It turns out even the deepest recession in decades can’t kill off pet spending. A new report from the Labor Department shows that while Americans cut back in some types of disposable spending during the nation’s financial crisis, spending on pets held steady and has begun to pick up again.
The report shows that Americans spent over $61 billion on their pets in 2011, with the average household spending just over $500 on their pets during the year. That’s more than the average household spent on alcohol, men’s clothing, or landline telephones. The data show that pet spending hit a peak in 2008, at $571 per household, then dropped off sharply, eventually hitting $480 in 2010. However, spending on Fluffy and Spot as a share of households’ total spending picked up slightly during the recession, from 0.9 percent in 2007 to 1.1 percent during the heart of the downturn in 2008 and 2009.
The Labor Department data show that Americans remained selflessly devoted to their pets during the recession, holding their spending on pet food steady through the downturn while cutting back on the luxury of eating out.
A major economic downturn may not dramatically cut pet spending, but having kids does. Single people spent over $400 on average on their pets in 2011, while single-parent households spent two-thirds that. Likewise, husbands and wives with no children at home spent the most on their pets, at nearly $700, while those with the youngest children spent less than 60 percent of that, at just over $400.
The data may also signal fatter times ahead for America’s pets. Americans age 55 to 64 spent the most on their pets of any age group, at $636 per year, in 2011. In addition, homeowners spent $653 on average, compared to renters, at $221. With baby boomers entering retirement and a housing recovery in place, that may mean the population willing to spend big on their animals is about to grow.
From US News, full story HERE
In a battle of beer logos, brewer Magic Hat has filed a federal lawsuit against Lexington’s West Sixth Brewing Co., claiming trademark infringement.
A lawsuit filed May 16 in U.S. District Court charged that West Sixth began selling beer, ale and brewpub services in 2012 using color, trademarks and designs “that closely resemble and are confusingly similar” to the designs used by Magic Hat for several years.
On Tuesday, West Sixth co-owner Ben Self said the lawsuit was without merit. West Sixth officials launched a social media campaign, asking customers to sign a petition on its website to ask Magic Hat to drop the lawsuit and stop “corporate bullying.”
According to news reports, North American Breweries Inc. bought Vermont-based Magic Hat in 2010. North American’s website said it owns and operates five U.S. breweries and six retail locations in New York, Vermont, California, Oregon and Washington.
The petition had more than 5,100 signatures by 9 p.m.
“The public has really come to our defense as a craft beer producer and joined us demanding that Magic Hat withdraw their lawsuit,” Self said.
What’s at issue is a logo used on a number of products, including beer bottles and cans.
The lawsuit said the appearance or trade dress of Magic Hat’s #9-branded products is characterized by its distinctive orange, the predominant color on its labels, the presence of the “dingbat” star and the circular motif of the #9 design.
West Sixth recently introduced its Amber Ale, which is offered in an orange label that includes the numeral 6. The lawsuit says West Sixth has used a “dingbat” star to “confuse consumers and trade on Magic Hat’s good will.”
Magic Hat has used the #9 mark for beer and ale since at least 1995 in the United States and since at least 2009 in Kentucky, according to the lawsuit.
West Sixth has sold beer, ale and brewpub services using the 6 in its logo in portions of Kentucky and Ohio since April 1, 2012, the lawsuit said.
Magic Hat is seeking an injunction to stop West Sixth from using the design and is asking the court to direct West Sixth to pay Magic Hat all profits made by West Sixth as a result of “its acts of unfair competition,” the lawsuit says. Additionally, Magic Hat is asking for a jury trial and damages including costs and attorneys’ fees.
The lawsuit says West Sixth’s use of “confusingly similar marks” is causing Magic Hat irreparable harm.
“West Sixth’s use of its confusingly similar marks … continues to cause, and is likely to cause confusion, … and deception in the minds of the consuming public,” the lawsuit said.
West Sixth officials posted a statement at Nomoremagichat.com that said, in part:
“Before we go any further, we do want to let you know that none of this will affect in any way our ability to continue brewing the great beers that you all have come to love. So, don’t worry about that at all!
