More money needed to open park south of Asheville - Asheville Citizen-Times More money needed to open park south of Asheville - Asheville Citizen-Times

Monday, June 11, 2012

More money needed to open park south of Asheville - Asheville Citizen-Times

More money needed to open park south of Asheville - Asheville Citizen-Times

SKYLAND — Buncombe County government recently bought almost 30 acres for what will be a mostly wild, mountainside park, but it will be at least a year before the public can use it.

The county learned recently that its application for just less than $100,000 in state grant money to build a parking lot and install gates and signs for the park was unsuccessful, said Lucy Crown, county parks planner.

The county Parks, Greenways and Recreation Services Department does not have money in its budget to pay for those improvements itself, she said.

The property is located to the northwest of the St. Andrews section of Brookwood subdivision between Sweeten Creek and Mills Gap roads.

The tract is one of only a small number of wooded, undeveloped larger parcels in the Arden-Skyland area not overtaken by growth.

Robert and RaeAnn Collier bought the land in 1969 as a place for their 10 children to play.

Their children are all adults now and the Colliers sold the property to the county late last month for $300,000 a substantial discount from its appraised value of $561,162 so others can enjoy it.

The county plans a 15-space parking lot on Rhododendron Drive in the Royal Pines area and pedestrian access in Brookwood.

Most of the property on the southeast slope of Brown Mountain would be left as is with the exception of signs along the roughly 2.5 miles of hiking trails on the tract, also to be paid for with grant funds.

The countys application for state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund money failed in large part because the county does not have a formal master plan for the property, Crown said. She will draw one up between now and the beginning of the next window to apply for money from the trust fund early next year.

Not getting the money is a bit of a setback, but well be OK, she said.

Members of the state General Assembly have, however, discussed cuts to the fund, so it is uncertain how much money will be in it when Buncombe County applies again.

Nearby resident Catherine Fay said she is disappointed the grant money did not come through, but encouraged that the property is now in county hands.

Thats the best news and the other things that we need to have happen will come in time, she said. I just hope we can find the money somewhere.

Financial Crisis Triggered by Maniacs, Literally - Softpedia
Most of the actors involved in the events that culminated with the 2008 global financial crisis – bankers, politicians and economists – displayed signs of maniac behavior, investigators in the United Kingdom say. The indicators were there for anyone who was looking.

The behavior these people exhibited was comparable to that of psychologically disturbed individuals, says award-winning scholar Dr. Mark Stein, from the University of Leicester School of Management.

According to the expert, there is currently no safeguard in place to ensure that a similar crisis will not happen again. His analysis lists the main causes and indicators of the crisis, as well as a description of the actions taken by those in a position of power.

Stein says that a “shared manic culture” existed in the years leading up to the 2008 economic crisis, which was not addressed by anyone. In fact, it was promoted and allowed to continue, and everyone gladly joined in, PsychCentral reports.

Those who could have done something about it entered an extremely deep denial mode, which then pushed them to engage in risky and dangerous financial practices, insuring and lending without analyzing the implications of their decisions. Details of the study appear in the journal Organization.

“Unless the manic nature of the response in the run up to 2008 is recognized, the same economic disaster could happen again,” Stein says. He lists the four main characteristics of the manic culture as denial, overactivity, triumphalism and omnipotence.

“A series of major ruptures in capitalist economies were observed and noted by those in positions of economic and political leadership in Western societies,” the investigator explains.

“These ruptures caused considerable anxiety among these leaders, but rather than heeding the lessons, they responded by manic, omnipotent and triumphant attempts to prove the superiority of their economies,” he goes on to say.

One of the manic responses to the developing crisis was the removal of regulatory safety checks within the banking system, a massive increase in credit derivative deals, and industrializing credit default swaps.

Stein has been analyzing group dynamics from a psychoanalytic perspective for many years, and he says that similar behaviors can be observed (in hindsight) before most of the world's major financial crash events.

“Witnessing the collapse of Communism, those in power in the West developed the deluded idea that capitalist economies would do best if they eschew any resemblance to those Communist economies, thereby justifying unfettered financial liberalization and the destruction of the regulatory apparatuses of capitalism,” Stein adds.

“The consequences of this manic response have been catastrophic, with the ongoing Eurozone crisis being – in many ways – a result of this,” he concludes.

MONEY MARKETS-Spanish aid to offer CDS fleeting respite - Reuters

Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:34am EDT

* CDS on Spanish bank debt falls, but relief seen short-lived

* Spanish sovereign CDS prices reverse, up on the day

* Greek vote outcome could push Euribor/OIS spread wider

By Ana Nicolaci da Costa

LONDON, June 11 (Reuters) - The cost of insuring Spanish bank debt fell on Monday after euro zone finance ministers agreed to lend the country money to shore up its ailing financial system but the relief was seen short-lived before make-or-break Greek elections this weekend.

Officials agreed on Saturday to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) but the relief offered by this mammoth sum in bond markets was fleeting as markets punished Spain's bonds for the lack of detail.

The cost of insuring debt issued by Spanish banks fell but the sovereign equivalent reversed losses and stood higher on the day. Investors were also concerned about this weekend's Greek elections, the result of which could be decisive for the country's membership of the euro.

"I think essentially the rally fades a bit and the gloss comes off the rescue, but we don't necessarily hit CDS wides again unless the macroeconomic environment deteriorates because of Greek elections for example," Michael Hampden-Turner, credit strategist at Citigroup said.

A bank bailout would make Spain the fourth and largest euro zone country to seek assistance since the crisis began.

The cost of insuring debt issued by Santander fell 18 basis points to 390 bps. The BBVA equivalent shed 24 bps to 420 bps, according to Markit data.

