Monday Headlines

Obama, Boehner Engage In One-On-One Negotiations
Former World Bank President Robert Zoellick takes to The Wall Street Journal to urge President Obama to take a leadership role by seizing the opportunity to push for real spending and entitlement reform.

Obama may not be considering entitlement reform in the current negotiations, he did take one important step. Over the weekend, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner held private talks on ways to solve the fiscal crisis coming at the end of the year. While the talks were a positive move, particularly when combined with evidence of some movement on both sides, a majority of Americans believe the talks are doomed, according to a new Hill poll.

Economy’s Impact Is Also Impacting Birth Rates
Robert Samuelson writes that the economic environment is hurting younger generations the most and is having an impact in more ways than simply reducing their employment opportunities.

“The most startling evidence of the broken escalator is the collapse in marriages and births. Marriage has been declining for years. Now, in a new study, the Pew Research Center finds that in 2011 the U.S. birth rate (births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44) fell to its lowest level since at least 1920, the earliest year of reliable statistics. From 2007 to 2011, the U.S. birth rate dropped almost 9 percent. The total fertility rate — the estimated number of children born to adult women in their lifetime — has fallen four straight years to 1.9 (the replacement rate is 2.1),” he adds.

Fed Unlikely To Change Course
The Federal Reserve will meet this week and all signs point to the Fed staying the course with a policy of quantitative easing and may opt to purchase more bonds.

In other Fed news, Governor Daniel Tarullo recently signaled in a speech that the Board is leaning toward a position of favoring capping the size of large banks.

Bloomberg News reports that in a speech last week “Tarullo asked whether there are significant economies of scale or scope in global megabanks.” In essence, he was questioning whether “there a good reason not to force these institutions to shrink over time?”

Solar Power Hits A Snag In The Sahara
For years Europe has placed hope in the notion that its energy needs could be partially met by building solar plants in North Africa, but it appears that the sun has gone down on a bright idea.

Der Spiegel reports that the Desertec Industrial Initiative, an ambitious solar energy project started in 2009, was seen as a “win-win proposition and environmentalists fawned over Europe’s green energy future.”

“For a projected budget of €400 billion ($560 billion), the venture was to pipe clean solar power from the Sahara Desert through a Mediterranean super-grid to energy-hungry European countries. Today, a scant three years later, there is still little to show for the project but the ambition,” the paper acknowledges.











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