Rocky stock markets currently resemble a “game of chance” as “nobody knows” where they will go from here, billionaire investor Mark Cuban said Wednesday.
An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.
mikenh Nashua, N.H. 12 hours ago
Typical liberal echo chamber pablum by Mr. Blow and so many of the commenters here.
This is not to say I agree one bit with the idiocy that I see from the GOP.
But it is foolhardy to dismiss the negativity we see, because the American public is clearly “negative” in its angry and fear.
Wages have stagnated for most Americans for the last decade and a half. Finding a living wage job is becoming harder than ever. And what what do elitists like Mr. Blow and the Democratic Party that he represents do?
They chastise and belittle you for your anger.
Sorry, Mr. Blow, but people will not all of a sudden see joy when their lives are so challenging.
But, you would know this if you lived in the real America, like the rest of us.
Look at it this way. Someone wins $100 million in the lottery. How many cars, vacations, homes, 55 in. tvs can the winner purchase? That’s what the concentration of wealth means.
Lower wages, more temp to perm, more uncertainty, means less consumption which results in lower economic growth, decreased demand and fewer jobs.
The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. multinational corporations, the marquee companies that provide employment for a fifth of all U.S. workers, have been cutting jobs at home by 2.9 million while increasing employment abroad by 2.4 million from 2000 to 2010…Even as corporate profits have climbed and tax receipts plummeted, wages as a share of national income fell to their lowest point since after World War II.
1:11 AM EST
Ok, that’s the last time I will link to the article, again Zakaria, isn’t making this up, pls. read the article.
Imo, multinational corporations are running the show, the politicians in both of our parties have been bought off.
The entire emphasis is now on globalization, there is absolutely no loyalty to a nation any longer. The TPP is a prime example, it is the world now, not a state nor a country but the world. Just think of the owner of this paper……..Amazon is world wide!
That company was not interested in just the Western Us, nor even the US, they want ……..world nomination! Same with Apple, imo.
No concept of loyalty to their fellow citizens.
Industry executives and university advocates have successfully duped nearly every reporter, editor and anchor nationwide about the scale and purpose of the H-1B professional outsourcing program.
The journalists–and Americans—have been kept in the dark while universities and many allied name-brand companies have quietly imported an extra workforce of at least 100,000 lower-wage foreign professionals in place of higher-wage American graduates, above the supposed annual cap of 85,000 new H-1Bs.
Less than one-sixth of these extra 100,000 outsourced hires are the so-called “high-tech” computer experts that dominate media coverage of the contentious H-1B private-sector outsourcing debate.
Instead, the universities’ off-the-books H-1B hires include 21,754 professors, lecturers and instructors, 20,566 doctors, clinicians and therapists, 25,175 researchers, post-docs and biologists, plus 30,000 financial planners, p.r. experts, writers, editors, sports coaches, designers, accountants, economists, statisticians, lawyers, architects, computer experts and much else. The universities have zero legal obligation to recruit Americans for these jobs.
These white-collar guest-workers are not immigrants — they are foreign professionals hired at low wages for six years to take outsourced, white-collar jobs in the United States. Many hope to stay in the United States, but most guest-workers return home after six years.
In America today, there are more than 17 million “independent workers”, and they represent a bigger share of the workforce than ever before
Michael Snyder | End Of The American Dream – DECEMBER 30, 2015
In this day and age it seems like almost everything is disposable, and many employers have found that they can make a lot more money if they have a workforce that can be turned on and off like a faucet.
In America today, there are more than 17 million “independent workers”, and they represent a bigger share of the workforce than ever before. Federal laws give a lot of protection to “full-time workers”, but for temporary and contract employees it is a much different story. Temp workers don’t get health insurance, vacation time or retirement benefits. They are simply paid for the limited amount of time that they are needed and then they are disposed of immediately. There has always been a role for such workers in our economy, but these days some of the biggest corporations in the entire country are getting rid of “full-time workers” and replacing them with temp workers just so that they can make a few extra bucks. As a result, the ranks of the “working poor” continue to expand, and the decline of the middle class is accelerating.
