Archive for the ‘jobs’ Category

Recession is Official: Could Last Into, Past 2010

December 2, 2008

The economy’s yearlong downturn, officially declared a recession Monday, could last well into next year or even beyond, challenging the government to devise new responses as traditional methods show limited results.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the private body charged with determining the onset of a recession as well as its endpoint, said Monday that the current downturn met its definition of a recession: “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.”

By the Los Angeles Times

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/business
/la-fi-econ2-2008dec02,0,25
87872.story

Women see Clinton job as triumph, disappointment

December 1, 2008

In what was billed as the Year of the Women in U.S. politics, the choice of Hillary Clinton as President-elect Barack Obama‘s secretary of state somehow seems both more and less than her supporters had hoped for.

“I wouldn’t say I’m mollified, I’m just happy she’s got something she’ll be good at,” said Barbara Hynd, 69, a retired research scientist and Clinton fan in Cincinnati. “I think she would have made a good president.”

Clinton’s rise to one of the most powerful positions in her former rival’s cabinet caps a year of dreams and disappointments for her often fervent supporters: Would the New York senator and former first lady be president? No. Would she be vice-president? Nope. Surely she’ll be in his cabinet? Yes.

By Andrea Hopkins, Reuters

Is that good enough? Perhaps.

“I think it’s great for Hillary, and we can all heave a sigh of relief that she’s found a powerful perch,” said Carol Jenkins, president of the Women’s Media Center in New York.

“I’d love to see her … bring on Mideast peace. If anyone can do it, it’s Hillary,” Jenkins added.

While 2008 will go down in U.S. history as the year the country’s first black president was elected, it will also be remembered for the election in which a woman nearly became the Democratic nominee for president and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin became the Republican party‘s first woman nominee for vice president.

The campaign was also marked by stereotypes of Clinton as the humorless harridan of the Democratic nominating contests and Palin as the know-nothing pretty face chosen to be Republican John McCain’s running mate.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081201/pl_nm/us_usa_obama_women;_
ylt=Ao84MBbJJhf83HFOwWkcDris0NUE

Santa Won’t Visit China’s Toymakers Much This Year

December 1, 2008

Dongguan, China, produces a vast amount of the toys that will end up under Christmas trees around the world. Or it did, until all the factories there started to close because of the global economy….. leaving thousands of workers out of work and out of luck….

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At about six o’clock Thursday evening, around what used to be quitting time for the day shift at the He Jun toy factory in Dongguan, China, 40-year-old Wei Dong Li made his way to the factory’s front entrance, his three-year-old son Qian Jie tugging at his sleeve. The factory is now closed; a few security guards stand inside the locked gate. Posted each evening at the front entrance is a sheaf of documents: the latest rulings from a local court on compensation claims filed by many of He Jun’s 4,000 workers, Wei included. “They process a few of them a day, so I come back every other day to check and see if my case is on the list,” Wei says. He has no luck again. “I’ll just wait some more,” he says. “I have nothing else to do at this point.”

By Bill Powell
Time Magazine

Dongguan, along with a handful of similar, nearby towns, is the real Santa’s factory at the North Pole. A sprawling, charmless city of 7.5 million that sits 80 km southeast of Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong in southern China, Dongguan produces a vast amount of the toys that will end up under Christmas trees around the world. Toys were one of the critical, low-wage, low-tech industries on which China built its economic ascent over the past 30 years. But as workers such as Wei know better than anyone, 2008 is the year that that part of China’s miracle has come to an end.

It’s been six weeks since He Jun, a Hong Kong-listed company, shuttered two of its biggest factories in China — suddenly and without any warning, former workers say. They were among the latest and largest factory closures in China’s battered low-end industries: toy manufacturers, textile companies and shoe makers most prominent among them. China’s steadily appreciating renminbi currency — which makes Chinese goods more expensive in key exports markets like the U.S. — as well as higher costs embedded in a new labor law enacted last year were already wreaking havoc with companies that survived even in the best of times on the thinnest of profit margins. Now, with a global recession gathering pace, the best of times are gone, and the pain in what had been booming areas in southern China is spreading quickly. Fully half of China’s toy exporters, which sent nearly $8 billion worth of Barbies and Thomas the Tank Engines to export markets in 2007, were driven out of business in the first seven months of this year, Beijing’s General Administration of Customs said in a recent report. In the city of Shenzhen, the other major manufacturing center in Guangdong province, 50,000 people have already lost their jobs this year. And in Beijing last week, Zhang Ping, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation’s key economic policy-making body, bluntly warned that “excessive production cuts and business closures will cause massive unemployment and that will lead to instability.”

