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    By Gabriele Steinhauser, Viktoria Dendrinou and Nektaria Stamouli. Greece became the first developed country to default on the International Monetary Fund, as the rescue program that has sustained it for five years expired, and its creditors rejected a last-ditch effort to buy more time. The Washington-based fund said the Greek government failed to transfer EUR1.55 billion by close-of- business on Tuesday-- the largest, single missed repayment in the IMF's history.

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    Don Fox considers himself a good employer. The chief executive of a 896-location sandwich chain called Firehouse Subs gave his employees health-care coverage a year before it was required. But the Obama administration’s new overtime rules — which will make millions more salaried managers eligible for overtime pay — might be too much, even for him.Right now, Fox’s salaried administrators and store managers don’t have to be paid time and a half above 40 hours a week if they make more than $455 per week. The White House said late Monday that it wants to double that threshold by next year. That might force Fox to convert salaried employees to hourly, or tell his salaried workers not to work more than 40 hours a week.“What’s a real shame is that I’m in a position of having to penalize someone because they’re doing something they judge is best for their career,” Fox said. “Everything in this proposed rule is anti-American work ethic and culture.”In a speech set for Thursday in Wisconsin, President Obama plans to explain that he’s trying to solve a problem. In 1975, the overtime rule covered 62 percent of the salaried workforce. Since then, inflation has eroded coverage to the point where only 8 percent of salaried workers qualify and the $23,660 a year cutoff is below the poverty line for a family of four.The administration wants to increase eligibility to $50,440 a year, which is where the level would be if the cutoff had kept up with the cost of living. But with business owners such as Fox on the alert, the White House’s bid to directly raise Americans’ pay is running into a brushfire of resistance. Obama signaled his intention to raise the overtime threshold in March 2014, as part of his efforts to go around a gridlocked Congress to bolster middle-class incomes that had remained stubbornly stagnant since the recession. Many employers had been able to load their low-level salaried professionals with extra hours, because it cost them nothing, rather than hire more workers to share the burden. “With hourly workers, you can’t change the number of hours they work without paying them overtime,” said Dana Muir, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “It’s more that middle group that’s borne the pressure of the recession and then the expansion without hiring. So this is a big deal.”Labor unions and progressive groups pushed hard for the change, and hailed the announcement as a step in the right direction. They said it might even prompt more hiring if employers avoid overtime by bringing on more workers. The change also should increase wages for women, minorities, younger people and the less educated, they said.“Millions of America’s workers are one step closer to earning the overtime pay they rightfully deserve but have been systematically denied,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. “Working people called on President Obama to go bold, and his response will provide a much-needed boost to our entire economy.”But business groups campaigned fiercely against the new overtime rule, both publicly and in Congress, with House Republicans holding a hearing in mid-June to criticize the idea. They said employers are likely to cut their managers’ base pay and benefits if they have to grant overtime, to keep compensation costs level without raising prices. They also might centralize oversight responsibilities at higher levels, which would cut down on the number of pathways to upper management and lead to more inequality, not less. “The administration seems to be under the distorted impression that they can build the middle class by government mandate,” said David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation. “There simply isn’t any magic pot of money that lets employers pay more just because the government says so.”In its proposal, the White House appears to have stopped short of imposing a requirement that some employers feared more: specifying the amount of time an employee has to spend on actual managerial duties to become exempt from overtime. That means businesses won’t have to tabulate the time a manager spends wiping tables or stocking shelves. For small businesses especially, counting overtime hours can be more onerous than paying higher wages.“I want to pay my staff for their time,” said Joel Finkelstein, the owner of Qualia Coffee in Washington’s Petworth neighborhood. Two Qualia managers would qualify for overtime under the new policy. “I think the policy makes sense for larger businesses, but for small businesses, adding more documentation requirements is a disproportionate hassle.”The rule will not take effect until after a 60-day comment period, and both sides are gearing up to flood the Labor Department with letters.“It’s very difficult to stop a regulatory change, short of a statutory amendment,” said Lisa A. “Lee” Schreter, co-chairman of the wage and hour group at Littler Mendelson. “If the Labor Department reaches too far, perhaps you could see a coalition develop in Congress around certain changes.” Amrita Jayakumar contributed to this report. An earlier version incorrectly said when Obama planned to give a speech in Wisconsin. This story has been updated.




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    The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and its creditors were close to a deal Tuesday that would allow the cash- strapped utility to pay more than $400 million to bondholders, said people familiar with the matter, potentially staving off what investors feared might be the first default of many from the U.S. commonwealth. A deal would mark the latest extension to restructuring talks between the cash-strapped authority and its creditors. The potential deal includes an...

