Posted by Kendall Harmon

Apartment vacancy rates have dropped so low that forecasters at Capital Economics, a research firm, said rents could rise, on average, as much as 4 percent this year, compared with 2.8 percent last year. But rents are rising faster than that in many cities even as overall inflation is running at little more than 1 percent annually.

One of the most expensive cities for renters is Miami, where rents, on average, consume 43 percent of the typical household income, up from a historical average of just over a quarter.

Stella Santamaria, a divorced 40-year-old math teacher, has been looking for an apartment in Miami for more than six months. “We’re kind of sick of talking about it,” she said of herself and fellow teachers in the same boat. “It’s like, are you still living with your mom? Yeah, are you? Yeah.” After 11 years as a teacher, Ms. Santamaria makes $41,000, considerably less than the city’s median income, which is $48,000, according to Zillow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a time when hitting a fresh cycle low in initial jobless claims was something to cheer. That doesn’t seem like the appropriate response this cycle. The labor backdrop at present is punctuated not by the fact that layoffs are diminishing, but rather by the sheer lack of hiring. We have gone through this calculus ad nausea but it bears repeating. The pace of hiring (as measured by the hiring rate, which is hiring relative to employment) at present is not just lower than the previous cycle low, it also shows a stunning lack of momentum. Make no mistake, the level of hiring is trending in the right direction, but at best the pace is quite modest. Part of the problem is the difficulty filling job openings…while the hiring rate remains weak by any standard, the ratio of hires-to-job openings continues to print cycle lows and remains at levels that are more consistent with a very tight labor backdrop
--RBC Capital Market’s Tom Porcelli as quoted this afternoon by Barrons

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Carolina's unemployment rate plummeted to 5.7 percent in February from 6.4 percent in January, the largest one-month decrease since the state starting tracking jobless numbers in 1976, the Department of Employment and Workforce said Friday.

It was the ninth consecutive month the figure has declined.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America’s long-term jobless face huge obstacles in returning to steady full-time employment, with just 11 per cent succeeding over the course of any given year, according to new research that raises alarm bells about structural problems in the US labour market.

The study by Alan Krueger, a Princeton University economist who served as a top economic adviser to Barack Obama between 2011 and 2013, shows that even in good times and in healthy states the long-term jobless are “at the margins” of the labour market with little hope of regaining their footing.

A big spike in long-term unemployment – defined as joblessness extending beyond 26 weeks – has been one of the defining features of the US recession and its aftermath. There were 3.8m long-term unemployed in February 2014, according to the latest labour department data, more than double the pre-financial crisis level of 1.9m in August 2008. The share of the jobless who have been out of work for more than six months has nearly doubled over that timeframe, from 19.8 per cent to 37 per cent.

Read it all (if necessary another link may be found there).

Update: There is more from the Washington post there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There have long been stark economic differences between Fairfax County and McDowell. But as their fortunes have diverged even further over the past generation, their life expectancies have diverged, too. In McDowell, women’s life expectancy has actually fallen by two years since 1985; it grew five years in Fairfax.

“Poverty is a thief,” said Michael Reisch, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland, testifying before a Senate panel on the issue. “Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.”

That reality is playing out across the country. For the upper half of the income spectrum, men who reach the age of 65 are living about six years longer than they did in the late 1970s. Men in the lower half are living just 1.3 years longer.

This life-expectancy gap has started to surface in discussions among researchers, public health officials and Washington policy makers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. business leaders, encouraged by the recent break in Washington's budget gridlock, are increasingly looking to boost spending. But that probably won't come in ways that would drive rapid hiring or economic growth, according to a new Business Roundtable survey of top CEOs....

Nearly half of CEOs surveyed by the Washington trade group said they expect to boost U.S. capital spending in the next six months, compared with only 39% eyeing higher spending three months ago. But while 72% of CEOs see an increase in sales in the next six months, only 37% expect to boost U.S. employment, according to the survey released Tuesday. Forty-four percent see their U.S. payrolls unchanged.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 19, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Surging prices for food staples from coffee to meat to vegetables are driving up the cost of groceries in the U.S., pinching consumers and companies that are still grappling with a sluggish economic recovery.

Federal forecasters estimate retail food prices will rise as much as 3.5% this year, the biggest annual increase in three years, as drought in parts of the U.S. and other producing regions drives up prices for many agricultural goods. The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday reported that food prices gained 0.4% in February from the previous month, the biggest increase since September 2011, as prices rose for meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs.

Globally, food inflation has been tame, but economists are watching for any signs of tighter supplies of key commodities such as wheat and rice that could push prices higher.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/Nutrition* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* General InterestWeather

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Posted March 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The articles are entitled Employment of young workers has plunged as older workers remain in entry-level jobs and A Dead End--few leaving stepping-stone jobs. Read them both.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeanina Jenkins, a 20-year-old high-school graduate from St. Louis, is stuck in a $7.82-an-hour part-time job at McDonald’s Corp. that she calls a “last resort” because nobody would offer her anything better.

Stephen O’Malley, 26, a West Virginia University graduate, wants to put his history degree to use teaching high school. What he’s found instead is a bartender’s job in his home town of Manasquan, New Jersey.

Jenkins and O’Malley are at opposite ends of a dynamic that is pushing those with college degrees down into competition with high-school graduates for low-wage jobs that don’t require college. As this competition has intensified during and after the recession, it’s meant relatively higher unemployment, declining labor market participation and lower wages for those with less education.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General

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Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The share of new homes being built as rental apartments is at the highest level in at least four decades, as an improving jobs picture spurs younger Americans to form their own households but tighter lending standards make it more difficult to buy.

Residential construction—a pillar of the economy and employment—is starting to ramp up again overall, but in previous years the growth was driven by single-family homes. Last year, according to census data, construction was started on a little less than one million new residential units, and about one in three of those was a rental in a multifamily building, the highest share since data began in the mid-1970s. Single-family homes accounted for about two-thirds of housing starts last year, down from their peak of 87% in 1993 and about 80% in the years leading up to the recession, the census data showed.

The move toward apartment construction reflects the convergence of several trends. Mortgage credit is still tight. Also, Americans have seen muted wage gains, and others have high student-debt loads, forcing people who otherwise would have bought homes to rent instead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

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Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A leading German institute has called for full-blown quantitative easing by the European Central Bank (ECB) to head off a deflation spiral, marking a radical shift in thinking among the German policy elites.

Marcel Fratzscher, head of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin, demanded €60bn (£50bn) of bond purchases each month to halt the contraction of credit and avert a Japanese-style trap.

"It is high time for the ECB to act. Otherwise Europe risks falling into a dangerous downward spiral of sliding prices and declining demand", he wrote in Die Welt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup's U.S. Job Creation Index increased slightly in February to +21 from +19 in December and January. The index now exceeds the +20 average for 2013 and is the highest February reading since the beginning of the 2007-2009 recession.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

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Posted March 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The economy finished 2013 on a weaker footing than first thought, the government said on Friday, heightening concern that the United States is in the midst of another of the periodic slow patches that have dogged the recovery over the last five years.

