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And the Occasional Truth Gets Spoken

6:12 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

Every now and then, I seem to run across news articles and/or headlines that seem to be just a bit of an understatement even as they are quite factual. Usually it seems, we get things like this one from NBC News yesterday:

New jobless claims take surprise jump

New claims for unemployment benefits took an unexpected jump in the latest week, raising more concerns about the struggling job market and providing further incentive for the Federal Reserve to jump in and help the economy.

As I have written before, it surely does seem as if the economist are ALWAYS surprised. Which still makes me wonder how they manage to keep their jobs as in most career fields, if you are always surprised by what happens, pretty soon you’re looking for a new career.

A couple of days ago, I saw this piece from Alison Linn at the Today show with the headline:

Many in middle class say they are doing worse financially

The Great Recession and weak recovery have left slightly fewer Americans feeling like they are part of the middle class, and many who do still identify themselves as such say they are now worse off.

A new and comprehensive survey on how the middle class feels, released Wednesday by Pew Research Center, finds 42 percent of people who identify themselves as middle class say they are in worse shape financially than before the recession began. About 32 percent are in better shape, and the rest either don’t know or see no difference.

I am part of that 42% though in fact, I have been forced to accept that by income, I am no longer remotely close to “middle class.” I am poor.

NBC News had this piece last night that is very much a companion to the Linn piece:

Stronger economy delivers smaller paystubs for most of us
With recoveries like this one, who needs recessions?

The average household income has fallen steadily for nearly everyone since the start of the economic expansion in June 2009, with average income dropping 4.8 percent in the three years since the upturn began, according to a report released Thursday.

High unemployment, outsourcing of jobs and generally slow economic growth have restrained income for households during one of the weakest and most prolonged recoveries on record, according to the report from Sentier Research.

Last summer, I wrote this post about the interconnectedness of the global economy. Today, the NY Times has this article on how China is now having to deal with surplus inventory:

GUANGZHOU, China — After three decades of torrid growth, China is encountering an unfamiliar problem with its newly struggling economy: a huge buildup of unsold goods that is cluttering shop floors, clogging car dealerships and filling factory warehouses.

The glut of everything from steel and household appliances to cars and apartments is hampering China’s efforts to emerge from a sharp economic slowdown. It has also produced a series of price wars and has led manufacturers to redouble efforts to export what they cannot sell at home.

This actually does make me wonder how long this headline from CNN will be true:

Romney: ‘Big businesses are doing fine’

It is a global economy and eventually what happens to one piece of that global economy WILL trickle down to the rest of the globe. Meanwhile we get to see pics of Prince Harry acting like a single, 27 year-old man visiting Las Vegas.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

These are only problems for the top 1%

12:12 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

Sign reads: "War On Greed - starring Henry Kravis and his homes" Photo: Brave New Films, on flickr

Sign reads: "War On Greed - starring Henry Kravis and his homes" Photo: Brave New Films, on flickr

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If you read me often enough, you have probably noticed that I tend to check various news and opinion sites throughout the TradMed each morning, after I’ve spent a few minutes reviewing emails and jobs sites. Most of the time, I just shake my head at the various levels of stupidity I find, not being able to quite give it the full YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F*CKING KIDDING ME! treatment so richly deserved. Then there are days like today where teh stoopid is so truly dumbfounding.

Today, we have Henry Kravis, co-founder of private equity firm KKR, sending up a fine whine to Bloomberg on how tighter credit rules are forcing the private equity firms to kick in more of their own money and making buy-outs more expensive. Sayeth Mr Kravis:

“As the debt markets tighten and the cost of capital goes up, something has got to give,” Kravis said yesterday at the Bloomberg Dealmakers Summit in New York. “You just have to pay more.” 

Kravis, 67, said the cost of capital for a leveraged buyout has risen more than 2 percentage points since the firm agreed to buy Pfizer Inc.’s Capsugel unit in April, forcing buyers to put up more cash for deals and borrow less. Uncertainty in the equity markets also is making it more difficult to reap profits through initial public offerings or sales of companies owned by private-equity funds, he said.

…snip… Read the rest of this entry →

Will the Gang of Six Receive the Gang of Four Treatment?

9:55 am in Economy, Government, Media by dakine01

I won’t say that great minds think alike but I had to laugh when I saw a link to this from HuffPo’s Ann Stark. Beyond Teddy Partridge’s Firedoglake post from Sunday night “Anti-gang Enforcement Needed On Capital Hill,” Ms Stark’s tweet about the Gang of Four rather crystalized for me some thoughts about how easily the Beltway Village Idiots Pundits fall into their usage of short hand terms without really any apparent understanding of the genesis of those terms. Whether it is the “Gang of Fourteen” or either of the two “Gang of Six” in the US Senate, I wonder if they want to remind people of the fate of the “Gang of Four.”

