DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse trends - June 1-15, 2002
[Commentary] ©2002 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080

6/15/2002  headlines from hell - two on one page -
  1. Two reports show a faltering recovery, Bloomberg via NYT, B4.
    Two reports released today showed that consumer confidence had its biggest drop in early June since 9/11 and that industrial production slowed in May as the economic recovery faltered....
    1. The University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index...based on a telephone survey of about 500 households..\..fell [6.1 points] to 90.8 in June from 96.9 in May. That is the largest decline since a 9.7-point decrease in September.
    2. Production at factories, utilities and mines rose 0.2% last month after a 0.3% gain in April, the Federal Reserve said....

  2. Falling consumer confidence helps send the Dow lower, by Jonathan Fuerbringer, NYT, B4.
    Stocks plunged early yesterday on reports that consumer confidence fell this month and a car bomb exploded outside the US consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing at least 11 people. ...Investors overcame their initial nervousness and stocks rebounded...but even with the rebound, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard &Poor's 500-stock index closed at new lows for the year, capping off their fourth consecutive weekly declines.... Both are at their lowest point since the Sept. 21 bottom in the wake of 9/11....
    ["L'économie fartante" won't get regular again until we share the vanishing work, solidify our "growth" beyond bubblehood, and get some robust consumption to challenge our huge technology-amplified output capability. And that means centrifugation of spending power. You can't do that directly right off the bat without spreading dependency, but you can do it indirectly and healthily by centrifuging employment - and associated wages. "The more $$ centrifugation, the more $$ circulation."]

6/14/2002  headlines from hell
  1. With a shrug, a monument to Cold War fades away, by David Sanger & Michael Wines, NYT, A7.
    ["Monument"? = pathetic attempt to belittle the importance of the ABM Treaty - like the Glass-Steagall Bill was a "relic" of the Depression Era - and already we need it back.]
    ...The Antiballistic Missile Treaty...died today at age 30 years and 18 days....
    [Quick followup from tomorrow - "After U.S. scraps ABM Treaty, Russia rejects curbs of Start II," by Michael Wines, 6/15/2002 Boston Globe, A2 = another 'disaster credit' for George W. Bush, suicidal moron.]

  2. Plutocracy and politics - Where is America going?, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A35.
    ...Much of the...message \of\ Kevin Phillips's new book, "Wealth and Democracy" contained in one stunning table. That table, in the middle of a chapter titled "Millennial Plutographics," reports the compensation of America's 10 most highly paid CEOs in 1981, 1988 and 2000.
    It's true that wages of ordinary workers roughly doubled over the same period though the bulk of that gain was eaten up by inflation. But earnings of top executives rose 4,300%.
    What are we to make of this astonishing development? ...Modifying a line from Slate's Mickey Kaus, I'd say that an influential body of opinion has reacted [to it] the same way \as\ to global warming...: "It's not true, it's not true, it's not true, nothing can be done about it."
    For many years there was a concerted effort by think tanks, politicians and intellectuals to deny that inequality was increasing in this country. Glenn Hubbard, now chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors,...demonstrated his fealty during the first Bush administration with a ludicrously rigged study purporting to show that income distribution doesn't matter because there is huge "income mobility" - that is, that this decade's poor are likely to be next decade's rich and vice versa.
    They aren't, of course. Even across generations there is a lot less income mobility than the folk wisdom about "shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations" would have it. Mr. Phillips shows that tales of downward mobility in once-wealthy families are greatly exaggerated; the descendants of 19th-century robber barons are still quite different from you and me.
    But the Gilded Age looked positively egalitarian compared with the concentration of wealth now emerging in America. Pretty soon denial will no longer be possible. What will the apologists say next?
    But it's not just a matter of...taxes. Mr. Phillips, a lifelong Republican, is most concerned not by economics per se but by the political consequences of wealth concentration. He warns that "the imbalance of wealth and democracy is unsustainable, at least by traditional yardsticks."
    [So much for George Soros' chatter about an "open society" - which the very existence of wealth-hoards like his obstructs.]
    How will this imbalance be resolved? The economists Claudia Goldin and Robert Margo have dubbed the narrowing of income gaps that took place under FDR the "Great Compression"; if I read Mr. Phillips right, he thinks something like that will [i.e., should?] happen again.
    But he also offers a bleak alternative. "Either democracy must be renewed, with politics brought back to life, or wealth is likely to cement a new and less democratic regime - plutocracy by some other name."...
    [The only strange thing about this picture is its future tense. At, we believe the best thing to do about it is to engineer a shortage of labor by cutting hours. That shortage will engage market forces in raising general levels of pay and centrifuge the income and wealth out of the top brackets and back into circulation, to the benefit of all of us.]

