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  • U.S. Consumers Relying on Credit
    period Dramatic Swings The swings in purchases of fuel and food have been dramatic Tavares said The volume of gasoline purchases placed on credit cards jumped 39 percent last month from a year earlier compared with a 21 percent increase in June 2010 he said Food shopping increased 5 percent after falling 7 percent last year The value of an average transaction on credit cards outpaced the gain for debit cards showing consumers are increasingly relying on borrowing to pay for gasoline and other necessities Tavares said The figures are in synch with data from the Federal Reserve Revolving credit primarily credit card balances increased by 3 37 billion to 793 1 billion in May from an almost seven year low of 789 8 billion in April figures from the central bank showed The gain was equivalent to a 5 1 percent increase at an annual rate The use of credit cards is a smoking gun that indicates some consumers including the long term unemployed who have lost jobless benefits are resorting to other sources of cash flow just to get by said David Rosenberg chief economist at Gluskin Sheff Associates Inc in Toronto People on the margin are putting necessities on their credit cards and this is a trend that s very consistent with what lower end retailers have been saying about their paycheck cycles Rosenberg said Cash Strapped Core customers of Bentonville Arkansas based Wal Mart Stores Inc WMT are cash strapped William Simon U S stores chief said at a June 15 conference hosted by William Blair Co The paycheck cycle is severe Similarly customers of Matthews North Carolina based Family Dollar Stores Inc FDO are living paycheck to paycheck so when gas or food prices go up they don t have the cushion that many others

    Original URL path: http://www.911omissionreport.com/relying_on_credit.html (2016-02-14)
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  • New Jersey Wants to Seize Your Unused Gift Cards
    on gift cards and traveler s checks Lawmakers voted last year to allow the seizure of cards after two to three years as a way to raise about 80 million and help balance the state s budget But in November a federal judge temporarily struck down the law The Record of Bergen County reports the state isn t giving up though State treasurer Andrew Sidamon Eristoff has told a judge

    Original URL path: http://www.911omissionreport.com/seize_gift_cards.html (2016-02-14)
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  • Average Prices - Today to 1913
    12 96 18 5 6 922 5 53 414 Disposable Income 1 283 04 30 465 50 2 374 House 3 395 00 206 200 6 074 Car 490 00 27 800 5 673 Gas gal 0 12 1 50 1 250 What Prices Should be in Proportion to 1913 Items 2008 Price Adjusted Price Difference Milk gal 4 00 7 82 49 Less Bread lb 1 37 1 49

    Original URL path: http://www.911omissionreport.com/prices.html (2016-02-14)
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  • Corporations Tailoring Product Lines To Reflect Growing Income Inequality
    tax on profits from stock and real estate sales and the less well off classes try to make do in a pitiless economic climate corporations appear to be finally recognizing the reality of the prosperity gap and tailoring their product lines accordingly Manufacturers like Procter Gamble the household goods giant responsible for everything from Charmin and Old Spice to Tide are concentrating their efforts on luxury and bargain items putting less emphasis on products aimed at the middle class the Wall Street Journal reports The erosion of middle market product lines reflects a trend where economic pressures are making it increasingly harder for Americans to maintain a traditional middle class existence Jobs are less secure home ownership rates are falling and a college education is not the guarantee of financial stability that it once was A recent study from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that more than a quarter of Americans who were raised in middle class families in the late 1970s had fallen into the lower earning classes by 2006 Though the strong performance of the corporate sector has been touted as the one bright spot in 2011 s otherwise lackluster economic narrative a widening gap between rich and poor has not historically been associated with national stability Income inequality in the U S spiked in 2007 just before the financial crisis that sent the global economy into a tailspin as Reuters has pointed out income inequality was also at record levels in 1928 one year before the Great Depression The WSJ notes that the United States Gini coefficient a measure of a country s income inequality was at 0 468 in 2009 nearly halfway up the Gini scale that ranges from zero most equal to one least equal A high Gini coefficient is often associated with political instability

    Original URL path: http://www.911omissionreport.com/inequality_products.html (2016-02-14)
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  • Brooks Brothers Bolshevism
    Alpert As managing partner of the New York investment bank Westwood Capital Alpert hasn t lost interest in making money But when he describes his view of how joblessness and stagnating middle income wages relate to the debt bubble of the aughts as he s been doing more and more in the financial press and on the Washington policy wonk circuit he sounds like Robespierre He s actually more of a Hubert Humphrey Democrat Alpert and I were grade school friends when Humphrey lost his presidential bid in 1968 we fell out of touch soon after This past winter our mutual interest in income inequality about which I m writing a book brought us together Once upon a time Alpert explains American capitalists paid American laborers with something called a salary Henry Ford famously boosted his workers pay to 5 a day so they could buy the Model Ts they were assembling The better part of a century passed and by the early aughts globalization had created a world oversupply of free market labor a hiring hall now housing about 2 6 billion recruits from emerging nations together with roughly 550 million in the developed world It no longer made financial sense to pay American workers high wages when you could pay Chinese workers low wages to do the same work On the other hand if American workers lost their spending power who would keep the U S economy afloat The rise of cheap credit provided the answer American labor effectively got paid in a different currency debt Instead of Model Ts the latter day working class bought overpriced houses and all sorts of other stuff it couldn t afford The beauty for the capitalists was that when laborers got paid with debt they had to pay it back with interest Alpert calls it middle class serfdom Alpert doesn t believe there was a capitalist conspiracy his point is that had there been a conspiracy the outcome wouldn t look much different During the past half century Alpert explains there were two large debt bubbles The first one during the late 80s saw real median incomes increase along with debt Not a lot inflation adjusted median income hasn t seen much growth since the early 70s but enough to ease the pain when the bubble burst in 1987 When plotted in a graph the 80s debt bubble looks like a big hill debt on top of a little hill income The second bubble during the aughts was a different story altogether It occurred while real incomes went down The aughts debt bubble looks like a big hill on top of a big valley This time there s nothing to ease the pain Alpert isn t the first person to suggest that our current economic troubles resulted from people buying with debt what they could no longer buy with wages Raghuram G Rajan has made a similar case in this magazine see Let Them Eat Credit August 27 2010 and in