In Dongguan, it already has. Earlier last week, on the evening of November 25, another large toy manufacturer here, Kai Da Manufacturing, laid off more than 600 of its workers because of slowing production. According to participants and eyewitnesses to what followed, a large group of the workers gathered in the front courtyard of the factory demanding to know what compensation they would receive. At first, a company manager told them that anyone with a good work record and less than five years service would receive less than 10,000 RMB—less than $1,500 at today’s exchange rates. Anyone with over seven years on the line and a good record would get 12,300 RMB or about $1,800.

Read the rest:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,
1862717,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

It’s official: US is in recession

December 1, 2008

Just one year ago, people at the White House and thus the rest of the U.S. government, wouldn’t even say the word “recession.”  Well, what a difference a year makes….

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The U.S. economy has been in a recession since December 2007, the National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday.

The NBER — a private, nonprofit research organization — said its group of academic economists who determine business cycles met and decided that the U.S. recession began last December.

By one benchmark, a recession occurs whenever the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, declines for two consecutive quarters. The GDP turned negative in the July-September quarter of this year, and many economists believe it is falling in the current quarter at an even sharper rate.

But the NBER’s dating committee uses broader and more precise measures, including employment data. In a news release, the group said its cycle dating committee held a telephone conference call on Friday and made the determination on when the recession began.

The White House commented on the news that a second downturn has officially begun on President George W. Bush‘s watch without ever actually using the word “recession,” a term the president and his aides have repeatedly avoided. Instead, spokesman Tony Fratto remarked upon the fact that NBER “determines the start and end dates of business cycles.”

“What’s important is what is being done about it,” Fratto said. “The most important things we can do for the economy right now are to return the financial and credit markets to normal, and to continue to make progress in housing, and that’s where we’ll continue to focus.”

Euros and US dollar banknotes in a cash register. The euro slipped ...

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081201/ap_on_bi_ge/re
cession;_ylt=Av4rK9gOMufRFmgh8CgxMWms0NUE

Obama’s Biggest Challenge of All: China

November 29, 2008

The single most important challenge for the new administration—one with the potential to shape the 21st century—is China. As goes China, so go 1.3 billion men, women and children—one out of every five people on the planet.

China’s economy is now roughly half the size of America’s; in three decades, the two are likely to be about equal. What the Chinese eat, how much (or whether) they drive, where and how they choose to live, work and play: all will have an enormous impact on the availability and price of energy, the temperature of the planet and the prosperity of mankind.

By Richard Haass
Newsweek

Beijing’s foreign policy is no less important. A cooperative China could help stem the spread of nuclear materials and weapons, maintain an open global trading and financial system, secure energy supplies, frustrate terrorists, prevent pandemics and slow climate change. A hostile or simply noncooperative China, on the other hand, would make it that much more difficult for the United States and its allies to tame the most dangerous facets of globalization. But the emergence of a cooperative China is anything but inevitable. That is why Washington needs a new approach to Beijing. Think of it as “integration.”

In this March 31, 2008 file photo, a worker on a boat clears ... 
A  worker on a boat clears garbage from the Yellow River in Lanzhou in northwest China’s Gansu province. Newly released survey results show water quality along one third of China’s famed Yellow River has fallen below the lowest levels measured due to massive pollution. China’s second-longest river has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in the last few years, as discharge from factories increases and water levels drop due to diversion for booming cities.(AP Photo/File)

Integration should be for this era what containment was for the previous one. Our goal should be to make China a pillar of a globalized world, too deeply invested to disrupt its smooth functioning. The aim is ambitious, even optimistic, but not unrealistic. The United States and China need each other. Neither wants to go to war over Taiwan, to see another conflict on the Korean Peninsula or to see world oil prices quadruple as a result of a military strike on Iran. Even more than that, China needs access to the U.S. market for its exports in order to maintain economic growth and domestic political stability. Americans, in addition to benefiting from low-cost Chinese imports, need Beijing to manage its large dollar reserves responsibly.

