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2003-08-01 05:31PDT (08:31EDT) (12:31GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US July pay-rolls down 44K, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate drops to 6.2%
"A string of consecutive monthly pay-rolls declines since February now totals 486K lost jobs. The average work-week fell by 6 minutes in July. Factory hours fell by 12 minutes. Over-time in the factory sector was unchanged. Wages increased an expected 0.3% last month."
2003-08-01 11:24PST (14:24EDT) (18:24GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Job drought threatens economy: Could the longest labor market slump since WW2 cause another recession?
"Employers cut 44K more jobs from their pay-rolls in July, the Labor Department said Friday [in seasonally adjusted terms], and the year-over-year change in pay-rolls has been negative for 25 straight months, the longest stretch since 1944-46... But the [GDP] has been growing steadily since the end of 2001, while payrolls are still underwater and have been for more than 2 years, the longest stretch since WW2."
2003-08-01 13:45PST (16:45EDT) (20:45GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end down
"The Dow halted a 4-week winning streak to end down 1.4% while the Nasdaq Composite gave up 0.9% over the past 5 trading days and the S&P 500 eased 1.8%... The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 79.83 points, or 0.9%, to 9,153.97... The Nasdaq Composite lost 19.40 points, or 1.1%, to 1,715.62 and the Nasdaq 100 Index pulled back 12.60 points, or 1%, to 1,264.34. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slumped 1% to 980.15 and the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks fell 1.7%... Volume came in at 1.36G on the NYSE and at 1.47G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Decliners squashed advancers by 23 to 9 on the NYSE and by 21 to 10 on the Nasdaq."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Judge Says IBM Pension Shift Illegally Harmed Older Workers
"Judge G. Patrick Murphy of Federal District Court in the Southern District of Illinois ruled that I.B.M. [a.k.a. Ill-Begotten Monstrosities] had discriminated against its older workers in several ways when it converted its pension plan because the changes would leave them with smaller benefits at retirement than younger workers would have when they eventually retired... In 1995, it switched to a hybrid called a pension equity plan, and in 1999 it converted to what is called a cash-balance plan. That type combines some features of traditional pensions, which provide a defined benefit at retirement, with other features of 401(k) retirement plans. Both of I.B.M.'s changes took away some benefits from older workers and gave them less time than their younger colleagues to build up new ones. Even though I.B.M. made various concessions after the 1999 changes caused an uproar, Judge Murphy found that those concessions still offered insufficient protection to older workers. His ruling dealt only with liability, and Judge Murphy said the court would turn next to the question of how to compensate the affected employees -- an especially difficult issue now because market forces have magnified pension costs to all companies, including I.B.M. The law-suit has been certified a class action, covering about 130K I.B.M. workers and retirees in the United States. Court documents show that I.B.M. projected it would save billions of dollars in pension costs over the years after the changes took effect. Some of that was to be used to create pensions for executives... Cash-balance plans, which are more common than pension equity plans, cover more than 2M employees at hundreds of companies... In his ruling, Judge Murphy considered whether I.B.M.'s pension changes treated employees equitably by looking at the amount of benefits older and younger workers would have earned by the time they retired. Both the cash-balance model and the pension equity plan failed this test. In their traditional design, pension plans reward institutional loyalty by allowing workers to build up the biggest part of their benefit in the years just before they retire. Cash-balance pensions were designed in the 1980's in a different way, letting employees build up their benefits at a steadier rate year by year. In cash-balance plans, the yearly gain is based on interest rates. In pension equity plans, the amount earned each year is linked to each employee's pay."
Jeremy Bloom _NY Times_
Show Us the Money
"Today, however, it [the NCAA] has become a multi-billion-dollar organization that holds a monopoly on college athletics. Much of the television royalties and other revenue of college athletics go directly to the N.C.A.A., which distributes the money as it sees fit to its 1,200 member institutions. As the organization has smoothly adapted to the big-money era of college athletics, it has kept the student-athletes themselves from benefiting from the changes. Division I basketball players, for example, won't receive a dime of the $6G deal that the N.C.A.A. has made with CBS for the rights to broadcast its national tournament. And not only do the student-athletes not share in this wealth, the N.C.A.A. has plenty of rules to keep us from making money on our own... Or consider the plight of Aaron Adair, a third baseman for the University of Oklahoma who also happens to have survived brain cancer. He wrote a book about his recovery intended to help others with the disease, only to receive a call from a compliance officer informing him that his college baseball career was over because his name was attached to a 'corporate product'."
J. Scott Moody _Tax Foundation_
Federal Taxing and Spending Balances with States (with map, tables)
"In FY 2002, New Mexico, North Dakota, Alaska, Mississippi and West Virginia received substantially more from the federal government than they paid in taxes, while New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Massachusetts paid much more in taxes than they received in spending... During FY 2002, the federal government collected $1.848T in tax revenue, or $6,568 for every man, woman and child in the country. As Figure 2 illustrates, this was down slightly from the all-time high in 2000. Between 1992 and 2000, the federal tax burden had roared upward from $4,209 to $7,180 per capita. Even after adjusting for inflation by restating these figures in constant 2003 dollars, the rise of the federal tax burden during this period was precipitous: from $5,161 in 1992 to $7,552 in 2000. The federal tax burden has declined since 2000, however, due to a brief recession, a subsequent period of slow growth and tax [rate] reductions."
Beth Bloomfield _Journal of Employee Assistance_/_Goliath_
Under-Employment is widespread
"The federal government does not compile statistics on the number of Americans who are under-employed, citing the difficulty of developing an objective set of criteria, but ABC News, in a report broadcast in July, estimated it to be 4.6M."
2003-08-02 01:05PDT (04:05EDT) (08:05GMT)
Marshall Loeb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Momentum is building for recovery: pretty soon businesses will buy more stuff
"IOW, the economy will start kicking up its heels when business resumes spending and investing again. At some point, business will have to do just that -- either because competition at home and abroad is forcing business to get newer and better equipment (and more employees), or simply because their machines are wearing thin and wearing out. That point apparently had not yet arrived -- at least not until very recently. For several years now, business has been in a 'make do' mode, figuring that it could make do with the equipment and employees that it had. However, in the week just past, there was some encouraging evidence that business no longer can stretch out its supplies but needs to invest in new supplies. After falling for 9 out of the past 10 quarters, business investment grew by 6.9% in the second quarter of 2003, the fastest gain in three years."
Dean E. Murphy _NY Times_
Ward Connerly Proposes Ban of Collection of Racial Data in California
"'You take a position in favor of equality of all people, and you are a villain, and you expose yourself not only to verbal abuse but the possibility of physical abuse.'... others point to his success in 1996 in winning broad voter approval for Proposition 209. That measure, which prevents state agencies from using race as a factor in college admissions, employment and contracting, was strongly opposed by many of the same groups now lining up against Proposition 54... The new ballot measure seeks to further promote Mr. Connerly's vision of a color-blind California by prohibiting state and local governments from 'using race, ethnicity, color or national origin to classify current or prospective students, contractors or employees in public education, contracting or employment operations'. Though there are exemptions for law enforcement, medical research and federal programs... 'The thing that is so threatening here is not the content of the initiative, but the fundamental notion that race won't matter. It is challenging the whole concept of race, the legitimacy of race.'"
2003-08-02 22:00PDT (2003-08-03 01:00EDT) (2003-08-03 05:00GMT)
Blaine Harden _Washington Post_/_Yahoo!_
MSFT Millionaires Grapple with Wealth
" By swallowing his pride, tossing his options statements in a desk drawer and soldiering on at MSFT for 10 more years, Thatcher joined one of the iconic clubs of the 20th century. He became a MSFT millionaire and retired at 38... In the Great Depression, a quarter-million teenage hobos rode freight trains and scratched for jobs. In the 1960s, student protesters shut universities and speeded the end of a hated war. In the high-tech boom of the 1990s, legions of geeks and their support staff wandered into wealth. Arguably, the largest single legion served its time -- and secured its fortune -- in the eastern suburbs of Seattle. That is where an estimated 10K MSFT employees became millionaires during the era of options. For MSFT, that era formally ends in September, when the company stops issuing options to employees. The de facto end, however, came three years ago, when MSFT's stock price tumbled. Options issued since then are all but worthless... All told, about $30G in options on software company stock, nearly all of it from MSFT, were exercised in greater Seattle from 1995 to 2002, said Roberta Pauer, an economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department...
Gates, the world's richest man (with $40G), never received options. Neither did MSFT's co-founder, Paul G. Allen, the fourth-richest man (with $20.1G), nor MSFT's chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, the 16th-richest man ($11.1G), according to Forbes. Their wealth is based on the actual shares of stock they own in the company. In Seattle, option wealth alone was plenty to pack a destabilizing wallop...
To understand the kilter-knocking power of option money here, consider what happened in 1999: It was the year before the high-tech bubble burst. Across the country, investors were somewhat dementedly bidding up MSFT stock, engorging the already swollen profits of option holders... Before the year ended, about 8K MSFT workers cashed in options worth about $8G for an average pay-out of $1M each, said Dick Conway, a Seattle economist who consults for MSFT. That was 150% of the total annual pay-roll for the 99K employees then working at Boeing Co., the largest employer in Washington state... The company will soon issue restricted stock to its 50K employees worldwide... Seattle rose to No. 2, after Silicon Valley, in venture capital investment. Much of the money went to dot-com companies that went broke. The number of mental health counselors jumped by 55%, according to the state health department. As wealth infected the polity, voters launched Seattle on its largest-ever public building spree: 2 sports stadiums, a city hall, an opera house, libraries, fire stations, schools, parks, community centers and housing for the elderly... University of Washington, which is in Seattle and has luxuriated in $284M in donations from MSFT, its executives, its employees and its investors since 1990. When MSFT options went under-water in 2000, however, so did the local economy. Seattle and Washington state sank into recession in early 2001, 3 months ahead of the rest of the nation. Even now, 21/2 years later, the economy still shows few signs of recovery. The state unemployment rate in June was 7.7%, third highest in the country... They tended to be bright, hard working and goal oriented, but when they suddenly got rich, many of them became disoriented."
2003-08-02 22:00PDT (2003-08-03 01:00EDT) (2003-08-03 05:00GMT)
Paula R. Kaufman interview with Tom Tancredo _Insight_/_World Net Daily_
Coming to America: "Cult of Multi-Culturalism" vs. US Sovereignty: Congress-man blames liberals, Bush's open-door policy for immigration crisis
"Thomas Tancredo is a third-term Republican congressman from Colorado. As chairman of the 65-member Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus he deals regularly with such facts as these: More than 33.1M immigrants live in the United States, a number unprecedented in U.S. history. Poverty rates for immigrants and their U.S.-born children are two-thirds higher than for native-born Americans and their children and account for approximately 25% of those now living in poverty in this country. 24 of the southernmost U.S. states have accrued almost $1G in unpaid medical care -- all attributed to illegal immigration. Tancredo worries about the innumerable U.S. jobs he says have been wiped out by immigration... 'I speak to people who lose their jobs to immigration: electricians, carpenters, high-tech workers. They call my office all the time. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs to immigrants, both legal and illegal', Tancredo tells Insight. Tancredo also blames the immigration crisis on the 'liberal agenda', which he sees as encouraging immigrants to retain their language and their political allegiance to a foreign government while seeing themselves as separate and distinct from other Americans... He's also concerned about the number of people -- between 6M and 10M -- in the United States with dual citizenship...
[The H-1B] program was designed to bring into our country people who had sets of esoteric skills, primarily in the high-tech areas such as computer analysts, computer programmers... Through loop-holes and fraud the number of visas has risen well above the quota cap to over 350K in the years 2001 and 2002... Last year, about 200K to 300K [20K to 30K is more likely correct] L-1s entered the U.S. In fact, corporations will use H-1B and L-1 visa categories to train foreign workers with the intention of moving these jobs over-seas... Yes [in the end, US workers are fired]. Foreign workers are trained here; in fact, they are trained by Americans whose jobs are then exported over-seas...
Today, however, illegal aliens in very large numbers are taking jobs in construction, meat-packing and technology -- jobs that Americans not only can do but want to do... Right now we bring in about 1.5M legal immigrants each year through the regular immigration process (excluding [non-immigrant] visa programs) and another 1M illegals... Virginia Abernathy of Vanderbilt University has written a great deal on this topic and points out how massive immigration of low-scale/low-wage people creates profits for the few and costs for the many... special interests have contributed $22M during the last 10 years to lobby Congress on immigration... There are terror cells in Mexico. We have identified terrorists who have come into the United States through Mexico. In Arizona, there's a road just north of the city of Douglas called the 'Arab road'. They charge $30K to smuggle Arabs or Middle Easterners into the United States and $1,150 to $1,500 for a Mexican peasant."
2003-08-03 16:46PDT (19:46EDT) (23:46GMT)
Barbara Kollmeyer _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Passage to India: Booming growth lures investors to Sub-continent
"The star of India is shining. Just ask investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, which recently became the latest big U.S. company to shift support jobs to this country of just over a billion people... India's skilled and inexpensive labor force is a clear attraction for these multi-national companies, but the country hasn't escaped notice from emerging-market mutual fund managers. Morgan Stanley Capital International allocates 4.5% of its Emerging Markets Free index to India, but several funds have invested at least twice that much. 'Growth of the economy and forecast GDP growth of in excess of 6% (for 2003) makes it one of the fastest growing markets.', said Brad Durham, managing director of EmergingPortfolio.com Fund Research... The out-sourcing and services boom is driving investment in India as well. U.S. and other multi-nationals are establishing customer service call centers in the country, for example."
Alex Markels _NY Times_
TeenAgers Aid A Movie Theater Revival
"Kurt C. Hall, co-chief executive of the Regal Entertainment Group, the nation's largest theater chain. Regal, which is based in Englewood, CO, owns 6,119 theaters around the country, or about 20% of the industry total... Although recent attendance numbers have retreated somewhat from last year's record-setting 1.6G seats filled, teenagers...are still going to the movies in droves. 'They're [teen-agers are] the ones supercharging the profitability of the industry.', said Howard S. Marks, chairman of Oak Tree Capital Management in Los Angeles, which owns an 11% stake in Regal. 'It's a cash cow.'... It also represents a huge turnaround from a few years ago, when Regal, along with a dozen other movie chains, filed for bankruptcy court protection. The cause was a megaplex construction boom that increased the number of American movie screens by nearly 35% from 1995 to 2000, nearly 3 times the rise in ticket sales in the same period, according to figures from the Motion Picture Association of America. The plush stadium seating and huge screens of the megaplexes became a big hit with movie fans, who started avoiding the older theaters. Companies like Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theaters and Loews Cineplex, unable to escape long-term leases, found themselves drowning in debt as average revenue per screen plummeted at the end of the 1990s. At about that time, Oak Tree and the Denver billionaire Philip F. Anschutz began buying up bonds of the troubled companies for as little as 60 cents on the dollar. Mr. Anschutz bet more than $500M on Regal, United Artists and Edwards Cinemas, swapping debt for equity in the three struggling companies... Together they cut the number of theaters by 1,500 from 1999 to 2002, nearly a 20% decline, while increasing the average number of screens per site from 5 to 6... Regal's revenue for the second quarter ended June 26 increased to $648.1M, a 6.7% rise from the period a year earlier. Earnings, meanwhile, grew to $47.1M from $10.5M... distribution agreements with movie studios...represent about 55% of the theaters' costs... To that end, the company's new Cinemedia division has invested $70M to replace old-fashioned slide presentations displayed before films. New satellite-fed digital projection systems are now being installed in 5K Regal theaters... Miriam Fisch, a resident of nearby Evanston, became so incensed that she filed a class-action suit... 'Movie theaters dupe people into coming early so they can force ads on them and take advantage of their status as a captive audience.', said Mark Weinberg, a Chicago attorney who represents Ms. Fisch. 'They say the movie will start at 19:45, when in fact they start the commercials at 19:45. People expect previews, but this new phenomenon of showing commercials is neither accepted nor appreciated.'"
