Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:1. The Financial Times reports: “Nearly three years after the start of the economic crisis, a new spectre is haunting the world’s most advanced economies: the prospect that the majority of their citizens will face years of stagnant wages.”
2. The American middle class isn’t feeling middle class these days. They’re living paycheck to paycheck and hanging on as best they can.
3. Consumer spending in the United States was flat in May. Car sales edged lower and inflation edged higher, increasing pressure on household budgets.
4. Negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit and raise the debt ceiling started up again yesterday, with President Obama meeting separately with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Democrats are insisting on tax increases. Republicans say “no way.“
5. The Greek Parliament will vote today on austerity measures demanded by international lenders as the price for more financial aid. Greek opposition leaders are calling for massive protests. Meanwhile, the government is holding a kind of national tag sale to raise money to pay down debt.
6. With the Libyan “mission” now entering its fourth month, the question persists as to whether the Obama Administration overstepped its authority by committing the US military to a warzone without Congressional approval.
7. Afghanistan’s central bank governor Abdul Qadir Fitrat fled Kabul for the U.S. about 10 days ago. He is not expected to return. Last year Mr. Fitrat opened an investigation into Kabul Bank, which nearly collapsed amid public allegations that its politically-connected owners used it to make favourable loans to themselves and close associates. Mr. Fitrat now believes, for good reason, that those people are trying to kill him.
8. The political crisis in Yemen, which seems to get worse by the day, is causing a breakdown in the country’s economic life. That could soon lead to a major humanitarian crisis.
9. GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty will address the Council on Foreign Relations this morning in New York City. He is expected to criticise his Republican colleagues for shrinking from “the challenges of American leadership in the world.”
10. Mitt Romney has made Nevada one of his early “fortress” states. He captured 40% support there in 2008 and remains popular. He will almost certainly win the Nevada caucuses comfortably in 2012.
11. Michele Bachmann made it official yesterday, she’s a candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Expectations for her campaign are rising.
12.Texas Governor Rick Perry’s controversial views on a number of subjects — including gay marriage and legalization of marijuana — will be very much in play should he decide to seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
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