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AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s tax-form claims are exaggerated

AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s tax-form claims are exaggerated

On the eve of Tax Day, President Donald Trump is exaggerating the government’s plans to shrink the much-dreaded federal income tax forms.aa He is promising a simplified, one-page tax form for next year that basically already exists — the 1040EZ.
And after weeks of promises, Trump appears to be dropping a pledge to create an even smaller, card-size tax form.
A look at the statements and how they don’t hold up: TRUMP: “Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates.
But in three straight currency reports issued since Trump took office, the administration has not branded China or any other country as a currency manipulator.
But that reflected new economic sanctions the United States imposed on Russia — not rising U.S. interest rates or efforts by the Russian government to drive down the ruble’s value.
Trump is correct that rising U.S. interest rates could contribute to boosting the dollar’s value against other currencies by making investments in the United States more attractive to foreign investors.
Very importantly, next year, it’s going to be a simple — for the most part, one page.
Trump previously had promised a card-size tax form but now appears to be backing off that claim by describing next year’s form as “for the most part one page” that “may get a little bit bigger.”
In fact, there’s no sign that the IRS is planning new filing forms, card-size or otherwise, for the 2018 tax year.
It’s been a political gimmick for years.

Unemployment: Youths must adapt to survive

Unemployment: Youths must adapt to survive

If they do not, they risk getting left behind as new technology overtakes traditional industries.
In today’s age where technology is rapidly evolving and disrupting traditional industries, governments all over the world face challenges on youth unemployment, of up to 13.1% in 2017, according to the United Nations.
One major factor is that new technologies demand new types of skills and much less of the old ones.
Hence, youth today need to dynamically reinvent themselves by continuously acquiring new skills to adapt to the rapid changes in technology.
This shows how the internet and social media have disrupted traditional media in a big way.
However, with the fall in recruitment for traditional media, more roles are opening up in online portals.
The retail industry has also become more accessible to budding young entrepreneurs as they no longer need to raise funds for a physical shop.
New industries are ending traditional employments but adding other, more sophisticated, ones.
In the upcoming election, candidates and political parties will raise the issue of unemployment and start pointing fingers.
The Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE) urges youth to move #ForwardTogether as we face the era of disruption, so no one gets left behind.

Fed can keep rate hikes gradual without risking inflation: Evans

Fed can keep rate hikes gradual without risking inflation: Evans

Thomson Reuters CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve can stick to a series of gradual U.S. interest-rate increases over the next couple of years without much risk of an unhealthy surge in inflation, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Tuesday. “I don’t foresee an outsized risk of a breakout in inflation,” Evans said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Chicago Rotary Club. “As long as this picture continues, the (Fed) can increase rates gradually while monitoring any rising inflationary pressures.”
The Fed in December 2015 embarked on what is emerging as the slowest rate-hike cycle in its 100-year history, with its target range for short-term borrowing costs now at 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent despite what Evans called an economy that is firing on all cylinders.
Some economists have warned that the Fed may need to raise rates faster to prevent inflation from accelerating, now that unemployment is at 4.1 percent and expected to fall further as consumer and business spending, along with expansionary fiscal policy, fuel economic growth.
But to Evans, there is little risk the Fed will repeat the mistakes of the 1970s, when policymakers allowed the labor market to overheat, unleashing inflation and forcing the central bank to jack up rates aggressively in response.
A recession ensued.
This time around, Evans said, inflation and inflation expectations are low and it is difficult to imagine escalating inflation without sharp wage gains that are not in evidence.
If low unemployment continues to put little pressure on inflation, he said, the Fed may indeed be able to make smaller adjustments to rates. “I think we have the opportunity to more patiently read – and react to – the incoming data,” Evans said.

