The Sad Tale Of Greece

The the far leftist Syriza party has been voted into power, here is a sad tail about what the Greeks are experiencing.-Lou

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Love In A Time Of Crisis In Greece

 

As Greeks prepare to vote in Sunday’s general election, anti-austerity party Syriza is ahead in the polls and campaigning under the slogan, “Hope is on its way”. The average wage has fallen to €600 (£450: $690) a month; half of all young people are unemployed and the economy is barely emerging from six years of recession. But Greeks remain determined to maintain their hold on normality. “We don’t have much else,” they say, “we may as well enjoy our freddo cappuccinos.”

 

But despite the drinking, flirting and dating, since the onset of financial disaster, a fundamental change has taken place in Greek society. Deejay Tommy paints a sad picture of young Greeks waking up every day without a job. “Things have lost a little bit of their romanticism,” he says. “The crisis has forced love to become a secondary priority. There are other things to worry about. I see many women looking for someone who will have money to take them out, who’ll take them on holidays. I see this quite a lot and it saddens me.”

 

Down the road along the shoreline, the Bouzoukia clubs ring with live renditions of popular Greek love songs. Crowds sipping on vodka throw the singers red carnations and sing along to lyrics of heartbreak and pain. “We save up to come once every few months and we look forward to it,” says Katerina Fotopoulou, 30, at a table with her friends. “We don’t have the money to do much any more. We’re always talking about future plans, going on holiday, but no-one ever does anything.” Living at home, Katerina describes herself as an adult forced to live as a teenager, her life put on hold.

 

Compared with other Europeans, Greeks are still fairly traditional. For many young women, it is awkward bringing a boyfriend through the front door to meet the parents. And that poses a problem, considering the high numbers unable to afford a place of their own. “Relationships are complicated these days,” says Katerina. “No-one is even thinking about getting married or having children.”

 

Indeed, Greece’s population is shrinking at an increasing pace according to data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (Elstat). Since Greece first signed its EU-IMF bailout agreement the number of births has declined rapidly. In 2010 there were 114,766 live births, and by 2013 that number had declined by almost 20,000 (94,134). Obstetrician Leonidas Papadopoulos says miscarriages at the Leto maternity hospital have doubled over the past year. “Maybe it’s down to stress,” he says. “There is no proof, but you can see it in the eyes of the people, there is stress and fear for the future.”

 

He describes how a woman he had been treating with IVF came to him one day crying because she was pregnant. She had lost her job and demanded an abortion. But he felt he could not perform the procedure. “Soon,” says Dr Papadopoulos, “the population will be halved and there won’t be any young people to work and pay for the pensions of the elderly. All the social problems will rise up in front of us.”

 

Some who have children and are struggling to support them have turned to sex work, to put food on the table. Further north, in Larissa, Soula Alevridou, who owns a legal brothel, says the number of married women coming to her looking for work has doubled in the last five years. “They plead and plead but as a legal brothel we cannot employ married women,” she says. “It’s illegal. So eventually they end up as prostitutes on the streets.”

 

A doctor, Georgia, explains how she also works as an escort in the sex industry to support her family.Her private clinic currently treats three patients a week, but the peak summer season in the sex industry enables her to keep up with the rental payments on her family’s home and the healthcare bills for her elderly parents. “I live a double life and only I can know about it,” she says. “I have applied for jobs in medicine abroad and wait every day in hope of a reply.”

 

For journalist Elini Lazarou, having a baby was not something she was prepared to put on hold while waiting for a change in the political or economic climate. “Love in the time of crisis can function as a painkiller, with which someone can forget the problems they’re facing, or as a source from which someone can draw strength, energy and optimism,” she says.

 

On a wall in downtown Athens, a simple message is daubed that reads “Love or nothing”. It strikes a defiant tone amid the blighted lives hidden behind pure economics.

Listen To This Week’s Radio Show (1-23-15)

This week’s radio show is now available. Today I discuss the crazy moves in currencies, gold and stocks.-Lou Listen Here

 

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Germany Finally Gets Back Some Of It’s Gold From mother Fed

Did the Fed get the gold from Ukraine to give to Germany. Why are so many Central Banks demanding their gold from the Federal Reserve? Do they not trust the Fed to actually have their gold? Could this be the reason gold is on a tear? ($1291) -Lou

Also Read:   Where has all Ukraine’s gold gone?

To match feature GOLD-FIXING/

Germany repatriates more gold: Bundesbank

Yahoo News

Frankfurt (AFP) – The German central bank or Bundesbank said Monday that it stepped up the repatriation of its gold reserves from overseas storage last year.

 “The Bundesbank successfully continued and further stepped up its transfers of gold,” the central bank said in a statement.

