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44 ways to judge the Obama era

Jan 19 2017 Published by under pennystock

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Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama, the 44th commander in chief of the United States, caps off eight years in office on January 20.

Those eight years saw the nation grapple with the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. The country’s response to that crisis helped reshape the economy and the makeup of the political system a few times over. And for every day of those eight years, the nation was at war — on multiple fronts, against multiple groups for multiple purposes.
All of these momentous changes during Obama’s presidency had very real effects on people across the country and the globe. And for each of these real-world impacts, there is a number.
CNN Money has charted the Obama economy while The New York Times has explored 2016 in numbers. Here, 44 statistics open a window to the 44th President’s expansive impact.

1. Unemployment

The recession cost many people their livelihood. The following years saw many of those same people gain it back. While part of the drop in unemployment came from people leaving the workforce, enough people have jobs now that, statistically speaking, employment has recovered from the darkest days of the economic crisis.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate:
  • When Obama came into office during January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.8%.
  • The highest point in the data set came in October 2009, when unemployment hit double digits at an even 10%.
  • The final unemployment report under Obama put the unemployment rate at 4.7% for December 2016.

2. Oil

    Due in part to a revolution in domestic fossil fuels and massive oil production overseas, oil and gas have been pretty cheap for some of Obama’s presidency.
    Here’s what the situation looks like.

    3. The stock market

    Following years of upward climb and a rally after President-elect Donald Trump’s electoral victory, stocks are near record highs.
    Here’s stock market performance as of January 3, 2017:

    4. Down-ballot races

    Obama’s election coincided with Democratic victories across the nation and the strong 2008 showing built on the party’s successes in 2006. But as the years went on, the situation virtually reversed itself. Obama will exit office with the Republican Party resurgent on the state and federal levels.
    Here’s the breakdown for state government, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

    Here’s the breakdown for the US Congress, according to the Senate and House of Representatives.

    5. Opioid crisis

    Deaths from opioid-related overdose deaths have been on the rise. More people are dying from overdoses on heroin and prescription pain medicine like oxycodone and fentanyl.
    The National Center on Health Statistics and CDC WONDER report the number of opioid-related overdose deaths nationwide:

    6. Pot laws

    States with legal marijuana or cannabis products have blossomed under Obama. When he took office, recreational marijuana wasn’t legal in any state.
    Here’s what marijuana legalization looks like now, with information compiled by CNN Health:
      • Recreational: 8 states + the District of Columbia
      • Medical: 19 states
      • Medical CBD: 11 states

      7. Medicaid expansion

      The Affordable Care Act set aside funding for states to expand Medicaid — a government health care program for the poorest Americans. But the process became something of a tussle with state governments and many of their Republican leaders. By the end of Obama’s presidency, only the slim majority of states had opted to expand Medicaid.
      The District of Columbia and 31 states expanded Medicaid, per the Kaiser Family Foundation.

      8. Insurance coverage

      As the economy recovered and the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, reformed the health care market, more people had health insurance coverage.
      Here’s the total percentage of people without insurance, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey:

      9. National debt

      By the end of Obama’s presidency, government debt had nearly doubled to about $20 trillion.
      To be specific, the Treasury Department as of January 13, 2017, pegged the total public debt outstanding at $19,940,614,376,504.40.

      10. Deportation

      Trump said during his campaign that he’d create a special force to deport undocumented immigrants. Although Obama criticized Trump’s immigration proposals, he detained and deported millions of men, women and children. Obama’s administration deported the people — 434,015 — in 2013.
      Here are total “removals” of people according to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2015 yearbook of immigration statistics (the most recent year for which data are available):

        11. Interest rates and inflation

        The Federal Reserve increased its interest rate by .25% in December 2016 for the second time since the financial crisis. The rates had been cut to zero in 2008. Many were concerned the Fed’s easy money policies would cause inflation to skyrocket. Instead, inflation hasn’t risen by much yet for years.
        Here’s the rate of inflation, per the Minneapolis Fed.

        12. The car industry

        General Motors (GM) was down to 75 cents a share in May 2009.
        As of January 3, 2017, GM’s stock was up to $35.15.