The Commerce Department now estimates the economy grew at an annual pace of 2.4 percent in October, November and December, down from an initial estimate of 3.2 percent. The revised figure also represents a substantial slowing from the pace of growth in the third quarter, which totaled 4.1 percent. The department is scheduled to provide one more estimate of growth during the fourth quarter on March 27.

The downward revision comes after new data showing lackluster retail sales, inventory adjustments and a slightly less impressive trade balance late last year. Disappointing reports on job creation in December and January have also prompted fear of continued weakness into the spring of 2014.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans have a new No. 1 problem. Nearly one in four Americans mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January. The government and politicians had topped the list since the government shutdown in October.

Prior to last fall, either jobs or the economy had led the "most important problem" list going back to February 2008, and these two have regained their top spots in the Feb. 6-9 poll.

Healthcare continues to rank among the top problems, with 15% naming it, unchanged from January. Mentions of the federal debt/budget deficit are stable at 8%, despite Congress' increasing the debt ceiling in February.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 18, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like other 20-somethings seeking a career foothold, Andrew Lang, a graduate of Penn State, took an internship at an upstart Beverly Hills production company at age 29 as a way of breaking into movie production. It didn’t pay, but he hoped the exposure would open doors.

When that internship proved to be a dead end, Mr. Lang went to work at a second production company, again as an unpaid intern. When that went nowhere, he left for another, doing whatever was asked, like delivering bottles of wine to 27 offices before Christmas. But that company, too, could not afford to hire him, even part time.

A year later, Mr. Lang is on his fourth internship, this time for a company that produces reality TV shows. While this internship at least pays him (he makes $10 an hour, with few perks), Mr. Lang feels no closer to a real job and worries about being an intern forever. “No one hires interns,” said Mr. Lang, who sees himself as part of a “revolving class of people” who can’t break free of the intern cycle. “Is this any way to live?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Underemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, was 18.6% in January, up from 17.2% in December, and up from 17.5% in January 2013. Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (8.6%) with the percentage of those who are working part time but looking for full-time work (10.0%). An increase in unemployment mainly explains the increase in underemployment vs. December, partly attributable to more out-of-work Americans now reporting they are looking for work.

Read it all and please note that U-6 happily fell from 13.1% to 12.7% in the BLS report on Friday

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A hiring chill hit the U.S. labor market for the second straight month in January, reflecting employers' reluctance to take on new workers despite some of the nation's strongest economic growth in years.

U.S. payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 113,000 in January after December's lackluster gain of 75,000 jobs, marking the weakest two-month stretch of job creation in three years, the Labor Department said Friday.

Yet the unemployment rate ticked down to 6.6%—the lowest level since late 2008. The decline came because more people found jobs last month as opposed to last year when it fell in part because of unemployed Americans abandoning their job hunts and dropping out of the labor force.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted February 8, 2014 at 9:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Mark] Riley's frustration is widely shared. More than one in six men ages 25 to 54, prime working years, don't have jobs—a total of 10.4 million. Some are looking for jobs; many aren't. Some had jobs that went overseas or were lost to technology. Some refuse to uproot for work because they are tied down by family needs or tethered to homes worth less than the mortgage. Some rely on government benefits. Others depend on working spouses.

Having so many men out of work is partly a symptom of a U.S. economy slow to recover from the worst recession in 75 years. It is also a chronic condition that shows how technology and globalization are transforming jobs faster than many workers can adapt, economists say.

The trend has been building for decades, according to government data. In the early 1970s, just 6% of American men ages 25 to 54 were without jobs. By late 2007, it was 13%. In 2009, during the worst of the recession, nearly 20% didn't have jobs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenMiddle Age* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted February 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The economy had its best second half in a decade, indicating that the U.S. is on firmer footing. But the current expansion remains slow, and the pace of growth still is weak historically.

Read it all and look at the three charts carefully.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

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Posted February 1, 2014 at 5:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than five years later, there is still no answer to perhaps the most critical question raised by the man-made disaster: How much did it all cost?

In July, three economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Tyler Atkinson, David Luttrell and Harvey Rosenblum, gave it a shot, at least as far as the United States economy goes.

...their examination offers a panoramic view of the variety of ways in which the financial crisis diminished the nation’s standard of living. At a bare minimum the crisis cost nearly $20,000 for each American. Adding in broader impacts on workers’ well-being — an admittedly speculative exercise — could raise the price tag to as much as $120,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. With this kind of money we could pay back the federal debt or pay for a top-notch college education for everyone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPovertyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted January 22, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US Federal Reserve was being complacent by planning for years of below-target inflation, warned Minneapolis Fed President in a clarion call for more economic stimulus.
“We’re running the risk of being content with inflation running consistently below our target. That’s inappropriate,” said Narayana Kocherlakota, who votes on Fed monetary policy this year, in an interview with the Financial Times. “Right now we’re sitting with an outlook for inflation that even by 2016 . . . is not getting back to 2 per cent.”

Mr Kocherlakota’s remarks illustrate the growing anxiety about low global inflation that led Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, to warn this week that “rising risks of deflation” could be disastrous for the world’s economic recovery – calling it the “ogre that must be fought decisively”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 17, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More Americans, 42%, say they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, reversing the lower levels found over the past two years. Just more than a third of Americans say their financial situation has improved from a year ago.

These results come from Gallup's annual "Mood of the Nation" poll, conducted Jan. 5-8. Gallup has found that Americans' economic confidence, self-reported consumer spending, and perceptions of job creation improved in 2013. Despite Americans' more positive views of the overall U.S. economy in 2013, nearly two-thirds believe their personal financial situation deteriorated or was stable over the past year.

Though down from mid-2013, the percentage of Americans saying they are financially better off than a year ago is nearly in line with the historical average (38%), spanning 1976-2014. On the other hand, the share of Americans saying they are financially worse off compared with a year ago is, by historical standards, high -- eight percentage points above the average. The record high of 55% occurred in May and September 2008, the year (and, in the latter case, the month) of the global financial meltdown.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

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Posted January 16, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U6 unemployment rate tabulates not only people without work who are seeking full-time employment but also counts "marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons."

Please take the time to study this graph of U-6 at the top and look carefully at the other numbers. What do you see? Seasonally adjusted U-6 unemployment is now
still higher than it was in November of 2008, over 5 years ago. While there has been improvement from the worst levels of the great recession, it is hardly anywhere near what could be called healthy.

Those of you who are data hounds (like yours truly) will perhaps appreciate the table here; there is much more material at the BLS website--KSH.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government

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Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a blow to hopes that the economy was finally gaining momentum, the government reported on Friday that employers added jobs last month at the slowest pace in three years, although some experts cautioned that wintry weather in many parts of the country may have skewed the data.

In December, employers added just 74,000 jobs, the Labor Department said, well below the 200,000 gain many economists had been looking for. The latest figures were a reversal from healthier monthly payroll gains in the fall that had convinced many economists – as well as policy makers at the Federal Reserve – that the labor market was on a more solid footing.

