DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®
Collapse trends - April, 2002
[Commentary] ©2002 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080
4/30/2002 headlines from hell - a duo of columnists panning Wall Street - but why shouldn't Wall Street lie? why shouldn't bank robberies in Boston boom? we refuse to set caps on market-strangling accumulation per person, and the way many people get that accumulation is sooo dishonest = a huge problem that the timesizing economies of the distant future won't have -
4/27/2002 headlines from hell, literally -
- Herd on the Street - Prophets of boom, disappointed, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A31.
On Friday the Commerce Dept. announced that the economy greww 5.8% in the first quarter of 2002 [1Q02]. The Dow promptly sank below 10,000, making it the stock market's worst week since 9/11. And stocks fell again yesterday.
What's going on?... How can 5.8% growth be disappointing?...
Imagine a company that produces widgets...normally selling 100 each month. The company tries to keep one month's sales, 100 widgets, in inventory. But for some reason [e.g., uncapped accumulation per person starving consumer markets] sales drop off, to 90 per month. And it takes a month before the company realizes what has happened.
At the end of that month the company, having produced 100 widgets but sold only 90, finds itself with 110 in inventory. But [it] wants to hold only 90. To eliminate the excess inventory quickly, it might slash production [down] to 70 for the next month, then bump [it] back up to 90 [the following month and into the future]. But unless sales increase again, that's where it ends - production never recovers to its original level.
As goes the widget-makers, so goeth the economy. When demand drops, inventories build up; then production drops sharply as businesses [sell] off the [excess]. Finally, there's an "inventory bounce" when the [excess] is gone. But the bounce [up] doesn't necessarily presage a true recovery - to get [a true recovery], you need [sustained] increased sales to final buyers.
And more than halrf orf that 5.8% 'growth' was just inventory bounce [our quotes - ed.]. Final sales actually grew only 2.6%, slower than in the previous quarter.
[And Krugman doesn't point the additional factor that if we have a downturn of 10% and then a 10% recovery - apparently and superficially back to where we started, we aren't. Because 10% down from, say, 100, is 100-(100x10%=10) = down to 90, but then 10% back up from 90 is only up to 90+9 = 99, since we're now 'percentifying' from a lower base.]
And even that growth rate may not be sustainable: home construction soared, partly because of unusually warm weather, but there are already signs that the housing market is cooling off. Meanwhile business investment, weighted down by excess capacity and weak profits, actually declined. In short, there is nothing in the data to suggest that a great boom is imminent.
This shouldn't be a cause for surprise, but it is - because the great majority of business forecasters have become cheerleaders. As Alan Abelson put it in Barron's: "Where we are today...is not where we were supposed to be, according to the received wisdom back at the turn of the year. Economically, the perfect storm was to be followed by the perfect recovery."
...Wall Street economists assured us that business investment was about to surge, yet corporate leaders - who actually make the investment decisions - have consistently been much more pessimistic than the forecasters. "Hey, what do they know?" [our quotes].
Still, there has been intense pressure on business economists to run with the bullish herd. Skeptics about the impending economic miracle haven't just been ridiculed, they have been ostracized. Morgan Stanley's Stephen S. Roach - who was a lonely skeptic in the days of the Nasdaq 5,000 and is now one of the few business forecasters with the courate to defy the orthodoxy - signs his e-mails to me "From the wilderness."
Of course, it's still possible that the prophets of boom will be vindicated.
[No it isn't. And here's why -]
But it's...equally likely that the recovery will stall. Right now the best bet for the next few quarters is probably a "jobless recovery," in which GDP grows [with its inflated, cheerleader-friendly scoring basis], but unemployment stays high.
[And without anything close to full employment to drive up pay and centrifuge income out of its unspendable concentrations, where are the markets???]
After all, the economy needs to grow at about 3.5% just to prevent the unemployment rate from rising -
[That 3.5% is a good starting estimate of how much our current rosy GDP is inflated, but then remember, he's talking about our current rosy unemployment rate, which is a lot easier to raise than a real one would be - one that counted all the non-privately-supported non-self-supporting dependency within our socio-economy, such as forced early retirement, unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, and prisons.]
and the odds are at [most] even that growth will fall short of that mark.
