DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse trends - July 1-15, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE


7/15/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. [the NYT opens up with both barrels, one on each side of the op ed page - all down the right side, Krugman's column -]
    Pattern of corruption - It's not just about uranium, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A25.
    More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support; Tony Blair is still with us, but has lost the trust of his public. All this puts us in a very weak position for dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods?...
    [a powerful center and the conclusion -]
    In short, those who politicized intelligence in order to lead us into war, at the expense of national security, hope to cover their tracks byl corrupting the system even further.

  2. [and if that doesn't scare you enough, there's Kristoff's column all down the left side -]
    16 words, and counting - What's wrong with this picture?, by Nicholas Kristof, NYT, A25.
    ...The White House, eager to spice up the State of the Union address, recklessly resurrected [in 16 words] the discredited Niger tidbit.... What troubles me is not that single episode, but the broader pattern of dishonesty and delusion that helped get us into the Iraq mess - and that created the false expectations undermining our occupation today. Some in the administration are trying to make George Tenet the scapegoat for the affair. But Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired spooks, issued an open letter to pResident Bush yesterday reflecting the view of many in the intel community that the central culprit is VP Dick Cheney. The open letter called for Mr. Cheney's resignation.
    [or why not impeachment?!]
    ...The problem is not those 16 words, by themselves, but the larger pattern of abuse of intelligence. The silver lining is that the spooks are so upset that they're speaking out.... Intelligence isn't just being dumbed down, but is also being manipulated - and it's continuing.... While the scandal has so far focused on Iraq, the manipulations appear to be global. ...One person from the intel community recalls an administration hardliner's urging the State Dept. Bureau of Intelligence & Research to state that Cuba has a biological weapons program.
    [Boy is this country in trouble with this pack of fanatics in the White House.]
    The spooks refused, and Colin Powell backed them....
    [And Kristoff's wrap -]
    ...The bigger the picture gets, the more it looks like a pattern of dishonesty.

  3. [and on what other fronts is Bush and his pack of devils trying to destroy America?]
    U.S.-EU crop fight flares - Washington opposes labeling, paperwork for [genetically] modified foods, by Neil King Jr., WSJ, A4.
    [This monster of secrecy, dishonesty, deception, rights invasion and misrule does not even want us to know when we're looking at frankenfoods. How many days left before we can vote his *ss to hell, if no wimpy Dems will start impeachment proceedings? Note the article right beside this one (and these are both in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, remember!) -]
    Warning is sounded as empire-building gains new cachet, by Alan Murray, WSJ, A4.
    WASHINGTON - An unusual manifesto is circulating through the email boxes of prominent Washingtonians from an ad hoc group calling itself the "Committee for the Republic." Its five sponsors include The manifesto is a work in progress...but the goal is...to educate Americans about the dangers of empire....

7/11/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Number of jobless hits 20-year high [3.82m as in Feb/83] as claims rise, by Jon Hilsenrath, WSJ, A2 (//NYT, C4). ...by 5,000 in early July to 439,000.... Economists generally believe the economy is creating [rather than losing] jobs when initial claims are below 400,000; a number [such as 439,000] above that level signals [even to cheerleading mainstream economists] a stagnant to deteriorating job market. Initial unemployment claims have [now] been above 400,000 for 21 straight weeks....
    [more -]
    Washington wire...- Minor memos, by Jackie Calmes, WSJ, A4.
    ...As Democrats pounce on new job-loss numbers to attack Bush, Rep. Stark calls jobs "as scarce as weapons of mass destruction are in Iraq."
    [And this is in the 'conservative' cheerleading Wall Street Journal, folks, that would spindoctor the bad news if it could.]

  2. [And what is Bush doing about it?]
    Bush, EU both fight 'Buy American', by Simpson & Squeo, WSJ, A3.
    WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is uniting with European government's to oppose so-called Buy American legislation attached to Pentagon funding, fearing it could lead to damaging trade disputes [never mind American jobs] - and problems with major weapons programs [huh?]....
    [With administrations like this, who needs foreign enemies?]