    Original URL path: http://www.911omissionreport.com/income_inequality.html (2016-02-14)
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  • Greenspan Says Solution to Inequality is to Lower U.S. Wages
    in a recent interview on Democracy Now At about 39 minutes into this clip you can hear him say this We ought to be opening up our borders to skilled labor from all parts of the world because if we were to do that we would increase the supply of skilled workers that our schools have been unable to create and as a consequence of that we would lower the

    Original URL path: http://www.911omissionreport.com/greenspan_lower_wages.html (2016-02-14)
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  • Unpaid jobs: The new normal?
    years when during a career lull she agreed to work on a few marketing initiatives for free at Coalescence a Columbus Ohio based custom spice blending firm You have amassed a lot of this information and you like to share it You like to see companies become successful Potter says Potter s year of volunteering at Coalescence paid off when the company s founders asked her to take the reins as president a salaried position She felt comfortable taking the job because she d become so familiar with the corporate culture and business goals But is it legal Unfortunately for many employers hoping to use unpaid labor to advance their business goals there are strict federal and state rules that workers must be paid the minimum wage and paid for overtime and must abide by other provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act which applies to about 135 million people working for 7 3 million employers The FLSA doesn t apply to companies with less than 500 000 in annual revenue unless they engage in interstate commerce which can be as little as accepting credit cards or placing phone calls to another state We don t have a system in this country where you can work for free says Jay A Zweig a partner who works in employment law at Bryan Cave in Phoenix The exceptions are very very rare and generally there are state laws that would fill in to say that unless you meet specific criteria you re going to get in trouble with the government Unless someone is an intern trainee or independent contractor he or she has entered into an employment relationship when starting to work for a company Federal and state authorities are alert for employers who may be taking advantage of the tight job market to skirt the rules The Labor Department has a strict six point test to determine whether someone is an intern or trainee and separate guidelines for independent contractors An internship must primarily benefit the intern who must work under close supervision and not displace existing staff Independent contractors cannot work under the control of the employer or be economically dependent on the firm If a person has entered into an employment relationship with a company they need to be paid for their work a U S Labor Department spokesperson says We stepped up enforcement to ensure these businesses are complying with FLSA We ve hired an additional 250 investigators With the additional federal scrutiny unpaid arrangements such as auditions or tryouts are even less likely to pass muster than in the past says John Thompson a partner at employment law firm Fisher Phillips in Atlanta A lot of employers don t get that the law is not about personal responsibility or agreements between consenting adults it s about getting the pay to people as the law requires Thompson says Companies that are found violating the law will likely have to provide back pay monetary penalties up to 1 100

    Original URL path: http://www.911omissionreport.com/unpaid_jobs.html (2016-02-14)
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  • All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup
    better than most of our fellow G 7 economies But not so American workers Far more people here lost their jobs and fewer were hired back once the recovery began than anywhere else Now some jobs always get rationalized away thanks to technological or organizational improvements an area where it s not jingoistic to say the US has led its European counterparts But that productivity gap has narrowed considerably and in any case there certainly was no dramatic tech or efficiency breakthrough between 2008 and 2010 quite Twitter Facebook FarmVille the opposite What about offshoring That s certainly a factor But increasingly US workers are also falling prey to what we ll call offloading cutting jobs and dumping the work onto the remaining staff Consider a recent Wall Street Journal story about superjobs a nifty euphemism for employees doing more than one job s worth of work more than half of all workers surveyed said their jobs had expanded usually without a raise or bonus In all the chatter about our jobless recovery how often does someone explain the simple feat by which this is actually accomplished US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008 and twice as fast again in 2010 workforce down output up and voilá No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007 according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute To repeat Up Twenty two Percent This is nothing short of a sea change As University of California Berkeley economist Brad DeLong notes until not long ago businesses would hold on to workers in downturns even when there wasn t enough for them to do would put them to work painting the factory because businesses did not want to see their skilled experienced workers drift away and then have to go through the expense and loss of training new ones That era is over These days firms take advantage of downturns in demand to rationalize operations and increase labor productivity pleading business necessity to their workers How does corporate America have the gall You pretty much know the answer but for official confirmation let s turn to Erica Groshen a vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York It s easier here than in say the UK or Germany for employers to avoid adding permanent jobs she told the AP recently They re less constrained by traditional human resources practices translation decency or union contracts In plainer English here s Rutgers political scientist Carl Van Horn Everything is tilted in favor of the employers The employee has no leverage If your boss says I want you to come in the next two Saturdays what are you going to say no And lest CNBC hornswoggle you this is not just a product of the recession Throughout the past decade salaries stagnated and workloads grew but Wall Street s bubble allowed us to drown our sorrows in credit Sure I m working crazy hours and our pension

    Original URL path: http://www.911omissionreport.com/speedup.html (2016-02-14)
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