...A slow, jobless (and profitless) 'recovery' [our quotes] is exactly what levelheaded people - like economists at the Fed...- have been predicting for a long time. So how did a far more bullish view become not just prevalent but more or less mandatory on Wall Street? How, with the business landscape still strewn with rubble from the bubble, did manic optimism so quickly become de rigueur again?
It seems that hype spring[eth] eternal.
[And that's why we at Timesizing.com generally ignore 'forecasts' - they're generally nothing but self-serving interest-conflicted cheerleading, as if our great economic Grannie had warned us, "If you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!" But when all news is good news, the old "No news is good news" must be reversed - it's Wall Street's way of "pleading the 5th."]
- The future of forecasts - Spitzer has a formidable new weapon - a 1920s law called the Martin Act, by Charles Stein, BG, D1.
Eliot Spitzer...NY's attorney general..\..is making Wall Street very nervous. [He] is on a crusade against Wall Street analysts and the misleading reports they issued during the Internet boom. Two weeks ago, Spitzer zinged Merrill Lynch by making public some of the firm's internal e-mails [which] showed that while certain Merrill analysts were singing the praises of the dot-coms, privately they were referring to those same dot-coms as "crap" and "junk." Merrill...has apologized..and...is likely...to pay restitution to investors who were burned....
Spitzer has a formidable weapon at his disposal, a 1920s NY state law called the Martin Act. The law gives him the power to go after brokers who promote stocks "beyond reasonable expectations" when they knew or should have known better.
Think about that for a minute. Analysts may be guilty of crimes when they issue overly optimistic forecasts if they knew or should have known those forecasts were false. It's an interesting concept. Imagine, just for a moment, if those same standards were applied to others - public officials, for example. What if we could throw the book at government figures whose overly cheery forecasts wound up costing us money? Who might we target...?
If we are going to lock people up for giving lousy forecasts and lousy advice, we are going to have to build more prisons.
- How about Alan Greenspan [who] at the height of the Internet frenzy...played the role of cheerleader for the 'new' economy? [our quotes -ed.] ...
- And then there is George W. Bush [who] in the first half of 2001...stumped hard for his tax cut, arguing that the massive budget 'surplus' meant he could cut taxes without touching the 'surpluses' building up in the Social Security program [our quotes -ed.]....
- Finally there is [former Mass. governor] Paul Celucci [who] in the fall of 2000...campaigned for a cut in the state's income tax [saying] he could "implement the tax cut and still provide for better services." Like Bush, Cellucci was counting on continued prosperity....
[Oh that should spur recovery right there - more government makework and more wage-depressing surplus labor taken out of the job market! Ere leaving this topic, let's mention the related article from the Boston Sunday Globe -]
Targeting the analysts - As distrust of financial institutions grows, state and US officials turn up the heat in probes of Merrill Lynch and other brokers that allege biased stock ratings, by D.C. Denison, 4/28/2002 BG, C1.
...With Eliot Spitzer, NY's attorney general, taking the lead, a number of investigations are underway into alleged conflicts of interest involving the analysts whose stock recommendations fed the dot-com frenzy of the late 1990s. They include former Wall St stars like Merrill's Henry Blodget, now infamous for maintaining "buy" ratings on Internet companies even when the start-ups were falling. ...The analysts...in many cases...were promoting companies...their firms had brought public or coveted as new clients. It was this IPO work that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for the firms and paid the sky-high salaries commanded by celebrity stock-research analysts like Blodget, Mary Meeker at Morgan Stanley, and Jack Grubman at Salomon Smith Barney.
Put simply, Spitzer has charged, the analysts issued biased stock recommendations to protect a rich vein of new economy business....
[Ain't it funny how these self-described "free traders" who supposedly despise protectionist tariffs in international trade practice gross protectionism in their own Wall St domain (or demesne, or dementia).]
4/17/2002 headlines from hell -
- [the latest from the epicenter of the Roman church's self-meltdown -]
Law seeks to curb organizing by laity - [inside] Law targets laity organizing - 'There is a pathology in our church that needs to be rooted out' - David Zizik, who proposed association of parish councils, by Michael Paulson (email@example.com), Boston Globe, front page & A6.
