Don't Make Excuses - Make Good! Between World Wars I and II, the U.S. economy was booming - workers had choices and employers competed for their time. How to motivate and gain loyalty from a labor force that knew it could walk out the door and find more work soon? Charles Mather, head of a family printing business in Chicago, offered employers a solution: the first motivational posters for the private workplace market. Printed between 1923 and 1929, Mather's "Work Incentive Posters" used strong imagery and short, clear messaging to encourage workplace values like teamwork, punctuality, safety, and loyalty. Today, some of his 350 designs can be seen in traveling exhibitions and poster galleries, and Antiques Road Show - or you can soak up some motivation from his modern-day successors at Successories - or generate your own. [more inside]
"Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't." In Obion County, Tennessee, the services of the South Fulton Fire Department are provided only to those customers who wish to pay their $75 annual fee. If you don't feel like subscribing, and your house catches fire, the firefighters will at least keep you company as you watch it burn to the ground.
Over at Slate magazine, Timothy Noah is doing a multi-part examination of America's growing income gap. The Great Divergence.
How to End the Great Recession. Robert Reich's prescription for the economy.
Do you feel overwhelmed trying to understand the driving forces behind our economic collapse. When listening to the latest Planet Money podcast, do you find yourself yearning for something a bit more toe-tappin'? Meet Merle Hazard. "He is the first and only country singer to write about mortgage-backed securities, derivatives, and physics."
Over 62 million mortgages are now held in the name of MERS, an electronic recording system devised by and for the convenience of the mortgage industry. A California bankruptcy court, following landmark cases in other jurisdictions, recently held that this electronic shortcut makes it impossible for banks to establish their ownership of property titles--and therefore to foreclose on mortgaged properties. The logical result could be 62 million homes that are foreclosure-proof.
How to be frugal and still be asked on dates Though saving and overall frugality are making a comeback in all areas of life, dating remains the one area where it is (probably) not acceptable to be cheap.
China is now the world's second-largest economy.
High frequency trading crop circles. Automated trading is flooding stock exchanges with nonsensical orders making odd patterns like The Knife at millisecond scales. Bugs, emergent phenomena, or market jamming strategies? No one seems to know.
Hale "Bonddad" Stewart shows that U.S. Manufacturing is NOT Dead, but says that to
zombify resurrect rejuvenate it America should look into Industrial Policy. Meanwhile, in Detroit, a President is saying that the automobile industry bailout prompted an "industrial revival", a Senator is calling it "industrial policy" and an economist is saying even if it is, "it's the most successful...in American history". All of which prompts the age-old question.... [more inside]
99 Weeks Later, Jobless Have Only Desperation. 'In June, with long-term unemployment at record levels, about 1.4 million people were out of work for 99 weeks or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.' While the Senate ponders a debate on tax cuts for the rich, jobless claims hit highest level since April. With such unemployment, frustration and despair grow as job searches drag on. 'In her well-thumbed, leather-bound Bible, Terri Sadler recently highlighted in bright pink a passage in the Gospel of Matthew. In it, Jesus urges his followers not to “worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” But Ms. Sadler’s tightening throat and halting breath when she tries to read the words aloud make it clear that she is having trouble mustering enough faith to follow them.' [more inside]
"[Bank robber Peter Barry] Lawrence, 71, made his getaway in his wheelchair, with $2,000 in cash on his lap... he took a meandering route down Seventh Avenue until the police caught up with him five minutes later. But that was all part of the plan." And an embedded reporter in Afghanistan notes that "many young soldiers told me that they actually live better in the army, even when deployed, than they did in civilian life, where they couldn't make ends meet, especially when they were trying to pay for college or raise a family by working one or two low-wage jobs" (p. 1). Meanwhile, "parents of means are now resorting to buying franchise businesses to keep their adult children employed." Economic life in contemporary America.
These folks in rural Arkansas and Missouri are getting jobs that are often reported as going to India and other countries. Is this a sign of American ingenuity or decline?
