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February 26, 2010     Post-Gazette
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Page4 POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 26, :2010 ng win Ben Doherty FEDS RAISING RATES The Federal Reserve raised a largely symbolic rate late Thursday, the dis- count rate; the rate banks charge each other for over- night loans by .25 basis points to .75. The central bank cited continued im- provement in market condi- tions. This is the first rate move by the Fed since Lehman Bros., went bank- rupt in 2008. The January, FOMC meeting released this week discussed a dis- count rate hike. The Fed caught people off guard by how quickly they acted. The dollar rose and stocks fu- tures fell on the news. Bernanke said the Fed will slowly drain away some of the $1 trillion it had pumped into the financial system. The Fed vowed to keep its benchmark fed funds on overnight loans at a record low 0-.25 basis points to sup- port a recovery. Analysts don't expect a fed funds rate hike until 2011, amid con- cerns that unemployment, foreclosures and tepid con- sumer spending improve. The Fed's balance sheet is now over $2 trillion, more than double pre-recession levels. Jobless claims rose 31,000 last week to 467,500 and January's index of lend- ing indicators fell .3%, a little light. Oil prices and treasury yields rose while gold fell. The economy is not in an extremely inflationary environment. In March, the Fed will wrap up its $1.425 trillion program to buy back mortgage securities and debt. Wal-Mart earnings rose 14% to 1.17, .05 over views. It sees 81-85 cents/share for quarter one and $3.00- $4.00/share for 2010. Dell still unable to resume prod- uct growth. The shares were down 5% after reporting year over year earnings were down and it marked the fifth straight quarter of declining profits. Hewlett Packard re- leased strong results, $3.9 billion in its cash flow while sales rose 8%. Double dip is a positive description for ice cream cones not housing prices. Yet several forecast- ers are predicting housing prices will slip again in 2010, after signs of revival in late 2009. Many sellers have had to cut prices to lure buyers. Home sales could fall when a federal tax credit of $8,000/home expires as planned at the end of April. Any time you come off pain medication you have some withdrawals. The early signs of a double dip are showing in 20% of the 143 markets it follows. Moody's predicts that housing prices will fall 80/o from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010. The aver- age discount runs about 8%. In Detroit, homes are sell- ing at $8.00-$20.00/square foot versus 855.00-75.00/ square foot in the suburbs. One house is selling fol $21,200 down from $38,00C last year. There is inventor) of eight months, so demanc is slow, but that's down frorr down from 40 months of inventory last year. The pace of delinquencies eased in the fourth quarter, but the percentage of loans be- hind in payments is 15.02%, its most since MBA's records began in 1972, and will likely stay high and it will take a year to work through most of their loans. The stock markets settled higher after the Feds announcement. The S&P rose .2% and the NASDAQ and Dow edged up .2% each. The market gained 3.1% for the week. It was one of the best weeks of the year. The CPI showed less inflation than analysts expected. The toy industry made up most of its losses in the fourth quarter, as a strong fourth quarter made up mos~ of the ground from toy sales flat for the year. This shows positive signs for the indus- try going into 2010. The CPI rising .2% sug- gests inflation won't flare up soon and gives the Fed morq leeway on keeping rates loW to support the economic re- covery. It's time to call your finant cial advisor or call me at 617-261-7777. Connector's New Small Business Plan Responding to the struggles of small business owners facing escalating health in- surance premiums, the Health Connector launched a new group health insur- ance product called Busi- ness Express this month. This new program, in con- junction with Governor Deval Patrick's small busi- ness job incentives plan, builds on the Governor's continued efforts to support small businesses, foster job creation and further economic growth in the Commonwealth "Small businesses have been hit hard by the ris- ing cost of health insurance," Governor Patrick said. "This innovative approach by the Health Connector is an essential part of helping to ease the burden on the small business community and stimulating job creation in this sector." Business Express is in- tended for small busi- nesses with 50 or fewer employees and all of its products carry the state's Seal of Approval for quality and