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Thoughts, editorials and opinions on events from a conservative working-class, midwestern family in central Iowa. Different perspectives from the family's husband and father, wife and mother, and yes, even their kids. Musings, rants and raves mixed with hyperbole and satire of how they think, feel, and view issues, all the while trying to adjust to living in today's world. Terms and Policies
Fitch Ratings has downgraded and placed on Rating Watch Negative the ratings of Principal Financial Group Inc. (PFG) and its subsidiaries. The downgrades and watch assignments include the insurer financial strength (IFS) ratings of PFG's primary life insurance company subsidiaries to 'AA-' from 'AA' and its holding company senior debt rating to 'A-' from 'A'. A full list of rating actions follows at the end of this release.
The downgrade reflects Fitch's ongoing review of PFG's exposure to the current credit market turmoil and expectation of continued deterioration in 2009.
The Negative Rating Watch reflects Fitch's concern over PFG's ability to successfully refinance a $455 million holding company debt maturity due later this year without drawing upon its insurance subsidiary capital. Fitch believes the adequacy of insurance company capital at the current 'AA-' insurer financial strength level will be tested in 2009 due to expected investment losses, without the added pressure of making significant dividend payments to the holding company. Therefore, Fitch will closely monitor the refinancing prospects for PFG. Inability to successfully refinance could result in a one-notch downgrade. Successful refinancing could result in an affirmation of current ratings with a Negative Outlook reflecting Fitch's industry view. Read Article...
U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign the $787 billion economic stimulus plan into law at a ceremony in the western city of Denver, Colorado on Tuesday. Mr. Obama calls it a "major milestone on the road to recovery" for the U.S. economy, while critics insist it is too expensive and will create fewer jobs than proponents insist.
The bill, which includes government spending and tax cuts intended to help push the U.S. economy out of recession, is the president's first big legislative victory since taking office last month.
Moody's Economy.com chief economist Mark Zandi who also appeared on Fox News Sunday said President Obama's contention that the stimulus plan will create or save 3.5 million jobs is optimistic.
U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, who represents Iowa's Southern District, says Vision Systems Group Inc. brought foreign workers to the U.S. to fill temporary high-tech jobs.
The company filed documents claiming the workers were employed in Iowa, but Whitaker says they were actually located on the coasts. Whitaker says the move saved the company money as the foreign workers were paid lower wages in Iowa than they would have been paid in places like New Jersey and California.
In addition, prosecutors allege the tactic displaced American workers that were qualified to fill those positions in those coastal locations. Whitaker calls Vision Systems Group an I-T company and says the foreign workers were hired for advanced computer programming positions.
"These fraud schemes are not only very sophisticated in their use of Iowa as a location to drive down the prevailing wage that they can pay their workers - and then farm them out to more higher-wage, populated areas - but also how lucrative it is for the individuals that are behind these schemes," Whitaker said. The indictment claims the illegal maneuver may have saved the company more than seven-million dollars. Whitaker called the 18-month long investigation the "tip of the iceberg" and expects similar arrests in the future.