Saturday, March 13, 2010

We are a disposable people and a disposable workforce!

We built a great nation only to watch it collapse under the weight of corporate greed:

There was a joke that was told many years ago about the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto, Tonto was an Indian, or now more correctly stated “a Native American” the story went like this: Both the Lone Ranger and Tonto were surrounded by hundreds of Indians and as the Lone Ranger ran out of ammunition he turned to Tonto and said, ” looks like we’re done Tonto”, Tonto turned back to the Lone Ranger and replied “what do you mean “we” white man”

And so it goes with Wall Street

Yes there is a recovery going on, but it’s not for middle class America, it’s for the big boys whom the government favors. Like our big global companies, Wall Street, and high-income Americans who hold their savings in financial instruments and in bonds and stocks, they are clearly doing better.

But take a drive down main street or look at any commercial center in any of the 50 states and we see empty stores that once contained mom and pop businesses, even franchises are folding. If there is as the government says a recovery, then why are businesses still closing?

Because Americans are not spending as the government claims, in fact Americans generally don’t have the money to spend. Indeed they don’t have the means to even pay their current debts. In fact since the first business day of January 2010, Americans are filing bankruptcies at the rate of 6,000 per day. That’s an annual filing rate of just over 1.5 million

The reason the Government puts out exaggerated figures is their belief the economy runs on optimism and that if the average consumer believes the economy is getting better, they'll spend more readily and- the economy will get better.

Only a pseudo intellect in today’s sad state of affairs could muster this reasoning

The government fails to understand that regardless of how people feel, they won't spend if they don't have the money, and Main Street doesn’t have the money! The 9 million unemployed along with 30 million underemployed and the growing number of College Graduates entering the workforce has crippled the economy and it is felt most by small business, the neighborhood business. Each unemployed and underemployed individual affects 5 others in the economy. This 39 million people who are earning less are spending less and they are affecting nearly 200,000,000 people. It is axiomatic that the economy will not improve for the average American until we begin to employ our own, and to regenerate and reinvigorate American Small business.

The government tells us that the US economy grew at a 5.9 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2009. That sounds good at first blush, until you realize GDP figures are badly distorted by structural changes in the economy. For example, part of the increase is due to rising health care costs, when WellPoint ratchets up premiums it enlarges the GDP. A separate part of the perceived growth in GDP is due to rising government expenditures, and the costs or gas at the pump.

Who is really doing better in America?

The people and private-sector institutions at the top!

Many of America's biggest companies are sitting on huge amounts of cash, but that says nothing about the health of the U.S. economy. Companies in the Standard & Poor 500 stock index had sales of $2.18 trillion in the fourth quarter, up from $2.02 trillion last year, and their earnings tripled. Why? Because they're global and selling into fast-growing markets in places like India, China, and Brazil!

America's biggest companies are also showing fat profits and productivity gains because they continue to slash payrolls and cut expenditures. Alcoa, for example, had $1.5 billion in cash at the end of last year, double what it had on hand at the end of 2008. Sounds terrific until you realize how it did it. By cutting 28,000 jobs - 32 percent of its workforce - and slashed capital expenditures 43 percent. Who suffered, middle class America, while those who owned Alcoa Stock benefited and so did Alcoa’s executives.

We have become a use then throw away work force!

Yes firms in S&P 500 are holding $932 billion in cash and short-term investments. And they can borrow money cheaply, corporate bond sales, that is buying into Corporate debt, so far in 2010, has topped $195.2 billion, excluding government-guaranteed bonds.

Does this spell a recovery? No, why? Because they're doing two things that don't help at all!

First, they're buying other companies. Walgreen last month spent $618 million for New York drugstore chain Duane Reade; Bank of New York Mellon, $2.3 billion for PNC Financial Services; Monster, $225 million for; Diamond Foods, $615 million for Kettle Foods.

This buying doesn't create new jobs. In fact it creates a net loss of duplicate ones. One of the first things companies do when they buy other companies is fire people who are considered "redundant."

The second thing large companies are doing with all their cash is buying back their own stock, in order to boost their share prices. There were 62 such share buy-backs in February, valued at $40.1 billion. We're witnessing the biggest share buyback spree since Sept 2008. The major beneficiaries are current shareholders, including top executives, whose pay is linked to share prices. The buy-backs do absolutely nothing for most Americans.

The picture on Main Street is quite different. Small businesses aren't selling much because they have to rely on American consumers - rather than foreign consumers. And Americans still aren't buying much because they don’t have the financial resources.

Small businesses are also finding it difficult to get credit. Most of the 8000 American banks don’t have money to loan because of the large number of bad debts on their books. And some 700 banks are set to fail this year. Since small businesses are where the jobs are created in any recovery and we are losing small businesses, this recession will continue for a decade or longer. We won’t see a recovery until we have an administration with the foresight to care about us rather than Wall Street.

The traditional mom and pop business is closing at the rate of 40% (2 out of 5) during this recession if this continues we may lose most of our 28,000,000 small businesses that we had in 2007 during its peak.

Don’t believe the Government reports

The Federal Reserve recently reported that American consumers are shedding their debts. Total US household debt, the FED claims, “including mortgages and credit card balances, fell 1.7 percent last year”. Supposedly this was the first drop since the government began recording consumer debt in 1945.

What is the truth?

Much of the debt-shedding has been through default - consumers are simply not repaying their debts and walking away from homes and big-ticket purchases, cars and credit card balances.

End of story!

Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has its own take on the defaults: "the defaults are leaving many people with more cash to spend and save, jump-starting the financial rehabilitation of the economy”

Let’s get real: American consumers account for 70 percent of the total demand for goods and services if they don’t have the financial resources or the jobs, or are concerned about their retirement, who if not them will sustain the economy?

Let’s face the facts: This American economy was in trouble since the end of 2000, it took the real estate balloon (developing Bubble) to stimulate the economy, but there were NO real job growth even then, consumers were borrowing the equity from their homes merely to make the payments. The Banks knew it, the FED knew it, and they knew the bubble had to burst! That was one of the reasons the Credit Default Swaps were created, guaranteeing Mortgage loans that the Banks knew were worthless!

The daunting question must be considered? The US Economy has been imperiled through incompetent administrations, who have favored outsourcing American jobs, and it started with Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush. Now how will Main Street come back? How will we create jobs? Certainly not from big businesses that are outsourcing! Certainly not from Wall Street who considers itself above main street and has no concerned for what they consider a disposable work force. And certainly not from government who is so tied to the apron strings of Wall Street they appear to be tied at the hip!

Until there's an answer, an economic "recovery" for anyone other than big corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthy is an illusion, and more Americans will yet find themselves falling into dismay