The unemployment rate did fall to 6.7 percent from 7 percent in November, the lowest since November 2008. But that was largely because of people dropping out of the work force rather than finding jobs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American consumers in 2013 were more upbeat than at any time in the previous six years as views on the economy, finances and the buying climate improved.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index...averaged minus 31.4 for 2013, the highest since 2007, when it was minus 10.5. The weekly index fell for the first time since mid-November, dropping to minus 28.7 for the period ended Dec. 29, from minus 27.4.

An improved job market, higher stock prices and rising home values lifted sentiment at the end of the year and helped drive holiday retail shopping. Stronger wage and employment growth would help propel bigger gains in confidence and encourage Americans to boost spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted January 3, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While plenty of baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, have become affluent and many elderly around the U.S. face financial hardship, the wealth disparity of this father and daughter is emblematic of a broad shift occurring around the country. A rising tide of graying baby boomers is less secure financially and has a lower standard of living than their aged parents.

The median net worth for U.S. households headed by boomers aged 55 to 64 was almost 8 percent lower, at $143,964, than those 75 and older in 2011, according to Census Bureau data. Boomers lost more than other groups in the stock market and housing bust of 2008, and many also lost their jobs in the aftermath at a critical point in their productive years.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentMedicareSocial Security

0 Comments
Posted December 18, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The department of finance has said California’s debt was paid down to less than $28-billion (U.S.). But that doesn’t include government employee pension and health benefits that have been promised but not funded. Stanford University estimates that unfunded pension liabilities are as much as $497-billion.

Meantime, a report by the Pew Center suggests that unfunded state retiree liabilities are $77-billion and growing. Most agree that until California deals with these two areas, it will only be pecking away at its monstrous fiscal challenges. It’s difficult to imagine state legislators not having to deliver some extremely unpleasant news to tens of thousands of government employees in the coming years.

Despite its financial woes, California continues to talk about a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco that would cost tens of billions. On another front, the state ruled against allowing fracking for oil and gas despite having the largest shale deposits in the country. Many believe this one move alone could have helped release California from the grips of financial despair.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePensionsThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General

0 Comments
Posted December 14, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Workers’ pay is hardly growing, with average hourly compensation only rising 38 cents, or 1.2%, over the last year.

Including both wages and benefits, employers paid an hourly average of $31.16 to each worker in September, compared with $30.78 a year ago, according to a Labor Department report released Wednesday. Wages and salaries made up nearly 70% of total compensation.

The agency’s quarterly report measures the average costs of wages, salaries and benefits for employees in the nonfarm private sector and state and local government workers. It doesn’t include people who work for the federal government or are self-employed. Benefit costs include paid leave, such as vacation or personal time, and the legally required benefits of Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans see little prospect that President Barack Obama and Congress can get much done beyond keeping the government open for the next few months.

A Bloomberg National Poll finds 78 percent of respondents say the political gridlock in Washington will hurt the nation’s economy in 2014.

Large majorities say they want the government to ensure the new health-care law functions well, that policy makers agree to revise the tax code, and that an accord is reached to provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Yet most doubt those things can be accomplished in the current political environment...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wall Street faces more intensive government scrutiny of trading after U.S. regulators issued what they billed as a strict Volcker rule today, imposing new curbs designed to prevent financial blowups while leaving many details to be worked out later.

The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and three other agencies formally adopted the proprietary trading ban. The rule has been contested by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and their industry allies for more than three years.

Wall Street’s lobbying efforts paid off in easing some provisions of the rule. Regulators granted a broader exemption for banks’ market-making desks, on the condition that traders aren’t paid in a way that rewards proprietary trading. The regulation also exempts some securities tied to foreign sovereign debt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Affordable Care Act's deadline for getting health insurance approaches, 30% of U.S. adults still say that they, or a family member, have put off medical treatment in the past year because of the cost. This figure has been stable since 2005, but is higher than it was between 2001 and 2004.

Uninsured Americans are more than twice as likely as those who have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance to say they put off medical treatment. Fifty-nine percent of the uninsured have done so, compared with roughly one-quarter of those with Medicare or Medicaid (22%) or private health insurance (25%).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A federal bankruptcy judge granted Detroit unprecedented powers Tuesday to shed billions of dollars in debt, including the ability to slash city employee pensions despite a state constitutional provision protecting them.

In approving the nation’s ­largest-ever municipal filing, Judge Steven Rhodes cleared the way for Detroit’s emergency manager to develop a plan to reorganize the city’s estimated $18 billion in debt. Beyond cutting worker pensions and retiree health benefits, the city could stiff bondholders and sell city assets such as its water and sewer authority and its priceless art collection.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country's biggest banks.

The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along.

More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 26, 2013 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American workers are living with unprecedented economic anxiety, four years into a recovery that has left so many of them stuck in place. That anxiety is concentrated heavily among low-income workers such as Stewart.

More than six in 10 workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, surpassing concerns in more than a dozen surveys dating to the 1970s. Nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, also a record high, according to the joint survey, which explores Americans’ changing definition of success and their confidence in the country’s future. The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia specializing in public policy, presidential scholarship and political history.

Job insecurities have always been higher among low-income Americans, but they typically rose and fell across all levels of the income ladder. Today, workers at the bottom have drifted away, occupying their own island of in­security.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

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Posted November 26, 2013 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

..before realtors get too confident about the future, it is worth looking at some sobering research from the International Monetary Fund, buried deep inside this autumn’s Global Financial Stability Report. This analysis, which looks at mortgage real estate investment trusts (M-Reits) – which invest in packages of mortgage bonds – did not make headlines when the IMF met last month, because M-Reits are a fairly specialist sector. That is a pity, given that the IMF says the rapidly expanding world of M-Reits has the potential to deliver nasty surprises if, or when, US interest rates rise.

Most notably, even a modest increase in rates could spark fire sales of mortgage-backed bonds, which would raise mortgage interest rates sharply for consumers. And that could not just hurt housing markets but produce knock-on waves of instability in other areas of finance.

“Rapid M-Reit deleveraging has important spillover implications,” the IMF report warns.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The title of a new paper from three economists at the Federal Reserve is bloodless: "Aggregate Supply in the United States: Recent Developments and Implications for the Conduct of Monetary Policy"

But its conclusions are chilling.

The paper offers a depressing portrait of where the economy stands nearly six years after the onset of recession, and amounts to a damning indictment of U.S. policymakers. Their upshot: The United States's long-term economic potential has been diminished by the fact that policymakers have not done more to put people back to work quickly. Our national economic potential is now a whopping 7 percent below where it was heading at the pre-2007 trajectory, the authors find.

Read it all from The Washington Post.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 6, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index rose six points last week to -30. While this marks the second straight week of improvement since the end of the federal government shutdown, confidence is still well below the -15 reading Gallup found in mid-September, in the weeks before the shutdown. It remains sharply lower than the -3 reached earlier this year.

The latest results are for the week ending Oct. 27, based on interviews with more than 3,500 U.S. adults. The index represents Americans' net optimism about the economy, combining their views about current economic conditions and their perceptions of the economy's direction. The index has a theoretical maximum of +100 if all Americans think the economy is "excellent" or "good" and improving, and a theoretical minimum of -100 if all believe the economy is "only fair" or "poor" and getting worse.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 30, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishops might have been promoting a strictly Democratic line, but U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black was more ecumenical. Amid the shutdown, Rev. Black offered a daily prayer in the Senate chamber asking God to “save us from the madness. We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness, and our pride.” Later he condemned the “hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.” His listeners in one party no doubt assumed he was talking about the other side.

