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“So be it”

9:56 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

"crisis management"

"crisis management" by howard.hall on flickr

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Yesterday, I wrote about my prediction for an “official” double-dip recession. One of the points I covered was the release by the Commerce Department of the second quarter GDP figures (along with the downward revision of the figures for the first quarter 2011 back to before the start of the Great Recession/Lesser Depression.)

Today, I have seen a couple of articles pointing out that the (lack of) government spending at all levels has been a large factor in the “disappointing” GDP figures. First up is this blog post from yesterday’s Washington Post with the title “GDP Shocker: ‘Much of the drag was government’:

So what was the problem? 

Government, according to Faucher. “The major drag came from government, on both the federal and state and local sides. Government subtracted 1.2 percentage points from growth in the first quarter, with the federal government accounting for about two-thirds of that,” he said.

Hoocoudanode, right? Read the rest of this entry →

Jobs Numbers Continue to Stagnate While DeeCee Fiddles

11:22 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Giant Fiddle

"Giant Fiddle" by tcp909 on flickr

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Well today’s (Thursday, July 21) report of Initial Unemployment Claims from last week is out and once again, the numbers show little improvement (via Reuters):

Separately, initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to 418,000, the Labor Department said, above economists’ expectations for a rise to 410,000. 

The Reuters article is a revision of their initial report which had noted that last week’s number had once again been revised upwards, from the originally reported 405K to 408K. At least they didn’t say the “economists are surprised” for once.

Buried way down at the bottom of the Reuters article are these little nuggets of information:

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid dropped 50,000 to 3.70 million in the week ended July 9. 

The number of Americans on emergency unemployment benefits declined 80,133 to 3.15 million in the week ended July 2, the latest week for which data is available.

A total of 7.33 million people were claiming unemployment benefits during that period under all programs, down 159,000 from the prior week. Read the rest of this entry →

Economically, ‘Good for Business’ Is Usually Bad for People

11:38 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

François, it's just good business

"François, it's just good business" by dawpa2000 on Flickr

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“Business Friendly Climate” is one of the buzz phrases we see and hear a bit more frequently these days. I guess it is a phrase that may have always been around to some extent but is not just limited to the business press. But what exactly does “Business Friendly Climate” actually mean? Googling the phrase brings up millions of pages of hits with apparently every state, city, and town in the country making the claim for themselves. President Obama says the US must become Business Friendly to create jobs. But to me, the more often I see and hear the phrases “business friendly” or “good for businesses,” the more I become convinced that the end result will be something that is bad for humans and bad for living, breathing entities.

In case you are curious as to what precipitated this, it was a few articles the last week or so on both sides of the “it’s good for business” divide. First up is this article from CNN on Tuesday, July 12 on businesses “fleeing” California:

Buffeted by high taxes, strict regulations and uncertain state budgets, a growing number of California companies are seeking friendlier business environments outside of the Golden State. 

…snip…

While not all companies investing elsewhere are doing so for economic reasons, some are shopping around for lower costs, lighter regulations, stable leadership and government assistance and incentives.

The most popular places to go? Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and North Carolina, said Vranich. All rank in the Top 13 places to do business, according to Chief Executive.

Carly Fiorina, failed former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and failed California Senate candidate continued the theme of “business friendly” in this opinion piece at Politico, also from Tuesday. Then McClatchy had this from Wednesday, asking in the title “Would looser environmental regulations help the economy?”

And there it is. “Looser environmental regulations…” From the article:

WASHINGTON — Republicans in the House of Representatives are waging an all-out war to block federal regulations that protect the environment. 

They loaded up a pending 2012 spending bill with terms that would eliminate a broad array of environmental protections, everything from stopping new plants and animals from being placed on the endangered species list to ending federal limits on water pollution in Florida,

The terms also include a rollback of pollution regulations for mountaintop mining and a red light on federal plans to prevent new uranium mining claims near the Grand Canyon.

Another Republican-sponsored bill that’s before Congress would weaken the nation’s 1972 Clean Water Act, taking away the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to step in when it finds state water-pollution rules too loose.

It’s OK to poison the earth, air, and water but doG forbid anything should be done to stop businesses, right? Just today, the NY Times had this article on how a recently approved herbicide may be killing trees:

Manufactured by DuPont and conditionally approved for sale last October by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Imprelis is used for killing broadleaf weeds like dandelion and clover and is sold to lawn care professionals only. Reports of dying trees started surfacing around Memorial Day, prompting an inquiry by DuPont scientists. 

