Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category
When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out.
In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years…
“It’s hard to see that the state of Washington has paid a heavy penalty for having a higher minimum wage than the rest of the country,” said Gary Burtless, an economist at Brookings Institution who formerly was at the U.S. Labor Department.
Raising the U.S. minimum wage to $10.10 in three steps, as Obama proposes, would reduce employment nationally by about 500,000 workers, or about 0.3 percent, according to a Congressional Budget Office report published Feb. 18. At the same time, the increase would lift 900,000 people out of poverty and add $31 billion to the earnings of low-wage Americans, the report found…
The federal minimum-wage legislation is opposed by business groups such as the National Retail Federation, along with many Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio…
Gridlock in Congress may mean the debate is waged more immediately by states and cities instead of at the federal level…As of January, 21 states and the District of Columbia had a higher minimum wage than the federal floor. Cities including San Francisco and Santa Fe, New Mexico, require even higher hourly earnings than the proposed federal level…
Now, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Democrat elected in November…promotes raising the city’s minimum to $15. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area ranks 14th in a list compiled by Bloomberg of 50 cities where it’s hard for fast-food workers to gain upward mobility, based on median pay compared with rent, tuition and health-care costs. Advocates such as Murray say a higher minimum would help change that.
“We can’t rebuild this economy if it’s just people who buy 94-foot yachts and play in the derivatives,” Murray said. “You build an economy when a middle class is buying microwaves or flat-screen TVs or the next set of clothes for their kids.”
RTFA for more detail including, of course, conservative arguments against ever raising the minimum wage or even having one. You probably know those by heart by now.
We get to listen to the business and conservative side of every argument a hundred times over for any presentation of progressive programs. How ideology works in practice has never had much bearing on what America’s 1% considers fair access.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, every year approximately 455,000 tons of discarded eggshells must be transported and disposed of in the US alone. Now, however, scientists at the University of Aveiro in Portugal have developed a method of using such eggshell waste in the production of ceramic goods.
Although the specifics of the technology are still under wraps, it involves incorporating crushed eggshells into a ceramic slurry which is subsequently processed “according to a specific protocol that includes a 3-cycle cooking phase.” Samples of porous pavement made from the slurry exhibit desirable qualities such as porosity and water absorption, and are overall considered to be of sufficient quality to meet industry standards.
Besides keeping eggshells out of landfills, the process could also allow ceramics manufacturers to save money – the calcium in the shells would be a lower-cost alternative to calcite, which is traditionally used in the production of ceramic items. Additionally, calcite must be mined, with all the environmental consequences that doing so entails…
The process has been tested in the lab, and the university’s Technology Transfer Office is now seeking industry partners to help finance a large-scale pilot project. And should ceramics manufacturers not have a need for all of the world’s eggshells, scientists in India are working on a method of using them for carbon sequestration…
I’m not holding my breath waiting for carbon sequestration courtesy of Earth’s poultry. The ceramics project sounds like a solid idea – as anyone who’s ever tried to chew egg shells in a slip-shod omelet can attest.
Once again, all eyes are on emerging markets. Long the darlings of the global growth sweepstakes, they are being battered in early 2014. Perceptions of resilience have given way to fears of vulnerability.
The US Federal Reserve’s tapering of its unprecedented liquidity injections has been an obvious and important trigger. Emerging economies that are overly dependent on global capital flows – particularly India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey – are finding it tougher to finance economic growth. But handwringing over China looms equally large. Long-standing concerns about the Chinese economy’s dreaded “hard landing” have intensified.
In the throes of crisis, generalization is the norm; in the end, however, it pays to differentiate. Unlike the deficit-prone emerging economies that are now in trouble – whose imbalances are strikingly reminiscent of those in the Asian economies that were hit by the late-1990’s financial crisis – China runs a current-account surplus. As a result, there is no risk of portfolio outflows resulting from the Fed’s tapering of its monthly asset purchases. And, of course, China’s outsize backstop of $3.8 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves provides ample insurance in the event of intensified financial contagion.
Yes, China’s economy is now slowing; but the significance of this is not well understood. The downturn has nothing to do with problems in other emerging economies; in fact, it is a welcome development…Yet a superficial fixation on China’s headline GDP growth persists, so that a 25% deceleration, to a 7-8% annual rate, is perceived as somehow heralding the end of the modern world’s greatest development story…
In December 2008, Ben S. Bernanke, the self-effacing chairman of the Federal Reserve, declared war against a cascading recession that the Fed was late to see coming and took charge as general.
