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US could default on national debt with ‘X Date’ looming, think tank warns

US could default on national debt with ‘X Date’ looming, think tank warns

The US federal government is likely to run out of borrowing room and breach the debt limit after October 1, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).

“Treasury’s updated guidance means that the ‘X Date’ will likely arrive after the start of fiscal year 2022,” said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at BPC, a Washington, DC-based think tank. Akabas was referring to the date when the federal government will no longer be able to pay its bills in full and on time.

“That would realistically allow Congress to address the debt limit as part of an appropriations package and potentially pair that move with a longer-term reform of the statute to eliminate financial risk from these recurring episodes,” he said.

Akabas also cautioned that the unique fiscal environment of a pandemic adds unprecedented uncertainty to any debt limit forecast.
Also on rt.com US facing MOST EPIC bond bubble in the history of bubbles, strategist tells Boom Bust
“While uncertainty is perhaps greater than ever before, the way to minimize short-term financial risk remains the same: acting on the debt limit soon,” he said.

The forecast comes as the US Treasury Department warned on Wednesday that its fiscal tools to keep the national debt from breaching its congressionally mandated limit may fail to last as long as in prior years.

It said that “In light of the substantial Covid-related uncertainty about receipts and outlays in the coming months, it is very difficult to predict how long extraordinary measures might last,” adding that extraordinary measures could be exhausted much more quickly than in prior debt limit episodes.
Also on rt.com With economy imploding, US losing its superpower status to make room for Russia and China, says Max Keiser
As part of a two-year budget deal passed by Congress in August 2019, the federal debt limit was suspended through July 31, 2021. In case lawmakers can’t reach another agreement before then, the ceiling would automatically be reinstated on August 1 and the US Treasury wouldn’t be able to raise additional cash from the sale of government securities.

The US national debt subject to the limit currently stands at a record $ 28.1 trillion, with that amount covering debt the government owes to itself in the form of commitments to Social Security and other government trust funds. The amount of the debt that is held by the public totals $ 22.1 trillion, which is slightly higher than 100% of the entire economy and stands at a height not seen since the huge borrowing the government did in the 1940s to fight in World War II.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

US inflation numbers are understated, could be up to 20% – RT’s Keiser Report

US inflation numbers are understated, could be up to 20% – RT’s Keiser Report

Soaring commodity and house prices are further proof that inflation is here to stay and it is much higher than the Federal Reserve wants Americans to believe, according to Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert.

Aside from the Fed’s money-printing, other reasons for spiking prices include de-globalization and growing tensions between the US and China, Max Keiser said in the latest episode of the Keiser Report.

“Because there’s some antagonism and because incomes in China have now matched those of the US, that ability to hide the money printing through the labor sink of China is gone. So now you have prices going up for real for stuff like lumber,” he said. “The Fed says it’s transitory… it’s categorically a lie.”

The central bank earlier said that it will continue its easy money policy, despite it acknowledging that inflation is on the rise. In March, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped 2.6%, but government officials believe that the spike is short-lived.

“The inflation numbers are understated not for the reasons we’ve talked about – like the absence of including things like healthcare, and education, and housing in the official CPI numbers,” Keiser noted, adding that the real figures could be at 7-9%.

Another factor missing in those figures is shrinkflation, according to the host, meaning you buy items for the same price, but get less in the package.

“So if you add that together… now you’re talking 20% inflation,” Keiser said.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Four in 10 plan to use digital currency for payments within year – Mastercard

Four in 10 plan to use digital currency for payments within year – Mastercard

The latest survey carried out by credit card giant Mastercard has revealed that nearly 40% of those polled are planning to use cryptocurrencies for payments within the next year.

According to a survey titled ‘Consumer Appetite for Digital Payments Takes Off’, 67% stated that they are more open to using cryptocurrency than they were a year ago.

When it comes to millennials, 77% are interested in learning more about digital currencies, with 75% saying they would use crypto if they understood them better.

“While consumer interest in cryptocurrency – especially floating digital currencies such as bitcoin – is high, work is still required to ensure consumer choice, protection, and their regulatory compliance,” the study reads.
Also on rt.com Crypto going mainstream: Mastercard to allow payments in cryptocurrencies
The company reported that 93% of the respondents would consider using at least one emerging payment method, including cryptocurrency, biometrics, contactless or QR codes.

The poll covered more than 15,500 respondents across 18 countries in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.

