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2003-06-01 04:26PDT (07:26EDT) (11:26GMT)
_Baltimore Sun_/_Charleston Post & Courier_
US prison population largest in world
"With a record-setting 2M people now locked up in American jails and prisons, the United States has overtaken Russia and has a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country. Those are the latest dreary mile-stones resulting from a 2-decade imprisonment boom that experts say has probably helped reduce crime but also has created ballooning costs and stark racial inequities... The new high of 2,019,234, announced by the Justice Department in April, under-scores the extraordinary scale of American imprisonment compared to most of the world... the United States has emerged unchallenged into first place, at 702 prisoners per 100K population. Russia now has 665 prisoners per 100K... The Justice Department reports that 1 in 8 black men in their 20s and early 30s were behind bars last year, compared with 1 in 63 white men. The chance of a black man going to prison in his life-time is 1 in 3, the department says. For black male high school drop-outs, Western says, the numbers are still worse: 41% of black drop-outs between 22 and 30 were locked up in 1999... A major cause is the war on drugs. In 1980, says Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project in Washington, about 40K Americans were locked up for drugs-only offenses. Now the number is 450K, three-fourths of them black or Latino, though drug use is no higher in those groups than among whites."
Erika Kinetz _NY Times_
"44% of the school's [Queen's College's] 12K under-graduates are first-generation college students, and the same percentage were born outside the United States. Inside the Student Union, 162 flags from around the world hang in dense and colorful rows from the ceiling... The increasingly unfriendly job market has forced many recent graduates to put their ambition on hold; even the most focused and energetic are struggling mightily. Graduate schools have swelled like refugee camps. Jobs in social services and sales have started to look appealing, even to the unsociable and unsalesmanlike. According to the New York City comptroller, the city has lost 236,200 jobs since 2000 December, two-thirds of those since 2001 September 11. The effects of the terrorist attacks, combined with sharp downturns in the financial services, telecommunications and media industries - all significant engines of the city's economy - have made New York one of the hardest places in the country to find a job right now. In April, the city's unemployment rate was 8.3%, significantly above the state rate of 6.1%, and the national average of 6.0%. Young job seekers have been especially hard hit. 'People 25 to 45 have lower unemployment rates than people under 25.', said James P. Brown, who analyzes the city's economy for the state's Department of Labor... In 1998, an estimated 54% of graduating seniors at Queens College reported that they had secured employment at the time of graduation, while in 2002, only about 44% did. A year to 18 months after graduation, about 87% of students who graduated between September 1996 and June 1997 had jobs, versus 83% of students who graduated 4 years later, according to surveys by the college. Median salaries fell to $32,500 from $34K."
Daniel Altman _NY Times_
Putting a Price on Immigration BackLogs
"The economy needs immigrants. As the native-born work force ages, new arrivals will be a mainstay of growth. Yet almost 2 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the nation is still having a hard time dealing with would-be Americans. Apart from a surge in the summer of 2001, the number of requests for work permits, permanent resident status and citizenship has been relatively steady, at about a half-million a month, for the last several years. But statistics released this month by the Department of Homeland Security show that the backlog of applications waiting for approval ballooned to more than 5M in March of this year from a 32-month low of 2.9M in 2001 February... Immigration accounted for 40% of the population's growth during the 1990's, according to the Census Bureau... they help to support the huge wave of retirees soon to receive Social Security and Medicare benefits. 'Immigrants benefited this country even before we had a Social Security system.', said Gary S. Becker, a professor of economics and sociology at the University of Chicago who won a Nobel in economics in 1992. 'You bring people in who have good skills, who want to come to this country, who are hard workers, who have ambitions for their children. Those types of people, with their ambition, creativity and knowledge, help us all.' Professor Becker said he hoped the screening of potential immigrants for terrorists would not reduce immigration... Since 2001 June, the immigration authorities have offered a 'premium processing service' to businesses for more than a dozen types of work permits and visas. For a fee of $1K a request, the nation's gatekeepers will deal with an application in just 15 calendar days. Big users of the service have included biotechnology and electronics companies eager to bring in highly skilled workers from abroad, Mr. Bentley said. Professor Becker applauded the idea of a price-based system for immigration... A foreign investor who contributes at least $500K to a business here can get permanent resident status, as long as that investment appears to create at least 10 jobs."
Sam Zuckerman_San Francisco Chronicle_
Over-seas tech jobs proliferate: More Silicon Valley companies find cheaper labor in other countries
"Forget the technology crash. For Atul Vashistha, it's still 1999. At NeoIT, Vashistha's San Ramon consulting company, sales are rising at a dizzying 150% annual pace in the teeth of a tech depression. NeoIT is growing so fast because it is in the thick of one of Silicon Valley's hottest trends -- the movement of technology operations off-shore, usually to developing countries where salaries are dirt cheap... In India, the country that is the biggest beneficiary of the off-shore technology explosion, sales of software and services to foreign customers have grown from a few million dollars in the early 1990s to $13G in the 12 months ended in March, according to India's National Association of Software and Service Companies. Meanwhile, [Red China] is making substantial investments in its software industry with an eye to siphoning off some of that business. And, because English is spoken widely there, the Philippines is getting a growing share of the technical support and call center business India has become known for... In Silicon Valley, salary and benefits for a programmer with a few years' experience run about $75 to $80 per hour. A third-party provider in the United States charges about $125 per hour for the same service, according to Karamouzis. Leading Indian firms, such as Wipro, ask only $20 to $25 per hour, she said. And second-tier Indian companies can be found that will do the work for as little as $15... the financial pressures created by the recession have prompted a big acceleration in the flow of technology jobs off-shore."
William Sherman _NY Daily News_
City Tech Jobs Down Drain: tech work cheaper over-seas
"In yet another blow to recession-battered Silicon Alley and the city's economy, New York is losing thousands of technology jobs and major software projects to cheap over-seas competitors. In a process called off-shoring, the city's biggest brokerages, banks and insurers are contracting large chunks of tech work to service providers principally based in Asia. The lost jobs and projects range from simple data entry to programming to the most sophisticated software engineering and consulting... Off-shoring [allegedly] produces savings of 30% to 70%, principally because salaries for tech workers at every level in [Red China] and India, for example, are a fraction of those paid in the United States... For New York City, off-shoring is another hit to the local economy, not unlike the export of garment center manufacturing by clothing companies, which began more than 30 years ago... Bruce Bernstein, president of the New York State Software Industry Association, said many of his 600 member companies are losing clients or 'having trouble maintaining their client base because of off-shoring.'... Ernie Nounou, founding partner of Catalytic Group, a Manhattan tech consulting firm, said off-shoring competition is costing him between $1M and $1.5M this year."
Robert D. Ramsey _SuperVision_/_HobJobs_
Tapping the Strengths of Older Workers
"Based on research reported by news and trends writer Trish Nicholson, the number of workers between 45-75 laid off or fired because of their age rose to 4% in 2002. This is up from previous years. An additional 9% report missing out on promotions due to age bias and 15% reported being denied jobs for which they were qualified because of ageism. Obviously, just being qualified to work, fit to work and wanting to work isn't enough anymore if you're past middle age... Seniors often use medical benefits less than some other age groups. Parents of younger children are the most frequent users and contribute more directly to increased premium rates... Senior workers have excellent attendance records, because they seldom miss work for personal reasons other than legitimate illness... The capacity to learn isn't a function of age. If you are skeptical, check out the growing number of senior citizens going back to college and getting advanced degrees every year... Older generations thrive on hard work... Older workers are loyal. They appreciate the opportunity to work and stick with those who give them a chance to perform and produce. Older workers take great pride in their accomplishments. They care about doing a good job. Older workers are dependable... Older workers don't do [office] politics... older workers have more than their share of 'emotional maturity' and common sense."
2003-06-02 02:15PDT (05:15EDT) (09:15GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tokyo's Nikkei cracks 8,500 level: Tech stocks rally; Dollar eases vs. yen on G8 caution
"Asian markets rallied Monday on the back of big gains for technology stocks like United Microelectronics in Taipei and Tokyo Electron in Tokyo, while the dollar fell against the yen on caution over currencies as G8 leaders gathered for a summit. Tokyo's Nikkei Average breached the 8,600 level earlier in the day before retracing a bit to end up around a 3-month high of 8,547.17, up 122 points, or 1.5%. The broader Topix grew 1% to 846. In other key Asian markets, South Korea's Kospi jumped 2.4% to 648, Taiwan's Weighted Average surged 3% to 4,692 and Singapore's Straits Times jumped 2.4% to 1,380 after the World Health Organization removed the city-state from the list of areas with SARS."
2003-06-02 07:18PDT (10:18EDT) (14:18GMT)
Leslie Haggin Geary _CNN_/_Money_
$100K on a degree. Now what?: With jobs scarce, more than half of this year's college graduates will head home to Mom and Dad.
"According to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 42% of employers plan to hire fewer new college graduates than they did last year... 61% of college seniors plan to return to their family home after graduation, according to a survey taken this spring by Monster.com... Says Dee Lee, a certified financial planner and author of _Let's Talk Money_: 'They started college thinking they'd be millionaires by the time they were 25 -- now they've got their tails between their legs. The world fell apart while they were in school.'..."
2003-06-02 07:42PDT (10:42EDT) (14:42GMT)
Margaret Quan _EE Times_
"McClenahan Bruer Communications (Portland, OR) commissioned an Internet survey to put a human face on the [EE] profession... Similar surveys were conducted in 1999 and 2001. As in the past, it was no surprise this year to find that the bulk of the respondents were male (95%) and middle-aged (the mean age of this year's group is 44.9 years, slightly older than the 2001 survey mean age of 40.9 years). The western United States is home to just over a third, or 36.4%, of this year's respondents. Most of the respondents are design engineers (73%). Among industry segments, test and instrumentation claimed the largest single percentage of respondents (24%). According to the survey, the average engineer has worked for an average of 3 companies during his career, has been with his employer for more than 9 years and would like to stay with his current employer for many more years.
60% of the respondents also said they believe that the practice of hiring engineers from over-seas has resulted in job displacement among U.S. engineers... Most of the engineers who responded (64%) also believe that the United States will continue to be the leader in engineering innovation in the next 5 years. Here, Nelson agreed, saying that despite the down-turn, 'the U.S. still has an economic system that promotes innovation'... But the #1 issue about which they are concerned individually is unemployment and job security (25%)...
What companies don't sufficiently acknowledge after a lay-off, she said, is 'the impact on those left behind'. Those employees, she said, feel badly for their disenfranchised colleagues and overburdened by the extra work load -- 'and they are constantly worried that the next e-mail or meeting will mean the end' of their own employment. 75% of the respondents are married."
Art Carden _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
Has Government Action Reduced or Increased Inequality in the USA
"In previous essays, I have argued that a) we may not be measuring inequality correctly and that a proper conception of the concept may lead us to the conclusion that inequality is actually decreasing, and b) that even if inequality is increasing, it is unclear that it is necessarily detrimental to society. Here, I will show that the data on the American welfare state do not support the hypothesis that the state can reduce inequality."
Index of articles on mises.org
2003-06-02 10:58PDT (13:58EDT) (17:58GMT)
Michael Baron _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow peaks briefly above 9K level
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose almost 138 points, or 1.6%, to 8,988.56 [at mid-day]. Earlier in the session, the index reached 9,000.26. The blue-chip index hasn't closed above 9K since  August. The buying was extremely broad-based with 27 of the Dow's 30 components gaining ground. Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and J.P. Morgan Chase led the push higher. 3M, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble were the only Dow decliners. The Nasdaq Composite shot up roughly 23 points, or 1.5%, to 1,619.26 and the Nasdaq 100 Index added 14 points, or 1.2%, to 1,211.97. The composite got as high as 1,620.79 earlier in the session. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 1.5%, and the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks advanced 1.2%. Volume totaled 1.01G on the NYSE and 1.6G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Big Board advancers stomped on decliners by a margin of 24 to 9, and by 20 to 12 on the Nasdaq."
2003-06-02 13:27PDT (16:27EDT) (20:27GMT)
Michael Baron _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow unable to hold above 9K: Better than expected ISM index sparks modest rally
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average, up more than 150 points at mid-day at 9003.27, was up only 47.55 points to close at 8,897.81... The Nasdaq Composite up almost 25 points at one time, was down 5.16 points to end Monday at 1590.75. Both the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks advanced 0.4%. Volume totaled 1.6G on the NYSE and 2.5G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers stomped on decliners by a margin roughly of 2 to 1 on the Big Board and by about 6 to 5 on the Nasdaq. The Institute for Supply Management said its May index stood at 49.4. The index has now been below 50, the point that indicates economic expansion, for 3 straight months, but Monday's figure was still better than economists consensus estimate of 48.5."
Carrie Kirby & Sam Zuckerman _San Francisco Chronicle_
Techies see jobs go over-seas: Opposition to off-shore out-sourcing beginning to grow
"In California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington, groups of computer professionals are searching for ways -- from legislation to tax incentives -- to somehow slow the flow of high-paying jobs over-seas. 'There are millions of people like me now who are realizing (their) job's gone, and it's never coming back.', said Soong... Now that the jobs of more educated, non-unionized computer professionals are going to India, [Red China] and other lower-cost economies, there is another back-lash... Warburg Pincus has funded companies that specialize in off-shore out-sourcing... Those who are fighting out-sourcing warn that as opportunities for computer professionals wane, American students will have no incentive to enter the field, leaving the United States unable to continue leading the world in tech innovation. They predict a lack of American know-how that could cause a national security crisis. They also fear that rampant U.S. job losses will decimate the tax base and damage the economy...
In the Bay Area, opponents of out-sourcing are calling attention to one personal tragedy that has been blamed on off-shoring: Kevin Flanagan, of Pleasant Hill, reportedly shot himself in April in the parking lot outside Bank of America's Concord office, where he had just received his termination notice. In an interview with the Contra Costa Times, Flanagan's father, Tom Flanagan, said his son's job loss and death were the result of the bank's sending work off-shore. Bank of America spokeswoman Lisa Gagnon declined to comment on whether Flanagan's job was one of the tasks the company has out-sourced...
Local opponents of off-shoring want more than that. Bennett has posted a document on his web site (www.nomoreh1b.com) calling for Bank of America Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis to apologize to Flanagan's family. To Bennett and others, Flanagan's death embodies a scourge that could move across the U.S. economy, destroying lives in one field after another...
Most anti-off-shoring activists say their anger is focused not on the foreign workers, but on the corporations moving jobs off-shore. They also blame politicians who they suspect support the corporations because they don't want to alienate campaign donors. Although most opponents of off-shoring also oppose the H-1B and L-1 visa programs that have allowed hundreds of thousands of foreign workers to compete with them for tech jobs in the United States, not all the activists are opposed to immigration."
Adam Geller _Arizona Republic_
Job searches now averaging 20 weeks
Unemployed workers endure longest job searches in 2 decades
"Tuesday night meeting of JobSeekers, 21 mark boxes indicating they have been out of work at least 6 months. For 15, it has been a year or more. For 2, the last pay-check was 25 months ago... The time the average jobless worker remains unemployed stretched to nearly 20 weeks in April. That is up from about 12 weeks in early 2001, and is the longest since late 1983, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many searches take even longer. Nearly 22% of unemployed workers, 2M people, have been out of a job more than 6 months. That is double the number of 2 years ago. About 13% have been out for a year or more."
Eric Lichtblau _NY Times_
Justice Department Inspector General Faults the RoundUp of Immigrants
"The Justice Department's round-up of hundreds of illegal immigrants in the months after the 2001 September 11 attacks was plagued with 'significant problems' that forced many people with no connection to terrorism to languish in jails in unduly harsh conditions, an internal report released today found... F.B.I. officials, particularly in New York City, 'made little attempt to distinguish' between immigrants who had possible ties to terrorism and those swept up by chance in the investigation... some lawyers in the department [had] raised concerns about the legality of the tactics, only to be over-ridden by senior officials... Justice Department officials said that despite their disagreements with some of the report's conclusions, they have already adopted some of the 21 recommendations made by Glenn A. Fine, the department's inspector general, including one to develop clearer criteria for the processsing of such detentions... A total of 762 illegal immigrants were jailed in the weeks and months after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as the authorities traced tens of thousands of leads and sought to prevent another attack. Most of the 762 immigrants have now been deported, and none have been charged as terrorists."
2003-06-03 06:50PDT (09:50EDT) (13:50GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Greenspan: Fairly Marked Turn-Around for US
"The U.S. economy has seen a 'fairly marked turn-around' recently, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told fellow central bankers at a panel in Berlin."
2003-06-03 07:51PDT (10:51EDT) (14:51GMT)
Lay-off plans drop 53% in May
"The number of job cuts announced at U.S. employers fell sharply in May to its lowest in 30 months, a promising sign of improvement in a labor market that has seen its share of gloom, a report showed Tuesday. Planned lay-offs at U.S. firms slipped 53% to 68,623 in May from 146,399 in April, job placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said. The year's total job cut plans so far add up to 570,817, still high but 11% lower than the same period last year."
