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dkf's Journal
dkf's Journal
August 31, 2012

Mid-skill jobs were 60% of job losses, only 22% of job growth.

While a majority of jobs lost during the downturn were in the middle range of wages, a majority of those added during the recovery have been low paying, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.

The disappearance of midwage, midskill jobs is part of a longer-term trend that some refer to as a hollowing out of the work force, though it has probably been accelerated by government layoffs.

“The overarching message here is we don’t just have a jobs deficit; we have a ‘good jobs’ deficit,” said Annette Bernhardt, the report’s author and a policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project, a liberal research and advocacy group.

The report looked at 366 occupations tracked by the Labor Department and clumped them into three equal groups by wage, with each representing a third of American employment in 2008. The middle third — occupations in fields like construction, manufacturing and information, with median hourly wages of $13.84 to $21.13 — accounted for 60 percent of job losses from the beginning of 2008 to early 2010.


August 31, 2012

Dems Giving Away Tickets to Obama's Speech

Dunwoody Democrats have a chance to see President Barack Obama's acceptance speech in person at next week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.

Everyone who is at Manuel's Tavern or the Bibb County Democratic Party by noon is eligible for two tickets. Arrive early if you want, but it won't give you a better chance to win. Just be there by 12 noon!

If less than 50 people arrive, everyone will get a pair! If more than 50 folks arrive, we will do a random drawing to determine our winners.

There is no cost involved. We're not selling the tickets, we're giving them away.


August 30, 2012

In hard times, “I buy gold” is Italy’s boom business

Times are now so tough that Valerio Novelli, a ticket inspector on Rome’s buses, is planning to sell his old gold teeth.

“I can’t get to the end of the month without running up debts,” said Mr. Novelli, 56, who has to support an ex-wife and daughter. “I know I won’t get much, but I need the money.”

In a country suffering from economic crisis, buying gold off desperate people has become one of the few boom industries.

Ranieri Razzante, head of Italy’s anti-money laundering watchdog AIRA, said pawnbrokers had “virtually taken over from banks” as a form of financing for Italian families, as crisis-hit lenders are increasingly reluctant to offer credit.


August 29, 2012

US farmers eye record profits

US farmers are heading for their most profitable year on record despite the worst drought in half a century as high grain prices and payouts from a federal crop insurance programme compensate for a smaller harvest.

Net farm income will reach $122.2bn in 2012, the highest-ever nominal profit and the second highest in inflation-adjusted terms after 1973, the US Department of Agriculture said in its first forecast since drought spread across the corn belt.


August 29, 2012

‘Obama’s America’ producer says CNN rejected ad

The producer of the highest-grossing conservative documentary of all time claims CNN rejected the film’s ad because it was “too political.”

John Sullivan, executive producer and co-director of the breakout documentary 2016: Obama’s America, says the film’s ad has run on Fox News, MSNBC, Discovery Channel, A&E and other networks, but that it was turned away by CNN. “They rejected our ad, actually,” Sullivan told EW.com. “A really weird situation. That was really funny. They said it was ‘too political,’ which is very odd because we have no affiliation with any political party of any sort, or PAC, or anything of that nature.”

CNN (which, like EW, is owned by Time Warner) confirms the filmmakers submitted the ad, but denies the commercial was “rejected.” “CNN did not reject the ad,” a network spokesperson said. “We asked them to explain why they believe the ad is not subject to political advertising disclosure requirements, and we did not hear back from them with any explanation.”

The network’s concern was a Federal Election Commission rule that states any telecast advocating for the election or defeat of a federal candidate must have its funding source revealed in a disclaimer notice (“Paid for by…”). Such notices are standard on political ads, yet might be unprecedented for a popular theatrical film. An MSNBC spokesperson said the commercial ran without a disclaimer, like a regular movie ad. “The ad was approved through NBC News standards and practices before air,” an MSNBC spokesperson said.


I thought this was interesting because I saw the ad on MSNBC earlier.

August 28, 2012

Why QE3 May Be A Thinly Veiled Attempt To Wind Down Fannie And Freddie


On Monday, Chicago Fed chief Charles Evans joined his counterparts in Boston and San Francisco in calling for open-ended asset purchases. Like Boston's Eric Rosengren, Evans believes that the Fed should expand its balance sheet continually until certain economic outcomes are achieved. Specifically, Evans says that asset purchases should persist until the jobless rate falls to 7% and should only be reconsidered in the event inflation rises above 3%. Evans claims that if the Fed doesn't act the unemployment rate will remain above 7% until at least 2015.

August 28, 2012

Active in Cloud, Amazon Reshapes Computing

SEATTLE — Within a few years, Amazon.com’s creative destruction of both traditional book publishing and retailing may be footnotes to the company’s larger and more secretive goal: giving anyone on the planet access to an almost unimaginable amount of computing power.