“As we look ahead, we need to continue to enable all choices, both in-store and online, to shape the fabric of commerce and make the digital economy work for everyone,” said chief product officer at Mastercard, Craig Vosburg.

In February, the credit card major announced plans allowing clients to make payments in certain cryptocurrencies on its network as early as this year.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

India ramps up oil imports from Saudi Arabia after price cut

India’s state-owned refiners are ordering their regular volumes of Saudi crude oil for June after the Kingdom reduced its prices, Reuters has reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation.

Saudi Arabia cut its official selling price for Asian clients earlier this month by between $ 0.10 and $ 0.30 in response to the surge in Covid-19 infections in India, which had a negative impact on its oil demand. Bloomberg noted this was the first price reduction of Saudi crude since December last year, reflecting weakening demand in the key Asian markets.
Also on rt.com Oil nears $ 70 buoyed by summer demand outlook & US inventories drop
OPEC’s largest producer announced oil price hikes for Asian buyers days after OPEC+ agreed to start adding barrels to their daily output, reducing a production curb that has had India repeatedly protesting against what it calls an artificial way of keeping oil prices high. The following month, Asian refiners and traders had to pay $ 1.80 above the Oman/Dubai benchmark average for shipments of Saudi crude.

Read more
India’s oil demand recovery threatened by new restrictions

In response, India ordered its state-owned refiners to reduce their orders for Saudi crude in May and look for alternatives in continuation of efforts to reduce its overwhelming dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

“We have asked companies to aggressively look for diversification. We cannot be held hostage to the arbitrary decision of Middle East producers. When they wanted to stabilize the market we stood by them,” an Indian government source told Reuters in early March.

Now, Saudi Arabia has cut the price of its flagship Arab Light grade to $ 1.70 above the Oman/Dubai benchmark average. At the same time, Riyadh raised prices for US buyers by $ 0.20 per barrel to reflect the US economic rebound, which has pushed up demand for crude.

“This time there is no direction from the ministry to cut imports in June and unlike last time they (Aramco) have reduced the prices as well,” one of Reuters’ sources told the news agency.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Boom Bust looks at to how Facebook’s abuse of user data created market opportunities for Signal

Boom Bust looks at to how Facebook’s abuse of user data created market opportunities for Signal

Internet giant Facebook and messaging app Signal have recently locked horns over an ad campaign in which the latter planned to expose how social media data collection works.

Earlier this week, Signal tried to use Facebook’s own tools against it when it attempted to launch ads on the platform that showed viewers some of the information collected about them to demonstrate how much personal data the tech giant collects and sells access to. 

However, the campaign was blocked, according to Signal. Facebook claims that the move was just a publicity stunt by the company, which is a rival of Facebook’s WhatsApp. RT’s Boom Bust digs into the feud between the duo. 

“They [Signal] have created a PR campaign out of the fact they have told the truth about how Facebook goes through… conducting targeted advertising by selling your data,” RT’s Boom Bust co-host Ben Swann says, noting Signal seems to be the winner in this fight. 

He further explained that the actions of Facebook, Twitter and other US tech behemoths are the reason why smaller rivals like Signal can thrive. “These companies actually are creating the market opportunity for competitors,” he said, adding that this would have been impossible just several years ago. “The difference now is that companies like Facebook, they keep doing things, where they abuse user data…or they change something like WhatsApp.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

3 kilo per person: Russians projected to eat record amount of ice cream in 2021

3 kilo per person: Russians projected to eat record amount of ice cream in 2021

“These people will never be defeated,” UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill said during his visit to Moscow in the harsh winter of 1944, according to a popular legend.

The comment was allegedly made on the way to an official meeting with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, when Churchill saw a group of Muscovites eating ice cream on a snowy street through his car window.

As the years went by, Russians’ love for the cooled dessert didn’t wither, but kept on growing, gradually becoming a passion.

According to the Russian Agricultural Bank, consumption of ice cream in Russia is set to increase to 3.1 kilograms per person, marking a growth of 1%, a record high over the past decade.
Also on rt.com Traditional Russian ice cream melts the heart of Africa
“The amount of ice cream consumption in Russia at the end of the current year will increase to 448,000 tons, or 3.1 kg per capita,” experts from the Center for Industry Expertise, affiliated with the lender, said.

Last year, Russians consumed 444,000 tons of the sweet cooling dessert, or three kilo per person, marking a 9% year-on-year growth.