  3. Unions finding [US] employers want more concessions in negotiations, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, front page.
    [So east Germany ain't the only place with this syndrome and this is what it is to have a massive background labor surplus, since labor has been p*ssing away their power on far-secondary demands instead of converging and compounding pressure for shorter hours and work-spreading so they quit sinking into surplus.]
    [Compare -]
    Balance of power shifts at labor bargaining table, by Charles Stein, 7/13/2003 Boston Globe, C1.
    ...Newspaper reporters have a lot in common with many other employees in today's world.... At any give time there are many more people who would like jobs as reporters than there are jobs available.
    ['Lump of labor fallacy!" screech the mainstream economists.]
    Add it all up and what you get is a very weak bargaining position for journalists hoping to improve their wages and benefits. If you don't believe me, ask the unionized employees of the Baltimore Sun.... So why did union members vote for the contract? Because they concluded that the alternative - going on strike - would have been worse. Mgmt made it clear it would bring in replacement workers.... Some of those replacements were being trained in the Sun building during the talks.... Workers of the world, take note....
    The American economy has shed more than 2.5m jobs since 2001....what Karl Marx called the "reserve army of the unemployed"....
    [Carefully fostered to depress wages - but, unintended consequence, they also destabilize investments and render real recovery impossible.]

  4. [& Texas and Arizona aren't the only ones with this problem -]
    Wave of immigrants breaks against Italian island's shore, by Frank Bruni, NYT, front page.
    LAMPEDUSA [IS.], Italy - ...12 sq mi...resident population of [only] 6,000. ..\..In June, more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from across Africa arrived in boats that had left Tunisia or Libya, ...since the beginning of January...4,200. In all of 2002, about 6,350....
    [Lampedusa is closer to Africa than Malta!]

  5. [a rash of rate cuts -]
    Bank of England surprises with a rate cut, by Alan Cowell, NYT, W1.
    Indonesia: Interest rate cut, by Wayne Arnold, NYT, W1.
    South Korea: Interest rate cut, by Don Kirk, NYT, W1.
    Singapore: Economy slows, by Wayne Arnold, NYT, W1.
    ...The data...worse that most economists had expected, prompted Singapore's de facto central bank to loosen the city-state's monetary policy.
    [& joblessness rises -]
    Australia - Jobless rate [6.1%] rises, Bloomberg via NYT, W1.
    ...for a 4th month in 5 in June as exporters laid off workers.... The economy shed 27,900 jobs....

7/10/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Americans wonder when sun will rise on economic recovery, by David Wessel, WSJ, A2.
    [It will rise when our CEOs and B-schools stop practicing and teaching downsizing - which destroys our consumer base - and start practicing and teaching timesizing - which maintains and grows our consumer base.]

  2. Not all agree that jobs can cut crime - Specialists [ie: obfuscators] see little direct proof, by Michael Rosenwald, Boston Globe, front page, flagged by colleague Kate.
    [This article is focused on summer jobs and youth crime, but it holds for jobs and crime in general. For some reason, many criminologists and economists are determined to deny the repeated "coincidence" of high unemployment and high crime rates, just as the tobacco companies were determined to deny the repeated "coincidence" of smoking and lung cancer. Perhaps if the cure is that simple, we won't need them any more? This is another huge cost of our deadend uphill highway to gov't makework instead of the narrow but level path to private-sector work sharing = all kinds of people with a vested job interest in keeping problems unsolved, not only economists but lawyers, politicians, undertakers, arms manufacturers.... If there's always plenty of good jobs - and on-the-job training - these vultures that feed on problems would have more attractive alternatives.]
    When Boston Mayor Thomas Menino emerged last month from a "crime summt" at police HQ, he issued a warning: Without an increase in summer jobs, the city could face an increase in youth crime.
    [Lord God, press the red-alert button! Menino is trying to fabricate a connection between jobs and crime again! Stop him before that crazy notion spreads! Quick! -]
    But criminologists and economists, including those who have studied Boston crime and teen employment, say there is little direct evidence linking summer jobs to decreases in crimes....
    [Never mind that there's little "direct evidence" - if you define it narrowly enough - for ANYTHING! And these "specialists" are sooo unctuously rational (like Halifax undertakers savoring the Titanic disaster or San Francisco funeral directors relishing the earthquake) -]
    "Listen, I have enormous respect for Tom Menino going out and sticking up on behalf of kids"..\..said Andrew Sum, who has studied Boston and national youth employment at Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies.... But, he said, "I just don't see the evidence."...
    [(And he ain't really lookin' very hard.)]

  3. [then there are the guys who looked so hard, they conjured the evidence but just didn't see the cost -]
    Rumsfeld doubles estimate [from 2 to $3.9B/mon!] for cost of troops in Iraq - General says U.S. expects to keep force at 145,000 'for the foreseeable future', by Thom Shanker, NYT, front page.
    [Compare -]
    A troubled occupation in Iraq, editorial, NYT, A22.