2003-06-03 11:11PDT (14:11EDT) (18:11GMT)
Matt Andrejczak _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Curb on options-expensing attacked: FASB chief sees 'dangerous precedent' in legislation
"The nation's chief of accounting standards attacked proposed legislation Tuesday that would impose a 3-year moratorium on any plans to expense stock options, saying intervention 'would be in direct conflict with the expressed needs and demands of investors. The moratorium would establish a potentially dangerous precedent.', Robert Herz, chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, testified before a House panel. 'It would send a clear and unmistakable signal that Congress is willing to intervene in the independent and open accounting standard-setting process based on factors other than the pursuit of sound and fair financial reporting.'... More than 280 companies voluntarily expense options, of which 94 are S&P 500 companies, according to Bear Stearns... In 2000, at the height of the technology bubble, only 1.7% of non-executives in the work force received stock options, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."
Martin C.M. Lee _NY Times_
Red China's Censors Extend Their Reach
"On July 9, over widespread public protest, the Hong Kong government intends to push through a national security bill that would criminalize 'treason, sedition, subversion and the theft of state secrets'. This language may not seem so insidious, but in [Red China] such laws are regularly used to put political critics away for long prison terms. Just this week, 4 Chinese intellectuals were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on 'subversion' charges for criticizing the government on the Internet. The new law is being put forward despite Beijing's promise of 50 years of 'one country, two systems' when the British handed over Hong Kong in 1997. The government had put forward even harsher proposals last fall that drew widespread criticism, and has offered this version as a supposed concession to civil-liberties groups. This is a familiar gambit -- the government sends out a ludicrous first draft as a trial balloon, then makes cosmetic concessions and ends up with the draconian measure it intended all along [the same modus operandi of the US feral governments]."
Briony Hale _BBC_
Ghana's SOFT trumps mighty M$
"Infosys, India's largest software firm, is just about to enter the Ghanaian market and it is using SOFT for marketing and support."
2003-06-04 13:20PDT (16:20EDT) (20:20GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Late push keeps Dow well above 9K
"Positive data on productivity and the services sector extended the recent rally in U.S. stocks Wednesday, sending the Dow well above the important threshold of 9K and the Nasdaq Composite to a fresh 52-week peak... Indicative of the widespread buying interest, 26 of the Dow's 30 components were on the rise with roughly 27.5% of the blue-chip index, 8 companies, tacking on more than 2%... The Dow Jones Industrial Average ran up 116.03 points, or 1.3%, to 9,038.98. The blue-chip index hadn't closed above 9K since last August 22. The Nasdaq Composite sprinted 31.09 points, or 1.9%, higher to 1,634.65, and the Nasdaq 100 Index jumped 2.2% to 1,224.76. The composite hadn't closed above 1,600 since late May of last year. Among the Nasdaq-listed technology heavyweights reaching 52-week highs in the session were Cisco Systems, and Oracle. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 1.5% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks advanced 1.7%. Volume amounted to 1.59G on the NYSE and to 2.47G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Market breadth was significantly better, with winners squashing losers by 25 to 8 on the NYSE and 22 to 10 on the Nasdaq... And hand-held device maker Palm announced plans to nab rival Handspring in a stock deal valued at around $168.9M. Shares of both companies surged."
_San Diego Union-Tribune_
Job cut-backs down 53% in May
"U.S. employers in May announced plans to cut 68,623 jobs, the smallest number of intended firings in 30 months and a sign that the worst round of lay-offs may be over, a private survey found. Announcements last month were down 53.1% from 146,399 announced in April and 19.2% from 84,978 in 2002 May, according to the Chicago-based placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. The May total was the smallest since 2000 November... In the 3 months through April, the economy shed 525K jobs and the unemployment rate matched an 8-year high at 6%."
2003-06-05 11:03PDT (14:03EDT) (18:03GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims, factory orders stoke Fed bets
"For a 14th straight week, average filings for U.S. state unemployment benefits held above the key 400K mark... The less-volatile four-week moving average stands at 430,500 from 427,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. Initial filings for state unemployment benefits rose by 16K to 442K in just the week ended last Saturday. It's the highest level in more than a month and the 16th week above 400K... U.S. factory orders fell 2.9% that month, the biggest drop since 4.1% in 2001 November..."
2003-06-05 13:25PDT (16:25EDT) (20:25GMT)
August Cole _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks end higher as Dow defends 9K: Nasdaq straddles flat-line, bonds, gold stage rally
"For the NASDAQ and the broader technology group, eyes were on Intel, the world's largest chip-maker... The NASDAQ Composite rose 11 points, or 0.7%, to 1,646. The Dow Jones Industrial Average held its ground above the 9K level, rising 2.3 points, flat on a percentage basis, to 9,041.3. In the previous session, the 30-stock index achieved its first close above the 9K level since August... The S&P 500 added 3.6 points, or 0.4%, to 990.1. The Russell 2000 rose 5.5 points, or 1.2%, to 456.7."
Requests for Unemployment Compensation Insurance Benefits Increase
"The number of American workers filing new claims for jobless benefits climbed to a 5-week high last week... The Labor Department reported today that new applications for unemployment insurance rose by a seasonally adjusted 16K to 442K for the workweek ending May 31. The increase pushed claims to their highest level since the end of April. 'The labor market obviously is still contracting, but like the rest of the economy, it likely will recover step by halting step.', said Oscar Gonzalez, an economist at John Hancock Financial Services... The more stable four-week moving average of claims, which better adjusts for week-to-week fluctuations, rose last week by 3K, to 430,500, the highest level in 2 weeks. The nation's jobless rate jumped to 6% in April as businesses cut 48K jobs. The economy has lost a half million jobs in the last 3 months, a decline usually associated with recessions."
Planned Job Cuts Declined in May
"Employers in the United States announced plans in May to cut 68,623 jobs, the smallest number of intended layoffs in 30 months and a sign that the worst round of job losses may be over, a private survey has found. Planned job cuts were down 53.1% from the 146,399 announced in April and down 19.2% from the 84,978 announced in 2002 May, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a placement firm based in Chicago. It was the fewest since 2000 November... Telecommunications and computer companies announced 54,278 job cuts from January through May, down 67.2% from the same period last year."
Katie Hafner _NY Times_
On Video Games the Jury Is Out and Confused
David Zeiler _Baltimore Sun_/_Chicago Tribune_
A conversation with Steve Wozniak
"Though out of the spot-light since leaving Apple Computer Inc. in 1985, Steve Wozniak remains revered for his integral role in helping Steve Jobs establish the company in 1976. He is credited with single-handedly designing the Apple I and Apple II machines. A native of San Jose, CA, Wozniak was introduced to Jobs in the mid-1970s by a mutual friend, Bill Fernandez. Wozniak, who had dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley to get a job, was 5 years older than Jobs, who was in high school. He later received his degree from Berkeley."
David Firestone _NY Times_
Senate Approves Additional Child Tax Credit to Cover Those in Lower Bracket
"The Senate voted overwhelmingly today to give an increased child tax credit to millions of low-income families who did not receive it in the new tax law.... The vote was 94 to 2. Both opponents, Senators Don Nickles and James M. Inhofe, are Republicans from Oklahoma. Mr. Nickles said he objected to increasing the refund to people who did not pay federal income taxes. The bill, which would allow 6.5M minimum-wage families to begin receiving checks of $400 per child, now goes to the House, where its prospects are uncertain. Two senior House Republican officials said today that House leaders would vote for the increased child credit only as part of a much broader tax bill that could cost the Treasury about $100G. That could cost the bill Senate support. The Senate bill is projected to pay for itself with increased customs fees and would not come at a cost to the Treasury... The most significant would extend the full $1K child credit -- increased from $600 in the new tax law -- in 2010 to married couples making $110K to $150K. Under current law, the credit begins to phase out for couples making $110K. The new provision would allow some couples earning up to $200K to receive a portion of the tax credit, depending on how many children they have... Senators from each party urged the House not to delay its approval of the bill with ideological battles, in the hope that the 6.5M families making $10,500 to $26,625 would receive their refund checks next month. If the bill is not approved in June, [they will receive their refunds later than the currently-eligible 25M families]."
Senate Adds Rule to Energy Bill to Double Ethanol in Gasoline
"It would require doubling the use of ethanol, to at least 5G gallons a year, in what would be a boon to corn farmers... The measure, approved 67 to 29, would also ban the use of another gasoline additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether, or M.T.B.E., a derivative of natural gas that can contaminate supplies of drinking water. M.T.B.E. has been added to gasoline in many states since the 1970's to increase the octane rating and make the fuel burn more cleanly. Refiners would have more freedom to blend fuel because the measure would also end a requirement that gasoline contain at least 2% oxygen in areas with air pollution problems. Although the rule has been credited with achieving significant reductions in tail-pipe pollution, refiners say they can produce cleaner gasoline without it. Opponents said expanding the use of ethanol could lead to gasoline shortages and price surges in regions without ethanol plants... Backers of ethanol said the bill would help energy independence by displacing up to 250K barrels of oil a day by 2012... As the Senate began debating the fuel rules this week, the ethanol industry issued a report commissioned by the National Association of Corn Growers that estimated that doubling the use of ethanol would add $1.3G a year to farmers' incomes and create 214K jobs while lowering the cost of gasoline."
2003-06-06 07:28PDT (10:28EDT) (14:28GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US shed fewer than expected jobs: April pay-rolls revised to flat but seasonally adjusted unemployment rate a 9-year high
"The U.S. economy lost another 17K jobs in May, while the nation's [seasonally adjusted] unemployment rate rose as expected, to 6.1% from April's reading of 6%, the Labor Department reported Friday. The jobless rate is the highest since 1994 July... Meanwhile, April's originally reported 48K-pay-roll drop was revised to flat, a sharp improvement after job losses topping the 100K mark for both February and March... Average hourly earnings increased 0.3% last month, topping forecasts for a 0.2% rise. Average hourly earnings have increased 3.2% over the past year... In all, a sobering 9M people were without a job [and actively seeking employment] in May, according to Kathleen Utgoff, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And even within the relatively stalwart business and professional services category, employment is still about 500K below its recent peak in 2000 April... The average workweek held steady at 33.7 hours, but the factory work-week expanded to 40.2 hours from 40.1 hours, a slight improvement after a large decline for April. Over-time edged higher last month... The report introduced several new statistical methods including a conversion to NAICS, the new industrial classification system already used for many Commerce Department statistics, and only directly comparable back to 1990. The changes allow the government's statisticians to more easily add new industries and break out various service industries."
2003-06-06 07:31PDT (10:31EDT) (14:31GMT)
Brian Mitchell _Investor's Business Daily_/_Yahoo!_
Weak Job Market
"1 in 5 Americans say it's likely someone at home will lose a job in the coming year... A bigger tax cut would have helped, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao told _The Christian Science Monitor_ last week. The smaller tax cut Bush signed last week 'means cutting back on job creation', she said... About 1 in 5 respondents say someone in their immediate family lost a job in the past year. 3 out of 4 say finding a job is hard in their area..."
2003-06-06 13:59PDT (16:59EDT) (20:59GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks closed mixed after early rally: Job numbers cheer Dow, but Nasdaq cools
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 21.49 points at 9062.79 while the S&P 500 Index fell 2.38 points to 987.76, after earlier breaking through the 1K level for the first time in a year. The Nasdaq ended 18.59 points lower at 1627.42, after earlier nearing the 1,700 mark, a level not seen since 2002 May... Volume was heavy, with 1.8G shares changing hands on the Big Board, and 2.9G on the Nasdaq. Both exchanges set volume records for the year. Advancers were in a dead heat with decliners on the New York Stock Exchange. On the Nasdaq, decliners led advancers by 18 to 15."
John Markoff _NY Times_
New Ill-Begotten Monstrosity Super-Computer to Begin Its Weather Work
"The new computer, with a theoretical peak computing power of 7.3T operations a second, is expected to be enhanced over the next few years, and it may reach speeds up to 100T operations a second by 2009, I.B.M. said. It ranks third in the United States in speed, behind 2 Hewlett-Packard machines at Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico... The Earth Simulator, financed by the Japanese government, was installed in Yokohama, west of Tokyo, at a cost of $350M to $400M. It is capable of 35.8T operations a second. The National Weather Service plans to spend more than $200M on the I.B.M. system, which is now composed of 1,408 processors arranged in a cluster of 44 interconnected systems."
Scott Cohn _NBC_
Jobs data mask deeper problems: Long-term unemployment now at highest level in 20 years
"Despite sending out more than 2K resumes, he says, the best he has been able to manage has been some free-lance work and 3 job interviews. 'The job market is terrible.', he said. Bergmann is one of more than 3M Americans considered 'long-term unemployed' -- out of work 15 weeks or more. Nearly 38% of the unemployed now fall in that long-term category -- the worst long-term unemployment problem in 20 years."
Manjeet Kripalani, Bruce Einhorn & Paul Magnusson _Business Week_
A New Battle Over Off-Shore Out-Sourcing: legislators say India is stealing Americans' jobs
"The momentum against the export of white-collar U.S. jobs has been building for months. Congress in early June began considering bills to close an immigration-law loophole where foreigners can service U.S. clients using guest-worker visas... At the state level, legislatures in Maryland, Washington, Connecticut, Missouri, and New Jersey are considering laws banning out-sourcing of government tech-services contracts to low-wage developing countries..."
2003-06-08 10:17PDT (13:17EDT) (17:17GMT)
Lisa Baertlein _Yahoo!_/_Reuters_
Silicon Valley Bust Prompts ReVamp
"'People who couldn't be in the Valley 3 years ago now can.', said Paul Krutko, San Jose's economic development director, who wants prospective employers to view his city's unemployment rate of nearly 10% -- well above the national average of 6% -- as an opportunity to hire eager, educated workers. Home prices in Santa Clara County also eased in April, though -- at an average price of $495K -- they remain 3 times more costly than the national average... As people flocked to Silicon Valley for its concentration of talent and capital, it became one of the most expensive places to run a business. That, in turn, helped spur Silicon Valley clones in northern Virginia, southern California, Taiwan, India, Israel and elsewhere. But while government development efforts bolstered those far-flung high-tech centers, such programs had little to do with Silicon Valley's own spectacular rise in the 1960s and 1970s, when defense contractors and the chip makers that gave the valley its name turned then-cheap farmland into business parks. But now technology workers have scattered as U.S. companies shed workers and ship work off-shore. A recent UCLA study forecast that California will lag the nation in recovery with tech jobs not returning to Silicon Valley even if business conditions improve. Start-up capital, which poured almost $33G into the Bay Area in the boom year of 2000, has dried up. In 2002, San Francisco start-ups drew just $7G in such funding, according to the tracking firm VentureOne... Ron Garratt, Santa Clara's assistant city manager, said the city's total general fund has fallen nearly 15%, from around $140M in late 2000 to about $120M. Three-quarters of that lost tax revenue can be linked to corporate failures and down-sizing, he said."
Harris Collingwood _NY Times_
The Sink Or Swim Economy (4 pages)
"After a short-lived retreat in 2001, gross domestic product after adjustment for inflation actually grew throughout 2002 and managed a 1.9% gain in the first quarter of 2003. Yet the economy shed more than 500K jobs between January and April... The latest evidence of wage stagnation: the Labor Department's report last month that the average weekly pay-check, once inflation and seasonal factors are considered, shrank 0.3% from March to April of this year... The big picture shows the economy tracing a gentle, rather lazy slope -- a few tenths of a percentage point up or down, nothing too drastic. Closer to ground level, meanwhile, the action is non-stop and frenetic. At any given moment, some people and businesses are enjoying outrageous good fortune. Others are falling under a rain of slings and arrows... Economists have a term for the local-level volatility that affects individual firms but doesn't show up in the big-picture statistics. They call it 'idiosyncratic volatility'...
it's simpler to get rid of people than a factory. At the same time, thanks to the proliferation of information technology, market signals reach companies faster. They react more quickly and flexibly, reallocating resources -- cutting jobs -- at the first hint of weaker demand... In Congressional testimony in 1998, when the economy was defying historical precedent by growing rapidly without accelerating wage inflation, Greenspan opined that widespread fear of lay-offs served a useful purpose by keeping workers' wage demands in check...
Unlike most other animals, points out Robert Sapolsky, a neuroscientist, human beings can -- and often do -- experience stress simply by imagining stressful situations. No immediate threat is necessary. 'For 99% of the beasts on this planet', Sapolsky tells lecture audiences, 'stressful situations include about 3 minutes of screaming terror, after which the threat is over or you are over... The fear of lay-offs that Greenspan noted extends vertically to the boss and horizontally to anyone younger, smarter, cheaper who threatens our jobs...