Fed’s Evans says ‘overheating’ is a story from the 1970s and 1980s

Fed’s Evans says ‘overheating’ is a story from the 1970s and 1980s

Lately he has come around to the idea that gradual rate hikes are likely to be appropriate.
In his speech, Evans said the idea that strong growth at this stage of the business cycle typically overheats the economy, driving up wages and other business costs and leading to undesirably high inflation was the story of the economy from World War II until 2003, Evans said.
“The past 15 years have been somewhat different,” he said.
Over this time period, the response of inflation to above-trend growth has been much more muted, he noted.
This makes rising inflation seem less likely and means there is a “lack of fuel” for wage growth.
“With the Phillips curve apparently flatter, inflation expectations low and well anchored, and a lack of fuel from strong wage growth, I don’t foresee an outsized risk of a breakout in inflation.
As long as this picture continues, the FOMC can increase rates gradually while monitoring any rising inflationary pressures,” Evans said.
There are a few other possible explanations for the current environment of low unemployment rate and low inflation.
This is good fortune in the short run but also means the central bank will have to let the unemployment rate rise when this temporary condition ends.
But, the best way to deal with those concerns is through regulation rather than monetary policy, Evans said.

Hiring picks up, unemployment falls to 4.8 percent in Pittsburgh region

Hiring picks up, unemployment falls to 4.8 percent in Pittsburgh region

The Pittsburgh region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped slightly to 4.8 percent in February as strong hiring picked up in 2018, according to the monthly workforce report released on Tuesday by the state.
The labor force has gained 4,900 people through the first two months of this year after shrinking by as many as 19,000 in 2017, according to the monthly reports.
But it is clear that while many residents retired and gave up looking for work last year, the workforce appears more confident so far in 2018.
The region’s annual job growth stood at 1.4 percent, with employers adding 14,400 jobs since February 2018, according to seasonally adjusted figures.
That matched the statewide annual job growth of 1.4 percent in February.
(Those numbers are not seasonally adjusted for the gains and losses normally seen throughout the year, making it hard to compare monthly changes.)
Education and health services gained 4,700 positions over the year, for about 2 percent job growth, and professional and business services gained 1,000 positions, a less than 1 percent job growth.
The sector added 1,300 jobs for a total employment of 10,400 in February.
The Pittsburgh metro area, which encompasses Allegheny and six surrounding counties, has the 11th lowest jobless rate among 18 metro areas across the state.
Daniel Moore: dmoore@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2743 and Twitter @PGdanielmoore

Vanguard: Tighter Job Market, Rising Inflation Could Bring Faster Rate Hikes

Vanguard: Tighter Job Market, Rising Inflation Could Bring Faster Rate Hikes

Vanguard said that tight labor markets could lead to stronger wage growth and inflation, which may prompt the Fed to move quicker with its monetary policy and thus result in higher short-term interest rates.
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Meanwhile, the fund company noted that rising confidence and stronger demand in Japan should spark broad-based growth in the country, while China should see slower growth thanks to a move on the part of the government to contain leverage and reduce overcapacity.
In Europe, Vanguard said that growth should pick up thanks to higher global growth, declining unemployment and less political uncertainty.
As a result of all this, Vanguard believes that investors should prepare for lower portfolio returns.
To protect against that, the fund company pointed to saving more, working longer, spending less and reducing investment costs, all of which are in the control of investors.
In fact, Vanguard’s Chairman Jack Bogle told CNBC earlier this month that he hasn’t seen a stock market like the current one in all his years investing. “I have never seen a market this volatile, to this extent, in my career,” said the 88-year-old Bogle in an interview with CNBC last week.
That is especially true if they have a long-term investment plan in place. “This trading, this volatility, is of interest to speculators – but it is not of interest to long-term investors,” Bogle said.

