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Delaware’s former deputy treasurer Erika Benner facing drug charges in New England

Delaware’s former deputy treasurer Erika Benner facing drug charges in New England

Here are some of the top stories we’re following for today.
3/15/18 Damian Giletto/The News Journal A once high-ranking Delaware official at the center of former state treasurer Chip Flowers’ retreat from local politics is facing drug charges in Massachusetts, along with her two sons.
The drug exchange was witnessed by police in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and led to a search of her parents’ home, where both her sons reside, according to court records.
That search uncovered hundreds of Xanax pills, THC oil and other drugs used as to make the psychoactive methamphetamine MDMA, along with guns and other evidence of what police describe as “a lucrative joint drug enterprise” run by Benner’s children, court documents show.
When police informed Benner that her sons were selling narcotics, she responded, “I know, but one of them has ADHD,” police said.
The Eagle-Tribune newspaper reported last month that Benner was ordered to be held without bail pending her commitment to a 28-day drug detox program.
Messages left at Benner’s home were not returned Friday.
That’s a far cry from the six-figure-a-year job Benner held in Delaware before resigning after racking up $6,400 worth of personal charges on her state credit card for meals, gas and an extended hotel stay after a treasurer’s conference in Alaska.
Flowers claimed he was the subject of a coordinated smear campaign initiated by his political foes.
Although Benner now lives about 30 miles north of Boston, Flowers on Friday said he has not had any contact with his former deputy for years.

Reduced comp rates in store for Vermont businesses

Reduced comp rates in store for Vermont businesses

Vermont employers will save a total of $10 million under lower workers compensation insurance rates this spring, according to Gov.
Phil Scott’s office.
There will be overall reductions of 3.7% in voluntary lost costs and 7.6% in assigned risk rates starting April 1, the governor’s office said Wednesday in a statement.
This is the second consecutive year both loss costs and assigned risk rates have been reduced, with aggregate reductions of 11.6% and 15.6% respectively over the last two years, according to the statement.
The reduction in comp costs were driven by several factors including reductions in the frequency of claims, down 11.5% over the past three years.
The severity of indemnity and medical treatment claims have also declined, down 4.6% over the past five years, according to the statement.
Reductions also came as the result of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation directing the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. to remove a surcharge applied to the assigned risk market — as recent experience no longer justified the expense — resulting in additional premium relief of 6.7%for Vermont employers in the assigned risk market.
Vermont’s log hauling industry will receive the greatest benefit from this year’s filing, as the department also directed NCCI to combine the log hauling employer class with the contract trucking class, resulting in a 24% rate reduction for log haulers while having no impact on the contract trucking industry, according to the statement.
“This is good news for Vermont employers and the overall Vermont job market,” Gov.
Scott said in the statement.

Job openings hit record high at start of 2018

Job openings hit record high at start of 2018

The numbers: The number of job openings in the U.S. surged to a record 6.3 million in January, showing that businesses are still eager to hire nearly nine years into an economic expansion that still appears to have plenty of momentum.
About 5.6 million people were hired and 5.4 million lost their jobs in January, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The share of people who left jobs on their own, known as the quits rate, was unchanged at 2.5% among private-sector employees.
Typically workers who move end up getting better pay.
What happened: White-collar and professional firms posted the most job openings.
Delivery services and utilities were also looking to fill a lot of jobs, with many veteran employees planning to retire in the next few years.
The big picture: Companies are still lots of people despite the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years and growing complaints about a shortage of skilled labor.
The U.S. in February added a whopping 313,000 new jobs to push the unemployment rate down to 4%.
The jobs market is so strong that some Americans receiving disability benefits have rejoined the workforce and companies are even hiring and training people with criminal records.
All of this is helping to keep the U.S. economy expanding nearly nine years after the last recession.