It is one thing to spiritually shame politicians, as Rev. Black did. Trying to do their jobs is another. The bishops and other clergy in the Circle of Protection go well beyond their competencies when they make such policy prescriptions. Speaking about the moral issues of the day is certainly within their pastoral purview, but the bishops’ calls to raise revenues (aka taxes), for instance, or eliminate “unnecessary” military spending are not.

Bishops routinely assert their authority as “pastors and teachers,” as Bishops Blaire, Gomez and Pates did, but according to the tradition of their own church, they have no teaching authority when it comes to politics.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost half of all American women (40%) with children under the age of 18 are the primary or sole source of income in their families, according to a major Pew survey released this year. Back in 1960, the share was just 11%. It is a huge social shift.

Once, American mothers were dubbed "soccer moms". Then, after 9/11, we got to know the "security moms". Today's generation are the "breadwinner moms".

But to lump all these millions of women together is simplistic. This story of financial revolution is really two stories.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2013 at 10:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....the Federal Disability Insurance Program...serves nearly 12 million people -- up 20 percent in the last six years -- and has a budget of $135 billion. That's more than the government spent last year on the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the Labor Department combined. It's been called a "secret welfare system" with it's own "disability industrial complex," a system ravaged by waste and fraud. A lot of people want to know what's going on. Especially Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Tom Coburn: Go read the statute. If there's any job in the economy you can perform, you are not eligible for disability. That's pretty clear. So, where'd all those disabled people come from?

The Social Security Administration, which runs the disability program says the explosive surge is due to aging baby boomers and the lingering effects of a bad economy. But Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Subcommittee for Investigations -- who's also a physician -- says it's more complicated than that. Last year, his staff randomly selected hundreds of disability files and found that 25 percent of them should never have been approved -- another 20 percent, he said, were highly questionable.

Read it all or better still watch the video.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National Deficit* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. The shutdown is unlikely to last long. In the past government shutdowns typically lasted a few days, with the most being 21 when the Republican Congress, led by Newt Gingrich, took on Bill Clinton in 1995.

This stance defies logic. If the reform law is so flawed, why not try to make it better? Why not wait till the law takes full effect and its failure becomes obvious, at which point it could be repealed through less destructive means—without endangering the entire economy?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

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Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US home-ownership rate has dropped to an 18-year-low at about 65 per cent – down from a peak of 70 per cent before the crash – and economists say it is set to fall as low as 60 per cent. Some industry watchers are now asking if the US, after a multi-decade push towards home ownership, is shifting towards being a nation of renters.

“With the housing bubble bursting, the home-ownership rate was always going to drop. In some respects this has been healthy as the country has been reversing some of the excess. Not everybody should have been homeowners,” says Michael Gapen, senior economist at Barclays. “But there is now an open question about where it will settle.”

Read it all (if needed another link may be found there. ).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 24, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Angela Merkel won a landslide personal victory in Germany's general election on Sunday, but her conservatives appeared just short of the votes needed to rule on their own and may have to convince leftist rivals to join a coalition government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 23, 2013 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A barrage of new statistics on American living standards offers some grounds for optimism. A typical American household’s income has stopped falling for the first time in five years, and the poverty rate has stopped rising. At last, it seems, the expansion is strong enough at least to stabilise ordinary people’s incomes.

But the main message is a grim one. Most of the growth is going to an extraordinarily small share of the population: 95% of the gains from the recovery have gone to the richest 1% of people, whose share of overall income is once again close to its highest level in a century. The most unequal country in the rich world is thus becoming even more so.

You do not have to be an egalitarian to worry about this trend. Although some degree of inequality is good for an economy, creating incentives to work hard and take risks, the recent concentration of income gains among the most affluent is both politically dangerous and economically damaging.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 22, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of people in Penobscot County [Maine] receiving Social Security disability benefits skyrocketed, rising from 4,475 to 7,955 — or nearly one in 12 of the county’s adults between the ages of 18 and 64, according to Social Security statistics.

The fast expansion of disability here is part of a national trend that has seen the number of former workers receiving benefits soar from just over 5 million to 8.8 million between 2000 and 2012. An additional 2.1 million dependent children and spouses also receive benefits.

The crush of new recipients is putting unsustainable financial pressure on the program. Federal officials project that the program will exhaust its trust fund by 2016 — 20 years before the trust fund that supports Social Security’s old-age benefits is projected to run dry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National Deficit

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Posted September 21, 2013 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federal Reserve lost its chance for a "freebie" by deciding not to begin scaling back its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program because the markets had already factored in the taper, hedge fund pro Stanley Druckenmiller told CNBC on Thursday....

Druckenmiller argued that the Fed's lack of action will make it much harder for the next central bank chairman to start tapering.

Read it all (the full video of the interview is highly recommended if you have the time).


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

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Posted September 19, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seeing a more uneven economic climate than they expected and the potential for fiscal discord in Washington, Federal Reserve officials got cold feet Wednesday and decided to keep their signature easy-money program in place for the time being.

The move, coming after Fed officials spent months alerting the public that they might begin to pare their $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program at the September policy meeting, marks the latest in a string of striking turnabouts from Washington policy makers that have whipsawed markets in recent days.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

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Posted September 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More Americans are struggling to afford food -- nearly as many as did during the recent recession. The 20.0% who reported in August that they have, at times, lacked enough money to buy the food that they or their families needed during the past year, is up from 17.7% in June, and is the highest percentage recorded since October 2011. The percentage who struggle to afford food now is close to the peak of 20.4% measured in November 2008, as the global economic crisis unfolded.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 18, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Census Bureau is out with the annual report on incomes and poverty. And while you might think that after years of stagnant incomes and elevated poverty rates, we would be inured to the depressing facts contained therein, it still somehow has the power to shock.

For my money, the most depressing fact about the economy is not the fact that household incomes were basically flat in 2012 (the real median household income was down to $51,017 from $51,100 in 2011, a statistically insignificant change). It wasn't even the fact that 15 percent of the U.S. population was living in poverty, according to the official, flawed definition of the term.

Nah, the most depressing result comes when you look at the longer view of household incomes in the United States.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Earlier today, I spoke with Larry Summers and accepted his decision to withdraw his name from consideration for Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Larry was a critical contributor to the radical deregulation that was one of many causes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It was in no small part because of his lack of expertise, false wisdom, and inept leadership that the economy crashed and burned and even today is still failing to be to back to its full growth potential.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ever since the euro crisis broke in late 2009 this newspaper has criticised the world’s most powerful woman. We disagreed with Angela Merkel’s needlessly austere medicine: the continent’s recession has been unnecessarily long and brutal as a result. We wanted the chancellor to shrug off her cautious incrementalism and the mantle of her country’s history—and to lead Europe more forcefully. She is largely to blame for the failure to create a full banking union for the euro zone, the first of many institutional changes it still needs. She has refused to lead public opinion, never spelling out to her voters how much Germany is to blame for the euro mess (nor how much its banks have been rescued by its bail-outs). We also worry that she has not done enough at home: in recent years no country in the European Union has made fewer structural reforms, and her energy policies have landed Germany with high subsidies for renewables and high electricity prices.