        13. Inequality

        The US has grown more unequal over the past few decades, including the past eight years.
        One commonly cited measure is the Gini index. The number ranges from zero to 1, and the higher the Gini index is, the more unequal the distribution of income is.
        According to the Census, it was .469 in 2009 and .4817 in 2017.
        Another way to look at it comes from a recent study by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.
        The bottom half of earners have seen their pre-tax incomes fall while the highest earners have seen a fairly steady rise.

        14. Wage gap

        Debate abounds over how and why incomes vary by gender and whether the wage gap can fairly be said to exist. However, men and women, as well as people of different races, all have much different pay.
        Here are the median weekly earnings for employed, full-time wage and salary workers in 2015, with an overall average of $809, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

        15. Economic growth

        Following the dips in growth that marked the recession, the economy slowly and steadily rebounded. Many, including Trump, have said observed rates of growth are far too low.
          Here’s annual GDP growth, from the World Bank:

          16. Bills vetoed and signed

          During Obama’s tenure, he vetoed a total of 12 bills. Only one of those vetoes, the bill that would allow the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot, was overridden by Congress and passed into law.
          Since 2009, 1,294 bills were signed into law that dealt with everything from the economy to foreign policy to health care, according to GovTrack.

          17. Homeless veterans

          The Obama administration put forth “an aggressive strategy to end veteran homelessness” in 2010 as part of its overall plan to combat homelessness in the US. The White House reports overall veteran homelessness decreased by 36% since 2010. There have been about 90,000 vouchers from 2008-16 to help house homeless vets, according to the Military Times.

          18. Violent crimes

          From 2014-15, the nation saw a 3.9% increase in the estimated number of violent crimes — the FBI released its annual report for 2015 that said there were an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes committed.

          19. Hate crimes

          Hate crime incidents in the US neared 6,000 in both 2013 and 2015.
          • 2015: 5,850 incidents, 6,885 offenses
          • 2014: 5,479 incidents, 6,418 offenses
          • 2013: 5,928 incidents, involving 6,933
          • 2012: 5,796 incidents, 6,718 offenses

            20. Childhood obesity rates

            Youth obesity rates in the United States have steadily risen over the few decades past, nearly tripling in the past 30 years — a trend first lady Michelle Obama worked to reverse during her time in the White House. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act sought to give more than 50 million children an opportunity to eat healthier school meals.

            21. Police violence

            According to reporting done by The Washington Post, 991 people were shot dead by police in 2015. In 2016, the number decreased to 963, but there remained a number of high-profile cases that caught the country’s attention, including the shootings of Philando Castine and Alton Sterling.

            22. Job creation

            The Obama administration created 11.3 million jobs in eight years, and the economy added jobs for 75 straight months, a record that totals 6 years.
            More jobs were created under Obama than under George W. Bush, who only created 2.1 million jobs. However, Obama fell short of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, who saw 22.9 million and 15.9 million jobs created, respectively, under their presidencies.

            23. Carbon emissions

            Obama made combating climate change and promoting efficient sources of energy a key aspect of his presidency. With a 9.4% decrease in carbon emissions from 2008-15, he made progress toward his goal of a cleaner environment, according to the White House.

            24. Countries visited and trips abroad

            According to the State Department, Obama took 52 trips abroad and visited 58 countries, plus the West Bank zone, during his presidency. The countries he visited most were France and Germany, both of which he traveled to six times. He visited five of the seven continents, skipping over Australia and Antarctica.

            25. State dinners

            President Obama held 13 state dinners at the White House in his eight years, hosting 16 different countries. He hosted two for China, one while Hu Jintao was still in office in 2011 and one for Xi Jinping in 2015.
            The countries he hosted include:

            26. Price of homes

            Obama saw the average price of home rise to $305,400 by November 2016, according to the US Census Bureau. Before the economic crash, the all-time high had been $262,600 in March 2007.

            27. Home ownership rate

            According to US Census data, home ownership rates have decreased by 4% under Obama. When he took office in January 2009, the home ownership rate stood at 67.3%. Now, upon leaving office, the figure stands at 63.5%.

            28. Life expectancy

            Life expectancy has remained fairly steady under Obama. However, there was a statistically significant drop of 0.1 years from 2015 to 2016, bringing life expectancy down to 78.8 years currently as he leaves office.

            29. People receiving food stamps

            The number of people receiving food stamps has increased significantly under Obama, according to the USDA.
            When he was elected in 2008, 28,223,000 people were receiving food stamps.
            In 2016, 44,219,000 people received food stamps — an increase of nearly 16 million people.