Breaking with protocol as the Federal Open Market Committee convened on the afternoon of Dec. 15, Bernanke asked his colleagues’ “indulgence” to speak first. Faced with cutting the benchmark interest rate to zero to fight a worsening crisis, Bernanke said the FOMC was about to embark on new approaches that contained “deep and difficult issues.”
“We are at a historic juncture, both for the U.S. economy and for the Federal Reserve,” said Bernanke…“The financial and economic crisis is severe despite extraordinary efforts not only by the Federal Reserve but also by other policymakers here and around the world.”
The Fed yesterday published meeting transcripts that reveal new details about the closed-door deliberations among policy makers as the financial crisis unfolded during 2008….The transcripts show policy makers had missed many warning signs earlier in the year. By December, as they gathered in the Fed’s Board Room beneath a bowl-shaped chandelier dangling two stories above, they understood they were in an economic emergency that required innovative, aggressive action.
The tale of a solitary event that led to policies agreed to by Congress and the Party of No – so fearful were the consequences. Since then, as part of a global dialectic, the analysis and response that flowed from a scholar of the Great Depression has lifted our economy back to merely struggling – from the prospect of crashing and burning.
The article is worth a read. The transcripts will doubtless end up as the source of one more film about the events. Predictable fools will chatter in hindsight analysis. Most of our politicians won’t learn a damned thing.
Hard economic times had kept Amy Derose and her husband Lawrence locked in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their engineering firm in Pompano Beach, Florida.
“The business was hanging on by a thread and we had to hang on,” said Derose, 53, who had been married 35 years and worked as the business manager. “We couldn’t afford to split. He needed me in the business and I needed him.”
With Florida’s economy and housing market recovering, “we are definitely on the upswing” and revenue is rising at their 24-employee company. That is allowing the couple to move forward with their divorce this month after years of showing up to work as if nothing were wrong personally. Now, she is looking for a job and “couldn’t be happier.”
The number of Americans getting divorced rose for the third year in a row to about 2.4 million in 2012, after plunging in the 18-month recession ended June 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Whatever the social and emotional impact, the broad economic effects of the increase are clear: It is contributing to the formation of new households, boosting demand for housing, appliances and furnishings and spurring the economy. Divorces are also prompting more women to enter the labor force.
“As the economy normalizes, so too do family dynamics,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “Birth rates and divorce rates are rising. We may even see them rise strongly in the next couple of years, as households who put off these life-changing events decide to act…”
The rise in divorces has coincided with an increase in household formation. Almost 5.3 million households have been formed in the past four years after the figure slumped to fewer than 400,000 in 2009, according to the Census Bureau. That is bolstering the need for apartments, condos and furnishings…
That has contributed to the rebound in home construction. Housing starts surged 67 percent to 923,400 in 2013 from 2009, according to Commerce Department data. Multifamily housing starts have almost tripled since the recession and accounted for 33 percent of residential construction in 2013, up from 20 percent in 2009…
There are beaucoup benefits – and problems – resulting from the change. As Abdur Chowdury notes in the article, “In many cases after divorce, people sell their homes and divide up the proceeds which provides each of them with a nest egg to begin their separate lives.”
The unemployed percentage for women is lower than men; but, they often end up limited to crap jobs, more often in need of welfare and food stamps – which is OK with Congress-creeps. Still, as the economy trudges on towards reasonable from disastrous, collective decisions once put on hold are freed up.
The U.S. has been in a jobs emergency since at least 2008. The cause of the crisis…isn’t mysterious, and neither are the solutions. We could invest in infrastructure to create construction jobs. We could give tax breaks to employers who hire new workers. We could restore the payroll tax cut to workers so they have more money to spend. We could help state and local governments hire back some of the employees they laid off during the recession. Macroeconomic Advisers, an economic consulting firm, found that the American Jobs Act, which contained many of these policies, would have created 2 million jobs.
But in recent years, these policies have been either blocked or canceled by congressional Republicans. They fought Democrats to scuttle the American Jobs Act and allow the payroll tax break and long-term unemployment benefits to expire. Creating jobs, they argued, was neither feasible nor affordable.