In reality, our jobs are less secure, but all the job-hopping doesn't make us richer. Academic studies have shown that about 60% of the people who move from job to job (voluntarily or not) wind up with lower life-time earnings than their less adventurous counterparts who remain for years with the same employer."
2003-06-08 21:01PDT (2003-06-09 00:01EDT) (2003-06-09 04:01GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Gotten Milked?: Retailers accused of gouging milk buyers
"Dairy farmers are struggling to survive on milk prices that have dropped to levels not seen in 25 years -- but that's not a fact consumers are likely to see reflected on grocery-store shelves. The average price paid for farmers' milk dropped about 12.7% this April compared to last April. During the same time, consumer prices dropped a mere 2.8%, to a national average of $2.67, according to U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Price Index figures... 'The farmer right now is getting about $1 a gallon or less.', said Ronald W. Cotterill, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Connecticut. 'The processor is adding another 60 cents to it [and] the super-markets are taking that $1.60 and marking it up $1.50 a gallon to $3.10.', he said, referring to the average price for a gallon of milk in Connecticut in March. 'Retailers ought to be selling milk for between $2 to $2.40 a gallon. That would be a very handsome return for them. In most market-places, that's not the case.', he said... Bob Yonkers, chief economist with the International Dairy Foods Association, a trade group representing milk processors [said], 'When you walk into a major supermarket today you're looking at 50K to 100K different items in the store.'... in the Midwest... retail prices appear to be more sensitive to farm-level prices... Twenty years ago 'farmers got about 50 cents of every consumer dollar that was spent on dairy products', said Chris Galen, spokesman with the National Milk Producers Federation. 'Today, farmers get less than 30 cents on the dollar....'"
2003-06-09 02:17PDT (05:17EDT) (09:17GMT)
Mariko Ando _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nikkei closes at a high for the year: Seoul jumps to 5-month high, Taipei, HK also higher
"The Nikkei rose 36.86 points, or 0.4%, to 8,822.73 -- its highest closing level since December 9. The broader Topix index gained ground for a ninth straight day, rising another 4.75 points, or 0.55%, to 874.36. Elsewhere in the region, South Korea's benchmark Kospi jumped 1.2% to 650.35, the highest close since January 8. Taiwan's Weighted Index gained 1.8% to 4,826.94 as a powerful earthquake that rocked the island in the morning little hurt market sentiment."
Daniel McGinn, Brad Stone, Sara Downey, Ellise Pierce, Ken Schulman & Pat Crowley _NewsWeek_
Testing, testing: Found a company that's hiring? Prepare yourself for more quizzes than you had in high-school math
"But in today's slo-mo economy, the number of unemployed workers vastly exceeds the number of open jobs, so companies can afford to be choosy. As a result, they're putting applicants through job interviews that resemble the obstacle-filled, sudden-elimination gantlets of reality television. Companies are moving away from chatty, conversational interviews, and instead hitting applicants with technical or problem-solving questions. They're doing more drug testing, background checks and credit checks. They're also trying to use personality tests to better fit applicants with jobs... many firms are conducting extensive 'pre-screening' interviews over the telephone... Alex Paul, who holds M.B.A. and law degrees and has been laid off by 2 Silicon Valley firms, almost landed a software job recently. But first he had to spend 3 long days interviewing again and again with the same group of execs... 30% of companies now use personality tests, according to a survey by Management Recruiters International."
Laura M. Holson _NY Times_
Hollywood Defections Leave International Creative Management Low on Tinsel
"But economic pressures are making the game more challenging than ever for talent agents, who generally work for a percentage of their clients' take. Hollywood studios facing their own financial pressures have stopped paying top dollar for midlevel stars, betting instead either on bankable names or on relative unknowns willing to work cheap. And the proliferation of talent management firms is further chipping away at profits, making it even more important for agencies to keep and attract A-list stars -- not only to ensure a steady stream of revenue but to entice corporate partners, too... Some Hollywood producers, studio executives and agents say that Creative Arists -- Hollywood's pre-eminent talent agency, whose clients include Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger -- has been on an acquisition binge."
Evan Osnos, Judith Graham, V. Dion Haynes & Stephen Franklin _Chicago Tribune_/_Columbus Colorado Ledger-Enquirer_
Long-term unemployment rolls highest in decades
"The percentage of Americans who have been out of work for more than 6 months has nearly doubled since 2000, from 11% of all those unemployed, to more than 20% this year... 1.9M job hunters who have been all but left behind by a stalled economy. With the exception of a brief spike in the early 1990s, the rates of long-term unemployment haven't reached such heights since 1983 June, according to Jeffrey Wenger, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington... Compared to past recessions, this economic slowdown has left more people out of work for longer periods because high-tech and financial industries were hit particularly hard. Employees from those fields tend to be midcareer, white-collar workers with midlevel salary and experience levels, who have a harder time than younger workers finding new jobs. Gains in productivity and sluggish growth in the economy have discouraged new job creation."
Nelson D. Schwartz _Fortune_
Down and Out in White-Collar America: Professionals have never had a tougher time finding a job. It's not just the economy; the rules of the game are changing.
"the job market now is the harshest it's been in decades -- bleaker than the 'white-collar recession' of the early 1990s and by many counts even more severe than the down-turn of the early 1980s... corporate profits are up 15% from last year's levels... Back in 2000 wages for professional and technical workers were growing by nearly 5% annually -- today they're rising by less than 2% a year... Corporate America is quickly learning that a cubicle can be replicated overseas as easily as a shop floor can. None of this bodes well for the jobless white-collar workers who are hoping that a more robust recovery will bring the next pay-check. The numbers of those who are searching are staggering. Of the 9M Americans out of a job, 17.4% are managers or specialty workers, according to a study of Labor Department data by Hofstra University economist Irwin Kellner. During the 1990-91 recession only 10% of that group was unemployed. Even after the much deeper recession of the early 1980s, just under 8% of unemployed workers were white collar. Sure, there are more white-collar workers today, but joblessness among them has risen faster than their share of the overall job market. 'White-collar workers and college graduates are in a state of shock," says Kellner. 'It appears these job losses are permanent. They're not necessarily coming back when the economy does.' At the bleeding edge of the blue-collarization trend are techies... Klinck earned more than $200K a year at MetLife, managed more than 1K people, and knows languages and programs ranging from Fortran to PeopleSoft, but cold-calling for jobs has been -- well, cold... Traditionally a college degree or senior-executive experience protected people from the threat of years of unemployment. Not in this economy, says Jeffrey Wenger, a labor economist with the liberal Economic Policy Institute (EPI). An analysis of Labor Department data by EPI found that in 2002, 18.1% of the long-term unemployed had college degrees, up from 14% in 2000. Similarly, 20.1% were from the executive, professional, and managerial category, compared with 14.2% in 2000... At the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, 96% of grads in 2000 had an offer when they collected their sheep-skin. Only 72% of last year's grads were as lucky -- and this year isn't shaping up any better. Even at Harvard the percentage of grads without job offers has gone from 3% in 2000 to 13% now... The economy will recover from its current doldrums. No one doubts that. But trends playing out half a world away -- in places like the steamy southern Indian city of Bangalore -- should temper any job seeker's excitement. That city, which boasts high-speed fiber-optic cables under its chaotic and crowded streets, is the center of India's high-tech industry. Along with New Delhi, India's capital, Bangalore is a magnet for American companies looking to move jobs to places where skilled labor costs a fraction of what it does in the U.S... off-shoring..."
James Hertzel _Denver Business Journal_
Off-shore IT out-sourcing hurts us all
"Despite the dramatic down-turn during the last 3 years and a drop in U.S. IT worker salaries by up to 50%, these companies continue to send projects off-shore. Forrester Research indicates that the percentage of off-shore out-sourcing for U.S. IT budgets increased from 12% in 2000 to 28%in 2003... Out-sourcing IT projects to off-shore companies undermines the security of our country, sacrifices the long-term engineering advantage we hold over the rest of world and slows the economic recovery of the United States... Fewer technology jobs in the U.S. means fewer kids focusing on engineering and science in college. In short order, we will move from leading the world in technological innovations to depending on Third World countries to develop new technologies... according to a survey conducted for the Denver Business Journal, 66.5% of Colorado IT respondents said they took salary reductions in 2002 and more than 71.5% expect pay cuts in 2003. Unemployed citizens don't spend as much money as employed citizens. The downturn in our economy has been caused by numerous variables including the dot-com fiasco, terrorism, corporate scandal and war, but one thing is certain -- an economy cannot recover if its work force remains un-employed (or under-employed)."
_San Jose Mercury News_
Economic Indicators April (with table)
"The Mercury News 150 index measuring the stock performance of the largest 150 companies in Silicon Valley rose 12% in April while the Nasdaq was up 9%. Local stocks continued to rise in May and ended that month up year-to-date by nearly 60%. Although the number of homes sold rose from March, as they typically do, sales remained below year-ago levels for the fourth month in a row. The median home price also rose from the previous month but was below the year-ago level for the first time since 2002 March... Between 2002 April and 2003 April, Santa Clara county lost 45,200 jobs. The unemployment rate in April was 8.3%, down from a revised 8.5% in March. The reduction is largely due to a decline in the size of the labor force, rather than people finding jobs."
2003-06-10 03:26PDT (06:26EDT) (10:26GMT) (11:26UK)
Ryan Dilley _BBC_
Age Discrimination Hits Generation X?
"One in 10 of the workers who told researchers they had been victims of ageism were between 35 and 40 years old. Staggeringly, 3% of those who felt their employers were discriminating against them for being too old had yet to reach their 35th birthdays. Some sectors may be especially prone to ageism, particularly young' areas such as information technology. 'My boss... looks for specifically younger people because they're cheaper.', one IT worker told the Employers Forum on Age... Dr Kerry Platman, an expert on ageism from the Open University, says the media is another area dominated by young people where age prejudice may kick in for workers barely in their 30s. In Hollywood, 175 script writers began a legal action against the major TV networks saying people over 40 were not being employed..."
David Firestone _NY Times_
Bush Pressing House to Back Tax Credit Boos for Poor
"The White House all but demanded today that House Republicans quickly approve a Senate bill to increase the child tax credit for 6.5M low-income families. 'Pass it.', said Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, when asked what President Bush would say to Republican lawmakers who disagree with the bill. 'His advice to the House Republicans is to pass it, to send it to him, so he can sign it.'"
Claudia Dreifus _NY Times_
A Conversation with Cynthia Breazeal: A Passion to Build a Better Robot, One with Social Skills and a Smile
"Dr. Cynthia L. Breazeal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is famous for her robots, not just because they they are programmed to perform specific tasks, but because they seem to have emotional as well as physical reactions to the world around them. They are 'embodied', she says, even 'sociable' robots -- experimental machines that act like living creatures."
Claire Fagin & Corinne Rieder _NY Times_
"Hospitals around the country are [alleging] full-time shortages of registered nurses as high as 19%. Nurses are being recruited from as far away as India and the Philippines. Industry experts [allege] that by 2020, this country could have 800K fewer nurses than it needs... A 2002 Harris poll found that 62% of 18- to 24-year-olds have discussed a nursing career for themselves or a friend. Nursing school applications in many places have soared. Baccalaureate nursing school enrollments, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, rose 8% last year. In February, Congress approved $20M for nurse education programs that include scholarships and continuing-education grants for practicing nurses... On a recent visit we made to California, we were startled to hear that there is a 3-year waiting list of students seeking entry into the state's public nursing schools. The situation in New York City is no less disturbing. Hunter College, for example, is admitting 80 students to its under-graduate nursing program this year. As recently as 2000, the nation's nursing schools turned away nearly 5,900 qualified applicants, mostly because of a lack of faculty and classroom space, as well as budget cut-backs."
2003-06-10 13:02PDT (16:02EDT) (20:02GMT)
ImClone's Waksal Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison
"ImClone Systems founder Sam Waksal was sentenced Tuesday to 7 years and 3 months in prison for an insider-trading scandal that ensnared his family and threatens Martha Stewart and her home decorating empire. He also was ordered to pay more than $4M in fines and back taxes. U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley rejected Waksal's plea for a lighter sentence based on ImClone's cancer research, Waksal's humanitarian works and the intense media interest surrounding the case. 'The harm that you wrought is truly incalculable.', the judge said... Stewart, a close friend of Waksal, was indicted last week on five federal counts - including obstruction of justice, conspiracy and lying to investigators - tied to her 2001 December sale of nearly 4K shares of ImClone stock. She pleaded innocent to all charges. Her former stock-broker, Peter Bacanovic, also was indicted and pleaded innocent. Prosecutors said Bacanovic illegally sent word to Stewart that Waksal's family was planning to unload shares of ImClone."
2003-06-10 13:05PDT (16:05EDT) (20:05GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US averages close at session highs
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ascended 74 points, or 0.8%, to 9,054, propped up by gains in Boeing, McDonald's, M$ and General Motors. Decliners included AT&T, Coca-Cola and SBC Communications... The Nasdaq Composite broke a 2-day losing streak, rallying 23 points, or 1.5%, to 1,627 while the Nasdaq 100 Index sprinted 17 points, or 1.5%, to 1,212. Techs raced higher... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index logged a gain of 0.9%, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks advanced 1.4%. Checking the day's data, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi/UBS index revealed that retail chain-store sales declined 0.3% in the week ended June 7, with activity held down by cool temperatures. BTM projects that June same-store sales will rise around 2% on a year-over-year basis... Volume amounted to 1.28G on the NYSE and to 1.76G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Market breadth was markedly positive, with advancers taking out decliners by 23 to 10 on the NYSE and by 20 to 12 on the Nasdaq."
Serena Gordon _abc News_/_ArtToday.com_/_ScoutNews LLC_
If looks could kill...
"The way your brain reacts when you see someone who is scared or angry depends largely on whether that person is looking at you... An angry face looking away from you and a fearful face staring right at you trigger the highest activity in the the part of the brain that regulates emotional behavior, finds a new study... An angry face looking away from you and a fearful face staring right at you trigger the highest activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates emotional behavior, says a study in the latest issue of Science. 'Where someone else is looking when they're expressing emotion affects how our brain processes that info.', says the study's lead author, Reginald Adams, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University in Boston. Adams completed this research while he was at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH... functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI...
the amygdala was most active for the angry face looking away and the fearful gaze looking directly at the study participants. He believes the higher response was due to the uncertainty of the situations... Dr. Kenneth Skodnek, chair of the departments of psychiatry and psychology at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, NY... says the reason may be that when the threat is immediate, the brain acts reflexively, 'without involving conscious thought or any sophisticated processing of the information'... But if there's no instantaneous need to react to a threat, such as when someone is angry and looking away from you, Skodnek says it gives your brain more time to process and analyze the threat."
Brian Grow _Business Week_
Skilled Workers... or Indentured Servants?: Once confined to lower runks of the work-force, abusive treatment of workers on visas is spreading to leagions of white-collar employees
"[Mohan] Kutty paid them just half the $80K a year he had promised -- and fired several after they hired a lawyer to help them out. Last fall, a Labor Department 'judge' ordered Kutty to pay the doctors a total of $1.04M in unpaid wages. The clinics have since closed, and some of the doctors have found work at other Tennessee health-care providers. 'The violations were serious and pervasive, and there is little evidence of good-faith efforts to comply with the law on the part of Dr. Kutty.', the 'judge' said in her ruling... Indeed, labor law violations involving workers on H1-B visas, which are designed for skilled employees, have jumped more than 5-fold since 1998, according to the Labor Department. Back-pay awards for such employees have soared by more than 10 times... there could be thousands of H1-B workers who don't file complaints because they fear the loss of their visa... The abuses have been particularly widespread in high tech, which used H1-Bs to bring in tens of thousands of programmers and other professionals... More than a million people are employed in the U.S. under visas for skilled workers... federal law prohibits employers from forcing H1-B workers to take un-paid leave, yet experts say the practice has become widespread."
200K more millionaires in the world, but 1.9% fewer in North America
"The survey by Cap Gemini Ernst and Young with brokerage Merrill Lynch concluded that the number of 'high-net-worth individuals' -- with at least $1M in assets, excluding real estate -- grew by 200K last year. Overall, the assets of these individuals grew 3.6% to $27.2T (25.9T euros) last year, the report showed. This occurred even as global stock market wealth declined by 16.9% in 2002. But in North America, wealth among these individuals declined 2.1%, or $200G, to $7.4T. There also was a 1.9% decline in the number of millionaires in North America, down to 2.22M individuals."
2003-06-11 09:32PDT (12:32EDT) (16:32GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Businesses to lenders: drop dead: Despite low rates, firms spurn borrowing
"businesses grumpily sit on the side-lines, refusing to hire new workers or expand their operations... The dollar value of all commercial and industrial loans outstanding at U.S. commercial banks fell to $931.8G in the last week of May, the Federal Reserve reported recently, the lowest level since 1998 September. And businesses are fleeing from bank loans even though lending rates are low and getting lower. According to the Fed's latest survey of business lenders, the weighted average interest rate for all business loans was 3.20% in February, the lowest since the Fed started keeping track back in 1986."