Every day, a start-up called the Climate Corporation performs over 10,000 simulations of the next two years’ weather for more than one million locations in the United States. It then combines that with data on root structure and soil porosity to write crop insurance for thousands of farmers.
Each of these start-ups carries out computing tasks that a decade ago would have been impossible without a major investment in computers. Both of these companies, however, own little besides a few desktop computers. They and thousands of other companies now rent data storage and computer server time from Amazon, through its Amazon Web Services division, for what they say is a fraction of the cost of owning and running their own computers.

“I have 10 engineers, but without A.W.S. I guarantee I’d need 60,” said Daniel Gross, Cue’s 20-year-old co-founder. “It just gets cheaper, and cheaper, and cheaper.” He figures Cue spends something under $100,000 a month with Amazon but would spend “probably $2 million to do it ourselves, without the speed and flexibility.”


August 27, 2012

Global Risks 2012

Dystopia, the opposite of a utopia, describes a place where life is full of hardship and devoid of hope. Analysis of linkages across various global risks reveals a constellation of fiscal, demographic and societal risks signalling a dystopian future for much of humanity. The interplay among these risks could result in a world where a large youth population contends with chronic, high levels of unemployment, while concurrently, the largest population of retirees in history becomes dependent upon already heavily indebted governments. Both young and old could face an income gap, as well as a skills gap so wide as to threaten social and political stability.


The word “dystopia” describes what happens when attempts to build a better world unintentionally go wrong. This case considers how current fiscal and demographic trends could reverse the gains brought by globalization and prompt the emergence of a new class of critical fragile states – formerly wealthy countries that descend into lawlessness and unrest as they become unable to meet their social and fiscal obligations. Such states could be developed economies where citizens lament the loss of social entitlements, emerging economies that fail to provide opportunities for their young population or to redress rising inequalities, or least-developed economies where wealth and social gains are declining.


Two dominant issues of concern emerged from the Arab Spring, the “Occupy” movements worldwide and recent similar incidents of civil discontent: the growing frustration among citizens with the political and economic establishment, and the rapid public mobilization enabled by greater technological connectivity. A macro and longer-term interpretation of these events highlights the need to improve the management of global economic and demographic transformations that stand to increasingly define global social trends in the decade to come.

These trends are evolving differently across developed, emerging and least developed economies. In developed economies, such as those of Western Europe, North America and Japan, the social contract that has in recent decades been taken for granted is in danger of being destroyed. Workers nearing retirement fear cutbacks in social entitlements they have grown up to expect, such as state pensions, pre-established retirement age and guaranteed access to quality healthcare.

Meanwhile, young adults in this same group of economies realize that they are part of a compressed labour force that is expected to support a growing population of elderly citizens, while bearing the brunt of austerity measures required to offset growing national debts. At the same time, these same youths must save enough to provide for their own old-age needs in the most challenging economic climate in a generation. Experts anticipate that high unemployment rates will increasingly co-exist with employers’ unmet demands for skilled labour – a sign that many young people may lack the skills needed to make the necessary economic and social contributions.


August 26, 2012

Willing Wrinkled Workers Help Defuse Pension Time Bomb In Japan

The thought of retiring after more than four decades made Hirofumi Mishima anxious. Instead of looking forward to ending his three-hour daily commute, Mishima wanted to work, even if it meant another hour on the train.

“Keeping a regular job is the most stimulating thing for me,” said Mishima, 69, who spent six months trawling the vacancy boards at a Tokyo employment center after retiring from his $77,000-a-year job as an industrial-gas analyst in 2009. “If I was at home all day, I’d get out of shape and my wife would fret about all the extra chores she’d have to do.”

Mishima is one of 5.7 million Japanese older than 65 still in the workforce for money, health or to seek friends -- the highest proportion of employed seniors in the developed world. While European governments struggle to convince their voters to sign up for longer work lives, Japan faces the opposite issue: how to meet the wishes of an army of willing elderly workers.


Still, keeping senior workers can save on health costs. Nagano in central Japan has the highest proportion of working seniors of any prefecture and its elderly spend the least on health care, according to a 2007 white paper from the Japanese health ministry. In contrast, Fukuoka in the southwest has one of the lowest ratios of working seniors in the country and the highest health costs.


August 25, 2012

Medicare gets 42% of funding from general revenues, 37% from payroll taxes and 13% from premiums

That means it is very dependent on income taxes and that the budget and the deficit (which translates to more interest spending) are directly connected to ability to pay for Medicare.

This fact sheet by the Kaiser Foundation is a great piece helping to explain how it's finances work.


It's all nice and well to believe we can leave Medicare as is. But if you want to understand how likely it is anyone can keep those promises you should assess projections, make your judgments on how likely that is and plan accordingly.

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