  3. [And speaking of the unspendable compaction of spending power in America -]
    Retail sales slump [0.9%] in May, AP via Boston Globe, D2.
    ...even as wholesale prices fell for a second straight month....

  4. [And other countries have even bigger troubles. The economic disaster in South America's second-biggest economy (Argentina) is spreading to the biggest -]
    Brazil tries to fight 'wave of anxiety' on economy, by Larry Rohter, NYT, W1.
    RIO DE JANEIRO...- The Brazilian government tried to day to calml roiling financial markets and bolster its sinking currency by announcing a package of measures meant to restore confidence....
    [South America's second-biggest economy is Argentina, at $283.2B in 1999. The biggest is Brazil, at $751.5B, per The Economist's Pocket World in Figures, 2002 Edition. Mexico, at $483.7B, is Central America's biggest, Latin America's second-biggest. USA at $9,152.1B is world's biggest. Japan is 2nd with 4346.9, Germany #3 with 2111.9, #4 UK 1441.8, #5 France 1432.3, #6 Italy 1171.0, #7 China 989.5, #8 Brazil 751.5, #9 Canada 634.9, #10 Spain 595.9.... Interestingly, Spain leads all its New World offshoots, while Portugal, at 113.7, is dwarfed (one seventh) by the "Baby Huey" it spawned in the New World (Brazil).]

6/13/2002  headlines from hell
  1. Economy's rebound called modest, uneven, AP via Boston Globe, E2.
    [I.e., what we would technically call "économie fartante," despite the nested article: "NBER says the downturn may be over," Bloomberg via BG, E2, but then the National Bureau of Economic Research is a prime gaggle of cheerleaders if ever there was one.]
    WASHINGTON - The economy's recovery from last year's recession is shaping up to be choppy.
    [Yeah, just like Japan's "recovery" the last twelve years.]
    That appeared to be the main message from the Federal Reserve's snapshot of business activity around the country in late April and May, which was released yesterday....
    [Nothing's really going to recover except in the corporations and jurisdictions that share the vanishing work. Automation and robotization are on a roll, and ensuing consolidation and downsizing, which of course downsizes markets unless it specifically downsizes worktime, not workforce.]

  2. Economic scene - There have been significant changes in the welfare system, yet a rise in child poverty rates is now a real risk in the U.S., by Jeff Madrick, NYT, C2.
    [What an insult to intelligent lifeforms Americans are! Too dull to be concerned about mere "poverty," they have to float the strange partitioned concept of "child poverty" to have the remotest chance of motivating a solution.]
    ...The poverty rate of children has indeed dropped substantially as their parents have found work. But many, if not most, of these surprisingly good results were a consequence of the economic boom of the late 1990s, which created so many jobs.
    [Doesn't he mean "economic bubble of the late 1990s"?!]
    And now a rise in child poverty rates is again a risk. The unemployment rate is up. [And] the House has just passed a tougher welfare "reform" proposal [our quotes - ed.] requiring still more hours of work for aid recipients, even as the job market softens....