“In 2014, 120 tonnes of gold were transferred to Frankfurt from storage locations abroad: 35 tonnes from Paris and 85 tonnes from New York.”

Germany’s gold reserves are the second-biggest in the world after those of the United States and totalled 3,384.2 tonnes this month, according to the latest data compiled by the World Gold Council.

For decades the Bundesbank’s gold holdings have been kept in the treasuries of other central banks — in Paris, London and New York.

According to the German central bank’s own data, 1,447 tonnes are stored at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, 438 tonnes at the Bank of England in London and 307 tonnes at the Banque de France in Paris.

There were historical reasons for this.

After World War II and the export revival of West Germany’s “economic miracle” in the 1950s, the central bank accumulated dollars it swapped for gold at the Federal Reserve. With Germany split between capitalist west and the communist East German state until 1990, storing most of the gold abroad was a way to keep it out of Soviet reach during the Cold War.

But surging mistrust of the euro during Europe’s debt crisis fed a campaign to bring home Germany’s gold reserve from New York and London, with some political parties fuelling fears the gold might have been tampered with.

Under the Bundesbank’s new gold storage plan in 2013, it decided to bring back 674 tonnes from abroad by 2020 and store half of its gold in its own vaults.

“Implementation of our new gold storage plan is proceeding smoothly. Operations are running very much according to schedule,” said Bundesbank executive board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele.

“We also called on the expertise of the Bank for International Settlements for the spot checks that had to be carried out. As expected, there were no irregularities,” Thiele said.

Since the transfers began in 2013, the Bundesbank said it has relocated a total of 157 tonnes of gold to Frankfurt — 67 tonnes from Paris and 90 tonnes from New York.

H&R Block: ‘No One Can Understand’ New Obamacare Tax Code

But don’t call the IRS for help, no one will answer. This is going to be a nightmare for taxpayers or in the case of Obamacare with subsidies….tax takers.-Lou

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H&R Block: ‘No One Can Understand’ New Obamacare Tax Code

 

H&R Block, the nation’s largest retail tax preparation company warns that the newly released Obamacare tax code, officially called the Affordable Care Act, is likely to confuse millions of taxpayers who try to tackle their tax returns for 2014.

“Now that the Affordable Care Act has made health care a tax issue, no one can understand it,” H&R Block flatly tells taxpayers in a video that resides on its dedicated Obamacare web site.

A former IRS Commissioner agrees, and cautions that the new tax requirements will be a “shock to the system,” especially afflicting low-income earners who have never itemized on their tax return.

The tax preparation giant — with 24 million tax clients worldwide — reports that the Obamacare tax rules now constitute “the biggest tax code change in the last 20 years.”

The company is so concerned, it has launched a high profile national television advertising campaign directed solely at Obamacare enrollees. The ads were first broadcast the weekend of Jan. 10 during the NFL playoffs.

Illustrating H&R Block’s point is IRS Publication 5187, which attempts to explain to taxpayers how to comply with the new Obamacare tax requirements. That publication runs for a total of 21 single-spaced pages.

This year, for the first time, taxpayers will feel the full weight of the Obamacare tax rules, which were enacted in 2010. The new tax code regulations will apply to all Americans who file 2014 tax returns.

Some Obamacare users may discover that they need to repay the government for the subsidies they received to cover their health insurance premiums. A few will discover they were not entitled to insurance at all.

Other taxpayers also will find their refunds are smaller, due to penalties incurred because they didn’t enroll in a government-approved health plan.

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http://thefinancialphysician.com/2015/01/13432/

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Welcome To New Readers

IMG_2264 Welcome To New Readers Over the past few weeks the number of visitors to this website has grown dramatically and I am thankful for that. My goal here is to inform you about the financial issues that will have a great impact on you and your family. I spend a good portion of my day researching all things financial. The topics I believe you should know about are posted here with my comment and opinion. I suggest you listen to my weekly radio shows that are archived here. My WOBM show in New Jersey airs live Fridays 9am ET. You can listen live at WOBMAM.com The show is archived right here on my website as well as WOBM’s website. (click “ON AIR” and then click on FRIDAYS) You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I post many important financial tips on both sites. Check out my YouTube Channel, I have videos of many of my 70 TV appearances  including my national appearances on Fox News, Fox Business, First Business, The Buzz and Better Living. I love receiving e-mails from my readers and listeners. If you have a financial question, comment on the show or a suggested topic contact me at [email protected] I promise to answer each and every e-mail, please be patient I get many e-mails every day. I produced a reality TV Pilot a few years back, check it out here. Make sure you have a tissue handy, it get’s quite emotional. Juliet passed away 12 months after we shot the program. We are still pitching the program to major TV channels. As part of The Financial Physician family you have to own your copy of “The Financial Physician: How To Cure Your Money Problems and Boost Your Financial Health. Welcome aboard, I hope you find this website informative and entertaining. Lou