BOSTON, Mass. - ...In a move that has stunned the most loyal core of church activists..\..Cardinal Bernard F. Law [what a misnomer!] is cracking down on efforts by lay Catholics to organize in Greater Boston, ordering priests not to cooperate with an evolving coalition of parish leaders.
[Any priest worth a bejeezuz-spit will ignore this order.]
...[Stunning] parish council members who are generally more traditional and deferential than members of reform groups, Law instructed his top aide to tell priests that a proposed association of parish councils is "superfluous and potentially divisive" and that laypeople must live out their desire for equality "within the hierarchical structure of the church."...
["Equality" within a hierarchy!? What planet is this guy on?! We take this as the axe to root of the Roman church in America. Soon any parents who continue taking their children to any Roman church will be generally regarded as so careless and irresponsible as to warrant removal of their children by the local child welfare dept.]
At the Vatican this week, the US cardinals spelled out no role for the laity in the communique they issued in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.... The communique did order pastors "publicly to reprimand individuals who spread dissent."
[Note how this reporter is cushioning the church by constantly using the word "crisis" rather than "scandal." "Crisis" leaves the door open for the Roman church to pose as victim, not systemicly tainted perpetrator. Note also how radical their main target-organization is -]
The proposed association of parish pastoral councils is the most moderate of a variety of lay organizations that have sprung up because of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, including groups that are organizing protests and vigils and financial boycotts, and the Wellesley [Mass.]-based Voice of the Faithful, a fast-growing organization that is garnering national attention as it pushes for a greater laity input in the church.
[And how radical is the organizer of this 'dangerous' organization? -]
The association of parish councils is the brainchild of David W. Zizik, vice chairman of the parish pastoral council at St. Theresa Church in Sherborn [Mass.]. Zizik is no radical - he studied theology as an undergraduate at Boston College [a Roman Catholic college], traveled on a pilgrimage to Rome with [Cardinal] Law, is studying part-time for a master's degree in ministry at the archdiocesan seminary while working as a lawyer, and has been critical of groups that have held protests or news conferences about the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Zizik had consulted with a canon lawyer before putting together the proposed association, and then last Saturday floated it by e-mail to a group of priests, laypeople and theologians.
[Arrogance and insulation finally destroy themselves, not by further alienating their critics, but by eventually scraping the faces off their supporters.]
...Zizik...only learned of Law's concern about [his] proposed association when a reporter called. "It's astounding to me that this church [hmm, language that acknowledges other churches] seems to be so afraid of dialogue with its own members, people who love it and who would give almost anything [but their children, we hope] to see the church get back on track," Zizik said. "This is a church that's supposed to invite the disenfranchised in - Jesus invited prostitutes and tax cheats - so it's almost bizarre to see the response of our church leadership. There is a pathology in our church that needs to be rooted out, and people are going to begin to vote with their feet if we don't do something about it."...
[We're afraid the exodus from the Roman church has already begun and is now well under way.]
"These guys just don't get it," said William V. D'Antonio, a sociologist at Catholic University of America and author of "Laity, American and Catholic." "They're still trying to tell the laity, 'We run the show, and we'll tell you when we want to hear from you, if ever.' It's incredible that this is continuing in light of all that's passed."...
"This is astonishingly stupid," said Mary Jo Bane, a professor of public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a member of the parish council at St. William Church in Dorchester, who helped draft the proposal for an association. "Here you have a budding effort by mostly pretty moderate folks to bring parish councils together to make them more effective. If the cardinal were interested in genuinely involving the laity, this should be precisely the sort of thing he should want to happen."
[So not only is the Roman church less concerned about parishioners' children, whom it has made its sex toys (so far, "At least 177 priests leave duties in U.S.," AP via 4/29/2002 NYT, A20, in 28 states and DC per this story, or in all but four of the 50 US states according to the radio) - it's also less concerned about its parishioners than itself (except of course as money suppliers). We are witnessing another object lesson in how "the first shall become last" and possibly a replay of the way the Roman church itself triggered the Protestant Reformation.]
- [and as if this whole kamekazi mission isn't bad enough, an RC judge is now fueling it -]
Judge issues gag order on archidiocese documents, by Farah Stockman, Michael Rezendes & Walter Robinson, BG, B1.
