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Overnight Open Thread | Main | Broward county (FL) Democrats in disaray
October 19, 2010

Financial Briefing: I'm Not Broke, But I'm Badly Bent

Women are vital to the American workforce, and have been since at least the 1940's, but this recession may have shifted the balance of economic power decisively to women. Men have been the traditional household "breadwinners", with the wife's income being seen as augmenting the male's income, but this recession has hit men disproportionately harder than women. Women are far more likely to work in industries (like services and healthcare) that are more insulated from the downturn, whereas men are far more likely to work in the hard-hit trades and manufacturing sectors. Women also have many more protections -- both regulatory and social/cultural -- than men do. There are many deep ramifications to this change -- the impact of long-term male unemployment on the family; the loss of status, power and prestige that goes with being unemployed; the male self-image and value to society. (Studies of unemployed men during the Great Depression are not happy reading -- many of the chronically unemployed males left their families rather than assume a lower status in the family, and were also far more likely to be dictatorial and violent towards their wives and children.)



Captain Ahab Krugman on the need for another trillion or so in stimulus spending: "Aye, aye! and I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up."


Huh. BofA gets a do-over. (Actually, 102,000 do-overs.) Do they get a mulligan on this one or are they penalized a shot? I forsee many lawsuits, yea, even unto the end of the earth.


Having visited the relationship counselor and learned the value of mutual understanding and romance, the United States and China have (temporarily) patched things up. The US has bought China flowers and promised not to fart at the dinner table and resolves not to call China's mother a fat pig with moustache, and China promises to shave her legs every day and stop nagging so much and not invite her horrible mother to visit without asking first.


This is a point I've made many times: the economic demographic most impacted by immigrant labor are teens. Low-end "starter" jobs tend to be low-skill, low-paying, part-time jobs, and adult immigrants are often favored over teens for these jobs by employers (they often have families to support, are considered more reliable, etc.). This means that the teen labor-participation percentage has fallen from 50% in 1970 to 25% today. (And even 25% is probably too high.) When faced with this lack of job opportunities, teens often opt to go back to school -- but this in turn saddles them with a lot of debt for (in many cases) not much gain. For many teens, it's simply a way of deferring adulthood, not a way to gain additional skills or knowledge. (I had my first paying job at 14; my first "real" W2 job at 16. I worked nearly full-time all the way through college, and worked full-time during the summers. I wonder how rare this is now?) Another interesting aspect to the immigrant/teen issue: the language barrier. If you're a teen who doesn't speak Spanish, just try and get a landscaping or construction job in the Southwest. The same goes for many fast-food crews and oil-change/tire-repair places. Still, we're not the only ones with immigrant troubles.


A big GOP win on election day is a good news/bad news scenario for investors. On the whole, I view a big GOP victory as more of a long-term investment, not a short-term fix for what ails us financially. We've got a lot of big problems that are going to take a long time (and a lot of pain) to solve. The Democrats most assuredly do not have the spine to make those changes; time will tell if the GOP does.


Thinking of buying a foreclosed property? Yeah, you might want to re-think that. At least for awhile.


South Korea feels some love for the barbaric yellow metal. Upside: my existing gold will be worth more. Downside: I can't afford to buy any more gold!


Democrats: Beware the FairTax!. Factcheck.org: Stop slinging the bullshit, okay? Personally, I've always thought that the FairTax is far better in theory than in practice, but I'm not all that fond of a VAT either. Wonks love the VAT, however, because it's more "efficient" (i.e., harder to dodge). I have a feeling that we're going to get a VAT or something much like it whether we like it or not, so my argument is that a VAT should replace the current income-tax, not augment it. Otherwise, it's nothing more than another wound opened up in the body politic that will bleed relentlessly. A VAT on top of the existing tax regime would be an economy-killer.


As Devo once sagaciously noted: Lord! I am so tired! How long can this go on?


Le Humongous, c'est lui! Who knew it would be Mad Maurice and not Mad Max? Quelle horreur!


Even the guys who helped to invent the modern stock market find it hard to understand. Pull quote:

Peterffy's actions and contemplations reflect a growing discomfort with Byzantine modern markets. Technology, initially a democratizing force that improved prices, has been weaponized by some firms to create powerful trading advantages.
SKYNET will achieve sentience in 5,4,3..... Just another example of how the market has moved beyond cyclical "bulls" and "bears", and into some quicksilver gladitorial arena populated only by ferocious trading algos.


Industrial production drops 2% after six months of gains. Seasonal drop? Maybe, but the trendlines are going the wrong way, and that has Uncle Sugar's money-men spooked.


Uncle Sugar sends Grandpa and Grandma $250 so they won't have to eat cat food, or something. That's good, because the grandkids are going to have to live off of those Friskies for awhile, and it'll last longer without the geezers bogarting it.


The Democrats can smell electoral disaster in the air. So do they accept the repudiation of their policies with good grace and humility? Hah! Puny humans! The Donks plan to jam at least one more gut-busting appropriations bill down your gullet before they are sent packing. A final fuck-you from these feckless fiscal Fauntleroys!


Turlock, CA, circa 2004: "Wal-Mart, begone!" Turlock, CA, circa 2010: "We [HEART] Wal-Mart!". (A perfect epilogue to this story would be if Wal-Mart's CEO wrote a personal letter to the Turlock city council stating: "Dear Turlock: Poke your apology up your butt. Sincerely, Wal-Mart.")


I've been trying to come up with a metaphor for what a colossal disappointment Arnold Schwarzenegger has been as governor in California, and I came up with this: You know how you kind of look forward to taking a crap? I mean, when you know it's going to be a big old special-delivery package? Then, when you finally get started, all you can do is sit there, cramped, and fart a few times? Yeah. That's how it's been with Arnold. I was looking forward to the kind of dump that made you feel like you just slept for 12 hours; instead all I got was a couple of air-biscuits and a lingering feeling of having been cheated.


The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas! Any state that gives us Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, Bob Wills and Van Cliburn has to be operating under Divine guidance.


And the anti-Texas, California, continues to be hopelessly boned. Steven Greenhut: Is California now an idiocracy? Answer: Yes. (I only quibble with the word "now". Callie has been an idiocracy for many, many years.)


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posted by Monty at 07:53 AM

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