That’s the proper context in which to view this week’s hysteria about Obamacare. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just released updated estimates for the health law. It found that the disastrous rollout last fall put Obamacare behind schedule — on track to insure 2 million fewer people than projected by the end of 2014. On the other hand, it also found that insurance premiums were about 15 percent lower than projected, and that the law would cost less than previously estimated. It found that the risk corridors designed to safeguard insurance companies from the effects of acquiring too many high-risk customers — which Republicans have been calling an “insurer bailout” — will actually yield $8 billion in net payments from insurers to the federal government.
The finding that made the news, however, concerned the Affordable Care Act’s long-term effect on labor supply. In past reports, the CBO has estimated that the law will, on net, lead some people to drop out of the labor market or cut back on their hours because their health insurance is no longer tied to their job. Imagine a 62-year-old who would like to shift to part-time work but can’t because he can’t afford — or, due to pre-existing conditions, wouldn’t even be sold — insurance on the individual market. Now, because Obamacare has made that insurance affordable and available, he can — and will. As a result, his work hours will be (voluntarily) reduced…
Whether this is good or bad depends on your views about human flourishing. Lower labor-force participation is bad for economic growth. On the other hand, the point of life is not for everyone to work every possible hour until they die. Workers should be able to choose to leave their jobs or cut their hours without worrying that their families won’t survive a medical emergency. In addition, as the Urban Institute’s Donald Marron tweeted, “employers will be competing harder for workers,” which will push wages to rise for everyone remaining in the workforce…
Policies don’t exist in vacuums. By untying the link between employment and health care, the Affordable Care Act reduces the incentive to work. But there are ways to increase incentives to work without making people dependent on their jobs for health insurance. We can help people without taking away their health care.
So here’s a simple proposal. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act would cost hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few decades because of the law’s spending cuts and new revenue. So instead of repeal, how about if Congress devotes that same amount of money to policies to increase employment now. Republicans could even dictate that all the money flow to targeted tax cuts.
Ezra Klein politely suggests the Republicans are hypocrites. He’s wasting politeness on the crudest, least responsible clot of scumsuckers ever seated beneath the moldy dome of Congress.
Republicans denied playing a part in Wall Street’s crash and burning. They tried as hard as possible to avoid any cooperation on essential economic remedies. Every year since the beginning of the worst economic failure since Herbert Hoover was president – their mantra has been “Jobs, jobs, jobs” – while blocking any reasonable attempt to assist jobs creation.
They stuck to dribble-down economics with a 100% record of failure and spent most of their casual time inside the Capitol waging war on women, reproductive rights, working as hard as possible to rescue their mates in the insurance cartels from bona fide national healthcare, committed to every possible delay in the expansion of civil rights. And, of course, hoping to start the occasional war.
Now, once again, they say they are worried about jobs for working class America. If I was a fire-and-brimstone Christian I wouldn’t stand outdoors next to a Republican for fear of being struck by lightning.
As hospitals and doctors’ offices across the country race to join online systems that let them share medical information securely, a new study suggests that these systems may already be helping cut unnecessary care.
Fewer emergency patients got repeated medical scans when they went to a hospital that takes part in a health information exchange, or HIE, according to new findings by University of Michigan researchers published online in the journal Medical Care.
And although the study focuses specifically on scans done on patients who went to two different emergency departments in a 30-day period, the authors say the findings serve as a good test case for the effectiveness of HIEs. The study is one of the first to show with hard data that HIEs may deliver the increased efficiency they promise…
The findings show that the use of repeat CT scans, chest X-rays and ultrasound scans was significantly lower when patients had both their emergency visits at two unaffiliated hospitals that took part in an HIE. The data come from two large states that were among the early adopters of HIEs: California and Florida.
Keith Kocher, an assistant professor of emergency medicine, worked with Eric Lammers, Ph.D., who performed the analysis for his doctoral work at the U-M School of Public Health…
“The emergency department is an important test case for whether we would see any impact from HIEs on rates of repeat imaging,” says Lammers. “The fact that we find that there is a decrease is in and of itself significant.”
The federal government has incentivized participation in HIEs, offering states grants to form them, and medical providers extra money if they sign on. In Michigan, several HIEs have emerged, and the two largest just announced plans to merge. HIEs are a key extension of the electronic health records that hospitals and practices are also being incentivized to adopt…
…Other types of patient records, such as recent lab test results, can also make a major difference in what an emergency doctor chooses to do when presented with an emergency patient.
My goodness. One more reason for Republicans and Blue Dog Dems to bad-mouth the Affordable Care Act. Here we are with health care getting less expensive – guaranteed to piss off the medical-industrial complex. And patients are experiencing fewer radiative tests like CT scans, fewer lab tests.
