The Economy Today: Egg Donors and Food Stamps

Headlines from Texas, California, Oregon, and elsewhere

Stories about the slow distribution of stimulus funds are a dime a dozen these days, but The Wall Street Journal today reports on one source of federal money that is being quickly infused into the economy: a boost in food-stamp funding. As of April, the average family of four received an additional eighty dollars worth of assistance. Nearly all those funds are spent within a month, which means extra cash for food retailers. The increase in purchasing power also allows families to afford fresh produce, something that hasn’t always been the case. The story notes that the extra funding capitalizes on improvements to the system in recent years: streamlined registration, greater access to farmer’s markets, even a switch from stamps to a plastic card.

USA Today, meanwhile, writes about a boost of a different sort: Sperm banks and egg donor agencies are reporting a pronounced increase in calls, as people look for new sources of cash. One California-based company reports a spike of 40 percent since February. Many end up opting out or being disqualified, but for those who go through with the procedure, men can collect $100 twice weekly, while women, who must go through an outpatient procedure, can get $5,000 for a donation, according to a facility in Oregon. Weirdest detail: a New Jersey-based company reports 100 calls from men inquiring about donating “eggs.”

The credit card industry, never short of critics, has a new enemy, reports The Dallas Morning News: 7-Eleven. The convenience store chain has targeted the transaction fees charged by credit card companies, and is hoping to collect a million signatures on petitions placed in its stores. 7-Eleven claims to have paid $160 million to credit card companies last year; transaction fees account for $2 out of every $100 Americans spend, according to the National Retail Federation.

Finally, while oil prices have been exceptionally volatile over the last year, there’s reason to think gasoline prices have peaked for the summer, writes the Houston Chronicle. Fourth of July travel usually brings the seasonal peak price; if that pattern holds true, this year’s gas prices will remain far below the records set in July 2008, when the average cost of a gallon of regular reached $4.11. The lower prices are attributed to weak demand caused by the down economy.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.