Government And Greed – The Slow Death Of America

Government And Greed – The Slow Death Of America

 

Friends, as we all know we have a lot of problems that we the people must address here in our country, that is if we wish to continue to have a country. Most of the problems we are not addressing at all, this tends to make these problems worse not better. I am going to try to address some of these problems here tonight and I would like your feedback on these issues if you have the time to do so. Poverty is the first thing on my agenda tonight. I know that almost no issue has only one side to it or one cause of it and certainly poverty is a worldwide curse which afflicts at least a couple billion people worldwide, but I am only going to try to address the U.S. problem here tonight.

A lot of our countries problems are generated because of poverty, what I am saying is that if we had no poverty here in our country a lot of other issues would for the most part disappear. The federal government says that the official unemployment rate is hanging out at about 4.2%, but most everyone I would think knows that this is simply a government generated farce. If you dig into the real numbers you find that the long-term unemployed (the people who have been unemployed longer than their unemployment checks) are not counted. Another outlier in the government’s figures is that if a person is able to find a part-time job the government counts them as being employed. These people are the folks usually referred to as the real unemployed and the underemployed. By what I hear from many of the “talking heads” on the radio I believe that the real unemployed/underemployed figure should be at least 10%. Of course some markets are better than others, some places may be 4% while others are 20%. Some people say that if you are in one of the bad areas just move to a better market. There is a problem with that line of thought though, what are these people suppose to use to move on, their good looks? Gas, rent, cars, deposits, these are things that most people in these situations simply do not have. As most everyone knows poverty causes many other problems besides major depression. People are going to need a roof over their head if they have any possibility to obtain employment, somehow people need to be able to pay their rent and utilities. Food, now that is an issue for humans even if they live under a bridge. People need jobs that will at least pay the minimum bills such as rent, utilities, and food. For most good jobs, (those that haven’t already left the country), people need real job skill training.

For about 30 years I was a commercial cross-country truck driver, in this job you get to see the reality people around our country are having to live in that you would never get to see if you were working in an office or a factory.  Out here you see 60+ year old women with obvious physical ailments working at fast food joints, jobs that the politicians seem to think only high school kids are doing. You see one-armed men working at guard gates checking in trucks and cleaning toilets in truck stops. Adults are doing these type jobs because it is all they can get and a lot of these jobs are just part-time so that the companies (just like at your local Wal-Mart) won’t have to pay any benefits. You know, people aren’t doing jobs like these because it is their life long ambition to work and live like this. Also, these type jobs are almost always paying at or very near the minimum wage. I know some folks will say that I am lying about seeing adults with these physical problems working like this because they could just file for social security and live on that. Have you ever tried to collect social security? If you are very lucky you will get your turn down notice within 12 months, then you can go get an attorney (they will work pro-bono) and refile, hopefully within 6-9 months you will get your next turn down. You and your attorney can then go before a judge (who is paid by social security), hopefully it will only take you about three months to see the judge then usually another couple of months before you get his decision. You see the problem most everyone has is that they don’t have anyway to survive while all this is going on, no food, no housing, nothing. If you are in that spot, what are you suppose to do? What would you do if it was you? Hopefully you have a wealthy family that will be willing to keep you and your family alive while you are trying to get your disability checks, very few are that fortunate. Some folks will say, well, they could get government housing. Even if you are lucky enough to live in a low crime area like where we live there is this thing called, a waiting list, I checked here, the waiting list is 42 months.

People all over our country are hurting badly even though the media doesn’t say much about it when one of their beloved far left democrats is setting in the White House, and no, I am not a republican. It is very common to see a three bedroom apartment being rented by three adults, or maybe three couples, this is not because people wish to live communal, it is so they have three paychecks to help split the rent (remember the comedy program Three’s Company)? So often I see adults in different fast food uniforms walking to their jobs. It’s not for the exercise for most folks, it’s because they can’t afford a car. With minimum wage jobs you have no extra money to spend on anything, cars, gas, insurance, or food and rent. If you are lucky enough to be in a position where you think I am blowing smoke up your behind, look in your local news paper for the cost of rent, now take a minimum wage paycheck after taxes and see how well you are going to be able to live, folks, it isn’t pretty.

As you travel around the country and you go through the cities you see things that will make you sick at heart. You see all the poverty and the slums, the graffiti, the trash. You also see all the bars on business windows and on the homes, you see homeless people wandering the streets along with the working girls and guys with so many strung out on one habit or another. You see people congregating under bridges as well as boarded up burnt out homes where the lucky homeless can find shelter as long as they are not one of the many crack houses. You know, many in politics want to get away from having any blame for any of our people s problems, but I believe that out government is the biggest problem that all of us Americans have. I am setting here in our living room watching the Presidents State of the Union Address, so much BS on both sides of the aisle. We here in America are a ship without a rudder, I wish we as a country had actual leaders who cared about the Constitution and our freedom more than their bank accounts. I guess I’m just dreaming.