Op-Ed: Expropriation without compensation – The ANC’s next grand lie

Op-Ed: Expropriation without compensation – The ANC’s next grand lie

Land expropriation without compensation is a radical policy stance which the EFF and the ANC are clutching on to like a lifeline in the fight to win back political space and voters ahead of the next election.
And, if there is one relatable truth in South Africa, it is that life is hard.
Another relatable truth – land ownership patterns in South Africa are still skewed.
The narrative that expropriation without compensation will solve our country’s skewed property ownership patterns and empower more black South Africans – by seemingly creating a generation of farmers – relies on those two relatable truths – that life is hard for many young, unemployed black South Africans and that this is the group least likely to own property compared to any other demographic.
The lie that expropriation without compensation will be a solution for this attaches itself to the combination of desperation and aspiration many young South Africans are experiencing.
They are a party that cannot offer any real governance solutions.
We cannot forget that it is the ANC which governs in the eight provinces (and many more local governments) where life is hardest for young black South Africans.
The biggest challenge to land reform is not that more land needs to expropriated.
The people of South Africa need and want to own a house, close to work opportunities, and not everyone wants to farm.
DM Thandeka Mbabama MP is the DA’s Shadow Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform Photo: A farm in the Overberg area in the Western Cape, 15 March 2018.

10 years after the financial crisis, have we learned anything?

10 years after the financial crisis, have we learned anything?

Lawmakers told the Federal Reserve to write rules that would have put a stop to the worst practices.
The crisis unofficially began a decade ago today, with JPMorgan’s shocking deal to rescue Bear Stearns for $2 a share after the investment bank suffered deep losses tied to its mortgage investments. “We got into that mess because of the lack of regulation, and now we’re talking about making banks less accountable.
But this is still a changed country.
Median household net worth remains below where it stood in 1998, according to the Federal Reserve, even as households take on more debt than ever before.
Congress tried to answer this question when it established the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and its 2011 autopsy of the meltdown remains excellent reading today.
A year later, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 established new oversight bodies to coordinate the alphabet soup of regulators that had avoided responsibility by acting in silos.
Many argue that bailouts for homeowners should have been much more generous, in order to avoid more foreclosures and better stabilize neighborhoods, and that banks should have been pushed harder to lend to qualified borrowers once new safeguards were put in place. “But if you want to have a growth-oriented system, then you have to accept that there’s going to be fragility.
A Decade Later: It’s been 10 years since the financial crisis rocked America’s economy.

Eurozone inflation falls, misses forecasts

Eurozone inflation falls, misses forecasts

The eurozone’s annual rate of inflation was even lower than previously estimated in February, as wages continued to grow modestly despite strong economic growth and a steady fall in unemployment.
The European Union’s statistics office Friday said consumer prices were just 1.1% higher in February than a year earlier, a lower rate of inflation that the 1.2% it first estimated.
That marked the third straight month of decline and brought the rate to its lowest level since December 2016.
The European Central Bank targets an inflation rate of just below 2%, and continues to provide substantial stimulus to the eurozone economy in pursuit of that goal.
Higher wages can boost inflation by increasing costs for businesses, which are then passed on to consumers.
But there are few signs of an impending pickup in pay.
In a separate release, Eurostat said wages in the three months through December were 1.7% higher than in the same period of 2016, a slight pickup from the 1.6% rise recorded in the three months to September.
And there are also signs that workers feel their bargaining power has weakened as a result of offshoring and the increased use of robots. “Policy makers have to be more cautious than in the past,” he said.
Weak wage growth has also been a problem for the eurozone’s political establishment, which has faced growing voter discontent as populists party have gained ground.

Millions unemployed, plunging house prices and a global economic crash: Here’s the apocalyptic scenario Britain’s banks will be stress tested against in 2018

Millions unemployed, plunging house prices and a global economic crash: Here’s the apocalyptic scenario Britain’s banks will be stress tested against in 2018

