DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®
Collapse trends - Oct. 16-31, 2002
[Commentary] ©2002 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
10/31/2002 today's headlines from hell - qikis -
10/30/2002 today's headlines from hell -
- Art and anxiety - Economic fears cast shadows over fall auctions, by Carol Vogel, NYT, B1.
When times get tough, art pours onto the market....
- Earning more, paying more, pointer summary (to D1), WSJ, D1.
The top 1% of taxpayers paid 37.4% of all federal personal income taxes for 2000 and received 20.8% of all adjusted gross income. In each case that figure was up just over a percentage point from year-earlier levels, and far higher that 1991 percentages, Tom Herman says in Tax Report.
[And the target article -]
Elites' slice of income grows as does their share of taxes, by Tom Herman, WSJ, D2.
[This article seems to be voicing some of disarming squealing of those who have far more spending power than they can ever spend, though today's highest tax brackets are far below those of World War II years and the following 18 years, when the Democrats(!), already beginning to cave to PACs and lobbyists, started the dismantling of the steep war-required upper tax brackets (1963).]
10/29/2002 today's headlines from hell -
- Consumer confidence plummets - Index's drop to 9-year low gives Fed policy makers more reason to cut rates, by Ip & Freeman, WSJ, A2.
[Compare the recent consumer confidence story from the Univ. of Michigan on 10/26/2002 #1 below.]
are depressing consumer spirits. And that is offering new signs that U.S. household spending, the pillar of world economic growth,
- Falling stock prices
[this is the 1st reason only for the wealthy minority who read the WSJ],
- deteriorating job prospects
[THIS is the 1st reason for the vast majority of Americans]
- and the threat of war with Iraq
[if Dubya stays stupid]
[only for parts of the world that don't institute work sharing]
is weakening.... The Conference Board said its widely followed index of consumer confidence plunged to a nine-year low of 79.4 in October, a 14.3 point dive that exceeded any drop in the measure since 1990, except for the one following 9/11. Such large declines rarely occur outside of recessions....
[Apparently the Wall St Journal is still in denial about the continuation of the recession.]
The business research organization's latest survey found Americans increasingly gloomy about both the current economic situation and the future....
[No wonder with irrelevant and destructive morons like Dubya on the throne and cheerleaders like the WSJ in strained denial.]
That corroborates other evidence, such as weak car sales, or a retreating consumer. "It seems people have finally been shaken," say Lehman Bros. economist Drew Matus [any relation to Castaneda's don Juan Mateus?], noting that the decline in sentiment occurred even though stocks had rallied strongly from their early October lows....
[That should tell these fatcats that stocks depend on jobs, not vice versa. "Finally" is the operative term. The real question was how long it was going to take for consumers to reach the top of all their credit lines, and for our record national consumer debt to peak.]
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 170 points almost immediately following the report, but recouped those losses to close to close nearly unchanged...on the belief that corporate news may soon improve and that chances are good that the Fed will cut rates.
["Hope springeth eternal" in speculators' breasts and in the machinations of the financial industry desperate to lure suckers back into stocks. And if the Fed cuts rates further it will just cut the consumer spending of people on fixed unearned incomes. On the other hand, it will get US closer to Japan's virtual zero-level of interest rates and force TPTB (the powers that be) to grope for a real recovery tool = timesizing, instead of self-propagating downsizing.]
Most other indicators closed lower.
[Here's more insight into the WSJ's twisted party line -]
Consumer spending has remained remarkably robust [OK so far] throughout last year's recession and slow recovery [dream on]. That is due to the lowest interest rates in a generation [interest rates this low cut both ways] and strong growth in disposable [what a laugh], the result of lower taxes [for the rich - HA] and high productivity growth [productivity without marketability is meaningless] that enables employers to pay more.
[It gives little boost to consumer confidence and spending when employers merely pay more to their top executives. The WSJ and the rest of the insulated and isolated cadre of plutocrats average in these huge top-bracket income jumps with the sinking incomes of the rest of us and come up with - more happytalk.]
Since mid-2000, consumer spending and housing - about 73% of total economic output - have grown at an average annual rate of 2.7%.
[Yeah, consumers topped out their credit cards and turned to home equity loans to keep the dream alive.]
Everything else - business investment in buildings, equipment and inventories [again putting the most important element last], government spending [which the WSJ wants to decline] and international trade [which the WSJ wants to be "free"] - has declined at an average annual rate of 3.1%. Total "growth" [our quotes - ed.] have averaged 1%.
[Well within margin of error, considering the crap we continue to give ourselves brownie points for in our designed-for-cheerleading GDP.]
The plunge in consumer confidence over the past month suggests that a stagnant job market [BINGO!] and shrinking stock wealth [trivial compared to jobs] threaten to overwhelm the benefits of low interest rates [a superficial and mixed blessing] and rising incomes [for a minority of the declining majority who still have jobs and, of course, for the top brackets].
[Evidence of rising incomes for the top brackets? Next story -]
- A class warrior's guide to the soul, by Seth Donlin, Boston's Weekly Dig 10/23-30/2002, article flagged by colleague Kate Jurow, publication flagged by Matthew Tabor.
[Donlin was probably inspired by Paul Krugman's brave article, "For Richer," in the NY Times Magazine 10/20/2002.]
plutocracy n: 1: government by the wealthy 2: a controlling class of the wealthy
robber baron n: an American [short-sighted - ed.] capitalist of the latter part of the 19th century who became wealthy through exploitation [as of natural resources, governmental influence or low wage scales)
Merriam Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary
Two years ago...I wrote..."According to the non-partisan organization, *United for a Fair Economy, the top 1% of households in this country have more assets than the bottom 95% combined. And the scary part is that this imbalance is growing. The pay gap between CEOs and workers is five times what it was just 10 years ago. Between 1977 and 1999, the top 20% of households increased their annual after-tax incomes by 43%, while the middle 20% saw an increase of only 8%, and the poorest 20% actually saw their annual after-tax incomes decrease by 9%."
[And that's a formula for falling spending and consumer confidence, because the spending power of the nation is concentrating in unspendable amounts in the very top income brackets.]
Unfortunately things haven't gotten any better since then and probably aren't likely to any time soon....
[In fact they've gotten much worse, and Donlin gives the figures. But like Krugman, he fails to translate this into the self-interest of the rich and demonstrate that it is against their self-interest to allow so astronomical a concentration of spending power that they're vacuuming the markets away from their own investment targets, not to mention insulating and isolating themselves, despite grasping all the decision-making power of the nation, so the nation has a more and more severely obstructed feedback system. Where are the economists speaking truth to power and bringing these jarring facts home to the plutocrats with charts and diagrams? It is within the self-interest of the top income brackets to strengthen the centrifugal forces on income in this country. And the most gradual and market-oriented way of doing that is to make the length of the workweek automatically vary inversely with the unemployment rate, comprehensively defined, and to make the incidence of overtime and overwork automatically trigger their own resolution - via training and hiring.]
10/28/2002 today's headline from hell - qiki -
- Despite happy talk, uncertainty damps outlook for economy, by Alan Murray, WSJ, A4.
[Whoah, the WSJ, media cheerleader, panning happytalk? Radical!]
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill seems to think he can talk the economy to good health. "The latest indicators look good," he told [ie: lied to] an audience at the Universityof Chicago last week.
Mr. O'Neill often reminds people that his record as a forecaster is as good as anyone else's.... But we're not talking about forecasts here; we're talking about facts. The Treasury secretary should know better....
- Not the index of leading economic indicators, which has been down for 4 months in a row.
- Nor industrial production, which has been down 2 months in a row.
- Nor consumer confidence, which has been falling since midsummer.
- Nor automobile sales, off sharply from their summer highs.
- Not sales at big retail stores, down last month.
- Nor durable-goods orders, which plummeted 5.9% in September.
There is one bright spot in the American economy: housing. Thanks to low interest rates, Americans are engaging in an orgy of home-buying and refinancing, despite the other signs of economic weakness that surround them.
[Probably their attempt, as Thea Bowen used to say, to "catch the last bus to the middle class."]
The strength of the American housing market and the equity Americans are pulling out of their houses, is the shaky pillar on which the global economy now rests.
[Or "the fraying thread by which the global economy now hangs."]
But how long that pillar [or thread] can hold is a matter of debate....
[And now the market for luxury homes is stagnating and mortgage rates are feinting upwards.]
Faced with the huge uncertainties associated with an assault on Iraq and faced with an economy that is providing little incentive for investment, businesses and investors are choosing to sit on their hands and wait for the clouds to clear....