Seeking to stem the tide of public disclosure of church documents in the clergy sex abuse scandal [at last, the word "scandal"!], a Suffolk [County, Mass.] Superior Court judge [Thomas E. Connolly] yesterday imposed a confidentiality order on Archdiocese of Boston documents in a negligence case brought by a victim of convicted pedophile Christopher Reardon
[Oh baby, this is not the way to "stem the tide"!]
...Reardon...was a church youth worker in Middleton [Mass., who] last year...pleaded guilty [to] sexual crimes involving two dozen boys. Shortly after Reardon's arrest, [his supervisor, Rev. Jon C.] Martin resigned his post at St. Agnes Church amidst a police investigation that turned up evidence the priest had affairs with former prison inmates.
[And so it goes on ... and on ... and on ....]
..\..Judge Thomas Connolly also took the opportunity to criticize Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney, a colleague whose pivotal decision last year led to the first public disclosure of church documents about sexually abusive priests, a ruling that was the catalyst for the Catholic Church's current crisis [oops, back to "crisis"]....
Connolly's order yesterday applies to church papers handed over to Jeffrey A. Newman, an attorney for an unnamed teenage boy who is suing the Rev. Jon Martin and the Archdioce[se] of Boston for allegedly failing to adequately supervise Reardon.... "It's the first time I've been under a gag order in years," Newman said.... "If we revert to a community of gag orders, confidentiality agreements and impoundment orders, we will be setting back the clock"..\..
At yesterday's hearing...Newman...vigorously defended Sweeney's decision to lift a confidential[ity] order in the civil case against former priest and convicted pedophile John Geoghan. Sweeney, acting on a motion filed by the [Boston] Globe, lifted the confidentiality order in the Geoghan case. ...Newman told Connolly, rebutting his comments about Sweeney, "We have a very unusual circumstance in our society in Massachusetts now [or maybe not so unusual - ed.], and there was an unusual need for the newspaper to come forth and request that."
[Amen amen amen.]
Connolly is a 1964 graduate of St. John's Seminary in Brighton [Mass.], a fact he disclosed in the beginning of the Martin case to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest....
[Gee, does that avoid it for you, Kate? Me neither.]
Connolly scheduled a Monday hearing on the case. The [Boston] Globe and other news organizations plan to contest the order.
- [and here's an item that starts with the above story, but rapidly expands it, and has so many juicy zingers, we just had to stay up late to keyboard it & let this baby speak for itself, cuz it's a shame it got buried in the Sat. NYT, with probably the lowest circulation of the week -]
Religion for dummies - The Gospel according to Law, Lay and Ashcroft, by Frank Rich, op ed in NYT, A27.
"He said they're calling us child molesters. He said that will never wash off." Those words were spoken...not...by any of the clergymen who have spent decades running a protection racket for child molesters within the Roman Catholic Church. The speaker was instead that sparkling examplar of corporate ethics circa 2002, Jeffrey Skilling. He was telling Congress of a final conversation with J. Clifford Baxter, the shame-filled fellow Enron executive who committed suicide just as the world was learning how America's "most innovative company" (as Fortune put it) had engaged in shadowy partnerships designed to rape its employees and shareholders.
[So the "he" in the "he said they're calling us child molesters" etc. was Baxter.]
Mr. Baxter was, of course, speaking figuratively about the public outcry against Enron.
In the case of the church, the accusations are literal, and only the church itself, by its own actions, can determine when the stain will wash off. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that the church's standing among Catholic and non-Catholic Americans alike is crashing - a crisis of confidence "as bad as anything that I've seen," according to pollster, Peter Hart, who reaches to Watergate for a historical parallel. And that poll was taken before Wednesday's communique from Rome, which to borrow a phrase from Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, allow the church perhaps the last thing it needs - "wiggle room" - in punishing its child molesters.
[Yes, the once-trusted priests have been "wiggling" a little too much, it seems.]
Yet sexual parasitism within the priestly ranks is far from a new story.
This time, though, the scandal has captured the broad public imagination as never before, and...with good reason. The coverups, blame-shifting, and arrogance that have emanated from church leaders in recent months have an all too familiar, and secular, ring. The cardinals' rhetoric, righteous in style but often self-serving in content, seems like a metaphor for too much of the behavior we've seen from American religious, political and business leaders alike since the nation's supposed moral turning point of Sept. 11.