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    For Wednesday, TheStreet (TST) is highlighting June motor-vehicle sales, five notable quarterly earnings reports and key economic data to watch on Wall Street. U.S. automakers gear up to report motor-vehicle sales for June. On the earnings front, we note five companies reporting their latest quarterly financial results.

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    June 30 is the 107th anniversary of the biggest asteroid strike on the Earth in recorded history.In 1908, an asteroid measuring perhaps 90-190 meters across struck Siberia, damaging over 2,000 square kilometers of Russian forest — an area that measures larger than New York’s five boroughs. Scientists estimate that the energy of that explosion was about 1,000 times that of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.This is far from the only close call that humans have had with asteroids. In 2004, an asteroid big enough to have its own small moon narrowly missed the planet. In 2013, an asteroid struck the Russia countryside with many times the force of the Hiroshima bomb, and was widely captured on video.And of course, it was an asteroid, smashing into the Earth with the force of more than billion Hiroshima bombs, which nixed the dinosaurs and allowed humans to take over the Earth in the first place.[Some of the content in this entry could not be displayed on this device.]Asteroids are the greatest threat of planetary extinction that we’re all not talking about, and that is partly due to a principle of economics, argue Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen, two economists at George Mason University who run the blog Marginal Revolution.The probability that you’ll die from an asteroid may be surprisingly large -- about the same probability as dying from a plane crash, according to research cited by Tabarrok and Cowen. That’s because, while a large asteroid hitting the Earth is a relatively low probability event, it’s a very high death event. In other words, the chance that it will happen is small, but if it does, it's very likely that we’re all going to die.And yet, while we've put a lot of money into airplane safety, we're put very little into asteroid defense. Tabarrok and Cowen say this is largely because asteroid defense is what economists call a "public good." A public good is an economics term for something that is a) non-excludable, meaning that people who don’t pay can’t be prevented from using it and b) "non-rival," meaning that when I use it, it doesn't reduce your ability to use it.If that sounds confusing, consider the difference between blue jeans and asteroid defense, say Tabarrok and Cowen. Jeans are both excludable and rival. People who pay for jeans get to wear them, while people who don't pay for jeans don't. And if I'm wearing a pair of jeans, chances are that you're not wearing that same pair.Asteroid defense is different. If the U.S. government, or a private company, pays for asteroid defense, other people in other places will enjoy the benefits, too.“This is a classic case of a public good," Tabarrok said in a phone interview. "Meaning that, if you protect one person, you basically protect the entire planet. If we push the asteroid away, we’ve saved everyone. But for that very reason, no one really wants to pay for it. They want the other guy to pay for it."Markets are great at providing excludable, rival goods, like jeans, hamburgers and contact lenses. But they are not as good at ensuring that people have access to public goods -- such as national defense, asteroid systems and disease control. For most people, the incentive is to be a "free rider" -- to enjoy the benefits of a service without paying for it personally. (If you've ever listened to public radio and then ignored their pleas for donations, you understand the principle.)Since most people still consider things like national defense and disease control to be important, we typically turn to governments to provide these services, and allow governments to finance them with taxes. But this can result in another, less-discussed problem: so-called forced riders. A lot of liberals may wish they paid fewer taxes toward U.S. national defense, while conservatives may feel the same way about public radio.Asteroid defense is a particularly pernicious example of a public good, since neither the market nor the government is yet providing it, says Tabarrok.Tabarrok argues that the easiest way to guard against asteroids is just by improving our tracking of them. If an asteroid is headed straight for Earth, humans ultimately have three options, he says: "You can blow it up, you can kick it, or you can tug it. The one Hollywood likes, the Armageddon proposal, is to put a nuclear weapon up there and blow it up. However, that’s what we should do at the last minute. If we discover it earlier, then you can just tiny pushes or pulls would be enough to knock it off course.” Now that humans have successfully landed a probe on a comet, we know that we have the technology to do this.NASA has put some effort into mapping asteroids whose orbits bring them within approximately 31 million miles of Earth's orbit around the sun through the Near-Earth Object Camera, and has discovered many of the largest asteroids out there.But there are still many that measure between 50 and a few hundred meters in diameter, large enough to wipe out a city. According to an Asteroid Day Declaration signed by scientists including Bill Nye and dozens of NASA scientists and astronauts, we've discovered fewer than 10,000 of the estimated million asteroids that could strike the Earth, or less than 1 percent.Data released by NASA in late 2014 showed that small asteroids hit the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate with surprising frequency — about every other week. These asteroids, called bolides or more commonly “fireballs,” aren’t large enough to make it all the way to the ground — they burn up in the atmosphere. According to NASA, more than 550 bolides have burned up in the atmosphere in the last 20 years.There are a fewprivate efforts to fund asteroid defense, but Tabarrok says he doubts they will succeed because of the strong incentive to free ride. "I actually did donate money to the cause, but I don’t expect it to be terribly successful, because I don’t expect other people to pay for it. The chance that your donation would make the difference between a successful asteroid prevention and an unsuccessful is so small that you may as well keep your money and buy a pair of jeans.”Part of the problem is that our understanding of the threat of asteroids is relatively new, and it is very difficult to convince the public of the reality of a threat they haven't seen in action, says Tabarrok. People vaguely understood the threat of a massive tsunami or a terrorist hi-jacking a plane before the earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, or 9-11. But they didn't have enough motivation to act on it.Tabarrok says his hope is that private efforts in space will one day soon focus on mining asteroids for valuable resources. If you have miners and private developers working with asteroids in space, that could inadvertently make it easier to defend the planet against an asteroid collision.And of course, there is the option that people on Earth could somehow get the motivation to work together, and asteroid defense might ultimately be a reason for unifying the world, says Tabarrok."The idea that the whole planet is potentially under threat from an asteroid does make us think that the world is our home, and we’re all in this together — Spaceship Earth, to get a little crunchy granola. And that makes us think a little more about our fellow travelers, our fellow world residents, that we’re all in this together.”You might also like: -Meet the world’s biggest stock market bubble since the dot-com boom-The science behind why the return-trip always feels shorter than the trip there-144 years of marriage and divorce in the United States, in one chart






