushed for rate hikes over the last year but does not vote again on policy until 2019, did not comment specifically on monetary tightening.
The Fed has raised rates twice since December in part due to the strong labor market. “Policymakers looking to reform the GSEs might look at the GSEs’ large and growing footprint in the market and ask whether this level of government-sponsored exposure is safe, and whether that level of government support is appropriate,” he said at New York University Stern School of Business. “A potential and significant shock to this sector of the commercial real estate market could occur if proposals require the GSEs to reduce their holdings of multifamily loans.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Q&A: Same-sex union, foreign residency don’t preclude getting Social Security
Social Security Disability

Q&A: Same-sex union, foreign residency don’t preclude getting Social Security

Q: I am a 65 and currently on Social Security disability insurance (SSDI).
Although I spend several months a year at my Florida residence during the winter, I currently reside in France with my partner, who is 67, and we are considering marriage, a same-sex union.
I am a U.S. citizen but hold a French residency card.
If yes, would he also have to declare his French retirement income?
“As a spouse, (your) partner will be eligible for a benefit equal to 50% of (your) gross monthly amount.
Of course, complicating all of this is your future spouse’s French pension.
However, GPO does apply, and the Social Security Administration will be required to reduce any spousal or survivor benefit due him by 2/3 of the amount of his pension.
As for the tax question, if GPO prevents him from collecting anything, then the tax issue is obviously moot, says Czarnowski.
For more, read Your Payments While You are Outside the United States Q: Is it possible to get two separate payments from Social Security at the same time if you have two qualifying reasons, such as the correct number of work credits and a disability that prevents you from working again?
“It is not, however, possible to receive a retirement benefit and a disability benefit simultaneously,” he says.

School lunch shaming: Inside America’s hidden debt crisis

School lunch shaming: Inside America’s hidden debt crisis

He’s learned two key truths: Just about every kid loves pizza, and an alarming number of American youngsters still can’t afford a $2.35 lunch, despite the dramatic expansion of free and reduced lunch programs.
All the other kids in the lunch line know what’s going on.
It happens across the country: 76% of America’s school districts have kids with school lunch debt, according to the School Nutrition Association.
Teacher says, ‘I felt I had to do something’ Chris Robinson hopes Texas passes a similar bill to New Mexico’s.
There are 30 GoFundMe campaigns to raise money specifically to pay off school lunch debts so students can get hot meals.
She was one of those kids who was “right above that cutoff line” for free lunch.
The kids have become pawns Schools resort to cheese-sandwich shaming to get lunch debts paid off because they have to fork over the money at the end of the year to cover whatever debt parents don’t pay.
When Antignolo arrived at the Lamar district in 2013, there was over $180,000 in unpaid school lunch debt that year.
A family of four earning under $31,400 can get free lunch for the kids.
Thankfully, some of the money Ishaq raised in her GoFundMe campaign went to pay off the young woman’s debt.

10,000 Boomers Turn 65 Every Day. Can Medicare and Social Security Handle It?
Social Security Disability

10,000 Boomers Turn 65 Every Day. Can Medicare and Social Security Handle It?

Can Medicare and Social Security Handle It?.
By the time the last of this generation approaches retirement age in 2029, 18 percent of the U.S. will be at least that age, the Pew Research Center projects.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates there will be 81 million beneficiaries in 2030.
For sure, many of those Americans will resist retirement if possible for both economic and lifestyle reasons.
But the explosive volume of Americans qualifying for benefits will put extraordinary pressure on government spending for Social Security and Medicare – two of the premier federal entitlement programs that are gradually running short of cash.
Budget experts say that significant growth in spending on retirement benefits and health care for the elderly are the major drivers of the national debt, along with moderating growth in tax revenue and rising government interest costs.
As baby boomers make increased demands on the system, entitlement trust funds will begin to run out of money, putting added pressure on the debt.
At the current rate, the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund will be depleted in 2033, with just enough money to cover 89 percent of benefits, according to the trustees’ report.
That will also be the year when – absent dramatic congressional and White House intervention –the publicly held debt will surpass the historical high of 106 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times:

Wall Street ‘fear index’ plumbs two-decade low

Wall Street ‘fear index’ plumbs two-decade low

Wall Street ‘fear index’ plumbs two-decade low.
The CBOE Volatility Index, better known as the VIX and the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, closed at 9.77, its lowest close since December 1993.
Over the past year, U.S. stocks have risen even in the face of risky events, including Britain’s vote to exit the European Union and the U.S. election.
The end of April marked the quietest four-month period for U.S. stocks in over two decades.
Market experts peg the relative tranquility in stock market gyrations to a mix of factors including an upbeat macro-economic backdrop and the lack of any big risky events that could potentially rock the volatility boat. “I think all that is positive for risky assets.”
The extended calm has made the buying of volatility a painful affair, as highlighted by a prolific buyer of VIX calls that market watchers have dubbed “50 cents.”
VIX call options gain in value if volatility spikes.
In all, the buyer, who has spent over $120 million on a bet on higher volatility, now accounts for roughly 9 percent of overall open call contracts, Chintawongvanich said.
The Financial Times last week on Friday identified the trader as London-based investment manager Ruffer LLP, citing unnamed bankers.

Congress debates: Should tax dollars be used to buy junk food?

Congress debates: Should tax dollars be used to buy junk food?

Congress debates: Should tax dollars be used to buy junk food?.
WASHINGTON — The House Agriculture Committee debated Thursday whether taxpayers should pay for sweetened beverages through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but when the five expert witnesses were asked if soda has nutritional value, not one said yes.
Still, only one of the witnesses, Angela Rachidi, who studies poverty for the American Enterprise Institute, a business-oriented think tank, advocated restrictions for candy and soda now paid for by the program.
She said restrictions would prompt retailers to make healthier alternatives available.
Others argued that the cost of implementing restrictions would be prohibitive and have limited value.
“Cashiers end up being food police at check-out time,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, a retail grocery industry association.
“It would create real havoc,” she said.
Although non-SNAP households display similar purchasing habits, Conaway said, “one can reasonably infer that billions in taxpayer dollars are being spent on sweetened beverages and prepared desserts.” Questions ranged from the impact of sweetened beverages on obesity and other health compromises, to the benefit of SNAP nutrition education programs in places where the only grocery provider is a convenience store.
Some advocated increasing the monthly benefit while one asked if it should be block-granted to the states.
He said schools in his district are experimenting with salad bars, encouraging children to bring home healthy habits to their families.

Social Security, Medicare changes are coming with new budget law
Social Security Disability

Social Security, Medicare changes are coming with new budget law

Social Security, Medicare changes are coming with new budget law.
Currently, a married person — typically the higher wage earner in a couple — who’s at least full retirement age could file for his or her own Social Security benefits and then immediately suspend those benefits while the spouse could file for spousal benefits.
In the meantime, the couple still get a Social Security check, and down the road the surviving spouse could get a higher benefit.
Under the new law, however, only those born Jan. 1, 1954, or earlier can use this option.
Anyone younger will just automatically get the larger of the two benefits, according to Social Security Timing.
• Social Security Disability.
The Social Security Disability trust was on pace to run out money next year and, as a result, millions of Americans were going to receive an automatic 19% reduction in their disability benefits in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Some 30% of Medicare beneficiaries were expecting a 52% increase in their Medicare Part B medical insurance premiums and deductible in 2016.
Under the new law, those beneficiaries — an estimated 17 million Americans — will pay about $119 per month, instead of $159.30, for Part B.
(Some 70% of Medicare beneficiaries will continue to pay the same premium in 2016 as they did in 2015, $104.90.)

President Trump Urges Senate Republicans to ‘Not Let the American People Down’ on Health Care

President Trump Urges Senate Republicans to ‘Not Let the American People Down’ on Health Care

President Trump Urges Senate Republicans to ‘Not Let the American People Down’ on Health Care.
Some senators have already voiced displeasure with the health care bill that cleared the House last week, with Republicans providing all the “yes” votes in the 217-213 count.
They cited concerns about potential higher costs for older people and those with pre-existing conditions, along with cuts to Medicaid.
Collins also complained that the House rushed a vote before the Congressional Budget Office could complete its cost-benefit analysis. “Republican senators will not let the American people down!”
Trump has said the current system is failing as insurers pull out of markets, forcing costs and deductibles to rise.
The White House on Sunday scoffed at Democratic claims that voters will punish the GOP in the 2018 elections for upending former President Barack Obama’s law.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price argued that states will get more freedom to experiment with the program and make sure that people who rely on Medicaid get the care and coverage they need.
Some House lawmakers have been challenged by the public over the House vote.
Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”