Stephen J. Dubner _NY Times_
Steven Levitt on the Probability That a Real-Estate Agent Is Cheating You (and Other Riddles of Modern Life)
"His particular gift is the ability to ask such questions. For instance: If drug dealers make so much money, why do they still live with their mothers? Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What really caused crime rates to plunge during the past decade? Do real-estate agents have their clients' best interests at heart? Why do black parents give their children names that may hurt their career prospects? Do school-teachers cheat to meet high-stakes testing standards? Is sumo wrestling corrupt? And how does a homeless man afford $50 headphones?... Young economists of every stripe are more inclined to work on real-world subjects and dip into bordering disciplines -- psychology, criminology, sociology, even neurology -- with the intent of rescuing their science from its slavish dependence upon mathematical models...
Levitt and his co-author, John Donohue of Stanford Law School, argued that as much as 50% of the huge drop in crime since the early 1990's can be traced to Roe v. Wade. Their thinking goes like this: the women most likely to seek an abortion -- poor, single, black or teenage mothers -- were the very women whose children, if born, have been shown most likely to become criminals. But since those children weren't born, crime began to decrease during the years they would have entered their criminal prime. In conversation, Levitt reduces the theory to a tidy syllogism: 'Unwantedness leads to high crime; abortion leads to less unwantedness; abortion leads to less crime.'... he and Donohue warned that their findings should not be seen 'as either an endorsement of abortion or a call for intervention by the state in the fertility decisions of women'. They suggested that crime might just as easily be curbed by 'providing better environments for those children at greatest risk for future crime'... He has little taste for politics and less for moralizing. He is genial, low-key and unflappable, confident but not cocky. He is a respected teacher and colleague; he is a sought-after collaborator who, because of the breadth of his curiosities, often works with scholars outside his field -- another rarity for an economist...
Then there is his coming 'Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990's: Four Factors That Explain the Decline and Seven That Do Not'. The entire drop in crime, Levitt says, was due to more police officers, more prisoners, the waning crack epidemic and Roe v. Wade...
Levitt set his own course. Other grad students stayed up all night working on problem sets, trying to make good grades. He stayed up researching and writing... His conclusion: campaign money has about one-tenth the impact as was commonly accepted...
Levitt was struck by how many children had drowned in swimming pools. They were the kinds of deaths that don't make the newspaper -- unlike, for instance, a child who dies while playing with a gun. Levitt was curious and went looking for numbers that would tell the story. He wrote up the results as an op-ed article for The Chicago Sun-Times. It featured the sort of plangent counter-intuition for which he has become famous: 'If you own a gun and have a swimming pool in the yard, the swimming pool is almost 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun is.'...
Like a stock-broker churning commissions or a bookie grabbing his vig, an agent was simply looking to make a deal, any deal. So he would push home owners to sell too fast and too cheap... The agents' homes stayed on the market about 10 days longer and sold for 2% more."
Jennifer Beauprez _Denver Post_
Drifting away: Once in high demand, technical workers in Colorado & across the nation are seeing their jobs sent over-seas, where labor is cheaper. Many fear such off-shoring will hurt the economy & national security.
"Denver-based Quark Inc., one of the nation's best-known software companies, has just built a brand-new facility that will employ 1K software and technology workers. The growth might appear encouraging to the state's ailing tech economy, but there's a key caveat: the center, and the jobs, are in Chandigarh, India. Quark is among a long line of tech companies now moving jobs or creating new ones in India, China, Vietnam and Singapore in search of cheaper and faster software development, manufacturing or tech support... 'This is part of why the economy is still sluggish.', said Mac Clouse, director of the Reiman School of Finance at the University of Denver. 'It's not the traditional economic model anymore.', he said. 'Businesses may be spending, but they're not spending their dollars here - it's not going to result in new jobs and increased economic activity.'... Two-thirds of the lay-offs in Colorado over the past few years came from telecommunications and technology firms. In June, 142K people were looking for work in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment... Within the next 18 months, 1 in 10 U.S. technology jobs will be moved off-shore, according to Gartner Inc., a research firm that follows technology trends... The automotive industry began hiring off-shore in the 1960s as did clothing, shoe and widget manufacturers a decade later. In 1970, manufacturing jobs made up 15% of the Colorado work-force. By 2000, they made up just 9.3%. And more recently, customer call centers started moving over-seas... Washington has had one of the top state unemployment rates in the past couple of years, reaching 7.7% in June... She said 73% of DU's new graduates are getting jobs because they bring with them additional expertise and they expect jobs with lower salaries and less responsibility."
Robert Weisman _Boston Globe_
Tech-as-commodity debate will be spring rage pg C2
"Nicholas G. Carr's article in the Harvard Business Review in May, titled 'IT Doesn't Matter', sparked a debate that has simmered through the summer on whether technology has become a commodity, like electricity, that no longer conveys a competitive advantage... Now Carr...is expanding his arguments in a book... In his article, Carr contended that the growth of information technology in the business world followed the pattern of earlier 'infra-structural' technologies such as railroads and electric power. Such technologies, when they appear, can bestow a competitive advantage on the companies that first embrace them. Once they become ubiquitous, however, they become 'commodity inputs', as Carr put it."
Joe Smydo _Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Press-Gazette_
Health fields fight cheating on tests
"On the heels of cheating scandals that threatened the licensing process in 3 health professions, test administrators are striking back with novel legal strategies, Internet police work and a willingness to bar suspected cheaters from the professions... The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy is claiming that the four, 2 from California and 2 from Florida, violated copyright laws. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy said it was preparing similar law-suits against 15 foreign-trained pharmacists it caught trading 200 exam questions last summer on 2 web sites -- one Indian, the other Korean. The association also has asked the FBI to investigate."
Richard B. Sanders _Washington State Supreme Court_/_Cato Institute_
Do State Constitutions and Courts Still Protect Liberty?
2003-08-04 07:01PDT (10:01EDT) (14:01GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US June factory orders gained 1.7%
"New orders for factory goods rose 1.7% in June, the Commerce Department said Monday. Economists had predicted orders to rise 1.5% in the month. Durable good orders rose a revised 2.6% after the department initially reported a 2.1% rise. This is the largest increase in durable goods orders since 2002 July. Non-defense capital good orders, a key component of the monthly report, rose 3.2%. Excluding transportation, new orders for factory goods rose 1.2%, the fifth increase in the last 7 months. Excluding defense, orders rose 2.2%, the fourth increase in the past 6 months."
John Markoff _NY Times_
Super-Computing's New Idea Is Old One
"After a period of neglect, the intellectual legacy of Seymour Cray, the father of the modern super-computer, is being revived... When Mr. Cray died after a car accident in 1996, the one-of-a-kind machines that embodied his computing philosophy had gone out of fashion, largely replaced by designs based on thousands of connected micro-processors that are inexpensive and mass produced. Mr. Cray's custom machines are known as vector super-computers and have special hardware that is intended to handle the long strings of numbers in complex scientific computing problems. The machines are highly regarded for a design that balanced computing speed and the ability to transfer data extremely rapidly within the computer while the calculation is taking place. This design philosophy is being revitalized by Burton J. Smith, a founder and the chief scientist of the Seattle-based Tera, which bought the original Cray Research in 2000... For the first 25 years of super-computing, Mr. Cray's machines held the title of 'fastest computer in the world'. But beginning in the late 1980's, the entire computing world became subject to what became known as the 'attack of the killer micro'. Instead of specialized hardware, along the lines of Mr. Cray's designs, these rival computers rely on micro-processors -- with hundreds, and then thousands, and then tens of thousands of micro-processors lashed together to make ever-faster super-computers. Known as 'massively parallel processors', or M.P.P. machines, these computers rapidly took over the super-computer market, gaining popularity in research and weapons laboratories. Looking back, the arrival of M.P.P. machines was a product of government policy. Up until the 1980's, the United States government viewed super-computing as part of its technological competition with the Soviet Union and Japan, heavily subsidizing research and development. But with the end of the cold war, federal support evaporated... According to a number of scientists, the real issue, outlined in a National Science Foundation committee report this year, is too little investment in advanced computing technologies. A similar report from the Defense Department and a report soon to be released by the National Academy of Science echo that theme. In hearings before the House Science Committee last month, super-computing experts put forward a case for a significant increase in federal spending on super-computing, citing their relevance to counter-terrorism projects and scientific research. This refocus is under-scored by super-computer experts who said that JASON, an elite group of scientists who perform studies for the Pentagon, is investigating short-comings in the military-financed Advanced Strategic Computing Initiative, which relies heavily on massively parallel computers...
Cray Inc., the name Tera took after purchasing Cray Research, last month reported strong revenue and profits for its second quarter of 2003. Revenue for the quarter was $61.8M compared with $38.6M for the same quarter last year. Net income was $7.9M, or 10 cents a share, up from $1.2M, or 2 cents a share, reported in the second quarter of 2002. The company's stock, which had been as low as $3.05 in the last 12 months, ended last week at $11.21. Cray's revival was helped last month when the company became one of three computer makers, along with I.B.M. and Sun Microsystems, chosen by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA] to develop prototypes of next generation of super-computers that can reach peak speeds of a petaflop -- quadrillion mathematical operations per second -- by the end of this decade. Cray had been in decline since the late 1980's. The company was purchased by SGI in 1996 for $740M, a move that some Cray designers have referred to as 'the occupation'. SGI put an end to the Cray vector super-computer line, but was forced to resurrect it several years later when the National Security Agency indicated a need for the traditional machines. The agency financed the development of a new class of super-computer called the X1, which the company introduced last year... Smith, a 63-year-old math expert...was a pioneer of the concept of multi-threading... Thomas Sterling...was the creator of a particular class of inexpensive massively parallel computers known as Beowulf clusters that can be assembled from off-the-shelf personal computers. [Not mentioned in the article is that Cray also pioneered the deployment of super-computers that had CPUs with multiple functional units, so that they could simultaneously be doing a floating point multiply, an integer subtraction, and a Boolean exclusive OR. It was kind of like having several sub-CPUs inside one CPU. Nor does he mention Thinking Machines Corp., which produced the Connection Machine, an MPP.]"
James Mathewson _Computer User_
King of the geeks
"Three things happened in 2000 that pulled the bottom out from under geekdom. First, Y2K issues were remediated. The lasting effects of this continue as a lot of executives feel they were swindled by their information architects. Right or wrong, many CFOs believe that we wasted a lot of money preparing for Y2K. Second, most of the machines that were upgraded in 1999 and 2000 for Y2K still maximize worker productivity, changing the typical life-cycle demand for new [micro-computers] from 2 years to 4 years. Third, the bursting of the dot-com bubble reduced the urgency on web development whether your company name had .com in it or not... The 3 of them together put the computer and Internet industries into a tail-spin... [Then] we had [the terrorist attack of] 2001/09/11. Then scandal hit the equity markets and panic set in... It is remarkable that our economy is as strong as it is considering all that has happened since March of 2000, when the Nasdaq crashed under the weight of the 3 trends mentioned above. Profits are up. Productivity is at an all-time high. The stock market is once again on the rise. It seems only one number accurately reflects how tough it is out there -- unemployment. At over 7% and climbing, our economy is thriving at the expense of middle-class workers. Productivity is a double-edged sword: When companies do so much more with so much less, jobs become scarce. The irony is, the very people who have helped companies improve employee productivity are needed even less than the employees themselves... I'm living proof that people who ignore their geek gene do so at their own peril. As soon as I acknowledged it, my career turned around... As editor at large, I look forward to the pendulum swinging back to the days when geeks ruled the world."
Robert Pear _NY Times_
NAS Panel Urges US Government Subsidy of Vaccinations
"More than 25 companies produced the recommended vaccines for the United States market 30 years ago, but only 5 remain, it said... The federal government spends $1G a year on the Vaccines for Children program and $300M to buy vaccines for state governments. The proposals would shift vaccine costs for children and high-risk adults [through health insurance companies to the federal government]... The cost of immunizing a child with the recommended doses of vaccine, at discounted government prices, has risen from $200 in 1997 to $435, and the cost to private purchasers is approaching $700."
Richad Froeschle _TASSCC Conference_
The Changing Face of the Texas Labor Market and IT (ppt)
Jyoti Thottam _Time_
Where the Good Jobs Are Going: Forget sweat-shops. US companies are now shifting high-wage work over-seas, especially to India.
2003-08-04 21:47PDT (2003-08-05 00:47EDT) (2003-08-05 04:47GMT)
Stephanie Armour & Michelle Kessler _USA Today_
USA's new money-saving export: White-collar jobs
"skilled white-collar workers [are facing] the same devastating job losses that decimated the manufacturing industry... These include high-paying, highly sought-after jobs that often require advanced degrees and years of study to attain. But instead of paying [5- or] 6-figure salaries to trained workers in America, more companies are shelling out $10K to $20K to get cheaper employees an ocean away... Employers say out-sourcing jobs to foreign countries makes them more competitive because they can reap enormous savings in labor costs. They argue that most of the jobs now going abroad are positions many Americans snub... High-tech workers have handed out leaflets and held demonstrations protesting the trend in states such as Texas, Washington, Massachusetts and New York. Critics are pushing for legislation that would halt projects from being sent abroad if they're funded by tax dollars. Others want tax incentives to help keep business on U.S. soil... At 123jump.com, a Miami Beach provider of investment advice, the company's 32 financial analysts live in India, Bulgaria and Argentina, earning $15K to $20K a year... in the manufacturing sector...has lost more than 2.6M jobs in the past 3 years... Workers who have never been in a U.S. office are handling such sensitive areas as pay-roll and benefits. Procter & Gamble handles pay-roll, travel, benefits administration, accounts payable, invoice processing and other work at offices in San Jose, Costa Rica; Manila; and Newcastle, United Kingdom. About 7K people work in these offices, which opened in 1999."
2003-08-05 07:01PDT (10:01EDT) (14:01GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Job cuts rise 43% in July
"Job reduction announcements rose 43% to 85,117 in July after falling to a 31-month low of 59,715 in June, according to the monthly tally by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based employment firm. Through the first 7 months of 2003, lay-offs are down 12% to 715,649 compared with 816,493 in 2002. In July, consumer products companies cut 15,665 jobs..."
2003-08-05 07:05PDT (10:05EDT) (14:05GMT)
Planned lay-offs surge in July
"The number of job cuts announced by U.S. employers surged 43% in July after a 2-month decline, suggesting a rebound in the job market may not happen until the end of the year, a report showed on Tuesday. Planned lay-offs at U.S. firms shot up to 85,117 in July from 59,715 in June, job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said. Job cuts so far in 2003 total 715,649, only 12% lower than in the same period last year. The report said job hunters can expect an average of 20 weeks to find a job that may not match their last salary..."
2003-08-05 07:49PDT (10:49EDT) (14:49GMT)
Planned lay-offs surged in July
"Planned lay-offs at U.S. firms shot up to 85,117 in July from 59,715 in June, job placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said. Job cuts so far in 2003 total 715,649, only 12% [below what they were] in the same period last year... John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger [said] 'Not only are they sharpening their pencils, but the screening of candidates is probably the toughest it has ever been.'..."
Steve Lohr _NY Times_
Linux Gets Security Clearance from US Government
"The program, called Common Criteria certification, posed a potential hurdle to the use of Linux in government data centers because such certification programs are costly and time-consuming... The certification expected to be announced today applies only to the SuSE Linux distribution of the operating system running on I.B.M. server computers. Analysts expect Red Hat, the leading American distributor of Linux, to gain certification for its Linux version soon."
The Long Reach of King Cotton
"And what could be more absurd than the sight of the world's richest nation -- a fiery preacher of free-trade and free-market values at that -- spending $3G or $4G a year in taxpayer money to grow cotton worth less than that and selling its mounting surpluses at an ever greater loss? But those American subsidies are killing the Burkinabe farmers... As in neighboring Mali and Benin, cotton has long been the sole bright spot in this country's ever-dismal economic prospects. White gold, they still call it, though now there's a hint of sarcasm to the expression. Subsidized American cotton farmers now dump so much product on the market that it has driven down world prices. So much so that it currently costs Burkina Faso's cotton industry, traditionally one of the lowest-cost producers, about a dime more than the prevailing global price to get a kilo of cotton to international markets... By cutting generous checks to 25K American cotton farmers whose average net worth is nearly $1M, Washington under-writes massive over-production."
