Category: Economics

Unfair pay for women and people of color

unfair pay
Click on the graphic for a personal view

American women who work full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. But the wage gap is even larger for many women of color working full time, year round, as African-American women are paid only 64 cents, and Hispanic women only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

These gaps translated into a loss of $18,650 for African-American women and $24,111 for Hispanic women in 2012. Closing the wage gap is, therefore, particularly important for African-American and Hispanic women, who are already more likely to have lower incomes and to be in poverty than virtually all other groups.4 Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and other civil rights laws has helped narrow the wage gap over time, addressing the significant disparity that remains is critical for women and their families.

The wage gap for African-American and Hispanic women [.pdf] working full time, year round persists even when the effect of race or sex is considered alone.

• The typical African-American woman working full time, year round is paid roughly 83 cents for every dollar paid to her white, non-Hispanic female counterpart. The gap is larger for Hispanic women working full time, year round, who are paid just 69 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic female counterparts.

• The typical African-American woman working full time, year round is paid roughly 88 cents for every
dollar paid to her African-American male counterpart. The gap is the same for Hispanic women working full time, year round, who are also paid 88 cents for every dollar paid to their Hispanic male counterparts.

RTFA for example after example of death by a thousand cuts if you ain’t white and male.

Not so incidentally, if you are white and male don’t get smug. Although you may not have confronted pay cuts directly, part of the discrimination that adds to profit – is that white men also receive less than they might because “Hey, look. You’re better off than they are, eh?” And that’s good enough for plenty of guys who haven’t looked at what they might be earning if they got together and joined forces with the rest of their class.

Thanks, Mike

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The Inequality Trifecta


– and in the United States, they own pretty much all the politicians

There were quite a few disconnects at the recently concluded Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Among the most striking was the disparity between participants’ interest in discussions of inequality and the ongoing lack of a formal action plan for governments to address it. This represents a profound failure of policy imagination – one that must urgently be addressed.

There is good reason for the spike in interest. While inequality has decreased across countries, it has increased within them, in the advanced and developing worlds alike. The process has been driven by a combination of secular and structural issues – including the changing nature of technological advancement, the rise of “winner-take-all” investment characteristics, and political systems favoring the wealthy – and has been turbocharged by cyclical forces.

In the developed world, the problem is rooted in unprecedented political polarization, which has impeded comprehensive responses and placed an excessive policy burden on central banks. Though monetary authorities enjoy more political autonomy than other policymaking bodies, they lack the needed tools to address effectively the challenges that their countries face.

…These are not normal times. With political gridlock blocking an appropriate fiscal response – after 2008, the United States Congress did not pass an annual budget, a basic component of responsible economic governance, for five years – central banks have been forced to bolster economies artificially. To do so, they have relied on near-zero interest rates and unconventional measures like quantitative easing to stimulate growth and job creation…

As a result, most countries face a trio of inequalities – of income, wealth, and opportunity – which, left unchecked, reinforce one another, with far-reaching consequences. Indeed, beyond this trio’s moral, social, and political implications lies a serious economic concern: instead of creating incentives for hard work and innovation, inequality begins to undermine economic dynamism, investment, employment, and prosperity.

So far, Mohamed El-Erian has avoided political office. In the United States as well as Egypt. Understandable when common understanding of officeholders in either nation leaves voters with a choice between the corrupt elected by the ignorant or someone too dumb to comprehend the differences.

Though he easily fits the populist definition of a prince of economics, history and academia both recognize his commitment to common folk, those of us who toil and spin, creating the profits of industry and commerce. I know I needn’t be concerned about most of the wasters in Congress understanding the article. They will not have read it.

Still, around the civilized world, most elected leaders trying to affect the lives of citizens in a positive fashion will read it and at least take his analysis to heart as honest and forthright – whether or not they agree with any logical tough remedies.

I suggest you click the link and read the whole article.

Rich get richer – and meaner

Even as the income gap widens, the wealthiest Americans are giving a smaller share of their income to charity, while low- and middle-income people are donating a larger share, according to an extensive analysis of Internal Revenue Service data conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The Chronicle…said in a report released on Monday that Americans who earned $200,000 or more reduced the share of their income they gave to charity by 4.6 percent from 2006 to 2012. Those earning less than $100,000 donated 4.5 percent more of their income, the report said…

The Chronicle’s editor, Stacy Palmer, said that wealthy donors were more likely to support the arts and higher education and less likely to give to social-service charities

They’ve learned to think like Republicans. They contribute to services which add to their own quality of life. That doesn’t include the overwhelming portion of the population struggling to make a living.