  3. Insurance-squeezed doctors folding tents in West Virginia - Premiums linked to malpractice awards - 'We may lose a generation of physicians', by Francis Clines, NYT, A18.
    [Ah, the wages of American litigiousness, coupled with the pandemic lack of juries' common sense about numbers.]
    CHARLESTON, W.Va.- ...Scores of doctors are curtailing services by dropping high-risk obstetrical and neurosurgical procedures rather than pay premium increases of 30% and more, the State Medical Assoc. says. At the same time, about 100 doctors, one in 20 [5%], have in the last two years retired early or moved from West Virginia, one of the costliest areas in the nation for malpractice coverage. ...Few [states are] as hard pressed to attract physicians as rural, impoverished West Virginia....
    [Could it possibly have something to do with the general poverty throughout the state and the pay-hyping bottleneck on medical training in this country? The bottleneck is seen in our first very primitive timesizing story today (6/13/2002 #1), where US medical training reform has just managed to bring interns' workweek down to 80 hours, the general level of the US workweek in 1840.]

6/12/2002  headlines from hell
  1. Senate votes to increase debt ceiling, by Richard Stevenson, NYT, A17. $450B to $6.4 billion....
    [What a bunch of irresponsible cowards. The best policy we've heard in this area is that of PM Luigi Einaudi of Italy after World War II - "no spending proposals without accompanying funding proposals, and the funding has to be passed simultaneously."]

  2. Expanding without managing - How a strategy of acquisitions lets a CEO conceal disaster, by Assoc. Dean Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale School of Mgmt, NYT, A27.
    [Don't tell us some of the B-school crowd are starting to see the light!]
    Looking at the group of troubled corporate leaders - it is easy to conclude that flaws in board governance or shady accounting practices are behind their problems. This diagnosis overlooks the commonality in the approach of these corporate executives: All of them are "serial acquirers" of other companies....
    [Not unlike "serial killers" of other companies - and their own.]
    These serial acquirers did not build businesses around core competencies but were scavengers for good deals, a strategy that rarely pays off in the long run.
    [And a lot of their "deals" were far from "good"! The silly fad caught on so big that many of these morons got carried away with the grandiosity of it all, including their own inflated egos, and wound up paying far far more than their victims, oops, takeover targets were worth, thus bankrupting both with debt.]
    A study done for The Wall Street Journal by the Thomson Financial found that in the current weak economy the stocks of the top 50 acquirers have fallen three times as much as the Dow Jones industrial average....
    [Yeah, let's see how long it takes for the fall of Hewlett Packard stock to exonerate Hewlett's opposition to the idea and disgrace Carly Fiorina and her aching-to-be-a-Big-Player merger obsession. How many times in these pages have we intoned, "Quit merging and start managing!"]

6/11/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. Toward an economic train wreck, op ed by Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe, A23.
    ...Bush and the GOP-led House are [still!] using rosy economic scenarios that appear to leave room for spending (as in the new farm bill) that is pure [wishful thinking]. And just around the corner are the bulk of the tax cuts that almost entirely benefit the wealthy. ...An economic and financial train wreck grows more likely by the month.

  2. Prosperous cheaters - The potential reward for cheating in recent years has been enormous, Economic Life column by Charles Stein, BG, C1.
    We know that the past few years were a time of widespread cheating in corporate America. ...Most of the cheating took the form of artificially pumping up sales.
    ...Executives with stock options stood to make millions if they could show Wall Street fast growth and the hint of rising profits. At Enron, former chief executive Kenneth Lay cashed in $70m worth of stock in 2001 before the company collapsed. Lay himself has not been charged with any crimes, but we now know that the rise in Enron's stock price was largely the result of dishonest bookkeeping....
    Most of the big players in the [energy trading] industry admitted they inflated their trading volume by engaging in bogus swaps with one another. You have to assume there was a "keeping up with the Enrons" mentality at work. Once the first company cheated, the pressure for the others to cheat ratcheted up.
    After months of hemming and hawing, corporate America finally seems to realize it has a genuine crisis on its hand[s]. In a speech last week, Goldman Sachs chairman Henry Paulson said: "I cannot think of a time when business overall has been held in less repute." Citing lack of investor trust, Paulson called for major reforms in corporate governance, accounting and regulation. Restoring business integrity, he said, was critical to getting the economy back on track....
    [And how likely is that without an integration of self-interest on the level of a timesizing program, which makes a start by providing a common, shorter workweek with a direct link to the unemployed and to training?]