[And that is something that the Great Depression taught us is not automatic. In the long wave, there's nothing automatically cyclic on the upswing side of the business "cycle." It's always some externality that removes the huge excess of labor hours from the job market (like plague, war, or... timesizing), raises wages and centrifuges spending power back out to the multitudes who actually SPEND IT that achieves the upside of the cycle. Until then, the dysfunctional consolidation of the national income in the relatively few pockets of "investors" is not only far beyond what they can actually spend to sustain consumption, but also beyond what they can actually invest to sustain economic equilibrium let alone restart growth. Hence "investors are choosing to sit on their hands." In depressions, it's not that the money isn't there. It's just that it's so concentrated in the black hole of the top brackets that it's effectively de-activated, so the velocity of currency circulation goes down and down.]
- We saved your job, but gave you more work, by Daniel Altman, NYT, E4, flagged by *Tom Walker of the SWT e-list.
[This headline is basically the same message as the subtitle of Ben Hunnicutt's prophetic 1988 book, "Work Without End - Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work."]
As the economy struggles to revive itself and layoffs mount,
[Do we realize that these are in direct conflict?]
companies have been trying to get more out of their workers....
[AND out of their shrinking markets - hence the flood of spam and junkmail.]
But from the workers' perspective, a productivity drive can mean new sources of stress - longer hours put in off the books [ie: slavery back from the dead] and the fear of following laid-off colleagues out the door..\..
Businesses like Dell Computer have used the downturn as an opportunity to shapen their competitive edge.... The company decided that it could become leaner and more efficient by changing its production methods, further automating its selling and simplifying the processing of orders.... Dell replaced a factory in Austin, Tex., that specialized in desktop computers for corporate clients. "We built a factory that is half the size and employs half the number of people"..\..said Felix Chou, director for global business process development at Dell..\..
[What was that the mainstream economists chant about "Technology creates more jobs than it destroys"?? Here's a translation of the Ford-Reuther paradox into Dell-Reuther terms for thick-headed conventional economists - Dell, "Let's see you unionize these automated manufacturing and selling robots!" Reuther, "Let's see you sell them desktop computers." In case you're missing it, the only resolution of this paradox is to trim working hours, not jobs. But doesn't that reduce weekly pay? No, because hourly wages are a matter of supply and demand, and when the supply of manhours is low and the demand is high, hourly wages go up and weekly pay stays the same or rises. But where does the the extra money for less worktime come from? It comes on the one hand from all the astronomical profits that are currently flowing to the top income brackets and just sitting there because they don't have time or need to spend them, and on the other hand, it comes from all the increased demand that arises as the centrifugation of the national income boosts the spending power of the multitudes in the middle and lower classes and strengthens consumer markets. Any more questions? email@example.com ]
Early in the recession, in May 2001, Dell announced [that it] would lay off 3,000-4,000 workers, in addition to 1,700 already let go, while trying to gain market share.... Now, Mr. Chou said, the factory can produce three times as many computers an hour as the old plant, allowing Dell to pay less overtime..\..
[Whaaat? They were engaging in overtime while laying people off? This is suicidal. This is reverse timesizing and it de-activates your consumer-employees = your own and your customers' customers, faster than anything. Again, we're looking at self-contradictory policies. Dell is decreasing their best market, their own workforce, while trying to increase their market share. They want the markets but they don't want the employees that provide those markets. They looking for a free lunch. Near-sighted "free lunch" capitalism sputters on - at least for a couple more miles.]
Most cuts came in sales and marketing, but the company also dropped jobs assembling computers....
One longtime employee said that for the first time in his many years at Dell, people feeling overwhelmed have been calling in sick simply to take a day off....
[For the moment, Dell's sales are still strong. Sooner or later, their philosophy of technological displacement, widespread as is, is going to change that, even for Dell.]
- [and speaking of employees feeling overwhelmed -]
The mood at work: Anger and anxiety, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, E1, flagged by *Tom Walker of the SWT e-list.
The ebullient mood of American workers [who still had jobs - ed.] during the 1990's boom has evaporated over the last two years, a victim of recession, rising unemployment, a hobbled stock market and scandals at WorldCom, Enron and other corporations....
Some employees are questioning whether it is worth going the extra mile when asked by senior executives because, as the WorldCom scandal demonstrated, some executives are [just] looking out for themselves, not their corporations..\..