Wal-Mart’s Growth Was Through Fraud Lies and Deceit

Wal-Mart’s Growth Was Through Fraud Lies and Deceit

 

If you are old enough to remember the Wal-Mart of the 1980’s and the mood of the nation during that time about buying American, maybe this will tweak your anger button.  During the late 70’s and the 80’s was when American businesses were first starting to move overseas in alarming numbers, unfortunately we Americans are used to this treason (my view) now. Plus this was a time when Americans got hooked on cheaper imports. During this time the American auto industry was in big trouble partly because Americans were buying the cheaper Japanese models.  This is a time area when you would see such bumper stickers as (can you eat your Toyota). On a sidebar though, in regards to the quality of the cars the big three were putting out at that time was pretty poor in comparison to say the Toyota’s and in this case it helped force the big three to start producing a better quality product. This coincided with the decline in union membership in America which also meant that the American worker’s paycheck was starting to shrink. This meant that people were requiring better quality transportation so they could get to their lower paying jobs.

Wal-Mart at this time used America’s consumer mood to grow itself. Their TV and Radio ads as well as their traveling billboards (their semi trailers) used to tout how they only bought American goods thus trying to get patriotic Americans to do all their shopping at Wal-Mart. There was a big problem with this though, they were totally lying, they were perpetrating a total fraud on the American people.

You may fairly ask me how I know such a thing, was I in their board room? No, but I was a long haul truck driver who hauled a lot of their incoming product. I am going to give you an example of how buffaloed people were by their fraud. I picked up loads from the docks in northern New Jersey about once a month plus once in a while in California. It was a common event when we would get a load assigned to pick up but when we got there the load would be staged on the docks but we had to in some cases wait several hours while the dock workers were having to replace all the stickers on every item with tags that said made in the USA. I asked the dock workers about these things because it always made it more difficult to make your delivery appointments on time and Wal-Mart distribution centers would fine the trucking company if you were late on your delivery and most times they would reschedule your appointment for a different day. This meant that you now had to sit in a truck stop parking lot and wait for your new appointment time. When you as a driver are doing this you get no pay at all because the trucking company got no pay at all. What I was told by more that a couple of dock workers was that it was required that when a Wal-Mart load came in they all had to be re-tagged. This was so that when the American consumer came in the store and looked at the tags they thought they were buying American made products which meant that Wal-Mart was helping protect American jobs. The truth was Wal-Mart was committing a total fraud on the American worker and the American public.

I remember one time that I had picked up a load of laundry detergent at the docks in north Jersey and the load was going to a distribution center in NW Wisconsin. That night as I was driving, the chatter on the CB was some other drivers were talking about where they were headed to and or who their customers were. Somewhere in the conversation Wal-Mart’s name came up. I then mentioned what had happened with my load on the dock and how it had put me a bit behind where I was hoping to be by this time. I remember one driver who got on his radio with much indigence in his voice said to me “how dare you slander a fine company like that”. My response to him was a simple truth, if what you say about someone or something is %100 the truth, then it is not slander, it is simply the truth. That man did not say anything to me after that but a few other drivers chimed in saying the same thing about what I had said about loads for Wal-Mart.

This is why I used the title that I did on this letter to anyone who wants to read it. Wal-Mart committed a total fraud on the American people. If you think about it, this fraud helped bring more customers into their stores so that these same customers would not go to Wal-Mart’s competitors thus giving Wal-Mart an unfair advantage , unfair because they were lying. Now look at the Wal-Mart company, have you ever gone into one of their stores and looked for the made in the USA tags. Unless USA is now spelled  CHINA or INDONESIA, it’s a pretty hard tag to find. I used to like to listen to Paul Harvey on the radio every chance I could. I liked the man but he was very naive. If you remember Wal-Mart was a sponsor of his and he seemed to really believe in them. Do you remember how he used to talk how if you had a Wal-Mart store in your town how you couldn’t have a better neighbor. In reality what Wal-Mart was doing then they are still doing. When a Wal-Mart moves into your community about all if not all of your local stores are forced to close because they can’t compete with Wal-Mart buying power. This caused a problem for the people/workers of the area because once all the local stores close up the employees are laid off. In many cases about the only place they can now find work is at the Wal-Mart. But, as many of you know most Wal-Mart employees are only hired as part-time worker’s which also means when these people lost their previous job they lost income and all of their benefits like insurance. At this same time look at the wealth of the owners, the kids of Mr Walton, look at how many billions each of them are worth. Yet they won’t hire most people as full-time because they say they can’t (won’t) give their people any benefits.