And yet we believe Mrs Merkel is the right person to lead her country and thus Europe. That is partly because of what she is: the world’s most politically gifted democrat and a far safer bet than her leftist opponents. It is also partly because of what we believe she could still become—the great leader Germany and Europe so desperately needs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

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Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the drop is mainly driven by demographics -- aging baby boomers retiring -- then the lower unemployment rate gives a true picture of the amount of slack left in the labor market. If the contraction instead is caused by discouraged job-seekers giving up their search, then the jobless rate doesn’t reflect the true state of the market....

Central bank economists are divided over how much of the fall in the workforce is structural and thus not likely to be reversed.

“There is disagreement within the system,” said Geoffrey Tootell, senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The long, slow recovery in the U.S. job market is leaving ever-more Americans on the sidelines—and complicating the calculus for Federal Reserve policy makers weighing when the economy can get by with less help.

Employers added 169,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department said Friday, a bit more than in July, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.3%, the best mark of the recovery.

But beneath such positive numbers lay evidence of a job market stuck in second gear. The government revised down its estimate for June and July hiring by a combined 74,000 jobs, and a disproportionate share of the jobs that are being added are in low-paying sectors such as restaurants and retail.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those left behind by the long, slow economic recovery, time is running out.

More than four years after the recession officially ended, 11.5 million Americans are unemployed, many of them for years. Millions more have abandoned their job searches, hiding from the economic storm in school or turning to government programs for support. A growing body of economic research suggests that the longer they remain on the sidelines, the less likely they will be to work again; for many, it may already be too late.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 6, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Unfortunately, we seem to be entering another of those periods of elevated risk,” economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote last week. Researchers at RBC Capital Markets sounded even more bleak. “Just when you thought the U.S. economy was ready to break out of its lackluster 2 percent growth pace that has dominated the recovery,” they wrote, “reality hits.”

More economic turbulence would be particularly tough for poor and middle-class American workers, who are still struggling amid the historically weak growth following the recession. The typical worker’s income has fallen since the recession ended more than four years ago, and the economy, still far from full employment, is creating far more low-paying jobs than good-paying ones. Polls show that workers remain discouraged by the economic picture, with more than half believing the United States is still in recession.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The market for quality jobs may be cooling. The 21% of Americans who say now is a good time to find a quality job is down from 25% in July -- and the most negative reading this year. Now, 76% say it is a bad time to find a quality job, up from 70% in July.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

1 Comments
Posted August 27, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A current success story on the agency’s Web site is that of Carolina AAC, a company that received $10.4 million in late 2010 to build a concrete manufacturing plant in Bennettsville, S.C.

“This project will create approximately 197 new jobs in Marlboro County,” the Agriculture Department’s Web site says. Such a figure would make Carolina AAC the program’s third-largest borrower in terms of jobs created.

But Carolina AAC said in a January 2011 news release that only 36 jobs would be created at the project. And even that has not come to pass. Currently, 10 people work at the company, according to Charles Paterno, its managing member. Troubling for taxpayers is that the government backs 90 percent of the loans and they are in liquidation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government

0 Comments
Posted August 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. small-business owners are more optimistic now than at any time since late 2008. The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index improved to +25 in July, from +16 in the second quarter. The latest result, while not as high as pre-recession levels, is the highest index score since the third quarter of 2008.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted August 21, 2013 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is 27 the new 18 when it comes to living at your parents' house?

According to the US census Bureau, at least 1 in 4 N.J. adults, ages 18-31 live at home and 42% are 24 or older. Experts call it an "epidemic" of millennials leaching off their parents, but does a bad economy and student loan debt crisis justify the situation?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted August 21, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Love and marriage. They’re hitched together, traditionally. But more and more today they’re being forced to lead separate lives.

A good marriage can yield all kinds of emotional benefits, including happiness, companionship, and even better health, according to some studies. Marriage also can serve as a strong economic foundation, with each partner supporting the other’s efforts to provide for the family.

But a new study suggests another, more detrimental link between money and marriage: Joblessness or other economic insecurity leads to fewer marriages. That not only deprives those individuals of the benefits of marriage, in a broader context it deprives society of the benefits of marriage as well.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Down the block, we spotted my friend Pastor Steve, the proprietor of a storefront church on an otherwise entirely abandoned block. Driving by, I’d noticed the motley assortment of characters hanging out front and an unruly garden taking up much of the vacant corner lot next door, and eventually I stopped by and introduced myself. It turned out that most of the folks out front were struggling addicts and prostitutes and criminals from the neighbourhood.

Pastor Steve had gone through his own period of felonious hard living – heroin, pills, booze, glue-sniffing, bank-robbing, you name it – before being saved and then called to the ministry. A rangy white guy in his early sixties, Pastor Steve had an obvious love for a certain era of countercultural accoutrement which had somehow managed to survive this spiritual journey intact. He had a bushy handlebar moustache and flowing grey hair, the curly ends of which spilled to his chest, and favoured cowboy boots, earrings with topaz beads, and the sorts of silver rings you might buy at a Native American souvenir stand. On his motorcycle, a parishioner had painted a picture of Chief Joseph, “who was one of the main, awesome Indians”, in Pastor Steve’s words. He continued, “After we’d been here a while, I got stories coming back to me that people in the neighbourhood thought we were a motorcycle gang. They saw me, saw the Harley, and they thought the building was filled with weapons and we were here to take over.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug Addiction* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beth Glover was a juror on the trial of former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre. When the lawyers were discussing the mortgages tied to the securities at the center of the case, Glover realized that, for all intents and purposes, they were talking about her mortgage.

"When they were looking at the subprime mortgage groupings, I think I would have been in one of those," Glover told me. "I didn't have as great as FICO score at that time."

Glover's an Episcopal priest. She says she saw the devastation the financial crisis caused to her parishioners. They lost homes and jobs. Church programs had to be cut for lack of funds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted August 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every human being enjoys a basic right to be respected, not because of any title, position, prestige, or accomplishment but first of all because we are created in the image and likeness of God. From an ethical and moral perspective we embrace the exhortation of St. Paul "to anticipate one another in showing honor" (Rom 12:10). Today's competitive culture challenges us to strive for victory and advantage, but for St. Paul the challenge is to build each other up and honor one another's innate dignity.

Labor Day is an opportunity to take stock of the ways workers are honored and respected. Earlier this year, Pope Francis pointed out, "Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. . . . It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growth of one's own nation." Unfortunately, millions of workers today are denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse, and exploitation.

Even with new indicators of some modest progress in recovery, the economy still has not improved the standard of living for many people, especially for the poor and the working poor, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 8, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the U.S. stock market continues to rise, Americans' confidence in the economy has dropped to its lowest level since late April. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index registered -13 for the week ending July 28. This is essentially unchanged from -12 during the prior two weeks, but is 10 points lower than it was in early June. Still, consumers' confidence remains higher than it was in early March, after automatic federal budget cuts took effect.