Changes in giving patterns were most pronounced in major cities, where the percentage of income that residents donated dropped markedly between 2006 and 2012, according to the report.

In Philadelphia and Buffalo, New York, the share of income given to charity fell by more than 10 percent, and there was a 9 percent drop in Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Washington, D.C.

The cities where residents gave the smallest share of their income to charity were Hartford, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island and San Jose, California.

My characterization of Republican ideology, ethos, rejection of concern for those in need isn’t a snap judgement. It includes all the foolish folks who look upon class distinctions as irrelevant. Stack up those who identify thoroughly with the wealthy without differentiation between the head start of inherited wealth – and patent leather-libertarians who only care that they succeeded regardless of the greater scheme of economics and the distribution of wealth.

In other words, I’m not surprised by this report. The response from our wealthy class and their Republican flunkies is also predictable: this must be a flawed report and in any case it will be ignored.

Head of the Fed, Ben Bernanke couldn’t refinance his mortgage – WTF?

The former head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, has had a request declined to have his mortgage renewed.

According to Bloomberg News, Mr Bernanke told a conference in Chicago: “I recently tried to refinance my mortgage and I was unsuccessful in doing so.”

I’m not making that up,” he added, as the audience laughed.

He went on to suggest that banks “may have gone a little bit too far on mortgage credit conditions”.

He added that the market for first-time home buyers was “not what it should be”…

There is endless discussion among Wall Street types and politicians about the event. Most of it being irrelevant. Motivation, tax decisions, the whole ball of crud comes down to bank regulators who were caught with their nickers in a bunch over their role in aiding the construction of the Bush housing bubble – that brought us the Great Recession. They’re now in the position of overreacting. They’d rather be holier-than-thou than have the slightest suspicion of being easy-peasy on folks trying to get a mortgage.

Point remains, if a creditworthy economist like Ben Bernanke ain’t getting a refi, the average working family doesn’t stand much of a chance at a mortgage under any circumstances.

The funny bit was watching this discussed on Bloomberg Surveillance, this morning. The guest host for the second hour was Alan Krueger, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was just turned down for a mortgage on a second home – with 50% down!

Economics 101 for our latest Coalition of the Willing

US/UK warplanes are flying sorties, at a cost somewhere between $22,000 to 30,000 per hour for the F-16s, to drop bombs that cost at least $20,000 each, to destroy ISIL hardware.

That means if an F-16 were to take off from Incirclik Air Force Base in Turkey and fly two hours to Erbil, Iraq, and successfully drop both of its bombs on one target each, it costs the United States somewhere between $84,000 to $104,000 for the sortie

Watching today’s endlessly repeated video clip of one of our heroic sorties bombing a freaking pickup truck. At a cost of $85K-104K.

Just send in some creepy salesman from a local used car lot and offer the bandit in charge $20K cash on the spot for his truck – and we’re in business – making the world safe for capitalism.

A small town in Utah with a future


Geneva Steel under construction 1942

Vineyard, Utah — The future is swiftly unfolding just to the north where Utah’s Geneva Steel once stood.

In a few short years, a huge development at the site will transform his hometown with a pulsing 1,700-acre complex of houses, apartments, town homes, stores, offices, factories, school buildings and a new town center.

Vineyard is expected to mushroom from about 465 residents to as many as 27,000 in less than a decade as a shortage of developable land and booming real-estate markets drive one of the most ambitious projects seen in Utah County. That’s a growth rate of more than 5,700 percent.

The development, dubbed @geneva, is meant to bring new life and value to one of the largest U.S. brownfields west of the Mississippi River…

Today, construction crews are finishing the first homes and paving the initial roads into what is envisioned as a blend of residential, commercial and industrial buildings worth upward of $3.2 billion. Final totals on office and retail space alone could top 5.6 million square feet, comparable in span to 30 Wal-Mart Supercenters…

Land-use blueprints call for single- and multifamily housing, lakefront properties, commercial districts, corporate headquarters, a Utah Valley University satellite campus, Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatres, a transit hub centered on FrontRunner and, perhaps, TRAX, three Interstate 15 interchanges, nine stoplights and a town center rivaling those in nearby Orem and Provo.

