Word that the US is planning a commitment of 13,500 troops in Kuwait is notable this morning since it is yet another indicator that my envisioned Manufacturers Resource Wars are entering a new phase.
Since a few people are bound to wake up to the fact that the Project for a New American Century – a centerpiece of conservative colonialism – is failing and in case you’ve been under a rock, the radicals have won in Egypt and that’s likely the first of several.
So, to add to the mega-embassy in Iraq, and with the decline of oil forecast by some to drop to $65 this year, we can now think about the meaning of a rapid-reaction force in Kuwait. Just the spot to have forces in case succession doesn’t go smoothly in Saudi Arabia or if Iran starts to eyeing Iraq.
So, while Egypt is leaking more live targets into Israeli controlled territory, and while thye Muslim Brotherhood is amping rhetoric to get the military government to back off Western-supported replacement of Mubarak with a west-friendly clone, it’s only a matter of time till the lid blows in that part of the world.
I’m guessing either the economy, the Middle East, or something on that order will begin to pop by the first week of July.
The US Navy site reports four amphibs and five carriers at sea, but a good bit from last week’s levels.
Weak Housing Numbers
Give the huge inventory of real estate owned (REO) by banks, it’s no real surprise to me, nor should this be to you, but here’s the data:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 780,000. This is 7.9 percent (±1.0%) above the revised April rate of 723,000 and is 25.0 percent (±1.5%) above the May 2011 estimate of 624,000. Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 494,000; this is 4.0 percent (±0.8%) above the revised April figure of 475,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 266,000 in May.
Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000. This is 4.8 percent (±12.7%)* below the revised April estimate of 744,000, but is 28.5 percent (±10.7%) above the May 2011 rate of 551,000. Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 516,000; this is 3.2 percent (±12.5%)* above the revised April figure of 500,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 179,000.
Privately-owned housing completions in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000. This is 10.3 percent (±13.2%)* below the revised April estimate of 667,000, but is 10.1 percent (±14.0%)* above the May 2011 rate of 543,000. Single-family housing completions in May were at a rate of 458,000; this is 6.3 percent (±13.2%)* below the revised April rate of 489,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 130,000.
Fed & Greek Watch
Although it is an article of faith around here that the Fed won’t do anything big this week, the markets are not so sure.
One thing is: Greek political parties have not been able to form a coalition government yet, so yes, that’s still “on the edge.”
The Financial Times is picking up that Greek politics is going back to 1930′s norms. Why, who’da thought? D’oh.
Spot the Geniuses Dept.
Go ahead, feign shock and surprise. If you can act well enough, maybe we can land you a reality show gig.
Also worth keeping an eye on the Supreme Corps (a title we bestowed after the Citizens United case awarded super-human rights to legal fictions in order to ensure corporate dominance of politics here in the Check Republic).
The high court is pondering the Health Care bill and since it could go badly (forefatheres not putting health care into the Consitution and all), the Obama administration is reported ginning up a “just in case” backup plan. Which ought to ramp up the K Street checkflow from the healthcare industry.
Corporations have a huge vested interest in returning as many of the current crop of
investments congresspersons as possible. So don’t follow my lead in voting “No Incumbents!” We already have the best government money can buy.
Pliers, please. My ViseGrips are in the shop and I need a pinch…
Sass and Backtalk is Good?
New study seems to hint that teenagers who can argue effectively are more resistant to peer pressures to use drugs and/or alcohol.
I have another theory: They are skiniving manipulators. Who would likely lie better about hitting the crack and sauce. Somewhere I’m guessing there’s a line between counter-intuitive and bullshit, but it’s early.
Once again our Jakarta Bureau chief has spied a dandy”
“Ongoing bot hit? Seems to me this fits in rather well with the bot scenario of people wearing masks from some time ago. I don’t remember is the bot haiku mentioned the cause of the mask wearing, with regard to air quality or bio-agents. At any rate, the city of Wuhan has 9 million people, so that’s a significant population affected….“
Seems to me it was masks to prevent photo-ID’ing but at this hour of the day I’d buy anything from spontaneous street surgery to a mass facelift mania going around. Is the word gullible in the dictionary?
Usually, we don’t talk too much about the changing nature of work (as in “employment” in America, but there is a huge macro-trend which is warping government statistics and misleading millions in the nature of what jobs haven’t seen jacked and sent overseas. You’ll grok it in this reader report:
“Hi George, I’ve been a Web Bot follower, daily Urban Survival reader and Peoplenomics subscriber for a few years now I think. Really appreciate all the insight, news and get a giggle from the typos (I’m a copywriter/editor).
I’ve wanted to share with you and your readers just one small facet of our current economic woes that affects me personally and thousands of others but that you or maybe some of our esteemed retired readers may not be aware of. I work as a senior copywriter/editor in the SF Bay Area.
