If you’ve been on Facebook/Twitter/The Internet lately, you’ve likely seen this graphic, which purports to make it easy to understand why the US is in fiscal trouble. Of course, that graphic doesn’t tell the whole story, and is, quite frankly, idiotic. But I’ll continue the metaphor since people love thinking this is so simple.
A dozen years ago, your accountant, Bill Clinton, had some good news for you: “You’ve got about $56,000 in debt. But if you keep bringing money in like this, you don’t have to put any more debt on those credit cards and can finally pay down the debt that your old accountant, Ronald Reagan, encouraged you to run up.” Continue reading
I wrote a piece on Keystone Politics about today’s abysmal jobs report and what it means for our economy. It’s national in scope, despite being on KP.
Today’s jobs report brings the grim news that the economy only added 18,000 jobs in June. Just to keep up with general population growth, we need to create 150,000 jobs a month, meaning that anything less than that number means we’re actually losing jobs.
So today’s job report actually means that 132,000 people lost their jobs in June. Many of these jobs were teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other government workers we can no longer afford due to government shortfalls. Yet most economists say we’re not in a recession anymore. If this isn’t a recession, I’ll eat my hat.
Three workers have died and 15 others are injured after an explosion at the iPad/iPhone factory in Chengdu, China.
This has been on my mind all week, and I’m not sure what to say about it, except that it’s true. Maintaining our lifestyle in the US often means that in other countries, people are dying and human rights are being violated.
So is this what it takes to bring a $499 iPad to our doorsteps? What are the limits of human costs that consumers are willing to accept in the manufacturing of their electronics products? Would you be willing to pay, say, an extra $100 for an iPad if you could be assured that those workers who manufactured it were toiling in safe conditions, paid fair wages and not driven to suicide?
I’m happy to hear that starting March 28th, the New York Times will begin charging users via a metered/stepped usage system. If you’re a casual user, you probably won’t be affected, but Times junkies like me, we’re looking at another monthly bill.
Personally, I was a TimesSelect subscriber back in the day and think the Times deserves some of my money. But I’m confused by the pricing structure of their new subscriber program. Continue reading
This will be old news to insiders, but someone was just telling me about Bauer Financial’s bank star ratings; they give a instant look at the health of local and regional banks. Take a look at Georgia (lots of bad banks) versus New York (relatively few bad banks). (no permalinks to those pages, so use the link above)
Why is this important? It might give you a bit of a sneak peak into banks that could soon be on the FDIC’s Friday closures list. So as not to cause bank runs, the FDIC announces bank takeovers around 5:30 on Friday. (“No advance notice is given to the public on bank closures.” -FDIC) Take a look at the full list – a handful every year from 2000-2007, and now 2-4 per week. Massive.
Loving the acronymization of the TARP bailout. Krugman suggested TANF 2 (a play on the TANF personal welfare assistance program), but Jamie Galbraith trumps everyone:
BARF – Bad Assets Relief Fund.
This makes sense, although I think it’s written in an unproductively harsh way at some points:
American consumers are awash in debt, drowning in it. This is the
fundamental issue with the stimulus proposal. We’re trying to borrow
our way out of debt. Unfortunately, we need a recession. That is,
consumption must decline because for some time we have been consuming
more than we produce or have reasonable prospects of producing.
Monetary policy has been used to inflate a series of bubbles to avoid
the consequences of excess debt, and the more we try to hold it off,
the worse it’s going to be. Bourbon works as a hangover cure, but only
for a while.
It’s theoretically possible for an
intelligently-designed stimulus action to help smooth this landing a
bit, but we can’t avoid a painful adjustment. Americans are going to
live in smaller houses, drive older cars, vacation nearer to home and
have less impressive digital camcorders than they expect.
From the NYT letters to the editor page:
To the Editor:
Dear Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson:
My student loans are too big and it is hurting the economy. Can I have a bailout, please? I need $92,000.
St. Paul, Sept.