You know something that I have been wondering about, would Wal-Mart be anywhere near as big today if they had not been such liars and frauds in their earlier years? One of the things that was also happening during these years I speak of is that the Federal government was breaking up monster size companies like Bell Telephone Co into several smaller companies. It is my opinion that Wal-Mart should be forced to break up into about five companies because of the help they got through fraud and lies they are now a total behemoth. The American GDP (gross domestic product) is about 11 trillion per year, Wal-Mart corporation has about 1.1 trillion dollars go through their hands now each year. Folks that is %10 of our countries GDP. I totally believe that it is dangerous for any one family to have this much control of the American people’s money supply. Especially when these people have already proven that they have no problem lying to all of us.

Now, back to the bought in the USA idea, just think if Wal-Mart and or the five or so companies I wish it would get broken into would indeed only buy from American companies where only American workers and American products produced them, think what a boom to our economy this would produce. If we the American people would only buy American products then this would put many American workers back to work. But, stringent guidelines would have to be put into place to make sure that we the people were not being defrauded like we were within the Walton family before.

As most of us knows, Wal-Mart is an international company. I do believe that such a company has stores in lets say China, I believe that Wal-Mart stores in China should first buy goods made in China. This is also what the people of China badly need. Right now most people in America know that places like China make products for the purpose of export to countries like the US. Most of us also know that almost all of these product are basically of very poor quality, so basically we are paying for lousy and or unsafe products when we buy their exports. If the American people would not buy these cheaply made products it would also help the Chinese people. The population of China is about four times that of the US and these people matter just as much as people of other countries and the working poor of China depends on exports at this time. If the export markets dried up to the companies of China they would have to finally turn inward and build products for the people of China, this would be a huge boom to their domestic companies and at the same time the quality of those products made in their country for their people would have to get much better. This would make their people have a much better quality of life both by having a better paying job and they would be able to purchase products that are out of their financial reach at this time.

I guess what I am getting at is I’m trying to show how things could truly get better for the masses here in the US as well as in places like China if we the people would force behemoth companies like Wal-Mart to be held accountable for their actions. Also force our government to hold countries and companies legally accountable when they are found to be frauds and liars.

Iranian intellectuals call for referendum amid political unrest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN)

 

Iranian intellectuals call for referendum amid political unrest

Letter with 15 signatories says Iran’s leaders have failed to deliver on republican ideals

Pro-government rally in Iran
 Women hold posters of the Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini and the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a pro-government rally. Photograph: Mohammad Ali Marizad/AP

A group of prominent Iranian intellectuals have said they have lost hope that the Islamic Republic can reform, and have called for a referendum to establish whether the ruling establishment is still backed by a majority.

A day after Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, touted the idea of holding a referendum as a means to heal Iran’s deepening political divisions, 15 figures – including some based in Iran – said leaders had failed to deliver on republican ideals.

Signatories to the letter include the Nobel peace prize-winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi; Narges Mohammadi, a human rights activist currently imprisoned in Tehran; Nasrin Sotoudeh, a rights lawyer; and the film-makers Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Jafar Panahi.

Rouhani did not elaborate on what he was proposing to put to a vote, but he has sounded increasingly frustrated about the political stalemate.

The judiciary has limited his ability to improve social freedoms despite his triumph in last year’s presidential election, and critics say his recent budget, which allocated huge funds to state bodies under the control of hardliners, demonstrated his lack of power.

Meanwhile, the Iranian currency has taken another dive against the dollar in recent days, adding to fears about the state of the economy.

Speaking last week, Rouhani expressed concern about what he said was the unwillingness of his hardline opponents to listen to the voices of ordinary people, particularly after a wave of unrest that began in late December.

“The previous regime, which thought that its rule would be lifelong and its monarchy eternal, lost everything because it did not listen to the voices of criticism, advice, reformers, the clergy, elders and intellectuals,” he said, referring to the late shah’s rule. “The previous regime did not listen to the voice of people’s protests and only listened to one voice, and that was the people’s revolution. For a government that only wants to hear the sound of revolution, it will be too late.”

The activists’ letter states: “Four decades have passed since the establishment of the Islamic republic, a government whose obsession with Islamisation has left little room for republican ideals.”

It criticises the conservative-dominated judiciary, which acts independently of Rouhani’s government. “The judiciary is reduced to the executor of the political wishes of those who hold the reins of power. So many women, lawyers, journalists, teachers, students, workers and political and social activists have been harassed, arrested, convicted of serious crimes and sent to prison, solely for criticising officials, enlightening public opinion, inviting the rulers to respect separation of religion from government or demanding women’s relief from the mandatory veil.”

Last month Mehdi Karroubi, an Iranian opposition leader currently under house arrest, wrote a letter attacking the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power in Iran. Direct criticism of Khamenei is rare.

Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament, wrote: “You have been Iran’s top leader for three decades but still speak like an opposition. During the last three decades you have eliminated the main revolutionary forces to implement your own policies, and now you should face the results of that.”

Iranian officials say high turnouts in elections show that the establishment is still popular. Critics dispute that, saying many voters participate in the hope of bringing about change.

Saeed Barzin, a London-based Iranian analyst, said Rouhani’s call for a referendum was a threat to push back the economic and political meddling of an unelected faction dominated by hardliners, in particular the Revolutionary Guards.

“The undercurrent issue is how the power will be distributed after Khamenei, and in a way the power struggle has already begun,” Barzin said. “Reformists feel under threat that the current situation might lead to people losing hope in reform or becoming radical or becoming apolitical. Hardliners, on the other side, might see an opportunity here to scapegoat Rouhani and even conduct a soft coup d’état, but it’s a gamble.”

Barzin said he was not impressed by the activists’ letter, though the range of signatories was interesting. Even those based in Iran, he said, did not represent mainstream reformists, who would view holding such a referendum as the establishment acquiescing to its own destruction.

The Grief and Frustration of Jordan’s Unemployed University Graduates

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

‘The Educational System Has Failed Us’: The Grief and Frustration of Jordan’s Unemployed University Graduates

The Clock Tower, a landmark at the University of Jordan. Photo by Yazan Dahdoud. Used with permission.

The year of 2017 brought with it an unfortunate rise of unemployment in Jordan, hitting a peak of 18.5%. The future does not look so bright either, with 2018 promising an even bigger rise.

For university degree holders, the situation is worse than that of the general population: 23% are unemployed. Of those graduates who are jobless, 27% are men, while 68% are women.

Tuition fees have skyrocketed in recent years, but those who manage to pay aren’t guaranteed a decent living at the end of the academic road. Graduates who Global Voices spoke with complained that while at university they had to navigate politics and confusing government job advice, and afterward they have found themselves stuck with menial and underpaid work — or no work at all.

“My education has, if anything, hindered my employment,” Lara Mohsen, a former student at Al-Balqa Applied University, told Global Voices.

The education that Lara and many more are referring to is that provided by public and private universities. Since the form of government in Jordan is a parliamentary monarchy, the students have to deal with ever-changing admission policies, with each government either building on or completely changing the policies of the one before it.

Moreover, students often find themselves witnessing dangerous tribal clashes on campus since tribal rule is predominant in Jordan and the inner problems of tribes can often find their way into educational institutions through youth.

Yazan Bahbouh, who graduated as an accountant from the University of Petra, told Global Voices that he couldn’t see the benefit of his degree:

I graduated as an accountant from the University of Petra, and I got offered a job at a private company almost immediately. I was above the clouds, since it is uncommon for a recent graduate to land a job so quickly. The first day on the job, I realized I would be counting boxes for inventory. A job that I would be performing alongside high-school drop outs at the very same company. I resigned only a few weeks after. I couldn’t handle getting paid even less than my colleagues who drive the vans, given that they make more on tips than I, a person who has spent 4 years of his life getting an education.

Dana, a pharmacy graduate, told Global Voices that she was exploited at her job to do extra work that is not in her job description:

After five years of college, I graduated as a pharmacist. I found a job at a local pharmacy that had a vacancy and started working right away. One week into the job, I found out that I must take turns with my other colleague who has the night shift to wipe floors, and dust shelves. I thought ‘great, I really needed continuous four-hour lab training lectures for this’ and left the job immediately.

The story of Yazan and Dana are not unique. University graduates often refuse jobs that they consider beneath their level of education, but with 100,000 new graduateslooking for jobs every year, the positions that Yazan and Dana refused could easily be filled by many others desperate for them.

The difficulty of navigating the market’s ‘continuously changing’ needs

Taima, a graduate in translation from Yarmouk University, said that she gets paid as much now as she did during her freelancing years as a student:

I used to work as a freelance translator while I was still a student. A lot of translation bureaus would demand a degree in translation, so I would revert to translating for individuals who just wanted a one-time kind of service. I thought that once I graduated I would be able to land those bureau jobs and make a better living. You would be shocked to find that I now make the same amount as I did as a student.

She continued:

A [translation] bureau once told me that there is an ‘overflow’ of translation and language graduates. Later on, I realized I should have contemplated more carefully what to study, since the market needs are continuously changing.

Jordan’s Civil Service Bureau issues annual reports on the specializations needed most in the job market, and what sectors of the market have reached full employment. The agency also sends advice to the Ministry of Higher Education as to what majors are not needed in the market and thus should be shut down, and what majors should accept lower student numbers.