2003-08-06 12:41PDT (15:41EDT) (19:41GMT)
Germans find school system is in trouble
"Once in college -- government funded and free of charge like lower schools -- students take an average of 7 years to earn a degree. And only 32% of them actually do so, well below the average of 48% for industrialized nations. Germany has relatively few private schools and they are expensive. Private universities are almost nonexistent... Despite more than 11% unemployment, Germany has to attract highly trained immigrant workers to fill an estimated 100K high-tech jobs. Education Minister Edelgard Bulmahn has visited U.S. universities to learn why they are so successful at attracting -- and keeping -- the world's brightest. According to her ministry, 14% of German doctoral grads leave for research posts at U.S. universities once they have their degrees."
2003-08-06 14:15PDT (17:15EDT) (21:15GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
SCO tries for upper hand in Linux: Sets terms for operating system license fees
"The latest shot came from SCO Group, which late Tuesday took the wraps off a plan to collect license fees from companies using Linux. From now until October 15, SCO intends to charge companies a fee of $699 to license the use of Linux on a single-processor computer, and also set a pay scale for multiple-processor devices. 'The license insures that customers can continue their use of binary deployments of Linux without violating SCO's intellectual property rights.', said Chris Sontag, vice president of SCO's licensing division, in a statement. SCO took a bigger step into the Linux fray in March when it sued IBM for $1G, claiming that Big Blue took parts of SCO's Unix operating-system code and used that code in IBM's version of Linux. SCO later sent letters to 1,500 companies warning that they might in violation of its technology copyrights."
Simon Romero & Janet Elder _NY Times_
Hispanics in US Report Optimism
"A new survey of the nation's Hispanics finds they are far more optimistic about life in the United States and their children's prospects than are non-Latinos, despite the fact that many are much poorer and many do not intend to gain the full benefits of citizenship. The New York Times/CBS News poll found that nearly 70% of foreign-born Hispanics say they identify more with the United States than with their country of origin. Still, many continue to send money to family members even though they rarely visit their home countries... 73% of [non-Hispanic blacks] said they had experienced discrimination, while 25% said they had not... 57% [of Hispanics] said they were immigrants. Just 39% said they were born in the United States... 'In Mexico one can study and study but there's no good work when you finish school.', said Sylvia Gonz·lez, 39, a custodian in Denver who moved to Colorado from the Mexican state of Morelos... Only 9% of Latinos said they thought immigrants coming to the United States took jobs away from American citizens, compared with 33% of non-Hispanics and 34% of non-Hispanic blacks. 82% of Hispanics said immigrants took jobs Americans did not want... Hispanics who were not born in the United States were even more optimistic than those who were born here."
People Leave California Faster Than Moving In: Californians move out of state faster than people from other states move in
"Though foreign immigrants kept California's population rising, more people left the state during the latter half of the 1990s than moved in from other states, the Census Bureau says... Only New York, which lost 874K more residents to other states than it took in, had a bigger net decline than California, which lost 755K. Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania also lost more than they gained... The longtime retirement destination of Florida had the biggest net increase of movers, with 607K more people coming in than leaving. Warm-weather states with fast-growing economies in the late 1990s rounded out the top 5: Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada... although the San Francisco Bay area's economy boomed during the late 1990s, Southern California's economy slumped... Overall, California drew about 1.4M residents from other states between 1995 and 2000 but lost 2.2M of its residents. Spurred by immigration, however, California's population still rose 14%, or 4.1M people, between 1990 and 2000 to nearly 33.9M. Its foreign-born population rose by more than one-third to almost 8.9M... Overall, of the 262M people 5 and older in 2000, 120M, or 45.9%, had moved in the previous 5 years. That's down slightly from the 46.7% of people in the 1990 census who reported having moved. Schachter said people in their 20s and early 30s are the most apt to move. Rates decline until retirement age..."
2003-08-06 17:06PDT (20:06EDT) (2003-08-07 00:06GMT)
Carolyn Pritchard _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for governor of CA
2003-08-07 07:38PDT (10:38EDT) (14:38GMT)
William Spain _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US execs up-beat on economy
"According to the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers Management Barometer released Thursday, 63% of senior executives at U.S. multi-national companies listed themselves as optimistic about prospects for the nation's economy in the next 12 months, up from 34% in the prior quarter. At the same time, 42% said they were optimistic about the world economy, up from 28% in the first 3 months of the year. Still, the corporate honchos 'remained cautious' in their 12-month forecasts for revenue growth, new investments and hiring, with many citing 'concerns about weak market demand and their company's profitability', New York-based PriceWaterhouseCoopers said. Indeed, only 26% said the economy was growing, with 54% considering it stagnant and 20% seeing in decline. The average 12-month revenue growth target came in at 7.1%, identical to the rate in the first quarter's survey... Executives from 41% of the 150 firms in the survey plan major new investments over the next 12 months, up from the first quarter's reading of 37%. And only 35% expect to add to employee rolls, a decline from 37%. And the job axe may swing even more often: 22% expect to do lay-offs, up from 19%."
2003-08-07 11:06PDT (14:06EDT) (18:06GMT)
Lisa M. Bowman _CNET_
AFL-CIO calls for reform on temp workers
"The AFL-CIO is calling on Congress to revamp its temporary-worker programs, saying workers are being abused and misused in the down economy, especially by companies in the tech sector... 'In the current recession -- unlike previous economic down-turns -- a growing number of well-educated and highly skilled U.S. professional and technical workers have found themselves in the long lines of the unemployed.', the AFL-CIO Executive Council wrote in the policy statement. 'For many, particularly workers in high tech, these policies have made a bad situation much worse.' The council urged Congress to limit the number of H-1B visas per company, restrict each worker to a 3-year, non-renewable term and implement a plan that requires companies to show that they've sought to employ U.S. workers but couldn't find them."
2003-08-07 08:57PDT (11:57EDT) (15:57GMT)
Steve Kerch _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Mortgages at highest rates in 52 weeks: US rates rise for 7 weeks, housing market out-look still good
"Mortgage rates moved up for the seventh straight week, with the bench-mark 30-year loan hitting a national average of 6.34% in the week ending August 8, Freddie Mac said Thursday. The hike boosted the 30-year loan from 6.14% the previous week, and left it more than a full percentage point above its modern-day low of 5.21% reached June 13. The rate is the highest since 2002 August 2, when the 30-year loan stood at 6.43%... The 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing choice, also increased sharply, reaching 5.66% from 5.44%. The 15-year loan thus stood at its highest since 2002 October, according to Freddie Mac. The one-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage, which had been holding fairly steady, also took off this week, moving up to 3.8% from 3.68% a week earlier. The ARM is at its highest point since April. All 3 loans required the payment of an average 0.7 points to achieve those rates. A point is 1% of the loan amount."
2003-08-07 10:10PDT (13:10EDT) (17:10GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims hit 6-month low: Productivity increased 5.7%
"Same-store sales were up a healthy 4.3% from a year-earlier, according to economists at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi... Real (inflation-adjusted) compensation rose 2.9% in the quarter, while unit labor costs (which represent the bulk of input costs) fell 2.1%... The average number of new [unemployment compensation insurance] claims over the past four weeks dropped to 397,250 a week, the first dip below 400K since February 22 and the lowest since February 15... The number of initial claims in the week ended August 2 fell by 3K, to 390K, the lowest since February 8... the average number of weekly continuing claims for state benefits over the 4 weeks ended July 26 fell by 22K to 3.63M, the lowest in 3 months. Continuing claims rose by 72K in the week ended July 26 to 3.69M. The figures don't include some 830K people receiving extended federal benefit checks, which become available once state benefits are exhausted, typically after 26 weeks."
2003-08-07 10:11PDT (13:11EDT) (17:11GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Good economic reports, no hiring: If the longest labor-market slump since WW2 doesn't end soon, the economy could stall
"Despite a recent wave of rosy reports on the U.S. economy and much optimism about the direction of growth, businesses still aren't hiring -- and some economists worry the labor-market slump, if it doesn't end soon, could nip the recovery in the bud... And business productivity grew at a whopping annual rate in the second quarter, which is good news and maybe bad news. It's good news in that it means businesses were able to get a lot more work out of fewer workers, cutting their costs and raising their profits. The hope is that, when demand picks up in the second half, all that extra cash will go to expanding their business and hiring new workers... But it's bad news if all this productivity simply means U.S. businesses have learned to run lean and mean, and won't need to hire a battalion of workers when the upturn comes. What's more, many of the workers they'll hire to perform business services, including information technology support and customer service, won't be in the United States. They'll be in places where labor and health-care costs are cheaper, such as India, [Red China] and the Philippines... But productivity surged throughout 2002 at the fastest pace since 1950, and no new jobs were created, the unemployment rate rose and nine million people are now looking for work. In fact, the economy has been growing steadily since the end of 2001, while pay-rolls still are under-water and have been for more than 2 years, the longest stretch since WW2."
2003-08-07 11:06PDT (14:06EDT) (18:06GMT)
Lisa M. Bowman _CNET_
AFL-CIO calls for reform on temp workers
"'In the current recession -- unlike previous economic down-turns -- a growing number of well-educated and highly skilled U.S. professional and technical workers have found themselves in the long lines of the unemployed.', the AFL-CIO Executive Council wrote in the policy statement. 'For many, particularly workers in high tech, these policies have made a bad situation much worse.' The council urged Congress to limit the number of H-1B visas per company, restrict each worker to a three-year, non-renewable term and implement a plan that requires companies to show that they've sought to employ U.S. workers but couldn't find them."
2003-08-07 11:39PDT (14:39EDT) (18:39GMT)
Justin Lahart _CNN_/_Money_
Watch that card-board!: Wacky economic indicators have their fans, but they have their short-comings too.
"Think the economy is doing better? The people that make corrugated boxes respectfully disagree... For 5 months in a row now, respondents to the Institute of Supply Management's survey on manufacturing have reported that corrugated cartons have fallen in price. Last week Smurfit-Stone Container said it would take 'substantial down-time' due to weak demand. The Fibre Box Association reports that, through June, shipments of corrugated products were down a full percent from 2002... Those corrugated box shipments, for instance, began slipping in the first half of 2000, offering an early sign that the economy was beginning to cool off... Fed Chairman Arthur Burns, who had the top spot at the Fed from 1970 until 1978, watched freight car loadings. Alan Greenspan is known to watch heavy melt steel scrap prices which, the theory goes, move up as soon as manufacturing activity picks up."
Arlen Specter _NY Times_
The Court of Last Resort
"The events of 2001/09/11, as well as the war in Iraq, require our government to intensify its efforts to combat terrorism. So it is more important than ever that we do our utmost to show the world that we will enforce human rights laws evenhandedly. Fortunately, the United States already has the tools to lead by example. The Alien Tort Claims Act, passed in 1789 by the first Congress, allows aliens -- that is, people who are not citizens of the United States -- to sue in federal court for a "violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." More than two centuries later, in 1992, the Torture Victim Protection Act became law. This law creates a right for victims -- even aliens -- of state-sponsored torture and summary execution in other countries to sue in federal court here. Despite this history, the Justice Department has decided to contest the application of these laws by federal courts to human rights violations. Protecting human rights through litigation, according to the administration, might disrupt relations with some of our allies. In a pending federal case involving slave labor in Burma, the Justice Department argued that this and similar lawsuits may complicate foreign policy by angering nations helping fight terrorism. In 1992, the Justice Department made a similar argument. Congress considered and rejected it, as did President George H.W. Bush. Both the president and Congress recognized that suits brought under these laws will not be successful against sitting governments and leaders who have [de facto] immunity. They will bear fruit only when used against former leaders and corporations that have violated fundamental human rights laws recognized since the trials of Nuremberg."
Amy Shafer _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Sprint Plans To Send Hundreds of Software Development Jobs Over-Seas
"Sprint Corp. said Thursday it is considering out-sourcing certain technology jobs and sending them over-seas -- a possibility that could lead to hundreds of lay-offs [more] at the telecommunications company. Sprint spokes-woman Melinda Tiemeyer said the Overland Park, KS-based company requested proposals from out-sourcing companies earlier this year and has since narrowed the list to 2 off-shore vendors. A final decision about working with a vendor and sending the jobs over-seas is expected within 60 days, Tiemeyer said. She declined to give details on the vendors. The company said hundreds of jobs could be affected, but lay-offs would not be immediate, because moving work to the out-sourcing companies could take 6 to 12 months. The type of jobs affected would depend on which vendor was chosen, but would likely be in application development, computer programing or writing code, Tiemeyer said... For almost 2 years, Sprint has been on a campaign to lower costs to compensate for soft sales. Since 2001 October, the company has eliminated more than 18K jobs."
"All of these systems are very easy-to-use from a customer stand-point, they are fast, and they lower the cost of doing business and should therefore lead to lower prices. All of that is good, so these automated systems will proliferate rapidly. The problem is that these systems will also eliminate jobs in massive numbers. In fact, we are about to see a seismic shift in the American work-force. As a nation, we have no way to understand or handle the level of unemployment that we will see in our economy over the next several decades... We are seeing the tip of the iceberg right now, because robotic replacement of human workers in every employment sector is about to accelerate rapidly. Combine that with a powerful trend pushing high-paying IT jobs to India. Combine it with the rapid loss of call-center jobs to India. When the first wave of robots and off-shore production cut in to the factory work-force in the 20th century, the slack was picked up by service sector jobs. Now we are about to see the combined loss of massive numbers of service-sector jobs, most of the remaining jobs in factories, and many white collar jobs, all at the same time. When a significant portion of the normal American population is permanently living in government welfare dormitories because of unemployment, what we will have is a third-world nation. These citizens will be imprisoned by unemployment in their own society. If you are an adult in America and you do not have a job, you are flat out of luck."
GAO Green-Lights Off-Shoring Study
"The General Accounting Office agreed on Tuesday to study the trend of U.S. companies exporting engineering and technical jobs over-seas to cheaper labor markets. Congressmen Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Adam Smith (D-WA) wrote a letter to the GAO Inspector General on July 17th requesting such a study."
View from the Job-Seeking Trenches
"We keep looking around at the labor supply and wondering how job seekers are being affected by current market conditions. The question across the recruiting and HR discussion boards is how the work-force is reacting to these conditions. We're also wondering why it's so difficult to find qualified, experienced people... Overall, the picture was not very promising. Things were either sluggish at each juncture or else an exercise in futility... So here's the picture. Lay-offs in all industries are high, so there's a glut of people looking for work. The other side of the picture is that employers are laying off in order to cut costs. That then means they are trying to deliver product to customers by using limited resources and stretching past their reasonable limits in order to do so. Day labor opportunities are no longer a quick fix solution for employment income in our present economy. In fact, unskilled labor opportunities are just as sparse as all of the others. Finding paid work is going to require a lot more creativity and work at sniffing out the fruit of the work cornu-copia... In the 1960s and 1970s, all one had to do was walk into these offices and complete the application form. Next was take -- and pass -- a battery of standard tests: a simple typing test along with one in spelling, filing and simple mathematics. An hour or so later, one could walk out armed with a time sheet. Many times, an assignment for the next day was among the registered temp's arsenal."
Jeffrey Gettleman _NY Times_ A Copy of the Bill of Rights Has ReSurfaced, but Who Owns It?
"They said it was theirs. They said it was stolen. They said more than once that they would never, ever pay to get it back. And now, 138 years after it vanished, North Carolina officials are poised to reclaim their treasured copy of the Bill of Rights, which had fallen into the hands of Connecticut Yankees. It is a long story, beginning in 1865 April, in the final throes of the Civil War, when a Union soldier lifted the sheep-skin document from the North Carolina StateHouse and marched home to Ohio with it on his back. The document, one of only 14 copies, then disappeared, surfacing on a handful of occasions, sometimes decades apart. In March, 2 Connecticut antique collectors tried to sell it to a museum at a carpet-bagger profit. That is when an F.B.I. agent, posing as a philanthropist, swooped in and snatched it. But who really owns the 27-by-31-inch sheet of history, thought to be worth as much as $30M?... Meanwhile, the document, complete with John Adams's signature and swirly letters 2 inches tall, remains under guard here, in a safe within a safe within a vault."