            30. Troops in Afghanistan

            Although Obama has vastly reduced the number of troops in Afghanistan during his time in office, he has failed to withdraw all American troops from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
            When Obama took office in January 2009, there were 34,400 US troops in Afghanistan, according to the State Department.
            As of December 2016, there were still 9,800 troops left.

            31. Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

            Just days before the current president turns the White House over to the President-elect, Obama released more prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, according to a defense official at the Pentagon.
            As of January 2017, 45 prisoners remain and 171 have been released under Obama.
            Nine of the 171 have been “confirmed” to have returned to terrorist activities, according to a government report.
            Obama had pledged to close the controversial center within one year in an executive order he signed shortly after his inauguration in January 2009.

            32. Rounds of golf

            Obama hit the links 333 times since assuming the presidency, according to CBS News’ Mark Knoller, the unofficial White House statistician who pledged to track each and every round played by the commander in chief.
            While his critics have said this is too many rounds to play, his figure doesn’t come close to the amount played by Woodrow Wilson, who is said to have played 1,200 rounds while President.

            33. Executive orders

            Obama issued 249 executive orders, the third-lowest of any president since Theodore Roosevelt.

            34. Median household income

            The median household income has both risen and fallen under Obama.
            In 2015, the median was $56,516, which was a 5.2% increase from 2014. This was also the first increase in median income since 2007, before the economic crash.

            35. Consumer confidence

            Consumer confidence rose continuously under Obama to its highest level since August 2007 — before the Great Recession — according to the Consumer Confidence Index released by The Conference Board.
            In December 2016, the index was a high 113.7 — a stark difference to when fell as low as 25 during the recession, when Obama took office.

            36. Poverty

            The poverty rate in the United States in 2015 was 13.5%. This is down 1.2 percentage points from 14.8% in 2014. In 2015, there were 43.1 million people in poverty, 3.5 million fewer than in 2014.
            The 2015 poverty rate was 1 percentage point higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.

            37. Birth rate

            The birth rate fell to 59.8 births per 1,000 women in 2016 under Obama.
            This marks the lowest birth rate since the government started keeping track in 1909, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

            38. Price of milk

            The price of milk decreased under Obama from $3.58/gallon when he took office in January 2009 to $3.28/gallon as of November 2016.
            After the Great Recession, milk prices rose and have fluctuated since the economy turned around. Prices have been going down steadily since the beginning of 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

            39. Student loan debt

            2015 was a historic year for student loan debt. Students graduating with an undergraduate degree had on average $30,100 in loans, up 4% from 2014. Graduates who left college in 2009 when Obama assumed office averaged $24,000 in student loan debt, according to The Institute for College Access & Success.

            40. College tuition

            In 2016, the average college tuition increased by 2.4%. In 2015, the average private college cost $43,921 compared to $34,132 in 2008.

            41. US citizen deaths overseas from State-defined terrorism

            • The State Department recorded 80 US citizens killed by “terrorist action” from January 2009-June 2016 in Afghanistan.
            • State recorded two US citizens by “terrorist action” in Iraq during the same time period.
            • In total, State reported 115 citizens killed by “terrorist action” from the beginning of Obama’s presidency to the latest date for which data are available.

            42. US active military involvement

            In 2016, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, the US dropped 26,172 bombs during the course of 2016. But CFR says that number is “undoubtedly low, considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and a single “strike,” according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions.” This number increased from 2015, according to CFR, where the estimate came to 23,144, which CFR also defined as a “probably slightly low” estimate.

            43. US drone strikes

            Obama was known as a leader who extensively utilized and expanded the country’s drone strike capabilities in fighting terrorism. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Atlantic reported the Obama administration launched 372 drone strikes in Pakistan, 112 in Yemen and 19 in Somalia as of March 2016.

            44. Clemency

            CNN’s Kevin Liptak, a White House reporter, has kept a running tally of Obama’s acts of clemency — the president’s decisions to pardon or commute criminal sentences.
            In his final week as president, Obama commuted the bulk of Chelsea Manning’s sentence and pardoned Gen. James Cartwright, who were both accused of leaking information to the public. The same day, Obama commuted hundreds of non-violent drug offenders. With those final moves, Obama’s total acts of clemency stood well above his predecessors.