While Americans' confidence has generally retreated since early June, from a longer-term perspective, the current index score is still one of the best Gallup has measured since January 2008.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 31, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those over 50 and unemployed, the statistics are grim. While unemployment rates for Americans nearing retirement are lower than for young people who are recently out of school, once out of a job, older workers have a much harder time finding work. Over the last year, according to the Labor Department, the average duration of unemployment for older people was 53 weeks, compared with 19 weeks for teenagers.

There are numerous reasons — older workers have been hit both by the recession and globalization. They’re more likely to have been laid off from industries that are downsizing, and since their salaries tend to be higher than those of younger workers, they’re attractive targets if layoffs are needed.

Even as they do all the things they’re told to do — network, improve those computer skills, find a new passion and turn it into a job — many struggle with the question of whether their working life as they once knew it is essentially over.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted July 29, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Greece ran into financial trouble three years ago, the problem soon spread. Many observers were mystified. How could such a little country set off a continental crisis? The Greeks were stereotyped as a nation of tax-dodgers who had been living high on borrowed money for years. The Portuguese, Italians and Spanish insisted that their finances were fundamentally sound. The Germans wondered what it had to do with them at all. But the contagion was powerful, and Europe’s economy has yet to recover.

America seems in a similar state of denial about Detroit filing for bankruptcy.... Many people think Motown is such an exceptional case that it holds few lessons for other places. What was once the country’s fourth-most-populous city grew rich thanks largely to a single industry. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler once made nearly all the cars sold in America; now, thanks to competition from foreign brands built in non-union states, they sell less than half. Detroit’s population has fallen by 60% since 1950. The murder rate is 11 times the national average. The previous mayor is in prison. Shrubs, weeds and raccoons have reclaimed empty neighbourhoods. The debts racked up when Detroit was big and rich are unpayable now that it is smaller and poor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 26, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The economy may be sputtering along. But it hasn’t been in recession for more than four years. More than half of Americans think it still is.

A majority of people — 54% — in a new McClatchy-Marist poll think the country is in an economic downturn, according to the survey conducted last week and released Tuesday.

One bright spot: July’s figure marks the lowest proportion of Americans who have held that view since 2008. About a third of those surveyed don’t think the economy is in a slump, while 8% are unsure, according to the poll. In March, 63% thought the economy was in recession.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 24, 2013 at 8:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the best new books out there – “something close to a non-fiction masterpiece,” according to a New York Times reviewer – is The Unwinding by George Packer....The book’s author is not an American declinist. There have been other unravellings; rebuilds inevitably follow. But the context is different now. America’s greatest century is behind it. Its degree of dominance will likely never be the same.

In response to all this, how does Canada, the big neighbour to the north, position itself?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada

0 Comments
Posted July 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans tend to think of poverty as urban or rural—housing estates or shacks in the woods. And it is true that poverty rates tend to be higher in cities and the countryside. But the suburbs are where you will find America’s biggest and fastest-growing poor population, as Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution explain in their book “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America”. Between 2000 and 2010 the number of people living below the federal poverty line ($22,314 for a family of four in 2010) in the suburbs grew by 53%, compared with just 23% in cities. In 2010 roughly 15.3m poor people lived in the suburbs, compared with 12.8m in cities

Suburban poverty began to rise before the recession. As American cities have grown safer and richer, homes there have become less affordable. During the subprime bubble, many people with bad credit scores got mortgages and moved to the suburbs. A shift towards housing vouchers and away from massive urban projects encouraged people in subsidised housing to make the same move. Immigrants, too, chased the American dream of neat lawns and picket fences. Now 51% of immigrants (who are more likely than the native-born to be poor) live in suburbs, compared with just 33% in cities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bankruptcy of Detroit, confirmed in 16 pages filed at 4:06 p.m. Thursday, marks an epic fall for an iconic American city even as it opens a new chapter whose ending is decidedly uncertain.

No one really knows how the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history will end and when — not Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who recommended the step Tuesday, not his lawyers, and not Gov. Rick Snyder, who said he approved the filing “as a last resort to return this great city to financial and civic health for its residents and taxpayers.”

“This decision comes in the wake of 60 years of decline for the city, a period in which reality was often ignored,” the governor wrote in his authorization. “Without this decision, the City’s condition would only worsen. With this decision, we begin to provide a foundation to rebuild and grow Detroit.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two-thirds of the way through George Packer’s harrowing and magisterial account of post-2008 America, we meet a Florida boat builder named Jack Hamersma – a rough-hewn, working-class guy who’d climbed up the economic ladder only to find himself drawn into the maelstrom of the real-estate speculation that destroyed huge tracts of suburbia in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse.

Like thousands of naïve speculators – the 1920s-era shoeshine boys with the hot stock tip – Hamersma’s savings were tied up in a heavily mortgaged house that lost most of its value after the bubble burst. With repo men circling and foreclosure looming, he retained Matthew Weidner, a small-time Florida lawyer (think Paul Newman in The Verdict) to defend him against the venality of a banking sector that imploded after an orgy of deregulated and frequently fraudulent greed.

The lawyer was able to keep the lenders from foreclosing on Hamersma. But as lawsuit dragged on, Hamersma’s life unwound into insolvency and costly cancer diagnoses. “That happened a lot to Weidner’s clients – the job, the house, their health, usually in that order,” writes Packer, a New Yorker staff writer, novelist and playwright. “Weidner watched Jack shrink before his eyes, dropping a hundred pounds until, three years after that first consultation, he limped into the office one afternoon to discuss his case, wasted legs sticking out of his shorts, a canvas bag hanging over his shoulder, from which a drip tube extended under a bandage on his chest.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The official unemployment rate is 7.6%. However, if you start counting all the people who want a job but gave up, all the people with part-time jobs that want a full-time job, all the people who dropped off the unemployment rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out, etc., you get a closer picture of what the unemployment rate is. That number is in the last row labeled U-6.

U-6 is much higher at 14.3% [and note that month over month U-6 ROSE from 13.8% to 14.3%]. Both numbers would be way higher still, were it not for millions dropping out of the labor force over the past few years.

Read it all and he also has more on this today. I have emphasized the importance of U-6 as the best gauge of the employment situation over and over and over again--KSH.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

2 Comments
Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The recovery has basically been a recovery for a tiny fraction of the population," said Geoffrey Godbey, professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University and co-author of "Time For Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time." "What you're seeing is people who might want more work but aren't getting it," he said.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

3 Comments
Posted June 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said on Wednesday that the central bank intended to reduce its monetary stimulus later this year — and end the bond purchases entirely by the middle of next year — if unemployment continued to decline at the pace that the Fed expected.

Mr. Bernanke said that the Fed planned to continue the asset purchases until the unemployment rate fell to about 7 percent, the first time that the Fed has specified an economic objective for the bond-buying. The rate stood at 7.6 percent in May.

The Federal Reserve also struck notes of greater optimism about the economic recovery, saying in a statement released after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee that the economy was expanding “at a moderate pace,” the job market was improving and risks to the recovery had “diminished since last fall.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

0 Comments
Posted June 20, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid speculation that the Federal Reserve soon might start scaling back its stimulus efforts, the International Monetary Fund cautioned that a pullback before next year could hurt economies worldwide.