value. Because there are no membership fees and reduced administrative costs, many businesses with five or fewer employees may save more than $300 per employee per year. FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS AUTO * HOMEOWNERS * TENANTS LIFE * HEALTH * BUSINESS GROUP Experience makes the difference WE PROMISE TO MEET OR IMPROVE YOUR PRESENT POLICY COVERAGE AT AFFORDABLE RATES CALL TODAY FOR YOUR QUOTE 617-523-3456 1 Longfellow - Place Suite 2322 - Boston, MA 02114 Prospective employers will have the opportunity to select a plan from any of the seven major carriers whose plans carry the Seal of Approval -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachu- setts, CeltiCare, Fallon Community Health Plan, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Health New England, Neighborhood Health Plan and Tufts Health Plan. i (Continued on Page 12! Rapino Memorial Home 9 Chelsea St., East Boston 617-567-1380 Kirby-Rapino Memorial Home 917 Bennington St. East Boston 617-569-0305 Dino C. Manca Funeral Director A Family Service Affiliate of AFFS/SeMce Corp. Infl 206 Winter St. , Fall River, MA 02720 508-676-2454 ! ., .,~-f:'2"f ~~ -Z'e.~.~ I 1 by Sal Giarratani TIM CAHILL: Independent for Governor Left to Right: Tim Cahill, Sal Giarratani and Paul LOSCOCCO. Over the years of being a political activist, I have worked God knows how, many political campaigns. I don't always win. I am akin in politics what Bert Blyleven or Jim Kaat is to baseball. Lots of wins and lots of loses too. However, recently, I'm on a roll (not a hot dog roll) but a real roll. I helped in the Ayanna Pressley Boston City Council campaign and with Scott Brown too. Now, I'm go- ing with Independent Tim Cahill, a friend of mine for over 20 years now. He is a great campaigner. This time around he decided to leave the Democrat Party and run as an Independent choice in the November election against Democrat Governor Deval Patrick and either Charlie Baker or Christy Mihos, the two Republicans duking it out right now. On Saturday, February 13, the Cahill-Loscocco Cam- paign headquarters opened up on Old Colony Road in Quincy, Massachusetts. Over 1,000 people stopped by during the 5 hour open house. Tim Cahill, the cur- rent state treasurer wanted to remind folks that while many politicians are now calling themselves impen- dent "there is really only one true independent in the race, someone who left the party before it became FASHION- ABLE ... I am an independent Independent." I also had a chance to talk with Cahill's running mate, Paul Loscocco, a former Re- publican state representa- tive from Holliston who also switched to Independent status. He says Cahill is "about fiscal responsibility, about making tough deci- sions, about bringing some accountability on Beacon Hill." While I have known Tim Cahill since his days as a young Quincy City Councilor, this was my first meeting with Paul Loscocco and he impressed me as someone who knows what's happening today in govern- ment. We're both Italian, most of his family roots are (Photo by Amy Nourse) from northern Italy while mine are in Sicily and we had a good discussion on what recent political results mean. Everything changed after Republican Scott Brown upset the Democrats and Martha Coakley on Janu- ary 19th. There is an energy in the air. People are frus- trated but instead of throw- ing their hands up in the air, they turned out and placed Brown into office surprising all the political experts. Few saw it coming. The peoples' revolt was almost stealth- like until the very end when there was no stopping it. Could the same thing hap- pen this November, I say yes it can. Now is the time for serious political folks to get involved with good candidates like Cahill on the campaign trail. If Cahill-Loscocco team can tap into that frustration growing out there over poli- tics as usual, there could be another upset this coming November. The people are the political generation and if the Cahill motor can hook into it, together victory could be engineered in eight months time. Former six term Quincy, Mayor Jim Sheets who is also a former Democratic state representative endorsed Scott Brown for the US Sen- ate. Says Sheets, the Scott Brown victory "is just the tip of the iceberg." People are go- ing to vote to take their gov- ernment back." If Sheets is correct, as I suspect he is, the grand opening of the Tim Cahill for Governor Headquarters is just the start of a great campaign that will take off from Old Colony Road and end up on Beacon Street in November. Before I left the headquar- ters there was a great quote written on a white board that stated, "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality." The author John Lennon. So I say just Let it Be, right?