…snip…

In a June 17 letter to its landscape customers, Michael McDermott, a DuPont products official, seemed to put the onus for the tree deaths on workers applying Imprelis. He wrote that customers with affected trees might not have mixed the herbicide properly or might have combined it with other herbicides. DuPont officials have also suggested that the trees may come back, and have asked landscapers to leave them in the ground.

Mr. McDermott instructed customers in the letter not to apply the herbicide near Norway spruce or white pine, or places where the product might drift toward such trees or run off toward their roots.

…snip…

Imprelis is not approved for use in New York and California because both states have separate review procedures for such products. New York State officials say they have told DuPont that it has detected two problems: the herbicide does not bind with soil, and it leaches into groundwater. The state has told DuPont it will therefore not allow Imprelis to be sold unless the company provides evidence to the contrary.

Good for New York and California. And this leads me right to the point. With all the articles around the Toobz on “business friendly” there are a couple I’ve found, pointing out some of the fallacies of the phrase. Both Bloomberg with this opinion piece from last Friday and the Fiscal Times also from last Friday had pieces pointing out how the “Texas Economic Miracle” so often touted by Gov Goodhair isn’t so much of a miracle after all. From the Bloomberg piece:

It’s easy to be charmed by Texas, but it would be a mistake to think the state might serve as a national model. Texas created almost 250,000 jobs in the past two years, nearly as many as the other 49 states combined. Texas leaders, including Republican Governor Rick Perry, credit that success to low taxes and a business-friendly regulatory approach. 

Yes and no. Those factors played a role. To a sizable degree, however, the state’s booming payrolls are the result of hard-to-duplicate factors, such as a fast-growing population, and unusually low wages.

Of course, the businesses surely do love the low wages aspect. But even in Texas, try living on minimum wage. And I have to be honest, there are many parts of the opinion piece conclusions (passing the so-called “Free Trade Agreements” and repatriating overseas profits at a much lower rate for example) that I find just as wrong as touting low wages as something that is good for people.

The Fiscal Times piece offers a different set of reasons for how maybe Texas isn’t quite the shining star:

There’s just one problem with that portrayal. While Texas has created more jobs than any other state in the past two years, the increase is far less than advertised, and the rate is not much higher than a number of other states, including former rustbelt centers like Pennsylvania or liberal sanctuaries like Vermont. In fact, the Lone Star State’s unemployment rate of 8 percent is ranked 24th among states, placing it squarely in the middle of the pack. 

Moreover, to the extent Texas has done better than other areas of the country, most of its good fortune rests on conditions that are not replicable elsewhere: soaring oil prices have provided a substantial number of new jobs and tax revenue even as higher gas prices put pressure on other state budgets, and an influx of new government defense spending has pumped up revenue. Moreover, the state has used oil revenue to postpone a sharp cutback in state and local government employment, which is about to hit in full force.

In addition, Texas eluded the housing price bubble and thus did not suffer as much from price declines and foreclosures. After the savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s, which hit Texas hard, the state legislature tightened mortgage regulations. Even though Perry touts a free market economy, the new mortgage rules saved Texas from the worst effects of the national housing bust, even as construction employment fell by 95,000 and remains 14% below its pre-recession peak.

Why imagine that! Those dastardly, no good, very bad regulations that seem to be the root of all evil for businesses actually protected people in Texas from the very worst parts of the Great Recession.

Too bad the Beltway Village Idiots Politicians, Pundits, and Courtiers can’t see how eviscerating environmental regulations, banking regulations and such will not protect them from the effects of un-breathable air, poisoned ground and water or destroyed financial markets. I think it may just be a matter of finding which Dystopian or Apocalyptic fiction winds up being closest to the eventual reality of life on earth. Any predictions?

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy

Mr Bernanke, Just What the Hell Are You Waiting For?

9:35 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Ben Bernanke, Vampire Chairman

Ben Bernanke, Vampire Chairman by DonkeyHotey

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Yesterday (Wednesday July 13), Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke was once again before Congress, testifying on the economy. Buried way down in the Reuters coverage of the hearing was this little nugget:

After recovering from the steepest recession in generations beginning in the summer of 2009, the U.S. economy has lost momentum in recent months. Gross domestic product expanded just 1.9 percent in the first three months of the year, and the second quarter does not look to have been much better. 

Bernanke held to the view that recent weakness was due in part to temporary factors like energy costs and the effects on global industry from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

But he acknowledged the labor market remains weaker than the Fed would like.