Britain Is Puzzled by Its Inflation Problem in a Downturn. Inflation in Britain is an economic mystery. It seems unique in the Western World which on the whole is closer to the dangers of deflation than inflation. April of this year was particularly bad - in an inflation spike that alarmed Britain, 'British price inflation including housing costs hit a 20-year high of 5.3% in April, sending shockwaves through an economy still struggling to exit recession'. [more inside]
Keith Gessen of n+1 Magazine interviewed an anonymous hedge fund manager. [Previously]. HFM provided many more insights than were published back in 2008. [more inside]
Plummeting Marijuana prices cause panic in CA. In 1983, the Reagan administration launched a massive air and ground campaign to eradicate pot and lock up growers in northern California. Charley Custer, a writer and community activist, had just arrived to Humboldt County from Chicago. With the Reagan crackdown, Custer recalls, wholesale prices shot up — to as high as $5,000 a pound. That sudden and ironic windfall for those growers willing to risk prison time transformed the community.... Prices are now much less than $2,000 a pound, according to interviews with more than a dozen growers and dealers. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman says some growers can't get rid of their processed pot at any price.
Major market indices fell almost 10% this afternoon before recovering half of that value. Some blame the failing Greek economy and the related loss of confidence in the Eurozone. But a lot of attention is being paid to the role of automated trading systems. Accenture's stock, for example, dropped from $41 to one penny in two minutes and then recovered just as quickly. Will this trigger a loss of confidence in automated trading?
Proposed austerity measures in response to Greece's economic crisis have led to riots and three deaths . However, this isn't the first time that riots have shaken Greece in response to the economic turmoil. One dog has seen them all.
After more than 160 years of treating patients, historic St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City's Greenwich Village filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday and will close its doors to new patients. The last remaining Catholic Hospital in NYC, St. Vincent's was originally founded in 1849 to serve the poor. The effect is already being felt at other hospitals in the area. But despite the filing, there was still time for one last cry: Abigail Jancu was the the last baby ever born in St. Vincent's maternity ward.
Today, while testifying for only the second time on Capitol Hill since the financial crisis began, [former Fed chairman] Alan Greenspan said the Fed closely monitored the subprime market [...]"I was right 70% of the time, but I was wrong 30% of the time, and there were an awful lot of mistakes in 21 years...". But Greenspan's defense of his record today rang hollow to many seasoned observers, if not downright deceitful.
Gaza's tragically peculiar economy - Last week Palestinians marked the 1,000th day of the "siege" of the Gaza Strip. The continuing economic embargo, with its attendant social and economic effects on the more than 1.5 million Gazans, makes for a depressing story. Equally depressing is the extent to which this situation has somehow become accepted as normal and acceptable by much of the international community. [more inside]
Click here? Was structuralism, the big idea of Claude Lévi-Strauss, more cult than science? Apostolos Doxiadis, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna – the team behind the bestselling graphic novel Logicomix – investigate.
NPR's Planet Money has bought a toxic asset. As announced on their podcast Tuesday and on Morning Edition today, the team's five reporters pooled $1000 to buy a stake in over 2000 mortgages, with the (highly unlikely) profits going to charity. Listeners can track the asset's progress, suggest it a name, and even watch it personafied in a two minute video.
Last week, economist Simon Johnson (his blog; previously on MeFi) spoke at the Roosevelt Institute about the failure to regulate the financial industry, and the doomsday cycle of our economy (via).
It has been looked at for many years (link to a 2003 PDF revised edition of a 1983 report). Inspiring reports trying to predict where this was heading, the knowledge economy is incredibly difficult to get a grip on, mainly because its products are intangible. [more inside]
Boston College sociology professor Lisa Dodson does research on poverty, public policy, and low-income work and family life. Recently her research took a different turn, as she discovered through interviews with U.S. managers in charge of low-income workers that some of them feel "(a) sense of unfairness (...) as a supervisor, making enough to live comfortably while overseeing workers who couldn’t feed their families on the money they earned. That inequality, he told her, tainted his job, making him feel complicit in an unfair system that paid hard workers too little to cover basic needs." Professor Dobson talks about this phenomenon, and how it plays out in that some managers undermine the system, in interviews in the Boston Globe and on public radio. [more inside]
Ice House Detroit is an architectural installation and social change project wherein photographer Gregory Holm and architect Matthew Radune have spent weeks spraying water on an empty Detroit home. [more inside]
The New York Times visualizes the proposed $3.83 trillion budget for 2011.