Swiss franc rockets after SNB ditches euro cap

This is a dramatic development in financial markets. The Swiss franc just skyrocketed 15% against both the Euro and US Dollar. U.S. stocks are all over the map and gold is soaring. All financial markets have now entered a most dangerous phase.-Lou

 

 

Swiss franc rockets after SNB ditches euro cap

 

The franc surged more than 20%, ending more than three years of calm in Swiss foreign exchange markets. The Swiss National Bank has intervened in markets since September 2011 to prevent the franc climbing too high, acquiring billions of euros in an effort to stop the common currency dropping below 1.20 to the franc.

In the aftermath of the SNB’s shock move, the euro plunged as low as CHF0.93.

“This is a very unexpected development,” said Vasileios Gkionakis, currency strategist at UniCredit. “This is a clear and significant divergence from the rhetoric so far of ‘enforcing the floor with utmost determination.’ Medium term I am worrying about the implications on SNB’s credibility…the change in language was very abrupt.”

“Everyone thought this floor would hold, now they have to think twice. The markets running through technical stops right now, it’s impossible to say in terms of levels where this will end,” said Geoffrey Yu, currency strategist at UBS. Mr. Yu said the SNB had been expecting massive inflows into the Swiss franc assets when the European Central Bank launches a large-scale bond-buying program–widely expected later this month. “The floor was going to be very hard to defend,” he said.

The impact reverberated throughout currencies markets, sending the euro plunging against the dollar to $1.1579, its lowest point November 2003. The dollar also shot higher more broadly, with sterling adding a cent to $1.53.

“The SNB is in a very difficult place and they have responded accordingly today. The potential volatility is huge now. I’m surprised with the timing but the pressure was high,” said Lisa Scott-Smith, a portfolio manager at Millennium Global.

Swiss stocks dropped by 7%. The blue chip Swiss Market Index dropped 6.7% to trade at 8577. The big banks are hit hard, with UBS AG dropping 9.6%, and Credit Suisse AG 8.4% Other big losers are Swatch Group Ltd, down 6% and Richemont Compagnie Financiere, down 9%. It is “difficult to estimate exact impact of stronger franc on Swiss banks’ earnings,” said analysts at Berenberg bank.

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Financial Markets Showing Inceasing Stress and Volatility

A picture is worth a thousand words they say. Here are some charts that show the crash in oil, the rollover of the stock market and the bullish turnaround on gold and silver. The risk of a stock market crash is rising. Every day this year has seen multiple hundred point swings in the Dow.  Today’s move by the Swiss Central Bank to let the franc float has added to the market chaos .-Lou

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IRS cuts taxpayer services as filing returns gets harder

Happy tax season.-Lou

 

IRS cuts taxpayer services as filing returns gets harder

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The IRS is cutting taxpayer services to historically low levels just as President Barack Obama’s health law will make filing a federal tax return more complicated for millions of families.

Got a question for IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person.

Callers who get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to a person who will answer only the simplest questions.

“As we enter 2015, we are deeply concerned that taxpayers are receiving markedly less assistance from the IRS now than at any time in recent history,” said a report released Wednesday by agency watchdog Nina E. Olson.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says budget cuts are forcing the agency to reduce taxpayer services and other functions. The number of audits will decline, technology upgrades will be delayed and the agency might be forced to shut down and furlough workers for two days later this year, Koskinen said.

“People who file paper tax returns could wait an extra week – or possibly longer – to see their refund,” Koskinen said in an email to IRS employees this week. “We now anticipate an even lower level of telephone service than before, which raises the real possibility that fewer than half of taxpayers trying to call us will actually reach us.”

“Those who do reach us will face extended wait times that are unacceptable to all of us.” Koskinen added.

Congress cut the IRS budget by $346 million for the budget year that ends in September 2015. The $10.9 billion budget is $1.2 billion less than the agency received in 2010.

But the spending cuts could actually cost the government money, Koskinen said. Fewer enforcement agents will cost the federal government at least $2 billion in lost tax revenue this year, he said.

Republicans in Congress adamantly oppose Obama’s health law, so some have been working to starve the IRS of funds just as its role in implementing the law ramps up.

Olson is the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent office within the Internal Revenue Service. She released her annual report to Congress Wednesday, less than a week before the start of tax filing season on Tuesday.

She said taxpayers will suffer from service reductions.

“Without adequate support, many taxpayers will be frustrated, some will make potentially costly mistakes, others will incur higher compliance costs when forced to seek information and assistance from tax professionals,” Olson wrote.

“Still others,” Olson said, “will simply give up and not file.”

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