The labor market also remains weaker than the 14M unemployed and the 25M – 30M un and underemployed would like as well. While part of the stated Fed mission is “pursuit of maximum employment,” the actions of the Fed over these last few years seem to have been more along the lines of “we’ll pretend to do something and maybe the miracle will occur.” As far as Bernanke’s “…view that recent weakness was due in part to temporary factors…,” as I’ve stated before, there are always “temporary factors” that are going to have an effect on life. It is part of life and should be part of his work to be anticipating and dealing with those “temporary factors” as they occur rather than using them as an excuse.
Read the rest of this entry →

The More Things Stay the Same

11:54 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

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Well, instead of being “surprised” by the June (lack of) Jobs Report, it seems the economists were “stunned” by the numbers (via Bloomberg):

Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said he was “stunned” by today’s U.S. employment report.

He wasn’t the only one.

Not a single economist among 85 surveyed by Bloomberg News correctly forecast the 18,000 increase in payrolls in June reported by the Labor Department. Estimates ranged from a low of 60,000 to a high of 175,000. The median was 105,000 — almost six times the actual number.

…snip…

It’s not unusual for payroll figures to fall outside of the range of economists’ forecasts. The same thing happened last month, as well as in October, November and December of last year.

That last paragraph should become a mantra for economists looking for excuses, but it most likely will not. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, there are always extraneous reasons for things happening within the economy. Like bad weather. And there will always be extraneous impacts that should be accounted for in any economic forecasting.

There have been a number of other articles/opinion pieces from yesterday and today that I have found interesting. While Bloomberg reported here that Warren Buffett is betting ‘very heavily’ against a “double-dip” recession (and that kinda scares me a little as I’ve predicted that there will be an official double-dip), the Wall Street Journal seems to be considering a double-dip quite possible.

Washington Beltway Villagers are still in the austerity mode with all the talk of the debt ceiling increase needing drastic cuts to accompany the increase. At least officially, although CNN points out that the GOP is once again claiming tax cuts as the route to employment Nirvana. But there are a few signs that the problems faced by millions just might be penetrating the consciousness of a few folks inside the Beltway. Today’s Washington Post had this opinion piece from Pete Peterson himself pointing out:

Immediate spending cuts and revenue increases could be counterproductive in the context of today’s grim employment outlook, but we need to reach a grand bargain fast to prove to the world that America is back in business.

Mr Austerity “how can we destroy save Social Security” himself recognizes that government does have a role and unfettered and unconstrained slashing is the worst thing that can be done.

Dave Leonhardt in the NY Times Economix points out the austerity trap by invoking Hoover, Roosevelt, and Japan:

In all kinds of ways — consumer demand, the federal deficit, even the weather — the medium-term future is highly uncertain. But this uncertainty, while the main problem, is not the only problem. We are also committing an unforced economic error. We’re cutting government at the same time that the private sector is cutting.

It is the classic mistake to make after a financial crisis. Hoover and even Roosevelt made a version of it in the 1930s. The Japanese made a version of it in the 1990s. Now we are making it.

Reuters has an analysis reaching the same conclusion:

Data on Friday showed hiring ground to a near halt last month, driving the jobless rate up to 9.2 percent and casting doubt on whether a sluggish U.S. recovery would soon pick up steam.

This all but ensures the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates at record lows well into 2012. But help probably won’t be as forthcoming from Congress and the White House, which are locked in battle over cutting a $1.4 trillion budget deficit.

The problem is one of timing: Economists and investors fear that with weak labor and housing markets causing consumers to tighten their own belts, the last thing the economy needs is an aggressive dose of austerity from the federal government.

Ezra Klein at the Washington Post had this blog post on long term effects of unemployment including:

It makes you permanently poorer: In 2009, Till von Wachter, Jae Song, and Joyce Manchester released a study on what happened to the long-term earnings of laid-off workers after the 1982 recession. Immediately, laid-off workers experienced annual earnings 30 percent lower than those of workers who hadn’t lost their jobs. But even 15 to 20 years on, these workers experienced 20 percent lower wages than people who had kept their jobs decades previous

…snip…

It makes you sicker: Being laid off has serious long-term health effects. William Gallo of Yale Medical School has found that people who are laid off near retirement are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack. Gallo, along with Jennie Brand and Becca Levy, have also found that being laid off or part of a branch closing increases one’s likelihood of depression.