2003-06-11 14:00PDT (17:00EDT) (21:00GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Stocks Close Near 12-Month Highs: Nasdaq rallies again, Dow above 9100
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 128 points, or 1.4%, to 9,183, its highest level since July of last year. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 16 points, or 1.1%, to 1,646. The S&P 500 rose 12.64 to 997.48, its highest level since it last closed over 1K on 2002 June 20... Volume came in at 1.5G on the New York Stock Exchange and at 1.9G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Big Board advancers beat out decliners by 24 to 9 and by 19 to 13 on the Nasdaq."
2003-06-11 14:34pDT (17:34EDT) (21:34GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Share-Holder Proposal to Require Siebel to Account for Options Rejected
"Siebel Systems' share-holders voted down 2 resolutions Wednesday that were drafted to compel more accountability from the software company's executives. At the company's annual meeting near its head-quarters in San Mateo, CA, 62% of Siebel's share-holders voted 'no' to a resolution, sponsored by the TIAA-CREF financial services group, that would have called upon the company to tie executives' stock options to Siebel's overall performance. The other share-holder resolution, sponsored by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union pension plan, proposed that Siebel record its employee and director stock options as expenses. Siebel said 65% of its share-holders voted against the resolution... At the meeting, Ferlauto cited studies showing that [CEO Tom] Siebel -- who earned a salary of $1 in 2002, but took home $35M in exercised options -- earned 7,500 times what the average worker was paid. By contrast, Ferlauto said the average CEO last year earned 500 times the average American worker."
James Temple _NBC_
As demographics change, Starbucks and other companies create policies to entice older workers
"'The main benefit is you're holding on to that knowledge base that otherwise walks out the door.', said Beal. 'As we're becoming a more knowledge-based economy that's important capital.'... For instance, after reaching a 13-year high 2 years ago, job search times for workers over 50 shortened to an all-time low of 2.96 months last year, according to out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That despite an overall hiring slump."
Cindy Nemeth-Johannes _Denver Post_
The Catch-22 of Out-Sourcing Jobs
"I don't have a pay-check. 'They' took my pay-check away and gave me a contract. A contract with a company not unlike the company on the line, a Fortune 500 company with a very good credit rating. I'm doing well as a contractor - but I can't pay based on the date that a pay-check would promise. Why? Because smart cash management by a big company requires that they keep the cash as long as they possibly can. And they do, despite when they tell me I'm going to be paid. But I, OTOH, am a dead-beat if I don't pay on time. I've actually talked to the people on the other end of that telephone line. They're in Malaysia or India or even Russia, and they speak very good, slightly accented English. They've got a good, steady $15-a-day job and they're very happy. They can pay for a house, food, medical and other important things."
Dean E. Murphy _NY Times_
The University of California Names Insider as President
"The University of California Board of Regents today chose an insider, Robert C. Dynes, to be the new president of the 9-campus university system. For the last 7 years, Dr. Dynes has been chancellor at the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Dynes, 60, a physicist from Canada who once considered a career as a professional hockey player, will succeed Richard C. Atkinson, who announced last fall that he would retire in 2003 October. Dr. Dynes will step into what is considered one of the most influential and prestigious jobs in public education. The system, the nation's largest, has 192K students and 157K faculty and staff members... A separate vote on a compensation package for Dr. Dynes, including an annual salary of $395K, was approved 18 to 1... By next year, university officials estimate, enrollment in the system will have grown by 18% over 3 years, while state financing over the same period will have fallen by 6%. The system has an annual budget of $13G, about $3G of which comes from the state."
Roberta Pauer & Ross Reynolds _KUOW_/_BBC_/_National Socialist Radio_
The InVisible UnEmployed
Bob Rosner, Allan Halcrow & Alan Levins _abc_
Gaming job descriptions
"Because job descriptions define a job, they can be carefully scrutinized when there is a legal dispute. The courts want to be sure that some sort of discrimination hasn't been built into the job. To protect yourself, there are 2 key areas to address: The first idea is that each job has essential functions. The essential job functions are those job responsibilities that make the job what it is... The other concept is business necessity. Technically, that's the standard an employer must establish to enforce a company rule or policy that may adversely affect protected employees. An employer must prove that rules or requirements are job-related and necessary to the business.
For example, a classic court case involved an employer in the South that was requiring all applicants for janitorial jobs to have a high school diploma. Eventually, the case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which expressed concern that the rule was a pretext designed to eliminate African-Americans from the hiring process. The court held that the employer had to demonstrate that it was a business necessity that janitorial applicants be high school graduates.
To protect yourself, make sure that the requirements you make of applicants have a solid business rationale. If it's possible he requirement adversely affects a protected class, be prepared to demonstrate how it's necessary to the business."
2003-06-12 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Mixed unemployment compensation insurance claims data still point to weak job market
"The closely watched 4-week average of initial jobless benefits requests rose 2,250 to 433,750, according to U.S. Labor Department statistics issued Thursday. For just the week ended June 7, initial claims dropped 17K to 430K... The number of Americans who remain on benefits rolls rose 120K to 3.80M, the highest level since 1983 April."
2003-06-12 05:36PDT (08:36EDT) (12:36GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US import prices down 0.3%, import prices up 0.1%
"Over the past 12 months, import prices are up a tame 1.5%..."
2003-06-12 07:21PDT (10:21EDT) (14:21GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retail Sales Up Modestly in May
"Plunging gas prices masked a moderate rise in U.S. retail sales in May. With gas station sales sinking 4.3%, U.S. retail sales increased just 0.1% in May, the Commerce Department estimated Thursday. Excluding gasoline, however, sales rose a modest 0.4%, a healthy if not spectacular pace."
2003-06-12 08:58PDT (11:58EDT) (15:58GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US jobless data still worrisome: Continuing unemployment compensation insurance claims hit 20-year high
"The 4-week average of initial jobless benefits requests rose 2,250 to 433,750 in the latest period, according to U.S. Labor Department statistics issued Thursday. The average...has remained above the pivotal 400K level for a 15th straight week... For the week ended June 7, initial claims dropped 17K to a still-higher-than-expected 430K, remaining above 400K for more than 4 months now... The previous week's data were revised to show a 22K-claims increase to 447K... The number of Americans who remain on benefits rolls rose 120K to 3.80M, the highest level since 1983April. The 4-week average for insured unemployment increased 16,500 to 3.719M, also the highest since spring 1983, a period when the United States was just emerging from a recession. The insured unemployment rate rose to 3% from 2.9%."
Mike Chambers _Anchorage Daily News_/_AP_
No permit needed to carry concealed guns: in 90 days: Governor signed bill praising it as a 2nd amendment vistory
"Alaskans will no longer need a permit to carry a concealed weapon under a bill signed into law Wednesday. In signing the bill, governor Frank Murkowski lauded the work of the Legislature and the National Rifle Association in protecting the Second Amendment rights of Alaskans. The bill would adopt the so-called 'Vermont Carry' law that allows residents to carry a concealed weapon without a special permit. Vermont has no laws against carrying concealed weapons, the governor's office said... Representative Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, said he sponsored the bill out of frustration with continually fine-tuning the state's gun laws. 'I object to the government putting a pre-condition on that constitutional right (to carry a weapon). I'm presumed to be a responsible citizen until proven otherwise.', Croft said."
Karen J. Bannan _NY Times_
Between 2 Sheets of Glass a Million Flashing Lamps
"It was the early 1960's, and Donald L. Bitzer, then an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was looking to build flat large-screen displays for early computers. He and a colleague, H. Gene Slottow, got the idea of electrifying plasma gas to create pixels of color and light on a screen. They built a small prototype using 3 slide covers and tiny gold electrodes... Manufacturers take gas -- usually a mixture of xenon and neon -- and pump it into millions of tiny cells sealed between 2 flat pieces of glass. Electricity, sent through an array of electrodes, excites the gas, resulting in a discharge of ultraviolet light. The light in turn strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the glass, creating red, blue or green visible light. Combining the 3 colors in every pixel while varying the amount of electricity introduced across the plasma layer creates the subtle color nuances seen in typical television images... Each lamp has 3 different colors -- red, blue, or green -- and 256 levels of intensity... 'We actually change the intensity 60 times a second.'... Very high-end models -- from over 42 inches diagonally to about 60 inches -- can cost $10K or more... Dr. Bitzer...is now a professor at North Carolina State. A new version of plasma screen technology will use individual tubes bundled together side by side, giving the appearance of an uninterrupted piece of glass, he said. The main benefit is reduced weight: the displays will weigh one-fifth what they do today, which will allow manufacturers to build bigger sets. 'You can use the technology to build plasma walls 10 feet high.', he said."
2003-06-13 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US May PPI down 0.3%; core PPI up 0.1%
"The core price, minus the volatile food and energy components nosed up 0.1%. Finished energy goods prices dropped 2.6%, as wholesalers continue to adjust prices after a run-up ahead of the Iraq war. Food prices rose 0.1%. Mens clothing prices fell 0.9% and heavy truck prices were down 0.8%, while car prices rose 0.2% and communication equipment rose 0.6%... Prices on goods in their crudest stage of production rose 1.7%, largely on a jump in natural gas prices. Core crude prices fell 1.9%, the biggest decline for 1 month in more than 2 years."
2003-06-13 13:52PDT (16:52EDT) (20:52GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Stocks End Lower on Weak Data: Michigan consumer sentiment slides, PPI dips 0.3% in May
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average shaved 79.43 points, or 0.9%, to 9,117.12... The Nasdaq Composite fell 27.13 points, or 1.6%, to 1,626.49 and the Nasdaq 100 Index shed 25.41 points, or 2.1%, to 1,203.91... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index surrendered 1%, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks relinquished 1.5%. Tech stocks fell the most, with software issues bogged down by deep losses in Adobe Systems following a guarded company out-look... The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped to 87.2 in June, from May's 92.1. That was below the 93.7 that had been expected by economists."
Jennifer Steinhauer & Marjorie Connelly _NY Times_
In Poll, Pessimism from New Yorkers Affects Their View of Mayor
"Only 24% of those polled said they approved of the job he was doing, the lowest approval rating for a mayor since The Times began taking polls on mayoral performance in 1978. It is a drop of 7 percentage points since January... Asked to rate the condition of the city's economy, 73% said it was bad, and 62% said that its condition had taken a personal toll on their lives... 60% said that they thought life in the city had gotten worse in the last year, compared with 43% in a January poll."
Greg Winter _NY Times_
Change in Aid Formula Continues to Shift Costs to Students
"The changes, only a slight alteration in the formula governing financial aid, are expected to diminish the government's contribution to higher education by hundreds of millions of dollars, starting in the fall of 2004... shrinking the pool of students who qualify for federal awards, tightening access to billions of dollars in state and institutional grants and, in turn, heightening the reliance on loans to pay for college... Some families may be expected to pay an extra $100 or less each year, while others may owe well over $1K more... the vast majority of the nation's $90G in financial aid is dictated by a single, intricate equation known as the federal need analysis... Much like the federal income tax, the formula allows families to deduct some of what they pay in state and local taxes. But, this year, the department significantly reduced that amount, in some cases cutting it in half. On paper, at least, that leaves families with more money left over to pay for college, even though state and local taxes have gone up over the last year, not down... Families in Florida and California should experience a smaller increase, probably less than $500 for those earning $50K and about $750 for those earning $80K. In other states like Michigan, Delaware, South Carolina or Wisconsin, the burden will likely be greater. Families earning around $25K may be expected to contribute an extra $220 or less, those earning $50K may owe $940 more, while their counter-parts with $80K incomes may be obliged to part with an additional $1,500... Still, the changes should shave off a few hundred million dollars in grants to low-income students, known as the Pell Grant. With the faltering economy and the swelling popularity of college, the program has surpassed $11G a year... the formula changes will result in smaller awards for some of the 4.8M recipients in the program. Other recipients will stop getting grants altogether..."
Neil MacFarquhar _NY Times_
Students Roil Iranian Capital in 3rd Night of Protests
"A third night of student protests outside Tehran University's dormitories exploded into the surrounding middle-class neighborhoods early today, with large gangs of students fighting running street battles against vigilantes armed with sticks and chains. At one major intersection demonstrators hurled bricks at trucks of riot policemen who were rushing to lift barricades and douse fires protesters had ignited in the streets. The protesters chanted 'Death to Khamenei', a slogan that can bring a jail term in this country... 'I've been lashed, jailed for having a satellite dish.', said a student, under-scoring the simmering social frustrations behind the riots... But with the demonstrations stretched at least three miles from the dormitories where the first quiet protests began on Tuesday, the demonstrators appeared to be in the thousands. It was a far wider protest than on 2 previous nights and one the government is likely to use force to prevent from erupting again. Control of key intersections switched back and forth between protesters and the often black-clad vigilantes, paramilitary thugs believed to be linked to the government who swarmed into the intersections on motorbikes. Often they would ditch their vehicles and attack private homes, smashing lights and exposed windows and screaming at cowering residents to stay indoors. Sometimes the students would get their revenge. At one point, they separated a sole vigilante, wrestled him off his bike, pummeled him and then set his bike afire... Civilians limped away after being beaten, although one woman extracted an apology from an assailant by screaming: 'Hitting a woman! Aren't you ashamed?' People from heavily Westernized northern Tehran tried to drive down-town to the scene of the riots, creating enormous traffic jams."
Patrick O'Connor _Oregon Employment Department_
Oregon gains jobs in May but remains below levels of a year ago
"Oregon's unemployment rate was 8.2% in May, edging up from April's figure of 8.0%. The May rate of 8.2% was the highest reading since 8.4% was posted for 2002 January. In May of last year, Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.4%, 0.8 percentage points below 2003 May. Oregon started out 2003 with a seasonally adjusted rate of 7.6% in January."
Margaret Steen _San Jose Mercury News_
Valley Job Market Holds Steady: Slight drop in employment numbers reflect people who have left the labor force
"Santa Clara County's unemployment rate dropped to 8.0% in May, down sharply from a revised 8.4% in April. But the drop appeared to be due largely to people leaving the labor force: Fewer county residents were employed in May than in April. Because the unemployment rate is a percentage of the labor force, it can go down when people leave the area or stop looking for work. The county lost 1K jobs from April to May, ending with a total of 874K. The computer and electronic product manufacturing sector had among the largest losses... The state lost 21,500 jobs from April to May."
Steve Lohr _NY Times_
No Concessions from IBM in Linux Fight
"The SCO Group filed a suit against I.B.M. in March, arguing that I.B.M. violated its contract with SCO by copying code from the Unix operating system to Linux, which is distributed free and is used by I.B.M. on some of its computers. In 1995, SCO bought from Novell the licensing rights and source code to Unix, which is closely related to Linux. Unix was initially developed at AT&T's Bell Labs in the late 1960's, but many companies including I.B.M., Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard developed their own flavors of Unix over the years. SCO has threatened to revoke the license on I.B.M.'s version of Unix, called AIX, once the 100-day dead-line passes. The SCO executives were consulting with their lawyers all day yesterday. Their legal options include revoking the I.B.M. license to Unix and asking a court for a temporary injunction to halt the shipment of AIX products... most companies pursuing a business in Linux try to make money by offering technical support for Linux or developing specialized software that runs on Linux."
2003-06-15 05:51PDT (08:51EDT) (12:51GMT)
Jim Hopkins _USA Today_
Small firms not jumping on new tax incentives to buy equipment
"The $350G tax cut boosted to $100K, from $25K, the amount companies can write off annually on spending for computers, vehicles and other capital purchases. But a survey out Monday shows small businesses have instead reduced spending plans -- depriving the weak economy of a much-needed boost. Just 28% of 588 small firms surveyed last month say they plan capital investments -- down from 30% in April, says the National Federation of Independent Business... But spending remains on hold for many of the USA's 5.8M small firms because of weak revenue... [and low] tax cut limits..."
Susan Nielsen _Oregonian_
When the company leaves the company town
"American workers need a strategy to deal with this threat of disloyalty. So do states, which spend millions luring whole industries, only to become too dependent on a handful of corporations. The problem won't solve itself. As goods and ideas flow more easily between states and countries, so will jobs. Blue-collar and white-collar jobs. Maybe your job. Or at least, the job you thought belonged to you, in the company you thought you built... Boeing out-sourced more work to cut costs, and slashed its work-force in the Puget Sound region from more than 110K people in the late 1990s to roughly 60K today. In 2001, Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago."
