DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

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

10/15/2002  today's headlines from hell - one qiki & one not-so-fast -
  1. U.S. electric utilities are experiencing their worst credit crunch since the Depression, pointer summary (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    ...and it is likely to worsen, A&P found.
    [Compare Britain -]
    TXU's abrupt exit roils Britain's energy market - A new sign of strain in a privatized utility system, by Suzanne Kapner, NYT, W1.
    [Note the clue here - rigid and naive assumptions that privatization cures all.]

  2. [the anatomy of a deepening depression -]
    Companies cut costs where it hurts: employee pay, by Kemba Dunham & Kris Maher, WSJ, B1.
    [Contrast this with the cloying happytalk right next to it -]
    Managing your career - Switching industries doesn't have to mean accepting lower pay, by Joann Lublin, WSJ, B1.
    [No, Joann, that's because even not switching industries in this depression means accepting lower pay. So why don't you just pack up your pompoms and go cheerlead in your room, or just SHADDAP.   Back to "Companies cut costs where it hurts...".]
    - Joann Lublin contributed to this article.
    [Then what's up with Joann's silly happytalk in the neighboring article? Ditch this dizzy dame in the dumpster. Or maybe it's the WSJ editors who are confused.]
    ...In a further effort to cut costs, companies of all sizes and in a broad range of industries are cutting employee pay.... For some employers, these pay cuts are the latest effort to rein in costs. Since early 2001, many companies have eliminated bonuses, conducted several rounds of layoffs, and frozen and cut salaries. But with the economy showing few signs of improving, employers in professional services, airlines, telecom and elsewhere are once again announcing substantial salary cuts.... Some companies are reducing pay as an alternative to slashing jobs....
    [Wouldn't that basically include ALL companies that are cutting pay?! And if the sinking average workweek indicates, many companies are making matching hours cuts, giving us basic timesizing, not downsizing.]
    One danger of enacting paycuts is that disgruntled employees will leave. But some employers have found those fears unfounded..\..
    [And certainly the depression is a big "help" in reducing employee departures, and more positively, doing an hourscut that matches the paycut really helps. Here are a bunch of examples of the paycut strategy, many illustrating the reluctance of employees to spin out into a depression.] Although most workers would prefer a salary cut to losing a job, it is nevertheless a morale-crusher to suddenly take home less pay.
    [Not if it's accompanied by a corresponding hours cut a la Timesizing.]
    Many employees feel powerless to complain. Given the tight job market, they can't easily quit in protest. A consultant at a midsize Chicago tech firm whose salary was cut by 10% - or more than $10,000 - this past June, is moonlighting at a 2nd job performing tech services for small companies and individuals in the evening and on weekends.
    [Get your hankies out, folks. This poor guy is making over $100 grand a year and he's still whining.]
    He earns between $500 and $750 per month from this side gig. "I was and still am frustrated about the pay cut," says the consultant. He adds that he could earn more money moonlighting but is "exhausted."
    [Gee, maybe paycut-corresponding hourscuts on his main job could even help this poor greedster. But then the Journal gets down to some rare death-spiral tracing -]
    Inevitably, pay cuts lead to reduced spending by employees, and taken en masse, that contributes to slowing demand for consumer goods. That can result in still more pay and job cuts - and fewer openings for those laid off. "I probably won't spend as much as I would have," says Ray Christie...CFO of hi-tech group Therma-Wave Inc., Fremont, Calif., who received a 12% salary cut effective Oct. 1. "My wife and I had been considering buying a new midrange-priced Mercedes. We decided not to do that just yet, if ever," he says.
    [Our heart bleeds for ya, Ray.]
    "Our salaries are such that we aren't going to go on the street begging for bread," Mr. Christie says.
    [No kidding.]
    "Personally, I'm a whole lot more concerned about the fact that we have been forced to lay people off than I am about my salary decrease," he says.
    [Well, Ray, we're concerned that you're so unimaginative and clueless that, blind to timesizing, you think you only have one death-spiral alternative.]
    "It makes it worse to know that the rest of the economy is struggling, so...they're going to have a difficult time finding a job."...
    [And you're going to have a more difficult time finding a market, baby.]
10/12/2002  today's headline from hell - 10/11/2002  today's headline from hell - 10/09/2002  today's headlines from hell - 1 'longy' & 1 qiki -
  1. The most debt ever, pointer summary (to D1), WSJ, front page.
    U.S. household debt has exploded to more than 100% of disposable personal income. It's defining, and ruining, some people's lives.
    [The indicated article itself actually has a rather silly headline -]
    Debt problems hit even the wealthy - Biggest surge of borrowing is among those with highest incomes; Liquidating the 401k, by Hilsenbrath & Higgins, WSJ, D1.
    ...Worries have been mounting for a while about auto repossessions, personal bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures; each is at or near its highest level in decades. Now, after a mortgage-refinancing boom and a slew of 0%-financing offers, there's evidence debt levels are becoming an issue for people at all levels of the income spectrum.
    [No kidding. Let's cut the headline's crap. It's not really the wealthy we need to worry about, as long as they're borrowing against trust funds or mansions.]
    Overall household debt has exploded to more than 100% of disposable income (income after taxes), which is the highest percentage on record. In other words, the average household earns in one year, after taxes, about what it owes in overall long-term debt. [Note that income concentration is so intense that the extra 20%-of-income debt of the top one-fifth cancels out the missing 20%-of-income debt of the "bottom" four-fifths; the income of the top 1/5 (20% of households) equates to the income of the "bottom" 4/5 (80% of households). Furthermore -]
    The Fed said that consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 2.9% in August, a sharp slowdown from the 7% rate in July....
    [But that may also means a sharp slowdown in consumer spending, and a terminally steeper slowdown in the economy. Strangely, this article never provides the actual total consumer-debt figure.]
    ...Now the sluggish job market is taking its toll on borrowers...[and some of them are] liquidating their retirement assets....

  2. CIA says Iraq on brink of war would use terror, by Rogers & Jaffe, WSJ, A3.
    [So the handwriting on the wall = LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE.]

10/05/2002  today's headlines from hell - 1 qiki & 1 'longy' (not the music school of that name) -
  1. Another sell-off brings week no. 6 of losses, by Jonathan Fuerbringer, NYT, B1.

  2. 43,000 jobs lost in September, pointer summary (to B1), NYT, A2.
    Payrolls shrank for the first time in 5 months as businesses But the economy does not appear to have lapsed into a new recession [because it never came out of the old one? no...] because wages kept rising [for fewer and fewer people - ed.] and the workweek grew longer [for fewer and fewer people].
    [That's the whole problem. More spending power funnels to those that already have more than they can spend in hundreds of lifetimes. Don't believe it? Then ask yourself, what kind of culture awards twenty-eight BILLION dollars in damages for ANYTHING to a single individual? -]
    California jury allots damages of $28 billion to ill smoker, by John Broder, NYT, A14.
    [Give millions and billions to a few people and keep a pre-technologically long workweek for the majority so market forces responding to a gross labor surplus give many people less and less. (The cause and effect is in the reverse order. The surplus pushes down wages and lets income funnel to the top brackets.) They keep hiding more and more of the former workforce on disability and in prison, and no one bothers to count the nationwide homeless and suicides. Here's the main article about the economy -]
    Payrolls drop as economy seems to be at standstill, by David Leonhardt, NYT, B1.

For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -

  • Sept. 10-30/2002.
  • Sept. 1-9/2002.
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  • 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.
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  • Dec.21-31/2000.
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  • 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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