Bank of England releases 2018 stress test scenario, designed to test British banks’ ability to withstand negative shocks. “Overall, the 2018 stress scenario is more severe than the financial crisis,” the Bank of England said.
LONDON – The Bank of England on Friday released the scenario it will test Britain’s banks against this year to ensure they are resilient enough to resist a major negative shock to the global economy. “Overall, the 2018 stress scenario is more severe than the financial crisis,” the Bank of England said.
These are, the BoE says: “A UK and global macroeconomic stress.” “A traded risk stress, linked to a financial market scenario consistent with the content and calibration of the macroeconomic stress scenario.”
The main points of the test are effectively a collapse in the world economy, an even bigger collapse in the UK economy, a huge drop in house prices, and a massive increase in both unemployment and the Bank of England’s base interest rates.
UK GDP falls by 4.7%.
And here’s the BoE’s chart, comparing the test to what actually happened in the financial crisis: “The stress scenario incorporates a synchronised global downturn in output growth. “For the first time since the Bank of England launched its stress tests in 2014, no bank needs to strengthen its capital position as a result of the stress test,” the Bank of England said in a statement at the time.

31,000 Toys ‘R’ Us employees: No job and no severance

31,000 Toys ‘R’ Us employees: No job and no severance

The news that Toys “R” Us is closing might conjure up wistful childhood memories for shoppers.
But for the chain’s 31,000 U.S. employees, it means they’re out of a job. “When they announced 182 stores closing and my store wasn’t on the list, I thought I’d be OK,” said one Florida employee who spoke to CNN.
That employee, a 39-year old mother of three boys, said she’s worked at the store for 12 years and hoped to remain there until her youngest, now 8 years old, was grown. “They loved it,” she said.
Workers were promised 60 days pay, which is required under federal law, and they’ll receive that pay even if they don’t work the full two months.
About 1,100 people work at the company’s headquarters in Wayne, N.J., according to the bankruptcy filing, and about 30,000 at the store’s remaining 791 U.S. locations.
Employment in the retail sector suffered a net decline of 29,300 jobs last year, according to the Labor Department.
But even with so many stores closing, it’s tough for retailers to find help. “We’re actually seeing a competitive job market in retail that really is unprecedented,” said Portell.

Come the Recession, Don’t Count on That Safety Net

Come the Recession, Don’t Count on That Safety Net

What will President Trump’s first recession look like?
The stock market tumble after the government reported an uptick in wages last month suggests just how worried investors on Wall Street are that the Federal Reserve might start increasing interest rates more aggressively to forestall inflation.
It is hardly premature to ask, in this light, how the Trump administration might manage the fallout from the economic downturn that everybody knows will happen.
By slashing taxes while increasing spending, President Trump and his allies in Congress have further boxed the economy into a corner, reducing the space for emergency government action were it to be needed.
Unemployment remained at 9 percent or more for over two years.
What is critical to note is that each of the two programs did more to relieve extreme poverty during the depths of the Great Recession than even the earned-income tax credit, the main source of government support for low-income Americans.
This is a problem for vulnerable Americans bracing for the next economic shock, because if Mr. Trump and his colleagues in Congress have their way, the only surviving bit of the social safety net when the next recession hits will probably require beneficiaries to work.
Assiduously looking for places to cut spending to temper a growing budget deficit, the White House seems more than willing to pare the safety net.
The budget it unveiled this month called for a 27 percent cut to the food stamp budget and a 20 percent cut to Section 8 housing assistance by 2028.
While the Trump administration is unlikely to end unemployment insurance, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program expired at the end of 2013.

No, Mr. President. The US doesn’t have a trade deficit with Canada

No, Mr. President. The US doesn’t have a trade deficit with Canada

Trump said the inaccurate statement on Wednesday at a fundraiser.
The United States has a trade surplus with Canada, according to statistics from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is a part of the executive branch.
Conversely, a surplus means that Canada bought more goods and services from the United States than the other way around.
The US had a $2.7 billion trade surplus with Canada last year.
Subtract the goods deficit from the services surplus, and you get an overall US trade surplus of $2.7 billion with Canada.
According to the Census Bureau, the United States ran a $17.6 billion deficit with Canada, but it counts only goods.
Globally, the United States has a trade deficit and that makes sense because the US economy is driven by consumer spending.
Americans spending at stores and online make up about two-thirds of US economic activity.
During the financial crisis a decade ago, the trade deficit shrunk.
The United States can stomach such large trade deficits because foreign companies and governments take the money they get from US buyers and often reinvest that cash in US Treasury bonds.