Goodbye Luis, Welcome to the Jobless Ranks

labor-day

Job cuts in August were lower than they’ve been in recent months. But a deeper look at the data shows why it will take millions of new jobs to dig American workers out of this recession’s deep pit.

The Real News About Jobs and Wages: An Ode to Labor Day

woot

If we’ve learned anything from the Great Recession-Mini Depression of the last 18 months, it’s that the skewing of income and wealth to the top has made our economy far less stable.

Don’t Succumb to Deficit Hysteria

red-ink

The only item worth looking at is the part of the report that predicts the government will have nearly a $1.6 trillion deficit in the fiscal year that ends this September 30 — but not because that number is alarmingly large. It strikes me as alarmingly small.

Obama’s Second Biggest Test: Reforming Wall Street, and Why Early Indications Aren’t Hopeful

finger

itigroup — the giant Wall Street bank still on life-support courtesy of $45 billion from American taxpayers — wants to pay its 25 top executives an average of $10 million each this year, and award its best trader $100 million. Whaaaaaat?

The New Volt and an Old Nash Rambler

1956_Nash_Rambler

American Motors and Nash have long-since disappeared. But if the auto industry could build that kind of fuel-efficient, gas-powered engine in the 1950s, why did it stop and why is the Volt such a big deal?

The New Employment Numbers: Things are Worsening More Slowly

unemployed

So let’s be grateful that the economy is getting worse more slowly than it was. But don’t be lured into thinking we’re ever going back to where we were. Most of the jobs that have been lost are never coming back.

Goldman and JPMorgan — The Two Winners When The Rest of America is Losing

Greed_Is_Bad

Antitrust law was designed to prevent just this sort of market power and political heft. The Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission should investigate the new-found dominance of Goldman and JP — and, if warranted, break them up.

Goldman’s Back, and Why We Should Be Worried

wall-street

So the fact that Goldman has reverted to its old ways in the market suggests it has every reason to believe it can revert to its old ways in politics, should its market strategies backfire once again — leaving the rest of us once again to pick up the pieces.

Schwarzenegger and the Republicans Cost California $7 Billion

arnold

The California State Senate adjourned at midnight, unable to pass three stopgap bills that would have saved the state $7 billion. To appease Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Democratic leaders of the state legislature hastily drew up the three complicated bills to try to stave off fiscal collapse and the necessity to begin issuing IOUs. All [...]

Schwarzenegger’s Budget Battle II: Another Bad Sequel

arnold

Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that the test of our nation was “not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger might be married to a Kennedy but his governing philosophy is pure George W. Bush [...]

Does the Obama Plan for Reforming Wall Street Measure Up?

evasive-money

In a word: No. The plan doesn’t stop stop bankers from making huge, risky bets with other peoples’ money. It does increase capital requirements and oversight, but it doesn’t require bankers to take their pay in long-term stock options or warrants, and it doesn’t even hint that banks should go back to being partnerships instead [...]

California Democrats: “Spreading the Pain” from Sacramento

Karen Bass, Darryl Steinberg

When his term mercifully expires next year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be leaving the Golden State in the worst condition than at any time its history. If Schwarzenegger and his right-wing Republican co-conspirators get their way (as they always seem to do), they’ll gut every social program and educational institution in the state in [...]

The Italian Job: Border Police Seize $134 Billion in US Government Securities

Michael Caine as John Le Carre's George Smiley

Although the story is being widely reported across Europe and Asia, it’s received scant media coverage in the US. AsiaNews along with other major media outlets outside the US are reporting that Italy’s financial police, the Guardia Italiana di Finanza, seized US government bonds worth $134.5 billion from two Japanese nationals at Chiasso, located less [...]

Beyond Unemployment Insurance in the Face of Structural Job Loss: Whoever Said It Would Be Easy?

steel-mill

“The long memory is the most radical idea in America.” –Utah Phillips, as recalled by Amy Goodman I was reminded of Utah Phillips’ observation as I sat down to write this essay on how we approach public policy for dealing with unemployment during a time of mass unemployment. I intended to start off the essay [...]