- Last weekend "60 Minutes" rebroadcast an exposé of a former archbishop of Santa Fe that it had first broken 9 years ago.
- Nine years before that, the Rev. Thomas Doyle, then a canon lawyer at the Vatican Embassy in Washington (and now an American Air Force chaplain), helped draft a prescient protocol intended to counter the priesthood's looming child-abuse crisis.
What has been most shocking about the church scandal so far is not the revelation that some priests prey on minors but that their bosses are looking out for No. 1 (and I don't mean Him) rather than their victims.
[Which, of course, strengthens the suspicion that they ALL have preyed on minors, every last spin-doctoring one of them.]
"Mistakes have been made," said Cardinal Edward Egan of New York - but always by somebody else. Instead of taking responsibility for their own failings, American cardinals have made a hymnal out of the Enron playbook.
It's depressing when the nation's spiritual mentors sound like businessmen fending off indictment, whether at Enron or Merrill Llynch - or worse, like buck-passing politicians on the order of that preacher's son Gary Condit.
- Just as Linda Lay went on TV to testify that "God is good" and attribute her husband's woes to the media's propensity for wreaking "havoc and destruction in people's lives," so Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore (among others) tries to deflect attention from clerical sins by chastising "the mediaa of the United States" for their "feeding frenzy."
- Much as Enron first tried to pin its wrongdoing on Arthur Andersen, so Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston at first rationalized his cover-up of serial pedophiles by lamenting "how inadequate our record-keeping has been."
- Other Catholic leaders have turned to other scapegoats - the "sexual anarchy" of the 1960's, the alleged depravity of America in general and, inevitably, homosexuality - to avoid accountability for a plague of abuse that is documented at least as far back as 1950, that spans the globe from Ireland to Africa to Australia and that is not caused by (or exclusive to) any sexual orientation.
In recent months this seems to be a pattern.
But the abdication of personal responsibility by some religious leaders in America is only half of the confused moral equation since Sept. 11. If too many religious leaders sound like politicians right now, the flip side is that [too many politicians sound like religious leaders]. More and more politicians in power are...exploit[ing] the exigencies of war [and] seizing religious language to veil partisan public policies in a miasma of ersatz godliness.
- Not until weeks after the latest round of Richard Nixon Oval Office recordings were released - and only after a storm of reprimand - did Billy Graham take full responsibility for his anti-Semitic remarks about "the Jews."
- Even so, his son and successor, Franklin Graham, soon rescinded his father's mea culpa by asserting that the taped quotes had been taken out of context and meant to refer to "liberalism," not Jews.
- The younger Mr. Graham's disingenuousness is of a piece with Jerry Falwell's and Pat Robertson's pseudo-apology for their televised remarks in which they tried to pin the Sept. 11 attacks of the same all-purpose culprits (gays, feminists) whom some Catholic leaders now hope will take the fall for abusive priests and their enabling [or co-implicated?] higher-ups.
[Not to mention their seizing military language ("war" on terrorism, "war" on drugs, "war" on poverty) in the first place to veil curtailment of personal freedoms or government micromanagement.]
With the exception of Tom DeLay - who this month announced that "only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world" - no politician in power has ratcheted up this rhetorical religiosity louder than John Ashcroft. In a February speech he declared, "We are a nation called to defend freedom - a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document, but is our endowment from God." So much, then, for that trifling document that defines our freedoms, a k a the Constitution.
By wrapping himself in sanctimony as surely as he wrapped the Justice Department's statue of Justice in a blue curtain [to cover her statue-breasts! - ed.], our attorney general is trying to supercede civil law on the grounds that he's exercising the Lord's will whatever he does.
[Ya know, there's an element of this is the arrogance of Cardinal Law and Shanley and....]
