China and East Asia Growth Forecasts Lowered
The World Bank lowered its 2013 and 2014 economic growth forecasts for China and most of developing East Asia on Monday, Reuters reports. "Developing East Asia is expanding at a slower pace as China shifts from an export-oriented economy and focuses on domestic demand," according to the World Bank’s East Asia Pacific Economic Update report. "Growth in larger middle-income countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand is also softening in light of lower investment, lower global commodity prices and lower-than-expected growth of exports.” The Washington-based development bank now projects the Chinese economy to expand by 7.5 percent this year, down from its April forecast of 8.3 percent and below the International Monetary Fund's most recent forecast of 7.75 percent. China's 2014 growth is estimated at 7.7 percent, down 0.3-percentage point from the previous prediction. The World Bank also forecasts developing East Asia to expand by 7.1 percent this year and by 7.2 percent in 2014, down from its April estimate of 7.8 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.
Debt Ceiling Impasse: Who’s Default is This?
A U.S. default is “the path we’re on,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner proclaimed in an ABC interview on Sunday, vowing not to raise the U.S. debt ceiling by the Oct. 17 deadline without “a serious conversation" with the White House about what is driving the debt. "The nation's credit is at risk because of the administration's refusal to sit down and have a conversation," Boehner said. If the debt ceiling is not increased, the United States could go into default for the first time. Officials and economists say this would have potentially disastrous consequences for the U.S. and global economies. Concerns that the shutdown could trim economic growth coupled with nervousness over a potential debt ceiling crisis later this month have weighed on stocks and pushed the U.S. dollar close to an eight-month low, The Associated Press reports.
“Gravity” Has the Right Stuff at the Box Office
The Warner Bros. release “Gravity,” blasted off in its opening weekend into the box office stratosphere, earning $55.55 million in domestic ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday. The drama about two astronauts marooned in space was the biggest opening yet for its stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and the biggest October opening ever. The film also dominated the international box office with an additional 27.4 million.
Average Price of Gasoline Drops
Over the last two weeks, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has fallen 13.78 cents, to an average price of just over $3.38 per gallon. The average price is about 45 cents lower than it was one year ago, according to the Lundberg survey that was released on Friday. The survey looks at prices of approximately 2,500 retail stations in the lower 48 states. The two week drop equals about 14 cents per gallon, the largest drop since November of 2012, according to survey editor Trilby Lundberg. The price drop is a result of a cut in prices from refiners to retailers, which came about when crude oil prices dropped significantly in September. Lundberg said the prices could rise again as crude oil prices have stabilized. St. Louis had the least expensive gasoline in the country at $3.01 per gallon, while San Francisco had the most expensive at $3.88 per gallon.
Supreme Court Ready to Start
The Supreme Court justices take the bench Monday for the start of their new terms despite the current partial government shutdown. The justices plan on working at least through this week, and have important cases to be heard on campaign contributions, housing discrimination, the president’s recent recess appointments and government sanctioned prayer. Assuming they operate on their regular schedule, they could also hear challenges on abortion law, contraceptive coverage under the new health care law, and cellphone privacy issues.
Moody’s Official Says U.S. Will Avoid Default
Moody’s CEO Raymond McDaniel told CNBC Monday that there is no chance the United States government will default on its debts, despite concern over the raising of the debt ceiling by Oct. 17.
The debt ceiling debate is not joining with the current government shutdown to raise all sorts of questions about the government’s finances. But McDaniel said “It is extremely unlikely that the Treasury is not going to continue to pay’’ its debts. A government default would negatively affect financial markets worldwide, according to most experts.