Joseph Kahn _NY Times_
The World's Sweat-Shop: Manufacturing in Red China and Deadly Dust
"[Red China] has emerged as Asia's leading exporter of manufactured goods to the United States, but the workers who produce those goods are victims of a surge in fatal respiratory, circulatory, neurological and digestive-tract diseases like those American and European workers suffered at the dawn of the industrial age. [Red China] in that sense is not only recreating the industrial transformation that brought prosperity to Europe, the United States and some East Asian nations. It is also reliving its horrors. Even by its official count, [Red China] already has more deaths from work-related illnesses than any other country or region, including the industrialized economies of the United States and Europe combined. Last year, 386,645 Chinese workers died of occupational illnesses, according to government data compiled by the International Labor Organization. The statistics may understate the situation in [Red China's] thriving east coast industrial centers, where tens of millions of migrant workers like Mr. Hu produce the bulk of [Red China's] exports for well under a dollar an hour without employment contracts, health care plans or union representation... Often working 12- and even 18-hours days, they generated clouds of dust that hung in the air even when windows were wide open and the fans were set to high. 'It was always like dusk inside the factory, no matter how much sun-light there was outside.', he said. 'It was like a heavy fog. We got used to it.'... The pulmonary ailment [silicosis] comes from overexposure to silicon dioxide [from] quartz, minerals, rocks and sand. Though it is one of the oldest known occupational diseases... Mr. Kang, the lawyer, said some of the people seeking compensation were fakers and opportunists who either never worked there or who did not really have chronic illnesses. He [mentioned] that the company invested $1M to improve ventilation at the factory after 2001, but said those were not the first steps the company had taken to clean up the work environment. Workers tell a different story... Work stations now have vacuum tubes to suck up dust, which is spewed outside through exhaust valves. A light frost of silica crystals covers the factory grounds. Even so, stone-cutters and sanders can be easily spotted at the end of the work day because their company-issued navy blue crew shirts have turned gray from the dust."
2003-06-16 13:21PDT (16:21EDT) (20:21GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow up 200; S&P 500 breaks through 1K level for the first time in a year
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average vaulted 201 points, or 2.2%, to 9,318, its highest level since July 5 of last year. The Nasdaq jumped 40 points, or 2.5%, to 1,667, its highest level since 2002 May. The S&P 500 rose 22 points, or 2.3%, to 1,010, its first close over 1K since 2002 June 20. Volume was a healthy 1.3G on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.9G on the Nasdaq. The Empire State survey jumped to a reading of 26.8 in June from 10.6 in May, the highest level in the two-year history of the survey. The latest number beat the forecast of 9.6."
203-06-16 21:47PDT (2003-06-17 00:47EDT) (2003-06-17 04:47GMT)
Q3 hiring outlook still weak
"Manpower's third-quarter Employment Outlook Survey represents the 'weakest job outlook in 12 years', the company said early Tuesday... Of the U.S. employers that were surveyed, 20% said they plan to increase hiring activity for the third quarter, while 9% expect a decrease in job prospects. Some 65% of employers expect no change in hiring, and 6% are uncertain of their employment plans, the company said... Joerres said that for those sectors, 'employment levels are projected to be the lowest we have seen in the third quarter for more than 20 years'."
2003-06-17 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US CPI flat in May: Core rate up 0.3%
"US consumer prices were unchanged in May, while the core rate, excluding the volatile food and energy costs rose 0.3% - its largest gain since 2002 August, the Labor Department said... The gain in the core rate was boosted by a record rise in the cost of hotel rooms. On a year-on-year basis, the CPI was up 2.1%, while the core rate was up 1.6%. Despite the increase in the core rate in May, inflation is still trending lower this year. For the first 5 months of 2003, the CPI is running at a 2.3% seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared with a 3.0% rate over the same period last year. The core rate is running at a 1.1% rate, down from a 2.1% rate in the first 5 months of 2002. Energy prices fell 3.1% in May after falling 4.6% in April. Food prices rose 0.3 % after falling 0.1 % in the previous month."
2003-06-17 13:23PDT (16:23EDT) (20:23GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow hits new 11-month high: US shares eke out a gain: Positive economic reports keep rally alive
"U.S. stocks squeezed out a gain Tuesday, allowing the Dow Jones to end at a fresh 11-month high and the Nasdaq to finish at a 13-month peak... The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 4.06 points at 9,323.02, propped up by General Motors, Merck, Walt Disney and M$. The Nasdaq Composite was up 1.97 points, or 0.1%, at 1,668.55 while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 0.1%."
Steve Lohr _NY Times_
SCO Revokes IBM's License for UNIX Software
"The SCO action focused on the license for AIX, the I.B.M. version of the Unix operating system. But the legal dispute is stirring wider concerns in the computer industry because it has the potential to affect the many corporations now using the GNU Linux operating system, a close relative of Unix. Linux is distributed free, improved and debugged by a far-flung network of computer programmers, guided by Linus Torvalds, who wrote the software engine, or kernel, of the operating system. I.B.M. is a leading big-company supporter of Linux. SCO sued I.B.M. in March, contending that the company had copied Unix code into Linux, violating SCO's contract rights... SCO is also asking a federal court in Salt Lake City to issue a permanent injunction that prohibits I.B.M. from using or distributing products with its AIX operating system. Last year, I.B.M. sold about $3.6G worth of computers running its AIX operating system."
Sandra Blakesless _NY Times_
Brain Experts Examine Economics
"But instead of dollars and cents, the brain relies on the [release] rates of a number of neuro-transmitters -- the chemicals, like dopamine, that transmit nerve impulses. Novelty, money, cocaine, a delicious meal and a beautiful face all activate dopamine circuits to varying degrees; exactly how much dopamine an individual generates in response to a particular reward is calibrated by past experience and by one's own biological make-up. Specific brain circuits monitor how people weigh different sources of rewards or punishments and how they allocate their attention. A region called the anterior cingulate reacts when people make mistakes or perform poorly; some neuro-scientists say it also registers gains and losses, financial and otherwise. A small structure called the insula detects sensations in the body...
Brain images showed that when players accepted an offer they viewed as fair enough, a circuit in the front of their brains that supports deliberative thinking was activated. But when they rejected an offer, the insula -- which monitors bodily states, including disgust -- over-rode the frontal circuit. The more strongly the insula fired, the more rapidly the person rejected the offer, Dr. Cohen said. Moreover, the insula fired well before the person pushed the button to refuse an offer...
Dr. P. Read Montague...Bullish investors have different patterns of dopamine release compared with bearish investors, he said. And in a game of mutual trust, women's brains show a big dopamine or reward response when they are trusted by others; there is no such response in men's brains...
The brain is particularly responsive to unexpected or unpredictable rewards, said Dr. Gregory Berns, a neuro-scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. When uncertainty is high, as in gambling situations, the brain can get high on dopamine and even become addicted to it. Expectations alter economic experience. It feels better to get nothing when you expect $10 compared to getting nothing when you expect $90, researchers say."
UpBeat Bush Pushes Jobs Initiative (with table)
"called on Congress to act on his proposal for re-employment accounts, to help tide over unemployed workers as they seek new jobs. The plan would give unemployed Americans up to $3K for job search expenses and let them keep what's left over if they find work and stay employed... Despite the early recovery signals, Americans still face a tight jobs market, according to a survey of employers released Tuesday. About two-thirds said they don't expect to hire any additional workers and 9% plan to eliminate jobs during the July-to-September quarter, said temporary-staffing firm [body shop] Manpower Inc... Although 20% of employers in the survey said they plan to add jobs, competition for work is expected to be high. 6% are uncertain about their employment plans."
2003-06-17 12:55PDT (15:55EDT) (19:55GMT)
Leslie Haggan Geary _CNN_/_Money_
Here come the duppies -- depressed urban professionals
"According to government labor statistics, 4.8M individuals are under-employed. That's on top of the 8.7M counted as un-employed and looking for jobs, not to mention the 4.2M non-working who don't bother. People who have been out for a while say, '''I've got to get back to work.''', so they take down-graded jobs.', says John Challenger, CEO of the out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas..."
2003-06-18 12:59PDT (15:59EDT) (19:59GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tech bulls keep Nasdaq rally alive
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average surrendered 48 points, or 0.5%, to 9,274 after falling up to 91 points. The Nasdaq Composite rose 3 points, or 0.2%, to 1,671 after falling as much as 15 points intraday. The Nasdaq 100 Index climbed 3 points, or 0.3%, to 1,242... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 0.4% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks fell 0.3%. Volume totaled 1.33G on the NYSE and 1.93G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Decliners trounced advancers by 21 to 12 on the NYSE and by 17 to 15 on the Nasdaq... Apple Computer was also a stand-out, tacking on almost 6% following an up-grade from Needham & Co. to a 'buy' from a 'hold'."
Vanessa Grigoriadas _NY Times_
"Law & Order" to the Actors' Rescue
"hundreds, perhaps thousands, of struggling New York actors who owe their fame, and a share of their financial solvency, to the ever-expanding 'Law & Order' franchise on NBC, which now includes the original crime drama, 13 years old, and 2 spin-offs. With each of the three shows producing about 22 episodes a season, and a supporting cast of at least 20 needed to play each episode's lawyers, police officers and gruesomely slain paralegals, the 'Law & Order' industry has become the most important staple in a traditionally lean New York acting diet... the original series alone has meant over 36,400 days of work for New York actors since 1990 and has injected $602M into the city's economy, the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting said. The 3 series -- the others are 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit', which began in 1999, and 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent', dating from 2001 -- have so far produced 449 shows... For bit players used to scraping by on temping and coffee-bar tips, a 'Law & Order' check can be the difference between canned tuna and sashimi. Those hired for a single day earn a Screen Actors Guild minimum of $655. Weekly performers are paid $2,272 and a lead guest star, $5,240. Residual fees from reruns can also be lucrative since the repeats are among the most popular on television. But even when the checks, which generally shrink with each rerun of an episode, grow tiny, they can still represent a life-line for the proverbially starving New York actor."
Victor Godinez _Knight-Ridder_
L-1 visas are being abused
Job Destruction News-Letter
"The problem, Ms. Bryant and others say, is that a loophole in the law allows employers to transfer L-1 workers to the United States and then out-source those workers to other companies. When that happens, American workers are often displaced because L-1 visa holders do not have to be paid wages in line with their U.S. counterparts. 'It's even worse [than H-1 B abuses] because it's manipulating the system to avoid paying those people prevailing U.S. wages.', said Ms. Bryant, who lives in Dallas. 'And, of course, it kind of washes the hands of the U.S. employer who has the real work to do. They can say, ''We're not hiring H-1B people. We're hiring temporary workers from company X, who provide this service of software design.'''"
Jeffrey Sparshott _Washington Times_
"Good" jobs have fallen to new economy
2003-06-19 06:41PDT (09:41EDT) (13:41GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Initial UnEmployment Compensation Insurance Claims Inch Lower: Continuing Claims Hit New 20-Year High
"The average number of weekly seasonally adjusted new claims over the past 4 weeks fell 3K to 432K in the week ending June 14. In just that one week, new claims dropped by 13K to 421K... Meanwhile, the average number of weekly continuing claims over the past 4 weeks rose 11K in the week ending June 7 to 3.73M, the highest since 1983 May. The figures do not include some 850K workers receiving federal checks available to those who exhaust state benefits. 'As a result of the lack of job opportunities, 43% of benefits recipients are currently exhausting their benefits without finding new work, the highest share on record.', said Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Economy.com. The insured unemployment rate -- the percentage of covered workers receiving benefits -- fell to 2.9% from 3%. The government data show little improvement in the labor market. In May, the unemployment rate rose to 6.1%, with more than one-fifth of the 9M unemployed workers out of work for more than 6 months. The average bout of joblessness was 19.2 weeks... In a separate report, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. current account deficit -- the broadest measure of international flows of goods, services and capital -- rose to $136.1G in the first quarter from a revised $128.6G in the fourth quarter."
Eric A. Taub _NY Times_
Among Film's Ghosts, Its Future
"They stand to save $1G each year if they no longer have to produce and ship film prints to each of the world's 150K screens but instead can transmit them as electronic files through a high-speed data link, or physically deliver them on a hard disk or other storage medium. At the multiplex, films will be stored on a drive, and an operator will simply issue a set of key-board commands to a server computer to send a film to digital projectors in as many theaters as warranted... But digital projectors are much more expensive than conventional ones, and the computers and other equipment needed are an additional expense for theater owners. Only about 150 theaters in the world are now equipped to show films digitally."
Don Kirk _NY Times_
US, European Union Tariffs on Hynix Chips Cause South Korean Government Protest
"The South Korean government said today that it would file a complaint with the World Trade Organization next week against the Bush administration's decision to impose a tariff of nearly 45% on chips made by Hynix Semiconductor. The Finance Ministry said it would also challenge a preliminary decision by the European Union in April to impose 33% tariffs on Hynix's chips... South Korean officials fear that the tariffs imposed on Hynix will set a precedent for complaints against other South Korean exporters, many of which do business with the state-owned banks and benefited from the government's efforts to right the economy after the financial crisis of 1997-98. The finance minister, Kim Jin Pyo, said today that the government needed to demonstrate that it was not subsidizing exporters. The United States Commerce Department said Tuesday that it would impose final tariffs of 44.71% on Hynix dynamic random access memory chips made in South Korea, somewhat less than the preliminary 57.37% tariff announced in April. The duties do not affect chips made at Hynix's plant in Eugene, OR."
Joseph G. Treaster _NY Times_
Cost of WorkMen's Compensation Insurance Soars across USA (with graphs)
"The system covers 127M workers nationally but is regulated state by state, with no federal over-sight... Nationwide, the average cost of workers' compensation insurance has risen 50% in the last three years, according to Robert P. Hartwig, the chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group in New York... Prices are escalating, government and industry officials said, because of rising medical and legal costs; a recent devastating price war by insurers; and, many insurers and business executives say, a significant amount of fraud. In the last few years, the cost of almost all kinds of insurance has been rising sharply. But workers' compensation insurance, which pays for treatment of on-the-job injuries and lost wages, is a particular problem because its purchase is mandatory... 'The only way to reduce your cost is to reduce your pay-roll.', said Allan Zaremberg, the president of the California Chamber of Commerce... While a shift away from manufacturing jobs to less-dangerous service work, broad improvements in safety and reductions in workers' eligibility for benefits has led to a drop of 36% in workers' compensation claims over the last decade, the average medical cost per claim has nearly doubled, to $15,300, Mr. Hartwig said. In California, the average medical cost has nearly quadrupled, to $35,201 over the past decade, according to Mr. Bellusci."
Brian Bergstein _North Jersey_/_AP_
Latest test for boomers: jobless mid-life crisis
"The unemployment rate for 45- to 54-year-olds was 4.1% in the first quarter, up from 2.4% three years earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That marked a steeper increase than the overall jump in that time, to 5.8% from 4.0%..."
Shirley K. Turner _New Jersey Community Connection_
Public Money Should Not Be Chasing Cheap Foreign Labor
"Six years ago, the State of New Jersey contracted with a firm called eFunds Government Services to process electronic welfare and food stamp cards for 194K residents. The work included answering customer service phone calls. At first, those calls were answered by workers in Green Bay, Wisconsin, whose starting pay was $7.50 an hour and who eventually made $10 to $12. eFunds then began routing calls to Bombay, India, where workers identified themselves on the phone to clients as 'Mike' or 'Kate' made $2 to $3 an hour... the citizens of New Jersey should not see their money being used to create jobs over-seas at a time when unemployment at home is rising at a distressing rate... Secondly, eFunds's shift from Green Bay to Bombay did not save New Jersey tax-payers one single penny. The firm was already under contract to New Jersey for a set amount of money. The savings of $8 or $9 per worker after the shift went entirely to the company. No savings were passed on to New Jersey [tax-victims]."
2003-06-20 13:51PDT (16:51EDT) (20:51GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow squeaks out gain, Nasdaq wilts
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 21.22 points, or 0.2%, to 9,200.75... The Nasdaq Composite fell for a second straight session [day], losing 3.61 points, or 0.2%, to 1,645.03 and the Nasdaq 100 Index gave up 2.60 points, or 0.2%, to 1,223.29... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index inched up 0.1% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks erased 0.2%... Volume totaled 1.68G on the NYSE and 1.74G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Triple-witching -- the quarterly expiration of futures, options on individual stocks and options on stock indexes -- produced heavy activity early in the session."
2003-05-20 15:36PDT (18:36EDT) (22:36GMT)
August Cole _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
GM plans going into debt to meet pension obligations
"The world's largest auto-maker said Friday it planned to offer $10G in debt as it seeks an affordable way to maintain its pension program, which was under-funded by more than $19G as of the end of 2002... The company's finance arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp., plans to raise $3G this year, but this will be used for 'general corporate purposes', which includes the funding of on-going operations. GM already has more than $200G in debt."
Thomas Fuller _NY Times_
Europe Moves Toward Issuing Passports With Data Chips
"European Union governments may soon issue passports containing computer chips embedded with digital finger-prints or eye scans, according to a plan approved by European leaders."
Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
State Department working against freedom in Iran
Joan Fleischer Tamen _Sun-Sentinel_
Florida jobs up 86,200 over 2002
"Florida's job market continued to show steady gains in 2003 May, with the [seasonally adjusted] unemployment rate in Florida going down to 5.1% from April's 5.3% and the state gaining 86,200 new jobs since a year ago. This is the lowest Florida's unemployment rate has been since 2001 September. The national unemployment rate in May was 6.1%... The unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% in Broward, down from 5.8 in April. The jobless rate was unchanged at 5.2% in Palm Beach County, and dipped to 7% in Miami from 7.4%. Palm Beach County led the state in job creation with 14K new jobs created over the year, or a 2.7% annual growth rate. Broward County followed after the Orlando and Tampa areas with 12,100 new jobs over the year, or a 1.7% growth rate. Miami-Dade County created 5,400 new jobs, or a 0.5% growth rate."
Lawrence Osborne _NY Times_
Savant for a Day
"This was not just any old Danish-made transcranial magnetic stimulator, however; this was the Medtronic Mag Pro, and it was being operated by Allan Snyder, one of the world's most remarkable scientists of human cognition... The Medtronic was originally developed as a tool for brain surgery: by stimulating or slowing down specific regions of the brain, it allowed doctors to monitor the effects of surgery in real time... 'You can make people see the raw data of the world as it is. As it is actually represented in the unconscious mind of all of us.'...
By shutting down certain mental functions -- the capacity to think conceptually, categorically, contextually -- did this impairment allow other mental functions to flourish? Could brain damage, in short, actually make you brilliant?... 'We're saying that all these genius skills are easy, they're natural. Our brain does them naturally.'... On my own, I had been looking for patterns, trying to coax the words on the page into a coherent, familiar whole. But 'on the machine', he says, 'you start seeing what's actually there, not what you think is there.'...
One of its most successful applications has been in the realm of psychiatry, where it is now used to dispel the 'inner voices' of schizophrenics, or to combat clinical depression without the damaging side effects of electroshock therapy. (NeuroNetics, an Atlanta company, is developing a TMS machine designed for just this purpose, which will probably be released in 2006, pending F.D.A. approval.) Meanwhile, researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke found that TMS applied to the prefrontal cortex enabled subjects to solve geometric puzzles much more rapidly. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, associate professor of neurology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (who, through his work at the Laboratory for Magnetic Brain Stimulation, has been one of the American visionaries of TMS), has even suggested that TMS could be used to ''prep'' students' minds before lessons."
Ford Fessenden _NY Times_
Studies of Dietary Supplements Come Under Growing Scrutiny
"When a California judge handed down a $12.5M false-advertising judgment against the maker of an ephedra-based weight-loss pill late last month, he also issued what amounted to a bill of reproach against the science of dietary supplements... The evidence, Judge [Ronald L.] Styn said, had left him no alternative but to conclude that the researchers had set out to create a study that 'justified the money being spent' by Cytodyne and would ensure that they received further work from the company... The truth is, supplement makers are not obliged to do any research. A 1994 law exempts them from having to prove, as drug manufacturers do, that their products are harmless and effective. But at a time of concern about the safety and effectiveness of its products, the $18 billion-a-year supplement industry has embraced research because, when carefully aimed, it can be worth money. Precisely because the industry is not regulated, though, its research is sometimes less than strictly scientific, experts say. 'There will be 250 to 300 clinical trials on nutraceuticals this year.', said Anthony Almada, a consultant and founder of EAS, the biggest sports nutrition company, who advocates scientific research on products but has become a critic of the way supplement makers conduct it. 'The rigor applied in these studies on the average is somewhat notably less than that of a drug study.' Often relying on as few as a dozen subjects, these studies are scaled-down versions of the double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials required before drugs can be approved. Some are published in abbreviated form at meetings of scientific organizations, or in obscure journals... companies and researchers suppressed negative data; removed product names from abstracts when the conclusions showed no positive effects; changed statistical methods to see if results improved; and left out subjects who complained of troublesome side effects like heart palpitations and high blood pressure."
Dan Voorhis _Wichita Eagle_
How will Wichita overcome its slump: 600 apply for jobs at local movie theater
"Warren Theatres recently ran a help-wanted ad for the ticket takers and wait staff needed to open a new cinema in Old Town. More than 600 applied. Two people were turned away for every one hired to fill the mostly part-time, $8- and $9-an-hour jobs. Unemployment in the Wichita area has hit its highest level since 1994. Industrial production and charitable giving are down. Child abuse and bankruptcies are up... If you and your loved ones still have your old jobs, life is pretty good... A KWCH/Wichita Eagle poll last week found that 67% of 500 people surveyed either lost their job or knew someone who has in the past year and a half. For many, life has grown difficult... the Wichita-area unemployment rate, which has bounced between 5.9% and 6.9% over the past year. But the unemployment rate doesn't capture the true depth of the region's distress, said Janet Harrah, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University."
James Flanigan _Los Angeles Times_
Should We Fear High-Pay Job Shift?
"Software designers there are well-educated and highly skilled. Not only that, but they work for $25K to $30K a year, a third to one-half what they would command in the United States... Poland is a new outpost for the high-tech industry, which in recent years has created jobs in Bangalore, India; Shanghai, [Red China]; and many other countries. Bright, young non-Americans do everything from carrying out online customer service to designing and manufacturing computers, semiconductors and software for some of the world's largest U.S.-based companies and institutions..."
_Atlanta Georgia Journal-Constitution_
American high-tech workers see threat
"Across the country, U.S. workers who once protested that H-1b visa holders were displacing them are now focusing on the growing use of the less-restrictive L-1 visa to bring bargain-priced foreign labor to major corporations. Even in the sinking U.S. job market after the high-tech bubble went bust, the number of L-1 visas has risen and is now estimated at 325K temporary workers, who are allowed to stay between 5 and 7 years.
The most controversial of those visas go to a handful of consulting firms based in India... As the Indian companies expand to new clients, they are leaving a trail of lay-offs and increasingly vocal U.S. workers...
John Mica...became the first law-maker to introduce legislation aimed at curbing the L-1. Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, a Democrat whose state of Connecticut has been a target for foreign out-sourcers, followed last week by announcing that she will offer a bill, as well. Also last week, senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, announced he would hold a hearing this summer 'so that we can better understand both the many concerns about misuse of the L-1 visa as well as the legitimate, important role the L-1 visa can play in promoting American businesses in our global economy'...
Nathan Deal, said Congress should close 'a big loop-hole' in the L-1 program... The Homeland Security Department, which over-sees work visas, has ordered a probe into whether bringing in high-tech workers to provide basic services for other corporations is an abuse of the L-1 program -- originally designed to allow international companies to bring their top managers and a few company experts to assist their U.S. divisions. 'My understanding of L-1 is that no, that is not a legitimate use' if the workers are out-sourced to another company, said Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for the department's Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Further, Bentley said, the L-1 visa holder must be an intracompany transfer of a worker with 'special knowledge' of the company's products, management or procedures...
Girish Surendran, resident manager of immigration and human resources for Tata, or TCS as the company's American division is called, defended his company's use of the L-1. 'It's a mis-conception is that TCS contracts employees to other companies or to third parties.', he said. 'When we go to a total out-sourcing contract with any company... the company has selected us to do the job because of the expertise that TCS carries with us.'... Tata, which has more than 50 offices in the United States, also has a key supporter in senator [Hitlerry Rotten Clinton] (D-NY), who claimed credit for encouraging the company to open an office in Buffalo... Infosys Technologies Ltd. said it had 1,760 L-1 visa holders, up from 425 in 1999 March. Wipro Ltd. said it has 1,150 workers with L-1s now, compared with 321 two years ago."
2003-06-23 15:48PDT (18:48EDT) (22:48GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Apple unveils speedy Power Mac G5
"Apple introduced what it called the world's fastest personal computer Monday, a new Power Mac based on a 64-bit chip made by IBM that can process data in double-size chunks, compared with the Intel-based chips used in most PCs... Apple shares fell 14 cents to close at $19.06. The stock is up from $12.72 in April, and set a year high of $20.63 last week... Doherty said the latest tower-based Mac, which he says was under development for two years, could help Apple triple its unit sales volumes in the next 12 months. He says with the G5's help, tower computers could comprise 25% to 30% of Apple's sales within a year -- up from what he estimates is currently less than 10%. Apple says the machines can run applications such as Adobe Photoshop faster than a computer with a 3GHertz Intel Pentium 4 chip, and almost twice the speed of a 3.06GHertz Xeon-based system... Apple plans to sell the machines in 3 configurations, with a starting price of $1,999... The drive can read DVD titles at 8-times playing speed, and write 4.7GB DVD-R discs at 4-times playing speed... Apple says the computers come in 1.6, 1.8 and dual 2GHertz models, with a 3GHertz computer coming within the next 12 months."
Stephanie Strom _NY Times_
Gifts to Charity in 2002 Stayed Unexpectedly High
"Americans gave an estimated $240.92G in 2002, a 0.5% decrease on an inflation-adjusted basis from the previous year, according to Giving U.S.A., an annual tally of charitable contributions published by the A.A.F.R.C. Trust for Philanthropy, a unit of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, and compiled by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Estimated giving amounted to 2.3% of the nation's gross domestic product, extending a trend that began in 1999, the first time since 1971 that charitable contributions exceeded 2% of the total output of goods and services. Also, based on new data from the Internal Revenue Service, the trust has revised its estimate of giving in 2001 to $238.46G, an increase of more than $26G over its original estimate... contributions by corporations and corporate foundations at $12.19G for last year, an 8.8% increase over the previous year when adjusted for inflation... corporate profits fell only 2% in 2002, compared with 17% in 2001... organizations providing human services suffered the steepest decline in charitable contributions, which fell 11.4% on an inflation-adjusted basis, to $18.65G. These groups have seen increased demand as unemployment worsened and costs of living rose."
European Union Snubs World's Poor
"Most glaringly absent was any reform of Europe's subsidy-rich common agricultural policy, which gobbles up half the union's budget and manages to simultaneously victimize both European consumers and poor farmers in the developing world... Sadly, the United States is a willing co-conspirator in this tale, betraying its supposed belief in free markets and trade with its own lavish hand-outs to politically powerful farm lobbies."
Andrew Cassel _Philadelphia Inquirer_
As an economic rescue tactic, interest rate cuts are losing their punch
"Several signs say the recovery will be picking up strength soon. What economists call 'leading indicators - measurements that tend to foreshadow broader trends - rose in May for the second month in a row. Companies are reporting stronger orders for goods, stock prices have been going up, and surveys show consumer confidence on the rise. Even if you think the latest federal tax cuts are a bad long-term idea, it's a good bet they'll juice up the economy in the short term... Jobs, however, are still being lost. Many companies that pared ranks through layoffs or early-retirement deals when the recession hit have not brought workers back, even where sales have recovered. Firms have tried instead to boost production with fewer people, using technology or out-sourcing to get around whatever bottle-necks result. Their strategy has been successful -- so much so that forecasters say many jobs lost in this down-turn are, in fact, gone forever."
2003-06-23 21:14PDT (2003-06-24 00:14EDT) (04:14GMT)
Mark Hulbert _MarketWatch_
Executive Compensation: A lot of heat, little light
"And our populist sensibilities definitely are aroused upon discovering that the total compensation of S&P 500 companies' CEOs increased significantly during 2002, even while the average stock was falling... I turned to David Larcker, an accounting professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania... According to the Corporate Library, the average CEO's compensation last year rose 64%, while the median increase was just 11.5% -- a number that carries a lot less shock value."
2003-06-23 23:10PDT (2003-06-24 02:10EDT) (06:10GMT)
Jim Harrington _Houston Chronicle_
"Guest Worker" Plan Would Make Matters Worse
"In my own 40 years' work experience with agricultural employees, farm laborers were treated as badly under the old discredited bracero program, which I witnessed, as they were under its subsequent 'kinder and gentler' reincarnations as guest worker (H-2) programs. Any time 'guest' employees complained about unpaid wages or exploitative working conditions, they suddenly found their work permits and temporary visas canceled, and the Border Patrol called to deport them... The only way that temporary immigrant workers will be treated fairly and justly in this country is if Congress: Decides they will be entitled to the same minimum wage and collective bargaining laws as other workers. Prohibits retaliation (usually, deportation) when they complain about illegality. Extends legal aid protection to them in the work-place..."
Charlie Le Duff _NY Times_
A Rally for Jobs and Justice Stalls in Los Angeles
"South-Central Los Angeles. This is where a rivalry simmers between Tony Muhammad, the Western regional minister of the Nation of Islam, and Daude Sherrills, a broker of a 1992 cease-fire in the Watts district between the Bloods and Crips street gangs... The 2 men had plans to bring together more than 300 gang factions for a 100K Man March to protest the lack of jobs in Los Angeles's ghettoes... Most important, $2M is needed to pay for the event, and less than $4K has been raised... Unemployment is estimated at 15% in a population of 765K. Violence is endemic. It is isolated by free-ways that bind it and pass over it. There is tension between blacks and the growing Latino population. Half the households make less than $25K a year... Mr. Muhammad, at the request of Nike, drafted a letter in the name of the organizing committee asking the company to under-write the march and commit $40M toward the construction of an apparel factory in South Los Angeles. Mr. Sherrills was annoyed that the minister had put the letter together without his consultation. 'A shake-down.', he called it. The minister's letter was never sent. A few weeks later, the mosque was shot up... 'These guys don't think they're going to make it past 25, and the last thing they're thinking about is organizing.', said Alex Sanchez, director of Homies Unidos, a gang out-reach group. Before any young man participates, Mr. Sanchez said, Mr. Sherrills and Mr. Muhammad will have to decide who is the chef."
2003-06-23 21:01PDT (2003-06-24 00:01EDT) (04:01GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Salary hikes lowest in decade: Similar expected for 2004 but raises still out-pace inflation
"U.S. salaried workers will receive an average 3.5% pay hike for 2003, rather than the 4% previously projected by employers -- and they can expect about the same next year, according to data from The Conference Board, a non-profit economic research group... This is the first time in 10 years that median salary-budget increases have moved significantly below 4%, according to the survey of 531 companies. A different poll of 3,100 companies also pegged this year's average pay hike at 3.5%, but ranked it as the lowest in three decades, according to the 30th annual survey by WorldatWork, a non-profit professional association. Yet, despite the declines, workers are actually gaining ground. The average increase is running almost a full percentage point ahead of the projected 2.6% inflation rate for 2003... Compare that to the late 1970s when inflation ran about 12% and raises averaged only 10%... 83% of employees will receive pay increases this year, down from 85% in 2002 and 94% in 2001, according to the WorldatWork survey."
2003-06-24 14:09PDT (17:09EDT) (21:09GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow ends with gains, Nasdaq slumps: Consumer confidence down in June
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 36.90 points, or 0.4%, to 9,109.85, propped up by gains in Altria Group, Wal-Mart, Honeywell and SBC Communications. The Nasdaq Composite inched down 5.14 points, or 0.3%, to 1,605.61 and the Nasdaq 100 Index fumbled 8.63 points, or 0.7%, to 1,191.54... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.2% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks gained 0.3%."
Chris Sprigman _FindLaw_
Hacking for Free Speech: A New Breed of Hactivists Takes on Internet Censorship
"In countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, [Red China], Myanmar, Singapore, and at least 20 others, the only way to access the web is through a fire-wall... Citing a passage from the Qur'an as justification, the Saudi government significantly restricts the types of information Saudi citizens can access on the web. As researchers at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society have documented, the Saudi government blocks not only pornography, but also a wide range of relatively benign information about religion, health, education, reference, humor and entertainment. In particular, it blocks sites deemed to be proselytizing against Islam, or containing information hostile to Islam -- even sites such as religioustolerance.org that merely advocate religious tolerance as a human right. Meanwhile, web surfing is not only restricted, but also recorded... The consequences of detection by a firewall can be severe - [Red China] has jailed dissidents for downloading Internet articles critical of [Red China] and executed hackers for committing cyber-theft. Ironically, some of the largest U.S. software companies - firms that have built their fortunes on open access to the Internet - have helped the efforts of [Red China], Iran, and other repressive regimes to build and improve their fire-walls... It practices 'hacktivism', which it defines as 'using technology to advance human rights through electronic media'...
Camera/Shy... steganography... Six/Four in commemoration of the 1989-06-04 date of the Tiananmen Massacre... is thus an instance of what Hacktivismo refers to as H2H -- hacktivist-to-hacktivist -- architecture... The license forbids use of the software in a malicious manner, or to introduce harmful changes to the software's source code. A government might violate HESSLA, for instance, by seeking to invade the Six/Four network by setting up a node, and then writing a tool to identify the source of traffic through its part of the network. In the event of such a government violation, the license says that Hacktivismo and Six/Four's end users - who may be citizens of any country in the world - may sue in any court of competent jurisdiction. (The license requires waiver of sovereign immunity, in a provision that, like all of HESSLA, has yet to be tested in court.) Meanwhile, if a private citizen uses Hacktivismo software to violate human rights, he or she can also be sued, but only by Hacktivismo."