Many baby boomers who were looking forward to a prosperous early retirement have been forced to rethink that dream....
["American retirement has turned into dying on the job or dialing 800-KEVORKIAN."]
For the first time in two decades, most workers surveyed said they would vote to join a union if they could, looking to unions as a way to gain coveted protections on the job. And a NY Times/CBS News Poll...of 668 Americans conducted from Oct. 3 to 5 found that...70% of respondents say...the economy is worse than 2 years ago. This pessimism has influenced feelings about job security....
[Or rather, vice versa. Tom Walker also flagged "Stop the clock? Critics call the billable hour a legal fiction," by Adam Liptak, NYT, E4, but said critics have nothing to put in its place, so we're left with the usual challenges of improving system accuracy and incentives for honesty. We don't think the article contains any criticisms remotely approaching cause to contemplate abolishing the billable time concept, and we believe the concept will be vital when we get to the stage of implementing timesizing for salaried employees, because at that point we will need to put an end to employer abuse of "salary" as a blank check on employee's lives and we'll need to set up a shadow time accounting system for salaried employees which will use the billable time concept. For that matter, do away with the concept of billable time and you essentially do away with the idea of wage work, which relies on it simply in a more standardized way.]
- [And job insecurity has a companion -]
U.S. crime rate rose 2% in 2001 after 10 years of decreases, by Fox Butterfield, NYT, A18.
[The AP version of this story has an even more informative headline -]
Poor economy blamed for rise in number of crimes - Murder, robbery, rape, burglary all up in U.S. last year for first time in a decade, by Curt Anderson, AP via Seattle Post-Intelligencer via *SeattlePI.nwsource.com.
[Oh nooo, don't tell us we've reached the limits of our mass incarceration policy of the last 10 years, when we've only reached 2,100,000 Americans incarcerated and another 4.5m? on parole or probation. Back to the NY Times version -]
For the first time since 1991, serious and violent crime in the U.S. increased last year, the FBI reported yesterday.
...while aggravated assault dropped 0.5%. [However] figures for these [last] two crimes are considered the least reliable of the seven that go into the FBI's index because of problems with reporting and measuring them.
- The Bureau's annual Uniform Crime Report found that murder...rose 2.5% nationwide over the figure for 2000.... "Narcotics is the No. 1 motive...," \said\ Detective Tony Morales \in\ Phoenix..\..
- At the same time, robberies climbed 3.7%,
- burglaries [ie: break-ins] 2.9%,
- petty thefts 1.5% and
- motor vehicle thefts 5.7%.
- Rape also increased by 0.3%, the report said....
Over all, crime rose 2.1% across the nation, the report said. Experts and law enforcement officials said the overall increase, after a decade of drops in the crime rate, appeared to reflect several factors:
[Well our burgeoning nationwide private-prison building program is eager to accommodate new and returning criminals, as America, Land of the Free, launches belligerently into the Golden Future of the Third Millennium.]
- a faltering economy,
- cuts in welfare
- and [in] anticrime programs,
- as well as fewer jobs available [= #1 again - btw, aren't the number of jobs supposed to be infinite, according to the Lump of Labor "Fallacy" critics???]
- more inmates returning home from prison
[now presumably fully trained in latest crime methods]
- an increase in the teenage population,
- and police resources diverted to antiterrorism efforts....
10/26/2002 today's headlines from hell - qikis -
- How Internet Time's fifteen minutes of fame ran out, by Lee Gomes, WSJ, B1.
...Remember Internet Time? From its origins, c.1994, the phrase...was used to describe the accelerate pace at which, in a Web-enabled world, all business was supposedly going to be conducted. Business plans, product cycles, big decisions - everything would be zipping along at a fraction of their traditional rates....
What with the current free fall in tech spending, Internet Time has been replaced by its evil [or maybe good - ed.] twin: let's call it Slowth.
Faster product cycles? Why bother? No one is buying anything anyway; take all the time you need....
[Compare Boston Globe story yesterday -]
Nothing impedes like excess, by Charles Stein, BG 10/27/2002, H2.
...We are living in a time of gluts and excess capacity. Pick an industry and it's a good bet it is plagued with too much supply and too little demand. The nation has empty airline seats and offices, underutilized car factories, more stores than shoppers, thousands of miles of unused telecom cables, and silos bursting with agricultural products.