I’m reminded of the parallel with student loans just having been revised. By cutting out the banks serving as middle-man and adding-in an unnecessary charge the cost of those loans is diminishing. Single-payer systems like those utilized in fiscally-sane countries would cut insurance companies out of the base healthcare system of the United States. Reducing costs to consumers.
Anyone crying over the loss of profits to insurance companies?
What will happen next? Healthier citizens starting to think about who they elect to public office. That may be asking for too much, too soon.
85 people own over half the wealth in the world. Yes, that comes with politicians and pundits attached.
The top 85 richest people in the world are wealthier than the bottom half of the world’s population, said Oxfam, the non-profit group based in Switzerland.
In advance of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, which begins Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam released a briefing paper entitled “Working for the Few” that highlights the growing concentration of wealth in the world…
“This trend may seem surprising in light of the recent global financial crisis. Yet, while the crisis caused a momentary dip in the share of global wealth held by the rich, they have already gained it back, and more. In the United States, the wealthiest 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth between 2009 and 2012 while the bottom 90 percent became poorer,” Oxfam said.
In the United States, the top 1 percent own 50.4 percent of the wealth, a disparity unseen since World War l.
The pace of the growing disparity can be seen over the past few decades. If the ratio had remained unchanged since 1980, the report said, everyone in the bottom 99 percent would be worth an additional $6,009 today, the group said.
The trend, further, is not exclusive to the United States. Only two countries, Colombia and the Netherlands, have seen the gap between the rich and the poor shrink in recent years, the report said…
“The latest trends in the 2000s showed a widening gap between rich and poor, not only in some of the already high-inequality countries such as Israel and the United States, but also — for the first time — in traditionally low-inequality countries, such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden [and other Nordic countries], where inequality grew more than anywhere else in the 2000s,” the World Economic Forum said in a release.
The group recommended people demand a living wage, stronger laws to support minimum wages and workers rights. It also recommended “removing the barriers to equal rights and opportunities for women,” among other steps.
What! Oppose the War on Women? They’ll never get any contributions from the clown show that masquerades as American conservatism nowadays.
Next, they’ll want to support silly stuff like democracy, equal access to education, maybe even global universal suffrage.
The US declared war on poverty 50 years ago – followed by the War on Drugs, the War on Terror and the War on Women!
Key to War on Poverty – the Civil Rights Act – yes, Republicans in the photo back then
This 8 January marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of “unconditional war on poverty”. The statement came in a state of the union address that, because of its often drab prose, has rarely drawn much praise. But a half century later, it’s time to re-examine the case Johnson made in 1964 for remedying poverty in America.
In an era such as our own, when – despite a poverty rate the Census Bureau puts at 16% – Congress is preparing to cut the food stamp program and has refused to extend unemployment insurance, Johnson’s compassion stands out, along with his nuanced sense of who the poor are and what can be done to make their lives better.
Johnson’s 1964 ideas on how to wage a war on poverty (today a family of four living on $23,492 a year and an individual living on $11,720 a year are classified as poor) not only conflict with the current thinking of those on the right who would reduce government aid to the needy. They also conflict with the current thinking of those on the left who would make the social safety net, rather than fundamental economic change, the answer to poverty…
For Johnson, the war on poverty was a struggle to transfer power to those in need by enabling them to stand on their own feet. Better schools, better healthcare, better job training were fundamental to Johnson’s war on poverty because these measures allowed those who were once poor to compete equally. They no longer had to ask others to take pity on them.
The initial agent for achieving such change, Johnson had no doubt, was the government, and he made no apologies for government activism; as far as LBJ was concerned, government had historically played an activist role in American life. He believed he was proposing nothing the country had not done in different ways before…
Barry Ritholtz, the brains behind the Big Picture blog, is out with his 2014 global market and economic forecasts, and they are brilliant.
Category —— Forecast
Dow Jones Industrials —— No idea
S&P500 —— WTF are you asking me for?
10 Year Bond —— Could not fathom a guess
Fed Fund Rates —— Haven’t a clue
US Housing Market —— That’s a really good question
Inflation ——- Not a clue
GDP —— Yes, we will probably have a GDP
Unemployment —— Thhhhpppptttt?
Possibility of Recession in 2014 —— Possibility & Probability are 2 different things
Thanks to the BUSINESS INSIDER for republishing this and spreading the word.
As always, thanks to Barry Ritholtz for being not only informative and a thoughtful pedant; but, for being entertaining.