Robert Reich: Every CEO of every company that continues to squeeze payrolls (Verizon, are you listening? Ford?) needs to understand they’re shooting themselves in the feet. Where do they expect demand for their products and services to come from?
Robert Reich: The leaders of the Street and big business may now have to wake up to a reality they’ve tried to avoid — that the central economic problem of our time isn’t the long-term budget deficit but the immediate deficit in aggregate demand.
Robert Reich: Inhabitants of the Big Money economy are celebrating Republican wins last week. They figure financial regulations will be rolled back, environmental regulations will be canned, the Bush tax cut will be extended to the top 1 percent, and it will be harder for workers to form unions.
Robert Reich: Under a shareholder protection law, shareholders would not have to spend their share of corporate earnings on candidates who they personally oppose. If a company dedicates, say, $100,000 to a particular campaign in a given year — directly, or indirectly through a front organization — shareholders who don’t want their money used this way would get a special dividend or additional shares representing their pro rata share of that campaign expenditure.
In the Great Recession of 2008-2009, companies are going a step further. They’re using this sharp downturn to cut payrolls even below where they were when times were good. Outsourcing abroad, setting up shop in China and elsewhere, contracting out, replacing people with software and automated machines – they’re doing whatever it takes to get payrolls down so earnings bounce up.
Anyone who hasn’t learned by now that there’s almost no relationship between the Dow and the real economy deserves to lose his or her shirt in the Wall Street casino.
Keep your eye on the real economy, where unemployment and underemployment keep rising. It’s not as much fun as cheering and investing right now, but it’s far safer.