[Folks, this is what the Great Depression looked like.]
In nearly every market, a crowd of rivals is chasing the same customers. "What we've got is hypercompetition," said Harvard Business School professor Joseph Bower.
...It is worth asking: How did we get into this situation?
[And how's this for a trivial answer -]
Part of the answer is the current economic slowdown.
Whenever the economy goes from go-go to go-slow, excesses develop. A factory that was busy 2 years ago when teh economy was growing 4%/yr may have a lot of idle capacity in an economy growing 2.5%/yr....
[Then he has a couple of other answers that miss the nose on his face -]
The stock market....
...The international angle. The rest of the world has moved up the learning curve. Whereas once developing countries made textiles and sneakers, today they make steel, automobiles, and semiconductors....
"Everyone wants to export and the US is the only market that can absorb all these goods and services," said Gary Shilling, an economic consultant....
[Or can it? And that's no explanation for the rest of the world's problems, which are similar to ours. No, the nose on his face that Charles Stein is missing is that all this steel, autos and semiconductors represent technology, and technology saves work, and if we don't take those savings in terms of shorter workweeks and more financially secure leisure, guess what! - we get them in terms of overwork for some and financially insecure un- and under-employment for others. And in case you haven't noticed, we cut the 80-hour workweek in half between 1840 and 1940 but we ain't cut a minute off the 40-hour workweek for the past 62 years. And financial insecurity does not make for consumer confidence, lots of shoppers and mucho demand for all the productivity that our relatively few remaining employees are pumping out, greatly multiplied by our technology. As Reuther retorted to Ford's taunt, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - "Let's see you sell them cars." CEOs still don't "get" the connection between their employees and their markets. They think markets come - and go - by magic. It's an Act of God, totally mysterious. Their incessant downsizing has nothing to do with it. In their dreams. They themselves have created this general glut and the only intelligent way out of it is switching from mergers and downsizings to sharing the vanishing work aka timesizing. And if we do enough timesizing intelligently enough, CEOs won't even have to stop merging and downsizing - but their corporate workweek will get trimmed every month so their discarded employees get retrained and rehired promptly and their markets don't suffer. No more parking discarded employees in the ever-growing warehouses of disability (currently 5.4m Americans - see 9/01-02/2002 #2), prisons (currently 2.1m Americans - see 7/31/2002 #1) and the streets (American homeless probably number somewhere between the other two figures). And here's a bizarre theory -]
In theory, excess capacity should quickly disappear as strong competitors triumph and weak ones die off....
[Never mind what happens to payroll and the great circular flow of currency, just kill off all those weak competitors and their workforces and the markets dependent on those workforces and poof, magically all your excess productivity will disappear. You have to wonder if Charles Stein and some of the conventional economists he relies on have had the two lobes of their brain surgically separated, so they can't grasp the connection between corporate payrolls and consumer spending.]
GM and Ford are losing market share to Japanese and Korean rivals, yet...neither has been willing to close down factories....
[Who cares about market share when the whole market has been shrinking - because of just such suicidal theories as Stein is spouting. In Stein's world, one huge "strong" company producing everything with no competition would be great - never mind that it would have no markets because all the "weak" rivals - and their employees - would be bankrupt - or liquidated. Guess Stein's theory requires huge government welfare or lots of Soylent Green-style suicide parlors to take care of the liquidated work forces. Oh c'mon, says Stein, they'd get other jobs. Oh yeah, at lower pay. How long can that downward spiral continue before it comes down to the same thing. How about facing reality, Chucky - the best your theory can do is what we're already doing - 5,420,000 Americans on disability checks, 2,100,000 in jails and prisons, some number in between on the streets and in the homeless shelters, and Republican usurpers desperately trying to get the rest under discipline in the armed forces, with $356B to the Pentagon.]
Overseas, car plants stay open because it is politically impossible to shutter them.
[Any guesses why that could be, Charles? Hint: where they gonna get their foundational consumer markets if they shutter their biggest companies? Talk about facing reality -]
"No one wants to face reality," said James Womack, president of the Lean Enterprise Institute in Brookline and a longtime student of the car business.
[Least of all Womack himself, and his pupil, Chucky Stein. For all his studies of the car business, somehow the lesson of the Ford-Reuther paradox seems to have eluded him - "Let's see you sell them cars" where "them" refers to machines and robots. Stein's stupidity continues -]
In telecom, many weak players have declared bankruptcy. That doesn't mean they are going away....