“They’re claiming that we intentionally copied their logo, and that has caused them “irreparable harm,” enough that they’re asking for not only damages but also all our profits up until this point (little do they know that well, as a startup company, there wasn’t any, oops!)”
West Sixth logos were created by a professional design firm in Lexington called Cricket Press that has “a long history of fantastic and creative logo designs. … Our logo contains neither a ‘#’ nor a ‘9.’”
Read full story from the Herald Leader HERE.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Twitter is booming as a social media destination for teenagers who complain about too many adults and too much drama on Facebook, according to a new study published Tuesday about online behavior. It said teens are sharing more personal information about themselves even as they try to protect their online reputations.
Teens told researchers there were too many adults on Facebook and too much sharing of teenage angst and inane details like what a friend ate for dinner.
“The key is that there are fewer adults, fewer parents and just simply less complexity and less drama,” said Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Center, one of the study’s authors. “They still have their Facebook profiles, but they spend less time on them and move to places like Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.”
In the poll, 94 percent of teens who are social media users have a profile on Facebook – flat from the previous year. Twenty-six percent of teen social media users were on Twitter. That’s more than double the figure in 2011 of 12 percent.
In what is likely a concern to parents, more than 60 percent of the teens with Twitter accounts said their tweets were public, meaning anyone on Twitter – friend, foe or stranger – can see what they write and publish. About one-quarter of kids said their tweets were private and 12 percent said they did not know whether their tweets were public or private.
Teens are also sharing much more than in the past.
More than 90 percent of teen social media users said they have posted a picture of themselves – up from 79 percent in 2006. Seven in ten disclose the city or town where they live, up from about 60 percent over the same time period. And 20 percent disclose their cell phone number – up sharply from a mere two percent in 2006.
At the same time, teens say they’ve taken steps to protect their reputations and mask information they don’t want others to know. For example, nearly three-quarters of teen social media users have deleted people from their networks or friends list.
The researchers surveyed 802 parents and their 802 teens. The poll was conducted between July 26 and September 30, 2012, on landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
From Time Magazine; full article HERE.
By Michael Scherer of Time Magazine
President Obama will release a “fiscally responsible” budget for the country today, his aides say. This is not news. It happened last year. And the year before. And the year before. In Obama’s first year, he was so confident, he called his budget “A New Era of Responsibility.”
Except, it wasn’t. And never really has been. Because the fiscally responsible part is always projected to begin a few years in the future, and each year, as a new budget comes out, White House aides have also revised their projections. What they believed to be responsible before was not so responsible after all. The deficits were larger than they expected. The economy grew slower. The debt was bigger.
There is some disagreement over just what “fiscally responsible” means. Some liberals believe there is no real risk of running up too much debt, given the demonstrated willingness of the world to buy our bonds, so it is responsible to accept our high deficits. Some conservatives believe that any deficits are a moral outrage that will turn our children into chattel or preface armageddon, so it is responsible to embrace austerity. For the purposes of this post, I am defining “fiscally responsible” as it is most often meant by the White House: charting a path to deficit levels that roughly stabilizes the size of the debt as a percentage of GDP.
In 2009, Obama’s propeller heads predicted the deficits in 2012 would be about 4.6% of GDP, or just slightly higher than the growth of the economy. Three years later, Obama’s number crunchers were saying that the 2012 deficit would be 7.2% of GDP, which means the original prediction was off by about 50%. Why? The biggest reason is that the financial crisis was worse than predicted, and the recovery has been slower, lowering tax revenue. It’s also true that Congress never puts a White House budget into law, but as this chart by The Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews shows, had Obama had his way, the deficits would likely have been worse, not better. The budget that Congress passed in 2009 was 3% smaller that Obama wanted; it was 7% smaller in 2010.
But the pattern in the Obama administration has been remarkably consistent: Presidential budgets are a terrible source for predicting the fiscal responsibility of the U.S. government. Here is a line chart I made showing the deficit projections Obama made in each of his first four budgets, as a percentage of GDP. As you can see, each year the short-term projections tend to get a little worse.
The number crunchers across the street from the White House are not fudging the numbers. The problem is that lawmakers do not have complete control over deficits. The economy matters, and the official numbers have not been good at predicting what will happen.
The other thing worth mentioning here is that in discussions of fiscal responsibility, the President’s budget is often a distraction. The real problems with spending and taxation have little to do with what Obama likes most to talk about: new bridges, pre-K education, tax loopholes for the very wealthy. They have to do with long term trends—a decrease in tax rates and revenue over the last decades, and an increase in the cost of health care. The graphic designers at the U.S. Treasury clearly illustrate this point:
Larger copy of the chart HERE.
Any long term solution to the high deficits will most certainly arise from addressing these areas. And that deal, if it happens anytime soon, will not be found in the Obama budget document, though his recent embrace of cuts to Social Security and Medicare may be a step in that direction.
UPDATE: I have added below another line (in teal) to my chart, showing the deficit projections as a percentage of GDP from the most recent budget, fiscal year 2014, which was released Wednesday afternoon. You will see that the deficit estimates for the most immediate year are once again higher than they were predicted to be last year, the year before, the year before that, etc. Not exactly the kind of projections you want to take to the bank, or bond market. To read the whole budget, see here.
NORTH BELFAST is sadly expert at cleaning up after a riot. By mid-morning on September 4th, following several nights of petrol-bombing and brick-throwing in which more than 60 police officers were injured, the streets were back to normal. Only the odd pile of rubble, and the stories of shaken residents, remained to suggest anything was amiss. Yet the riots have revealed deep problems in Northern Ireland which cannot be so easily scrubbed away.
In summers past fire was almost as common as rain. The annual “marching season”, which is at once a celebration of Protestant history and an opportunity to stake out sectarian turf, was frequently accompanied by violence. But the streets had gradually quietened. The most controversial Protestant parades were banned or rerouted, or allowed passage following discussions with Catholic residents. Dozens of flashpoints had dwindled to just a few. An annual riot in Ardoyne, in north Belfast, has taken on something of a ritual character and is not particularly injurious. But the city’s residents have now concocted an entirely new flashpoint.
In July a loyalist marching band on a normally uncontroversial route stopped outside a Catholic church close to central Belfast and struck up the Beach Boys’ tune “Sloop John B”. This has un-Californian connotations in the province. Scottish sectarians have reworked the song into an anti-Catholic anthem (sample line: “The famine’s over, why don’t you go home”) which some bystanders in Belfast began to sing. An amateur cameraman captured the performance, and the footage ended up on YouTube. The Parades Commission promptly instructed bands not to play music outside the church. Some bands angrily defied the ban. Then a Republican parade brought loyalists onto the streets. Both Catholics and Protestants have attacked the police and each other.
Peter Robinson, the Democratic Unionist first minister, and Martin McGuinness, his Sinn Fein deputy, are urgently trying to resolve the issue of who can march where and how before September 29th, when a large loyalist march is scheduled to pass the church. Although the offending loyalist bands have been broadly condemned, the politicians have not come off well either. It is sometimes said that the executive has a “too difficult” file in which knotty issues are crammed—not just the regulation of parades but the promotion of mixed Catholic-Protestant schools, for example. Attempts to resolve the parades issue came to a shuddering halt two years ago when the Orange Order, the main marching organisation, rejected a plan put forward by Mr McGuinness and Mr Robinson. This summer’s riots show that problems filed are not problems forgotten.
These days Catholic and Protestant politicians get along well. Sectarian killings have almost disappeared. But the anger on the streets remains. Traditionally it was Belfast Catholics who complained about inequality and discrimination. Legislation and the peace process have improved their lot, but left a residue of surly loyalist resentment. Walk the streets of Protestant north Belfast now, and it is not difficult to find people who complain that the Catholics are “getting everything they want” and denying Protestants their history. That sense of victimhood can be dangerous.
From The Economist, HERE.