Durable Goods Orders increased 3.3% in April
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Linked by a common currency but not a common economy, the crisis-battered euro-zone nations are facing a pivotal choice: Either move more closely together or risk their currency union breaking apart. But are European voters — some in nations divided by centuries of rivalries — willing to take that leap toward closer integration?
The fiercely independent Irish are about to offer a window into the answer.
From the emerald hills of Donegal to the shores of Cork, the Irish go to the polls Thursday in a referendum on a regionwide fiscal treaty inked in January that would impose strict limits on budget deficits and debt. European governments that ratify the treaty will effectively surrender a measure of sovereignty over two of their most sacred economic rights — how much they can borrow and how much they can spend — to the bureaucrats in the region’s administrative capital of Brussels.
The referendum, in many ways, is shaping up as a litmus test of the willingness of Europeans to more deeply link their economic fortunes. As the region’s crisis deepened, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso underscored the urgency on Wednesday, heightening calls for radical rule changes that would begin to make the 17 member nations of the euro zone act more and more like the 50 U.S. states.
• From 1990-1991 to 2010-2011, total state appropriations rose from $65.1 billion to $75.6 billion. But state funding actually declined in relative terms. [From Bonddad: in inflation adjusted terms, this is a decline]
• If states had provided the same level of per capita support as in 1990-1991, they would have invested $80.7 billion in 2010-2011.
• If states had provided the same level of funding per public, full-time equivalent student as in 1990-1991, total appropriations in 2009-2010 would have equaled approximately $102 billion, an amount 35.3 percent higher.
• The proportion of their revenues that public colleges and universities received from state appropriations dropped from 38.3 percent in 1991-1992 to 24.4 percent in 2008-2009. Rising tuition, fees, and room and board represent a shift in support from the state as a whole to individual students and their families.
In addition, the financial aid system has failed to keep pace with escalating costs, forcing students and their families to rely on financing strategies that reduce their odds of completing school.
• States reoriented their financial aid programs away from need-based assistance to merit-based aid, which favors wealthier students. Students not only pay more than they used to but also borrow more extensively.
"The college-for-all crusade has outlived its usefulness. Time to ditch it. Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, it’s now doing more harm than good. It looms as the largest mistake in educational policy since World War II, even though higher education’s expansion also ranks as one of America’s great postwar triumphs.
MP: The chart above shows graphically the results of the "college-for-all crusade." In the 1970s and 1980s only about one out of three high school graduates went on to college. Now about half of all high school graduates attend college. And most of them now graduate with student loan debt of $25,000 and many are having a hard time finding a job.
The checks are stopping for the people who have the most difficulty finding work: the long-term unemployed. More than five million people have been out of work for longer than half a year. Federal benefit extensions, which supplemented state funds for payments up to 99 weeks, were intended to tide over the unemployed until the job market improved.
In February, when the program was set to expire, Congress renewed it, but also phased in a reduction of the number of weeks of extended aid and effectively made it more difficult for states to qualify for the maximum aid. Since then, the jobless in 23 states have lost up to five months’ worth of benefits.Next month, an additional 70,000 people will lose benefits earlier than they presumed, bringing the number of people cut off prematurely this year to close to half a million, according to the National Employment Law Project. That estimate does not include people who simply exhausted the weeks of benefits they were entitled to.Separate from the Congressional action, some states are making it harder to qualify for the first few months of benefits, which are covered by taxes on employers. Florida, where the jobless rate is 8.7 percent, has cut the number of weeks it will pay and changed its application procedures, with more than half of all applicants now being denied.