Friday, June 17, 2011

"Are Ya Gonna Believe Me or Yer Own Lyin' Eyes?"

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So what makes today any different from any other day? Not a thing. It's a day ending in "y" so that means we are treated with a mix of articles and opinions where the headline doesn't actually match the story or the lede is buried or the cheerleaders try for the misdirection.

One of the first articles I saw this morning in my surfing of the news sites was this one from CNN on jobs returning to the US from overseas:

It's still only a trickle compared to the flood of jobs that America lost to overseas outsourcing in recent decades. But some American businesses are bringing jobs home again.


This trend of reshoring or insourcing is likely to grow in the coming years, as the cost gap between building overseas and building at home narrows. It's an encouraging sign in a job market where hiring has stalled in recent months.


According to BCG, Chinese labor costs are rising about 15% to 20% a year. That makes producing goods in China not nearly as cheap as it used to be. For many manufacturers, that narrowing is enough to tip the balance back to U.S. plants.


What's more, countries such as China and India that have profited from U.S. offshoring won't stand pat and lose the potential jobs without a fight.

"It's not as if the Chinese government is helpless is to offset this rising wage trend," Tonelson said.
Anyone else find it interesting that the Chinese government isn't helpless on jobs but the US government is? Apparently, repression is good for business in all ways.

From this article in today's Washington Post and this one from the Daily Caller (via Yahoo), it seems that White House Chief of Staff William Daley wishes he had the power to do away with many of the regulations in government. You know, those pesky little things that go to protect food, the environment, rivers, air, and other aspects of life on earth. From the Post article:
One by one, exasperated executives stood to air their grievances on environmental regulations and stalled free-trade deals. And Daley, the former banker tasked with building ties with industry, found himself looking for the right balance between empathy and defending his boss.


On the status of free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, he suggested politics was proving to be a challenge. He said there are “people who lose from these agreements” and urged businesses to lobby their workers to help overcome opposition on Capitol Hill.


White House officials described Thursday’s encounter as part of a work in progress. Spokesman Eric Schultz described the meeting as a “frank and open conversation . . . about steps we can take to drive private-sector job growth.”
There we go again. Those so-called "free trade agreements" have been just so wonderful about keeping jobs in the US haven't they? Or not.

The Daily Caller piece offers more of the same by the poor put-upon businesses. Sorry but I just can't find myself having very much sympathy for folks who use "business" as an excuse to run roughshod over the environment and my fellow humans.

The International Monetary Fund gets into the picture with this (via Reuters) where they "warn" the politicians to do what they say or bad things will happen:
The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth on Friday and warned Washington and debt-ridden European countries that they are "playing with fire" unless they take immediate steps to reduce their budget deficits.


With regard to the global economy overall, the IMF struck a measured tone, saying the slowdown of recent months should be "temporary." It trimmed its forecast for global growth this year only slightly, to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent, and maintained its estimate for robust Chinese growth of 9.6 percent despite recent signs of a slowdown there.

Yet that relatively benign global outlook could quickly fall apart if politicians in the United States and Europe do not start showing more leadership in addressing their countries' debt problems, the fund warned.
Against all evidence, apparently austerity is the way to escape from the worldwide economic doldrums. And I'm going to sign a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract to play left field and bat clean up for the Cincinnati Reds tomorrow.

The Washington Post also had this opinion piece continuing the drumbeat to allow corporations to bring their overseas profits back to the US with little or no taxes:
Meanwhile, American businesses have more than a trillion dollars sitting in bank accounts in other countries. They do not want to transfer the money back to the United States because the second the cash hits our shores, the Internal Revenue Service will tax the gains — as much as 35 percent of profits.

Just to avoid the IRS, some CEOs are willing to spend their overseas profits on buying overseas companies or making overseas investments at prices that are too high.
Of course, this does not include the record cash on hand in banks (via the Wall St Journal)in the US these firms have been sitting on for more than a year. Cash that they have not been using to create jobs in the US with money that is already in the US. Why would I or anyone else think that the corporations would create any more jobs with cash brought back from overseas when they are not creating them now?

Bloomberg had this today on payroll's dropping in 27 states, including in California and New York:
Payrolls dropped in 27 U.S. states in May, indicating the weakening in the job market was broad- based.

California led the nation with a 29,200 decrease followed by New York with 24,700 fewer jobs, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The jobless rate fell in 24 states and rose in 13.
Things might not get much better in New York based on this from today's NY Times DealBook on potential layoffs on Wall St:
Wall Street plans to get smaller this summer. Faced with weak markets and uncertainty over regulations, many of the biggest firms are preparing for deep cuts in jobs and other costs.

The cutback plans are emerging even as Wall Street firms have mostly recovered from the financial crisis and are reporting substantial profits again. But those profits are not as big as they were before the crisis, and it is expected that in the coming months it will be even more difficult for firms to make money. Worries about debt in Europe and the shape that the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul rules will ultimately take, combined with the usual summer doldrums, are prompting banks to act.


Regulatory overhaul has weighed on the decisions to cut back, senior bank executives say. Regulation has caused some Wall Street banks to exit some businesses, like proprietary trading. Rules that require banks to hold more capital will probably cause some firms to end certain business lines as they decide they can more effectively deploy the capital elsewhere. On products like derivatives, firms will lose revenue as instruments once traded off exchanges will move into open markets.

While many financial rules are still to be written, some firms have decided that they cannot afford to wait any longer. The last significant industrywide job cuts were in early 2009. In the first quarter of that year Goldman alone cut its work force by almost 9 percent. Since then, most firms have held steady on their head counts or have added to them slightly. That will change this summer.
Watching others lose their jobs is not something I find to be very cheering but seeing it happen to folks on Wall St does give some mixed emotions. Except that the people losing their jobs on Wall St are most likely not the ones who actually destroyed the global economy.

I will end today with a piece from Politico on White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer's appearance at Netroots Nation '11:
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told thousands of progressive activists at the Netroots Nation convention here that he understands why they are frustrated — but he said the administration is frustrated itself with progressive critics not showing more gratitude for Barack Obama’s accomplishments as president.


The difference between his governing and campaign rhetoric is the result of the realities of dealing with a Republican House and obstinate Democrats, Pfeiffer told the crowd.


Pfeiffer stressed the trade-offs that the administration has had to make. He used this meme to defend the extension of the Bush tax cuts during the lame-duck session (to prevent a tax hike on the middle class) and the executive order upholding the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment during the health care debate (to get 30 million people health insurance).


Pfeiffer responded by warning progressives that, if they don’t re-elect Obama, a Republican president could un-do health reform, end Medicare in its current form and reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Not being at NN11 myself, I can't begin to say quite how offensive this is. The condescension alone is frightening. But I will point out that the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate at the time of the EO on the Hyde Amendment and the extension of the Bush (now Obama) tax cuts.

Too little, too late. What else is new?

And because I can:

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