6/09/2002  headlines from hell (except one 6/10 marked as such) -
  1. Brazil's rich take safety to new heights - Helicopter travel is thriving business in crime-torn town - 'The elite have made a decision - Instead of looking to better society in general, they are abandoning it' - Teresa Caldeira, author, by Anthony Faiola, BG, A14.
    [Monetary apartheid. We can write off Brazil as ever reaching beyond third-world status. It's the Eloi and the Morlocks, the subspeciation of Brazilian humanity, a 'house divided.']

  2. 6/10   For the jobless, time is money, and it's running out - Unemployment checks for 100,000 people may soon end, by Leslie Eaton, NYT, A22.
    ...Congress additional 13 weeks of benefits..\ March to help unemployed workers who had used up six months of regular state unemployment payments and had not found a job.... But for the first New Yorkers who signed up for the program - 100,300 according to federal data - those 13 weeks are almost up....

  3. What about the other birds?, letter to editor by Evan Wilner of Wilmington DE, BG, C5.
    "Debunking the CEO myth" (Steven Syre/Boston Capital, Business, May 30) knocks down a couple of the leading birds in a vast flock of formerly high-flying American executives and financiers.
    [Syre lists, as examples of the CEO cult figure in decline - from the previous week's news alone.]
    But why shoot down just a few of the fliers at the front of the vee? After all, you did reach back to the 1980s.
    [Syre mentioned Iacocca, Eisner, Murdoch and Turner though not particularly in the line of fire.]
    Shouldn't Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Ron Perelman, and the rest get their due?
    [And what about 'Chainsaw' Al Dunlap (more like "Dracula Al") vs. Sunbeam and one or two other drained-dry victim-companies?!]
    As for the 1990s, featuring the evergreem Ron Perelman in his Revlon sequel, who could reasonably ignore the long-running looting of Reliance Insurance by Saul Steinberg and the ruinous reign of Conseco's Stanley Hilbert?
    And can a Bostonian possibly ignore the CMGH gang? How is that possible?
    Clean your shotgun, load up again, and let fly.

  4. Job hunters up antics to get noticed - Tight market leads many to gimmicks, by David Bushnell, BG, G1.
    [job desperation spreads]
    ...Some are...putting a resume in a plaster leg cast to get a foot in the door. Still others are volunteering videos and other elaborate presentations that companies can use even if they don't hire the enterprising candidates....
    [Huh? Sounds pathetic.]

  5. [and speaking of pathetic -]
    Hunkered in the bunker - The Democrats, who rallied behind the Republican White House after Sept. 11, seem since to have forgotten how to fight for what they value, or sometimes even to agree on what that is, by David Shribman, BG, E1.
    [Ah, weren't the Dems well into forgetting how to fight for what they value - and even what that is - long before Sept. 11? Have we forgotten Bill 'the sleezemeister' Clinton so soon?]

6/08/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. [3rd biggest economy -]
    Germany: Unemployment rises, Bloomberg via NYT, B2.
    ... rose at the fastest pace in five years in May, as companies including Deutsche Telekom and Siemens continued to cut jobs to counter losses stemming from last year's economic slump. [It] rose to a two-year high of 9.7%..\.. The number of people out of work rose to a seasonally adjusted 60,000....
    [Compare the 9th-biggest economy - "Canada...", Bloomberg via NYT, B2, states "The unemployment rate rose to 7.7% from 7.6% in April as students looking for summer work drove up the number of job seekers."]

  2. [2nd biggest economy -]
    Japan: Set to press ahead on privatizing railways - Selling stakes to narrow the budget deficit - Japan Tobacco and NTT shares are also on the block, by Ken Belson, NYT, B2.
    [Fine and dandy, but this is only a one-time palliative, not a solution. And if, as in the US, trucking and airlines have huge hidden subsidies and rail's subsidies are cut off, Japan may end up with no significant narrowing of its budget deficit and no rail system either.]