Dan Verton _ComputerWorld_/_PCWorld_
Postal Service Researches "Smarter" Mail: Security cited but some are ware of proposed tracking system
"A presidential commission charged with studying ways to make the U.S. Postal Service more efficient has recommended that the agency work with the Department of Homeland Security to develop sender identification technology for all U.S. mail... But civil-liberties groups and some private-sector technologists fear that requiring intelligent mail for all users of the Postal Service is overreacting to the threat of terrorism... Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the privacy watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation, says intelligent mail raises serious First Amendment issues... Tien also notes it's difficult to imagine how the privacy rights of ordinary citizens and whistle-blowers could be guaranteed if the use of intelligent mail were required by law."
2003-08-08 08:02PDT (11:02EDT) (15:02GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Survey shows tepid tech-spending plans: Net stocks pull back sharply from highs
"So much for the back-half-of-the-year pick-up. That may be the latest thinking drawn from a new survey of chief financial officers that indicates demand for technology is far lower than expectations earlier this year... The respondents expect IT spending to be up 3% to 4% this year, or roughly half the 7% growth projected in February. Reflecting a cautious stance into next year, the CFOs taking part in the survey project IT spending to rise by 3% for all of 2004. 'In absence of a weaker dollar, this could present a discrepancy as current bottom-up consensus estimates for systems, software, services, and storage companies call for 8% sales growth in 2004, and significant margin expansions.', wrote the analysts."
2003-08-08 13:31PDT (16:31EDT) (20:31GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow ends up, technology weakness trips Nasdaq
"Nasdaq logged losses for a sixth straight day as semiconductor shares weakened... The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at session highs, gaining 64.64 points, or 0.7%, to 9,191.09. The Nasdaq Composite shaved 8.15 points, or 0.5%, to 1,644.03 and the Nasdaq 100 Index of larger-capitalization stocks sagged 9.89 points, or 0.8%, to 1,207.28... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 0.4% to 977.59 while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks ended little changed. Equity funds continued to witness inflows... Equity funds that invest primarily in U.S. stocks saw a larger inflow of $1.5G in the latest week, up from an inflow of $1.2G in the previous week. Volume totaled 1.08G on the NYSE and 1.34G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers out-paced decliners by 20 to 12 on the NYSE while losers edged past winners by 16 to 15 on the Nasdaq."
2003-08-08 16:03PDT (19:03EDT) (23:03GMT)
Jeordan Legon _CNN_
When good software goes bad: Survey finds wide-spread dis-satisfaction with tech support
"Busy signals. Annoying on-line help menus. Technicians who didn't know what they're talking about. Of the estimated 8M computer users who seek technical support from software manufacturers every year, about a third never get the help they need, according to a survey in the latest issue of Consumer Reports magazine. The March survey of 10K computer users found wide-spread dis-satisfaction with the level of service offered by U.S. software manufacturers. Quality has been the victim as companies cut corners to cut costs... More and more, people are turning to tech-savvy friends, online message boards and paying independent computer service firms to get results... Malfunctioning software glitches have become harder to escape as billions of lines of code -- much of it, experts say, hastily written and poorly tested -- control cell phones, cars, stoves, cable boxes and personal computers. A 2002 study funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology estimated software errors cost the U.S. economy about $59.5G a year. And the brunt of the cost -- more than half -- is absorbed by users... With software prices dropping about 30% in the last 5 years, software firms are starting to charge for technical support. And those customers who call in are unwittingly helping developers to identify problems and then post downloadable fixes on the Internet... Software is riddled with errors because of its growing complexity, experts say, but also because much of the development costs -- as high as 80% by some estimates -- are spent on finding and fixing defects in millions of lines of code. But at the same time, many companies are slashing tech support staffs. U.S. Department of Labor statistics show software and hardware makers and other firms reduced support staffs by 5.6% last year -- about 30K workers. Some of those jobs went to over-seas phone support operations, but many companies also channeled more of their customers to on-line help menus... 73% of those surveyed by Consumer Reports said web solutions are hard to find, navigate or don't work at all. E-mail requests don't fare much better. 50% of survey respondents who sent tech support e-mails said replies took longer than 2 days, didn't help or were not answered."
Andrew C. Revkin _NY Times_
West Nile Virus Spreading Faster and Wider
"'The time for people to really be conscientious about taking the steps necessary to protect themselves from mosquito bites is right now.', Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference in Atlanta. In many places, Dr. Gerberding said, testing of trapped mosquitoes for the virus has just now started to pick up high infection rates... The big pulse of infections is yet to occur, she said, urging communities and individuals to use insect repellants containing DEET, remove standing water, repair screens and try to stop all other contact between people and mosquitoes. The goal, health officials said, is to avoid topping the record of 4,156 cases and 284 deaths in 40 states last year, the largest West Nile outbreak in the world. The virus generally causes relatively mild symptoms like fevers and headaches. But in 1 out of 150 cases, particularly in the elderly, West Nile can cause encephalitis, a potentially deadly swelling of the brain. It first appeared in the United States around Labor Day 1999 in and around New York City... The C.D.C.P. listed 153 human cases in 16 states through yesterday, including four deaths. Colorado officials have reported 3 additional deaths beyond the official national count. The federal statistics show 72 cases in Colorado, 29 in Texas and 15 in Louisiana, with a scattering in other states from Florida to North Dakota. This year, the Northeast and states west of the Rockies have reported no human illness... Municipalities would do well to use larvacides that prevent new generations of mosquitoes, he added, saying extensive spreading of a natural product, a bacterium that kills just mosquito larvae, had greatly reduced mosquito numbers around New York."
Paul Craig Roberts _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
Anderson Missed the Point
On the Roberts-Anderson Exchange
"for these results to be valid, there must, as I said, be 2 things: (1) free markets in producer goods (capital), and (2) sound money. Here, I think, is the problem with the current world trade order: neither of these 2 conditions is even remotely satisfied. [I would add a third: Free people...jgo]... [Executives] are moving operations to countries where (1) labor is cheap but hardly free, and in fact is often more slave-like and kept in check by oppressive local governments acting as accomplices with Big Business [Executives], and (2) political instability, if not outright warfare, is rampant and hence the need for these businesses to appeal to the U.S. military for periodic assistance and thus socialize their security costs. Thus the process can be continued indefinitely beyond the point where market forces would ordinarily bring a stop to it. It almost seems as if there is some sort of 'master plan' to bring the entire world, both West and non-West, into some global system of feudalism, with perhaps a pool of subliterate but technically skilled analysts (a phenomenon known to anyone who has attempted to read a software manual) for the design and maintenance of weaponry."
2003-08-09 00:56PDT (03:56EDT) (07:56GMT)
Myra P. Saefong _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Wild ride for natural gas (methane): US prices could shoot back up if weather is extreme
"Just 2 months after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan raised his concerns about an imbalance between the fuel's supply and demand, prices have dropped more than 20%. But as the 3% spike this week reflects, the market's just not sure what's in store for natural gas... Natural-gas inventories have been able to build from their record lows seen through the winter months because of mild summer temperatures throughout the eastern half of the nation, he said. The fuel's futures price traded above $6 per million British thermal units at the time of Greenspan's comments June 10, down from a February high above $9, and now it's around $5 per million BTUs... OT1H, low energy demand this summer has allowed U.S. inventories to replenish, as of August 1, by nearly 1.5T cubic feet since mid-April -- when the Energy Department logged its lowest storage ever in its measurements dating back to 1994. A year ago, the climb for the time period was around 1T. See the historical data. Domestic supplies stand at a 2.106T cubic feet. But natural-gas inventories are still 18% below the year-ago level."
Neela Banerjee _NY Times_
Fuel Prices Move Higher and Trend Is Expected To Persist
" The average retail price of regular gasoline is about $1.54 a gallon, about 2 cents higher than a week ago and 14 cents more than a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration, the analytical arm of the Energy Department. The main factor in higher gasoline prices is the price of crude oil, which reached $32.85 a barrel during trading in New York yesterday, its highest point since March 18, 2 days before the start of the war in Iraq. It closed at $32.18 a barrel, down 21 cents... In Venezuela, exports have begun to slip, further tightening global oil supplies. In July, Venezuela pumped 2.58M barrels a day, although its OPEC quota is 2.92M barrels a day, according to Platts, an oil industry news-letter... And in New York and Connecticut, Mr. Cook said, refiners will begin to add ethanol rather than the [carcinogenic] additive MTBE to gasoline to reduce emissions."
Rick Lazio _NY Times_
Some Trade Barriers Won't Fall
"The United States and an ever-increasing number of countries benefit greatly from the liberal trading order established after World War II. The focus of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the forerunner to today's W.T.O., was on reducing barriers in manufactured goods. This made sense, as the American economy and global trade were both powered primarily by manufacturing and agriculture. In the decades since, however, the dominance of American manufacturing and agriculture has been eclipsed by the service industries. Such exports -- from banking to travel and tourism -- typically make up 25% to 30% of our annual exports. They are also one of the few bright spots in our trade balance: the service sector ended last year with a $49G trade surplus, preventing America's $435G trade deficit from being even larger... As usual, the sticking point involves agricultural subsidies in rich countries that wreak misery on the developing world. Out of frustration over the way America and Europe protect their farmers, textile producers and others, developing countries like Brazil are refusing to further open their markets to service imports. In 2002, the 30 industrial nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development spent $311G on domestic agricultural subsidies, which is more than the combined gross domestic products of all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank calculated that the European Union's annual subsidy to dairy farmers comes out to $913 per cow; this dwarfs sub-Saharan Africa's per capita gross domestic product of $490. Likewise, America and Europe subsidize sugar production through a complex web of subsidies and tariffs that raise prices for consumers and force sugar-dependent businesses to move their factories to more competitive nations. Sugar farmers in South Africa alone lose $100M in annual exports to these subsidies."
Michael R. Gordon _NY Times_
Terror Group Seen as Back Inside Iraq
"The American-led administration in Iraq has received intelligence reports that hundreds of Islamic militants who fled Iraq during the war have returned and are planning to conduct major terrorist attacks. L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator in Iraq, said in an interview on Friday night that fighters from Ansar al-Islam, a militant organization that the United States tried to destroy during the war, had escaped to Iran and then slipped back across the border into Iraq. He said hundreds of the militants were now in Iraq, where they were preparing to attack the occupation forces or administration... Ansar has ties to Al Qaeda."
Matt Bai _NY Times_
Club for Growth
"[Arlen] Specter is running for a fifth term next year in Pennsylvania, but he now finds himself facing an unexpected, potentially serious primary challenge... from a... conservative congressman from industrial Allentown named Patrick Toomey, is being [supported] by the Club for Growth, whose 10K members... seem to be on a mission to banish taxes from the earth... even though Specter eventually voted for President Bush's $1.3T tax cut [spread out over 10 years], Moore could not forgive him for first voting to trim the president's original, bigger tax-cut proposal by $250G..."
Andres Martinez _NY Times_
Who Said AnyThing About Rice? Free Trade Is About Cars and PlayStations
"This equating of agriculture with land stewardship lies at the heart of Japanese and European reluctance to meet developing countries' demands that they lower their barriers to farm imports. Japan's exorbitant rice tariffs, hovering near 500%, are Exhibit A of such reluctance. Yet farmers like Mr. S worry about the incessant international pressure, combined with younger generations' lack of interest in agriculture... The Japanese word for rice, gohan, is also used as the generic term for any meal... Japan now uses a quota system to import less than 10% of all rice consumed, tariff-free. The rest runs up against that whopping 500% wall. If the tariffs were abolished or significantly reduced, Japan would find itself importing more than half the rice it consumes, according to Keijiro Otsuka, an economist at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo and a leading proponent of liberalization... Farmers in California, Australia and [Red China], where producer prices are one-tenth those in Japan, would be the biggest beneficiaries. They produce the short-grain, stickier Japonica rice that Japanese consumers prefer."
Gregg Fields _Miami Herald_
Running in place: Americans working even harder
"Productivity is rising in the United States, but only as a result of fewer Americans working harder. It's hard to find a silver lining in the American manufacturing sector. It has lost a few million jobs. It's losing its markets to foreign competitors such as [Red China]. And the prospects for a turn-around remain largely a matter of speculation... manufacturing productivity is soaring. Not because the industry is doing better, but because, in some ways, its workers are doing worse. In the second quarter, output fell at a 2.1% annual rate at factories. But the number of hours worked fell nearly 3 times faster, due to lay-offs and weak demand. On paper, that translates to productivity improving at a 4.2% rate in manufacturing. It was a similar story in the broad economy. U.S. productivity soared at a 5.7% rate in the second quarter. Half the story was the surprisingly strong economy, which expanded at a 3.4% clip in the second quarter. But the downside was rising unemployment and lay-offs. The number of hours worked actually shrank nationally at a 2.2% rate."
Ken Moritsugu _Miami Herald_/_Knight Ridder_
Jobless recovery lasting longer than economists expected
"Many economists predicted a jobless recovery, but few expected it to last so long. Twenty-one months after the official end of the recession in 2001 November, the number of jobs in the United States continues to decline... This has brought lost jobs to 2.7 million since early 2001, more than the 1.6 million in the last recession, in 1990-91, and approaching the 2.8 million lost in the 1981-82 recession... many U.S. companies are cutting costs by sending jobs over-seas and investing in technologies that enable them to produce more with fewer workers... With average wages of $14 an hour, higher productivity is necessary to compete with cheaper labor over-seas, Aaron said... 'The profession of technical writing will generally disappear in Silicon Valley and the USA.', predicted Andreas Ramos, the co-chair of the technical writers division of the National Writers Union, an AFL-CIO affiliate that represents free-lance writers... The up-shot is that some of the jobs that would have been created in the United States may now be created in India or the Philippines. Together with the productivity gains, that means the economy will have to grow more rapidly than it has in the past to create the same number of American jobs."
Francis X. Donnelly & Charles E. Ramirez _Detroit News_
Michigan loses as tech tobs slip over-seas: Trend hurts region's "Automation Alley" efforts
"After 2 decades of factory closings, Michigan turned to the technology industry as a possible economic savior in the 1990s... Low-level jobs in technology and other white-collar pursuits began following those in manufacturing over-seas. And now, for the first time, they're being joined by higher-paying professional positions... Work once performed by accountants, architects and computer chip designers is being transferred to professionals half a world away, businesses and workers said. The exodus of high-tech jobs is tied to globalization. As once-closed markets have opened up, competition has increased. So companies are seeking low-cost, low-wage locations to stay ahead of rivals... Tech workers in Michigan and around the country don't have to wonder what it's like to lose jobs over-seas, Courtney said. It's already happening in their industry. The number of computer jobs in the United States dropped 10% in the past 2 years, from 5.7M to 5.1M, according to the AeA [American Electronics Association a a group of lobbyists for tech industry executives], in Washington, DC... The movement of jobs off-shore is hurting U.S. technology workers even as the economy begins to improve. Michigan's unemployment rate reached 7.2% in June, the highest in a decade. The number of Michigan tech workers has dropped in the past 2 years from about 240,400 to 232,200, according to state figures... The first tech jobs shipped over-seas 2 decades ago involved programming... India is an inviting choice for U.S. companies, especially in the tech field. Many residents speak English and the nation has a strong educational system that turns out 1.5M college grads a year... None of the 9 state legislatures that considered bills banning the out-sourcing of work has passed them. Facing strong opposition from business lobbyists, most of the bills have been bottled up in committees... While Michigan was preoccupied by Silicon Valley as a model for its burgeoning tech hubs, its tech jobs went to India... Despite the loss of jobs, technology remains the future of the American work force, economists said."