Managers with Anderson Development, which acquired the site for $46.8 million in bankruptcy proceedings in 2005, are moving fast these days. More than half the roughly triangular @geneva footprint has sold to future builders, said Park, with many remaining parcels under contract or getting multiple bids.

Anderson and town officials both say their dealings are cooperative these days. Longtime Town Council member Sean Fernandez said Vineyard’s leaders, for their part, have scaled a steep learning curve.

For a long time we were somewhat skeptical, but we’ve really embraced it and tried to make it a nice development,” Fernandez said. “It’s a huge deal, especially for the residents who have grown up in Vineyard.”

The mayor and four-member council reluctantly created a Redevelopment Agency, or RDA, letting Vineyard bond for more than $300 million to put toward cleanup, developer incentives and new water, sewer and road amenities for the project… The town’s RDA debts will be paid off in increments with new tax monies drawn from @geneva’s upward impact on the site’s property values…

The kind of thing that can be developed in many a depressed area. All it takes is up-to-date planning, an educated population capable of providing workforce requirements, a local political structure that isn’t too greedy.

Well, OK. Maybe it is difficult to find somewhere to accomplish this.

Thanks, Mike

World Wildlife Fund – and Pangasius

06 August 2014 – ASC certified GODACO farm, in Vietnam, opened its doors to fish buyers this week to demonstrate how environmentally and socially responsible pangasius [.pdf] is produced.

The EU co-funded ‘Establishing a Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain in Vietnam (SUPA)’ project’s partners: World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and Vietnam Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC), along with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), joined together to host a tour of the farm and processing facility followed by a Pangasius Forum discussion during the Vietfish Fair in Ho Chi Minh City.

This pleases me on a couple of levels. I grew up subsistence fishing along the southern New England coast. We fished to eat. Simple as that. I credit my dear mother for having been inventive enough to keep us from going stark raving mad – eating whatever species was running for three months – five times a week.

But, I’m pleased to see a nation – where the United States got partway to genocide through carpet bombing and Agent Orange and napalm – is stepping further into independent economic self-sustaining commerce. I know damned well there are a lot of Vietnamese mothers figuring out how to make Asian Catfish taste different one more time this week – because it’s affordable. And I sympathize. And I also appreciate the effort of the World Wildlife Fund to develop Mekong aquaculture into environmentally friendly farming.

Thanks, Mike

UBS urges investors to join the renewables revolution


Click to enlargeVillage of Eitting near Munich, Germany

Big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed, say analysts at the world’s largest private bank.

In a briefing paper sent to clients and investors this week, the Zurich-based UBS bank argues that large-scale, centralised power stations will soon become extinct because they are too big and inflexible, and are “not relevant” for future electricity generation. Instead, the authors expect it to be cheaper and more efficient for households and businesses to generate their own energy to power their cars and to store any surplus energy in their own buildings even without subsidies.

In language more closely associated with green NGOs, the bank with assets of more than $1.5tn says it expects a paradigm shift away from large-scale conventional power plants. “Power is no longer something that is exclusively produced by huge, centralised units owned by large utilities. By 2025, everybody will be able to produce and store power. And it will be green and cost competitive, ie, not more expensive or even cheaper than buying power from utilities,” say the authors, who urge their financial clients to “join the revolution.”

“Solar is at the edge of being a competitive power generation technology. The biggest drawback has been its intermittency. This is where batteries and electric vehicles (EVs) come into play. Battery costs have declined rapidly, and we expect a further decline of more than 50% by 2020. By then, a mass [produced] electric vehicle will have almost the same price as a combustion engine car. But it will save up to $2600 a year on fuel cost, hence, it will begin to pay off almost immediately without any meaningful upfront ‘investment’. This is why we expect a rapidly growing penetration with EVs, in particular in countries with high fossil fuel prices.”

