Oct 1 2013

The Rise of a Semi-employed America: Amazon to hire 70,000 part-time workers while Merck will fire 8,500 full-time employees. Before recession 4 million part-time workers today over 8 million.

The US is seeing a dramatic rise in the number of part-time workers.  The reason many employers are going with part-time hiring is that they usually forgo any benefit payments but also have more flexibility in firing these workers when they no longer need them.  This may also explain the rise in renting households as more Americans are unwilling to buy a long-term asset when their own future is tenuous.  This trend is hitting young Americans particularly hard.  We can see this shift by analyzing those working part-time for economic reasons.  Prior to the recession, roughly 4 million Americans fit this category.  Today the figure is above 8 million although at the height of the recession it was at 9 million.  This trend demonstrates a shift to less secure employment for many American families.  It also highlights a deeper trend of just-in-time (JIT) hiring for US companies.  For example, at the same time that Amazon announces seasonal hiring of 70,000 part-time workers Merck announces it will be letting go of 8,500 employees.  This trend is only going to accelerate as the government battles mountains of debt and companies look for ways to cut costs.

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Sep 25 2013

Debt serfdom via student loans: A new class of indentured servants now carry the $1.1 trillion student loan bubble and cracks are already plaguing the system.

$1.1 trillion.  That is the amount of student debt being carried on the backs of millions of Americans.  Student debt has become a rite of passage for many young Americans.  In fact, many Americans establish their first credit line with student debt as they enter college.  The crisis is large and has a direct connection to the abysmal savings that younger Americans have.  The press has tried to downplay this debt sector because students continue to carry the burden making minimum payments on the debt.  Yet even with this, student debt is the most delinquent household debt sector in the United States.  There are deeper trends at hand yet the amount of debt floating around in the student debt markets continues to expand.  Disposable income of younger Americans already ravaged by the recession continues to be sucked away into this gigantic burden.  Are we creating student debt serfs via higher education?

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Sep 22 2013

How the stock market is a sham for the working and middle class. 53 percent of Americans have no money in the stock market, including retirement accounts. 62 percent of all US wealth owned by top 5 percent.

The growing wealth divide in this country is devouring every piece of the middle class that is currently left.  The stock market is largely a sham for most Americans.  Why?  Many hedge funds and other large Wall Street firms are in the business of making quick profits even if it means destabilizing the underlying economy.  Many large companies have made larger profits since the recession ended by slashing wages and benefits.  More importantly however, is that this dramatic bull market in stocks since 2009 has been one big sideshow for most Americans.  A Pew Research survey found that 53 percent of Americans own no stocks, including in their retirement accounts.  And the fact that only 10 percent of Americans have pensions, many (most) are going to rely on Social Security as they enter old age.  Why is the stock market a sham for working and middle class Americans?

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Sep 19 2013

Going for broke: The multiple lost decades of US household income. Is it possible to have a recovery while the standard of living collapses?

The recent Census data highlights a stark difference between the stock market and what families are facing across the United States.  Households are struggling to keep ahead while the standard of living slowly erodes with the juggernaut that is the banking tide.  There will be repercussions for what the Fed has done in terms of bailing out the banks.  One longer term problem is the decline in household incomes.  Adjusting for inflation, American families are making what they did in 1989.  How long ago was this?  The most popular shows on TV were The Cosby Show and Roseanne.  In other words, this was a generation ago.  The standard of living continues to decline for many but for others the bailouts are working out magnificently like rubbing on a central bank genie lamp.  The Fed is going for broke here but only a small portion of our population is really coming out ahead.

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Sep 17 2013

A road to unsustainable debt: CBO reports that US is on unsustainable budget course as spending exceeds revenues.

A recent CBO report came out with a rather sobering outlook of our governmental spending habits.  The word “unsustainable” is probably not something you want uttered in a report about meeting a budget.  Yet that has been our recent trajectory when it comes to spending.  The massive financial crisis and subsequent bailouts have resulted in a titled economy favoring a small group of people.  The same engine that led us into this problem is still humming along and the too big to fail have now become the way too big to fail banks.  So unsustainability is the spine fueling the current recovery.  Debt upon debt only works until you reach tipping points.  US households hit that point a few years ago as the housing bubble imploded.  To think that this path of acquiring debt upon debt to pay for expenditures is sustainable is going to cause deeper instability into an already shaky system.

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Sep 14 2013

Pension disaster looms over the horizon: In 1980 60 percent of Americas participated in a pension program. Today it is less than 10 percent and the amount saved for retirement is startling.

Americans are on the verge of a retirement disaster.  As pension plans slowly go extinct Americans are not saving enough for retirement.  The figures point to a looming pension and retirement disaster.  Retirement for most Americans is largely a mirage.  As organizations switched from pensions to 401ks it was expected that most Americans would save money.  This trend started in 1980 and over 30 years have now passed.  We now have enough data to see if this transition has been beneficial to most Americans.  Unfortunately the answer highlights an American population that has not saved enough for retirement.  Most Americans will make Social Security their default retirement plan.  Pension issues also loom as many state governments contend with deep underfunding for retirement benefits.  In the end, there is a disaster looming.

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Sep 12 2013

Modern day financial repression and disinformation: Financialization of America creates incentives for massive income inequality.

America in the last couple of decades has undergone a massive reformation when it comes to the financial system.  The ability to convert everything and anything into a tradable security has been the biggest goal of Wall Street and has captured our entire economy like a starving grizzly bear chowing down on Alaskan salmon.  Even once stale real estate, once thought of as the cornerstone of wealth for most Americans is now a volatile and speculative commodity where large hedge funds dive in and out like bombers for quick profits.  The end result is that more Americans are finding it harder to keep up while most of the wealth aggregates in fewer and fewer hands.  Since the recession ended, most of the new jobs are being added in low wage segments of the economy.  An easy way to boost profits is to slash benefits and cut wages.  Good for the stock market but not necessarily for working Americans.  Sadly, that is the rub of this modern day system.  The stock market is benefitting companies that may not have the best interest of the overall economy at heart.  If that is the case, is this system truly functioning well?

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