Last week a U.S. district judge had to intervene and reprimand him for his repeated efforts to criminalize doctors who are obeying a law allowing physician-assisted suicide that has twice been approved by Oregon's voters.
pResident Bush's penchant for stark religious terminology has waned in the international arena now that he has lost his innocence in the Middle East. He has yet to brand the Israelis, the Palestinians or, for that matter, the Saudis "evildoers." But on the domestic front he has joined Mr. Ashcroft in pumping up the volume of his preening sanctimony, referring to the Almighty so frequently that He is becoming his de facto running mate for 2004. The president's push to ban therapeutic cloning is typically cloaked in a stated reverence for human life, without any humble recognition of the fact that he is playing God in determining that the "life" of a blastocyst, a tiny cluster of cells, is worth more than the lives of those suffering from juvenile diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other diseases whose remedies could be hastened by the most comprehensive medical research.
If we learned anything from Sept. 11, surely it is that there's a reason to worry when politicians hijack religion - just as we've learned from the church's scandal of the dangers that abound when religious leaders value political self-preservation over protecting the defenseless in their flock.
["It all comes back to jobs." And a timesizing economy would give everyone so many attractive job alternatives that this whole source of error-inducing anxiety would vanish, especially in the overtime-to-training conversion phases (Phase Two and Phase Three).]
But a half-year later, the over-arching imperatives of that once-indelible morning [9/11] are being devalued. In his latest effort to give himself some spiritual wiggle room, Cardinal Law said last weekend that "Some have likened the situation facing the Catholic Church in Boston and across the country to last year's Sept. 11 tragedy" - as if there were an[y] equivalence between the slaughter of thousands of innocent victims by terrorists and the destruction of a religious institution brought on by its own priests' practice of victimizing their young charges.
[and their own hierarchy's habit of covering it up and transfering/spreading it to other parishes.]
There was heroism along with tragedy on Sept. 11...
[There seems only cowardice along with tragedy on Geoghan, Shanley, and the 175 others implicated so far in the child-rape scandals of the Roman church. Back to the heroism on 9/11 -]
...and it was often informed
and it was often informed by true religious values: self-sacrifice, concern for others, accountability for one's own actions.
Among the first casualties that morning was a Fire Dept. chaplain who hurried from his base at the St. Francis of Assisi church on 31st Street to the stricken World Trade Center so that he could minister to the dying. That hero, it should be recalled, was Mychal Judge, a [Roman] Catholic priest, who, not that it should matter, happened to be gay.
[Sockitooey, Frank Rich! An excellent tirade, with a VHF of verbal grenades.]
4/13/2002 headlines from hell -
- Rough seas, new course - Back to meat and potatoes - Fleet to cut divisions, focus on core banking business, by Steven Syre, Boston Globe, D2.
The combined company will have a healthy mix of earnings streams, with greater emphasis on higher growth businesses and less reliance on core banking activities. FleetBoston Financial chairman Terry Murray on the virtue of a merged Fleet and BankBoston Corp. in 1999.
Diversification, the banking industry's overriding strategic objective through the 1990s, just went out the window on Federal Street. Now anything that doesn't fit FleetBoston's narrow mission will be sold or starved of new capital. ...The mission [consists of] wholesale banking and personal financial services. Most people would call that commercial banking and retail banking. Once upon a time, they [were] known in the business as meat and potatoes....
[Or reinventing the wheel. And the associated article is -]
Glory days gone for venture capital, FleetBoston trims its sails, by Beth Healy, Boston Globe, D1.
It was a pledge made at the top of the market [during the merger puffery]: BancBoston Capital in late 1999 said it intended to invest aggressively in start-ups rather than sijmply hand money to other venture firms to manage, as it had for decades. At first, the plan yielded huge wins...and the group contributed as never before to the profitability of its parent, FleetBoston Financial Corp.
But the glory days are...over. BankcBoston has been cutting staff, trimming its portfolio, and has nearly halted its direct dealmaking for the past year....
[We need less merging and more managing, and that means timesizing, not downsizing, as the discipline management needs to relearn its three main skills: prioritizing, delegating and scheduling. And the other associated article -]
Bank to stop funneling capital to [or 'flushing capital down'] Latin America - Fleet to curb Latin American [esp. Argentinian] investment, by Scott Nelson, BG, D1.
- Bankruptcy judge OK's Enron bonuses, AP via BG, D2.
An Enron Corp. plan to dole out as much as $140m in retention bonuses and severance to the 1,700 employees working for the company was approved by a bankruptcy judge...Judge Arthur Gonzalez..\..
[$140m to those sycophantic enough to survive in this rathole while thousands of others lose their life savings?]