Americans must accept China’s rise. There’s no guarantee we could prevent it anyway, and the attempt would only worsen the rivalry. We should not exaggerate China’s strength or the threat it poses. China’s military, for all its improvements, is still a generation behind America’s. And we should resist any calls to block China’s access to the U.S. market. Trade and investment aren’t just beneficial on their own terms; they also contribute to the web of ties that would bind China into an orderly world order.

Read the rest:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/171259

Chinese People's Liberation Army troops stand in their formation ... 
Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops stand in their formation at a parade ground during the annual rotation of military personnel in Hong Kong November 25, 2008.REUTERS/Alex Hoffard/Pool (CHINA)

U.S. Industry, Economy: No sympathy for Detroit at a Kia plant in Georgia

November 29, 2008
The residents of this town are learning to enjoy Korean barbecue, and are wary of bailing out American automakers. ‘The foreign cars took the lead, and they deserve it,’ says one.
By Richard Fausset
The Los Angeles Times
Reporting from West Point, Ga. — This attractive old mill town along the Chattahoochee River, with its brick downtown and streets of cozy, unpretentious homes, could be the backdrop for a patriotic American car commercial — lacking only the plaintive croak of a Bob Seger or John Mellencamp.

But America’s Big Three automakers, which are teetering at a financial abyss, shouldn’t expect much sympathy here.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/
nation/la-na-newdetroit29-2008nov29,0,
3633459.story

Thankful for interesting times

November 27, 2008

“May you live in interesting times” is supposed to be an ancient Chinese curse, but I can’t find evidence that the saying is Chinese at all, much less that it’s ancient. One of the earliest reliable citations seems to be a 1950 short story by the British science-fiction author Eric Frank Russell, writing under the pen name Duncan H. Munro, who quotes the imprecation and then adds: “It isn’t a curse any more. It’s a blessing.” 

By Eugene Robinson
The Washington Post
Thursday, November 27, 2008; Page A29

That’s the glass-half-full way of seeing this extraordinary moment. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and enter the holiday season, it feels as if our nation is at a cusp, a brink, a verge. It’s true that if things get much more “interesting,” we might have a collective nervous breakdown. But along with the anxiety, there’s also a sense of rare opportunity — a chance to emerge better than we were economically, politically and socially.

Easy for you to say, many people would respond, and they’d have a point. I’ve been as mesmerized and freaked out as anyone watching the stock market lose nearly half its value, then recover some ground, then oscillate so wildly that a 200-point gain or loss in the Dow is the new definition of a slow day. I’ve lost money (not that I had that much in the first place), but I haven’t been wiped out the way some people have. I don’t have an adjustable-rate mortgage or a house that’s “underwater.” My employer is still in business.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/26
/AR2008112603250.html?hpid=opi
nionsbox1

Russia’s high-tech sector reels

November 17, 2008

After the first round of layoffs, the staff members of MeshNetics filtered in as usual, taking their positions inside powder-blue cubicles and making the ritual run to the cafeteria for coffee. On one level, they felt relief: The cuts had been made, and they were all still here. It made them especially glad to see one another.

But there were thoughts they kept to themselves. It was hard not to stare at the vacant desks, the stray objects one programmer described as the “signs of lost people.” On the wall, a flat-screen monitor with the caption “MeshNetics Confidential” flashed snapshots from the summer, when this start-up company seemed to have harnessed the best ambitions of a new Russia. Now, anxiety was disturbing the employees’ sleep. The smokers were smoking more often.

Above: The main office of MeshNetics in Moscow, which produces wireless networking systems and is facing a money crunch. (James Hill for The New York Times)

By Ellen Barry
International Herald Tribune

The tale of this young company, which produces innovative wireless networking systems, offers a glimpse of how the financial crisis has swept through Russia’s budding entrepreneurial culture and crashed like cold water onto young workers who had come to see the boom times as normal.

Last month, as Russia’s stock market swooned and the credit crunch took hold around the world, Russian companies spooked by memories of previous bank collapses scrambled to protect what cash they had. Venture capital dried up virtually overnight, including at MeshNetics’ parent company.