7/09/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Consumer debt rises, led by credit cards - With unemployment at a 9-year high, some worry if the rate of borrowing can be sustained, Bloomberg via NYT, C5.
    [and when it stops, crasherooo!]
    ...Debt like auto loans and credit-card balances grew $7.34B in May, following a rise of $7.83B in April, the Fed said. Total consumer credit [i.e., DEBT] excluding real estate loans stood at $1.76 trillion in May....
    [And pourquoi? Cuz consumers = employees and employees = †.]
    ...Loans secured by real estate, like mortgages and home equity loans...increased 2.8% to $6.22 trillion in the 1st quarter compared to Q4, the Fed said last month in a quarterly report.
    [So going back to March to get comparable figures, 1760-7.34-7.83= 1744.8B = 1.74T, + real estate 6.22T= $7.96 trillion in debt. No indication as to whether this is a continuing record-breaker but we betcha it is. Now, any indications about whether the golden goose will go on?]
    ...Auto sales in May dropped 2.4% from April....

  2. 9/11 commission says U.S. agencies slow its inquiry - Asks further compliance - Panel complains of delays in papers and testimony, and of witness intimidation, by Philip Shenon, NYT, front page.
    [Hey, all Chretien, Chirac and the other non-Blair's had to say to Bush was, "When you quit the Cheney and 9/11 coverups, we'll consider joining your first strike, with those ongoing coverups, you're not even at first base." Compare -]
    Wrestling for the truth of 9/11, editorial, NYT, A22.
    [The Journal sets it up to blame the commission -]
    Sept. 11 commissioners singled out, pointer blurb [to A4], WSJ, front page.
    ...the Defense and Justice Depts. as less than cooperative, and warned they may miss a deadline.

  3. Airport screeners aren't entitled, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
    ...to unionize, the Federal Labor Relations Authority ruled.
    [But then, according to the Journal, nobody is.]
    The union seeking to represent them vowed appeals.

  4. Poor nations saw living standards decline in 1990s, by Jess Bravin, WSJ, A2.
    [same as rich nations, meaning income and wealth are funneling, concentrating and consolidating worldwide, and solids are turgid and turbid, not liquid and flowing. Of course, the Journal doesn't mention living standards in the rich nations -]
    UNITED NATIONS - While many industrialized countries saw their wealth skyrocket during the 1990s, [doncha love that "saw their wealth skyrocket" like they were passive onlookers?]
    standards of living actually fell in much of the developing world [according to] the annual Human Development Report by the UN Development Program...measuring such factors as income, literacy and life-expectancy. [It] again ranked Norway first among 175 countries, followed this year by Iceland and Sweden....
    [Funny after 13 years of capitalist triumphalism - aren't these three socialist countries?]
    The U.S. fell one position to seventh place, immediately behind Belgium and ahead of Canada.
    [So much for all the babble about "America is best." Canada was first through several years in the 1990s - its position this year may have had something to do with SARS and mad cow.]

7/08/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. [here's an unsettling omen for America under George W. Shrub -]
    Bald eagle dies at zoo, AP via NYT, A20.
    The National Zoo [in Washington DC], already under scrutiny for several animal deaths, is investigating the death of a bald eagle on Independence Day, the same day the zoo held a celebration for its new bald eagle exhibit....

  2. [and now even his own administration is beginning to admit flaws -]
    Bush claim on Iraq had flawed origin, White House says, by David Sanger, NYT, front page.
    WASHINGTON...- The White House acknowledged for the first time [yester]day that pResident Bush was relying on incomplete and perhaps inaccurate information from American intelligence agencies [still fingerpointing!] when he declared, in his State of the Union speech, that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Africa.
    The White House statement appeared to undercut one of the key pieces of evidence that pResident Bush and his aides had cited to back their claims made prior to launching an attack against Iraq in March that Mr. Hussein was "reconstituting" his nuclear weapons program. Those claims added urgency to the White House case that military action to depose Mr. Hussein needed to be taken quickly, and could not await further inspections of the country or additional resolutions at the United Nations....