Food stamp recipients would have to work under proposed farm bill

Food stamp recipients would have to work under proposed farm bill

Video by Jennifer Sangalang, FLORIDA TODAY Wochit WASHINGTON — Republicans controlling the House are proposing sweeping new work mandates on the nation’s more than 40 million food stamp recipients as they kick off debate on an election-year overhaul of the government’s food and farm programs.
(Photo: Robert F. Bukaty, AP) The legislation has traditionally been bipartisan, blending support from urban Democrats supporting nutrition programs with farm state lawmakers supporting crop insurance, farm credit, and land conservation. “We believe breaking this poverty cycle is very important,” Conaway said.
The latest proposal on food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, would require states to impose stricter uniform work requirements for SNAP recipients between 18 and 59.
Stricter rules apply to able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49, who are subject to a three-month limit of benefits unless they meet a work requirement of 80 hours per month.
Under the new bill, that requirement would be expanded to apply to all work-capable adults, mandating that they either work or participate in work training for 20 hours per week with the exception of seniors, pregnant women, caretakers of children under the age of six, or people with disabilities.
The new work requirements would take effect in 2021, and increase to 25 hours per week in 2026.
Each new SNAP recipient would have one month to comply with the rule.
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, criticized the bill for “breaking up the long-standing, bipartisan, urban-rural farm bill alliance,” calling it “a dangerous and unproductive step that will only sow division and jeopardize both this and future farm bills.”
The farm bill can give them that.

The pound’s comeback defies Brexit gloom

The pound’s comeback defies Brexit gloom

The British pound is on a scorching rally, making it the best performing major currency of the year so far.
A trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union, its biggest trading partner, is far from certain, meaning the country might still crash out of the bloc without one.
Kallum Pickering, senior economist at Berenberg, said that while the United Kingdom is missing out on the current global growth upswing because of Brexit, the economy is still doing much better than investors anticipated after the referendum.
The economy grew by 1.7% in 2017.
That was weaker than 2016, but way better than the 1.1% predicted by the International Monetary Fund in the wake of the referendum.
The currency lost as much as 20% of its value against the dollar in the first year after the referendum.
At one point, it dropped to a 31-year low of $1.20.
Now it buys $1.42, just 3% below where it was trading the day before the Brexit referendum.
The rally against the dollar hit a brief pause, however, on Tuesday, as the pound dropped 0.2%.
Wages grew faster than inflation for the first time in a year, but at a weaker rate than expected by economists.

U.K. real wages rise; jobless rate falls

U.K. real wages rise; jobless rate falls

LONDON–The unemployment rate in the U.K. declined in February to its lowest level in more than 40 years, while wage growth strengthened, signs that the labor market remained healthy despite weak growth at the start of the year.
The figures will cement expectations the Bank of England remains on track to lift interest rates for the second time in a decade when officials meet in May.
The jobless rate in the U.K. declined to 4.2% in the three months through February, compared with 4.3% in the three months through January.
The unemployment rate was last as low as 4.2% in 1975, the Office for National Statistics said.
The fall was driven by a rise in employment.
The number of people not seeking work registered a small decline.
Wage growth excluding bonus payments accelerated to an annual 2.8% during the three-month period, the fastest rate of growth since 2015, driven by higher pay settlements in construction and manufacturing.
The BOE has telegraphed that it expects to lift its benchmark borrowing costs three or more times over the next few years to restrain inflation.
Economists believe the next increase, to 0.75%, could come as soon as next month.
Write to Jason Douglas at Jason.Douglas@wsj.com and David Hodari at David.Hodari@wsj.com

U.K. stocks flip higher as pound rally fizzles after wage data

U.K. stocks flip higher as pound rally fizzles after wage data

U.K. stocks erased an earlier loss and swung higher on Tuesday after the pound pulled back from its highest level since the Brexit vote following a mixed report on the British labor market.
While the data showed wages now are rising faster than inflation, traders had hoped for a stronger number to cement expectations of a Bank of England rate rise in May.
What are markets doing?
The FTSE 100 index UKX, +0.18% rose 0.2% to 7,211.87, climbing back from a 0.1% loss earlier in the session.
The turnaround came as the pound GBPUSD, -0.0279% dropped to $1.4323, losing grip of its almost 22-month high of $1.4377.
Sterling traded at $1.4338 late Monday in New York.
Both the pound and stocks were driven by the February reading on the U.K. labor market.
The unemployment rate, however, surprised to the upside, falling to the lowest level since 1975 at 4.2%, down from 4.3% in January.
However, in the bigger picture, the consumer is still in a stronger position than before, which means we could still expect a more hawkish BOE when they meet in May,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, in a note.
• “There was certainly nothing in this data to dissuade markets from the view that a rate hike is likely in May.