At MeshNetics, a gingerly layoff was followed by a second cut, and a third. By late October, the options had dwindled: it had to find a new source of capital or suspend operations. “It’s going to be tough letting go of this period of growth,” Ilya Bagrak, the company’s software product manager, said last month. He was still in shock from the experience of firing one of his employees hours after they had shared their morning coffee.

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/17/europe/17russia.php

Top Republican senators oppose automaker bailout

November 16, 2008

Top Republican senators said Sunday they will oppose a Democratic plan to bail out Detroit automakers, calling the U.S. industry a “dinosaur” whose “day of reckoning” is coming. Their opposition raises serious doubts about whether the plan will pass in this week’s postelection session.

Democratic leaders want to use $25 billion of the $700 billion financial industry bailout to help General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Writer

Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona said it would be a mistake to use any of the Wall Street rescue money to prop up the automakers. They said an auto bailout would only postpone the industry’s demise.
Richard Shelby
Senator Shelby

“Companies fail every day and others take their place. I think this is a road we should not go down,” said Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

General Motors headquarters is seen October 26, 2008 in Detroit, ... 
General Motors headquarters is seen October 26, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. Picture taken October 26, 2008.(Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

“They’re not building the right products,” he said. “They’ve got good workers but I don’t believe they’ve got good management. They don’t innovate. They’re a dinosaur in a sense.”

Added Kyl, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican: “Just giving them $25 billion doesn’t change anything. It just puts off for six months or so the day of reckoning.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said over the weekend that the House would provide aid to the ailing industry, though she did not put a price on her plan.

“The House is ready to do it,” said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “There’s no downside to trying.”
Rep. Barney Frank, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd were among the congressional Democrats negotiating the bailout settlement on Sunday. (Joseph Silverman/The Washington Times)

Above: Ready to bail, from L to R: Rep. Barney Frank, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd. Photo by Joseph Silverman

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_go
_co/auto_bailout;_ylt=AmAt77VLR57r0Uq41kBoeYWs0NUE

Global Financial Crisis, Intertwined Economies, Too Much Debt: Now What?

November 16, 2008

Barack Obama surely has one of the toughest leadership challenges any incoming president has ever faced. We’re in the midst of a terrible economic meltdown, the current administration has lost all credibility, the House of Representatives is full of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, and the public is being whipsawed between free-market fundamentalists preaching the virtues of just letting the market rip and left-wingers who think we can punish Wall Street while protecting Main Street. It feels like a mess with no one in charge.
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Now is when we need a president who has the skill, the vision and the courage to cut through this cacophony, pull us together as one nation and inspire and enable us to do the one thing we can and must do right now:

Go shopping.

Obama can’t wait until Jan. 20 to weigh in on this. If we don’t stimulate the global economy fast enough and big enough, some of Obama’s inaugural balls might be held in soup kitchens.

When President Bush told us to go shopping after 9/11, he was right. We needed to stimulate the economy then. The problem was that the Bush economic team never turned off the green light and told people to “go saving.” So with easy credit seemingly endlessly available, American consumers saved virtually nothing and bid up housing prices to record levels. Retailers expanded stores and China expanded factories to accommodate all the shopping. It was quite a party. We had banks in America giving mortgages to people whose only qualification “was that they could fog up a knife,” one mortgage broker told me.

By Thomas Friedman
The New York Times

But when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. When these reckless mortgages eventually blew up, it led to a credit crisis. Banks stopped lending. That soon morphed into an equity crisis, as worried investors liquidated stock portfolios. The equity crisis made people feel poor and metastasized into a consumption crisis, which is why purchases of cars, appliances, electronics, homes and clothing have just fallen off a cliff. This, in turn, has sparked more company defaults, exacerbated the credit crisis and metastasized into an unemployment crisis, as companies rush to shed workers.

Governments are having a problem arresting this deflationary downward spiral — maybe because this financial crisis combines four chemicals we have never seen combined to this degree before, and we don’t fully grasp how damaging their interactions have been, and may still be….

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/
opinion/16friedman.html?scp=1&sq=jaws&st=nyt


“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”