Monday, August 3, 2009

Him, with the noose around his neck...

Greetings good citizen…

Tonight I was sorely tempted to use a different ‘salutation’. I was going to open tonight’s piece with ‘Hey you! Yeah…you with the noose around your neck!’

Sadly, the ‘literal’ among you would fail to grasp the allusion to the ‘figurative’ noose we all wear as members of a debt driven society.

The millions currently experiencing job losses and foreclosure have quite literally had their nooses ‘stretched tight’. Perversely, this ‘figurative’ form of hanging is no less ‘fatal’ than the literal variety. Worse, of the two varieties, the literal form is more ‘humane’ as it is devised to ‘snap your neck’ (killing you instantly) rather than slowly starving you to death, the end result of being ‘pruned’ from the workforce.

I’ll once again point to the multiple reports that insist ‘recovery’ is on the way, if not underway as of right now…which would be mighty damn remarkable because absolutely nothing has been done to ‘fix’ anything.

Sure, they’re re-paving the Interstate highway system (whether it needs it or not) but that only helps the (few hundred) people (in each state) that work for public works departments or paving companies.

What do you suppose is going to happen once these infrastructure projects are completed (or, more likely, are halted because the funds have dried up?)

The ‘consensus’ is the jobs lost during the past six months aren’t coming back, not now, not ever. This isn’t a matter of waiting for the market to recover, this is ‘it’s time to learn a new skill because my old one isn’t needed anymore.

Although, truth be told, there are still too many applicants for the few jobs the market does generate. It’s not like any sector is set to expand anytime soon.

If you have a ‘situation’ hunker down and hold on. If you don’t have a situation, seek out your family. If you’re not close, seek out your (true) friends. If you haven’t got anybody, good luck.

Everybody try to keep your nooses out of the way as we launch into tonight’s offering from Shadow Stats (we’re a little overdue for a visit with Mr. Williams.) for a somewhat sobering dose of ‘fresh air’.

Latest Commentaries
Depression Special Report, Subscription required
August 1st, 2009
• Current Economic Downturn Is Worst Since Great Depression
• Recession Started a Year Earlier Than Official Reckoning
• Business Contraction Triggered Systemic Solvency Crisis, Not the Other Way Around
• Still Heavily Gimmicked, Post-Revision GDP Shows More Realistic Numbers
• Economic Crisis Is Far from Over.
• The U.S. economy is in a multiple-dip depression. The grand benchmark revision of the national income accounts on July 31, 2009 confirmed that the U.S. economy is in its worst economic contraction since the first downleg of the Great Depression, which was a double-dip depression. The current economic downturn increasingly will be is referred to as a depression, and it is far from over. There will be intermittent blips of new activity, such as the current cash-for-clunkers automobile giveaway program that appears to be generating a one-time spike in auto sales. Yet, this downturn will continue to deteriorate, proving to be extremely protracted, extremely deep and particularly non-responsive to traditional stimuli.

It is the last line of the above statement that is the most disturbing or it would be if you agree with what Mr. Williams is saying, as I do.

What has been the ‘response’ to the recession over the past couple of years? As sales have dropped off, companies have slashed their workforces to compensate for the, er, permanently reduced customer base.

There has been talk, but only talk, of restoring ‘some’ of our former manufacturing capacity. Reader Solo has reported that Intel plans on expanding production at ‘some’ of its US plants…but that is only one chipmaker out of a cast of thousands…just as Haas is the only remaining US machine tool manufacturer. Once upon a time, the US dominated both markets.

Where will the new jobs come from? What will you study to prepare yourself for a new job in the new economy?

Sadly, nobody knows.

Flash Update, Subscription required
July 31st, 2009

• GDP Shows Most Severe Recession Since Great Depression
• Second-Quarter GDP Annual Contraction Was Worst Ever
• Recession Is Not Ending • Annual Durable Goods Plunge Continued In Great Depression Territory
• Broad Money Growth Still Slowing
• Unemployment Skew Next Week?

Flash Update, Subscription required
July 28th, 2009

Chart of existing home sales
• Depression Data Distortions Fuel Recovery Mania
• Statistically Insignificant Monthly Changes amidst Severe Bottom Bouncing
• Foreclosures Warp New and Existing Home Sales
• Shy of a Political Fix, Second-Quarter GDP Consensus Is Too Optimistic

Newsletter (Issue No. 51) Subscription required
July 20th, 2009

• Current Recession Now Longest Since Great Depression
• June U-6 Unemployment Rate Topped 20% (25% SGS) in Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, California, South Carolina and Rhode Island
• Pressures Will Mount for New Stimulus and Bailouts
• Spreading Depression Creates Its Own Statistical Distortions
• Inflation Signs Begin to Surface
• U.S. Dollar Remains the Key to the Markets and Inflation
• The U.S. economic and systemic solvency crises show no signs of abating, despite the happy hype out of Washington and Wall Street. While the pending second-quarter GDP estimate likely will show a narrowing quarterly contraction, such will be against a deepening annual downturn and revisions that should show the recession to have been not only longer and deeper than previously reported, but also the most severe recession since the shutdown of war production after World War II. Irrespective of media excitement around the fluttering of often statistically-insignificant or seasonally-warped monthly numbers, annual growth rates in key series have been holding at or pushing to new historic or post-war lows.