From Time Magazine Gang of Four On Trial:

After many delays, the “evildoers “finally enter the dock

The long parade of limousines and buses knifed through Peking’s wintry smog just before 3 p.m. As police and soldiers kept away curious bystanders, sober-faced men and women emerged from the cars, strode through the gates of the public security compound at No. 1 Zhengyi (Justice) Road near Tian’anmen Square and entered a large, brightly lighted courtroom. After taking their seats, the 35 judges and 880 “representatives of the masses” looked on impassively as the ten defendants were led into the court by bailiffs to hear the charges against them.

Thus began the long-awaited trial of China’s notorious Gang of Four and six other high-ranking “evildoers.” The carefully orchestrated courtroom drama, which is expected to last for several weeks, is the most important show trial to take place in the 31 years that the Communist Party has ruled China. The most celebrated defendant is Jiang Qing, 67, the widow of Mao Tse-tung, who, along with her allies in the Gang of Four,* led Mao’s reckless and violent Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976. They were arrested four years ago, shortly after Mao’s death in 1976. Also on trial are a group of senior military officials who allegedly plotted with the late Defense Minister Lin Biao to assassinate Mao in 1971 and seize supreme power for themselves.

Now I am not advocating that the current “Gang of Six” from the US Senate be subjected to a “show trial” for their zeal in dismantling the social safety net under the guise of “saving” it. But when these men have to next face the voters, they probably will not want to highlight their participation in cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, all while preserving tax cuts for the top of the income chain.
Read the rest of this entry →

Just Say No To Nuclear Power

12:11 pm in Government, Media by dakine01

Think different

Think different by Jan Michael Ihl, on Flickr

For me, this is pretty much a “no-brainer” type of statement. While there may have been a period of time when I was in Elementary, Junior High, or High School where I reflexively supported the nuclear industry because “We’re America and we can do everything,” once I actually started thinking seriously about the topic of nuclear power, it became glaringly obvious to me that it is unsupportable.

I am not a scientist but as I’ve watched and read as thing have unfolded in Japan, it has been reinforced once again that the scientists are often just as clueless as the rest of us. For every scientist who resigns over design flaws, I would wager there are one hundred who just see it as business as usual (and no, I don’t have anything to back that statement up other than a gut feeling – so we’ll call it a WAG.) Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. Fukushima. These are just the best known few of the nuclear disasters that we are aware of.

Yet here we sit, two weeks after the massive earthquake in Japan that caused the current problems and for every Germany moving away from Nuclear power there’s a China or France still supporting the industry.

Here in the United States, the nuclear industry is protected by the US government which is obligated by law to pay the costs of a disaster. From CNN today (Friday, March 25):

Under current law, the utilities that operate nuclear power plants are responsible for a fund that pays the first $12.6 billion in damages and lawsuits resulting from any incident.

…snip…

A 1982 study from Sandia National Laboratories, commissioned for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the consequences of a nuclear meltdown would be catastrophic. The disaster could cause 50,000 fatalities and $314 billion in property damage.

In today’s money, that’s $720 billion.

Read the rest of this entry →

China Gets the Sandstorm, the USA Gets the Sh*tstorm

5:44 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

News reports out of China are reporting a massive sandstorm has turned Beijing’s sky orange with corresponding air quality alerts.

When I was in technical school at Shepherd Air Force Base, in Wichita Falls, TX, I first discovered the power of these types of storms. If I remember correctly, there were at least three dust storms that hit Wichita Falls that spring. The last one was the most memorable since there was an accompanying rain storm. The result was shit colored mud falling on everyone. It was not a night to get caught out in the rain/mud for certain.

Here in the United States today, we’re seeing a veritable shit storm hitting, especially in Washington, DC. We’re watching the Democratic Party do their level best to assure that every component of the Democratic Party base is ignored. The Veal Pen has served well to marginalize the cocktail weenie crowd who are more concerned with their access to power than they have ever been in response to their purported issues and reasons for existing.

I have been hanging out at FDL now for four to five years. I find I don’t comment as much as I once did though. Part of it is just trying to stay on top of all the breaking news from David Dayen, Jon Walker and Jane. Part of it is also outrage fatigue. I just get tired of dealing, even if mentally, with trying to figure out why the Democrats in power seem to think this Health Insurance bailout is a good idea. I see new commenters coming in, telling me I’m a "Republican teabagger" because I think that the President and others have no clue on how this health insurance reform bill is being received.

It makes me think that China may actually have the best of the deal, orange skies and air quality alerts notwithstanding.

And because I can:

Why Don’t We Poke A Stick In Their Eye?

9:38 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Ah, Friday news dumps! With all the news of our economy going in the tank, what tidbits can we find hidden (or at least attempted to be hidden) late in the day?

Ah! Here’s a choice morsel. According to CNN, the US is going to sell $6.4B in Weapons To Taiwan

State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said Congress — whose approval is needed for the deal to go through — was notified Friday afternoon. He indicated the administration expects congressional approval quickly.

So, at the same time our economy is tanking, we poke a stick in the eye of our biggest creditor. I’m quite sure this makes some kind of sense in Bushland. Too bad the rest of us have to live with the results of their fantasies.