Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Re-Claiming "American Made"

I haven't been doing too good of a job doing any posting here the last few weeks. It's not that my situation has changed appreciably for the better nor has the economic situation of other un/underemployed folks gotten better. But occasionally life does intrude, even when things are not going all that well.

That being said, there have been a couple of articles from the NY Times recently that I can only hope will penetrate the minds of people in power. (I shant be holding my breath mind you, but I can hope).

First up is this article from back in June on the possibility of rising wages in China possibly causing prices of Chinese made goods to rise.

Coastal factories are increasing hourly payments to workers. Local governments are raising minimum wage standards. And if China allows its currency, the renminbi, to appreciate against the United States dollar later this year, as many economists are predicting, the relative cost of manufacturing in China will almost certainly rise.

The salaries of factory workers in China are still low compared to those in the United States and Europe: the hourly wage in southern China is only about 75 cents an hour. But economists say wage increases here will eventually ripple through the global economy, driving up the prices of goods as diverse as T-shirts, sneakers, computer servers and smartphones.

“For a long time, China has been the anchor of global disinflation,” said Dong Tao, an economist at Credit Suisse, referring to how the two-decade-long shift to manufacturing in China helped many global companies lower costs and prices. “But this may be the beginning of the end of an era.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Laffer Writes a Laugher

As I tend to do most morning after I've checked the jobs sites in my attempt to find full employment, I came across this piece of gibberish written by Arthur Laffer for the Wall St Journal (via Google). For those too young or too memory impaired, Laffer was the "author" of the "Laffer Curve" which was used by the Reaganauts and subsequent Republican politicians to justify massive tax cuts for the rich.

It's hard to know where to begin in tackling the various strawman and out right fallacious arguments Laffer uses in this opinion piece.

On the face of it, the idea that higher unemployment benefits won't lead to more unemployment doesn't make much sense. Imagine what the unemployment rate would look like if unemployment benefits were universally $150,000 per year.

First off, few people are actually calling for higher Unemployment compensation, although with an average weekly payment of $293 per week, with only a few states maxing out their Unemployment payments over $500 per week, it surely would not be a bad thing to raise the compensation a bit.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's Not Just That It's Spin, It's Bad Spin

A couple of days ago, I saw this headline from the AP (via MSNBC):

Layoffs of census workers will distort jobs data

I found the headline a bit dishonest but considering that it was the AP, I was not all that surprised since the AP has moved far from the days when it was a premier news gathering and reporting agency. Unfortunately for a lot of folks, though, as the AP has gotten worse, more and more newspapers and news sites rely on it because they've cut their own news gathering staff to a minimum.

Then this morning, I saw this article from today's NY Times where the reporter used the same dishonest framing in her lede:
The June jobs report, which comes out on Friday, will probably look very bad, reinforcing worries that the recovery is teetering. But first impressions might be deceiving.

Folks, the "distortion" in the jobs data was not due to the lay-off of Census workers. It was due to the admittedly temporary nature of the Census hiring in the first place. So when the economy loses 125K jobs and the private sector has created only 83K according to today's Jobs Report, that is a more accurate reflection of the official numbers.