Steven Hill, a senior fellow with the New America Foundation and the author of “Raw Deal: How the Uber Economy and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers“, says that the rise of the “1099 economy” is fundamentally shifting the balance of power between employers and employees…
Yes, there have always been temp agencies. And there has always been a need for workers that can come in and do a job on a short-term basis. But today, many of the largest and wealthiest corporations in America are purposely getting rid of “full-time workers” and instead are bringing in “independent contractors” to do the exact same jobs.
In some instances, the full-time workers that get fired are actually brought back as the new “temp workers”…
All of those companies should be absolutely disgusted with themselves.
How can the executives responsible for those decisions even sleep at night?
Don’t they understand what they are doing to people?
When you go from being a full-time worker to being on “temp status”, the changes can be quite dramatic. If this has ever happened to you, then you know what I am talking about. Having to pay “the other half” of the payroll tax or having to find your own much more expensive health insurance are just two of the big negatives that “independent contractors” have to face…
The decline in the quality of our jobs is a theme that I have revisited repeatedly in my writing. In order for us to have a thriving middle class, we need lots of good paying middle class jobs.
But our economy is not producing many of those jobs. Instead, most of the growth has been in low paying service jobs. The Middle class in the United States is being slowly but surely shredded, and our politicians don’t seem to care. If you doubt that the middle class is falling apart, just check out the following numbers which come from my previous article entitled “Sayonara Middle Class: 22 Stunning Pieces Of Evidence That Show The Middle Class In America Is Dying“…
#1 This week we learned that for the first time ever recorded, middle class Americans make up a minority of the population. But back in 1971, 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households.
#3 The Pew Research Center has also found that median wealth for middle class households dropped by an astounding 28 percent between 2001 and 2013.
#5There are still 900,000 fewer middle class jobs in America than there were when the last recession began, but our population has gotten significantly larger since that time.
#6According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
#7For the poorest 20 percent of all Americans, median household wealth declined from negative 905 dollars in 2000 to negative 6,029 dollars in 2011.
#8 A recent nationwide survey discovered that 48 percent of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 believe that “the American Dream is dead”.
#9 At this point, the U.S. only ranks 19th in the world when it comes to median wealth per adult.
#10 Traditionally, entrepreneurship has been one of the engines that has fueled the growth of the middle class in the United States, but today the level of entrepreneurship in this country is sitting at an all-time low.
#11 If you can believe it, the 20 wealthiest people in this country now have more money than the poorest 152 million Americans combined.
#12 The top 0.1 percent of all American families have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all American families combined.
#13 If you have no debt and you also have ten dollars in your pocket, that gives you a greater net worth than about 25 percent of all Americans.
#14 The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.
#15 An astounding 48.8 percent of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home with their parents.
#16 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month, and nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty right now.
#17 In 2007, about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.
#18According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a new book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day. That number has doubled since 1996.
#19 46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.
#20 The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.
#21 According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.
So is there a solution?
Is our transition to a “1099 economy” inevitable?
The ‘hollowing’ of the middle class?
J.C. Penney – once a powerhouse mall anchor – closed 40 stores in 2015, including in Pa. and N.J.
POSTED: January 04, 2016
The American middle class is disappearing, and with it, the mall anchor store.
As he pushed a shopping cart at T.J. Maxx the day after Christmas, Ahmet Kula made it clear he likes nice things but isn’t willing to pay full price for them.
“I like the prices and quality in here,” the 45-year-old limo driver from Levittown said. “I like Macy’s, too. But it’s too expensive.”
Then he whipped out two Sears credit cards he said he hadn’t used in months, for the same reason.
Kula represents that middle-of-the-road shopper, neither low-end nor high-end, who in recent years has become elusive for shopping malls – and is the reason why Macy’s, Sears, and J.C. Penney are shutting stores.
It’s anchors away – or at least adrift – at many malls, for these reasons, among others:
The number of households living below the poverty level has doubled since 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp Program. With that, disposable income has decreased.
Off-price chain retailers such as Ross Dress for Less, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, as well as high-volume, rock-bottom-priced, trendy upstarts such as H&M, Forever 21, and now Primark, are growing their footprints.
Department stores that are the traditional mall anchors tend to have higher prices, and consumers such as Kula are looking for the best deals at the lowest prices.
The enclosed shopping mall, as we know it, also is at a crisis point, between these hurdles and ever-more-daunting online competition.
“The structural pressures facing malls should show no signs of abating,” said retail analyst Simeon Siegel, of Nomura Securities International Inc. That doesn’t mean all department-store anchors should close.
