Monday, March 9, 2015

SAR #15068

Lurch: Larry Summers' dramatic transformation into a labor liberal suggests that Hillary's economic rhetoric – if not her policies – will be noticeably further left of center than Bill's regime was.

Leg Bone Connected To The... A massive spam attack using over 100,000 infected devices sent out over 750,000 spam emails – the innovation wasn't the spaming itself, but the devices used, which were home routers, smart television sets, and “at least one refrigerator.” Pretty much any 'smart' device you can think of has been hacked. Cool.

Stumble: Pope Francis' good guy image is taking a beating from his appointment of a Chilean Bishop with a history of covering up for one of the worst pedophiles in the country. Seems like old times.

Water, Wet: Now that the self congratulatory celebration of events in the rear view mirror is over, it might be a good time to begin working on equality. Again.

So? Ticket fixing Ronald J. Brockmeyer, the Ferguson judge who has repeatedly and ruthlessly jailed that city's poor residents – which is most of them - when they couldn't pay the fines he levied, owes the US government over $170,000 in unpaid taxes. Send him to jail.

Odds-On Favorite. Upset with Google's announcement that it would be ranking search items by accuracy, Fox says we shouldlet the public decide what's the truth.” Majority vote? All in favor of gravity, raise your hand.

Time Saver: Yesterday, police in ______ fatally shot an unarmed black teen.

Lottery: Philly police have spent over $11 million settling 10 wrongful death lawsuits. That's better odds than winning the lottery.

Dukes of Hazardous: Just as federal prosecutors were filing criminal charges against the company for its tradition of polluting the environment, out of the apparent goodness of their hearts, North Carolina regulators have given Duke Energy the legal right to dump pollutants from some of its coal ash sites into public waterways. All they have to do is tell the state they're doing it. 
Mission Statement: "Sniff it all, collect it all, know it all, process it all and exploit it all." NSA.

Porn O'Graph: Here's the point...
A Minority Report.

The jobs report is all about inflation and interest rates and only incidentally about workers and jobs. Economists claim, with little evidence, that mother nature or the universe or Keynes' ghost has an immutable law decreeing that a certain level of unemployment triggers a certain amount of inflation. Right now they pretend that 5.5% unemployment is the tipping point for this see-saw. If unemployment edges lower than that, inflation will pick up. In fact, hyperinflation may well appear, magically, overnight. It's called NAIRU – the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment. The idea was first introduced as NIRU (non-inflationary rate of unemployment) in 1975. which was supposedly an improvement over the "natural rate" of unemployment made up Milton Friedman in 1968. 
The idea is that as employers create more jobs, they have to compete for workers by offering higher wages, workers can demand higher wages for making the same number of widgets or threaten to go down the street and make widgets for the next guy. And to pay the higher wages, companies have to raise the price of widgets. The customers – who are the workers when they are not at work – will spend the extra wage income on the higher priced widgets and pretty soon they'll want more money for their labor. Round and round it goes and the first thing you know we're the Wiemar Republic.

Many things wrong with this idea, the biggest being the rather quaint pretense that today's American worker any clout when it comes to wages. First there's the huge number of workers who are AWOL from the labor pooI right now. And if the workers unite (ha)! to demand more wages, the companies will just move the jobs to Bangladesh or some other right-to-work place. Oh, wait, they already did, except for baristas, burger flippers and bedpan bangers. 
If there is such a thing as NAIRU, it obviously isn't 5.5%, for wages went up a whopping 0.1% with the latest 0.2% fall in unemployment. 
And then there's the definitional problem: What is unemployment? How big is the work force and who are all those guys sitting on the bench waiting to get into the game? 
For that matter, what is employment? Is working 17 hours a week at Wally World or 22 hours a week at Macky D's 'employment'?

What would full employment look like, the kind that might, just might, lead to wage inflation? Would all workers who wanted a job have a job and would that job be commensurate with their skill and experience? Would that job provide the hours and wages they need to provide a decent life for themselves and their families – or would their kids still qualify for free breakfast and lunch at school and go to the emergency room for their healthcare?

Some data: There are 92,898,000 Americans currently not working. We have a 62.8% labor force participation rate, a 37 year low. Just last month another 390,000 Americans became invisible to the BLS. Officially, there are 8.7 million people who were actively searching for work last month, plus another 6.5 million people who didn’t look last month but who say they want a job. Plus another 6.6 million who want to work full-time but can only get a part-time job. That’s nearly 22 million people who are unemployed or underemployed.

The unemployment rate for blacks is nearly twice the national average.

American added 58,700 waiters and bartenders – pretty much earning minimum wage or less - as part of those 300,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate would have been unchanged at 5.7% - safely out of the inflationary swamp – if the labor force participation rate had stayed steady. The big imporvment didn't come from jobs, it came from despair of ever finding a job.

We're still about 1 million full-time jobs short of where we were pre-recession, and that's not even adjusting for population growth. All told, we're still about 4 million jobs away from the economy being okay;. At this rate we'll break even in September 2016. 
Go Recovery!


Gegner said...

Well said but you always do a yeoman's job of reporting how it really is!

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Aww, shucks. Thanks! - ckm

Jesse said...

"Hillary's economic rhetoric – if not her policies – will be noticeably further left of center than Bill's regime was."

Yes. But what happens AFTER the election?

Jesse said...

Did you write 'Minority Report?'

If so I would like to link to it specifically, or perhaps repost it on my site if you do not mind.

Let me know. arthurcutten at yahoo dot dom.

Vitus Capital said...

Shorter CKM: The employment rate has dropped to 5.5% of something.


Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Jesse - After the election - should she win - her policies would be.... "centrist". Gag.

And on the blog, if it ain't in quotes, it's mine. Repost at will, attribution of linkage appreciated.


Jesse said...

That is what I thought, but you generally do not serve us with such expansive fare. Typically all we get are exceptionally well done canapés et aperitifs.

Merci, et voilà.

Classof65 said...

I applaud your honesty and candor while becoming really depressed about the American situation. It just keeps getting worse...