7/05-07/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. 7/7 Storm warnings as stocks sail on, by E.S. Browning, WSJ, C1.
    [& beside it -]
    7/7 Slump in bonds could hamper any recovery, by Lucchetti & Singer & Sesit, WSJ, C1.
    [& back in section one -]
    7/7 Office rents decline as vacancy rates edge up, by Ryan Chittum, WSJ, A4.
    ...nationwide [in] a near doubling of the vacancy rate in a little more than two years..\..as the economy continued to shed jobs in the 2nd quarter, according to a new survey...of the top 50 U.S. markets by Reis Inc., a NY real-estate research firm..\.. National office-vacancy rates edged up in the quarter to 16.5% from 16.3%, while rents continued their slide, falling 2% to a national average of $21.04 per sq ft per year....
    [This is a new front for depression-signalling deflation.   Then there's the Journal's version of the Times' Friday story (below) -]
    7/7 Jobless rate rose to 6.4% in June - Measure's nine-year high shows job-market woes, signals delayed recovery, by Patrick Barta, WSJ, A2.
    [So the WSJ is calling this deepening depression a "stumbling," "jobless," and now "delayed" "recovery." And the income gap is now duplicating itself in a product gap -]
    7/7 Eyes on the road, pointer blurb (to WSJ online), WSJ, front page.
    Some middlebrow brands have been all but squeezed out of the market by economy models and aging boomers' shift to luxury vehicles.
    [But, we drove down beautiful, seaside Jerusalem Road from Nantasket to Scituate (Mass.) on Sunday and a red convertible Alfa Romeo was parked beside the road with a For Sale sign on it - and we couldn't believe the number of properties up for sale - lost count! And check this 'goody' from the Boston Globe -]
    7/06 For American middle class, it's all downhill for now, by Linda Stern, BG, D2, flagged by colleage Kate.
    ...Inferential Focus [is] a quirky NY prognosticating firm. [They] read 350 publications on a regular basis. They ignore most of the noise - surveys, prognostications [ah, Linda, "forecasts" just has TWO syllables!], formal speeches, and staged events - and look for actual occurrences that can point to changes in American society, which can then be spun off into investable ideas.
    What they are finding now is this: We're going down.... Even though the worst of the bear market might be behind us [dream on], the American middle class will continue to lose ground and the American consumer will continue to be squeezed....
    [That's the key - squeeze the consumer and strangle the economy.]
    They find that to be true at both middle and upper levels of the income spectrum....
    It's no secret that the United States has been on a rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer track for several years. Most recently, the Labor Dept. said that the top 5% of America's wealthiest households earned 22.4% of the national income in 2001 [sounds conservative]. That is the highest 'share' [our quotes] since figures were first collected in 1967. The lowest class, meanwhile, earned its smallest share, 3.5%....
    Middle-income households, which in 2001 earned between $33,315 and 53,000, earn 14.6% of American income every year. That's another 35-year low.
    [Lowest 3.5%, middle 14.6, wealthiest 22.4% - where's the other 100-(3.5+14.6+22.4)= 100-40.5= 59.5%?? Linda, ya gotta give us a hint about the overall scheme somewhere!]
    ...This slump is spreading to the better-off, who are starting to act more like the less-well-off. ...The upper-middle class is starting to downscale spending habits and life style..\..
    [And the superwealthy that have compacted so much of the nation's income sure aren't spending....]
    ...Working together to create a middle-class slide: [What does all this amount to? Check out this Journal gem -]
    7/7 Bush strives to show effort on economy, by Greg Ip, WSJ, A4.
    [Ya gotta love it! Let's boot this moron 'and his imps' back into the highschool locker room whence they escaped. "But what if he's making a genuine 'effort'?" Get real! The article's subhead tells it all -]
    - Public-relations campaign comes as shaky statistics give Democrats ammunition

  2. [and elsewhere -]
    7/7 Europe's leaders face stalemate over economy, by Thomas Sims, WSJ, A8.
    [From accompanying chart "Rising Pain" - Euro-zone unemployment 2001 8.0%, 2002 8.4%, 2003 8.8%. And in specific countries -]
    7/05 Drop in factory orders fuels talk of recession in Germany, Bloomberg via NYT, B2.
    [Remember story about the 'frog in the water'? - that jumped right out of the already boiling pot, but stayed in the lukewarm pot that was slowly coming to a boil - till he croaked (= in this case, died)? Well all this global chitchat about recovery, whether stumbling, jobless, or delayed, or renewed recession, as here, is the frog sitting in that lukewarm pot wondering if the burner could possibly be on.]
    7/05 Sweden's bank lowers key rate, Bloomberg via NYT, B2.
    ...its repo rate 0.25 to 2.75%.... The unemployment rate climbed to 5.6% in June from 4.8% in [June] last year....

  3. [and the Journal is even mentioning the Q-word -]
    7/7 Iraq quagmire fears grew, pointer blurb (to A3), WSJ, front page.
    ...amid persistent guerilla resistance. US troops suffered casualties in a Ramadi ambush and two died in earlier attacks in Baghdad....
    [and all so unnecessary and begun so dishonestly.]