“At the end of the day, stores provide an experience that e-commerce cannot, so the challenge becomes figuring out the right balance,” Siegel said. “But generally speaking, I believe the growth of e-commerce is going to reduce profitability. For better or worse, it is the new norm.”
That new norm has been nothing less than brutal on the former mall stars, whose glow continues to dim nationwide.
Sears has closed 152 mall stores since 2007. Penneys closed 40 locations in 2015 alone, including some at Pennsylvania and New Jersey malls.
Meanwhile, Macy’s plans to shutter up to 40 stores in the early part of this year. Those locations, the majority of them in shopping malls, are to be announced soon.
“This is a continuation of a struggle,” said Keith Jelinek, senior managing director for the retail and consumer division at FTI Consulting. “And what we’re going to see in 2016 is a strong market for integration with mergers, especially in the regional markets.”
Fifteen years ago, Jelinek said, there were 20 department-store brands anchoring U.S. malls; now, there are eight. That’s the result of sweeping industry consolidation, most notable locally when Macy’s (then Federated Department Stores) merged with May Co. in 2005, spelling the end of the Strawbridge’s and John Wanamaker chains.
Newport Beach, Calif.-based real estate and retail consultant Green Street Advisors L.L.C. put at three dozen the number of elite, very high-performing U.S. malls rated A++ – King of Prussia is ranked among them. About 270 high-performing malls, such as Cherry Hill, have A ratings.
A top-of-the-line, trophy mall such as King of Prussia generates $975 in sales per square foot and has a 94 percent occupancy, according to Green Street. Cherry Hill Mall generates $621 in sales per square foot and has 95 percent occupancy.
But standing in contrast to those high-achievers are more than 700 U.S. malls with lower grades, Green Street says. Examples in the Philadelphia region include Neshaminy Mall with a “B” rating and Voorhees Town Center with a “C” grade.
It’s within that vast sea of mediocrity that department-store anchors have had the most difficulty, industry analysts say.
“Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, among others, are adding stores that are not on the mall,” said Howard Davidowitz, a retail consultant based in New York. “They are all going in the off-price [direction] because T.J. Maxx and Ross stores are killing them.
“In terms of sales, margins and ROI [return on investment], these guys are grabbing market share by offering brands at a lower price because they have lower costs,” Davidowitz said. Department stores “are high-cost operators with multi-level stores that are oversized and inefficient in these dumpy malls.”
It is interesting that U.S. market newcomer Primark took over 80,700 square feet of space that once belonged to Sears in a King of Prussia store that opened Nov. 25.
Dublin, Ireland-based Primark sells apparel, accessories, and home goods at super-low prices (women’s slacks for $8, shirts for $5, coats for $40 or less), and has six other leases in East Coast malls. As it did in King of Prussia, it will take over Sears brick-and-mortar locations at Willow Grove Park and Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold, N.J., among others.
Howard Riefs, a spokesman for parent company Sears Holdings, cited other examples over the last five years in which Sears has rented out space to retailers and restaurants, including Whole Foods, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21, and Aldi, to bring in new revenue.
Davidowitz, the consultant, said that the closure of mall anchors isn’t likely to end, and that imperiled retail chains are trying to control their destinies.
“Department stores are currently working on expanding in new outlet-center formats, off-price divisions, and off-the-mall concepts and smaller urban store formats,” he said.
Driving those moves is the disappearing middle-market consumer./p>
“One in 12 lived in poverty seven years ago, and now we have one in six,” Davidowitz said. “It is totally understandable that more people are shopping for cheaper alternatives. The middle class is getting decimated. It hasn’t had a raise in seven years.
“People are shopping off the malls at Walmart, Dollar General, Target, T.J. Maxx, Ross, Burlington Coat,” he said. “Those are the guys doing the business.
“Sears is in the process of liquidating their company. J.C. Penney is losing $500 million this year and closing hundreds of stores, and Macy’s has been closing stores,” he said.
“If you look at all of this, these companies are not growing, so what they are deciding to do is to go where the action is – which is off the mall, and where 80 percent of U.S. consumers are.”
Such as Sharon Polsky, 66, of Northeast Philadelphia, who works part time behind the jewelry counter at Boscov’s at Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem.
