Economy Media

The NYT: Where, oh Where Has Our Little Bubble Gone?

You’ve really got to hand it to the New York Times this time: this is the most clueless headline ever:

Builders of New Homes Seeing No Sign of Recovery

Ok, let me refresh your memory: the thing that got us into this mess in the first place was loosely-given credit that allowed a glut of new home purchases over the course of a decade and a half. That includes an artificially-inflated demand for new home construction, as anyone who has ever driven through Mendon can tell you. We currently sit on a huge unsold stock level in the housing market and even existing home sales are down by 28 percent, per the same article.

I can appreciate the fact that new home construction is an industry like any other, with lots of individual tradesmen and professionals relying on that industry for employment. But the tone of the article suggests that, without a consonant recovery of pre-recession home building, there is no recovery. My suggestion to anyone relying on *new* home construction would be to find another niche within which to ply your trade, because we cannot sustain another “recovery” such as that.

Economy Politics

Better News on Jobs is Good, But About Those Prices….

Pew Research just released polling data on their People Press website indicating that the general consensus among those polled seems to be that they’re hearing less bad news about the jobs situation, but more bad news about prices:

Public Sees Better News about Jobs, But Not Prices | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Certainly, that squares with reality: the price of just about everything is going up and if the overall job market hasn’t gotten much better, it hasn’t gotten the same bad press.

But for Obama, its those prices – specifically oil prices – that he has to worry about for 2012. I would submit that oil prices are a lot more deleterious to Republican incumbent chances than they are to Democratic ones, but prices this bad are just toxic for anyone.

Economy Politics

What, Precisely, is an Online Job Listing? is reporting this afternoon that “Online job listings up locally, nationally.” That’s great, but what does that mean? The report offers no hint as to the quality of the listings nor the means by which they are included:

Online job listings up locally, nationally | Business First.

There are two immediate questions that spring to mind as a person who was only just recently unemployed and who is entirely too familiar with “online job postings”:

  1. Are the jobs actually local, or are they those “work from home” sales jobs that just advertise locally?
  2. Are those jobs unique? Many staffing agencies will post the same job with different titles and descriptions, but they’re the same job. Five companies all trying to book a single gig are not the same as five jobs.

Pardon me whilst I keep my enthusiasm in check.


Digital Rochester Career Fair

This is both scary and amazing: I got to the Digital Rochester career fair at the Double Tree in Henrietta half an hour early and there’s already about a hundred people here.

Note to Rochester Journos: no need to wait, the party’s already started. Get down here right away.


KODAK Layoffs Last Friday

I’m not sure how many people got the ax last Friday, but I just got a call from a good friend in the server administration and high-level web usability department that he got the word Friday. I’m supposed to be going out for lunch with friends in my department as a going away thing for me, which is really nice of them, but I wonder if there won’t be more people than just me in attendance who are also going away.

I’ve got two years here. It’s not easy to let go of. But damn, I can’t imagine what it’s like for people with decades of experience.



It has been announced that the national unemployment rate is currently 7.6%. Researchers at the Congressional Research Service previously announced that we can expect a bottom of 9% unemployment rate even with the stimulus package. Without it, we could be looking at 13%. Those numbers now seem frankly optimistic.

Can we please pass the stimulus bill, now?


Just About 100%

I spoke to a recruiter at my placement agency today about the layoffs at Kodak, he was asking me what I thought the effect on my group would be. I told him I expect it to be pretty rough, which I’m sorry to say I do. He told me that just about 100% of the contractors working through this agency for Kodak were being denied their contract renewals.

How many people is that? I asked.

“Its. . . . Well, it’s just ridiculous.”


Simple Economics Explained Simply, Part II

70,000 workers lost their jobs yesterday. 70,000 workers will no longer be paying federal income tax and there’s more on the way. So, the Republican solution to this problem is to cut the taxes they won’t be paying in order to get them to spend money they don’t have.


The Hidden Layoffs

It’s worth noting as I’m losing my job, that I’m only being let go as a contractor. The contract is simply not being renewed and would not count as a layoff in terms of the financial reporting that publicly traded companies are required to disclose at intervals. When you see that Microsoft is letting 5,000 people go, or that Kodak plans on announcing more layoffs today, keep in mind that none of this considers the contractors and temps that just simply disappeared from the rolls.


News Updates for Wednesday

We finally figure out the obvious and start buying banks, Gene Simmons buys a record company, and masturbation becomes a healthy ((not to mention natural and zesty)) enterprise in this latest of news roundups for DFE. Lets whip out some stories, shall we?

  • Buying jets with bailout money is for pussies. How about this: take bailout money, then host a conference call filled with influential business leaders and lobbyists to try to break the back of the Employee Free Choice Act. Why not take taxpayer money and then use it to spend on lobbying politicians? And so you can break the bank of the unions that fight for the taxpayers you just bilked?
  • The Obama Administration sees the banking industry sliding farther and farther into trouble and it’s beginning to look more and more obvious that some “nationalization,” or the government buying a controlling interest in distressed banks, may be necessary. As a side note, see Dean Baker for why shareholders of bankrupt banks actually make out quite well in such a scenario. Hint: a few bucks for paper worth nothing is a good thing.
  • Corning expects that of the 3,500 jobs they’re cutting back across the enterprise, 650 of them will be local jobs. Bad news, people. I feel for ya.
  • Peanut butter recalls continue. It was reported last night no less than twelve incidents at the offending company where testing revealed traces of salmonella and they sent the stuff to market anyway.
  • Gene Simmons announced on his website that he’s starting up a new Universal Records company in Canada, eh? Can’t wait to see Gene in full KISS regalia on the Canadian $5!
  • It’s been a long couple months for Toyota. In addition to posting it’s first annual loss in its history, now they need to recall a million vehicles for defective seat belts.
  • Calling all mad hatters! If you thought the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter was fun, get ready for the long-term effects of corn syrup laced with mercury. Yessiree, Bob! Bad news: you may go insane or this may have something to do with the increase in Autism. Good news: you’ll more easily be able to find your way home after you’re diagnosed with mercury poisoning.
  • People are flocking to small business ownership as a way to avoid the layoffs going around right now. Why you would think that selling pizza would be a way to save yourself is beyond me, but interesting, nonetheless.
  • Finally, mixed news for the porn industry: studies show that masturbation among teenagers increases the risk of prostate cancer, yet masturbation among the 50-something set actually decreases it. I guess based on the bell curve, I’m free to whack it whenever I want.

2.5 Million

I just thought I’d point out that when you read newspaper articles and watch television news programs which say that we could lose up to “2.5 million jobs,” if the auto industry goes bust, they’re clearly exaggerating. It would be more correct to say that 2.5 million workers can be affected by such a move, but just how those jobs would be affected remains an open question.

Not that I think 2.5 million jobs being affected is a good thing. But all three big Detroit companies are not going to simultaneously explode. And even if they do, not every company in every town in Michigan or Pennsylvania is a subcontractor for Detroit steel. The waitresses will indubitably have people for whom breakfast must be served. The tips are likely to suck, though.

So at the risk of sounding Pollyanna – clearly, auto makers going bye-bye is a bad thing that we should probably avoid if possible – I just thought that if the television yakkers won’t tell you, it might be helpful for someone to put things in at least some perspective.

Oh, and more perspective: GM big shots decide to give up their leased jets they flew to Washington with to tell Congress they were broke.