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September 09, 2013

The taste of Kaboom is the taste of DOOM

DOOOOM

[This post is dedicated to the Kaboom Kids out there. You know who you are.]

His Majesty the King drives his dread chariot of DOOM out into the arena, dragging the poor abused corpse of the economy behind it. King Barack the Self-Involved shouts, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

Let's start this shit-show with the recent unemployment report. The jobs numbers showed a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.3%, and a jobs-growth of nearly 170,000 jobs. That's good news, right? Well, not so much. It turns out that the reason the unemployment rate went down is because the labor participation rate sank yet again. The US labor participation rate is now at 63.2%, about where it was in...1978. And the worst thing is that this phenomenon isn't being driven by the increasing rate of Boomer retirements; the demographics of the collapse are full-spectrum. This was a horrible, no good, very bad jobs report, and the prospects for improvement any time soon are dim.

Ye gods and little fishes: 96% of the jobs created this year were part-time jobs. (Or 59%, depending on which sources you use and how you count.)

Teens are one of the demographics hardest-hit by the structural changes in the workforce. By some accounts only a little over 30% of teens between 16 and 19 are working, as compared to more than 50% in 1999. One of the more interesting findings is that teens from wealthier families are more likely to be employed than teens from poorer families. I'm sure leftists would spin that fact in some neo-Marxist classist way, but to me it simply shows that the traditional bourgeois values -- responsibility, drive, the fabled "work ethic" -- tend to get passed from parents to children.

Poland just nationalized the nation's private pension funds. (Well...half of them.) Polish politicians are tying themselves in knots trying to explain how this nationalization of private assets is not, in fact, a nationalization of private assets. I'd point and give a Nelson Muntz-syle "HA HA" if it weren't for the suspicion that His Majesty the King will try to do the same thing here before long.


Here’s some fabulous news to start your day: Obama may be in a position to “pack” the Fed for the next fourteen years.

Population of Greece? About 11 million. Number of American citizens collecting disability benefits? About 11 million. America now has more people collecting a disability check than Greece has people, period. Incentives matter.

Roughly 11 million Americans — including workers and their family — now receive Social Security disability benefits, three times the number 30 years ago. Total economic costs, including both payments and loss of output, are more than $300 billion a year, according to JP Morgan. Economists David Autor and Mark Duggan trace the rapid expansion of SSDI more to an easing of eligibility rules than the aging baby boom generation or the declining health of US workers. Another reason: a decline in job opportunities for low-skill workers.

Newest estimate of the underfunding of state and municipal pensions: about $6.4 trillion (which is almost certainly a lowball estimate). Savor the flavor, my groovy babies.

Public pension burdens claim another victim. This time, it’s the Philly public school system.

News from a founding member of the Loyal Order of the Terminally Boned (LOTB), Illinois. Illinois' pension obligation over the next 30 years or so? About $620 billion. That's over half a trillion dollars that the good citizens of Illinois will have to pony up over the next few decades. Everybody who thinks that amount will actually be paid out, raise your hand.

Factory orders: down. Jobs market: moribund. His Majesty the King: golfing. Situation: normal. Move along, citizen!

U.S. Government to S&P: “Give us a BAM!, will you? How about a BAM! right back?!?

If you’re beginning to feel like a chump for bothering to actually work for a living...you’re not the only one.

In other "California is boned!" news: a judge finds that San Bernardino is eligible for bankruptcy. Which is good because, you know, they're bankrupt.

CalPERS to San Bernardino: keep squeezing that rock until some blood comes out. Judge: there is no blood in that rock. CalPERS: You’re not squeezing hard enough! Ultimately, this battle is between bondholders and pension funds, which means it’s going to be a long and bloody fight and will ultimately end up in the state Supreme Court (and maybe even the Federal).

WRM on why India’s economic problems are more important than you think. I’m not sure I agree with Mead that the answer is rapid industrialization; the world is already in overcapacity in many industrial areas, and it’s not clear to me that adding even more capacity will do anything but worsen the problem. Moving hundreds of millions of rural poor into already-overcrowded cities is also a cure that might be worse than the disease.

It’s been obvious for decades that raising the minimum wage does not alleviate poverty -- in fact, the reverse is true. So why does the left continue to push it? Because it plays well politically with their base. Democrats will promise people anything and everything in order to get elected, and then blame the failure to deliver on “externalities” (or the meanies in the GOP). Democrats always seem to get caught flat-footed by the realization that you can't legislate away reality.

Detroit: where large-scale demolition counts as urban renewal.

Pension funds still hangin’ onto that dream of 8% annualized returns into perpetuity.

Cat Sticking His Tongue Out

digg this
posted by Monty at 08:15 AM

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