After her shift ended recently, she stopped in to Macy’s shoe department to check out memory-foam slippers marked half-off post-Christmas. Among the brands were Charter Club and Isotoner.
“They carry very good brands,” she said of Macy’s, as she walked out empty-handed.
“But still too pricey – even on sale.”
Most Americans are one paycheck away from the street
Some 63% of people can’t deal with a $500 emergency
A scarcity of economic growth
By Robert J. SamuelsonSeptember 13, 2015
Amid all the new government programs and tax cuts that have been proposed by the various presidential candidates — or will be as the campaign unfolds — there lurks a nasty statistic that suggests how difficult they will be to achieve.
The statistic is 0.5 percent.
That’s how much U.S. productivity increased in 2014, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Greater productivity — reflecting advances in technology, management and worker skills, among other things — is the wellspring of higher incomes. Since the late 1940s, gains in labor productivity (measured as changes in output per hour worked) have averaged 2 percent annually. Last year’s gain was a quarter of this average; even so, it was slightly better than in the previous three years.
Worse, most or all of these small increases will probably be siphoned off in government benefits for the expanding elderly population and in higher health costs. Other income improvements will result only from either (1) a rebound in productivity or (2) redistribution of income and wealth from one group to another. As a crude generalization, Republicans emphasize improving productivity and economic growth while Democrats focus on redistributing from the rich to the middle class and poor.
The causes of the productivity collapse are unclear. Some economists say that productivity isn’t measured properly — Internet benefits are allegedly undercounted. Other economists contend that U.S. technology and innovation are lagging. Still others argue that weak business investment after the Great Recession explains lackluster growth.
To this list should be added another plausible candidate: the dead weight losses created by special interest groups, as explained by the late Mancur Olson (1932-1998).
Although an economist, Olson revolutionized thinking about the political power of interest groups. Until Olson, conventional wisdom held that large groups were more powerful than small groups in pursuing their self-interest — say, a government subsidy, tax preference or a protective tariff. Bigness conveyed power.
Just the opposite, Olson said in his 1965 book “The Logic of Collective Action.” With so many people in the large group, the benefits of collective action were often spread so thinly that no individual had much of an incentive to become politically active. The tendency was to “let George do it,” but George had no incentive either. By contrast, the members of smaller groups often could see the benefits of their collective action directly. They were motivated to organize and to pursue their self-interest aggressively.
Here’s an example: A company and its workers lobby for import protection, which saves jobs and raises prices and profits. But consumers — who pay the higher prices — don’t create a counter-lobby, because it’s too much trouble and the higher prices are diluted among many individual consumers. Gains are concentrated, losses dispersed.
This was Olson’s great insight, and it had broad implications, he said. In a 1982 book, “The Rise and Decline of Nations,” he argued that the proliferation of special-interest concessions could reduce a society’s economic growth.
“An increase in the payoffs from lobbying . . . as compared with the payoffs from production, means more resources are devoted to politics and cartel activity and fewer resources are devoted to production,” he wrote. “This in turn influences [a society’s] attitudes and culture.”
The dilemma for democracies is clear. Voters expect governments to cater to their needs and wants — and one person’s special interest is another’s way of life or moral crusade. But if governments cater too aggressively to interest groups, they may undermine (or have already done so) the gains in productivity and economic growth that voters also expect.
So this is another possible explanation for the productivity slowdown, which afflicts many advanced countries. These societies are riddled with programs and policies promoted by various interest groups that “can increase the income [of the groups’ members] while reducing society’s.” If he were alive today, Olson might well add that higher psychic income — the feeling of “doing good” — also motivates many interest groups.
Regardless, the productivity slump endures. Because there’s no agreed-upon cause, there’s no simple “fix” — though there are many familiar proposals that might make a long-term difference (better schools, more research, higher infrastructure spending). But assuming productivity doesn’t spontaneously revive — which it could — the slowdown will haunt the next president.
It connotes scarcity: too little income growth to satisfy the mass craving for higher private and public spending. Even with a jobless rate of 5.1 percent — getting close to “full employment” — the Congressional Budget Office projects a 2015 federal deficit of $426 billion. That’s one measure of overcommitment: Americans desire more government than they’re willing to pay for in taxes.
During the Obama years, the White House and Congress sidestepped many unpopular choices. It’s doubtful the next president will have the luxury of doing the same.