[As if their going away would be any kind of solution. What about the chunk of consumer base they represent?! Stein is willing to do anything to maintain prices and stop price wars - even gut the entire consumer base if he has to. Don't they teach supply and demand any more? What we're saying here is that Schumpeter's "creative destruction" has a lethal flaw, namely, if the destruction continues past a very limited scale, it becomes self-propagating, like a wildfire out of control in Arizona this summer or an accelerating death spiral in the Red Baron's Flying Circus in WW1. It shifts from "creative" to "annihilative." It reached that point in the Great Depression, where it just wouldn't come back up, and it looks very much like it's reached that point around the globe today.]
In retailing, Kmart hopes to emerge from bankruptcy so that it can continue to slug it out with Wal-Mart and Target. Richard Wise, a VP with Mercer Mgmt Consulting, refers to such revivals as the "vampire effect," because the dead come back to life....
[Nice Hallowe'en touch, but they also bring their workforces and their workforces bring their dependent consumer demand. Face it, boys. You don't have any solution to this because you can't see the nose on your face. And that is ... share the vanishing work - divvy it up, however small the shares per person get - get everybody re-employed and re-supporting themselves, and with the lack of an "army of the unemployed" willing to do your job for less, market forces will raise wages and centrifuge the huge concentrated income of the nation (Krugman cites data indicating that the top 13,000 families have nearly as much income as the 20,000,000 at the bottom, 300 times that of average families - see "For Richer," 10/20/2002 NYT Mag, 62ff.).]
"On balance all this excess capacity is a drag on the growth [of the economy as a whole]," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com, a Pa. forecasting firm....
[Oh yeah, what about the concentration of spending power in unspendable amounts among the top 13,000 families, Mark. Does that ever cross your pea brain? The only conventionally trained economist who's even talking about it is Krugman, and he mentions in his NYT Mag article (10/20/2002) how much abuse he takes from his fellow economists for even thinking about publishing on this subject. And he's nowhere near translating it into the self-interest of the wealthy themselves, let alone zeroing in on the one escape hatch from this paradox, an escape hatch that requires reconsideration of the "stone the builders rejected." All this moaning about hyper-competition and deflation is the basis of Marx's view that capitalism contains the seed of its own destruction. But there's nothing that capitalism is inherently wedded to that requires self-destruction. The single major seed of capitalism's self-destruction has only crystallized in the last 62 years, and that is, the arbitrarily frozen workweek and the unwillingness of economists to consider worktime per person a negative variable (copious worktime is regarded as positive, now that a decline in the average mfg workweek is viewed as a negative), let alone as a control variable, let alone as the control variable of our lifetimes. In fact, for most of capitalism's history, starting say in 1776 with the publication of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," the workweek was flexible and adjustable until 1940, and for last 100 years of that period it was generally adjusting downward. Only since 1940 has the workweek been rigid and frozen. And any version of capitalism that can't modify that in the next 100 years will indeed self-destruct. Understandably, Charles Stein with his conventional frame of reference is not optimistic -]
Eventually excess capacity will get soaked up.
[He doesn't say how, and we are left to assume he's making some vague reference to what economists still hopefully call "Say's Law," but which would more accurately be called "Say's Fallacy," since it was disproven by the Great Depression. It states that markets will automatically clear. The whole of the Keynesian movement in economics began by accepting the fact that in the Great Depression, markets were not automatically clearing and that equilibrium could be reached at any level of under-utilization and excess capacity. Nothing whatsoever guaranteed that equilibrium would only be achieved at full capacity. Unfortunately Keynes could see the nose on his face no better than other conventional economists of his time, so he overlooked the critical worktime variable and concentrated on public-sector backbends and "pump primings" to get the economy "started" again, none of which were adequate until WW2 and its seemingly vital, massive withdrawal of excess labor hours from the job market (in far from the most intelligent and non-wasteful way).]
Given the size of the problem, though, the process will be more like draining a lake than a puddle. In other words, it could take a while.