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    10 things Coke, Pepsi and the soda industry won't say. Soda and sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 deaths among adults every year, according to a new study by researchers at Tufts University. Your backyard BBQ will be way more expensive this year.

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    The United States stood on the sidelines while Brazil was a stud. The tables have turned between the two nations' economies, and it's a much different story from just a few years ago. Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, visited President Obama Tuesday at the White House as Brazil's economy continues to shrink.

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    Emerging market stocks were on a roll until May, when fears of a Fed rate hike and its impact on developing countries reversed the trend. "I think those fears are overblown," said Muromcew. Muromcew's Emerging Markets Equity Fund is up just over 1% so far this year, but it has declined nearly 12% in the past 12 months as volatility has taken its toll. "We are watching the Chinese economy.

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    Bugs are the new kale. On Wednesday, the Wayback burger chain is launching a milkshake made with dried cricket powder at all its 100 U.S. locations. "You wouldn't even know there's cricket in it," said Gillian Maffeo, Wayback's marketing director.

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    Greece officially defaulted Tuesday on its $1.7 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund, cutting the country off from access to billions of euros. The best thing for investors to do in the meantime is remain calm, U.S. President Barack Obama said earlier on Tuesday.

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    In a speech at the University of Oxford, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer on Tuesday said the U.S. economy likely grew at around a 2.5% annual rate in the second quarter, as he repeated the central bank will lift rates once there's further improvement in the labor market and it's "reasonably confident" inflation will move back to 2% over the medium term. He said economic conditions will likely warrant raising the federal funds rate only gradually.

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    Barbecuing may burn a hole in your wallet this summer. Prices have risen this year on many barbecue staples, including burgers and steaks. Indeed, prices for ground beef-- which rose 10% this past year and hit a record high a few months back-- remain at more than $4.10 per pound, according to the latest Consumer Price Index data.

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    This time around, what happens in the Shanghai stock market may not stay there. The Shanghai Composite is off nearly 22% from its peak just over two weeks ago, including a 3.3% fall on Monday. China's interest-rate cut over the weekend did little to restore investor confidence.

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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said Germany was unwilling to talk with Athens about a new bailout program ahead of a July 5 Greek referendum, Reuters reported. "Before a referendum, as planned, is carried out, we won't negotiate anything new at all," she said. Greece on Tuesday proposed in a last-ditch effort to reach a deal before the expiration of its current program at the end of the day.

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    WASHINGTON-- Consumers are growing more upbeat about the U.S. labor market, with confidence reaching the highest levels since around the start of the Great Recession, according to a report released Tuesday. "The number of consumers reporting that labor conditions were bad has now declined for three months in a row, a reflection of the continued robust pace of job growth and the addition of more full-time jobs this year," wrote analysts with Wells Fargo Securities.

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    U.S. consumer confidence jumped in June, according to an index released by The Conference Board on Tuesday. Its index rose to 101.4 in June from a downwardly revised 94.6 in May, topping the MarketWatch-compiled economist forecast of 97.5. Both the present situation and expectations indexes advanced.

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    Chris Christie is officially in the 2016 presidential race and he's "telling it like it is." But his track record as New Jersey governor is no economic slam dunk. New Jersey has yet to recover all the jobs the state lost in the recession.

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    Greece's negotiators have taken a page out of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's playbook--the one about using market shocks as bargaining chips. During the depths of the financial crisis back in 2008, the U.S.