Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

February 14, 2011

Scary Facts About Getting a Job in America

Filed under: business, economy, money, recession, stagflation — Tags: , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 12:23 pm

Business Insider published “19 Scary Facts About Getting a Job in America.”

This recession is not another run-of-the-mill post-war recession, nor is it simply what globalism looks like. The recession in the U.S.A.  is a prolonged structural unemployment caused by multinational corporations fleeing high-cost labor markets to exploit low-cost labor markets. The impacts are real and devastating:

1) If you lose your job today, there’s a 70 percent chance you won’t find a job in the next month.

2) If you’ve been unemployed for a year, there’s a 91 percent chance you won’t find a job in the next month.

3) Two million people have exhausted 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Another four million will do so in 2011.

4) There was zero job growth in the past decade, the worst 10 years on record.

5) In the most optimistic scenarios, payrolls won’t return to 2008 levels until 2013. In that time, the population will grow by 5 percent.

6) More than one in four jobs added to the economy last year were temporary.

7) At 2000 levels of labor force participation, the unemployment rate would be 13 percent.

8) When you count the unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers, only 47 percent of the work force is fully employed.

9) The number of workers over 55 has increased nearly 8 percent in three years. No retirement means no hiring.

10) Four out of 10 baby boomers said they will have to “work until they drop.”

11) The average length of unemployment is 22 weeks.

12) For workers over 55, the average length of unemployment is 43 weeks.

13) In one of the hardest cities to find a job, Las Vegas, there are nine applicants for every job opening.

14) No jobs crash since the Great Depression of the 1930s even compares to what’s happening now, in terms of the number of jobs lost by the economy as a whole.

15) A 1 percent increase in unemployment leads roughly to a 1 percent increase in suicides.

16) More than 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 1998.

17) The number of motor vehicle manufacturing jobs will decline by 20 percent in the next decade.

18) The number of apparel manufacturing jobs will drop by 57 percent over the next decade.

19) Here is the competition: A network engineer in Bangladesh makes $6,000 a year, while a CEO earns $30,000 on the average.

The Business Insider report concluded with the following observation: “Getting a job today means going up against terrifying odds.”

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October 9, 2010

World economy breaking with US

As the US economy teeters on the edge of decline and a double dip recession, emerging economies continue to grow at a fast pace, fueled by multinational corporations. This changing global economy reveals a United States that is not the center of the economic world.

Financial leaders have joined hands to decide how to boost the global economy at the annual IMF and World Bank meeting. A number of these financial leaders suggest a break up, what is known as a “de-coupling”, in the wings for a number of years, but gaining traction as the US economy stagnates. Central bankers, along with complicit US politicians, have rode the US horse into the ground and now have their eyes on the next rising star to enhance their prosperity. Most politicians advertise that the US will live forever, even though powerhouse nations through history have ebbed like the tidal flow.

The world is breaking away from the US as the consumer of last resort,” said analyst Edward Harrison, the founder of CreditWriteDowns.com. “You’ll see a lot more importance in China, in Russia.” Corporate multinationals and US politicians have raided the US economy over the last thirty years and put that stock in other economies like China, Brazil, Russia and India in the name of globalism. The view is that growth in the global economy will be much more dependent upon these countries than on the “developed economies.” Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the US continues to run by idiot lawmakers that are afraid of multinational corporate power or are having their pockets lined behind the scenes. Like the old Roman Empire, the US seems bent on its’ own self-destruction to salve the interests of a few “leaders of men.”

September 25, 2010

Ralph Nader Debunks Free Market Economy

Filed under: banking, business, corporatism, economy — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 3:00 am

Ralph Nader speaks in Stockholm, Sweden, where he debunks the myth of the free market.

September 24, 2010

U.N. Says World is at the Brink of Food Crisis through Speculation

Environmental disasters and speculative investors are to blame for volatile food commodities markets, says UN’s special adviser

The United Nations warned that the world is likely on the brink of a major new food crisis caused by environmental disasters and rampant market speculators today at an emergency meeting on food price inflation.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO meeting in Rome, Italy, on September 24 was called last month after a heatwave and wildfires in Russia led to a draconian wheat export ban while food riots broke out in Mozambique, killing 13 people. U.N. experts heard that pension and hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds and large banks who speculate on commodity markets are likely to be responsible for inflation in food prices being seen across all continents.

In a new paper released this week, Olivier De Schutter, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on food, says that the increases in price and the volatility of food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a “speculative bubble” which he traces back to early this decade.

“[Beginning in] 2001, food commodities derivatives markets, and commodities indexes began to see an influx of non-traditional investors,” De Schutter writes. “The reason for this was because other markets dried up one by one: the dotcoms vanished at the end of 2001, the stock market soon after, and the U.S. housing market in August 2007. As each bubble burst, these large institutional investors moved into other markets, each traditionally considered more stable than the last. Strong similarities can be seen between the price behavior of food commodities and other refuge values, such as gold.”

