"But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation: Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family." —Things have not worked out so well for the Seal Team 6 assassin who took out Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted global terror mastermind Bond villain. Update: Someone should have told him about the VA hospital though.
What will they think of next? Greeting cards for the unemployed! How marvelous! The outsourcing of emotion has never been easier. My only suggestion is that they make the cards much larger, like newspaper size, because pretty soon the recipients are going to need to use them as blankets.
It's been a while since we checked in with the folks at Taiwan's Next Media Animation, but here they are explaining the current situation regarding oil prices in an easy-to-follow (if difficult-to-listen-to) rap! Stick with it, you'll learn something. For more information on economist Arthur Cecil Pigou's concept of negative externalities, head here.
"In a grim sign of the economic recovery, the divorce rate, which dipped during the recession, appears to be on the rebound."
In the coming days of the shiny new 112th Congress you may see the term "99er" thrown around a lot. Not everyone knows what a 99er is. So, just so we're all up to speed, a 99er is a term for the Americans who have reached the 99th week of unemployment benefits and extensions and face complete financial abandonment. There are probably at least 6 million 99ers and, with job creation flat, more on the way.
Unemployment benefits work a little like the 5-tier opposite of the armed forces defense readiness condition (DEFCON). Whereas DEFCON 5 is the lowest state of alarm, a Tier 5 extension of unemployment [...]
Can the general mood on Twitter provide a sense of how the stock market will perform? Science says yes! "An analysis of almost 10 million tweets from 2008 shows how they can be used to predict stock market movements up to 6 days in advance." Indiana University's Johan Bollen and fellow researchers decided to track the Twitterverse using an algorithm" called the Google-Profile of Mood States (GPOMS), [which] records the level of six states: happiness, kindness, alertness, sureness, vitality and calmness."
It's official. The recession ended in June. Of 2009. I knew something felt different about that month! The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, who made the call, say it was the longest downturn since World War II. You feel any better?
"If workers were paid better, there wouldn’t be so much of a demand problem, would there? But then we stumble upon a contradiction: the entire recovery in corporate profitability that began in 1982 came from squeezing wages and workers. The trajectory of profit expansion is very uplifting—returns are roughly double what they were in the early 1980s… So here’s the demand problem: there’s no longer an endless supply of easy credit to make up what’s not in the paycheck. The greatest product of the productivity revolution is the production of profits, which has enabled a vast upward distribution of income and wealth."
“For the poorest in society, high gas and petrol prices are a problem. But while they are many in number, they are few in spending power, and their economic influence is just not important enough to offset the economic confidence, well-being and spending of the rich.” —Good news! Even though gas prices are high, the damage to the economy may be limited, because rich people, the only people who can buy things anymore, just don't care.
"THE first time the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 12,000, in October 2006, presenters on CNBC, a business channel, almost caught fire with excitement. When it reached that milestone again on February 1st the reaction was more muted, though the recovery from a low of 6,547 less than two years ago is remarkable, and soaring share prices reflect a corporate America that is leaner and stronger than it was back in 2006. The current profit-reporting season is shaping up to be one of the best ever. For non-financial firms in the S&P 500, earnings per share are now higher than they have been for at least a decade. With [...]
This is actually a fairly decent summary of the issues involved in the current currency spat between the United States and China, so if you want to learn more about that subject go ahead and watch. Do be warned, though, that it feels a little racist. Against everybody.
"The nation's economic woes boil down to this. Compared with a healthy economy, about 7 million working-age people and 5 percent of the nation's industrial capacity are sitting idle, not producing what they could. The economy is growing again, but at a rate – less than 2 percent in recent months – that's too slow to keep up with a population that keeps increasing and workers who keep getting more efficient. This is the output gap, the divide between the amount the United States can produce and what it is actually producing. The gap, currently $900 billion, explains why we feel so miserable more than a year into what is [...]
"All my life I've heard Latin America described as a failed society (or collection of failed societies) because of its grotesque maldistribution of wealth. Peasants in rags beg for food outside the high walls of opulent villas, and so on. But according to the Central Intelligence Agency (whose patriotism I hesitate to question), income distribution in the United States is more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador. Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic. [...]
Today in Truth: "The problem with a race to the bottom is that everybody wins it."
"Of last year's 100 highest-paid chief execs, 25 took home more in CEO pay than their company paid in 2010 federal income taxes."
Perhaps hoping to disprove the economic axiom that we cannot make a living by selling each other hamburgers, McDonald's will today add fuel to the nascent recovery by hiring 50,000 new workers nationwide. How is that possible? Maybe because the chain is the only place people can afford to eat at anymore. In any event, "The new openings are available across 14,000 restaurants and include crew and management positions, part-time and full-time jobs. The average starting wage is $8 an hour, a McDonald's (MCD, Fortune 500) spokeswoman said." Welcome to the new McConomy!
"The rich are benefiting from soaring stock markets, cheap money and rapid growth overseas. The rest of America is still weighed down by unemployment, poor credit, falling real-estate values and slow domestic growth. Economists call this a plutonomy, or an economy dominated by the rich. 'The heavy lifting is being done by the upper-income households,' Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. told Bloomberg."
Maybe instead of learning everything you can about finance you should just follow a few handy rules of thumb for the things you really need to know. Sounds good to me! But then again I balance my checkbook by scanning through crumpled up ATM receipts, so I'm probably not the world's best endorsement for the idea.
"Billions of dollars in U.S. tax breaks to encourage home ownership, retirement savings, business start-ups and education mostly benefit top income earners and do little to help low- and middle-income people build wealth, a report released on Wednesday said. The U.S. government spent nearly $400 billion, mostly through tax breaks, in 2009 to promote home ownership and other wealth-building strategies and more than half of that benefited the wealthiest 5 percent of taxpayers, said the study sponsored by the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED)." -Yeah, fine, you can use numbers to make anything sound the way you want. You know what I [...]