So here we sit with more than 14M unemployed and between 25M – 30M (at least) un and underemployed, watching as the White House and Congress continue to dance in their stylized way around the real economic needs, here are a few other articles, pointing out some rather obvious things. However, as one who has seen obvious points be ignored by the folks in the bubble, it can’t hurt to point things out for even the most willfully obtuse politicians. Things such as “Wages fall in sagging job market.” Or “Job seekers get left out of the recovery.” “More consumers getting behind on their bills” and “After ‘mancession,’ women getting left out of recovery.”

The recovery has rolled into Wall Street and corporate profits. It has lifted the financial industry which created much of the original problem. But for those who aren’t MOTU or Members of Congress able to pop for a $350 bottle of wine, we keep falling further and further behind. Which I guess, just means we get to sacrifice more rather than those poor poor rich people.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy

The Very Serious People Missing the Interconnectedness of Everything

12:15 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

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As we see the various articles today about President Obama and the “grand bargain” being offered to get Republican votes for raising the debt ceiling, we also see further indications of the total cluelessness of so many of the folks who live inside of the beltway village.

A few weeks ago, I wrote this post explaining how good jobs would attack the so-called deficit problem. This is without addressing the $3.7T plus costs of our wars since 2001 nor that the cost of the Bush/Obama tax cuts are far larger contributors to the “problem.”

The last few days, I have seen a couple of articles reinforcing for me that Pete Peterson and his acolytes are winning the battle. Just last Friday (July 1), Bloomberg had this article on the Government Accountability Office releasing a study (pdf) on how people are going to have to delay collecting Social Security and “buy an annuity” in order to pay for their retirements:

“The risk that retirees will outlive their assets is a growing challenge,” according to a study from the Government Accountability Office released today. Increased life expectancies and health-care costs coupled with declines in financial markets and home equity over the last few years have “intensified” workers’ concerns about how to manage their savings in retirement, the report said.

…snip…

“The risk that retirees will outlive their assets is a growing challenge,” according to a study from the Government Accountability Office released today. Increased life expectancies and health-care costs coupled with declines in financial markets and home equity over the last few years have “intensified” workers’ concerns about how to manage their savings in retirement, the report said.

Of course, the study does not and cannot explain how we are all supposed to be able to come up with the cash to buy an annuity nor does it explain how we’re are supposed to find insurance companies that will actually be around to pay off on the annuities, even if we could afford them.

Today’s (Thursday July 7) Washington Post continues in the same vein with this column from Michelle Singletary:

A survey by First Command Financial Services found that almost half of respondents said they plan to work into their 70s. Those participating were ages 25 to 70, with annual household incomes of at least $50,000.

Seventy-six percent who haven’t retired yet said they are likely to consider working at least part time when they do retire. Many said they planned to work longer because they need the income. Some who said they have sufficient savings wanted to keep working so they could delay pulling from their retirement nest egg for an idle period that could last 30 years or more.

…snip…

Recent research by EBRI found that even if workers delay retirement into their 80s, there is still a chance they will not have enough money in retirement.

In 2003, EBRI created a retirement security projection model to assess people’s retirement income prospects. The 2011 version added a new feature, which allows households to see whether delaying retirement past 65 could help meet their income needs. The model found that 84 is the age at which 90 percent of low-income households would have a 50 percent probability of having enough retirement income.

Once again, we seem to be missing a key ingredient here – the actual jobs that would allow people to keep working, even if they wanted to work until 84 years old.

Last Friday’s (July 1) NY Times The New Old Age blog was a bit closer to reality being faced by many of us, with the results of a second GAO study:

There’s a long list of reasons that older people suffer malnutrition and weight loss, a geriatrician recently told a Senate subcommittee on health and aging: smell and taste diminishing with age, high rates of depression, medications that that suppress appetite or upset stomachs, disabilities that make it hard to shop and cook.

But at the same hearing, an official with Government Accountability Office pointed out another, perhaps more basic problem: poverty.

What a new G.A.O. report calls “food insecurity” remains stubbornly high among seniors with low incomes. In 2009, about 19 percent of households with a low-income person over age 60 faced this problem — meaning that the older adult was uncertain of having enough food or unable to acquire enough.

Unemployment is officially at 9.1% (roughly 14M people) and underemployment is nearly double that. Social Security has been one of if not the most effective government program of all time, yet all we hear out of Washington is how there must be “shared sacrifices” (from all but the very richest of us of course) so Social Security must be “on the table” for budget discussions, even though Social Security has not contributed one dime to the “problems” with the budget.