He continues: “A significant contributory cause of the price spike [has been] speculation by institutional investors who did not have any expertise or interest in agricultural commodities, and who invested in commodities index funds or in order to hedge speculative bets.”

A near doubling of many staple food prices in 2007 and 2008 led to riots in more than 30 countries and an estimated 150 million extra people going hungry. While some commodity prices have since reduced, the majority are well over 50% higher than pre-2007 figures – and are now rising quickly upwards again.

“Once again we find ourselves in a situation where basic food commodities are undergoing supply shocks. World wheat futures and spot prices climbed steadily until the beginning of August 2010, when Russia – faced with massive wildfires that destroyed its wheat harvest – imposed an export ban on that commodity. In addition, other markets such as sugar and oilseeds are witnessing significant price increases,” said De Schutter, who spoke today at The U.K. Food Group’s conference in London.

Gregory Barrow, of the U.N. World Food Program said: “What we have seen over the past few weeks is a period of volatility driven partly by the announcement from Russia of an export ban on grain food until next year, and this has driven prices up. They have fallen back again, but this has had an impact.”

Sergei Sukhov, from Russia’s agriculture ministry, told the Associated Press during a break in the meeting in Rome that the market for grains “should be stable and predictable for all participants.” He said no efforts should be spared “to the effect that the production of food be sufficient.”

“The emergency U.N. meeting in Rome is a clear warning sign that we could be on the brink of another food price crisis unless swift action is taken. Already, nearly a billion people go to bed hungry every night – another food crisis would be catastrophic for millions of poor people,” said Alex Wijeratna, ActionAid’s hunger campaigner.

An ActionAid report released last week revealed that hunger could be costing poor nations $450 billion a year – more than 10 times the amount needed to halve hunger by 2015 and meet Millennium Development Goal One.

Food prices are rising around 15% a year in India and Nepal, and similarly in Latin America and China. U.S.  maize prices this week broke through the $5-a-bushel level for the first time since September 2008, fueled by reports from U.S. farmers of disappointing yields in the early stages of their harvests. The surge in the corn price also pushed up European wheat prices to a two-year high of €238 a ton.

Elsewhere, the threat of civil unrest led Egypt this week to announce measures to increase food self-sufficiency to 70%. Partly as a result of food price rises, many middle eastern and other water-scarce countries have begun to invest heavily in farmland in Africa and elsewhere to guarantee supplies.

Although the FAO has rejected the notion of a food crisis on the scale of 2007-2008, it this week warned of greater volatility in food commodities markets in the years ahead.

At the meeting in London today, De Schutter said the only long term way to resolve the crisis would be to shift to “agro-ecological” ways of growing food. This farming, which does not depend on fossil fuels, pesticides or heavy machinery has been shown to protect soils and use less water.

“A growing number of experts are calling for a major shift in food security policies, and support the development of agroecology approaches, which have shown very promising results where implemented,” he said.

Green Party Parliament Member Caroline Lucas called for tighter regulation of the food trade. “Food has become a commodity to be traded. The only thing that matters under the current system is profit. Trading in food must not be treated as simply another form of business as usual: for many people it is a matter of life and death. We must insist on the complete removal of agriculture from the remit of the World Trade Organization,” she said.

You can read this article by Guardian environmental editor John Vidal, with reporting by various news agencies, in context here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/24/food-crisis-un-emergency-meeting-rome

May 14, 2010

Big Business & Consequence of Economic Recovery

Because of the way that the United States economy is structured, every article of good news is almost always balanced by an equally troubling fact of economic life. Despite the prospects of a growing recovery in the eyes of many, we are now confronted with the latest trade deficit statistics.

As the economy improves, established business and some people are spending more money. The unhappy news is that the nation is spending more on imported goods than the rest of the world is spending on U.S. goods.

The latest statistics show that U.S. exports rose 3.2 percent during the month. Authorities equate this to a seasonally adjusted $147.9 billion. Imports increased by almost the same percentage, rising to $188.3 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $40.4 billion for the month of March. This an increase of 2.5 percent compared to the prior month, the highest trade imbalance in dollars in 15 months.

Much of the trade imbalance is due to the cost of  addictive imported oil, which points to the need for more effective national energy policy. The recent gulf oil spill has put a bit of a monkey wrench into what government says are short-term plans.

