Thursday, August 4

Disappointment With Economic Policy & Reporting

The following is excerpted from  If you care to, you can read the entire article here.

Go ahead, give this a read.  I'll wait.....

-From Investors Flee Stocks For Safer Ground
by John W. Schoen
(I underlined the key passages I'm going to focus on.)

U.S. slowdown:
After a convincing pick-up in growth last year, the U.S. economy appears to have stalled out. It may be headed back into recession. On Friday, the government slashed its originally tally of gross domestic product, and said the economy advanced at an annual rate of just 0.4 percent in the spring quarter. The revisions also showed the recession was deeper than originally reported.

A string of fresh economic data point to continued slowing in the third quarter. On Friday, investors will find out how badly the debt statement hurt the job market in July. Job growth slowed sharply in May and June.
"It's really been since mid-February that you've seen the economic data break down," said Jonathan Golub, chief equity strategist at UBS Investment Bank. "The employment data is probably the most important in the way of looking at that. If you don't have the employment picture improved, then, in fact, we don't have a real recovery here.
 Current estimates see job growth of about 85,000 for the month, not enough to keep up with the expansion of the work force, much less put a dent in the 9.2 percent unemployment rate.

Corporate profits:
A further slowdown, or outright recession, in Europe would also take big bite out of U.S. corporate profits, which have held up well despite the weak U.S. recovery. Earnings have been strongest among large, global companies that do business in overseas markets showing stronger growth, especially so-called emerging markets.

There are signs that the global economy is also slowing, which would reduce demand for American products.
Some companies are already bracing for a slowdown in profits. On Wednesday, employment consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that the number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms rose to a 16-month high in July. Sectors which had been seeing fairly few layoffs unexpectedly bled jobs. Employers announced 66,000 planned job cuts last month, up 60 percent in June.

"We're seeing the visible signs of the stalling economy in the downsizing action by companies," said the firm's president, John Challenger. "What was concerning about this report is that some big cuts were made by iconic companies in a wide variety of industries."

Job cuts at Merck & Co., Borders, Cisco Systems, Lockheed Martin and Boston Scientific accounted for 57 percent of the July total, according to the report.
Consumer pullback:
A weak job market and stagnant wages have also forced American households to cut back, further weakening demand for products and services. Separate surveys have shown fading consumer confidence in the economic outlook.

The belt-tightening is part of an ongoing retrenchment of the borrowing binge of the last decade.
With the unemployment rate stuck above 9 percent, consumers are spending less and saving more, according to data released on Tuesday from the Commerce Department. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, dropped 0.2 percent in June, the first decline since September 2009.

"That's a pretty weak sign," said Roger Altman, an investment banker and former Treasury official. "It fell because the debt-to-income ratio at the household level has only repaired about 50 percent of the distance it needs to go to get to historically normal levels. It's quite elevated."

Okay.  So here's what I want to talk about.
Does anybody else think a nice, big, fat DUH! is in order right now?
Don't get me wrong.  I have no problems with the article or the author.  It's society, people, the government, partisanship.  An unwillingness to compromise.  Pure unbridled hate and selfishness.

We've all spent the past couple of weeks watching the debt default issue.  We've been wondering if "economic armageddon" (Anderson Cooper's phrase) would, in fact happen.  And watching as the right and left wing duke it out over whose way is the correct way.
Guess what?
There comes a time when the country kinda doesn't give a fuck WHAT way, just get it done.  Like a parent who doesn't really care who started the fight, they just wanted everyone to shut up already, that's how the American people had gotten to responding to the debt ceiling crisis. 
And then what?
Some sort of compromise has been reached, but we have no idea how or what it involves.  We're still in economic limbo.

So yeah, pardon me if I lack faith in the economy.  Anyone who lives HERE can tell you that yeah, the recession is not over.  It never really was.
When I drive around my humble city, I see more empty buildings, more businesses gone bust than ever before in my lifetime.  And they stay empty.  Think tumble weed blowing in the wind of a ghost town. 
Everyone has to do what they have to do to stay afloat in difficult times.  For corporations, that might mean laying people off.  For the working class, that means not buying your product, mega corporations.  That's the way it is.  I would say that if you'd pay us better, stop laying people off, we'd spend more, you'd earn more.  And some would argue back that they could employ more people at higher rates if only they had more annual income from sales.  It's all just another version "chicken-or-the-egg?".

It's a debate that could go on all tax breaks for major corporations create jobs?
In theory, yes.
In theory.
What if those tax breaks end up going to fund corporate vacations and bonuses that were never earned, meanwhile this same company lays off thousands of workers?  I'm not referring to any one specific company, I'm just saying.  If you believe in tax breaks for corporations because it creates jobs, I want PHYSICAL PROOF that A leads to B.  I want to see it.  I want to see that you, mega corporation, had NO OTHER WAY to cut costs because of all your burdensome taxes than to cut jobs.  I want to see all your tax break money in 2010 used to pay the wages of 2011.  Otherwise, it's still just theory.

And here's where we get to the nitty-gritty of it all, the really nasty.
Everyone has a view.  Some are more extreme.  I am liberal, yes, but there are some very fine points to be made by the right wing.  I don't agree with everything the democratic party does.  And being liberal doesn't make me the bad guy.  Anymore than being Republican makes Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter bad guys.  (No, what makes those two the bad guys is their narrow-minded hateful prejudice and complete stubborness and total conviction that their way is the only way.) 
It's one thing to have a belief in the way an economy should work.  It's one thing to understand the theory behind a total laissez-faire economy and a world of Marixism, and in THEORY, they're both really great ideas.  But people.
People are corrupt and they are going to take advantage of one another.  You cannot let the government control every action you take, every cent you earn, every bill you pay.  But you cannot just allow people to go hungry and homeless and walk by them on the street and be so happy that you, the uber-rich businessman don't have to pay taxes.  We can't forget the lowest, we can't ignore the highest.

Right now, I'm not happy with anything in the political world, because all I've seen is more mud-slinging and back-biting and stubborness and refusal to be part of the solution than anything else.  Guess what, republicans?  Guess what, democrats?  Sometimes, to get things done, you have to bend over and take one for the team.  That would be Team USA, since most of you seem to have forgotten.
And you know what?
No one understands this concept better than a man who works sixty hours a week to feed his family, or a single mom who works two jobs to pay her rent, or a young couple with not a penny to their name but are happier than most of the people they see on a daily basis.  The working class.  We know what it means to sacrifice for the good of the family.  And whether that family is our household or in the larger sense, our country, that's not socialism.  That's caring about how your actions will affect others.  That's something the government seems to have lost completely, caring about how their actions will impact the country.

If you want the economy to take an upswing, maybe get your shit together and stop all the bickering.  Of course we have no confidence in you.  Of course we think you're all a bunch of self-interested jackasses.  Of course we're going to be afraid, of course the economy is going to continue to fall.
Say with me again:

Now consider digging your heads out of your asses and actually doing some real work for once.