Tag Archives | Recession

Greece’s Choice, And Ours: Rule By Democracy or Finance?

GreeceBank575A number of nations, including Greece and the United States, are in the process of deciding between being governed by democracy or by finance, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor Robert Reich writes:

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou decided in favor of democracy yesterday when he announced a national referendum on the draconian budget cuts Europe and the IMF are demanding from Greece in return for bailing it out.

(Or, more accurately, the cuts Europe and the IMF are demanding for bailing out big European banks that have lent Greece lots of money and stand to lose big if Greece defaults on those loans—not to mention Wall Street banks that will also suffer because of their intertwined financial connections with European banks.)

If Greek voters accept the bailout terms, unemployment will rise even further in Greece, public services will be cut more than they have already, the Greek economy will contract, and the standard of living of most Greeks will deteriorate further.

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Top Foreclosure Firm’s Homelessness-Themed Halloween Party

homelesssqSometimes Halloween costume choice can offer an interesting window into people’s mindsets. Via the New York Times:

The law firm of Steven J. Baum, which is located near Buffalo, is what is commonly referred to as a “foreclosure mill” firm, meaning it represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Steven J. Baum is, in fact, the largest such firm in New York; it represents virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

A former employee recently sent me snapshots of last year’s party. In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against. When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set.

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Joe Knucklehead on the Occupy Movement, Faux-Populism and More

American KnuckleheadVia Technoccult:

Joe Knucklehead, the host of the podcast American Knucklehead, is just your average American bowling alley technician. But he has a few things to say about the state of the USA. I recently interviewed him on the Occupy Movement, the 53% and more:

You’ve been talking a bit lately about the Occupy movement. There’s this online counter-movement of conservatives called the “53%” who claim to be subsidizing the Occupy movement via taxes. They say that the protesters need to “stop whining.” What do you think about this is it a real populist sentiment, or just more divisiveness?

Naw, it’s a total PR ploy. The guy that dreamed it up, Erick Erickson, is a woofer blogger, CNN talking head, and radio talk show host. I’d say he’s been amazingly effective at providing a pointless distraction.

I talked to one of the organizers of Occupy Portland in the last show.

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Unemployed Man Will Let Someone Hunt Him For $10,000

Mork-EncinoAh, the most dangerous game. Unfortunately, one can only command such a high price for hunting if you have a smooth pelt and thick hide. Via the The Inquisitr:

Mork Encino, 28, was sick of being unemployed so he decided to start his own business, allowing people with $10,000 to hunt him like a wild animal for sport.

On his website, huntme4sport.com, he is offering “hearty gentlemen who fancy themselves sportsmen” the chance to hunt him down and even kill him should they so choose.

Mork says of his abilities: “I am a new breed of prey with thick pelt and smooth hide,” while adding, “I’m faster than a wild turkey, smart as any GODDAMN wild boar, and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the monetary health of my family.”

The prey (that would be Encino) says he has received various offers but “none of which I’ve been comfortable accepting.” While he says the hunting challenge isn’t a joke, he hopes a real job offer will arrive first so he doesn’t get “shot in the face.”

More on The Inquisitr

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Dawn Of The Dead Malls

Abandoned_Mall_by_MadMasquerade

The landscape of our post-recession country is littered with the carcasses of abandoned malls — fallen, ghostly temples of twentieth-century consumerism and suburbia. In an interesting two-year-old piece, Design Observer wonders what to do with them. Utopian schemes from wild-eyed planners abound:

Dead malls, according to Deadmalls.com, are malls whose vacancy rate has reached the tipping point; whose consumer traffic is alarmingly low; are “dated or deteriorating”; or all of the above. A May 2009 article in The Wall Street Journal, “Recession Turns Malls into Ghost Towns,” predicts that the dead-mall bodycount “will swell to more than 100 by the end of this year.” Dead malls are a sign of the times, victims of the economic plague years.

The multitiered, fully enclosed mall (as opposed to the strip mall) has been the Vatican of shiny, happy consumerism since it staked its claim on the crabgrass frontier — and the public mind — in postwar America.

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Record Number Of Americans Below Poverty Line

Solitude 2 - homelessGrim statistics reported by the New York Times:

Another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, and the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it.

And in new signs of distress among the middle class, median household incomes fell last year to levels last seen in 1997.

Economists pointed to a telling statistic: It was the first time since the Great Depression that median household income, adjusted for inflation, had not risen over such a long period, said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard.

“This is truly a lost decade,” Mr. Katz said. “We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.”

The bureau’s findings were worse than many economists expected, and brought into sharp relief the toll the past decade — including the painful declines of the financial crisis and recession —had taken on Americans at the middle and lower parts of the income ladder.

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African American Unemployment At 27 Year High

chart-black-unemploymentAnnalyn Censky reports on this depressing statistic for CNN Money:

The August jobs report was dismal for plenty of reasons, but perhaps most striking was the picture it painted of racial inequality in the job market.

Black unemployment surged to 16.7% in August, its highest level since 1984, while the unemployment rate for whites fell slightly to 8%, the Labor Department reported.

“This month’s numbers continue to bear out that longstanding pattern that minorities have a much more challenging time getting jobs,” said Bill Rodgers, chief economist with the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

Black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites since the government started tracking the figures in 1972.

Economists blame a variety of factors. The black workforce is younger than the white workforce, lower numbers of blacks get a college degree and many live in areas of the country that were harder hit by the recession — all things that could lead to a higher unemployment rate.

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Austerity And The UK Riots

riotsAre the riots that have engulfed North London and elsewhere linked to the recent slashing of funds for education, social services, and youth centers? The London Review of Books blog says, duh, yes:

Anyone who says the riots don’t have anything to do with the cuts should have a read of ‘Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe 1919-2009’, a discussion paper issued under the auspices of the Centre for Economic Policy Research’s international macroeconomics programme and currently doing the rounds on Twitter, which looks at the relationship between budget cuts and civil unrest across Europe since the end of the First World War:

The results show a clear positive correlation between fiscal retrenchment and instability. We test if the relationship simply reflects economic downturns, and conclude that this is not the key factor.

So much for ‘criminality pure and simple’.

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Second Recession In This ‘Double Dip’ Will Be Worse Than First

Panic1837_cropThere’s no doubt about it, the United States never really recovered from 2008’s crash and burn and the gas frantically poured on the fire by the Obama administration to “stimulate” the economy created nothing more than a spike in corporate profits that were never distributed to the people. What should we do now – start growing vegetables and stockpiling canned goods? Catherine Rampell reports on America’s dubious prospects for the New York Times:

If the economy falls back into recession, as many economists are now warning, the bloodletting could be a lot more painful than the last time around.

Given the tumult of the Great Recession, this may be hard to believe. But the economy is much weaker than it was at the outset of the last recession in December 2007, with most major measures of economic health — including jobs, incomes, output and industrial production — worse today than they were back then.

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