Enron said the bonuses were critical to its plan to rebuild, because the company has continued to lose more than 30 employees a week since the start of the year.
[Why should it rebuild? It should liquidate and disappear. Its continued existence is a disgrace and an embarrassment to all intelligent lifeforms.]
4/12/2002 headlines from hell -
- Claims of age bias up 31% - [Mass.] state reports mirror federal data; trigger may be recession, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, C1.
...Of th\e total\ 4,000 allegations of workplace bias filed...last year [roughly same as yr before]..\..with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ,...640 were age-related complaints, up from 489 in 2000..\..as older workers targeted for layoff or demotion fought back during an economic downturn that sharply affected the Bay State [=Mass.].....
The state agency's findings were similar to those of the US Equal Opportunity Commission, which reported earlier this year that age-bias complaints had increased to 17,400 last year, a 9% increase over 2000....
[Speaking of agism, compare today's story on the suicide of a Yugoslavian official right after addressing the UN Asembly on Aging, 4/13/2002.]
4/11/2002 headlines from hell -
- Data dampens Mexico's hopes, pointer digest (to W1), NYT, C1.
The Mexican government said that industrial production was down again in February, by 1.8% from a year earlier. Analysts, who had hoped for signs that Mexico had begun to emerge from a recession that has caused the loss of 450,000 jobs over the last year, had anxiously awaited the report. Now Pres. Vicente Fox, who promised to build employment, not watch it wither, may be in political trouble.
- Enron trading gave prices artificial lift, panel is told, by Richard Stevenson, NYT, C1.
Loretta Lynch, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, testified yesterday that Enron units traded among themselves to drive up electricity prices. [photo caption] ...
[Isn't this sortof like shilling up your own auction price on eBay?]
- Investor discontent - Public anger on Wall St. 'research' [our quotes - ed.] is reaching into the political arena, by Patrick McGeehan, NYT, C2.
[In brief, it ain't research - it's conflict-of-interest-rife cheerleading. Big stockholders like Calpers and Warren Buffett are also discontented over outlandish executive compensation regardless of performance because of "croney boards of directors," according to the first segment of "Now, with Bill Moyers" on PBS tonight.]
- [And last but not least -]
Torturers in America, editorial, Boston Globe, A22.
...The US government has launched a global campaign against terrorists. ...The purpose of this struggle against criminals who murder and maim innocent civilians is to bring them to justice or bring justice to them. Viewed against th[is] backdrop...a report issued this week by Amnesty International, "USA: A Safe Haven for Torturers," suggests a blatant contradiction. The report documents case after case of the vilest killers and torturers living at liberty in this country, at times in proximity to...surviving victims....
How can...the United States...propose...to teach the rest of the world lessons about the rule of law, respect for human rights and protection of the individual against the overweening power of the state - make so little effort to identify, prosecute, or extradite foreign torturers living here?... It makes no sense to be tightening visa requirements and border security...while such monsters [already] live here with impunity.
- Torturer...Nikola Vukovic [is] living in a suburb of Atlanta
- ...Torturers and death squad leaders from Haiti's former military dictatorship have found refuge here.
- Former top officers from El Salvador's military junta, suspects in the torture and murder of many Americans as well as Salvadoreans, have also been discovered living in the US....
- One of the Guatemalan generals who supervised the genocidal massacres conducted there in the 80's even received a degree...from Harvard..\..
[More on this - "Convicted physicians on federal payroll - One doctor aided a terrorist group, review finds," by Matt Kelley, 4/16/2002 BG, A6.]
4/08/2002 headlines from hell -
- Singapore: Economy shrinks, by Wayne Arnold, NYT, W1.
Singapore's export-dependent economy contracted more than expected in the first quarter, according to preliminary government estimates, shrinking 2.6% compared with the [same] period in 2001 on prolonged weakness in elecronics and real estate....
4/06/2002 headlines from hell -
- the economic "recovery" -
- 4/08 E-learning companies are facing difficulties - Customers aren't buying in downturn, by Ross Kerber, Boston Globe, C1.