The Three Essentials of Financial Reform

dollar-hand

As the White House unveils its long-awaited proposals to prevent another Wall Street meltdown in the future, keep a lookout for three essentials. Without them the Street will revert to its old ways as soon as the coast clears. In fact, now that the government has bailed out the Street, the biggest banks will take [...]

New Jobless Stats: Still “Less Terrible”? Not for Some

dismal-science

The Lex Column in the Financial Times got it right: “… ‘less down’ is now the new ‘up’ as media watchers search for stabilization in the overall market.” The writer was referring to the world of advertising where some analysts were putting a hopeful spin on revenue that fell 18% over the first three months [...]

The Great Debt Scare: Why Has It Returned?

broken economy

It’s the kind of thing I expect to hear from deficit hawks and chicken littles — from the self-described “fiscally responsible” right, from the scolds Ross Perot and Pete Peterson, from my former cabinet colleague Bob Rubin. But yesterday I was shown slides developed by the putatively liberal Center for American Progress intended to make [...]

“You Are Now the Owner of a Brand New Car (Company)!”

Walter Reuther

We now own a major stake in the largest auto company in the world. With the General Motors Corporation filing the second-largest industrial bankruptcy in world history, the US government has stepped in to take a 60% stake in the company and the autoworkers’ healthcare fund taking ownership of 17.5%. In a reversal of Aesop’s [...]

The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers (Part III)

Buick assembly line, 1950 (Photos Philip Gendreau)

As president of General Motors when Eisenhower tapped him to become secretary of defense in 1953, “Engine Charlie” Wilson voiced at his Senate confirmation hearing what was then the conventional view. When asked whether he could make a decision in the interest of the US that was adverse to the interest of GM, he said [...]

The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers (Part II)

knowledge-worker

Symbolic analysts have been hit by the current downturn, just as everyone else has. But over the long term, symbolic analysts will do just fine – as long as they stay away from job functions that are becoming routinized. They will continue to benefit from economic change. Computer technology gives them more tools for thinking, [...]

The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers (Part I)

auto-plant

What’s the Administration’s specific aim in bailing out GM? I’ll give you my theory later. For now, though, some background. First and most broadly, it doesn’t make sense for America to try to maintain or enlarge manufacturing as a portion of the economy. Even if the U.S. were to seal its borders and bar any [...]

Is Economic Growth a Delusion?

banks

Unemployment reached 8.5% in March of this year, but add in the once full-time, now part-time laborers, it may be as high as 15%. Yet my fellow rail commuters somewhere between New Haven and Grand Central Terminal think they smell recovery. As one salesman put it to me, “things will come back–even better than they [...]

Intellectual Monopoly Is an Unnecessary Evil

monopoly

In a rush to stimulate the economy, the Obama administration is touting various “visionary” plans to make the American economy more progressive, more innovative, and more forward-looking by subsidizing politically-motivated projects like “green” technology. These hands-on policies will be ineffective. Recent research suggests that a much more effective way to accomplish the same goals would [...]

A Modest Plan for Paying College Costs

falon_williams

I’m just about to head off to a commencement here at University of Califonria,  Berkeley. The news that keeps banging around in my head is that the state has just announced a whopping 9% increase in fees for next academic year, the third fee increase in three years. The average young person now graduating from [...]

The Truth Behind the Social Security and Medicare Alarm Bells

social-secuirty

What are we to make of yesterday’s report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds that Social Security will run out of assets in 2037, four years sooner than previously forecast, and Medicare’s hospital fund will be exhausted by 2017, two years earlier than predicted a year ago? Reports of these [...]

Arnold and Gavin: Using the Deficit to Scare Us

arnoldgavin

Everyone knows we’re in tough times with huge deficits – but there are few things more offensive than politicians using that to scare us. With the May 19th propositions sinking in the polls, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has threatened to lay off 1,700 firefighters during peak fire season if the measures fail. He’s even suggested that [...]

Sorry Folks: Happy Days Are Not Here Again

stressed-banks

“Demonizing the bankers as if they and they alone created the financial meltdown is both inaccurate and short-sighted,” Citigroup chairman Richard Parsons told reporters recently. “Everybody participated in pumping up this balloon and now that the balloon has deflated, everybody has some part in the blame.” Oh no we don’t. Talk about dissembling. The truth [...]

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