However, universities and students are often skeptical of such reports, given that they are issued by the government, which many view as being responsible for theunemployment problem to begin with.

The reports often advise universities to exterminate majors that are not required in the public sector (such as psychology), even if there might be demand for them in the private sector. Moreover, a specialization might not pay off in Jordan due to the current state of the economy, but could be lucrative elsewhere.

For example, take Rawan, a dual citizen of Jordan and the US. After graduating from the Jordanian University of Science and Technology with a degree in veterinary medicine, Rawan was left unemployed for about a year, and has now decided to move back into the US:

I love my country, and I love living here [in Jordan], but I also cannot stay without work forever. I really thought I would move here for good, but the circumstances are not in my favor.

And there are other holes to be found in the bureau’s advice, such as the fact that many people choose to avoid studying a major, whether it’s officially recommended or not, that would require them to open their own businesses, as the trade policies that the government makes have been proved as ineffective.

The University of Jordan recently created a new major within its foreign languages faculty, a move which goes against the bureau report, which advised that universities decrease the number of students accepted into the specialization over the next five years.

The new and competitive program at the University of Jordan charges 60 Jordanian dinars (85 US dollars), which is three times the amount of any other in the faculty. Opening a new major with triple the charges in a faculty whose degree is said to be redundant by the government is quite the opposite of abiding by the report’s findings.

The consequences of Jordan’s nationality law in higher education

Jihad, the son of a Jordanian mother and a Yemeni father, faces an even bigger problem. Born and raised in Jordan, Jihad is still considered Yemeni because the law in Jordan only allows Jordanian nationality to be passed down through the father.

Therefore, he is required to enroll under the international program at the University of Jordan. Although he passed the national Tawjeehi (the general secondary examination that grade 12 students must take in order to apply for university admission), he is still required to register as a foreigner, and pays 500 US dollars per credit hour while his colleagues enrolled in the competitive program pay 45 Jordanian dinars (63 US dollars).

Jihad works a job at a local medical center, earning 550 Jordanian dinars per month (500 US dollars). At that rate, he would have to work for approximately 22 years to pay for his education (that is, of course, only taking into account the official credit hours of the program, and excluding the cost of books, allowance, and added registration fees).

“I could open a whole hospital with the 132,500 US dollars that his education is going to cost me,” Jihad’s dad joked.

Luckily for others, new regulations issued in 2017 would give the children of Jordanian mothers and foreign fathers the same higher education privileges as Jordanian citizen, although that won’t be of much use to Jihad and the others whom have applied for universities before then. Moreover, Syrian refugees and non-Jordanian passport holders who were born and raised in Jordan (people who migrated to Jordan from Gaza in the 1948 and 1967 Israeli-Palestinian wars, for example) are excluded, and thus still have to enroll in the international program.

Discrimination against people with disabilities in the job market

The stories of students who struggle with unemployment are abundant, but some face additional challenges like disabilities.

Hakeem is a short-sighted student who studied finance at the University of Jerash. After struggling through high school and university, he finally graduated with a 3.2 grade point average in 2015. He remains unemployed until this very day, as companies would prefer hiring one of the many candidates who do not have a disability to deal with.

Hakeem’s childhood friend, who has himself regularly switched jobs ever since he graduated, told Global Voices that he hoped an education would help his friend:

I wanted [Hakeem] to get an education because I believed that he and I would have an equal chance to both study and work, but the educational system has failed us.

These stories paint a picture of joblessness in Jordan as experienced by university graduates, who invested money into a degree that they thought would bring them gainful employment, but that instead left them with disappointment in the real world and consequently in one’s country and self.

How Does Centrally Planned China Raise Capital?-Answer, Hong Kong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES INVESTING MARKET MOVES)

 

Investing #MarketMoves

How Does Centrally Planned China Raise Capital?

I write financial newsletters for investors on how to profit in Asia.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

A general view from Victoria Peak shows Victoria Harbour and the skylines of the Kowloon district (background) and Hong Kong island (foreground) on July 3, 2017. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Through careful planning and strategic economic policy reforms, mainland China has evolved from a country struck by poverty to the world’s second largest economy. But don’t think this was solely the Chinese bureaucrats’ doing.  The U.K.’s special “present” to China proved to be essential to the story of China’s miraculous development.

In 1997, Tony Blair, who was U.K.’s prime minister at the time, went to Hong Kong to give the city back to Beijing. 156 years of colonial rule had completely transformed the city.

What was once a backwards fishing village, was now one of the worlds’ most important financial hubs.

Hong Kong currently has the highest concentration of international banks in the world. The 71 largest international banks and almost 300 international fund management companies are housed in Hong Kong. The island also has most beneficial legal regulations for both residents and companies.