Jared Diamond on the unique cultural and geological challenges Haiti has faced since its colonial days. Diamond shows how these reasons have caused the nation to fare considerably poorer than its neighbor, The Dominican Republic. [more inside]
Debt collectors call him a credit terrorist. “Cunningham beats the debt collectors at their own game. He turns their money-making practice into a financial liability. He is a regular guy who has become a radical enemy of the banking system.” [more inside]
Governments around the globe are opening up their data vaults allowing us to check out the numbers for ourselves. This is the Guardian’s gateway to that information. Search for government data here from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand — and look out for new countries and places as they are added. Read more about this on the Datablog. [more inside]
The Disposable Worker - "In contrast with the past, what is good for America's global corporations is no longer necessarily good for the American people." (single-page print version) [more inside]
Mohandas K. Gandhi’s critique of the modern identification of society with the state was devastating. He believed that it disabled citizens, subjecting mind and body to the control of professional experts when the purpose of a civilization should be to enhance its members’ sense of their own self-reliance. He proposed instead that every human being is a unique personality and participates with the rest of humanity in an encompassing whole. Between these extremes lie proliferating associations of great variety. [...] But what is most relevant to us is his existentialist project. If the world of society and nature is devoid of meaning, each of us is left feeling small, isolated and vulnerable. How do we bridge the gap between a puny self and a vast, unknowable world? The answer is to scale down the world, to scale up the self or a combination of both, so that a meaningful relationship might be established between the two. Gandhi devoted a large part of his philosophy to building up the personal resources of individuals. Our task is to bring this project up to date. ~ From The Digital Revolution and me by John Keith Hart
Solidarity Economics. (pdf) Strategies for Building New Economies From the Bottom-Up and the Inside-Out. [more inside]
Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy and workers. For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households. But since 2000, the story is starkly different. The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation's growth. Meanwhile, some of the administration's remedies might be making things worse: U.S. Loan Effort Is Seen as Adding to Housing Woes. [more inside]
If Potter gets a hold of this building and loan, there will never be another decent house built in this town.
Frank Capra meets Collateralized Debt Obligations:
The idea is simple: If enough people who have money in one of the big four banks move it into smaller, more local, more traditional community banks, then collectively we, the people, will have taken a big step toward re-rigging the financial system so it becomes again the productive, stable engine for growth it's meant to be. It's neither Left nor Right -- it's populism at its best.Move your money.
Amid the financial headlines (about new banking reforms, more bank failures, the need for more lending by the fat-cats, the question of whether a European-style bonus-tax might be possible here, and the shrinking of the middle class), on PBS yesterday Bill Moyers wondered, in an in-depth segment (with organizers from here and here), whether a new wave of populist economic activism is perhaps, despite all odds, beginning to make a dent after all.
In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee... where he’s seeking re-appointment as the Fed’s chairman, Bernanke called for cutbacks in Medicare and Social Security... “Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money is, as he put it,” Bernanke said. “The money in this case is in entitlements.” [more inside]
“We send something whenever we have a little extra, at least enough so he can eat." Remittances, the small money transfers a previous FPP called "the most important antipoverty program in the world", are now flowing the opposite direction. Yes, poor families in southern Mexico are having scramble to find money to send north to their out of work relatives in the US.
A year and a half ago, Henry Chung was an assistant vice president at Merrill Lynch. Now he's an NYPD patrol officer.
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
It sounds like a George Lopez joke. “Times are so bad that I saw an Anglo day laborer standing outside Home Depot the other day.” Except it’s true.
Raquel Rolnik is the U.N.'s new Special Rappoteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. So far, she has investigated forced evictions in Phnom Penh and housing destroyed by rising sea levels in the Maldives. This week, she's investigating whether limited access to affordable housing is a human rights violation in the U.S. [more inside]
The Last Days of Gourmet Some photos of the last few days of clean-up from the inside of Gourmet Magazine's offices.
Latvia's Tiger Economy Loses Its Bite: Less than a year after Latvia joined the E.U. in 2004, its growth rate topped all of Europe. As global stock markets overheated and competition for investment opportunities intensified, Scandinavian banks showered Latvia with cheap credit. Now, with the highest unemployment in Europe, and propped up by $10 billion in IMF loans, Latvia's economy struggles to stay afloat.
Looks like Paul Volker is attempting to bring some sanity back to the U.S. banking industry, as adviser to the Obama administration. But is anybody listening?