...New England is home to about a dozen so-called e-learning companies..\.. Last week's collapse of the planned acquisition of Lexington's Centra Software Inc. by a Silicon Valley company underscored the difficulties facing the market for [these] companies that sell training and content.... Besides Centra, other players in the region include Interwise..., SkillSoft..., and IBM's Lotus Development Corp.... Many of the companies have struggled with slow sales as customers have slashed budgets during the economic slowdown....
[Ever the first to get cut in a crunch = training.]
- 4/08 The numbers underscore just how bleak is the IPO market, by Beth Healy, BG, C3.
Venture capitalists hardly ever talk about IPOs [initial public offerings] any more. They can barely remember what a public offering is. It's been two years since Nasdaq imploded, and...only 13 IPOs have been launched this year, four of those with venture backing, according to a quarterly study by Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Assoc....
[It's always a letdown for those of us raised on VC as short for the highest military honour in the British Commonwealth, the Victoria Cross, to realize the initials have been taken over by venture capital.]
- [And then there's good ol' Argentina, the dufus of the south -]
4/07 As Argentine crisis deepens, workers seize failing firms - '...People are looking for answers to problems that are new..\.. It's not clear who the enemy is. Is it the workers or the owners?' Ricardo Monner Sans, lawyer, by Leslie Moore, BG, A6.
[It's your obsolete workweek, you morons! Share the vanishing work, employ EVERYONE, and get some of that piled-up spending power circulating again!]
- 4/08 geopolitics -
- [how much influence does $3.5B/yr 'foreign aid' buy us over our main Mideast ally?]
Israel persisting with wide sweeps despite U.S. calls, by Purdum & Schmemann, NYT, front page.
[The Boston Globe's double headlines focus the contradiction -]
Powell says Sharon gets the message, by John Donnelly, BG, front page.
Israel vows to complete mission as battles rage, by Colin Nickerson, BG, front page.
[The inside headline brings the Globe closer to the Times -]
Israel vows to continue assault despite US call, A10.
[And what is the message that Powell says Sharon 'gets' (haha)? -]
Bush's call on Mideast: 'Enough', by Anne Kornblut, 4/05/2002 BG, front page.
- [You see the headline next to these and you first think it applies to the Mideast -]
World doesn't share US view of scandal, by Michael Paulson, BG, front page.
[But then you see the subhead -]
Clergy sexual abuse reaches far, receives an uneven focus
[and you start to think maybe it should have read, "World doesn't share US view of anything."]
- then there's a couple of little things on the editorial and op-ed pages -
President Bush's dangerous ideas, letter to editor by Alison Simcox, BG, A12.
...Ellen Goodman...("Thinking too big," op ed, March 14)..\..sees the Bush administration's new nuclear posture for what it is: seemingly benign words that give cover to dangerous and outrageous ideas, words that ever so subtly urge the American people to accept the concept of unilateral control and first-use of nuclear weapons.... What is our government doing by putting together a blacklist of nations potentially subject to unilateral attack by the United States? Any other nation in the world that did this would be at the top of that list.
Every other nation is rightly frightened by this reckless posture taken by the very country that most people yearn to look to for hope, for rational and mature thought, for leadership in a dangerous world.
[The USA has become just as stupid as it was when we were all out picketing US consulates in the 1960s. The only difference is, then it was a Democratic administration and now it's a Republican one. The dumbing of America proceeds apace.]
- America's imperial instinct - In acting alone, US undermines world order, op ed by William Pfaff, BG, A13.
...American political, economic, and cultural influence is not generally stabilizing. It uproots stable structures, for good or ill. It means to do so. The Bush administration is a crusading government. The purpose of American economic policy and trade pressure is to destroy national regulation and make radical changes in how other economies function....
[The trouble with crusaders is that they are sooo certain of their rectitude. But as Jacob Bronowski pointed out in his "Ascent of Man" (1973), that kind of certainty is the enemy of tolerance and stability. (See his Chapter 11, "Knowledge or Certainty.")]
For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -
- Avis Rent a Car System Inc., NYT, B4.
...Parsippany, NJ, a unit of the Cendant Corp., has eliminated commissions to travel agents handling negotiated corporate and government accounts in the U.S. and Canada. The move followed similar action announced earlier this week by the Hertz unit of the Ford Motor Co.
[So now the rentacar industry is following airlines in eliminating commissions to travel agents - another big nail in the coffin of the profession.]
Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.
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