This week the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve will meet to consider the next phase of monetary policy. The Fed, through the policy decisions of the FOMC, has been engaged in a policy known as "quantitative easing", or QE. You would not be too far off the mark if you interpret QE as the equivalent of printing money. The Fed has been slowly reducing QE for the past year, and it is expected to finish QE this fall. You may wonder what all the attention on the Fed is about, and how the Fed's actions affect the economy, and possibly your own family?
The Fed controls the money supply; essentially the amount of cash on hand, and in bank accounts. They attempt to maintain the money supply at just the right level; enough to facilitate transactions in the economy, but not so much that prices start to rise out of control. As a rule, the Fed aims to manage the money supply so that prices rise two percent per year. They hope that two percent inflation is just the right level to facilitate necessary price adjustments, but will not distort the economy too much.
Prior to the financial crisis, the Fed controlled the money supply by raising and lowering short-term interest rates. Raising short-term rates would reduce the money supply, while lowering short-term rates would increase the money supply. (It is more intuitive if you think of the causality going in the other direction.) Since 2009, short-term interest rates have been near zero. It is difficult to lower interest rates below zero. (But not impossible-there are negative interest rates afoot in Europe today.) So the Fed has used QE, in the face of zero percent short-term interest rates, as the mechanism to increase the money supply. more >>
After months of enjoying the pleasures of summer, for many one holiday marks the end of that time of leisure and the beginning of a new season of obligation.
Across the United States of America, each year the first Monday of September marks the observance of Labor Day.
A date known for its picnics, parades, block parties, and the dreadful reminder that the school year is about to begin, Labor Day has a history going back to the nineteenth century. more >>
While the United States remains the wealthiest nation in the world—first by Gross Domestic Product, seventh by average income—many Americans have been struggling financially in recent years. As The Washington Post reported in April:
Wages for millions of American workers, particularly those without college degrees, have flat-lined. Census figures show the median household income in 2012 was no higher than it was 25 years ago. Men's median wages were lower than in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, many of the expenses associated with a middle-class life have increased beyond inflation.
While politicians continue to bicker about the best way to combat these problems, there are some attitudes that clearly do more harm than good. First, we must keep American problems in perspective. The Post article highlights very real issues like leaky roofs and broken dishwashers as consequences of wage stagnation. But it is important to remember that worrying about money is not the same thing as living in poverty. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that, worldwide, 870 million people suffer from chronic undernourishment, mostly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly half the world survives on less than $3 a day. It is important to distinguish between real poverty and first world middle class problems because the prosperity we enjoy America is actually quite rare. more >>
A megachurch based in San Diego is eyeing the usage of a shuttered performing arts center, which may involve paying El Cajon approximately $1 million over five years which the city hopes will help reopen the facility and revitalize the community.
The Rock Church of San Diego and city officials are in negotiations over usage of the closed East County Performing Arts Center.
El Cajon City Council recently gave the nod for negotiations over the usage of Arts Center, in the hopes that it will aid in supporting the city's downtown economy. more >>
You've no doubt seen those polls where Americans are asked if they think our country is heading in the right direction. Perhaps you've even been asked that yourself.
Whether the answer is yes or no, we all know it's not scientific. It's based on a general impression, and those impressions are shaped by what we read and see on the news, and on what we know is happening to ourselves and our friends and family.
But what if we could actually measure the direction we're going in? And not just in a general sense, but on a whole host of factors. Surely we could give a more informed answer. more >>
A Creationist group's project to build a park centered around a life-sized model of Noah's Ark might benefit from an estimated $18 million in tourism incentives. This would come by way of a state sales tax refund that would be received after the Ark Encounter has been open to the public for at least three years.
The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority has given "preliminary approval" on the Ark Encounter project overseen by a Christian apologetics group known as Answers in Genesis.
Gil Lawson, spokesman for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, told The Christian Post that the "preliminary approval" was given last week. more >>