The largest winners in this trade process are the Middle East, followed by China. While consumers ultimately decide what they will buy, the big decision makers in all this hocus-pocus is Big Business, either through Corporate America, Multinational Corporations and large retailers like Wal-Mart. Responsibility doesn’t stop there. Even small mall shops bear a burden in supporting cheap foreign goods. In fact, no business is free from supporting cheap foreign goods over American goods. That die was cast in the 1990s. Even now, corporations are constantly trying to lower their bottom line and increase profits exponentially. Most of the time, they don’t care how they do it.  As a result the nation spends more than ever on foreign goods to support the desire for cheap stuff. Unhappily, because of corporations, much of that cheap stuff isn’t really cheap. It is being marked up by Big Business, made more desirable through glitzy advertising. As a result, quality of goods is often being reduced as well.

Corporations are not being encouraged to use goods produced in the United States. In fact, there is little incentive to produce goods in the U.S. when insanely cheap manufacturing sources can be found overseas. Politics is often involved with the notion of “saving America.” Any economic sustainability for this nation must involve corporations and businesses that do business in America.

It has been posited by many that consumers must demonstrate more discipline. While consumers do vote with their dollars, they often have little choice in the matter, especially in this decade. It isn’t simply about tightening spending and buying American goods. Corporations that do business in America must comply as well for the nation to succeed in putting down a continued national trade imbalance. Any other approach is simply magical thinking.

April 1, 2010

Don’t Get Taken by Pyramid & Ponzi Schemes

What are some of the similarities and differences between ponzi and pyramid schemes?

Pyramid schemes and ponzi schemes are closely related. They both involve paying longer-standing members with money from new participants, instead of actual profits from investing or selling products to the public. Here are some common differences:

Pyramid Scheme
Ponzi Scheme
Typical “hook” Earn high profits by making one payment and finding a set number of others to become distributors of a product. The scheme typically does not involve a genuine product. The purported product may not exist or it may only be “sold” within the pyramid scheme. Earn high investment returns with little or no risk by simply handing over your money; the investment typically does not exist.
Payments/profits Must recruit new distributors to receive payments. No recruiting necessary to receive payments.
Interaction with original promoter Sometimes none.  New participants may enter scheme at a different level. Promoter generally acts directly with all participants.
Source of payments From new participants – always disclosed. From new participants – never disclosed.
Collapse Fast.  An exponential increase in the number of participants is required at each level. May be relatively slow if existing participants reinvest money.

What steps can you take to avoid schemes and other investment frauds?

When you consider your next investment opportunity, start with these questions:

  • Is the seller licensed?
  • Is the investment registered?
  • How do the risks compare with the potential rewards?
  • Do I understand the investment?

Many ponzi schemes share common characteristics. Look for these warning signs:

  • High investment returns with little or no risk. Every investment carries some degree of risk. Investments yielding higher returns typically involve more risk. Be highly suspicious of any “guaranteed” investment opportunity.
  • Overly consistent returns. Investments tend to go up and down over time, especially those seeking high returns. Be suspect of an investment that continues to generate regular, positive returns regardless of overall market conditions.
  • Unregistered investments. Ponzi schemes typically involve investments that have not been registered with the SEC or with state regulators. Registration is important because it provides investors with access to key information about the company’s management, products, services, and finances.
  • Unlicensed sellers. Federal and state securities laws require investment professionals and their firms to be licensed or registered. Most ponzi schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.
  • Secretive and/or complex strategies. Avoiding investments you don’t understand or for which you can’t get complete information is a good rule of thumb.
  • Issues with paperwork. Ignore excuses regarding why you can’t review information about an investment in writing, and always read an investment’s prospectus or disclosure statement carefully before you invest. Also, account statement errors may be a sign that funds are not being invested as promised.
  • Difficulty receiving payments. Be suspicious if you don’t receive a payment or have difficulty cashing out your investment. Keep in mind that ponzi scheme promoters sometimes encourage participants to “roll over” promised payments by offering even higher investment returns.

September 16, 2009

Double Dip Recession or Recovery?

Filed under: corporatism, credit, economy — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — digitaleconomy @ 7:55 am

Global industrial production now shows clear signs of recovering at least when comparing the current ‘recession’ with the Great Depression. During that time, a decline in industrial production continued for a full three years. The question remains regarding final demand for this increased production. Will renewed demand actually materialize or did the U.S. government create a small bubble with $2 billion “Cash for Clunkers” program? Will consumer spending, especially in the US, remain weak, causing the increase in production to go into inventories? If production simply falls into inventories, this will result in sharp cut backs and result in a return to recession. The labor market combined with ailing business credit and finance in the U.S. does not hold out much promise for an end to the recession. Will the Obama administration jigger with credit markets to somehow expand credit markets?

Global stock markets and investment banking and profiteering have mounted a sharp recovery since the beginning of the year. Still, the decline in stock market wealth remains even greater than at a comparable stage of the Great Depression. The downward spiral in global trade volumes has abated. This may be due to the return of the old ways of doing business that President Obama has decried publicly in the last few days. Data exists for June that shows a modest uptick in trade, but  the collapse of global trade remains dramatic by the standards of the Great Depression.

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