Highlighting its concern Friday, the IMF lowered its forecast for U.S. economic growth next year to 2.7% from an earlier projection of 3%.

The IMF also criticized U.S. fiscal policy, calling for the repeal of the automatic federal spending cuts, known as the sequester, and urging lawmakers to act promptly to raise the nation's debt limit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2013 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Next up, the employment population ratio:

June 1985 - 59.8%
May 2013 - 58.6%

Many economists consider the employment population ratio to be THE most important indicator for the labor market, and it's interesting to note that we are currently 1.2% under the rate posted in June of 1985, which is quite a difference.

Next up - the labor force participation rate:

June 1985 - 64.6%
May 2013 - 63.4%

Again, another significant difference.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted June 14, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fewer Americans are now optimistic about their future personal financial situations, with 57% saying they will be better off in a year, down from 66% who said so last October. Optimism still surpasses pessimism, as 29% expect to be worse off a year from now -- although that is up from 11% who said so last fall.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 13, 2013 at 5:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shifting government finances are likely to take an even bigger bite out of growth over the next few years than many now expect, economists at the San Francisco Fed warned Monday.

In a research note, Brian Lucking and Daniel Wilson write fiscal policy headwinds will subtract one percentage point from growth over the next three years beyond the normal fiscal drag that usually comes during times of recovery. If not for the current and likely future stance of fiscal policy, the economy would be growing at a faster rate, which would allow for more robust job growth and, presumably, a more normal stance of monetary policy for the Federal Reserve.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReservePolitics in General

0 Comments
Posted June 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The largest rise in house prices for seven years and a surge in consumer confidence have added to a fast-improving US economic outlook, increasing the chances the Federal Reserve will slow its $85bn-a-month in asset purchases.

House prices jumped 10.9 per cent in March from last year’s levels, the biggest increase since the height of the housing boom in 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. The rise in prices for homes and other assets helped push the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence to its strongest level for five years.

Read it all (another link there.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2013 at 5:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, captured a sense of fragmentation last month when she spoke of a “three-speed” global economy. On this week’s evidence, however, there are even more speeds than that.

Falling commodity prices and a rising dollar show the broad picture: the global outlook is weakening a little and becoming more dependent on the US. For every country putting out good news, such as Japan, there are weaker data elsewhere – for example in China.

It is a global economy that lacks a strong source of demand growth.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaEngland / UKEurope

0 Comments
Posted May 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Barclays has "repeatedly let down society" and needs to clean up its culture in the wake of the £290m fine for rigging Libor, the Church of England said on Wednesday

The annual investment report by the Church Commissioners shows that the discussions with Barclays will be reviewed in July, a year on from the interest rate scandal that led to the departure of the chairman Marcus Agius, the chief executive Bob Diamond and chief operating officer Jerry del Missier.

In the report the commissioners, working with the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), said they had "commenced an intensive engagement with Barclays seeking robust assurance that, having repeatedly let down society with its conduct, Barclays is making a determined and successful effort to effect a fundamental turnaround in culture".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America's credit crunch is easing. For the past six years, consumers and businesses have struggled to borrow money, but slowly, things are getting easier.

Large U.S. companies are taking advantage of low interest rates to borrow record amounts of capital in bond markets. Banks are opening the spigots for commercial and industrial firms, and loans grew at an 11% annualized rate in the first quarter of this year, the sixth double-digit percentage increase in seven quarters, Federal Reserve data show. According to the Fed's survey of senior bank-lending officers released Monday, 28% of banks lowered the cost of credit lines early this year to smaller firms like Mr. Aaron's that have annual sales of less than $50 million. Residential lending began edging up last year, and even people with bad credit can get a loan to buy a car these days.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted May 8, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Please note that you may find an earlier discussion of the importance of U-6 as a measure of the real labor market situation in this blog post and discussion from Februaryl--KSH).

Voluntary plus involuntary part-time employment rose by a whopping 441,000 jobs. Take away part-time jobs and there is not all that much to brag about. Indeed, full-time employment fell once again, this month by 148,000.

Read it all and there is another article there. For the table of all six employment/unemployment measures, you may go there.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted May 7, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Its surprising how many people still marry. As everyone knows, it’s a risky proposition; the divorce rate, though down from its peak of one in two marriages in the early 1980s, remains substantial. Besides, you can have a perfectly respectable life these days without marrying.

When the Pew Research Center asked a sample of Americans in 2010 what they thought about the “growing variety in the types of family arrangements that people live in,” 34 percent responded that it was a good thing, and 32 percent said it made no difference. Having a child outside of marriage has also become common. According to a report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, 47 percent of American women who give birth in their 20s are unmarried at the time.

And still, demographers project that at least 80 percent of Americans will marry at some point in their lives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychologySociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted May 7, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Employers kept hiring at a steady pace in April and the government revised up job tallies for February and March, easing fears that the economy is tumbling into a spring slump and propelling blue-chip stocks to record highs.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 165,000 last month and the jobless rate ticked down to 7.5%, the lowest level since December 2008. The Labor Department also significantly raised hiring estimates for the two prior months, by a combined 114,000 jobs.

But the job gains in April, which were tilted toward the retail and business-services sectors, come alongside mixed signals for the economy almost four years into the recovery. While the housing and auto sectors are accelerating after years of industry turmoil, other major sectors are showing signs of trouble. In short: The Federal Reserve is looking for more broad-based and sustained job growth before easing up on its easy-money policies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

0 Comments
Posted May 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the thirty or so years that I have been following EU affairs – or is it nearer 35 years now since I studied in French literature in Paris, and German philosophy in Mainz – I have never seen ties between Europe’s two great land states reduced so low.

The French Socialist Party crossed a line by lashing out at Chancellor Angela Merkel in person. It is one thing to protest “German austerity”, it is quite another to rebuke the “selfish intransigence of Mrs Merkel, who thinks of nothing but the deposits of German savers, the trade balance recorded by Berlin and her electoral future”.

There is no justification for such an ad hominem attack. German policy is indeed destructive, but that is structural. It is built into the mechanisms of EMU and the anthropological make-up of the enterprise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceGermany

1 Comments
Posted May 1, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin Welby, the new leader of nearly 80m Anglicans around the world, has won a respectful hearing for his ideas on banking and the British economy. Even if they disagree with the details, people have generally not reacted by saying "this man hasn't a clue what he is talking about" or "he should go back to singing hymns."

On April 21st, the archbishop of Canterbury suggested that big, unhealthy banks should be broken up into regional ones, as part of a "revolution in the aims" of banks designed to make sure that they served society as well as their own narrow interests. That sounded very like the proposal made last month by Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, for local lenders modelled on the German system. It comes at a time when the government faces hard decisions about the future of the Royal Bank of Scotland after its rescue by the tax-payer. Given the immediacy of the issue, some people will accuse the archbishop (who lists his hobbies as French culture, sailing and politics) of making narrow political points rather than broad moral ones.