That compared to a record high of 460 bps for Santander hit in November and of 490 bps for BBVA in May.

Spanish five-year CDS prices reversed earlier losses and were up 11 bps on the day at 595 bps, not far from record highs of 600 bps hit earlier this month. Spanish yields also reversed to stand up 20 bps on the day at 6.45 percent.

"We've seen in the past - with bailouts of Greece, Portugal and Ireland - that the rallies have proved fairly transient," Gavan Nolan, Markit analyst said.

"It's just a transfer of debt from the private sector to the official sector... It certainly doesn't solve the issue."


No precise bailout figure was set because Spain said it needed time for an independent assessment of the capital needs of its banking sector, which is due to be delivered in less than two weeks. There were also questions over how it would be structured and whether it would come with conditions.

Spain faces supervision by international lenders after a bailout for its banks agreed at the weekend, EU and German officials said on Monday, contradicting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who had insisted the cash came without such strings.

It is unclear what burden the rescue would place on Spain's finances which is already stretched as the country struggles with recession and high unemployment.

"We have got a lot of things that are still unknown," Hampden-Turner said. "The risks are: you have got a more sovereign debt, it could get downgraded; there will be conditions that are attached to the loan which we don't know yet. Beyond that, such measures are unpopular, which makes it harder for politicians to make tough decisions and push them through in the months ahead."

Fitch already slashed Spain's credit rating last week, leaving it just two notches short of junk status. Cuts to individual Spanish banks' ratings are due to follow, which could eventually make it more costly for them to use repurchase markets to raise short-term cash. Money market traders were evenly split on whether the Spanish bank bailout will make the banks more or less reliant on the European Central Bank's funding operations, a Reuters poll showed on Monday. Key measures of financial stress were broadly steady on Monday after the bailout offer was agreed at the weekend.

The spread between three-month Euribor rates and overnight indexed swap rates was little changed on the day at 41 bps, having traded around that level since late March after two rounds of cheap ECB financing.

Alsessando Giansanti, strategist at ING, said further tightening of that spread would be difficult given the risks attached to European banks' growing exposure to riskier domestic debt. Given the ample liquidity in the system, only an anti-austerity outcome to the Greek election would take the spread sharply wider, to say 60 bps, he said.

Business News: Arches Industrial Estate goes from strength to strength - Coventry

Fact Check: EPA Regulations Are Not Small Business's Kryptonite - Huffington Post

While the economy is slowly recovering, the road back to pre-recession employment levels has been peppered with potholes. Partisan politics in Congress are doing nothing to help the economy, or the small businesses working to rebuild it. In one of the latest attempts to harness the influence of small business -- a coveted pawn in political chess games -- former Senator Blanche Lincoln decried government regulation as the biggest impediment to small business and economic recovery in a Huffington Post blog entry. She pointed to Environmental Protection Agency regulations specifically.

But let's get the facts straight.

Small business owners actually support an array of recently proposed EPA regulations. And by wide margins, too. Small Business Majority's most recent polling, released on June 7, found the vast majority of small businesses in Ohio -- a major manufacturing state -- support EPA clean air standards, and two-thirds of those polled also feel government investments in clean energy can stimulate the economy and create jobs now.

Specifically, 7 in 10 small business owners support the EPA's federal standard requiring new power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide -- even though 6 in 10 of them believe it will directly impact their business.

Todd Stegman is one of the many small business owners who believe clean energy standards are long overdue. Todd co-owns two small businesses in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his father and brother: Osborne Coinage, America's oldest private mint, and Doran Manufacturing, LLC, which provides innovative transportation products for truck fleets. "Boosting energy-efficiency standards in the United States wouldn't thwart growth for small businesses like mine -- it would enhance it," he said. "Encouraging manufacturing businesses to refine their processes by becoming cleaner and more energy-efficient would put us on the way to becoming part of a more competitive global economy."

From Todd's point of view, complying with EPA regulations is simply one of many aspects of owning a business. Consumer demand and the cost of materials are the real concerns, he says. Todd knows firsthand that the long-term benefits of investing in clean and renewable energy far outweigh the upfront costs, as he's already saving money thanks to his 2009 decision to install solar panels.

It's evident EPA regulations are not what's bogging down small business success. Even entrepreneurs who believe new regulations would directly impact their business often still support them. Half of those in our survey believe rules to reduce mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants would impact their company, yet a vast three-quarters still support them. What's more, nearly half strongly support them.

And when it comes to the "Good Neighbor Rule," which would reduce smog and soot crossing state lines, the story is the same: 65 percent are supportive of the rule, withstanding the fact that 52 percent believe it would impact their business directly.

Considering these strong numbers, it would appear there's some disconnect between this data and the Gallup polling Lincoln cited. But in fact, there isn't. The poll, which found 46 percent of small employers aren't hiring because of government regulations, actually found five other reasons that far out-ranked regulations, including no need for more employees (76 percent), worries that sales won't justify more hiring (71 percent) and worries about the current state of the economy (66 percent). Of the eight reasons owners cited for not hiring, regulations beat out just two -- the worry that their business might not last another year, and "other."

It's unfortunate when small businesses are used as a vehicle for pushing ideological agendas. This isn't to say that small businesses support all regulations all the time. But as Todd Stegman noted, small businesses are most worried about consumer demand and the rising cost of doing business, along with making payroll, healthcare costs and credit availability. That's all according to a wide body of research including our own and the very survey Lincoln cites.

So please, lawmakers, when you sit down to the policy table, don't turn a blind eye to the real issues facing small business. And when it comes to EPA regulations that promote clean and renewable energy, don't believe the hype -- small business owners support 'em.

Follow John Arensmeyer on Twitter:

No comments: