Driving the Day: 5/3/12

May 3, 2012

Need to know…

  • U.S. Startups Rate at Record Low. The latest Census Bureau data published on Wednesday showed that the startup rate dropped to a record low in 2010. The startup rate peaked at 13.02% in 1987 and dropped in 2010 to its lowest rate at 7.87%, down from 8.10% in 2009. This is a troubling development for the U.S. economy at a time when the unemployment rate remains above 8%.
  • New Fracking Rules to Be Released This Week. The Interior Department will release a new proposal to regulate “fracking” on federal lands as soon as today. The rules are expected to include the required disclosure of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, along with regulations on well integrity and wastewater management. Fracking and advances in horizontal drilling technology have enabled a boom in natural gas and oil production, but have also raised concerns about air pollution and water contamination. The rules are likely to set off a debate among energy companies and environmental groups, according to The Hill.
  • Deadline for Debt Ceiling Not Changing. Lawmakers will not have to re-fight their epic battle over raising the debt ceiling until after the November elections. April tax receipts have not moved Treasury’s debt-ceiling target date, and Secretary Geithner still expects that lawmakers will have until the tail end of 2012 to raise the $16.394 trillion ceiling. According to an official, the government has borrowed $15.673 trillion, and the limit is still too far off for Treasury to predict when it will be reached. However, the official insisted the agency has the tools to prevent the U.S. from going over the limit if it draws near prior to elections.
  • Weekly Unemployment Claims Posts Biggest Drop in a Year. New jobless claims in the U.S. fell more than expected last week, according to a government report on Thursday. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 27,000 to 365,000, the biggest weekly drop since early May 2011. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 380,000 last week. The data has no impact on the government’s employment report for April, to be released on Friday.

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