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News Analysis for the Investor on May 30,2014

 Consumer spending fell in April.  Google is implementing the EU's privacy ruling.  BNP Paribas anticipates a hefty fine from the US.  And Europe is recalculating its GDP to include sex and drugs.

| BY Catherine McBreen

 Consumer spending falls for the first time in a year

US consumer spending fell for the first time in a year in April, but there are also signs that inflation is rising at its quickest pace since November 2012.  According to the New York Times, the Commerce Department said that consumer spending slipped by 0.1 percent in April after rising by a revised 1.0 percent in March.  (Spending was originally reported to have increased 0.9 percent in March.).  Economists had predicted that consumer spending would increase 0.2 percent in April.  Even though consumer demand has cooled, inflation is creeping up.  Inflation is up 1.6 percent from a year ago, the largest gain since November 2012.  It advanced 1.1 percent in March. 


US reported to fine BNP Paribas billions

The Associated Press is reporting that BNP Paribas shares have fallen more than 5 percent at the opening of trade on reports that the US will be assessing huge fines against the bank.  Last year, the bank set aside $1.1 billion after becoming the subject of the investigation but a month ago raised the possibility that the fines could exceed that amount.  Two years ago, HSBC agreed to pay $2 billion to settle a similar case.  Bloomberg is reporting that a person familiar with the matter stated that the US authorities are seeking more than $10 billion.


Google implementing EU privacy ruling

According to the Financial Times, Google introduced a mechanism that could lead to large amounts of private information begin stripped from the widely used search service in an effort to comply with the recent European Court of Justice decision.  An online form will provide an easy way for anyone in Europe to ask Google to censor links they think contain outdated and damaging information about them.  The company hopes to strike a balance between blocking damaging private information about ordinary Europeans while preserving links to things in the public interest, such as articles about corrupt public officials. 


Europe to add Sex, drugs and other illegal activities to GDP calculation

In the next few months, all European countries that do not already include drugs, prostitution and other illegal activities into their GDP calculations will have to do so.  According to Bloomberg, the goal is to make countries’ economic data comparable.  Permissive EU members, such as Germany, Hungary, Austria and Greece, where prostitution is legal, already include the revenue produced in their national accounts.  The same goes for drugs…in the Netherlands drugs have been included in the national calculation while other countries have not included drugs.  Adding drugs, prostitution and black market alcohol to Italy’s GDP is expected to increase its GDP by 2 percent.  This will bring Italy’s budget deficit below the statutory 3 percent required before increasing taxes.

About the Author

Catherine McBreen

Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner.  McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner.  Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors.  She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.

McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law.  She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.

Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.  She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth.  Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.

McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)

Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.