From Volume 37, Issue 1 of EIR Online, Published Jan. 8, 2010

U.S. Economic/Financial News

Six Million Living on Food Stamps with No Cash Income

Jan. 2 (EIRNS)—An analysis of state data collected by the New York Times found that approximately 6 million Americans report no income other than the monthly food stamp allotment that they receive, a number that has increased by 50% in the past two years. About 1 in 50 people, the Times reports, lives in a household that has no other income than the food stamp card. This population ranges from once-high flyers who were brought down by the real estate bust, to ex-cons who can't find work and live in homeless shelters, and everyone in between. Because of the welfare reform of the mid-1990s, cash assistance is very difficult to come by, so food stamps have become the safety net of last resort.

Reid's Nevada Has Nation's Worst Housing Collapse

Dec. 30 (EIRNS)—While the financial press are trying to make something good out of the fact that housing prices have stabilized a bit, the stench in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Nevada can't be covered up. Las Vegas prices, according to S&P/Case-Shiller, declined for the 38th consecutive month in October, down 55.4% from their peak in August 2006. Nevada has been either first or near the top in foreclosures for two years.

Reid has taken pride in his role in bringing Dubai World and MGM together to build the world's biggest casino complex, City Center in Las Vegas, which just opened this month, an $11 billion, 68-acre project, the largest privately funded construction project in the history of the United States. Although it employs 12,000 (in useless work), that hasn't budged the state's 12.3% unemployment rate.

Hedge Fund Thieves Still Bragging, for Now

Dec. 31 (EIRNS)—As the physical economy collapses and unemployment soars, the hedge fund "industry" boomed again in 2009, showing where all the bailout money went. According to data released by Hedge Fund Research, the average hedge fund returned 19% to investors in 2009, with the largest funds gaining up to 60%.

For instance, Citadel, the Chicago-based hedge fund giant ($13 billion assets), has seen its flagship Kensington Global Strategies fund rebound close to 60% this year. Citadel and other funds have exploited pricing discrepancies between corporate convertible debt (bonds) and equity (shares). In other words, they have bet on stocks, and in so doing, have leveraged the stock market's inflation. The average return for funds which followed that strategy has been more than 56% in 2009. At the top, the London-based GLG Partners ($14 billion assets managed) has seen its equity market neutral fund return 77.8%.

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