[Equilibrium at less than full capacity is indefinitely sustainable without debugging the system. "A while" is more likely "forever" - unless we adjust our definition of share per person, starting in the worktime dimension, to centrifuge spending power out of its unspendable concentrations in the top income brackets. Right now our definition is "one person, one vote" poorly guaranteed (as demonstrated repeatedly in Floriduh) and "one person, one 40-hour workweek (minimum)" very poorly guaranteed. Now we need to move to "one person, one range of working hours per week" where the bottom of the range is defined by annual referendum of the participating population and the top of the range is defined inversely by the bottom. In other words, we define "unemployment" as under a referendum-set number of working hours per week and we define the maximum length of the workweek on the fly (the gradual fly) as low as necessary to achieve a referendum-set unemployment target. This, plus overtime-to-training&hiring conversion, is the essence of the Timesizing breakup of the logjam in human progress.]
10/24/2002 today's headline from hell -
- Durable orders and consumer confidence fall, AP via NYT, B4.
...Consumer confidence slid to the lowest level in nearly 10 years...as measured by a University of Michigan survey. [It] declined to 80.6 this month, the lowest level since 1993..\.. The Commerce Dept. said that orders to factories for big-ticket durable goods fell 5.9% in Sept., the biggest decrease in 10 months....
- Another Asian nation battling a crisis in its banking system - China has its own mountain of nonperforming loans - More bad debts, relative to the size of the economy, than even Japan, by Keith Bradsher, NYT, B1.
...which has suffered for more than a decade from the overhang of bad debts from its speculative frenzy of the 1980s..\..
China's government took a big step in 1999...setting up 4 asset management corporations...to take over and dispose of the $170B of the banks' worst loans.... But now the cleanup...is falling far short of its goal....
10/23/2002 today's headline from hell -
- Letters... Charlton Heston and the sniper, letters to the editor, NYT, A30....
- by Glenn Rifkin of Acton MA.
What a remarkable juxtaposition on the Oct. 23 front page: an enfeebled Charlton Heston [president of the National Rifle Assoc (NRA)], a maniacal grin on his face, waving a rifle aimed in the direction of a nearby headline, "Disbelief and Desperation in the Sniper Zone"..\..
- by Patricia Halcrow of Bayport NY.
...That he has symptoms of Alzheimer's, a brain disease, has obviously not deterred his enthusiasm for his favorite hobby, and apparently his will to have the weapon pried "from my cold dead hands" remains intact.... Maybe we should use this photograph for future campaigns advocating gun control..\..
- by Betsy Hockstein of Washington DC.
...If Mr. Heston is so fond of guns, let him come to the Washington area to pump our gas, load packages into our cars, wait for our buses and shuttle our frightened children to school.... The sniper situation leaves me wondering whom the NRA is really protecting. Mr. Heston, its president, wonders if the sniper has any friends; the answer is a resounding yes, the NRA....
10/22/2002 today's headline from hell -
- ...Attack upsets global Internet traffic - Defensive steps quickly restore Internet service, AP via NYT, A19.
...The attack, which started about 4:45 pm on Monday, transmitted data to each targeted root server at 30-40 times the normal amount. \It\ briefly crippled 9 of the 13 computer servers that manage global Internet traffic, officials disclosed today.... Seven of the 13 servers failed to respond to legitimate network traffic and two others failed intermittently during the attack.... The 13 servers are spread across the globe as precaution against physical disasters and operated by U.S. government agencies, universities, corporations and private organizations..\..
The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center was "aware of the denial of service attack and is addressing this matter," said a spokesman for the Bureau, Steven Berry..\.. One official described the attack as the largest and most sophisticated assault on the servers in the history of the Internet. The origin of the attack was not known....
