Saturday, December 4, 2010

SAR #10339

Our future has been outsourced.

Talking Points:   Unemployment is up to 9.8%.  Real un/under-employment (U6) is at 17%.  Labor force participation is steady at 64.5% (so the upward bump in unemployment was not caused by people jumping back into the job market).  Nine million are “employed part time for economic reasons” (involuntary part-timers).  Employment growth was a measly 39,000 (and it takes about 120,000 a month to break even).  Average hourly pay rose 1 cent, to $22.75, the average workweek remained stuck at 34.3 hours.  The average duration of unemployment is 33.9 weeks – longer than the 26 week maximum duration of unemployment benefits.  And factory orders fell 0.9%. Summary: There are 15 million out of work and 9 million more under-employed.  Enjoy the weekend.

No Fly Zone:  Air traffic controllers in Spain suffered a sudden epidemic of austerity aversion, shutting down the country's air space until the Air Force controllers took over. This is how it stated in Greece, too.

Crocodile Tears:  Will raising the capital gains tax from 15% to 20% cause a stock market crash?  Maybe, but why do you care?  For most of us, 5% of nothing is nothing.

Shocking!  GM hopes to sell enough Volts too look green but not enough to go broke.  At $10,000 to $12,000 each it cannot afford the batteries.  Neither can the public when it comes time to replace them.  Back to the drawing board.

Against the Grain:  Yes, peak oil is a threat, as is runaway consumption of many resources.  But the current and growing shortage of water does not get much attention.  It should, for there is not enough to go around.  The next wars in the Middle East may well be over water.  Hunger in the world depends of rainfall in the grain fields – it takes 1000 tons of water to grow a ton of grain.  Wheat prices are moving higher again, better watch the weather reports for Russia, Canada, the US grain belt.

Is there an Echo In Here?  French President Sarkozy is on his way to India seeking to get in on the same military and energy sector opportunities that Obama recently made a pitch for.

Action This Day:  China, while not losing a step from its effort to corral all the oil and all the coal it possibly can, is looking beyond fossil fuels as they get ready to put $500 billion into nearly 250 nuclear reactors.  I don't know what technology they are buying, but $2 billion apiece for nukes is pretty cheap.

Good Idea:  The FTC is considering a “Do Not Track” registry for Internet users, similar to the Do Not Call Registry.  Considering their track record, subdued excitement is advised.

Quoted:  “Very few analysts, even the greatest euro-skeptics, are wondering about of the changes in electoral politics that are likely to take place in Europe over the next few years as a consequence of the euro adjustment. ...Political radicalism in these countries will rise inexorably as a consequence of rising class conflict. ”  Michael Pettis

Facts Don't Matter:  Freezing federal wages just feels right, doesn't it.  Until you think about it.

Footnote:  While we watch the wringing of hands and pleading voices of the GOP as they try to make the Bush tax cuts for those with incomes over a million dollars permanent, remember that the cost of those tax cuts over the next 75 years is equal to the entire Social Security shortfall over the same period.

Asked & Answered:  Is the Eurozone’s debt crisis finally nearing a conclusion?  No.  Ken Rogoff thinks we might be halfway there and that in the end there will be a massive debt write-down similar to the 30 cents on the dollar it took to resolve the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s.  In polite circles this is called 'restructuring'.  My dad called it getting blood out of a stone.

Secret Stash:  An unreported catastrophe is unfolding in the US housing market.  While the media plays up whatever positives it can find – like the latest Case Shiller index which is only down a little in quarter ended in September – real-time data that portrays a housing market drowning in inventory that is likely to experience steep declines in prices and sales in the near future.

Porn O'Graph:  Recovery, what recovery?


CKMichaelson said...

One more thing:
Attitude: “Dem Leaders Should Stop Wasting Time on Tax Hike Votes” John Bohner. So much for the charade that the democratic process has become. As for those millions losing their unemployment benefits, he assured them that “Our economy will ultimately recover...” He had no advice as to when 'ultimately' might be or how they were to survive until the 12th of never.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the writeup, CK.


Rick said...

Seems to me the employment situation is still a sleeper.

There's a lot of people out there with nothing to do and ever fewer prospects, could be trouble to come of a whole different kind.

Long time out of work

- Rick

OkieLawyer said...


Don't forget the saying: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop."

CKMichaelson said...

I suspect it would be far cheaper to continue to provide unemployment support payments than to pay for the crowd control, clean up the damage and imprison the protesters...


Anonymous said...

In regards to freezing federal wages, why can't this be a good thing? Could this not free up a bit of money to then enable the government to put people currently on unemployment insurance back to work by paying them just a little bit more than they are currently geting on unemployment insurance. Why can't the government be a employer of last resort? You might not like the pay, but you are free to leave anytime you find a better opportunity. The reality is, now that an overcapacity of housing exists, shelter costs will fall considerably, so people can get by with less. At the same time, much of these earning should be tax free, and taxes can be collected through much higher progressive income taxes, and estate taxes.

CKMichaelson said...

The freeze will save the federal government between $1.8 and $2 billion a year. That's enough to extend the current unemployment benefits about 2 weeks. How many people you going to put back to work for that? (About 7 million for 1 week).

On second thought, freezing federal wages smacks of simple showmanship.


mistah charley, ph.d. said...
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mistah charley, ph.d. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mistah charley, ph.d. said...

Robert Reich says:

Quiz: What's responsible for the lousy economy most Americans continue to wallow in?

A. Big government, bureaucrats, and the cultural and intellectual elites who back them.

B. Big business, Wall Street, and the powerful and privileged who represent them.

These are the two competing stories Americans are telling one another.

Yes, I know: It's more complicated than this. In reality, the lousy economy is due to insufficient demand - the result of the nation's almost unprecedented concentration of income at the top. The very rich don't spend as much of their income as the middle. And since the housing bubble burst, the middle class hasn't had the buying power to keep the economy going. That concentration of income, in turn, is due to globalization and technological change - along with unprecedented campaign contributions and lobbying designed to make the rich even richer and do nothing to help average Americans, insider trading, and political bribery.

So B is closer to the truth.

But A is the story Republicans and right-wingers tell. It's a dangerous story because it deflects attention from the real problem and makes it harder for America to focus on the real solution - which is more widely shared prosperity. (I get into how we might do this in my new book, Aftershock.)

[end of Reich quote]

Reich points out that Obama is also telling story A. Frank Rich says this is consistent with Stockholm Syndrome. My own hypothesis is that Obama has NEVER believed in story B - his admiration for what Reagan did to the country has always been sincere.

May the Creative Forces of the Universe stand beside us, and guide us, through the Night with the Light from Above.

CKMichaelson said...

mistah charley - thanks for making the correction - you had me worried for a while. I've made Reich's point "the real solution is more widely shared prosperity" here before - the problem is one of distribution of the ability to consume the cornucopia that capitalism can generate.

Well, there are also the problems of resource depletion, fossil fuel decline, etc, etc. But a broader sharing of the fruits of production - which all stared somewhere with labor - is a clear and present need. One which Obama is not about to touch.


lineside said...

Re: "Good Idea"

I laughed out loud when i read what you wrote (well-phrased). I grimaced when I thought about what you wrote (too true).