Tuesday’s LA Times had this column with the headline, “What’s Behind GOP Attack on Product-Safety Database?” For me, I think it is just a variant of the Republican health care plan that now former Rep Alan Grayson noted:

Don’t Get Sick! And if You Do Get Sick, Die Quickly!

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy

“Good News” but Not that Good.

7:54 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

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In this post I wrote Tuesday, I predicted that the ADP Jobs report for June would come in at around 50K private sector jobs versus the economists prediction of 100K. Well the report is out (via Reuters) and I was way wrong while the economists were also under:

Payrolls processor ADP said on Thursday private sector employment increased 157,000 after a modest 36,000 gain in May, and beating economists’ expectations for a 68,000 rise.

The original report in May (as I quoted and linked to Reuters in this post) was actually at 38K jobs so 36K is a downward revision. For what it’s worth, I do like when I am wrong on these points, especially when I’m wrong and the numbers come in far better than I thought.

Now 157K jobs sounds like something to cheer about and I guess in a way it is but we shouldn’t get all giddy with excitement quite yet. After all, the economy needs to add 100K to 150K jobs each month just to absorb new folks coming into the work force each month so 157K jobs does not dent the long term un and underemployment numbers by much. Tomorrow’s numbers from the BLS for June will include public sector as well as private sector and it is likely the public sector jobs lost will push the 157K number down significantly. And I’ll say right now that July will be worse. How can I say that? Many states start their fiscal years on July 1 and the budget axes will be showing the results as Politico discusses here: Read the rest of this entry →

Beltway Economic Conventional Wisdom Assuring Economy Will Not Improve

11:09 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

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In the year plus that I have been writing about the economy and life as one of the long term un and underemployed, I’ve mentioned a few times how difficult it is to catalog all of the stupidity, cupidity, and overall cluelessness of the Beltway Village Idiots Politicians, Pundits, and Courtiers (here, here, here, and here for example). A few weeks ago, I predicted that we will have a “double-dip” recession, even though reality for many millions is we have been in a depression and there has been no recovery that would be necessary for there to be a “double-dip” in the first place. Nevertheless, over the weekend, there were a few articles premised on how the deficit/debt is the worst thing going on right now in the economy. This one from CNN yesterday (July 4) starts things off:

CNNMoney surveyed 27 economists and asked them to choose from a list of possible threats facing the economy. What scares them most? A sovereign debt default by a European country such as Greece. More than half of those surveyed ranked it as one of their top two concerns, with 10 choosing it as their number one worry.

…snip…

Relatively few of the economists surveyed were worried about the other risks they had to choose from — a slowdown among emerging economies such as China, or budget cutting by federal, state and local governments.

“Austerity is a short-term risk, but will help long-term,” said David Wyss, former chief economist at Standard & Poor’s, now visiting fellow at Brown University. “The odds of too big a budget cut seems small.”

My bold and there we have it. What’s a little austerity to those who have no fear of the consequences of that austerity. Given the propensity of economists polled by news organizations to be wildly and incredibly wrong in their predictions while then expressing their continual “surprise” at being wrong, I think we can safely say that the budget cuts that are coming will be both too big and soon followed by economists chanting “Hoocoudanode?” when the negative impact becomes obvious even to the most obtuse of the Beltway Villagers.

Today, CNN had this on the proposed “debt deal”:

“It sounds as if the package is going to be all spending cuts with a few symbolic revenue increases,” said Isabel Sawhill, an economist who studies fiscal issues at the Brookings Institution and worked in the Clinton administration.

…snip…

Sawhill said the cuts are likely to be focused on non-security discretionary spending, a small section of the budget that includes funding for food inspectors, the FBI and education grants, among many other programs and services people associate with government.

Meanwhile,, last Thursday (June 30), the NY Times Economix had this from labor reporter Stephen Greenhouse:

Economists at Northeastern University have found that the current economic recovery in the United States has been unusually skewed in favor of corporate profits and against increased wages for workers.

…snip…

The study, “The ‘Jobless and Wageless Recovery’ From the Great Recession of 2007-2009,” (pdf) said it was “unprecedented” for American workers to receive such a tiny share of national income growth during a recovery.

According to the study, between the second quarter of 2009, when the recovery began, and the fourth quarter of 2010, national income rose by $528 billion, with $464 billion of that growth going to pretax corporate profits, while just $7 billion went to aggregate wages and salaries, after accounting for inflation.