I’ve worked for some really big names and I have what I think is an impressive resume with about 15 years of experience in my field. For the past few years it has been nearly impossible to find a permanent job in my field, and in many other related areas like design and marketing assistants, managers, etc. Most corporations make these contract positions, so you get no benefits (that means no health insurance, no 401K, etc.) and no stability.
We all pretty much live day to day because we could be let go at any time. In my current job, I was brought on in a managerial position, fulltime, in house.
A few weeks ago my company demoted me to contractor status, “due to business needs.” Problem is that I’m still doing all the same work I was doing before, and then some more.
I’ve also recently discovered that my company has done this many times to other people too. And some people have been contractors for years, performing the duties of a fulltime employee with none of the benefits or stability.
As someone in this situation I can tell you that it does change your outlook. Luckily as a long time reader I’ve reigned in my family’s expenses and we have a nice cushion of savings should the worst happen.
My husband lost his job two years ago, was not able to find another and is now a stay at home dad. I most certainly won’t be making any big purchases in the future, the kind that drive our economy. I can see where stagnation is coming from; it’s coming from situations like mine, also the unfortunate who don’t have a job of any kind, jobjacking and the lack of the “next new thing” in the future.
I know a lot of your readers probably believe strongly in the free market and hands off business but there has to be some more protections out there for the regular working guy. Corps are just taking more and more and they will take everything from you that they can. I’m actively looking for something else to do career/workwise because I see no future for the individual in corporate America.
I’m looking to opt out of the system and I hope many others do too. “
There are business reasons why American companies are going more and more to contract labor. Although “screwing employees” is not a business reason. Companies simply don’t want to offer the kind of benefit packages that were really a hold-over from the hard-fought Union gains of the last Depression, not to mention the 40-hour workweek idea. They have better things to do than pay medical: They need executive bonus pools, perks, and stock options. Surely, someone has to pay for those…and certainly not THEM…
Going forward, don’t be surprised to see a lot more use of contract labor and the half-brother “independent contractors” in more and more companies. It’s extremely easy to “slip” this one by statistically since, in many cases, the hourly rates paid are nearly the same.
One way to do this “slipping” would be to assume medical benefits for the purposes of comparison are somehow tied to inflation. I just got a notice yesterday that my medical costs are going up 6.8% this year. Yet, if a company paid that last year, a statistician could “cook” the differentials developing by assuming (*maybe even knowing it’s not true) that medical tracks inflation. It doesn’t – it’s about 2-3 times inflation.
But you can see how statistics could be twisted to give the impression that someone who was making $20 three years ago, (by not counting benefits) might be compared to a contract worker today making $21.31
Problem is that the cost of benefits has gone up a hell of a lot more than $21.31 – it’s up two and three times that.
There’s one other area of intellectual dishonesty running about which deserves some thought time. That’s the recent outbreak of union-bashing, particularly in places like Wisconsin.
While there may be a few specific cases where compensation is out of line, the reason we’re seeing the backsliding and conversion of “employees” to “contractor laborers” is for the simple reason that companies are trying to get back to the conditions which caused the last Depression. No more 40-hours weeks, no benefits, and so forth.
The results are paradoxical. As the uber-rich demand higher incomes moves like taking away benefits actually contribute to the downward spiral and result in what? More economic losses. Which makes the rich even more scared and paranoid than before for they grab for even more which sets up the vicious circle we’re in now.
You probably haven’t read enough economic history of the 1930′s Depression but one of the ways a shrinking job pool was expanded was through something called “job-sharing.” A person with a 40-hour job would split it with a friend and both would have work and some income trickling in.
The problem was that lifestyles collapsed and that screwed the rich. It’s ironic when you think about it: Corporations which are reneging on past assumed standards of compensation including modest health benefits and vacations with pay) plus at least eight or more paid holidays, actually sow the seeds of their own worker revolts. Oh, and cyclical economic depressions, too.
It doesn’t become clear for a while – we’re looking at 2016-2017, but that’s assuming we don’t get bad stuff from space next year and somehow muddle through. But it’s a quandary and one that takes some acuity to comprehend.
Every time I hear someone with a 40-hour workweek and a benefit package bitching about “those bad unions” I wander off scratching my head. Don’t people know about how government leaders hide what’s in CAFR (comprehensive annual financial report) statements when they whine “Woe is with poor me!” and am I the only one who tracks things like no-bid contracts to big campaign contributors? My head-scratching keeps getting worse.
Here lately, I look like I have mange. The hook is set, the fish are being played, and I just sit back amazed how gullible most people are. If you think there is genuine progress being made in today’s world toward a better tomorrow, at least you don’t need Charmin.
More after this…