7/04/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. ["Happy Fourth - you're fired!"]
    U.S. jobless rate increases to 6.4%, highest in 9 years - 30,000 jobs lost in June - Figures defy some predictions of an economic revival - Blacks fare worst, by Daniel Altman, NYT, front page, article flag credit to Jeanette Watkins of Arlington WA.
    ...The Labor Dept. also said that job losses were much more severe in May than originally reported - 70,000 outside of farming, rather than 17,000.
    ["How many?" Seventy thou. "Seventeen thou?" Yeah.]
    In all, the economy has lost 236,000 jobs this year....
    Job losses occurred across almost all industries, but blacks had considerably more trouble finding work than whites. Many more people started looking for work, but the number of employed blacks shrank, while the number of employed whites grew.
    ["Come unto Timesizing, all ye that need to labor, and Timesizing will guarantee you jobs."]
    'It's hard to put a positive spin on this report," said Ethan Harris, chief economist of Lehman Bros....
    ["Don't strain yourself."]
    The data put the White House on the defensive....
    [Well, there's a positive right there!]

  2. [& check out 2 neighboring stories that contribute to this "White House defens-ive" - a refreshing change from their usual offensiveness -]
    U.S. 'still at war,' general [Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez] declares; 10 G.I.'s wounded - 3 more assaults in Iraq - $25m reward is offered for Hussein - $15m for each of his sons, by Amy Waldman, NYT. front page.
    [and]
    Anger rises for troops' families as deployment in Iraq drags on, by Jeffrey Gettleman, NYT, front page.

  3. [not to mention inside -]
    Shares slip after disappointing report on unemployment, by Jonathan Fuerbringer, NYT, C5.
    [Happy Fourth, Shrub.]

7/03/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Bush's record on jobs: Risking comparison to a Republican ghost [From accompanying graph, only 2 presidents have had negative job growth during their administrations, Herbert Hoover and Geo. W. Bush. The rest have been lucky but not stupid. Hoover was smart but just couldn't think far enough, fast enough outside the box. He actually stated that shorter hours were the quickest way to create jobs (Hunnicutt, Work Without End, 249) but he just didn't focus on it and wield the power of the presidency to cap and lower the national workweek. FDR did, too little too late (1938-40), and still cut 1% unemployment for each workweek hour he cut. Hoover had a 9% loss of 7.71m jobs. Dubya so far has had a 0.7% loss of 2.37m jobs, nearly 31% of Hoover's accomplishment and he's still got a year and a half to go.]

  2. Telecommuter loses case for benefits - Jobless insurance denied to woman in Florida, by Al Baker, NYT, A19.
    ALBANY...- A woman who used a laptop computer and a phone line to work in Florida for a Long Island company is ineligible for New York's unemployment [UE] benefits, the state's highest court ruled [yester]day....
    ['Limits of the Big 4' dept. - Big 4 = UE insurance, workmen's comp, minumum wage, and social security.]

  3. Why U.S. manufacturing won't die, by Clare Ansberry, WSJ, B1.
    ['Methinks the lady doth protest too much.']
    What role will U.S. manufacturing play in the national and global economies in the coming years? What jobs will be left for American workers?...
    Many experts believe that the pattern of past years will continue - that low-skilled jobs making lower-value, mass-produced items will keep migrating to countries where labor is plentiful and cheap, while manufacturing in industrial nations, such as the U.S., Japan and Western Europe, will center on complex, value-added products and systems. Demand for more sophisticated luxury cars and evermore elaborate communication systems will keep fueling highly automated machinery and processes.
    [These pollyannas recognize neither the gradual impact of automation nor the amount of business activity sacrificed to their tolerance for downsizing and their happytalk about infinite alternative jobs.]
    Many of those higher-margin, technology-intensive production [jobs! they omitted the noun all these adjectives were pointing to!] will remain in the U.S., and should keep jobs here becoming steadily better, safer and higher paid than in earlier generations.
    [The problem is not the quality, safety or pay of the remaining jobs. The problem is their declining numbers, and with them, the declining numbers of confident consumers available to purchase all the productivity maintained and grown by the constantly intensifying technology.]
    Other jobs serving certain protected markets, like medical instruments that are carefully monitored and require collaboration between doctors, hospitals and producers, should also remain, as will those involved with making something big and bulky, like kitchen cabinets that are costly to ship, or perishable items like frozen food and bread.
    [Ya know, the attempts to counter the devastation of downsizing are getting more and more strained, less and less convincing. Three little pockets where a few jobs might survive, against a background of jobs in technology figuring out how technology can take over more jobs, which if we continue responding to by downsizing the workforce instead of the workweek. This attempt to justify the Ptolemaic economy goes on and on.]


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