“The surge in consumption would be a continuation of the gradual increase in demand over the past 10 years,” the analysts said, stressing that Russian ice cream producers could further ramp up exports taking into account the seasonal factor of ice cream consumption in Russia.

In 2020, Russian manufacturers reportedly produced 451,000 tons of ice cream, marking an 8% growth compared to the previous year. The experts expect the output to grow to 463,000 tons by the end of the current year.
Also on rt.com Putin’s gift to Xi causes Russian ice cream craze in China
Exports of Russian ice cream grew eightfold, from 3,000 tons in 2010 to 26,000 tons last year. Sales of Russian ice cream abroad are expected to increase 15% to a record 30,000 tons by the end of 2021. Kazakhstan, the biggest importer of Russian ice cream, boosted imports by 27%, to 11,200 tons in 2020.

The growth totaled 2% to $ 20 million in monetary terms. The US, the second major consumer of Russian ice cream, reportedly tripled imports, having purchased 3,800 tons, worth $ 9.2 million, in 2020.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

ISPs Funded 8.5 Million Fake Comments Opposing Net Neutrality

ISPs Funded 8.5 Million Fake Comments Opposing Net Neutrality

The largest Internet providers in the US funded a campaign that generated “8.5 million fake comments” to the Federal Communications Commission as part of the ISPs’ fight against net neutrality rules during the Trump administration, according to a report issued Thursday by New York state attorney general Letitia James.

Nearly 18 million out of 22 million comments were fabricated, including both pro- and anti-net-neutrality submissions, the report said. One 19-year-old submitted 7.7 million pro-net-neutrality comments under fake, randomly generated names. But the astroturfing effort funded by the broadband industry stood out because it used real people’s names without their consent, with third-party firms hired by the industry faking consent records, the report said.

The New York Attorney General’s Office began its investigation in 2017 and said it faced stonewalling from then FCC chair Ajit Pai, who refused requests for evidence. But after a years-long process of obtaining and analyzing “tens of thousands of internal emails, planning documents, bank records, invoices, and data comprising hundreds of millions of records,” the office said it “found that millions of fake comments were submitted through a secret campaign, funded by the country’s largest broadband companies, to manufacture support for the repeal of existing net neutrality rules using lead generators.”

It was clear before Pai completed the repeal in December 2017 that millions of people—including dead people—were impersonated in net neutrality comments. Even industry-funded research found that 98.5 percent of genuine comments opposed Pai’s deregulatory plan. But Thursday’s report reveals more details about how many comments were fake and how the broadband industry was involved.

“The broadband industry could not, in fact, rely on grassroots support for its campaign because the public overwhelmingly supported robust net neutrality rules,” the report noted. “So the broadband industry tried to manufacture support for repeal by hiring companies to generate comments for a fee.”

The report said the industry campaign was run through Broadband for America (BFA), an umbrella group that includes Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Cox, and CenturyLink. Broadband for America also includes three trade groups, namely CTIA, which represents the wireless communications industry; NCTA–The Internet & Television Association; and the Telecommunications Industry Association. Verizon isn’t listed as a Broadband for America member, but it is part of the CTIA.

“BFA hid its role in the campaign by recruiting anti-regulation advocacy groups—unrelated to the broadband industry—to serve as the campaign’s public faces,” the AG report said.

The “primary funders” of Broadband for America’s anti-net-neutrality campaign “included an industry trade group and three companies that are among the biggest players in the United States internet, phone, and cable market, with more than 65 million American subscribers among them and a combined market value of approximately half a trillion dollars,” the report said.

Comcast, Charter, and AT&T are the biggest members of Broadband for America. Comcast has 31.1 million residential customers in the broadband, phone, and TV categories combined. Charter has 29.4 million such customers. AT&T has 14.1 million internet customers and 15.9 million TV customers, but it’s not clear how much overlap there is between those two categories given that many DirecTV users don’t live in AT&T’s wireline territory.

The report mentions Comcast, Charter, and AT&T specifically without naming other providers. The sole mention of those ISPs came in a sentence saying, “Net neutrality refers to the principle that the companies that deliver internet service to your home, business, and mobile phone, such as AT&T, Comcast, and Charter (often referred to as internet service providers, ISPs, or broadband providers), should not discriminate among content on the internet.”

With broadband companies having used third-party vendors to conduct the campaign, the Attorney General’s Office said it found no evidence that ISPs themselves “had direct knowledge” of the fraudulent behavior. The broadband companies spent $ 8.2 million on their anti-net-neutrality campaign, including $ 4.2 million to submit the 8.5 million comments to the FCC and a half-million letters to Congress, the report said.