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            Democrats Home In On Tom Price Stock Trades Ahead Of Nomination Hearings

            Jan 18 2017 Published by under pennystock

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            WASHINGTON Senate Democrats want to postpone confirmation hearings for Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President-elect Donald Trumps nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, until investigations of his stock trading end.

            Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Tuesdaycalled for postponement of the hearings, and sent a letter to Price asking for details of his purchase of an Australian biotech stock.

            Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, took to the floor of the Senate to call for a delay, citing his request that the Office of Congressional Ethics investigate Prices investments. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), author of the 2012 STOCK Act that bars insider trading by members of Congress, also asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate.

            A Senate committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Price on Wednesday amid a barrage of news stories raising questions about his stock trading while in office.

            Kaiser Health News reported on Friday that Price received shares of an Australian biotechnology firm at a discounted rate not available on the open market. CNN reported on Monday that Price invested in a medical device manufacturer prior to introducing legislation specifically tailored to help that company. On Tuesday, Time reported that Price had purchased shares in six health care companies in 2016 while introducing legislation those companies lobbied to enact. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Price had traded around $300,000 in shares of health care companies while working on legislation that would directly affect their bottom lines.

            Price has claimed that his stock trades were made from a broker-directed fund operated by Morgan Stanley. All trades were made by his financial adviser, according to a fact sheet put out by the Trump presidential transition team. A spokesman for Morgan Stanley said the bank does not comment on private client accounts.

            The Trump fact sheet was released in response to the CNN report that Price introduced legislation to help medical-device makerZimmer Biomet soon after purchasing stock in the company. The statement said Prices financial adviser purchased $2,698 in Zimmer Biomet on March 17, 2016. Price reportedly did not learn about the purchase until April 4, 2016 12 days after he introduced legislation to delay a Medicare payment model for a specific medical device manufactured by Zimmer Biomet. Price had made $296 on the trade as of Jan. 13, according to the statement.

            Price reached an agreement with the Office of Government Ethics to divest his stock holdings upon his confirmation as HHS secretary.

            Ethics experts told HuffPost that they endorse an investigation into Prices trades because there arent enough public facts to know whether he violated the STOCK Act or House ethics rules regarding conflicts of interest and the acceptance of improper gifts.

            I have no idea whether Rep. Price had any insider information, Common Causes Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance and ethics lawyer, said, referring to the Zimmer Biomet trade.

            Mark Wilson via Getty Images
            Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) (C), speaks while flanked by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA),(L), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), during a news conference on Capitol Hill, January 5, 2017 in Washington, DC.

            Larry Noble, a lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center and former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission, said Price committed a possible violation of the STOCK Act if he knew that he was going to introduce the bill, it was not public he was going to introduce the bill, he buys stock immediately before that, and then introduces it and that helps it go up.

            House conflict-of-interest rules ban lawmakers from participating in government matters that could affect their financial interest.

            Ryan noted theres an exemption for ownership of publicly traded stock worth less than $15,000. Nearly all of Prices health care company stock trades, including Zimmer Biomet, were for less than $15,000.

            A major exception was Prices purchase of Innate Immunotherapeutics shares for between $50,001 and $100,000. Both Price and Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) received a below-market price when they bought shares in the Australian biotech company through a private placement, according to Kaiser Health News. The shares have since appreciated more than 400 percent.

            Lawmakers are barred from participating in initial public offerings not open to the broader public, Ryan said.

            Noble said other rules may apply, If theyre giving him a discounted price, that seems like it would be a gift and covered by the ethics rules.

            The Innate Immunotherapeutics stock purchase was the subject of the letter sent by Warren, Baldwin and Franken. The senators ask Price to disclose all information related to his purchase of the shares, including how he learned about the private placement and participated.

            Gillibrands letter asks the SEC to investigate Prices purchase of shares in Zimmer Biomet. Unmentioned in her request was that Price received a $2,000 contribution from the companys political action committee after the legislation was introduced.

            Any ethics investigation into whether Price took action to benefit a company or industry in connection with a campaign contribution is unlikely to go anywhere.

            In 2011, the House Ethics Committee dismissed charges that Price and six other congressman from both parties created an appearance of impropriety by holding fundraisers with the financial services industry just days after voting in committee to weaken the Dodd-Frank banking reform law.