China basically saw Hong Kong attending a 150 yearlong financial course. The financial powerhouse now belongs back to the Middle Kingdom that uses it to funnel foreign capital into its centrally planned economy. Something the mainland wasn’t able to do by itself.

Never before has a centrally planned economy ever received such a precious gift as Hong Kong.

How Hong Kong feeds China

Companies in planned economies – like China’s – typically have a hard time raising capital. That makes Hong Kong a key factor in China’s economic development.

With its leading financial institutions in place, Hong Kong is able to raise capital unhindered by political or economic instability. A problem free market economies like in the U.S. generally have to deal with.

Four years before Hong Kong was given back to China, it was responsible for 27% of China’s GDP. Let’s put this in perspective. At the time, only 6.5 million people lived in Hong Kong while mainland China had a population of 1 billion people. It’s easy to see that Hong Kong’s impact on China’s economic growth was tremendous.

The mainland did catch up over time as the graph below clearly illustrates. By 2017, Hong Kong accounted for merely 3% of the GDP.

One Road Research

Hong Kong’s Share of China’s GDP

Hong Kong’s return in 1997 coincided with the dramatic rise of China’s GDP.

One Road Research

China’s GDP in Current US$

China’s economic growth was partially due to twenty years of export-oriented policies from Beijing. But without Hong Kong’s well-established financial markets, necessary funds couldn’t have been raised.

We All Have a Stake in the Stock Market, Right? Guess Again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

Wall Street’s volatility is merely a spectator event for most Americans, whose wealth is not held in stocks.CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times

Take a deep breath and relax.

The riotous market swings that have whipped up frothy peaks of anxiety over the last week — bringing the major indexes down more than 10 percentfrom their peak — have virtually no impact on the income or wealth of most families. The reason: They own little or no stock.

A whopping 84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households. And that includes everyone’s stakes in pension plans, 401(k)’s and individual retirement accounts, as well as trust funds, mutual funds and college savings programs like 529 plans.

“For the vast majority of Americans, fluctuations in the stock market have relatively little effect on their wealth, or well-being, for that matter,” said Edward N. Wolff, an economist at New York University who recently published new research on the topic.

Both Republicans and Democrats have promoted the idea that a rising stock market broadly lifts Americans’ fortunes. When there was a parade of market rallies, President Trump asked, “How’s your 401(k) doing?”

There was a move toward democratizing stock ownership in the 1980s and 1990s, with the advent of individual retirement accounts, but the busts of 2001 and 2007 scared off some middle-class investors.

Continue reading the main story

Of course, any financial loss can be scary and painful. Indeed, the less you have, the more each dollar counts. And market gyrations could foreshadow deeper problems that signal the end of a nine-year boom and short-circuit the economic recovery.

But the day-to-day impact on most people’s overall wealth is minimal.

“It’s far from where you think that it would be, given the rhetoric,” said Ray Boshara, director of the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

A look at some fundamentals may provide a clearer perspective.

Stock ownership is the exception.

Roughly half of all households don’t have a cent invested in stocks, whether through a 401(k) account or shares in General Electric. That leaves half the population with some exposure to financial market whims, but as Mr. Boshara said, “some exposure can be 100 bucks.”

Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

Who’s in the Market

Households with each type

of stock investment

Households’ stock

investment, by value

Stock as a share of

households’ total assets

50

%

50

%

50

%

Pensions

40

40

40

$5,000

or more

$10,000

or more

30

30

30

$25,000

or more

20

20

20

Direct holdings

Mutual funds

10

10

10

Trust funds

’89

’98

’07

’16

’89

’98

’07

’16

’89

’98

’07

’16

“If you look at where the money is really held, it’s among the top 10 percent,” he said. “And if you break it down by age, race and education and parental education, you’ll see the disparities are even larger.” Parents who lack a four-year degree and, later on, their children are much less likely to have a direct stake in the stock market than college graduates; blacks and Hispanics are much less likely than whites.

“It’s too bad such a small percentage of the population has any real or meaningful ownership stake in equities, given their historic and current growth,” Mr. Boshara said.

Most households had less than $5,000 in total holdings in 2016, the most recent year analyzed by Mr. Wolff. Despite the slow recovery in housing prices, the wealth of middle-class Americans is still concentrated in their homes, which remain their single most valuable asset.

For 9 out of 10 households, even a shift in value of 10 percent — enough to qualify as a “market correction” — would “at most, have a 1 or 2 percent impact on their wealth holdings,” Mr. Wolff said.

If anything, foreign multinational and other investors would feel more of a pinch, since they own 35 percent of all United States corporate stock, up from 10 percent in 1982. That share of the pie exceeds the single slice owned by taxable American shareholders, defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, or nonprofit institutions, said Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

Don’t confuse the Dow with the economy.

The stock market and the underlying economy are distinct. The two interact, but they do not proceed in lock step or even respond to each other in predictable ways. Certainly, market instability can undermine both consumer and business confidence and restrain spending and investment. And market bubbles, swelled by overextended borrowing, can explode, wreaking losses and stalling growth.

Still, valuations of assets and the country’s economic health — as determined by productivity, employment, investment, spending, housing values, production capacity, growth and more — are two different kettles.

The Stock Market Isn’t the Economy. Here’s How They Can Shape Each Other

Stock markets have recently fallen over fears that economic growth is too strong. Here’s why, and one way how steep, sustained sell-offs could end up hurting the economy.

“If all that happens is the stock market decreases or increases in value, but no real fundamentals change,” C. Eugene Steuerle, an economist at the Urban Institute who served in the Reagan administration, said, “then there are actually a lot of winners, not just losers.”

“Older people can buy less stock,” because the returns from their investment are smaller, Mr. Steuerle said, “but young people can buy more on the cheap,” which sets them up for bigger gains down the road.

Attention, discount shoppers,” Michelle Singletary, a personal financial columnist for The Washington Post, advised on Thursday. “The recent stock market dive is like a holiday weekend sale.”

The economy still seems solid.

When it come to evaluating the economy’s fundamentals, assessments come in a Revlon rack of shades. Economists warn that mounting debt, as a result of the costly $1.5 trillion tax package, threatens economic stability over the longer run, as private investment is crowded out and interest payments balloon. Productivity growth is anemic and labor participation rates are low by historical standards.

Still, the signs of strength — at least for the next couple of years — are impressive.

Unemployment is near record lows, total output is rising at a faster rate, bond yields are up, oil prices have increased, and consumer and business confidence remain high. Every major economy around the world is growing in concert, simultaneously propelling and reinforcing a positive cycle.

After all, one of those indicators — a January jobs report that showed healthy payroll expansion and a jump in yearly wage growth — is what help set off the stock market tumult last Friday.

Dow Drops 666 Points In Sharp Sell-Off

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

(THIS ARTICLE SHOWS JUST HOW SICKENING THE STOCK MARKET WORLD AND THE RICH AND SUPER RICH ARE. THIS TUMBLE IS BECAUSE HOURLY WAGE EARNERS WAGES WENT UP 2.9% LAST YEAR. IF THESE SAME PEOPLE ONLY RECEIVED THE SAME 2.9% INCREASE IN THEIR OWN WEALTH LAST YEAR THEY WOULD BE WHINING AND THINKING THE SKY WAS FALLING. SIMPLY PUT, THE STOCK MARKET IS ANTI WORKERS-PERIOD, WHAT HAPPENED TODAY IS SIMPLY PROOF OF THIS FRAUD ON THE WORKING CLASS OF THE WHOLE WORLD.(TRS))

Dow Drops 666 Points In Sharp Sell-Off

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 666 points amid signs that interest rates are heading higher.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

Major stock indexes dropped sharply Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling 666 points amid signs that wage growth is finally picking up.

The 2.6-percent drop in the Dow came as the Labor Department reported 200,000 jobs were added to the economy last month, which was stronger than expected, and the unemployment rate stayed at 4.1 percent — the lowest since 2000.

But worries about inflation grew when the report showed that average hourly wages grew 2.9 percent from a year ago — the largest increase since June 2009. Yields for 10-year Treasurys hit four-year highs Friday.

All this sets the stage for the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates, with the next hike expected in March. It sets the stage to make credit cards, car loans and mortgages more expensive.

The Dow closed at 25,520.96, and Friday’s 666-point drop was the sixth-worst ever. The index is still up more than 3 percent since the year began. But with a loss about 1,000 points since Monday, it was the blue chip index’s worst weekly performance in 2 years.

Other major indexes fell about 2 percent Friday. The broader S&P 500 slid 60 points, to 2,762.13; the Nasdaq index lost 145 points, closing at 7,240.95.

Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, says Friday’s employment report shows the economy continues to have a lot of energy.

The higher wage growth and potentially higher inflation “might then lead the Federal Reserve to raise their interest rates more rapidly than the market is comfortable with,” he told NPR’s John Ydstie.

NPR’s Jim Zarroli reports: “Now, investors are starting to think, maybe things are moving too fast. The government has cut taxes and it’s borrowing more — maybe we’re going to see inflation.”

But, he says, “The stock market was really due to come down somewhat. We have these corrections. They’re normal. Stock prices can’t keep rising at these levels.”