But he also had some longer-term ideas on the financial sector. Drawing on his experience as a member of a parliamentary Banking Standards Commission, he said senior positions in banking ought to form a regulated profession which required qualifications.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2013 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To retirees, the offers can sound like the answer to every money worry: convert tomorrow’s pension checks into today’s hard cash.

But these offers, known as pension advances, are having devastating financial consequences for a growing number of older Americans, threatening their retirement savings and plunging them further into debt. The advances, federal and state authorities say, are not advances at all, but carefully disguised loans that require borrowers to sign over all or part of their monthly pension checks. They carry interest rates that are often many times higher than those on credit cards.

In lean economic times, people with public pensions — military veterans, teachers, firefighters, police officers and others — are being courted particularly aggressively by pension-advance companies, which operate largely outside of state and federal banking regulations, but are now drawing scrutiny from Congress and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. economy expanded in the first quarter but failed to gather as much steam as expected, raising concerns of another year of sluggish growth.

Consumer spending advanced during the first quarter despite tax increases, but those gains were held in check by slowing business investment and government cutbacks.

The nation's gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced in the economy, advanced at a 2.5% annual rate between January and March, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economists had forecast a 3.2% expansion.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

1 Comments
Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Culture change in financial services will not be achieved by "light touch" or "heavy touch" regulation, Archbishop Justin said at a Westminster discussion organised by the Bible Society.

Instead the banking sector must adopt "an aim of service to society and not mere rent-seeking, and a culture of virtue based in the realities of daily life and not a fantasy nirvana," he said.

Describing what this change of culture might look like, the Archbishop said it would require "a ruthless honesty and a deep willingness to be made very uncomfortable indeed through listening to things one does not want to hear".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 23, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking at a Parliamentary event on "finding long-term solutions to the financial crisis", Archbishop Welby said there needs to be a "revolution in the aims" of banks to ensure they serve society rather than "self-regarding interest" or even just shareholders.

“What we’re in at the moment isn’t a recession but some kind of depression,” he said. “It needs something very, very major to get us out of it, in the same way it took something very major to get into it.”

The Archbishop, who sat on the recent Banking Standards Commission but said his ideas were not those of the Commission, also called for professional banking standards to be introduced as a way of transforming ethical standards in banking.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In March, 7.6 million Americans who want more hours were stuck in part-time jobs, about the same as a year earlier and three million more than there were when the recession began at the end of 2007.

These almost invisible underemployed workers do not count toward the standard jobless rate of 7.6 percent. A broader measure, which includes the involuntary part-timers as well as people who want to work but have stopped looking, stands at 13.8 percent.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with people taking part-time jobs if they want them,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago. “The problem is that people are accepting part-time pay because they have no other choice.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

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Posted April 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At this time of year, when most Americans have just filed their returns, exasperation with the income tax system reaches a peak. Hardly anyone denies it's a complex mess. In 2010, calculating their taxes cost Americans $168 billion, estimates the Taxpayer Advocate Service of the Internal Revenue Service. That's about 15 percent of taxes collected — a heavy overhead. Almost 60 percent of taxpayers pay accountants or other tax preparers. Public esteem for the tax system is low; in a 2011 Pew poll, 55 percent judged it unfair. Disaffection was fairly even politically: 47 percent among Republicans, 58 percent among Democrats and 56 percent among independents.

So “tax reform” ought to be a cinch, right? Well, no.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have no way of knowing how this all ends. One problem is that the smartest solution—having Germany and perhaps a handful of other northern countries leave the euro for a new currency (the Deutche Mark 2.0, or a “neuro” for northern Europe)—would make life easier in the south. The south based euro would fall in value, but since debts and contracts are denominated in that currency, the adjustment would be the same as in a normal devaluation. This course would likely lead quickly to a new burst of growth in the south, though inflation and other problems would take a toll over time.

But the euro’s break up day would cause a lot of problems for Germany and its northern friends....

So we’re in an interesting situation. The crisis is crippling the south, but the south has no power to resolve the crisis. The crisis isn’t comfortable for the north but still looks less painful than the solution. So the north, which has the ability to resolve the crisis, doesn’t have the will to do it and the south, which has the will, lacks the ability.

Read it all (and please note that the Financial Times article by Wolfgang Münchau which is mentioned, entitled "The riddle of Europe’s single currency with many values," is indeed a must read as Mr. Read says).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American workers are being fired or laid off less often than at any time in the last decade, the government reported this week. But companies are also less willing to hire than they used to be.

The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for February showed that during that month the total number of people who were either discharged or laid off totaled just 0.9 percent of all job holders in the United States. It was the first month since that survey began in 2000 that the figure dipped below 1 percent.

Over the most recent 12 months, the Labor Department figures show, only 15.1 percent of workers lost their jobs because of layoffs or discharges. Until this year, the lowest figure for any 12 months had been 15.3 percent, during the period ending in September 2006. That came as the economic boom was cresting before the recession that began at the end of 2007.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

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Posted April 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the end of 2012, buyers bought homes that were three times their annual income, up from 2.6 times before the housing bubble.

The disparity is stark in high-priced areas such as San Jose, where home buyers are purchasing homes for seven times their yearly salary. Meanwhile, in Detroit, the purchase price is typically just 1.5 times a buyer’s salary.

Homes appear more affordable because low mortgage rates are painting a distorted picture of the market, said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted April 12, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American employers hired at the slowest pace in nine months in March, a sign that Washington's austerity drive could be stealing momentum from the economy.

The economy added just 88,000 jobs last month and the jobless rate ticked a tenth of a point lower to 7.6 percent largely due to people dropping out of the work force, Labor Department data showed on Friday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a gain of 200,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government

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Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The CBO forecast finds a persistent mismatch between tax revenue and spending over the coming decade. As the economy improves, tax revenue should rise to 19 percent of GDP for the period from 2015 through 2023, up from 15.8 percent in 2012, the report said. But federal spending, after an early-decade dip, will start rising persistently faster than revenues.

"After 2017, if current laws remain in place, outlays will start growing again as a percentage of GDP," the CBO said. "The aging of the population, increasing health care costs, and a significant expansion of eligibility for federal subsidies for health insurance will substantially boost spending for Social Security and for major health care programs relative to the size of the economy."

The CBO's current-law "baseline" calls for spending to reach about 23 percent of GDP in 2023 and, more worrisome, to be "on an upward trajectory."

Read it all.

Update: An IBD article is also available on this, entitled "CBO Report Shows We're Still Headed Toward A Fiscal Cliff" and it may be found there.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

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Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.

These Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.

Their retirement savings and home values fell sharply at the worst possible time: just before they needed to cash out. They are supporting both aged parents and unemployed young-adult children, earning them the inauspicious nickname “Generation Squeeze.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentMedicareSocial Security* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2013 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The finances of the US’s multi-employer pension schemes have deteriorated so quickly over the past year that the body that insures them will almost certainly run out of cash in 20 years, according to a new report.

The chances of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation – the publicly created but privately funded body that insures the nation’s occupational pension schemes – going bust went from 1 in 3 at the end of 2011 to more than 9 in 10 by the end of 2012, a report prepared for the PBGC and released on Tuesday said.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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