2003-08-11 06:40PDT (09:40EDT) (13:40GMT)
Rachael Konrad _AP_/_CNN_
US tech workers training their replacements
Computer Programmers Face Ultimate Insult
"SK clung to his job at a large investment bank through several rounds of lay-offs last year. Friends marveled at the computer programmer's ability to dodge pink slips during the worst technology down-turn in a decade. But it was tough for SK, 36, to relish his final assignment: training a group of programmers from India who would replace him within a year. 'They called it knowledge acquisition.', the Wilmington, DE, resident said. 'We got paid our normal salaries to train people to do our jobs. The market was so bad we couldn't really do anything about it, so we taught our replacements.' Finally laid off in April, SK sent out 225 resumes before landing a temporary position without benefits at a smaller bank -- and swallowing a 20% pay cut... SK is among what appears to be a growing number of American technology workers training their foreign replacements -- a humiliating assignment many say they assume unwittingly or reluctantly, simply to stay on the job longer or secure a meager severance package. Their plight can be seen as an unintended consequence of the nation's non-immigrant visa program -- particularly the L-1 classification... It also lets companies continue paying workers their home country wage. Indian workers receive roughly one-sixth the hourly wage of the average American programmer, who makes about $60 per hour in wages and benefits... some labor experts say out-of-work programmers should stop complaining, and focus on their own re-training, just like the Rust Belt assembly line workers whose factory jobs migrated to Mexico and Asia in the 1980s. But unemployed tech workers contend that so many good jobs are going to places like Bombay, Bangalore and Beijing that honing their technical skills is futile... The State Department issued 28,098 L-1 visas from October to March, the first half of fiscal 2003. That's an increase of nearly 7% from the same period in 2002... Each L-1 lets a worker enter the United States multiple times over several years. There is no limit on the number of L-1 workers companies may import each year. Legislation introduced last month by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, seeks an annual limit of 35K L-1 workers nationwide... Intel provides L-1 workers a cost-of-living adjustment if they work at the Santa Clara, California, head-quarters or elsewhere in the United States. Intel pays for housing, cars, return trips to the workers' home countries and full medical benefits -- a package that ends up costing significantly more than hiring an American, she said."
2003-08-11 12:37PDT (15:37EDT) (19:37GMT)
Myra P. Saefong _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Natural gas prices close at 4-week high: Oil closes just above $32/barrel
"Meanwhile, crude prices closed just above $32 a barrel amid uncertainty over OPEC's next move on oil production and a higher demand growth estimate from the International Energy Agency. Natural gas for September delivery rose by 9.2 cents, or 1.8%, to close at $5.129 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract hasn't closed above $5.12 since July 14... The Energy Department's reported increase of 74G cubic feet in inventories for the week ended August 1 was below some market expectations, but it was still 23G cubic feet more than the 5-year average refill, said Tim Evans, a senior analyst at IFR Pegasus. Even if demand for natural gas climbs as the market expects from users switching back to the fuel from oil, this Thursday's inventory report will likely show a 70G to 75G cubic foot climb in stocks for the week ended August 8, said Evans. That's still 'comfortably' above the 51G average 5-year comparison, he said... Crude for September delivery fell by 17 cents to close at $32.01 per barrel. September unleaded gasoline fell by 1.45 cents to close at 94.05 cents a gallon. September heating oil closed at 83.54 cents a gallon, down 0.79 cent. Iraqi crude is expected to begin flow in to the oil terminal at Ceyhan, Turkey within 2 days or less, with a possible rate flow of around 300K to 400K barrels per day, according to IFR Pegasus' Evans, who cited news reports."
Matthew Benjamin & Joellen Perry _US News & World Report_
The New Job Reality: As businesses cut costs & boost productivity, the labor market shrinks
"[GW Bush] dispatched 3 of his disciples on a bus tour of the Midwest last week to preach the gospel of jobs and growth... The U.S. economy has lost nearly 1M jobs since the recovery began in 2001 November. That's in addition to the 1.6M jobs that vanished during the brief recession. Unemployment remains above 6%, and the economy continues to shed jobs... Slowing demand has forced the plant to lay off more than half its workers since 1999. Some 20% of its 900-person work-force is now provisional, up from zero in the 1990s... Economist Rob Scott of the Economic Policy Institute estimates that 3M jobs, most in manufacturing, have moved abroad since 1994. In Wisconsin, which relies heavily on manufacturing, nearly 70K such jobs have disappeared since 2001 January... Over the next 5 years, U.S. banks, insurers, and other financial services firms plan to ship more than 500K jobs abroad, according to consulting firm A.T. Kearney. The transfers will include financial analysis, research, and accounting positions. And tech researcher Gartner last week forecast that 1 out of 10 tech jobs could move overseas by the end of next year... From 2001 October through 2002 September, nearly 350K people nationwide applied for trade adjustment assistance -- government subsidies that help workers whose jobs have gone over-seas learn new skills -- about a third more than the previous year. The program's budget grew from $110M in 2002 to $220M this year."
Jonathan D. Glater _NY Times_
Lawyers Pressed to Give Up Ground on Client Secrets
"government regulators and prosecutors have taken a variety of steps that seek to limit what some lawyers say is a core principle of their profession: the ability to protect their clients' confidences. Many lawyers have reacted to the new restrictions by arguing that the lawyer-client privilege is not only a traditional tool in their arsenal but a critical one in the proper functioning of the legal system. But even the American Bar Association seems prepared to cede some ground on the issue. The association, which began its annual meeting late last week in San Francisco, will consider changes to its model code of conduct, which state judiciaries draw on in defining lawyers' responsibilities. The changes would recommend permitting lawyers greater discretion to disclose client confidences, although lawyers would not be required to do so, as the regulators are insisting."
Napoleon's BitterSweet Legacy
"In response to an English blockade 2 centuries ago, Napoleon pushed French farmers to replace imported cane sugar with beet sugar. And to this day, a passion for this home-grown, temperate root crop remains a cornerstone of the European Union's protectionist agricultural policy, much to the detriment of farmers in the developing world... It would be far cheaper to import the sweetener from tropical climates that Europeans once colonized precisely because they were rich in things like sugar cane. Poor countries where sugar is one of the few crops capable of bringing in money on the international market would be deliriously happy if that occurred... European Union mandates that farmers...get paid 50 euros per ton of harvested sugar beets, or 5 times the world market price, up to an allotted quota... United States' irrational protection of its cotton growers..."
Amy Schatz _Austin American Statesman_
Latest Austin export is jobs: Smaller tech companies join trend of moving work in design and support over-seas
"That companies as small as Pragma, which has just 15 employees, are also now looking to the Far East suggests how pervasive the practice is becoming... On Wednesday, off-shore out-sourcing is expected to be one of the hot topics of a day-long conference on out-sourcing trends at the University of Texas sponsored by Texas chapters of The Indus Entrepreneurs, known as TiE, a non-profit international tech group. The rise of out-sourcing in high tech also is opening the door for entrepreneurs in Austin who have experience in India to help smaller companies move jobs over-seas."
Neil MacFarquhar _NY Times_
Rising Tide of Islamic Militants See Iraq as Ultimate BattleField
"'Iraq is the nexus where many issues are coming together -- Islam versus democracy, the West versus the axis of evil, Arab nationalism versus some different types of political culture.', said Barham Saleh, the prime minister of this Kurdish-controlled part of northern Iraq. 'If the Americans succeed here, this will be a monumental blow to everything the terrorists stand for.' Recent intelligence suggests the militants are well organized. One returning group of fighters from the militant Ansar al-Islam organization captured in the Kurdish region 2 weeks ago consisted of five Iraqis, a Palestinian and a Tunisian. Among their possessions were five forged Italian passports for a different group of militants they were apparently supposed to join, said Dana Ahmed Majid, the director of general security for the region... Mullah Mustapha Kreikar, the founding spiritual leader of Ansar al-Islam, said in an interview on Sunday with LBC, the Lebanese satellite channel, that the fight in Iraq would be the culmination of all Muslim efforts since the Islamic caliphate collapsed in the early 20th century with the demise of the Ottoman Empire... Al Qaeda web sites carry long treatises on the need for jihad, or holy war, and argue that the effort should not be dissipated in meaningless activities like peaceful demonstrations... At least 1 Saudi and 1 Egyptian formerly linked to Al Qaeda helped establish an initial training camp 3 weeks ago where new recruits are lectured on the theological under-pinnings of jihad, a security official in Baghdad said."
David Moschella _Computer World_
Out-Sourcing Is Good
"In the 1980s, when many manufacturers were closing U.S. plants and exporting jobs over-seas, how did you feel? Did you ever think that, as painful as it all was, the resulting economic, cultural and personal upheaval simply wasn't your problem, that this was something that happened to other, older industries, and that it was really just the normal forces of capitalism at work? If you did, you were not alone... While off-shore IT projects are certainly not new, business interest in over-seas software development, call centers and other IT services is accelerating. Predictably, given today's depressed U.S. IT job market, shifting work abroad has become a controversial media issue... Aside from the aesthetics of the name, software development could just as easily be relabeled as software manufacturing, and increasingly it will be treated as such. The amount of software that the world needs is virtually limitless, and the idea that this production will remain the special preserve of highly paid U.S. workers is fundamentally silly. Multinational companies are supposed to adopt a country-neutral, global perspective. For these firms, lowering software development and customer support costs are perfectly reasonable business objectives... U.S. job losses, wage cuts and even national security risks..."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_/_IDG_
Unemployed Connecticut tech workers are behind several H-1B and L-1 visa reform bills in Congress
"The state has shed 46K jobs since mid-2000, out of an employment base of about 1.65M."
2003-08-11 20:05PDT (23:05EDT) (2003-08-12 03:05GMT)
Mariko Ando _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Japan's economic growth beats forecast
"Japan's economy expanded at a faster-than-expected 0.6% in the April-June quarter, marking the sixth straight quarterly increase. The gains were attributed to accelerated corporate capital investment amid optimism for global economic recovery. The rise in gross domestic product in the April-June quarter translates into an annual expansion of 2.3%, the Cabinet Office said in its preliminary report on Tuesday... Corporate capital spending, an important engine of private-sector expansion, grew 1.3% in the April-June period from the previous quarter... Japan's industrial output, released Friday, showed the country's machineryorders jumped 3.4% in April-June quarter, beating economists' forecastof 10.5% decline. Improving sentiment has been supporting the stock market as well. The Nikkei Average has gained 10.6% since the start of the year, and is up 26% since hitting a year-to-date low of 7,603 on April 28. The Nikkei jumped 1.1% to 9,589.46 by midday Tuesday. Meanwhile, the data showed that the nation's personal spending, which accounts for about 60% of the GDP, increased 0.3% in April-June quarter, supportedby brisk sales of television sets and digital cameras. Exports increased 1%, and imports dropped 1.1%."
2003-08-11 20:19PDT (23:19EDT) (2003-08-12 03:19GMT)
Stephanie Armour _USA Today_
Homelessness grows as more live check-to-check
"Homelessness in major cities is escalating as more laid-off workers already living pay-check-to-pay-check wind up on the streets or in shelters... Requests for emergency shelter assistance grew an average of 19% from 2001 to 2002, according to the 18 cities that reported an increase -- the steepest rise in a decade. The findings are from a 2003 survey of 25 cities by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Among the trends: Families with children are among the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The Conference of Mayors found that 41% of the homeless are families with children, up from 34% in 2000. The Urban Institute reports about 23% of the homeless are children. Cities and shelters are also seeing the shift. In New York, the number of homeless families jumped 40% from 1999 to 2002. In Boston, the number of homeless families increased 8.3% to 2,328 in 2002 compared with 2001. An estimated 3.5M people are likely to experience homelessness in a given year, the Urban Institute reports. People remained homeless for an average of 6 months, according to the Conference of Mayors survey -- a figure that increased from a year ago in all but 4 cities... A growing number of families are vulnerable to homelessness because of the dismal job climate. The unemployment rate reached 6.4% in June, the highest since April 1994 before edging back to 6.2% in July. Last month, there were nearly 2M unemployed workers who had been looking for a job for 27 weeks or longer, an increase of 276K since January, according to the Department of Labor. For the homeless, getting or keeping a job without a place to live is a challenge. About 20% of homeless are employed, according to the Conference of Mayors... The proportion of disposable personal income that Americans are putting into savings was about 8% in the 1970s but has tumbled to less than 4% today, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis... The median price for existing homes is projected to rise 6% in 2003 to $167,800, according to the National Association of Realtors... The median home price in the Los Angeles area for the first quarter of 2003 was $307,900. That's up 16.2% from the first quarter of 2002... Nearly 28M households -- 1 in 4 -- reported spending more than 30% of their income on housing, according to the Millennial Housing Commission... Median monthly gross rent in the nation climbed to $602 in 2000 from $481 a month in 1980, according to the U.S. Census Bureau... Last year, there were 1.5M bankruptcy filings by individuals -- the highest on record -- up from 289K non-business filings in 1980, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. Though about 20% of the homeless live in the suburbs, the rise in homelessness is mostly manifesting itself in major urban areas. In Boston, the number of homeless women increased by 10% in 2002 compared with 2001, according to a city census. In San Francisco, the city reports that the homeless population in 2002 was 8,640, an 18% rise over 2001. Lack of financial safety nets. The increase in homelessness and hunger is overwhelming some cities and shelters: An average of 30% of the requests for emergency shelter by homeless people -- and 38% of the requests by homeless families -- are estimated to have gone unmet in 2002, according to the Conference of Mayors. In 60% of cities, shelters may have to turn away homeless families because of a lack of resources."
Kenneth Chang _NY Times_
Degrees of Separation Are Likely More Than 6, Especially in E-Mail Age
"In the current issue of the journal Science, researchers at Columbia University report the first large-scale experiment that supports the notion of '6 degrees of separation', that a short chain of acquaintances can be found between almost any two people in the world. But the same study finds that trying to contact a distant stranger via acquaintances is likely to fail. The '6 degrees of separation' notion came from an experiment in 1967 by Dr. Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist, where a few hundred people tried to forward a letter to a particular person in Boston by sending it through people they knew personally. About a third of the letters reached their destination, after an average of 6 mailings... In this global study, more than 60k people tried to get in touch with one of 18 people in 13 countries. The targets included a professor at Cornell University, a veterinarian in the Norwegian army and a police officer in Australia. Despite the ease of sending e-mail, the failure rate turned out much higher than what Dr. Milgram had found, possibly because many of the recipients ignored the messages as drips in a daily deluge of spam. Of the 24,613 e-mail chains that were started, a mere 384, or fewer than 2%, reached their targets. The successful chains arrived quickly, requiring only four steps to get there. The rest foundered when someone in the middle did not forward the e-mail. As in most social networks, it is not just a question of who knows whom, but who is willing to help... Of the people who received an unsolicited e-mail message in the experiment, 37% sent it on, a relatively high participation rate... When the researchers asked people why they did not participate, less than 1% replied that they could not think of anyone to send the e-mail message to, suggesting that most simply did not want to be bothered... the 98% attrition rate 'would suggest we're really not connected', Dr. Watts said... Of the 384 successful chains, nearly half, 169, went to the Cornell professor... participants reported that they looked for someone who lived in the same geographical area as the target or who worked in the same field, not to someone who knew lots of people..."
Geoffrey Colvin _Fortune_
The US Is Falling Asleep on the Job
"CEOs are actually as worried about the trend as anybody, and they should be. The issue isn't just jobs but America's place in the global economy. The difference this time, as we keep reading, is that the out-flowing jobs are higher paying and have more intellectual content. That's a difference not just of degree but of kind. Until now [well, in previous phases], smart, educated people in the U.S. have thought up ways to create wealth and then paid others to do the labor, often in foreign countries... Our universities continued to produce the engineers, designers, and managers who fashioned the labor to be done. Their educations were the world's best, and these graduates remained pretty much ours because companies from the developing world couldn't out-bid U.S. firms to hire them, or at least not many of them. No more. Those developing countries, which obviously have always had people just as smart as ours, are now turning out people just as educated. They can design the work, too, and, because educational and living costs are a fraction of ours, companies in those countries can afford to hire those people. That is a profound change: Designing the work is the essence of business, management, competitiveness... The good news is that our system's agility and flexibility will help us out again. Our markets -- labor, product, and capital -- adjust to change more quickly than virtually any other country's, and that fact has been crucial to our prosperity. We move on from failure better than any other system, and that's critical too."
Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
complex suspect matrix
2003-08-13 06:28PDT (09:28EDT) (13:28GMT)
Christina Ling _Yahoo!_/_Reuters_
GWBush Gathers Team to Tout Tax Cut
"President Bush (news - web sites) will gather top advisers at his ranch Wednesday to talk up his efforts to boost the economy and try to come up with an election-year strategy to counter Democratic charges his policies are putting the country on the road to ruin. No major new initiatives are likely to be put forward beyond already enacted tax cuts, which Democrats desperate to win back the executive mansion in 2004 say do far more harm than good by driving the federal debt into the stratosphere... Bush still hopes to get provisions left out of this year's tax cut bill, such as $3K 're-employment accounts', passed by Congress, and contentious energy legislation law-makers will try to finalize when they reconvene in September."