  3. [1st biggest economy -]
    Quotes of note, Boston Globe, A17.
    ..."Congress began investigating intelligence failures at the FBI and CIA. They say the hearings will last less than a month and cost $5 million. This is what I love about Congress. Terrorists attack the United States. They investigate it for three weeks, spend $5 million.  Have sex with an intern, three years, $40 million." Jay Leno.

6/07/2002  headlines from hell - 6/6/2002  headlines from hell -
  1. Quotation of the day
    "I cannot think of a time when business overall has been held in less repute." Henry M. Paulson Jr., chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs.
    [Try thinking of 1929.]

  2. [And compare this headline from today's Boston Globe -]
    A corrupted market, editorial, BG, A20.
    Stock prices have foundered this week as investors signalled persistent concerns about corporate ethics.
    [It's not just vague "corporate ethics." It's the willful attempts on the part of scores of American CEOs to dupe and fleece investors. They better be concerned!]
    And no wonder.
    Not to mention the hangover from last week's news: ...Shareholders are not the only ones harmed by corporate malfeasance.
    [Never mind "corporate malfeasance." Let's punch it up by personalizing it, per Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" - we're talking about the top executives here, and the directors - the ones Teddy Roosevelt called "malefactors of great wealth" - morons who already have more spending power than they can spend in hundreds of lifetimes and yet are so colossally boring that they have no other idea in their peabrains but to keep going and get more unspendable spending power. Look at Kozlowski. How could this idiot think he could buy Class by buying art when he didn't even have the Class to pay the salestax on it?! (And we don't even agree with sales taxes - because you get less of what you tax and sales are what we want more of, not less. We should be taxing the unspendable concentration of spending power the way we do in prosperous war and post-war years. "The less concentration, the more circulation."]
    Indeed, employees, consumers and ordinary taxpayers often take a proportionately bigger hit in cases of shady boardroom dealings. The free market and especially the stock market depend for their success on
    1. transparency,
    2. reasonable regulation, and
    3. consumer confidence.
    The first two were neglected during the bubble years, resulting in serious damage to the third. The combination of deregulation, defanged watchdog agencies like the SEC, and destabilizing incentives to pump up stock prices created the conditions for an exuberant fraud....
    [So no wonder the CEO of Goldman Sachs "cannot think of a time when business overall has been held in less repute" - unless, of course, he thinks of 1929.]

  3. [And here's another "unintended consequence" in the form of some "ancillary damage" -]
    Foreign investment drops 60% in US, AP via BG, C2.
    [Maybe this will sink the almighty dollar and wake up our cowboy economists dba unconscious kamakazis to some of their more incomprehensible fallacies, such as Plus we recommend Timesizing just to more closely integrate the self-interest of citizens in a diverse nation than our current uncapped concentration of work, income and wealth allow. When slimeballs like Kozlowski and Chainsaw Dunlap can grab so much money for so little substantial constructive contribution and so much destructive results, millions of people look at that and say, "I too want MY SHARE - without limit!" - and if "necessary" without rules - just the way they "earned" theirs.]
6/02/2002  headlines from hell - For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -
  • May/2002.
  • April/2002.
  • Mar.12-31/2002.
  • Mar.1-11/2002.
  • Feb.16-28/2002.
  • Feb.1-15/2002.
  • Jan/2002.
  • Dec/2001.
  • Nov.16-30/2001.
  • Nov.1-15/2001.
  • Oct/2001.
  • Sep.15-30/2001.
  • Sep.1-15/2001.
  • Aug/2001.
  • July/2001.
  • June/2001.
  • Apr-May/2001.
  • Mar/2001.
  • Feb/2001.
  • Jan/2001.
  • Dec.21-31/2000.
  • Dec.11-20/2000.
  • Dec.1-10/2000.
        Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
  • Dec.16-31/99.
  • Dec.1-15/99.
        Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
  • Dec/98.
        Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.

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