[Paul Krugman published a big article on America's huge income gap and de facto plutocracy in this Sunday's NYT Magazine, and was on NPR's The Connection on Tuesday with the same story. One of the big underlying problems with this kind of societal disintegration is the lack of common interest to incentivate people to protect common resources, like the Internet, public libraries and the environment. We now have the usurping plutocratic "leader" of the "free" world trying to start an active war against a nation that has been (externally) peaceful for the last ten years because of its passive potential for war - despite the powerful, new and unpredictable weapons available to both sides. In short, the huge income gap that Krugman mentions increases the amount of destructive behavior in the human race around the planet and humanity becomes more suicidal. It's another big argument for designing a new and more powerful integrating mechanism for a greater variety of humans following a greater variety of lifestyles. Such an integrating mechanism was the idea of "one adult, one vote" of the political era. Now we need to bring the integrating principle right into the economic era. The easiest "first cut" is a common workweek range = "one adult, one workweek range." This is the approach of the Timesizing program. The program also centrifuges the astronomical concentration of wealth and reduces the income gap by reversing the wage-depressing surplus of labor. And that, of course, also smooths out the business "cycle" to a significant degree. We put "cycle" in quotes because there is nothing automatic about recovery. It is always a matter of restoring the centrifugal forces on spending power to balance the overwhelming centripetal forces that have funneled it into unspendable concentrations - mainly because of hordes of little changes that disempower ordinary people, alias working people, alias "labor." In the past two centuries of the Industrial Revolution, the major force disempowering ordinary people by taking over their jobs, has been the accelerating development of mechanization and technology. The only offsetting development during any part of this period has been the reduction in the customary work share per person, from above 80 hours a week in early 1840 when Pres. Van Buren reduced federal government labor to the 10-hour day, to the 40-hour workweek in late 1940 when the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 had crystallized the nationwide standard workweek at 44 hours in 1938, despite claims of unconstitutionality from some quarters, and then notched it down 2 hours a year until it got stuck 2 years later at the 40-hour level. It was too little too late to help the Depression, which would have been quickly ended if the Senate's 30-hour workweek of 1933 had also been passed in the House, but the war in Europe had already started in 1939 and the US economy began benefiting economically as early as early 1941. Of course, Japan helped the US recovery enormously by directly attacking USA at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, which the US itself had already brutally taken over in the 1890s, and the US unemployment rate quickly went from the 14-25% range of the 1930s to below 1%. Apparently world war, for the second time in a generation, was the only effective way to reduce the wage-depressing labor surplus sufficiently for economic recovery, though it's a lot more wasteful, unintelligent, uncontrollable, unpredictable, and environmentally damaging (and in the age of nuclear, bio and chemical weapons, potentially biosphere deadening) than merely reducing the share of work per adult until unemployment (comprehensively defined) and poverty transform into consumer confidence and sustained consumer markets to provide the entire economy with the necessary robust consumer base (2/3 of the overall economy).]
10/16/2002 today's headlines from hell - qikis -
- Leading indicators post fourth drop in as many months, by Greg Ip, WSJ, A2.
...adding to the evidence that the economic recovery could be stalling. The index of 10 economic and financial indicators whose movements tend to foreshadow overall economic activity fell 0.2%. ...Three consecutive declines are popularly thought to signal recession. ...Five out of the 10 components declined in September, with the largest contributions being jobless claims and stock prices....
[Ultimately stocks depend on jobs, not vice versa. Indeed, they symbolize jobs; specifically, the value of the average company-specific manhour.]
- Businesses feeling downdraft as customers stay away, by Kate Zernike, NYT, A19.
...Tourism in..\..the Washington area was suffering after 9/11. The new shootings have created fresh fears that are keeping customers away from businesses, as well. Columbus Day, with its traditional sales, was flat, many businesses said....
- NASD takes disciplinary action against firms and individuals, by Corris Williams, WSJ, B9C.
[Ever notice these chunks of bad news about Wall Street that the Wall Street Journal puts in tiny type that you need a microscope to read (excepting only the first paragraph which is normal size)? Pathetic. This example goes on for seven columns on four pages.]
- Banks make it harder to refinance - As applications pour in, lenders keep borrowers on hold and rates high..., by Ruth Simon, WSJ, D1.
[Compare the tight credit of the Great Depression - it's not that the money wasn't there, it just wasn't in play. Compare also this other front-page Depression reference today -]
Stocks shrug off recent battering with a big surge - Best 4 days in 70 years, by Gretchen Morgenson, NYT, front page.
[Just as we're about to get our hopes up, we subtract 2002-70= 1932 = just before the worst of the Great Depression. So this surge is just a case of depression-period volatility. This was the year Art Dahlberg published his "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism," recommending we go cold-turkey for 2 weeks and cut to a 20-hour workweek. Talk about the disastrous effects of shock therapy on Russia in the early 90s. But on the basis of this book, Art became the academic backup for Hugo Black's 30-hour workweek bill which passed the US Senate the following spring. If FDR had pushed it through the House, the Depression would have been over in 12-15 months.]
For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -Oct. 1-15/2002.
July 1-15/2002 + Jun 30.
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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