2003-08-13 07:43PDT (10:43EDT) (14:43GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retail sales surge 1.4% in July
"U.S. consumers started the second half of the year with a bang, driving up retail sales in July by 1.4% on purchases of autos, gasoline, electronics and household goods, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Sales rose a hefty 0.9% in June, revised up from the 0.5% previously reported. May's sales were also revised higher. Auto sales were strong in July, rising 3.2%. Excluding autos, retail sales were up 0.8%. Excluding both autos and gas, sales rose 0.7%... In a separate release, the Labor Department said import prices rose 0.5% in July while export prices fell 0.1%. Retail sales were up 5.6% from July 2002 levels. The figures are not adjusted for price changes."
2003-08-13 14:12PDT (17:12EDT) (21:12GMT)
Jeanne Sahadi _CNN_/_Money_
Millionaires interrupted: They used to make a lot, now they do not
"10.9% of job-seeker accounts created so far this month were created by job-seekers with graduate degrees. That's up from 10.4% in July, 10% in June and 9.7% in May... They'd gone to great schools, worked for reputable companies, and done well along the way. They had good jobs with high or even spectacularly high salaries and expectations of being financially secure. But pink slips and a jobless recovery have diverted their careers and their expectations. And the diversion continues. Among the unemployed in July, about 16% had college degrees, up from 14.6% in 2002, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And among those college grads out of work, 25.5% were out of work 27 weeks or longer. That's up from 22.8% in 2002... In a survey of business-school graduates conducted in March by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, about 13% said they were not working, although they didn't specify the reasons why. In 2002 August, 12% said they didn't have a job... [She] used to bring home a 6-figure pay-check. She has an MBA from Kellogg School of Management, 12 years experience as a bond broker, and 3 years as a strategic risk management consultant for a major accounting firm. She's been out of work for 2 years and doesn't expect she'll be able to find another full-time or part-time consultant position anytime soon."
Paul Meller & David Barboza _NY Times_
Deal Reached on Subsidies for Farmers
"the United States and the European Union said today that they had agreed on a way to reduce the subsidies and import duties used to protect their farmers. Agriculture subsidies have been the chief obstacle in the current round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization. Delegates from the 146 member nations of the organization will meet next month in Canc˙n, Mexico, and the poorer nations have said that the trade talks would be doomed unless the developed nations cut back sharply on the subsidies... Developed countries, likewise, are looking to gain easier access to developing markets and especially China, the W.T.O.'s newest member. However, regions where farmers have grown dependent on subsidies, including the European Union and Japan, contend that these protective measures are needed to keep rural communities alive. Big farm groups in the United States were encouraged by the announcement, saying that agreements to reduce government subsidies and do away with trade barriers would eventually benefit American farmers... Protectionist measures used by the United States and the European Union amount to $15K to $20K per farmer each year, according to estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development."
Matthew L. Wald _NY Times_
Company Plans Electric Power "Valve" Employing Super-Conductors
"a company in Latham, NY, intends to announce on Thursday plans to turn the concept on its head by using super-conductors as valves on the electric-utility power grid, letting their temperature rise to choke off the flow of power. Aided by money from the Energy Department, the company, Intermagnetics General, will build a prototype device meant to protect the power grid against energy surges. When a surge pushes the amount of current above a certain level, resistance in the super-conducting material increases rapidly. As the electricity fights its way through, some energy turns into heat. That pushes the temperature above 77 Kelvin (about 320 degrees below zero Fahrenheit), which also reduces the flow of power. In addition, the device would incorporate a mechanism that generates a magnetic field. Such fields destroy the super-conducting nature of the materials. The device, called a matrix fault current limiter, reacts in less than one electrical cycle on the alternating current system, meaning in less than a 60th of a second... The project is expected to cost $12.2M, of which the Energy Department will contribute $6M, according to the company. Three Energy Department laboratories will also provide technical assistance. The Electric Power Research Institute, a utility consortium, is also contributing $600K to the project, which is supposed to be ready to operate at a scale for use by public utilities by 2006. The super-conducting material is a mixture of bismuth, strontium, calcium, copper and oxygen, and will take the form of solid tubes or rods. To handle the amount of current in a sub-station, the electricity is split so that it travels through several different, parallel rods."
Carol Kleiman _Chicago Tribune_
IT jobs not easy to find lately but there's still potential for growth
"Despite the present lull, 9 out of 10 top jobs for the next decade are in information technology."
2003-08-13 17:02PDT (20:02EDT) (2003-08-14 00:02GMT)
Tom Bemis _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Warren Buffet becomes economic advisor to California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger
"'I have known Arnold for years and know he'll be a great governor.', Buffett said in a statement. Schwarzenegger has given speeches thanking Buffett for his economic mentoring. There are pictures of them together a year ago striding up the lawn together at the country manor of the Rothschild banking family in England. And over the years Buffett has donated to candidates from both parties. But whether the nation's second richest man, as determined by Forbes magazine, can do anything to resolve California's $38G budget crisis is doubtful at best... California's legislature hasn't done anything to curb the spending spree it went on during the dot-com boom when taxes on stock options filled the state's coffers with undreamed of riches. Now that the bear market has put the tech high fliers through the wringer, and knocked tens of thousands of high-paid California workers out of their jobs, the state is facing a long-standing problem. But the state's government hasn't even begun to face that reality... In Buffett's statement, he said, 'It is critical to the rest of the nation that California's economic crisis be solved, and I think Arnold will get that job done.'"
2003-08-14 00:36PDT (03:36EDT) (07:36GMT)
Emily Church _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Germany can't shake depression: Europe's biggest economy in recession in first half
"Germany fell into a recession in the first half of the year, figures from the Federal Statistics Office on Thursday showed. The down-turn marked the second time in less than 2 years that Germany, Europe's largest economy, has seen [GDP] contract for 2 quarters in a row, fitting [one] technical description of a recession... Germany grapples with a slow-down in exports, weak domestic demand and the strong euro... The Dutch economy contracted 0.5% in the second quarter over the first, the Central Bureau of Statistics said. Data last week showed that Italy was also in a recession in the second quarter. The German GDP contracted 0.1% in the second quarter, with the statistics office citing a drop in exports as a reason for the drop in growth. The euro appreciated 16% against the dollar in the 12 months to the of June last year. Germany's economy was down 0.6% on the year, according to the preliminary estimate. German GDP contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter... The German cabinet on Wednesday approved a reform package that included $17.6G in tax cuts for next year to spark consumer spending. The package will have to pass through the legislature, where it's expected to encounter opposition... The euro was little changed on the report, rising 0.2% vs. the dollar to $1.1320 in mid-morning trade in Europe."
2003-08-14 05:31PDT (08:31EDT) (12:31GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US trade gap narrows as exports surge
"The U.S. trade deficit contracted by 4.7% to $39.5G from May's $41.5G as exports surged, the Commerce Department said. Exports rose 2.4% to $84.6G in June, the largest monthly increase since 2002 June. Imports remained flat at $124.2G. In June, U.S. producers sold more capital goods and consumer goods... the trade deficit for the first 6 months of the year totalled $244.3G, up 25% from the same period last year."
2003-08-14 06:15PDT (09:15EDT) (13:15GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Producer prices up 0.1% in July
"The producer price index rose a tame 0.1% in July, boosted by higher prices for gasoline and motor vehicles and held back by the first drop in food prices in nearly a year, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Excluding energy prices (which rose 0.3%), producer prices rose 0.2%. It's the biggest rise in core prices since March's 0.7% gain... Producer prices are up 3% in the past 12 months, mainly the result of the 14.4% rise in energy prices. Core prices are up just 0.2% in the past 12 months."
2003-08-14 07:29PDT (10:29EDT) (14:29GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims stay below 400K: Continuing claims rise slightly
"The 4-week average of weekly filings fell from 398,500 to 394,250, the lowest since February 15. It's the second straight week under 400K for the 4-week average. The average number of initial claims had been above 400K for 22 weeks in a row. The weekly number of new claims rose 2K to 398K in the week ending August 9... Meanwhile, the number of workers receiving state unemployment checks rose slightly to an average of 3.63M over the past 4 weeks. The figures do not include some 850K workers who are receiving federal benefits, which are available once state benefits are exhausted, typically after 6 months. Long-term joblessness plagues the economy. Nearly 2M workers have been out of work longer than 6 months. More than 9M Americans are counted as officially unemployed and 5M others are either discouraged [not employed and no longer actively seeking work, though they had been within the last 12 months] or under-employed."
_Pinnacor News Alert_/_PR NewsWire_
84% of Employees Say Telecommuting Option Is Important When Looking for a New Jobs, According to TrueCareers Survey
"80% believe that telecommuting would make them more productive in their current jobs. Of the more than 200 respondents, 47% say they currently telecommute. An additional 33% have considered working from home. Of the employees that do telecommute, 41% work from home at least 20 hours a week. When asked about the reasons for telecommuting, 24% of individuals say working at home allows for more time with their families while another 19% say telecommuting saves time and money on traditional commutes to work. 43% say telecommuting offers more flexible work hours... TrueCareers is the leading online job board for finding professional, degreed candidates quickly and easily. As a division of Sallie Mae..."
2003-08-14 16:39PDT (19:39EDT) (23:39GMT)
David Weidner, Julie Rannazzisi, Luisa Beltran & Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Wall Street says "We're open for business": Exchanges, back-office operations run on back-up power during black-out in the NE US
"Despite the havoc unleashed by a massive black-out throughout the Northeast, U.S. markets and other financial institutions say they're ready to resume trading as usual on Friday -- even if it means using backup power. Market officials and Wall Street's big banks reported few, if any, glitches in their trading rooms after the outage hit. Along with the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq, most trading firms quickly switched over to battery-generated power. Since the electricity was knocked out shortly after the 16:00 close of the markets, the black-out apparently didn't affect investors. 'No data from today's trading has been lost.', the NYSE said in a statement. 'In addition, SIAC (the exchange's data-processing arm) is operating at normal capacity on generator power. The NYSE is prepared to open on generator power.'... Nasdaq said its computer facility was operating on backup power. After-hours trading continued on the Island ECN and Archipelago networks... New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said power was slowly starting to come back from various facilities but said it would take hours, not minutes, to restore it. He said power went out as far west as Ohio and as far east as Connecticut."
Jamey Keaton _AP_/_Yahoo!_
In France About 3K Die in the Heat
"France's worst heat wave on record has killed an estimated 3K people across the nation, the Health Ministry said Thursday, as the government faced accusations that it failed to respond to a major health crisis. Deaths accelerated in the past week, with up to 180 people dying in one day in Paris -- all 'linked directly or indirectly' to the abnormally high temperatures that have smothered France and other parts of Europe, the ministry said. The August heat also has devastated live-stock and fanned wild-fires that have blackened tens of thousands of acres of territory."
Another Candidate for Number of the Beast
"ENUM (RFC 2916) is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) protocol that will assist in the convergence of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the IP network; it is the mapping of a telephone number from the PSTN to Internet services -- telephone number in, URL out. ENUM was developed as a solution to the question of how to find services on the Internet using only a telephone number, and how telephones, which have an input mechanism limited to twelve keys on a keypad, can be used to access Internet services. The word 'ENUM' refers to the IETF protocol that takes a complete, international telephone number and resolves it to a series of URLs using a Domain Name System (DNS)-based architecture."
Bill Virgin _Seattle Post Intelligencer_
A few simple ideas
Katie Hafner _NY Times_
All Quiet on Campus Save the Click of Keys
"For nearly 20 years, the 13K-odd students, faculty and staff members of Dartmouth have communicated by using Blitzmail... Sending a message does not require knowing the recipient's log-in name; the sender simply types in a name and the system can supply the moniker (for common names, it presents several choices). Blitzmail can be set so that messages pop up on the screen the way they do with instant messaging. New users take to the program immediately as they grasp that to live the Dartmouth life, constant use of Blitzmail is expected. Dartmouth designates one day each fall for distributing computers to freshmen who did not arrive with one... The system is students' primary means of contact with the faculty. If a class is canceled, a teacher conveys the message through Blitzmail, and it is the rare professor who does not encourage students to ask questions by Blitzmail... The bleat of cell phones, common on other campuses, is relatively rare at Dartmouth... Indeed, Dartmouth students blitz all day long, from wherever they are. The college's 10 servers dedicated to Blitzmail process more than 300K messages - an average of 23 per user - each day. Students can check for messages from a laptop (the campus has had a wireless network since 2001) or from a public computer. About 100 public terminals are situated in lobbies, the libraries, student lounges, the dining hall and even at a pizza joint and a local health club."
David Firestone, Richard Perez-Pena, Neela Bannerjee, Kenneth N. Gilpin, Carl Hulse, Christopher Marquis, Andrew Revkin & Matthew L. Wald _NY Times_
Power Failure Reveals a Creaky System Energy Experts Believe
"Most of New York City's and Long Island's power at peak times must be generated in the city and on the Island, because it is physically impossible to transmit that much power into the area along the existing lines... With only a limited number of high-voltage lines, a power failure can spread more quickly when generators try to send their power to areas that need it, over-loading the lines that remain. Generators are designed to switch off if their power cannot be transmitted, which is apparently what happened to dozens of turbines and nuclear plants around the northeast and upper Midwest today... A statement from New York State's power grid system shortly before midnight said that the event began somewhere west of the Ontario power system at 16:11, immediately taking out electric opwer in Ontario and parts of Michigan and Ohio. Black-outs in the northeast and New York followed quickly, as generators there tried and failed to send power westward to the affected areas... 'It is not believed that the disturbance initiated in New York State.', said the statement from the New York Independent System Operator, the consortium of power companies and state officials who manage the state grid... New York State officials later said the event may have begun with a power surge at the Perry nuclear power plant near Cleveland... By 20:30, power began to be restored to many areas in a ring around Manhattan, beginning with the southern Bronx and Westchester County and spreading to Queens, Brooklyn, and northern New Jersey. Mike Clendenin, a spokesman for Con Edison, said the restoration process was not an easy one. Plants shut down, or go on standby, more or less automatically in a situation like this, to avoid pumping excess power into the grid that has nowhere to go, he said. Then, when they come back on line, it isn't just a matter of flipping a switch. It can take hours to make sure equipment is O.K. The problem of preventing such power failures has been that, for the most part, no one has an incentive to invest billions of dollars in new wires, new towers and new transformers, which are often opposed by residential neighbors. The old utilities have sold off their power plants but still hold a highly regulated monopoly on the network of lines, and they would only invest in new transmission if state regulators would guarantee them rate increases to pay for it. That is the last thing the regulators, who 'deregulated' much of the industry in hopes of lowering rates, would be willing to do. The [non-]entrepreneurial power companies that have bought up power plants have decided against building new transmission lines that would compete with existing ones, possibly driving down transmission charges, and would, at most times, be nothing more than 'excess capacity'... The power plants feed electricity out into the wider grid of transmission wires, but they run their systems on power pulled back in from that grid. When there is a disruption in that incoming power, the plants automatically shut down their reactors and switch to diesel-fueled backup generators. The nuclear plants cannot be turned back on until the rest of the grid has power produced by other plants running on coal, gas or other fuels, said Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the regulatory commission in its headquarters in Rockville, MD."
Dean E. Murphy _NY Times_
Host of Candidates Makes California Election Interesting
"Mr. Schwarzenegger's campaign announced today that George P. Shultz, secretary of state in the Reagan administration, would serve as a chairman of an economic council advising him. 'I am grateful George has agreed to serve his state yet again.', Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a statement. In the week since Mr. Schwarzenegger officially entered the race, the state party has lost both its spokeswoman, Karen Hanretty, and one of its most visible consultants, Rob Stutzman, to the Schwarzenegger campaign... The ballot will have two parts: one that asks whether Mr. Davis should be removed from office, and another that asks voters to choose a successor from the 135 challengers should he lose... But at the same time, the state's Republican Congressional delegation has made no attempt to appear evenhanded. Half of its 20 members have already lined up behind Mr. Schwarzenegger, with none of the others so far endorsing any other Republican in the race. Representative David Dreier, a Los Angeles County Republican who heads the delegation and was the first to endorse Mr. Schwarzenegger, said he had spoken with Mr. Ueberroth, the former baseball commissioner, and Mr. Simon, who lost to Mr. Davis in the election for governor last year, to encourage them to join the Schwarzenegger juggernaut. Mr. Dreier said today that he also intended to ask Mr. McClintock, a state senator with a long Republican resume, to do the same. 'I am not arm-twisting', Mr. Dreier said in a telephone interview, 'but at the end of the day, I do hope that Bill Simon, Tom McClintock and Peter Ueberroth all rally around Arnold. We need someone who will be an amazingly successful, charismatic and exciting ambassador for California around the world. And that someone is Arnold.'"