The expected 50% reduction in the cost of batteries by 2020 will not just spur electric car sales, but could also lead to exponential growth in demand for stationary batteries to store excess power in buildings, says UBS. “Battery storage should become financially attractive for family homes when combined with a solar system and an electric vehicle. As a consequence, we expect transformational changes in the utility and auto sectors,” it says. “By 2020 investing in a home solar system with a 20-year life span, plus some small-scale home battery technology and an electric car, will pay for itself in six to eight years for the average consumer in Germany, Italy, Spain, and much of the rest of Europe…”

By 2025, falling battery and solar costs will make electric vehicles cheaper than conventional cars in most European markets. “As a conservative 2025 scenario, we think about 10% of new car registrations in Europe will be EVs. Households and businesses who invest in a combined electric car, solar array and battery storage should be able to pay the investment back within six to eight years,” UBS says. “In other words, based on a 20-year technical life of a solar system, a German buyer should receive 12 years of electricity for free.”

But the bank does not expect power companies or the grid to disappear: UBS says they have a future if they develop smart grids which manage electricity demand more efficiently and provide decentralised back-up power generation.

But, hey, your SUV is running OK. Cousin Ernie’s Chevy pickup truck does everything it should do. If our public utilities need to be modernized – well, that’s what we have state legislatures and regulatory commissions to take care of. Right?

Leading Americans in the direction of renewable, cheaper, cleaner sources of electricity is probably as unnecessary as eventually converting the Affordable Care Act to a single payer system. This all may save money and improve our quality of life; but, isn’t it all a little too foreign for Americans to adopt?

Fossil fuel electricity under real threat from solar and wind power

windfarmsea
Click to enlargeStiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE

Of all the developed nations, few have pushed harder than Germany to find a solution to global warming. And towering symbols of that drive are appearing in the middle of the North Sea.

They are wind turbines, standing as far as 60 miles from the mainland, stretching as high as 60-story buildings and costing up to $30 million apiece. On some of these giant machines, a single blade roughly equals the wingspan of the largest airliner in the sky, the Airbus A380. By year’s end, scores of new turbines will be sending low-emission electricity to German cities hundreds of miles to the south.

It will be another milestone in Germany’s costly attempt to remake its electricity system, an ambitious project that has already produced striking results: Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. Many smaller countries are beating that, but Germany is by far the largest industrial power to reach that level in the modern era. It is more than twice the percentage in the United States.

Germany’s relentless push into renewable energy has implications far beyond its shores. By creating huge demand for wind turbines and especially for solar panels, it has helped lure big Chinese manufacturers into the market, and that combination is driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago.

Electric utility executives all over the world are watching nervously as technologies they once dismissed as irrelevant begin to threaten their long-established business plans. Fights are erupting across the United States over the future rules for renewable power. Many poor countries, once intent on building coal-fired power plants to bring electricity to their people, are discussing whether they might leapfrog the fossil age and build clean grids from the outset.

A reckoning is at hand, and nowhere is that clearer than in Germany. Even as the country sets records nearly every month for renewable power production, the changes have devastated its utility companies, whose profits from power generation have collapsed.

Professional naysayers, bought-and-paid-for skeptics, conservative ideologues rooted to political failures like Ayn Rand see the fruit of their labors rejected by economic reality – as usual. Solid facts, real advances are beginning to progress as predicted – or better. That won’t shut them up. The money tap remains wide open. But, ordinary folks, working class, middle class, however you slice and dice your class analysis, are starting to reap the benefits of the new means of renewable energy production.

No one is more tradition-bound than public utilities. They function like constipated manure machines. They’ve been producing cowshit for research and analysis for so many generations they are incapable of changing their business model to match a dynamic economic landscape.

Meanwhile, globalized competition encouraged by the group of nations acting responsibly to counter climate change are affecting the cash flow and profits of corporations sitting around like children in a temper tantrum – demanding the people who recognized the need for change now spend tax dollars to bail them out of their self-generated disaster.

They should be replaced by common sense, scientific, economic solutions. Send them away. Build them a leaky rest home next to one of the Koch Brothers coal heaps.

Scottish Independence — Vulgate Opposition

If Scotland gains its independence in the forthcoming referendum, the remainder of the United Kingdom will be known as the “Former United Kingdom” …….or FUK.

In a bid to discourage the Scots from voting ‘yes’ in the referendum, the Government has now begun to campaign with the slogan “Vote NO, for FUK’s sake

They feel the Scottish voters will be able to relate to this.

If I was hanging out with my old mate, Morris, in his favorite pub in Greenock – that might get me nothing more than severely pummeled!

Thanks, Ursarodinia