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            Why a surging stock market isn’t making ordinary investors happy

            Jan 17 2017 Published by under pennystock

            For the first time since 1999, the three major US stock market indices have scored records simultaneously but big personal gains depend on big risks

            You dont have to look as far afield as Rio to find all-time records being smashed to bits in the last two weeks.

            The US stock market has been celebrating Team USAs string of gold medals by posting a string of new highs, having staged a decisive recovery from its Brexit swoon, after Britain voted to leave the EU in late June. The three major indices Standard & Poors 500-stock index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite even scored new records simultaneously for the first time since 1999, the height of the dotcom boom.

            So why, amid all this market ebullience, do most ordinary investors feel downright glum?

            The problem is that though stock markets bounced back to life rapidly following the 2008 financial crisis, the typical investor waited until 2013 to return, missing out on the earliest and biggest parts of the post-crisis rally.

            Most people remain deeply wary of stocks not surprising, after they saw the equity portion of their retirement shrink by 40% or more within a single year. A professional investor isnt worrying about needing to retire in four or five years with a much, much smaller 401k plan. He can afford a long-term view.

            The average woman in the street, however, is in a much different position. Not only are her savings smaller, but the collapse in interest rates part of the Federal Reserves repeated attempts to jump-start the economy has left her fixed income investments yielding almost nothing.

            Her house, which represents a larger share of her net worth than that of a more affluent investor, may have lost value. Or at least she probably cant count on its value at the same rates as before 2008, when the housing market cratered and left only San Francisco and New York City as real estate exceptions.

            Her job may be less secure, as companies cut costs. Her salary, which also is more important to her financial wellbeing than her investment income, is almost certainly flat, and she pays a higher proportion of the cost of the benefits she receives.

            To profit from the markets record highs, she would have to be willing to take on more risk in her investment portfolio if she has one at all and load up on stocks. And for many Americans, that feels like its asking too much. They probably arent wrong.

            The last bull market in stocks ended brutally when the dotcom bubble burst in the spring of 2000, but it wasnt followed by a chasm opening in wealth inequality, as in the crisis of 2008. If that late-1990s boom gave birth to equity culture the idea that stock investing can go mainstream then the 2008 crisis may have handicapped the idea.

            Too few Americans have profited too little from the stock market rally, while a handful of the countrys wealthiest have taken the lions share of the profits, simply because they have the spare capital to invest.

            Rises in the stock market have persistently accompanied increases in income inequality from 1979 to 2011, according to a report by the St Louis Federal Reserve. Even middle-income families are less likely to expose their savings to the higher risks of the equity markets, the report concluded.

            And the reason those stocks have climbed? Well, its as much due to interest rates as corporate profits. As long as bond yields are at their current basement levels, even anemic profits look attractive to investors,relative to bonds. Its growth! And bonds arent going to be delivering that any time soon. So what else is an investor to do? As the old saying goes, in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And that one-eyed man, right now, would be US stocks.

            The truth is that the stock markets records may be fragile. Corporate earnings have declined for the fifth straight quarter, and those companies that have managed to post higher profits have done so by cutting costs rather than generating higher sales. That should be bad news for stock prices, which typically trade as a multiple of a companys earnings.

            The only thing thats keeping the party going for now is super-cheap money, AKA low interest rates. As long as thats happening, well, the only place to park your spare cash if youre an investor is in stocks.

            But its interesting to look at just where those investors are choosing to put their money. By far the strongest performers of the S&P 500s 10 sectors are the telecommunications and the utilities sectors, both crammed full of stocks that pay out big dividends to their investors every quarter. In other words, investors are flocking to the safest companies out there, and the ones that will behave the most like bonds, paying them dividends instead of interest . There just arent very many cheap stocks left another reason to feel gloomy as the market has hit highs.

            Perhaps it wouldnt matter as much if more of us had managed to capture more of the gains. But we havent. But when this geriatric bull market eventually gives up the ghost, all of us who have any kind of investment portfolio, however small, will share the pain. The smaller our portfolios, the more significant those losses will be.

            Ultimately, the only thing average Americans seem able to count on is financial insecurity. Their increased productivity has gone to higher profits for corporations, and companies have paid those profits to shareholders in the form of higher stock prices, rather than to employees in the form of higher compensation. Only if that is reversed will we all be able to truly celebrate a bull market that profits everyone.

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