Robert X. Cringely _National Socialist Television_
IT Productivity Doesn't Have To Be an Oxymoron, but Out-Sourcing Isn't the Way to Achieve It
"Now back to India, out-sourcing, and IT productivity. First, a trick question: Why aren't Apple Macintosh computers more popular in large main-stream organizations? Whatever the giga-hertz numbers say, Macintoshes are comparable in performance to Windows or Linux machines. Whatever the conventional wisdom or the MSFT marketing message, Macs aren't dramatically more expensive to buy and on a Total Cost of Ownership basis they are probably cheaper. Nobody would argue that Macs are harder to use. Clearly, they are easier to use, especially on a network. So what's the problem? Why do Macs seem to exist only in media outfits? Apple is clearly wondering the same thing because the company recently surveyed owners of their xServe 1U boxes asking what Apple could do to make them more attractive? For those who own xServes, they are darned attractive -- small, powerful, energy-efficient, easy to configure and manage, and offering dramatic savings for applications like streaming. Yet, Apple appears to be having a terrible time selling the things... Now, I think Macs threaten the livelihood of IT staffs. If you recommend purchasing a computer that requires only half the support of the machine it is replacing, aren't you putting your job in danger? Exactly. Ideally, the IT department ought to recommend the best computer for the job, but more often than not, they recommend the best computer for the IT department's job. Now another question: Why are Linux computers gaining in popularity with large organizations while Macs, which are based after all on BSD Unix, aren't? While there is certainly a lot to be said for Linux in competition with various flavors of Windows (Linux is faster, more memory-efficient, more secure, has more sources of supply, supports many more simultaneous users per box in a server environment, and is clearly cheaper to buy), the advantage over Macintosh computers is less clear. Again, it comes down to the IT Department Full Employment Act... the fact that more Macs don't make it into server racks has to be based on something, and I think that something is CIO self-interest. Macs reduce IT head count while Linux probably increases IT head count, simple as that... Since we can't effectively retrain IT, we out-source it, but that's no better. Costs may appear to go down, but overhead inevitably rises even when the real work is moving to India. Some people dispute my claim that moving work to India increases overhead. Well, overhead rises whenever layers are added to the network stack... Part of the myth of IT out-sourcing is that it saves money because you only pay for big brains when you need big brains, but that's not true, either. In the IBM example, you only get the brains if you're will to pay for consulting services. For every hour of brains, you will be charged 3 hours. The other 2 hours go to management and project management, which is to say they are wasted. I even have doubts about the quality of those brains, too, not just at IBM, but at virtually any of its competitors. That's because the financial model for out-sourcing doesn't pay to maintain education and certification. IBM cut most of that a couple years ago, and the rest of it went this year. In another year or two, most of IBM's MSCE's will have expired, for example. The ones that will remain will be those who paid for it out of their own pockets."
2003-08-14 18:08PDT (21:08EDT) (2003-08-15 01:08GMT)
Massive black-out strikes East Coast
"A massive power black-out struck the Northeastern region of the United States on Thursday afternoon, stranding workers, snarling traffic, grounding flights and creating havoc for millions of people... Canadian officials said lightning had struck a power plant 'in the Niagara region on the U.S. side', said Jim Munson, a spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, according to Associated Press. But Michehl Gent, the president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Council, told CNN 'It's virtually impossible that a lightning strike could be the cause of this.'. Gent said the outage spread very fast throughout the region. 'It happened in about nine seconds.', he said. In an earlier statement NERC said 'Preliminary indications are that the problems may have started in either Ohio or the Niagara Falls area.'. In Ohio, Perry nuclear plant went off-line, the council said. In addition 'Major transmission lines were out of service at the time of the disruption. It appears that 10 nuclear plants went off-line.' Bloomberg said problems on power grids in northern New York state had apparently cascaded, tripping circuit breakers throughout the region. According to early, unconfirmed media reports, the Niagara Mohawk grid had over-loaded... The last major power outage in New York City occurred on 1977 July 13. When it occurred, 26 years ago, there was widespread looting, as the city was in the grip of an economic down-turn. About 4K looting arrests were made, and damages from looting and fires were estimated at $300M. The Northeast region was also struck by a large-scale power outage in 1965. Widespread power outages also struck the western United States in the late 1990s."
2003-08-15 05:59PDT (08:59EDT) (12:59GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US retail-level inflation up 0.2% in July: Core CPI rate up 0.2%
"On a year-on-year basis, the CPI was up 2.1%, while the core rate was up 1.5%, matching the smallest year-over-year core inflation increase in 37 years. For the first 7 months of 2003, U.S. consumer prices have risen at a 2.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate. The core inflation rate is running at a 1.2% rate for the year. Energy prices rose 0.4% in July, on the heels of an increase of 0.8% in the prior month. Within the sector, fuel oil prices rose 0.2% last month and gasoline prices rose 1.2%. Off-setting those gains, electricity prices fell 0.4% and natural gas prices fell 0.6%. Food prices rose 0.1% last month month, after a 0.4% gain in June. Housing costs rose 0.2% in July, while hotel prices rose by 0.7%. July's transportation costs rose 0.2%, led by a 1.6% rise in airline fares. However, sluggish demand for new cars dragged down auto prices by 0.1%. Medical care prices rose 0.5% in July, the largest monthly increase since last November."
2003-08-15 09:20PDT (12:20EDT) (16:20GMT)
Frank Barnako _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Study: on-line job hunting is less effective than alternatives
"Hunting for a job on-line isn't as likely to be successful as picking up the phone the old-fashioned way and calling a company, according to a study to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association next week. So many people are using the web to post resumes and sending out e-mails that employers are becoming overwhelmed, concluded Christine Fountain, a doctoral student at the University of Washington. As the number of applications increases, 'the more employers need to rely on recommendations from people who know applicants', she said. Fountain compared 2 groups of job seekers from 1998 and 2000. She found that on-line applicants in the first group were more likely to have found a job 3 months after their search. In 2000, however, non-Internet applicants were most likely to have found employment."
2003-08-15 12:33PDT (15:33EDT) (19:33GMT)
Paul Erdman _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Oblstacles to recovery disappearing: Fiscal and monetary policy taking hold
"In the months ahead, the full effects of extremely accommodative monetary and fiscal policies should, finally, be reflected in consistently improving rates of economic growth. In recent times we have been forced to live in what, for most of us, was new and unknown territory -- a post-bubble economy."
_Times of India_
Amphenol CEO says "Mandate high indigenisation levels to boost local industry"
"Here's another reason to follow the [Red Chinese] practice of mandating a certain level of indigenisation of all products: it will boost domestic manufacture, while ensuring that domestic manufacturers are not left behind on the technology curve. It will also generate greater employment. 'An easy inflow of imports through lower customs duties will lead to a double loss for the country. Manufacturing activity will reduce, affecting employment, while domestic manufacturers will lose their skill sets. As a result, the gap will only widen.', said Robert John, director and chief executive officer, Amphenol Interconnect India. Amphenol India is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the $1.2G Amphenol Corporation, global leaders in connectors."
Shashi Tharoor _NY Times_
A Land Governed by Film Stars
"Arnold Schwarzenegger has farther to go than he thinks. He may become governor of California, but he can't become God. That privilege is reserved for the Indian movie-star-turned-politician N.T. Rama Rao, who played so many mythological heroes in so many hit films that fans built a temple to him. NTR, as he was popularly known, traded his divine celebrity for the dross of office by founding his own political party in 1980 and romping to victory in state elections. That made him chief minister, the equivalent of a governor, of Andhra Pradesh, a state which then had 50M people (California is home to a scant 34M). While the United States has Hollywood, India has a movie industry that may be lesser known worldwide, but is much bigger, producing more than 800 films a year in 19 languages and employing 2.5M people -- Hollywood averages about 200 theatrical releases annually. Film is the principal story-telling vehicle in India, a country that's still more than 40% illiterate, and the cheapest tickets cost no more than a quarter, ensuring action heroes mass adulation. In politics, too, Indian actors have out-stripped their American counter-parts -- running so frequently that questions like the ones about Mr. Schwarzenegger's lack of experience are rarely raised. On average, the actors have proved to be no worse than their nonthespian rivals, but like Mr. Schwarzenegger, they've all brought mass appeal to the ballot box. India's first major actor-politician was M.G. Ramachandran of Tamil Nadu, who was a symbol of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Party in the 1960s. A sort of Arnold without the muscles, he brawled and romanced his way into the hearts of millions in blockbuster after blockbuster (many of which happened to be written by a party official, M. Karunanidhi, and financed by party supporters). In 1967 the party rode into office on the votes of avid movie-goers, defeating the stately Congress party (which sought in vain to counter MGR's appeal by enlisting an aging romantic hero, Sivaji Ganesan)."
Jennifer Beauprez _Denver Post_
Seeking a fortune elsewhere: Boom in Red China, India lures emigrants home
"Many foreign nationals no longer view America as the land of opportunity. Economists, business people and other experts say growing numbers of immigrants are moving back to their home countries of Pakistan, India, [Red China], Singapore and VietNam -- countries with job and economic growth sometimes double or triple that of the United States. The U.S. government hasn't kept numbers on emigration for several decades. But economists and immigrants say the anecdotal evidence of the trend is real... And it most likely will feed a controversial trend by U.S. companies to create jobs or move existing jobs off-shore. The companies, facing competitive pressures, want cheaper and faster software development, manufacturing or customer service... [Red China] is experiencing the fastest economic growth of any country, expanding at 8% a year, according to CIA statistics. By comparison, the U.S. economy grew just 2.45% last year... India's economy ranks No. 2, growing 4.3% last year... many people who have spent enough time in America suffer from what she calls 're-entry shock' when they return home. In [Red China], houses typically are cramped. Corporations are bureaucratic, offering little room for advancement or personal initiative, Zhang said. And in India, simple things such as getting phone service can take a week, or standing in line for banking can take hours... Requests to receive H-1B temporary work visas fell 41% from 2001 October to 2002 June, according to Economy.com. And the number of those visas actually doled out dropped 53% to 60,500 over the same period."
2003-08-15 21:40PDT (2003-08-16 00:40EDT) (2003-08-16 04:40GMT)
Adam Geller _AP_/_USA Today_
White-collar lay-off casualties take what they can get
Downward mobility is a reality
"scores of workers who, unable to find jobs equal to well-paid white-collar positions they lost in lay-offs, are grasping at survival jobs offering considerably less. Since early 2001, the economy has shed about 2.7M jobs, stranding workers from the stricken information technology and telecommunications sectors and the broad ranks of middle management thinned by corporate cost-cutting... The shift is hinted at in figures tallied by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that about 4.7M people who want to work full-time have settled for part-time jobs because of economic conditions, nearly a 50% increase from 3 years ago. The willingness to settle reflects the difficulty of finding equivalent jobs. The time the average jobless worker remains unemployed has stretched to more than 19 weeks, up from about 12 weeks in early 2001. More than one in five jobless workers -- about 2M people ó have been out of work longer than half a year... sat next to an unemployed electrical engineer... had received 17 patents in his years at Lucent Technologies. But the man was focused only on getting out of the [job networking] meeting by noon so he could grab some sleep before rushing off to a third-shift job as a stocking clerk in a ware-house."
2003-08-16 14:03PDT (17:03EDT) (21:03GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end a shade higher
"A mere 624M shares exchanged hands on the NYSE and 699M traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market That's about 45% [below] Thursday's volumes... The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 11.13 points, or 0.1%, to 9,321.69. The biggest gainers were Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot and General Electric. The Nasdaq Composite added 1.67 points, or 0.1%, to 1,702.01 and the Nasdaq 100 Index gained 1.73 points, or 0.1%, to 1,253.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 0.16 point to 990.67 and the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks gained 0.1%. Advancers elbowed past decliners by 17 to 14 on the NYSE while winners roughly matched losers on the Nasdaq."
Amy Waldman _NY Times_
How India's Mother of Invention Built an Industry
"Unemployed, she followed a love of biology and a chance referral to an Irish bio-technology company. At 25, she started their Indian operation from her garage, successfully extracting from papaya an enzyme used to tenderize meat, among other things, and from the swim bladders of tropical fish a collagen that helps clear beer. It was the beginning of India's bio-technology industry. Twenty-five years later, Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw, 50, has become a symbol of sorts for that industry. Her now independent company, Biocon India Ltd., of which she is chair-woman and managing director, employs almost 900 people, making it among India's largest bio-technology companies. From this capital of the southern state of Karnataka, which is now home to 85 bio-technology companies, Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw is among those trying to shape a nation's approach to uncharted scientific and commercial terrain... Across India, states are racing to set up bio-tech parks, hoping to mimic the success of the information technology industry that defined India as a global knowledge power-house."
Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
Simon Romero _NY Times_
King Ranch Is Facing Texas-Tall Challenges
"kineÒo, as the residents and employees born on the legendary 825K-acre ranch call themselves... Richard King, a New York-born steam-boat pilot, recruited vaqueros, as cowboys are still called in South Texas, and their families from northern Mexico 150 years ago to form the backbone of what is now about a $300M-a-year business empire. KineÒos, in fact, translates as king's men... The King heirs branched out over time into race-horse breeding and oil and gas exploration and acquired large ranching interests over-seas... King Ranch Inc., the privately held company that controls the ranch, is run by a Harvard M.B.A. from outside the [King-] Kleberg clan who conducts business from a corporate suite in a Houston high-rise. And now the King Ranch is betting its future on areas that have nothing to do with cattle, from leasing land to quail hunters to lending the ranch's name to a line of luxurious Ford pick-up trucks... Some, like the Waggoner Ranch of North Texas, have been roiled by protracted family feuds. Others, like the Parker Ranch of Hawaii, with its own colorful cow-boys called paniolos, have been buffeted by falling beef prices... Already, the legal assault by descendants of Maj. William W. Chapman has frayed the King Ranch's iconic status by raising questions about its legitimacy. William Chapman, a veteran of the Mexican War, was a business partner of Richard King when the ranch was formed in the 1850s... Robert Justus Kleberg, the lawyer who took over the King Ranch after marrying Richard King's favorite daughter in the 1880s, may have swindled William Chapman's widow of half of a roughly 15K-acre holding at the ranch's core, known as the RincÛn de Santa Gertrudis, after an old Spanish land grant."
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
Factories Move Abroad Along with US Power
"the essence of a great world power is its edge in producing not services but manufactured products that other people want... To the extent this output passes to foreign manufacturers, or even to Americans operating abroad, we lose the means to buy what we, in turn, want from others. More than half of the manufactured goods that Americans buy are made abroad, up from 31% in 1987. If we continue on our path of ceasing to make merchandise that others want to buy from us, the danger is that these imports will be unaffordable for our descendants... The proportion of the work force employed in manufacturing has fallen to 11% from 30%in the mid-1960s. Two of the 19 percentage points disappeared in just the last 28 months... Given manufacturing's importance in maintaining our status as a world power, the downward trends are alarming. The public, never the less, focuses only occasionally on the dismantling. It does so when lots of people are suddenly hurt, as they were in the early 1980s, when an onslaught of high-quality foreign imports coincided with a severe recession. The combination forced plant closings and lay-offs on a scale not experienced since the Depression... Too many products are no longer manufactured here, they argue, and the skill to make them has disappeared. Resurrecting that skill is difficult. Dollar devaluation does not easily overcome that barrier. Nor does it easily woo back American companies that have invested huge sums in large, modern facilities abroad. Getting them to abandon those facilities and rebuild in the United States might require an outsized 60% devaluation of the dollar as an incentive, says Daniel Luria, an economist at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center in Plymouth."