Stock Market Recovery? Don't Bet on It.: A full-fledged bull market won't happen, Peter Cohan says, until unemployment drops and Corporate America starts spending again
"The economy isn't growing enough to justify the recent rise in stock prices, says Peter Cohan, author and president of management-consulting and venture-capital firm Peter S. Cohan Associates. The problem, says Cohan, is the lack of corporate spending..."
2003-06-25 12:18PDT (15:18EDT) (19:18GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Fed cuts rates by tame 25 basis points: FOMC impatient but still up-beat about US economy
"'Recent signs point to a firming in spending, markedly improved financial conditions and labor and product markets that are stabilizing.', the 12-member committee said in its statement. Nonetheless, the economy 'has yet to exhibit sustainable growth'... The 25 basis-point reduction in the federal funds target rate to a 45-year low of 1% is the 13th rate cut by the U.S. central bank since 2001 January, when the fed funds rate stood at 6.50%. Banks typically peg their prime lending rate directly to the fed funds rate, but other consumer and commercial rates tend to float with market forces. Consumers aren't likely to see much relief from the latest cut, financial experts said."
"Tom Tancredo...The Republican from Colorado is a fire-brand against massive infiltration of illegal aliens into the United States. Put troops on the border with Mexico, he says. We agree with him: A country that will not garrison its frontiers cedes its nationhood and invites dissolution of its economy, culture and the rule of law. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge replies that cultural and political reasons trump the proposal... Why? Cheap labor..."
Bernard Simon _NY Times_
Canada Is Losing Ability to Fill US Natural Gas Needs
"Canadian production is, for the moment at least, at its maximum: it will be at least 5 years before Canada will again be in a position to act as a swing supplier, the experts say... North American natural gas prices are quoted in dollars per million British thermal units, a measure of raw energy content. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, they peaked at more than $6.50 earlier this month, up from about $3.65 a year ago; gas for July delivery traded yesterday at $5.76. Stored supplies of natural gas are near record lows in the United States, and have also fallen sharply in Canada. Canada now supplies 16% of United States' gas, double its share a decade ago... Hal Kvisle, chief executive of TransCanada PipeLines , also of Calgary, which operates one of the continent's most extensive gas pipeline networks, estimated that without any new discoveries, Canada's output would drop by 20% a year. But Mr. Kvisle said he was optimistic that western Canada would provide enough new gas to maintain Canada's output of about 17.5G cubic feet a day, even if producers would have to work quite hard to do it. According to a survey of 95 companies by Nickle's Daily Oil Bulletin of Calgary, additions to gas reserves last year, totaling 3.7T cubic feet, were the lowest since 1996, and down 23% from the record set in 2001."
2003-06-25 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Jack G. Ganssle _Embedded_/_CMP_ (now United Business Media)
H-1B visas and your job
"Today many of those entrenched Americans, many of them highly educated hardware and software designers, are out of work. Techies are the hardest hit; the Department of Labor reported that first quarter unemployment for EEs was 7%, far above the national average of 5.8%. To my great surprise neither the war on terrorism nor the 2nd Gulf War have had much impact on hiring. What happened to the jobs? Surely the stumbling economy is at least partly to blame. Could the H-1B program be another factor? There's no doubt, based on the many, many [e-mail messages] I get from disgruntled American workers, that EEs and firmware folk believe this to be the case. Many engineers think that H-1B visas, which allow foreign engineers to work for a period of time in the United States, are being used simply to reduce labor costs. If true, the law is a horrible disservice to the country's citizens. On 2000 October 17, [some 9 months after the beginning of the Clinton-Bush economic depression], President Clinton signed the 'American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act' which was strongly supported by the US high-tech industry. The bill included a big increase in the number of H-1B visas available every year, from 107,500 to 195K. Pending cases from fiscal year 2000 were to be counted in the 2000 quota, so 195K new visas became immediately available for fiscal years 2001 to 2003. H-1B workers are admitted to the United States for 3 years, which may be extended to 6. The H-1B category is intended primarily for 'professional' workers like programmers, engineers, teachers, doctors, and physical therapists."
2003-06-25 20:20PDT (23:20EDT) (2003-06-26 03:20GMT)
John Diamond _USA Today_
Troops pay to get better gear
"Combat soldiers interviewed by an Army investigative team after the capture of Baghdad reported that they dipped into their own pockets to buy such accessories as pistol holsters [and pistols], ruck-sacks, boot soles, under-wear, rifle sights, global-positioning-system hand-sets and field radios, rather than use Army-issue versions... a report drafted by Program Executive Office Soldier, the unit in charge of developing equipment for Army combat soldiers..."
2003-06-26 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Thomas Stengle _Dept of Labor Employment and Training Administration_
Unemployment Compensation Insurance Weekly Claims Report
"In the week ending June 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 404K, a decrease of 22K from the previous week's revised figure of 426K. The 4-week moving average was 428,250, a decrease of 5,250 from the previous week's revised average of 433,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.0% for the week ending June 14, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate of 2.9%. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 14 was 3.741M, an increase of 43K from the preceding week's revised level of 3.698M. The 4-week moving average was 3,724,500, an increase of 5,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,719,250. The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted [not seasonally adjusted], totaled 372,471 in the week ending June 21, a decrease of 10,355 from the previous week. There were 358,959 initial claims in the comparable week in 2002. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.7% during the week ending June 14, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,419,402, an increase of 42,799 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.6% and the volume was 3,315,777... 53 states reported that 852,865 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending June 7. Initial claims for UI benefits by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,517 in the week ending June 14, a decrease of 123 from the prior week. There were 1,125 initial claims by newly discharged veterans, a decrease of 123 from the preceding week. There were 13,488 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending June 7, a decrease of 362 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 16,138, a decrease of 946 from the prior week. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending June 7 were in Alaska (4.6%), Oregon (4.5%), Puerto Rico (4.3%), Washington (3.8%), California (3.7%), Pennsylvania (3.7%), Arkansas (3.2%), Connecticut (3.1%), Massachusetts (3.1%), and New Jersey (3.1%). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 14 were in Michigan (+4,318), Pennsylvania (+1,897), Wisconsin (+1,367), Ohio (+870), and Nevada (+376), while the largest decreases were in Kansas (-6,228), South Carolina (-3,812), North Carolina (-3,736), New York (-3,516), and Tennessee (-3,156)."
2003-06-26 05:32PDT (08:32EDT) (12:32GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Q1 GDP growth revised lower to 1.4%
"The U.S. economy grew at a weak 1.4% annualized rate in the first quarter, a half percentage point lower than previous estimates, the Commerce Department said Thursday... The revisions had no impact on final sales to domestic purchasers, which rose 1.4%. Economists were expecting the previous 1.9% estimate to stand. The government said consumer spending and provided most of the lift. Business investment dragged growth lower. Despite the anemic growth, corporations boosted their after-tax profits by 12.2% compared with a year earlier, the biggest increase in more than 3 years."
2003-06-26 05:39PDT (08:39EDT) (12:39GMT)
Maggie McNeil _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Weekly unemployment compensation insurance claims down 22K to 404K
"The number of U.S. workers applying for unemployment benefits fell in the week ended June 21 to 404K, down 22K from the previous week's upwardly revised figure, the Labor Department said, to the lowest level since March 22 of this year. The 4-week moving average for claims fell to 428,250, a decline of 5,250 from the upwardly revised 433,500 figure posted a week earlier. The number of initial claims has fluctuated between 415K and 450K for the past 3 months."
2003-06-26 05:42PDT (08:42EDT) (12:42GMT)
Unemployment compensation insurance claims fall to 3-month low
"Applications for initial jobless aid plunged to 3-month low last week, the government said Thursday in a report showing a better-than-expected improvement in the still-weak job market, but another report indicated the economy was more sluggish in the first 3 months of 2003 than previously thought and grew at a poky annual rate of just 1.4%... lowest since March 22... Claims have been above the 400K mark for the past 19 weeks, indicating resistance among employers to start rehiring before they are convinced an economic recovery is firmly in place."
2003-06-26 06:30PDT (09:30EDT) (13:30GMT)
Credit card delinquencies stay at record high
"Rising job losses and the uncertain economy kept credit card delinquencies unchanged at a record high level in the first quarter of 2003, the American Bankers Association said Thursday. Past-due credit card accounts made up 4.07% of all accounts, the same level as the last quarter of 2002, the ABA said in a statement. That rate remains the highest since the trade association began compiling consumer loan data in 1990... Home equity loan delinquencies jumped to 2.02% of loans from 1.64% in the previous quarter, according to the ABA. Auto loan delinquencies climbed to 2.41% of loans from 2.34%, the trade group reported."
2003-06-26 07:39PDT (10:39EDT) (14:39GMT)
Red China Denies Blocking US SoyBeans
"Suppliers accuse Beijing of withholding import permits in violation of free-trade commitments, which they say has contributed to a 37% drop in U.S. soybean exports to China this year. Vice minister Ge Zhirong, an official of China's quarantine authority, denied that Beijing was blocking trade. He blamed importers who he said violated Chinese government rules by signing contracts before applying for an import permit... China's soybean imports in the first five months of this year were 7.7M metric tons -- double the amount imported in the same period last year. Imports for the full year are expected to reach 20M tons, up from 11.3M tons in 2002."
2003-06-26 09:30PDT (12:30EDT) (16:30GMT)
Matt Andrejczak _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Dept. of Labor sues Enron, execs for failing to protect company pension funds
"The Labor Department charges that the defendants mismanaged 2 of Enron's pension plans by carelessly overstuffing them with company stock, according to a 46-page complaint filed in Houston federal court, which also named the former administrative committee for Enron's retirement plans. The plans held the retirement assets of more than 20K employees... By 2001, the company's retirement savings plans and employee stock ownership plan were among the largest investors in Enron stock, owning 25M shares. Enron's savings plan held more than 50% of the stock while nearly all of the ESOP assets consisted of company stock. Senior Enron officials sold their stock while encouraging their workers to buy more. Enron's stock lost more than $1G in value after the massive accounting fraud was uncovered."
2003-06-26 09:46PDT (12:46EDT) (16:46GMT)
William Spain _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Supreme Court rebuffs Nike plea so company faces trial
"The U.S. Supreme Court [ruled] that it had no standing to intervene in a California law-suit charging the company with lying and deception... The ruling means the sneaker maker must stand trial on charges that it lied about the working conditions in its over-seas factories. Four years ago, California activist Marc Kasky sued Nike under a statute designed to protect consumers from false advertising. At issue was the company's multi-pronged defense against charges that its products were produced under hazardous conditions in Asian sweat-shops."
2003-06-26 13:35PDT (16:35EDT) (20:35GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tech stock rally ends losing streak: Nasdaq rises 2%
2003-06-26 13:45PDT (16:45EDT) (20:45GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks close with broad advance
"U.S. stocks closed with broad gains Thursday as investors bet that the lowest interest rates in 45 years would jump-start the nation's flagging economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tacked on 67.51 points, or 0.7%, to 9,079.04, buttressed by gains in shares of Alcoa, Intel, Eastman Kodak and IBM. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 31.35 points, or 2%, to 1,634.01 and the Nasdaq 100 Index put on 26.28 points, or 2.2%, to 1,214.69... The Standard & Poor's 500 advanced 1.1% while the Russell 2000, the index of small-capitalization stocks, gained 1.5%... Volume totaled 1.37G shares on the NYSE and 1.56G shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers out-numbered decliners by 20 to 12 on both the NYSE and Nasdaq."
Evelyn Iritani _LA Times_
Red China Makes a Swift Retreat on Openness
"In Sichuan province, a reporter for the Chengdu Business News was ordered this week to drop her coverage of a scandal in which a 3-year-old girl allegedly died of starvation at her home while her mother was in police custody. The reporter said she was so upset by the muzzling that she posted her unpublished story on the Internet, where it provoked a huge out-pouring of support. The editor of one influential Beijing magazine said Wednesday that a Communist Party propaganda official visited his office the previous day with instructions on covering sensitive topics, including the death of a young graphic designer, Sun Zhigang, in police custody in Guangzhou. That case triggered a debate about police brutality, and the State Council, the country's Cabinet, responded this week by banning torture and other abuses in holding centers for unregistered migrants. Also designated for special treatment were financial scandals involving two prominent Chinese tycoons, Zhou Zhengyi and Yang Bin. Zhou, a real estate speculator, is accused of improperly obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Shanghai officials."
Jon Bonne _NBC_
8M could lose over-time pay under new rules
"the Economic Policy Institute, highlights dozens of professions that would be impacted by the new rules and argues that hundreds of thousands of workers could be moved from hourly wages to a fixed salary. It would also expand the types of work responsibilities that can be barred from over-time, and would cap a right to over-time for almost anyone earning more than $65K a year. The study's numbers sharply contrast Labor Department estimates that 1.3M low-wage workers would qualify for over-time under the new rules, while 640K professional workers would lose their potential for over-time. Some 2.5M salary earners and 5.5M hourly employees would lose their over-time, according to the estimates by the group, which is affiliated with labor unions. Some of the most impacted job types would include: mid-level supervisors such as restaurant managers or safety inspectors; professionals such as dietitians, social workers and writers; and technical specialists, such as dental hygienists, drafters or computer programmers... In fact, the original purpose of the FLSA rules were to guarantee certain worker rights, both in establishing a minimum wage and in preserving a 40-hour work week ó discouraging companies from over-working employees by imposing, in essence, a financial penalty. But if anything, Americans' work week has kept lengthening, with U.S. workers now far out-pacing their counterparts in the developed world."
Ruth Rosen _SF Chronicle_
Fighting off the Big Box
"So why have nearly 200 communities refused to allow such big-box stores to enter their lives?... What I learned, in a nutshell, is that Wal- Mart's nonunion, big-box stores drag down other workers' salaries, destroy downtown businesses, prevent smart-growth development and increase traffic congestion. What really surprised me though is that we, the taxpayers, end up subsidizing Wal-Mart stores by paying for the health and retirement needs of its workers... On 2003 June 3, the [Contra Costa] county Board of Supervisors voted to ban such supercenter stores from unincorporated areas of the county. In making its decision, the board cited a study done by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. It found that an influx of big-box stores into San Diego would result in an annual decline in wages and benefits between $105M and $221M, and an increase of $9M in public health costs. SDCTA also estimated that the region would lose pensions and retirement benefits valued between $89M and $170M per year and that even increased sales and property tax revenues would not cover the extra costs of necessary public services... The troops fighting Wal-Mart's invasion of Contra Costa County include the Gray Panthers, small businesses, dozens of churches, the National Organization for Women, and environmental and smart-growth activists... Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)... Contra Costa Central Labor Council... United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1179... we, the [tax-victims], subsidize Wal-Mart profits by paying for county public health services, food stamps and social services for its retired employees... the average Wal-Mart employee... earns about $15K a year"
2003-06-27 13:46PDT (16:46EDT) (20:46GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow closes below 9K mark: Tech sell-off hurts Nasdaq
"U.S. stocks slid Friday as afternoon selling undermined an early rally in technology shares and sent the Dow Jones Average under the 9K mark for the first time in almost 3 weeks... The major stock averages ended with losses for the first time in 5 weeks, with the Dow off 2.3%, the Nasdaq down 1.2% and the S&P 500 1.9% lower. Year-to-date, however, the Dow is up 7.8%, the Nasdaq 21.7% and the S&P 11%. And from the March 11 closing low, the Dow is up 19.5%, the Nasdaq is 27.9% higher while the S&P has climbed 22%. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 89.99 points, or 1%, to 8,989.05. The most pronounced losses surfaced in SBC Communications, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard and International Paper. The Nasdaq Composite lost 8.73 points, or 0.5%, to 1,625.28 after rising as much as 19 points intraday. The Nasdaq 100 Index shed 9.44 points, or 0.8%, to 1,205.24. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 1%, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks fell 0.3%... Volume was 1.22G on the NYSE and 1.54G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Decliners beat out advancers by 17 to 15 on both the NYSE and Nasdaq."