Author: Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

India & EU agree to revive long-stalled trade talks amid pandemic chaos

India & EU agree to revive long-stalled trade talks amid pandemic chaos

The European Union and India have moved to resume negotiations on a free trade deal. The talks have been frozen since 2013 due to various differences between the two sides.

The two sides have reached an agreement that paves the way to boost bilateral trade, at a virtual summit between EU leaders and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. In addition to discussing tariff-free trade, the EU and India will also work on two separate agreements – on investment protection and geographical indications which can protect products that have a specific place of origin.
Also on rt.com India’s economy may shrink amid soaring Covid-19 cases, analysts warn
“We have today agreed on concrete steps to expand this strategic partnership,” EU Council President Charles Michel said after Saturday’s summit.

The two sides tried to hammer out an agreement between 2007 and 2013. Multiple rounds of talks failed to resolve differences over tariff rules, among other issues, and the talks were suspended in 2013. Nothing happened in between, according to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“It was a remarkable summit because it widened the scope and the view of the untapped potential in the relationship of the European Union and India,” von der Leyen said at a media conference.
Also on rt.com EU response to Covid-19 pandemic has cost six million jobs, young workers worst affected
According to a last year’s study by the European Parliament, the EU-India trade deal could bring €8.5 billion ($ 10.3 billion) in benefits. The calculations were made before the UK left the bloc, but London is currently working on its own agreement with New Delhi.

The talks took place as India faces a severe health crisis due to the second wave of Covid-19. On Saturday, the country saw its highest single-day death toll from the virus, with 4,187 fatalities recorded.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

US energy production saw steepest drop on record in 2020

US energy production saw steepest drop on record in 2020

Due to economic responses to the pandemic, US energy production dropped by 5 percent last year, marking the steepest annual decline on record, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.

Last year, energy production in the United States fell to just below 96 quadrillion British thermal units (quads), a 5-percent decline from the record production in 2019, according to EIA’s Monthly Energy Review. The decline in absolute terms was the largest annual decrease in US energy production on record, and this decline was primarily due to the pandemic, which slashed demand for energy.

The EIA calculates and compares different types of energy reported in different physical units such as barrels or cubic feet by converting sources of energy to common units of heat, called British thermal units (Btu).

Due to plunging drilling activity amid low oil prices, US crude oil production fell by nearly 1 million barrels per day (bpd) last year, registering the largest annual decline in history, the EIA said earlier this year.
Also on rt.com Oil nears $ 70 buoyed by summer demand outlook & US inventories drop
In 2020, US crude oil production averaged 11.3 million bpd, dropping by 935,000 bpd—or 8%—compared to the record-high annual average of 12.2 million bpd in 2019.

Less than two months after American crude oil production reached a peak of 12.8 million bpd in January 2020, oil prices collapsed in March, leading to production shut-ins over the following months, and to the lowest average monthly production for 2020 in May, when US output was just 10 million bpd, according to EIA’s estimates.

US coal production also booked its largest annual decline on record last year, falling by 25% to less than 11 quads, the EIA said today.

Natural gas production also dropped in 2020, by 0.6 quads, or by 2%.

US renewable energy production, however, rose by 2% to a record-high 11.8 quads in 2020, due to higher electricity generation from wind and solar, the EIA said.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

US facing MOST EPIC bond bubble in the history of bubbles, strategist tells Boom Bust

US facing MOST EPIC bond bubble in the history of bubbles, strategist tells Boom Bust

Despite concerns of inflation in the wake of Covid-19 stimulus spending, the US Federal Reserve is issuing assurance that everything is under control as criticism continues to mount.

RT’s Boom Bust talks to Michael Pento of Pento Portfolio Strategies about the current situation and his forecast on what to expect.

Pento says that the total debt of the United States is now 400% of GDP; that’s including national debt, government debt, individual and business debts, and others. “So, the bond bubble holds the key to everything.”

He points out that “The US Treasury sold $ 40 billion in T-bills [Treasury bills – Ed.] last week at an interest rate of zero. This is the most epic bond bubble in the history of all bubbles. So, it’s all contingent on free money forever, and it’s not going to last very long.”

“The Federal Reserve is telling you ‘Don’t worry about inflation cause if it gets out of control (which it already has) we have the tools to stop it.’ Oh, what are the tools – raising interest rates? And when you raise interest rates, you pop all the bubbles concurrently.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News