Remember good citizen, this time last year? This time last year they were all predicting we’d see economic recovery in the first quarter of this year. But things didn’t do so well in the fall of last year so they nudged their predictions to where we are now, the beginning of the second half.

Well here we are…and nobody can point to a single actual positive development. The banks are doing better but that’s because they can borrow cheap and lend dear, not all banks mind you, only those banks who are part of the Federal Reserve system.

Stocks have returned to their pre-March levels (but they’re still off 40% from their October 2008 highs) but nobody knows why. Sales are off 30% year over year, while many corporations have ‘beat expectations’, they have done so by slashing both payrolls and head count, leaving them in a poor competitive position should demand return.

Naturally, all this ‘downsizing’ hasn’t encouraged any new investment in plants and facilities. In fact, companies are consolidating operations wherever possible.

Worse, some companies are still off-shoring as much as they can.

So, you with the noose around your neck, can only sit and wonder how long it will be before you feel that sudden jerk and you find yourself dangling with your feet a foot off the ground.

Don’t be alarmed, this part isn’t ‘fatal’…it will be the failure to replace the income you’ve lost that will do you in. Some of you will escape through personal bankruptcy but most of you will foolishly wait too long to pull the trigger, costing you the benefit of competent counsel.

Let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that you don’t wait too long and you do find an affordable, competent bankruptcy attorney. Bankruptcy gets your creditors off your back but it doesn’t provide an income stream. You may have plugged the hole in your money bag but you are still faced with the challenge of finding work that pays enough for you to live on.

Any company that has slashed the wages of existing employees has already reduced what they’re willing to pay a new hire double. From what I’ve been hearing, most firms have slashed existing payroll by 20%. Even if they need to fill a critical position, they still won’t be inclined to offer you starting pay anywhere near the level they have pushed existing employees down to.

Remember; you’re the desperate one, not them. They already have someone keeping their finger in the dike…and they’ll keep it there if they don’t want to find themselves on the outside looking in too.

During ‘good times’ it is possible to ‘negotiate’ with HR so you don’t lose ‘everything’ when you transition to a new company…but these aren’t ‘good times’.

You may have had three weeks vacation and more than just the normal amount of sick days coming to you…but that was then and this is now.

Chances are good you’re going to get the ‘El Kabong’ when it comes to negotiating over ‘fringe’ benefits. You’ll know how well you impressed the hiring manager when HR patiently explains these are the benefits THEY offer, end of discussion.

Understand that you thought your former job was fairly secure, but your former employer decided they could do without your services. The question without answer is how long will the new guys keep you? If their business is hurting, it may not be as long as you think.

As I have stated before, the economic desert continues to grow and is already vast. You may reduce your debt to a manageable level and still not find employment that allows you to live indoors and eat regularly.

Naturally, this is not your employer’s problem; it is yours and yours alone. If you are currently over 40 and have been reasonably well compensated, chances are excellent you will be unable to find full time employment anywhere at any wage.

This is why in good times many older workers strike out on their own…but once again I am compelled to remind you that these are not ‘good times’.

Worse, only under exceptional circumstances do ‘shoestring start-ups’ succeed beyond their first year. Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, the banks are doing well by borrowing cheap and lending dear…

It’s bad enough being the new kid on the block, it’s even worse to be the new kid that has to crack a sky-high interest payment.

I’m wasting a lot of space here and I’m not sure I’m getting my point across because the real issue here is deeper than simply cracking your nut.

The question you need seriously consider is just how far the people who sunk our current economy are willing to go to retain their power?

Global warming isn’t a ‘real’ problem…yet, but it will be, just as ‘peak oil’ isn’t a reality, yet, but it definitely will be in the not too distant future.

Our current unsustainable system of commerce is plagued by what, good citizen?

Simply put, we currently have too big a ‘surplus population’ that is chewing through resources at a horrendous rate.

Logic tells us that most of the ‘surplus population’ is located in China and India but they work for nothing and relatively speaking, have nothing…so the capitalists have targeted the markets that are already ‘saturated’ with their products for, er, ‘destruction’.

This is why the economic desert continues to expand here in the US. Worse, it expands with the aid of what passes for our government and often at the taxpayer’s expense.

Globalization was never intended to make anything ‘better’ for you, it has been done ‘to you’.

Lower prices are fairly meaningless if they cost you your job in the process…but our government doesn’t seem to recognize/care about that.

Which should provide you with a pretty clear picture of what has to go and why.

Remember, the same dirtbags that threw you out the door are the same ones that invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, most of the hijackers were Saudis…

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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