Martin Hutchinson _UPI_
Analysis: Tough time for unemployed
"Amid the celebrations of the Federal Reserve's thirteenth cut in interest rates, and its consequent prolongation of the housing bubble, one point has been missed: none of this has done much for the unemployed. Thursday morning, 3 statistics were released that bore on unemployment. The weekly layoffs total slipped somewhat to 402K, where 400K and above generally leads to higher unemployment, while the number of continuing claims increased to 3.741M. The Conference Board Help Wanted Index remained flat on 36, on a base of 1987=100, equal to its lowest level in the 40 years it has been calculated. Monthly mass lay-offs ticked up to a total of 1,699 incidents for a total of 173,784 lay-offs, slightly below 2002 May but well above the average of that year... Continuing claims for June 14 were 3.74M, close to record levels and considerably higher than in the early 1990s... In the two years since 2001 May, 500K new jobs have been created compared with the 3M-4M needed to absorb new workforce entrants. Sectorally, 1M managerial and professional jobs have been created (we always need new bureaucrats in the public sector!) and 1.5M more service jobs, while construction and maintenance jobs have increased modestly, by 400K. On the other hand, sales and office jobs have declined by 400K, production jobs by a shocking 1.3M -- 12% of the existing production workforce -- transportation jobs by 400K and farming and fisheries jobs by 300K. Also important is the increase in employment for workers of 55 and over, from 19.926M in 2002 May to 21.028M in 2003 May, an increase of 5.5%, compared with an increase of only 0.6% in overall employment over that year a drop of 3.5% in employment of 16-19 year olds and a flat employment trend among adults 20-54. Looking at sex differentiation, the most startling factor is the increase in female over-55 employment in the year from 9.038M to 9.862M, an increase of 9.2%, particularly surprising in a period when employment overall, is stagnant... In the 10 years to 2003 May, employment of over 55s has increased from 14.513M to 21.137M, an increase of 45.6%, and among women over 55 it has increased from 6.312M to 9.812M, an increase of 55.4%. Among younger workers, this trend is simply not visible; in the last 10 years employment of 16-19 year olds has increased only from 5.810M to 5.907M (1.7%) of 20-24 year olds from 12.713M to 13.310M (4.7%) and of 25-54 year olds from 87.352M to 97.398M (15.0%)."
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Falling prices boost real US income, spending
"Inflation-adjusted after-tax incomes rose 0.4% in May, matching April's gain as the largest since 2002 June, the government said. Real consumer spending rose 0.3%, also matching April's increase. The personal consumption expenditure price index fell 0.1% in May. The core PCE price index, which strips out food and energy prices, was flat in May and is up just 1.2% in the past 12 months, [the least price increase] in 38 years"
Gretchen Morgenson & Jonathan D. Glater _NY Times_
$1G Offered to Settle Suit on Inflated IPOs
"Some 300 companies that sold new shares to the public during the late 1990's agreed yesterday to pay $1G to settle an investor law-suit contending that the stock offerings' prices were artificially inflated... the brokerage firms that under-wrote the stock offerings...are also being sued... Most of the 309 companies involved in the proposed settlement are technology concerns whose shares were in demand among investors during the bull market... Wall Street firms raised buckets of money for fledgling companies during the late 1990's. In 1999, for example, more than $75G was raised in initial stock offerings, about the amount that was raised in new stock issues during all of the 1980's. During that boom, many individual investors were frustrated when they could not obtain new shares at their offering prices and instead had to buy them in the open market, after they had risen significantly. In 1999, for example, the average first-day leap of a new stock was 60%, up from the 10% moves that were typical from 1986 to 1994, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. First-day gains on all initial offerings exceeded $29G in 1999..."
Marilyn Geewax _Atlanta Georgia Journal-Constitution_
Protests grow as tech jobs move off-shore
"At the Waldorf-Astoria hotel Thursday, about 125 executives attended the 2003 Strategic Out-Sourcing Conference, sponsored by the Conference Board, a business association... Outside the Waldorf, dozens of high-tech workers with advanced degrees but no jobs marched in protest, carrying signs with slogans such as 'Out-sourcing Is Stealing Billion$ From America'... This month the House Small Business Committee held a hearing to examine [off-shore out-sourcing]."
William L. Anderson _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
The Myth of "Exporting Jobs"
2003-06-27 17:25PDT (20:25EDT) (2003-06-28 00:25GMT)
Feds charge 11 men with conspiracy in over-seas jihad
"A sixth man, Mohammed Aatique, 30, the Pakistani national and H-1 visa holder, was arrested in the Philadelphia area."
Patrick McGeehan _NY Times_
Top Executives' Lucrative Deals Tie the Hands that Pay Them
"At many large companies, chief executives have contracts that guarantee their salary and benefits for several years, along with severance pay and postretirement perquisites. Some contracts, though, like that of the Cendant Corporation's chairman and chief executive, Henry R. Silverman, are so detailed that they limit directors' ability to fulfill their mandates, share-holder advocates and management consultants say... Contracts for chief executives are not the norm. Of the 500 largest publicly traded American corporations, 175 have employment agreements with their chief executives, according to the Corporate Library. The most common term for them is 3 years and few last longer than 5 said Paul Hodgson, an analyst with the Corporate Library... Robert Whitman, the chairman and chief executive of Franklin Covey, has a seven-year contract that guarantees him a $500K salary and a bonus of up to $750K. Partway through 2001, when a drop in sales of electronic organizers at the company's stores led to losses, Mr. Whitman asked the compensation committee of the board to stop paying his salary and not to pay him a bonus for that year. In 2002, Mr. Whitman received no compensation."
Stephen J. Dubner _NY Times_
Calculating the Irrational in Economics
"Eldar Shafir, who teaches psychology and public affairs at Princeton, began with a behavioral economics primer. It was full of the anomalies the field is known for, including the popular '6 jam-vs.-24 jam' experiment. In an upscale grocery story, researchers set up a tasting booth first with 6 jars of jams, and later with 24 jars. In the first case, 40% of the customers stopped to taste and 30% bought; in the second, 60% tasted but only 3% bought. The point is that too many options can flummox a consumer -- and if 24 jars of jam pose a problem, imagine what 8K mutual funds can do. Standard economics would argue that people are better off with more options. But behavioral economics argues that people behave less like mathematical models than like -- well, people... not only are emotions not unknowable but that when it comes to money, they may be more powerful than math. This is why Mr. Loewenstein studies how people make financial choices while they are experiencing various degrees of sadness, hunger and sexual arousal. This is why Colin Camerer has become a student of brain imaging, trying to identify where a subject's brain lights up when, for instance, a lowball offer leaves him disgusted... Mr. Thaler has concluded that too many people, no matter how educated or vigilant, are poor planners, inconsistent savers and haphazard investors. His solution: public and private institutions should gently steer individuals toward more enlightened choices. That is, they must be saved from themselves. Mr. Thaler's most concrete idea is Save More Tomorrow (SMarT), a savings plan whereby employees pledge a share of their future salary increases to a retirement account... Indeed, the SMarT plan takes advantage of behavioral economics' basic tenets: 'loss aversion' (people fear loss because it causes them far more pain than the pleasure they receive from gain; but since the SMarT plan covers a future raise, they never feel its loss); 'status-quo bias' (since people are reluctant to change, the change can be made for them); and 'mental accounting' (people have a pressing need to direct different streams of money into different 'accounts')."
Felicia R. Lee _NY Times_
A Library in Cuba
"independent libraries in Cuba. Small lending libraries run out of people's homes, they circulate materials that the librarians say are banned by the government... The latest battle began after the arrests of about 75 Cuban dissidents in March. Convicted of 'mercenary activities and other acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the Cuban state', according to a statement in Granma, the Cuban Communist Party daily, the dissidents received prison sentences of up to 28 years. Fourteen were independent librarians... 'For at least 4 years, the A.L.A. has ignored, covered up or lied about the persecution of people in Cuba whose only crime is to have opened libraries.', [Robert Kent] said... Winston Tabb...cited Turkey and Zimbabwe. (In the past, the association has spoken against library censorship in South Africa and recently condemned the destruction of the national library in Iraq.)"
Marsha Austin _Denver Post_
Hospitals turn away ill, injured: Some question ER screenings that limit care for uninsured
"He was drooling because each swallow meant excruciating pain. His face muscles twitched. He slurred his words through the clenched teeth that still clung to his shattered jaw. But he wasn't dying. And, according to federal law, he was stable, meaning he could walk out the door. And that's all doctors and nurses at Denver Health Medical Center and the University of Colorado Hospital needed to know before they suggested [he] seek treatment elsewhere. When Colorado's 2 largest public hospitals resorted to screening out anyone without an immediately life-threatening medical problem, administrators said it was because they could no longer afford the millions it cost to treat the uninsured who crowded emergency rooms with minor complaints. So now, a nurse examines every would-be patient. Those without an emergency are told they must pay for their care or leave... In the year since the screenings began, a steady stream of patients, most of them indigent or working poor, has filed into the emergency rooms of nearby private hospitals. And physicians who have treated such patients say the screenings are dangerous, possibly illegal and ethically impossible for them to stomach. Those doctors also worry that as public hospitals nationwide struggle financially, more will find ways to turn away uninsured patients, and that new federal guide-lines due out this summer could open the door for more aggressive screening by the nation's hospitals... Since Denver Health started screening emergency-room patients in 2002 May, an average of 110 patients of the 4,200 who sought care in the ER each month were referred elsewhere. At University, where screenings began in October, an average 176 patients of 3,655 seeking care each month were not treated... In addition, University and Denver Health have followed rules set up in the Emergency Medical Transfer and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA, which says the hospital cannot inquire about a patient's ability to pay until it has determined whether the person has an emergency. Because virtually no hospitals outside Colorado have pushed the limits of EMTALA, federal regulators have not aggressively scrutinized the practice, said Barker, a health care attorney involved in crafting the new federal guidelines. The guide-lines, he said, would out-line limited, clearly non-emergency cases where hospitals can block admission -- such as someone wanting stitches removed or a prescription refilled."
2003-06-29 18:53PDT (21:53EDT) (2003-06-30 01:53GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Pressure mounts to make student loan refinancing legal
"On July 1, rates on most student loans will fall to a record low 3.42% from 4.125%. Yet Pfeffer and thousands of other Americans can't capitalize on the drop because they already refinanced their loans once through a consolidation, and the law only allows borrowers one shot... Several House members are pushing reforms as the Higher Education Act comes up for reauthorization this year... the government guarantees student-loan lenders the rate on 90-day financial commercial paper, plus 2.64%, Wadsworth said. In the years that interest rates rise above a borrower's fixed-rate, the government's debt will increase."
2003-06-30 13:55PDT (16:55EDT) (20:55GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stock indices end with tiny losses
"U.S. stocks ended with tiny losses Monday after delivering the most glowing quarterly performance in 4-and-a-half years. The Dow Industrials is up 7.7% year-to-date while the Nasdaq climbed a heady 21.5% and the S&P 500 rose 10.8%... The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 3.61 points to 8,985.44 after rising as much as 79 points intraday. The Dow's best performer year-to-date was J.P. Morgan Chase, which put on 42.4%. AT&T was the blue-chip barometer's worst year-to-date performer with a loss of 26.3%. The Nasdaq Composite shed 2.42 points, or 0.1%, to 1,622.84 while the Nasdaq 100 Index of top tech issues declined 3.56 points, or 0.3%, to 1,201.69... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged down 0.2% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks lost 0.1%. The annual reconstitution of Russell's 21 U.S. stock indexes will take effect on Tuesday, with the start of the third quarter... Volume came in at 1.58G on the NYSE and at 1.74G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Big Board winners elbowed past losers by 17 to 16, while decliners out-paced advancers by 16 to 15 on the Nasdaq."
Bill Fleckenstein _NBC_
Fed analysts' truly scary idea: Tax you into spending
"Koenig and Dolmas start out by not understanding that deflation is a consequence of prior policy actions that create a bubble and have severe economic consequences. They fall into the trap that many people do, thinking that deflation is a disease, rather than the symptom of a previous disease -- wildly excessive monetary policy and the misallocation of capital associated with it... today's environment that doesn't have enough inflation to suit the Fed... Koenig and Dolmas propose what they admit is a radical idea: a 'stamp tax'. In this, a currency would have to be stamped periodically, and you would be charged for your currency, 'in order to retain its status as legal tender. The stamp fee could be calibrated to generate any negative, nominal interest rate the central bank desired.' They toss out a few numbers, say 1% a month, to validate your currency. In other words, it would cost you 12% a year to have the gall to save money."
Amy Baldwin _AP_/_Boston Globe_
S & P notches best quarter since 1998: stocks end day slightly lower
"Wall Street ended a stunning second quarter quietly Monday as fund managers spent the day repositioning their holdings, but the narrow losses didn't stop the Standard & Poor's 500 index from achieving its best quarterly gain since the final three months of 1998. The Dow Jones industrials and the Nasdaq composite index claimed their best quarter since the final quarter of 2001... The S&P 500, the broadest of Wall Street's major indexes, closed down 1.72, or 0.2%, at 974.50, according to preliminary calculations. For the quarter, the S&P rose 14.9%. The last time the S&P had a bigger quarterly gain was the last 3 months of 1998, when it climbed 20.9%. The Dow declined 3.61, or 0.04%, to 8,985.44. The blue chips gained 12.4% in the April-June period, their best quarterly showing since the last three months of 2001, when it rose 13.3%. The Nasdaq on Monday fell 2.45, or 0.2%, to 1,622.81. The Nasdaq rose 21% in the quarter, its best quarterly win since gaining 30% in the last 3 months of 2001... Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished Monday down 0.2%. In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.9%, France's CAC-40 fell 0.8% and Germany's DAX index slipped 0.1%."
Alan Cowell _Farnborough Journal_/_NY Times_
There's a bug in my seat
"It is an airline passenger seat studded with hidden sensors and linked to a computerized monitor screen that cabin staff can read for clues about their passengers... The secluded facility here is run by a company called QinetiQ -- one-third owned since last December by American investors and two-thirds by the British Ministry of Defense -- and is one of a series of company installations employing some 10K people, 8K of them scientists, including 1K Ph.D's. It was once devoted exclusively to secret military research. But, these days, thousands of scientists are working on contraptions for civilian use, ranging from the 'smart seat' to an adaptation of the satellite navigation technology used in cruise missiles to probe into the most secret hiding places -- a device as handy for police officers seeking errant parolees as for parents keeping tabs on children... In the future, the sensors could include devices to detect body temperature, breathing and stress levels."
Dice Report: 24,671 job ads
George J. Borjas, PhD _NBER_
The Labor Demand Curve Is Downward Sloping: Re-Examining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market
"immigration lowers the wage of competing workers: a 10% increase in supply reduces wages by 3% to 4%."
Phyllis Schlafley _Eagle Forum_
What the Global Economy Costs Americans
"It's time for Congress to call a halt to the scandal of the way big corporations hire foreigners at the same time they are laying off their American employees. The hiring of hundreds of thousands of foreigners is why this year's college graduates face the worst job market in recent memory. When U.S. corporations built hundreds of plants in Third World countries, we were told not to worry about losing blue-collar manufacturing jobs because we were keeping the service jobs. Now the high-paying white-collar service jobs are going over-seas, too, particularly jobs for engineers and computer specialists. Follow the money. The big corporations hire aliens from India and [Red China] at half or a third the wages, work them long hours without over-time pay, and treat them like indentured servants unable to quit for a better job. What makes this racket possible is the partnership between corporations and government. The corporations make political contributions to assure the passage of legislation that legalizes the importation of foreign cheap labor by the devices called H-1B visas, L-1 visas, and [off-shore] out-sourcing... At the same time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment among American electronic engineers has soared to 7%, and among computer hardware engineers to 6.5%, both surpassing the national jobless rate of 5.8%. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) says that electrical and electronic engineers lost 241K jobs in the past two years, and computer scientists and systems analysts lost 175K jobs... The congressional-corporate attack on engineers and computer specialists started when Section 1706 was slipped into the Tax Reform Act of 1986. This uniquely discriminatory section required anyone who is an 'engineer, designer, computer programmer, systems analyst or other similarly skilled worker' to be classified by Internal Revenue as an employee rather than as an independent contractor, which hundreds of thousands were at that time. This change in the law, plus aggressive enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service, resulted in the creation of large consulting or contracting firms that hire such persons as their own employees and then contract to sell computer services to big corporations. These 'gatekeeper' firms [known as bodyshops] expanded rapidly because they took over the management of personnel for corporations and then found how easy it is to exploit H-1B and L-1 visas to hire foreigners to replace American engineers and programmers... The termination rate for those over age 40 is generally 10 times higher than for those under 40, and even those as young as 35 are at risk. Employers reject the vast majority of their programming applicants without even interviewing them. Sun Microsystems is now defending itself against a law-suit alleging that it laid off 2,500 older U.S. workers and replaced them with young, lower-paid workers from India."
Textiles: The World's Oldest Infant Industry
"On 1789 July 4, in one of its first acts, Congress enacted tariff barriers on imports including cotton, leather, clothing, gloves, and hats (whether made of beaver, fur, or wool). Even foreign buttons were taxed, although the origins of the domestic button lobby remain obscure. In 1816, U.S. tariff schedules were revised upwards to give the New England cotton lobby additional protection. This was followed by more protection for the domestic wool industry in 1824. Still unsatisfied, wool lobbyists asked for more, and in 1828 Congress passed what became known as the 'Tariff of Abominations'. In 1883, Congress established a tariff commission. A wool lobbyist named John L. Hayes was the commission's first head. In 1930, thanks to the Smoot-Hawley Act, 'the average U.S. tariff on cotton goods was 46% and on woolen goods 60%', the Samolis-Turner-Baughman study notes... 'With 40% of the world's supply of fiber-optic cable being produced here, Catawba County is at the hub of a $5.5G global industry.', touts a press release issued by the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry."
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