The share of income growth going to employee compensation was far lower than in the four other economic recoveries that have occurred over the last three decades, the study found.

Nice to have some empirical evidence to back up the anecdotal evidence so many of us have experienced first hand.

As a companion of a sorts, the Washington Post and Bloomberg each have this Bloomberg article up from Sunday, although with differing headlines. While Bloomberg’s headline is, “Payrolls in U.S. Probably Rose at Pace That Failed to Reduce Jobless Rate” the Washington Post headline is just a tad bit misleading to say the least (as the cheerleader paper of record I guess it is to be expected though), “Employment Probably Increased in June: U.S. Economy Preview.” From the article itself:

Employers in the U.S. probably expanded payrolls at a pace that failed to reduce the unemployment rate in June as companies sought to contain costs amid slower growth, economists said a report may show this week.

Payrolls climbed by 100,000 workers after a 54,000 increase in May that was the smallest in eight months, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News ahead of Labor Department data due July 8. The jobless rate held at 9.1 percent. Another report may show growth in services cooled.

…snip…

The Labor Department employment report will also show private payrolls, which exclude government agencies, increased by 125,000 after rising 83,000 in May, according to the survey median.

Now this article is phrased as definitive but it actually is speculative as the BLS Jobs Report for June for the entire economy will be issued Friday (July 8) while the ADP report on private sector jobs will be released tomorrow (July 6). My guess is that the private sector jobs (the ADP number) will be in the 50K range while the overall economy will be 20K to 25K max. The layoffs in the states with their new budgets will be starting to come in and the weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Report is still running well over 425K per week. I hope I am wrong in my predictions. I don’t think I will be off very much. Unlike the economists who keep getting polled against all evidence of their errors.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy

Executive Pay and “Irrational Exuberance”

11:07 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

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This weekend, the Washington Post started a series on Executive compensation. The first article highlights the compensation discrepancies between the rich and the rest of us while the second covers stock options and bonuses. From the first article:

It was the 1970s, and the chief executive of a leading U.S. dairy company, Kenneth J. Douglas, lived the good life. He earned the equivalent of about $1 million today. He and his family moved from a three-bedroom home to a four-bedroom home, about a half-mile away, in River Forest, Ill., an upscale Chicago suburb. He joined a country club. The company gave him a Cadillac. The money was good enough, in fact, that he sometimes turned down raises. He said making too much was bad for morale.

Forty years later, the trappings at the top of Dean Foods, as at most U.S. big companies, are more lavish. The current chief executive, Gregg L. Engles, averages 10 times as much in compensation as Douglas did, or about $10 million in a typical year. He owns a $6 million home in an elite suburb of Dallas and 64 acres near Vail, Colo., an area he frequently visits. He belongs to as many as four golf clubs at a time — two in Texas and two in Colorado. While Douglas’s office sat on the second floor of a milk distribution center, Engles’s stylish new headquarters occupies the top nine floors of a 41-story Dallas office tower. When Engles leaves town, he takes the company’s $10 million Challenger 604 jet, which is largely dedicated to his needs, both business and personal.

The evolution of executive grandeur — from very comfortable to jet-setting — reflects one of the primary reasons that the gap between those with the highest incomes and everyone else is widening.

And from the second article: Read the rest of this entry →

It Is Impossible to Keep Up With All the Economic Cluelessness

12:36 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

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I noticed yesterday that Reuters had an announcement of a Larry Summers editorial on “The Jobs Crisis.” Turns out, Summers had mostly the same editorial published at the Washington Post this morning as well. Scarecrow over at Firedoglake deconstructs the piece quite nicely, especially Summers own complicity with how we have reached this point of a probable “lost decade.”

Yet for every good article on the economy such as this one from Reuters that points out the disconnect of economists wanting people to cut down on debt yet increase spending or this opinion piece, also from Reuters, we have something like this opinion piece from the Washington Post yesterday where the author calls for “signing bonuses for people instead of Unemployment Compensation.

From the first Reuters piece:

Talk about getting it from all sides. Economists want Americans to cut down on debt and boost spending all at once, even as home values tumble and gasoline prices soar.

It may all be a bit too much for the average U.S. household, particularly with an already sluggish labor market stuttering again.

From the second Reuters piece:

The big mystery in the United States today is why the job crisis is not at the center of the political and economic debate. After all, the numbers — and the human tragedies they reflect — could not be bleaker.
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