May 2, 2012

Falling Ever Farther Behind

Productivity is up! Wages are down! Makes perfect sense:

Economic fairness is one of the persistent themes of the 2012 election, and in that spirit the liberal Economic Policy Institute is revisiting the plight of the U.S. worker over the last several decades.

Many of the institute’s findings, which will be presented in greater detail in the forthcoming edition of “The State of Working America,” will be familiar to economists who study income inequality. But they provide a stark illustration of the fact that the vast majority of workers have been closed out of the country’s gains for nearly 40 years.

Particularly striking is the fact that for years leading up to the 1970s, productivity gains were broadly shared, as theory predicts. Then the linkage abruptly broke. What explains the shift?

“The big shift is really in the ’80s, which I would attribute to [Fed Chairman Paul] Volcker’s recession in 1980-82, which killed workers,” said Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who has conducted similar studies. “A high dollar in the mid-80s amplified this effect. You also had the anti-union policies of the Reagan administration.”

March 14, 2012

Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way

Goldman Sachs smackdown shows how low we’ve sunk:

The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

November 21, 2011

Over The River And Through The Woods

Mr. Sunshine has a Thanksgiving message:

Folks of all stripes and accents desperately seek to move their money to some safe harbor – but where is this cozy mooring? To the US for the moment perhaps; but what happens Monday morning when the markets react to the weekend news that the US Senate super-committee has been utterly unable to agree on decisive action that would forestall the scheduled massive automatic budget cuts built into this red-white-and-blue doomsday machine – not to mention the ratings agencies threats to knock UST-paper down another notch upon such failure.

November 19, 2011

Wall Street Getting Worried?

Lobby firm suggests how to fight Occupy Wall Street:

The CLGC memo raises another issue that it says should be of concern to the financial industry — that OWS might find common cause with the Tea Party. “Well-known Wall Street companies stand at the nexus of where OWS protestors and the Tea Party overlap on angered populism,” the memo says. “…This combination has the potential to be explosive later in the year when media reports cover the next round of bonuses and contrast it with stories of millions of Americans making do with less this holiday season.”

November 18, 2011

A Real Lesson In Power

Nail. Head. Hit.

But I was wrong. The police in their own way are symbols of the problem. All over the country, thousands of armed cops have been deployed to stand around and surveil and even assault the polite crowds of Occupy protesters. This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government “committed” to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off like wayward cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.

This is a profound statement about who law enforcement works for in this country. What happened on Wall Street over the past decade was an unparalleled crime wave. Yet at most, maybe 1,500 federal agents were policing that beat – and that little group of financial cops barely made any cases at all. Yet when thousands of ordinary people hit the streets with the express purpose of obeying the law and demonstrating their patriotism through peaceful protest, the police response is immediate and massive. There have already been hundreds of arrests, which is hundreds more than we ever saw during the years when Wall Street bankers were stealing billions of dollars from retirees and mutual-fund holders and carpenters unions through the mass sales of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities.

November 11, 2011

Kill Personhood

From Clusterfuck Nation:

Of course, the first order of business is to get corporate money out of politics. Are we capable of doing that? Can we legislate a redefinition of corporate “personhood?” After all, corporations have no allegiance whatsoever to the public interest, only to their shareholders and boards of directors. Who was the Supreme Court kidding when they proposed in 2010 that corporations have a personal stake in politics. Corporations are sociopaths. They need to be tasered!