Continuing a tradition first started by one of the nation’s Founding Fathers, President Obama will host an iftar dinner Wednesday evening at 8:30 in the State Dining Room to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The president is no stranger to the sunset fast-breaking meal – he likely attended many as a boy in Indonesia – but Wednesday’s event comes with a star-studded guest list and an agenda: reaching out to an important, and often embattled constituency.
When Standard & Poor's downgraded the US from its AAA status to AA+ on Aug. 5, it knocked just one country off a lengthy list. Now, there are 18 nations with AAA credit ratings. Calculations of GDP and government gross debt are from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for 2010. The US had a GDP of about $14.6 trillion in 2010, the IMF estimates. Its debt, of about $13 trillion, is roughly 92 percent of its GDP. Data were not available for the small, AAA-rated sovereignties of Lichtenstein, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. And missing from the list? Some of the US's top economic competitors.
Political eyes around the nation are on Wisconsin today, as voters in six districts cast ballots in the third – and most critical – of four recall votes. Six Republican state senators face possible defeat today. Next week, two Democratic state senators will be in the same position. The vote is widely seen as a referendum on the anti-union strategies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and thus has drawn interest – and funding – from across the country.
If there's one thing that's lacking in the debt deal that president signed on Aug. 2, it's specifics. It asks for $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, but gives few concrete details about where they'll come from. The deal does outline some changes for student loans, and it leaves out renewals for a couple of unemployment benefits programs. But most of the envisioned budget cuts won't become clearer until this fall, when a 12-member, bipartisan "super committee" gives its recommendations to Congress. Some Americans may be particularly vulnerable to their budget choices. Here are five groups who could see a reduction in government largesse:
If the Standard & Poors downgrade of US debt from AAA to AA+ worries investors enough, the US may be forced to pay higher interest on its debt, which could affect interest rates across the economy, from mortgages to car loans. But for now, economists say, the economic impact of the downgrade will likely be minimal and US Treasury bonds will continue to be the investment vehicle of choice for American and overseas investors. “Despite the drop in the rating and the fact that the US economy is going through a fiscal crisis, it’s still one of the safest places to invest,” says Farhad Saboori, an economist at Albright College in Reading, Penn. Here are five reasons why the downgrade isn’t as bad as it seems, and a reminder not to take it too lightly:
"The Help," the popular novel by Kathryn Stockett, has been adapted into a film to be released on August 10. It stars Emma Stone and Viola Davis and is one of the summer's most highly anticipated movies. Here are ten movie stills that will allow you a sneak peek at some of the best scenes of the summer film.
Many analysts and market watchers, whose job it is to warn of impending real estate bubbles, have trained their sights on China. It's easy to see why. The economy has expanded an average 10 percent a year for the past 30 years, an incredible growth rate. Average housing prices tripled between 2005 to 2009 alone. But here are three reasons Chinese real estate has more room to run on the upside before the good times end:
Cargill's Aug. 3 recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey is the latest in a string of high-profile food recalls in the United States. The volume of meat recalled was a quarter of the largest meat recall on record, but it was linked to far more health effects. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 15 percent of Americans – some 48 million – become ill from food-borne pathogens each year. Most outbreaks are local events; a few are national in scope. Here's a look at some of the biggest food recalls in the past five years:
Tax-free weekends kick off in many states this month -- several start Saturday -- just in time for back-to-school shopping. Parents should spend wisely, experts say, by seeing what is already available in their home, buying when items are on sale, and creating a budget and sticking to it. It's also a chance to teach children important money lessons. Here are six money smart lessons for kids:
With the economy barely growing and investors bailing out of corporate stocks, the US job market isn't exactly sizzling. But conditions vary by region, with some metro areas showing substantial improvement over the past year, according to the Labor Department. Here are the five large metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates combined with unemployment that is down at least half a percentage point over last year.
Commemorating a day to call attention to a political cause has long been a tactic of liberals and those further out on the left. For instance, there's Labor Day, Martin Luther King Day, Earth Day, Gay Pride Day, May Day, and so on. Conservatives, by contrast, have largely stuck to fighting battles over the "true meaning" of traditional holidays observed by people of all political stripes, such as Christmas, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July. Still, conservatives have tried to come up with holidays to tout, with varying degrees of success. Here are our top five:
The stock market is tanking. At midday Aug. 4, the Dow had fallen 300 points. The bond market is also beginning to growl like a bear. Investors are buying long-dated bonds while eschewing shorter-term securities to protect their assets, a clear indication that they feel the economy is likely to weaken further. High-profile economists are also turning gloomy. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers put the chances of another recession at 1-in-3; Harvard economist Martin Feldstein put it at 1-in-2. What's behind all the pessimism? Here are four big factors that are weighing on stocks and could determine the course of the global economy in the coming months:
East Asia is home to several territorial disputes, which occasionally escalate into regional violence. Many of the island territories are small, isolated from the countries’ mainlands, and sparsely populated. But strategic interests and abundant natural resources make them valuable. Here are five of East Asia’s flashpoints:
Some of this summer's most interesting books will pull at your heartstrings and pull you across time and space – from Beijing today to 1930s Manhattan to planet Earth in the year 2044. And that's just for starters. Here are nine of the August 2011 titles that are drawing the most enthusiastic thumbs-up from the editors at Amazon.com.
Here’s a sure-fire way to earn a little pocket money. Use your smartphone to snap a photo of a restaurant or scan a barcode in a store. You can earn cash or gift certificates. Companies pay for such information, often because they want to know how their stores and products look in the real world. Here are five free smartphone apps that can earn you money.