It’s Called ‘Trickle Up’ Economics

IT’S CALLED ‘TRICKLE UP’ ECONOMICS

     

(1-9-2015)

    These days we are again hearing the old term in politics that I first heard from the Reagan era, people in Washington call it the Trickle Down Theory. The concept is being practiced by both parties, though they would probably deny it. Today these people tend to use the words “Stimulus Package”. If you remember, We tried this approach shortly before he (W) got out of office. Then came Mr. Obama, he tried his own version of a stimulus package, bailing out the banks and Wall Street, the very people who caused almost all of the problems in the first place. The idea of this scam was to strengthen our country’s financial base from the top down. You see, neither party “get’s it”, you give the top one percent all the financial means and they just hold onto it. I have a question for you, how many of We The People have been able to get a loan, for personal or for small or medium size businesses since the banks got “our” money handed to them? Do you remember just a couple of months ago Mr. Obama was caught on camera at some conference table filled with his cronies and he said in reference of his stimulus package, “I guess that the country wasn’t as shovel ready as we had thought” and he and his cronies had a good laugh about it.

    Now Mr. Obama is prancing out another stimulus package under the cloak of it creating jobs in our country for our people. Odd isn’t it, the things these politicians try just before an election season fires up? Mr. Obama, and the Congress should have taken the other stimulus package a couple of years ago and put Americans to work then. I am a long haul truck driver by trade, a person sees and hears many things as we go around the country from the people and the local radio stations. Our nation’s roads and bridges are in lousy condition all over the country. Most all of our big cities are completely falling apart, above ground and below them. If the stimulus money from the past had been used to rebuild our country from the inside, which would have put many people to work all over our country. As you go around the country you see things like all these oil wells that are capped, even in the oil fields of West Texas. We have found lots of oil in Wyoming and the Dakotas, but as soon as they are drilled, there capped. You see, this country doesn’t have enough refineries to produce the products and we don’t have anywhere near enough storage facilities to store all the oil we already have here in our own country. These days we hear a lot about clean coal technologies and that we are the Saudi Arabia of Natural gas. Why are we selling oil abroad? People, why are we giving billions to people who use that money to finance means to kill all of us?

    Here is the simple economics behind this writing, if the money had been given out through work programs, the people of America would have been working several years ago, on good full-time jobs for good pay. Then the people would not have been losing their homes. People would have been able to have purchasing power which would have stimulated our economy putting even more people back to work. If this had happened, the Banks would have had earned a lot of money from the bottom up and the governments at all levels would have been reaping the benefits of increased tax revenue which would have keep our civil servants employed. What our country needs are politicians who are able to realize that there is nothing wrong if the bottom 99% have 95% of the money going through their hands. Then the top 1% of the population would still be getting about 5%, this would still make that small and very important group of people very, very wealthy. They are very important because they are the risk takers who have the ability to create many of our nation’s jobs, these people must be well compensated, five for one is very nice compensation. Friends, this is what I call, Trickle Up Economics.

 

                                                                                  Thank you for your time,

                                                                                  oldpoet56   

    

Welcome to Lawless Latvia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘LAWLESS LATVIA’ WEBSITE)

 

Welcome to Lawless Latvia

Lawless Latvia provides information about Latvian crimes that are ignored by the corrupt media and authorities. Latvia is the offshore banking center for the former Soviet Union, to the detriment of everyone in the world including Latvians and excluding only a few Oligarchs. The EBRD, EU, IMF, and World Bank are making the problem worse by funding the Oligarchs, fraudulently in the case of the EBRD. Please like or friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Learn more about this site »

EBRD openly criminal

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is funded by 65 countries with a mission of fostering transparency and democracy in 30 countries.  From 2009 to 2014, the EBRD was caught running a scam with the Latvian government to temporarily cover-up the disappearance of the assets of Parex Bank.  The government claims that Parex collapsed because of the United States and Sweden, however the real recipients of the disappeared assets were likely Russian oligarchs and Latvian politicians.

From 2009 to 2013, the EBRD insisted that it really bought Parex shares and denied rumors that the privatization was planned to be reversed by a secret guarantee (‘put option’) in 2014.  When the Latvian government did reverse the privatization in 2014, proving that the EBRD was lying and the privatization was a fraud, then the EBRD became silent.

However now something amazing has happened.  The EBRD had admitted on its own website that it is offering a fraud service!  This webpage states that the EBRD will buy shares in a company if the seller guarantees to reverse the investment later!  There is only one reason why a seller (for example a national government) would effectively pay the EBRD to temporarily claim to be owner of shares.  This reason is fraud!  Such transactions are completely illegal since they mislead creditors about the true value of the shares, which for a corrupt and looted government company is usually zero.

We wonder how many of the EBRD’s 30 countries currently have false financial statements because of this racket.

EBRD webpage:

http://www.ebrd.com/work-with-us/project-finance/equity/direct-equity.html%20

pdf in case the EBRD takes down the webpage:

ebrd put option

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