Neil A. Lewis _NY Times_
Medical Establishment Hopes to Thwart Residents' Law-Suit
"The nation's medical establishment has grown increasingly anxious about an anti-trust suit contending that residents are forced to participate in a system that ensures they work long hours and receive low pay. Medical schools and teaching hospitals, the principal defendants, are so worried that in recent weeks they have asked their allies in the Senate to enact legislation that would derail the suit, inoculating them from damages that might otherwise run into the hundreds of millions of dollars... they are clearly troubled by the possibility the suit could upend the decades-old system of medical residents' selection and deployment around the country. The defendants have also hired lobbyists with previous connections to 2 senators who have been most directly involved in the effort to introduce such legislation: Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats. At issue is the National Resident Matching Program, known in medical circles as the Match. Every March, a computer determines where new graduates of medical schools will spend the next several years as residents, gaining experience and honing their skills. More than 80% of first-year residency positions are offered exclusively through the program, which is based on rankings submitted both by hospitals, which list the graduates they want, and the 15K or so graduates, who list the hospitals they prefer. Both sides agree in advance to accept the pairing. The suit contends that the Match keeps salaries artificially low -- the annual pay for residents is about $40K and varies only marginally regardless of region or speciality ó and crushes any competition that might force teaching hospitals to offer better conditions like shorter working hours. The industry's defense of that system has long been that a residency is not a job per se but instead a continuation of medical education in which the resident ought to be entirely immersed."
Carol Kleiman _Chicago Tribune_
Relocation still part of package for new hires
"In a tight job market, many out-of-state employers are reluctant to pay for relocation. But not always... Ted Pilch, president of Genesis Associates, an executive recruiting firm based in Atlanta. 'It is very rare for me to fill a technical position with a local candidate -- if they were available, the client would have found them before enlisting the help of a recruiter.'... Of the 2.7M jobs lost in the United States since 2001, 'many are gone forever', according to Alister Piggott, chair of the global executive search firm Morgan Howard, head-quartered in New York. Especially technology jobs such as programmers and tech-based customer service. Piggott, who specializes in the technology sector, put it this way: 'A lot of these jobs lost over the past year were simply shipped over-seas... and are being out-sourced to India, for instance, where tech support services are provided at a high quality and lower cost.' He observes that we're in 'the same economic cycle as the one we faced at the end of the Industrial Age when jobs went to Japan and other low-cost labor countries. Those jobs have not returned, and neither will these.'"
2003-08-18 13:49PDT (16:49EDT) (20:49GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end with healthy gains: Dow finishes at 14-month high
"Technology stocks were also on a roll amid rosy remarks from research firm Gartner, which said evidence points to stronger information technology spending in the second half of the year and to a turnaround for 2004. Only gold and utility shares came under pressure, with the latter smarting from last week's massive power outage in the Northeast. The Dow Jones Industrial Average piled on 90.76 points, or 1%, to 9,412.45... Gains in the bio-tech and chip sectors buttressed the Nasdaq Composite, which surged 37.48 points, or 2.2%, to 1,739.49 while the Nasdaq 100 Index bulked up 31.18 points, or 2.5%, to 1,284.81. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index jumped 0.9% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks rallied 1.9%. Volume came in at 1.11G on the NYSE and at 1.47G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers raced past decliners by 22 to 11 on the NYSE and by 21 to 10 on the Nasdaq... The University of Michigan's annual economic forecast revealed expectations for 'robust growth' in the second half of 2003 and throughout 2004. Economists at the University believe accomodative interest rate policy from the Federal Reserve, coupled with expansionary federal tax policy and a string of upbeat data on consumer sentiment, retail sales and initial jobless, suggest a recovery is under way. The University of Michigan expects gross domestic product to increase 4% in the second half of 2003 and 4.5% next year."
Chris Buckley _NY Times_
Helped by Technology, Piracy of DVDs Runs Rampant in Red China
"one of millions of Chinese consumers whose appetite for cheap pirated films, music and software is vast and mostly uninhibited... in recent years piracy has become even more rampant, aided by the spread of the Internet, and computer technology that allow technology-savvy boot-leggers to out-run the government's periodic crack-downs... The discs sell for $1 to $3 each, depending on the quality of the copying technology used... [Red China] has about 20M DVD players, and by the end of 2006 the number will grow to 42M, according to David Scott, an analyst with the magazine Screen Digest. [Red China] also has 74M of an earlier generation of disc players that use a less sophisticated form of encoding, a format called VCD. While some authorized copies of DVD's are available, the Motion Picture Association of America estimates that last year more than 90% of the DVD's sold in [Red China] were illegal copies. One reason for the ubiquity of pirated films (and music) is price. Typically, pirated discs sell for a fraction of the price of legitimate discs, while the range of choice among the boot-leg versions is much larger... Buyers of pirated products are almost never punished. The manufacturers and wholesalers of the products can face stringent prison sentences, although this is extremely rare. Small-time sellers can face fines of up to hundreds of dollars. But confiscation is the most common punishment... sub-titling [paid her] about $12 for a film, though more experienced translators received up to $30. Films can earn student translators a few dozen to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the subject matter and on whether they have a script to work from or must work solely from a video copy... Ms. Grutka of the Motion Picture Association estimated that last year film piracy in the Asia-Pacific region cost film-makers $640M in foregone sales, with [Red China] the top violator, accounting for $168M of that. (The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry recently estimated that more than 90% of all music CD's sold in [Red China] last year were pirated copies, costing the business $530M in sales.)... Shanwei in Guangdong province...recently was the scene of a ceremonial destruction of 26M film and music discs... Last year, [Red Chinese] authorities say, they seized 14M pirate VCD's and 6.1M illegal DVD discs."
David W. Chen _NY Times_
Red China Readies Super ID KKKard
"For almost 2 decades, [Red Chinese] citizens have been defined, judged and, in some cases, constrained by their all-purpose national identification card, a laminated document the size of a driver's license. But starting next year, they will face something new and breath-taking in scale: an electronic card that will store that vital information for all 960M eligible citizens on chips that the authorities anywhere can access... There has been little public discussion or news about the new cards. Brief but rapturous accounts in the official press say the cards will 'protect citizens'... The original identification card, introduced in 1985, contains such personal data as one's nationality and birth date and an 18-digit identification number. It also indicates a person's household registration, which has traditionally tied a person to his or her province of birth... 'If you want to live in the fast lane, you have to deal with technology, but you cannot have total freedom.', said Frank Xu, executive director of Smart Card Forum of [Red China], who is from Huzhou, one of the test cities... After China's 1989 crack-down on pro-democracy demonstrators, the government televised photographs and identification card numbers of student leaders being sought. Under the new system, tracking dissidents would be much easier, said Mr. Becquelin of the rights group in Hong Kong. [Don't you love the way they hedge around: 'They MAY POSSIBLY lead to abuse.', when the abuse is clear and present. 'It will be convenient.' 'It will protect you.' 'It's not much different from the abusive system we already have.']"
Red China: Local-only software for government: Ministries told to dump foreign software products
"A new policy from [Red China's] governing body states that all government ministries must buy only locally produced software at the next up-grade cycle. The State Council's move, aimed at breaking the dominance of MSFT on desk-top computers, will eliminate MSFT's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite from hundreds of thousands of [Red Chinese] government computers over the next few years... At a special congress held to encourage ministries to upgrade to WPS Office 2003, a [Red-]China-made office productivity suite, Gao said that the government will purchase only hardware preinstalled with domestic operating systems and applications... the new policy is meant to support the local software industry and protect the state's information security."
2003-08-19 05:44PDT (08:44EDT) (12:44GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US July housing starts up 1.5%: 1.872M units is highest level since 1986 April
"Compared to July of last year, housing starts rose 12.4%... Starts in the Northeast rose 19.0% to 194K units, the highest level of starts since 1990 February. Starts in the Midwest rose 5.7% to 372K units. Starts in the South, the country's largest region, rose 5.6% to 872K units, the highest level of starts since 1986 January. Off-setting those gains, starts in the West fell 13.9% to 434K units, the highest level since December of last year. Single family starts rose 1.9% in July to 1.521M units, the highest level of starts since 1978 November. Housing starts for multi-family units fell 1.8% to 319K units. Building permits fell 2.4% to 1.78M units in July."
2003-08-19 06:23PDT (09:23EDT) (13:23GMT)
Frank Barnako _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
"Senate to probe web piracy. The leader of a Senate subcommittee plans to consider whether criminal penalties should be the price of down-loading movie and music files over the Internet. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) said his staff will review documents provided by the recording industry before scheduling the hearing, according to the _Hollywood Reporter_... The Recording Industry Association of America also sent Coleman a letter detailing the criteria the trade group is using in pursuing suspected file swappers. Cary Sherman, MPAA president, said only 'egregious infringers', some of whom have thousands of copyrighted files available, are being targeted. MPAA irks Palestinians. An apparent warning to a new file-swapping network, based in Jenin on the West Bank in Palestine, has provoked a 'declaration of war' against the Motion Picture Association of America. Ras Kabir, president of Earth Station 5, said the Association's notice of copyright violations for the web site's streaming of first run motion pictures will not halt operations."
2003-08-19 11:20PDT (14:20EDT) (18:20GMT)
Sue Spielman _Java net_
Off-shore out-sourcing in my company? I do not think so.
"The gist of her pitch was to tell me how the company she works for reduces the costs of software development for many Fortune 500 companies. I politely asked her if her company was an off-shore IT out-source setup. 'Well yes.', she answered. That is all I needed to hear. I have some pretty strong opinions (as many of us do) on the whole 'out-sourcing' thing and started to tell her them. After all, she called me. I clearly indicated that I was definitely not interested in using their services, but she continued to ask me if I'd be interested in arranging another call so she could tell me what they could do for my company. What part of 'I've got perfectly good engineers and IT staff working for my company and I'm not interested in your services' didn't she understand? That's when I just flat out hung up. But is it really enough to just hang-up on these folks? I think not. I'm fortunate enough that I actually own my company so I don't have to deal with the political sewage that frequently seeps down in many companies. The entire situation in this country dealing with the out-sourcing of our high-tech industry boils my blood. I am a true believe that the legislation currently being proposed to lower the H-1B and L-1B visa quotas will not go far enough. I think these visas should be abolished until all of the unemployed and laid-off IT workers and engineers who are US citizens are back on a pay-roll. The fact that a US company thinks that hiring a barely-English-speaking worker in India or the Philippines is going to solve their competitive problems is just absurd... The PR on the Indian developers was that they were fully qualified and were less than half the price of some of the members of our engineering team. Sure sounded like a plan. Well in reality it was, and continues to be, a terrible idea. The 'fully qualified' engineering team was not even close to qualified. They not only completely screwed up the code base, but they cost us more work in the end to fix their mess. Then there was the 2-day turn around per incident because of the time differences between them and us. Every little thing was an e-mail, wait a day, another e-mail, and wait a day. Things that should have taken minutes to resolve took days. It was a complete fiasco. When the e-mails just ended being a waste of time, we had to schedule conference calls at all hours of the night, again to take the time differences in the locations into account... When you are asked to train the foreign worker to do your job or to support your product line because in 6-8 months they will be doing your job (or the job of a co-worker), simply refuse. And if you must, quit the job. No 2 weeks notice, just flat out quit... When you are about to buy a product, call the company and ask them if they outsource their IT and their customer support before you make the purchase. If they do, then simply don't buy the product. But make sure you write an e-mail or letter to the CEO or President and let them know flat out why you didn't buy the product. American companies will listen when their wallets are being squeezed."
2003-08-19 08:34PDT (11:34EDT) (15:34GMT)
Les Christie _CNN_/_Money_
Money-making college degrees: The biggest bang for your college buck(with table)
"If you're just entering college, leaving it and finding a nice job is likely pretty far from your mind. But cast your thoughts ahead a few years and look at your prospects: You've put in 4 years of hard work, now you're ready for that lucrative first job, right? Well, that depends just what your newly-minted degree is in. Technologically-minded grads, you can relax. [BS alert! They even note in the table the fall in tech compensation.] But humanities students may be out of luck... According to the latest figures from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the jobless recovery has hit computer-engineering majors especially hard; their average starting salary declined 7.6% during the past year to $51,720. Computer science majors (down 4.4% to $47,419), management information systems majors (down 4.2% to $40,915), and information services majors (down 6% to $39,787), joined in the declines. Grads holding their own included chemical engineers at $52,853 up 0.8%, economics and finance majors ($40,764, up 0.3%), and history majors ($32,108, up 2.9%)."
|Economics & Finance||$40,764|
2003-08-19 14:07PDT (17:07EDT) (21:07GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nasdaq ends at 16-month high: Dow at 14-month high
"Violence in the Middle East and a dip in the latest reading on consumer sentiment did not deter Wall Street's bulls, which cheered the best showing in housing starts in 17 years. But the turmoil sparked a rally in gold futures and took the Philadelphia Gold and Silver Index to highs not witnessed in six years. Treasurys soared following a bullish call from Morgan Stanley. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 16.45 points, or 0.2%, to 9,428.90. Six Dow components breached fresh 52-week highs on Tuesday: Alcoa, International Paper, Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and United Technologies. The Nasdaq Composite sprinted 21.62 points, or 1.2%, to 1,761.11 and the Nasdaq 100 Index climbed 14.88 points, or 1.2%, to 1,299.69... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 0.3% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks firmed 1.6%. Volume amounted to 1.29G on the NYSE and to 1.72G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Winners sprinted past losers by 21 to 11 on both the NYSE and the Nasdaq."
David Wells & Khozem Merchant _Financial Times_
US banks transfer financial analysts' work to India
"US investment banks are transferring work to India as they revamp equity research departments in response to the Wall Street analyst scandal and the bear market... Banks say the arrangement helps make expensive US-based analysts more productive, and India is ideal for out-sourcing because of its education levels and lack of language barriers... Real estate and employee benefit costs are also much cheaper in India."
Andrew Pollack _NY Times_
Cancer Pioneer Aims to Market Cancer Vaccine
"If a movie were made about Dr. Donald L. Morton, its plot would go like this: A coal miner's son grows up in West Virginia in a house without electricity and running water. He becomes a top cancer surgeon and helps develop a technique that spares countless patients arduous operations. He also develops melanoma, the deadly skin cancer he specializes in treating. He survives."
John Noble Wilford _NY Times_
Up Close To Mars
"[Earth and Mars] are about to move closer than they have been at any time in almost 60K years, back when Neanderthals still had Europe to themselves and anatomically modern Homo sapiens remained mostly in Africa... August 27 05:51 [EDT], the separation between Mars and Earth will be precisely 34,646,418 miles. That is proximity only by cosmic standards. Mars was about 5 times that distance from Earth only 6 months ago... Dr. Aldo Vitagliano, of the University of Naples, is credited with writing the computer program used for readily determining the orbits and distances of Mars and Earth. Dr. Jean Meeus, a Belgian scientist and author of a book on astronomical formulas, is thought to be the first to recognize that the last time the 2 planets came as close as this month was 59,619 years ago. The wait for the next time will not be so long -- only 284 years, and then Mars and Earth will cruise even closer."
Bankruptcy Filings Increase to a Record
"Bankruptcy filings by consumers soared to a record 1.61M in the year that ended on June 30, as unemployment touched a 9-year high, court records show. Filings increased 30% over 2000, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts said. The total of personal and business filings, 1.65M, is also a record for any 12-month period. Business appeals for relief from creditors dropped to 37,182, from 39,201 in 2002."
Warren Giles _Bloomberg_/_Minneapolis Star-Tribune_
US asks WTO to out-law European Union ban on gene-modified food
"The United States, Canada and Argentina on Monday called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to outlaw a European Union ban on genetically engineered foods that U.S. farmers say has cost them $1G in sales over 5 years. The world's three biggest growers of gene-altered crops asked the Geneva-based trade arbiter to order the E.U. to lift a road-block to approving modified seeds that a French-led group of 6 countries put up in 1998. The E.U. counters that it has removed the barrier... The E.U. says labeling legislation that it approved last month makes the case at the WTO irrelevant... More than 70% of Europeans say they won't eat genetically modified foods, even if they are cheaper, according to an E.U. survey."
Henry Newman _IT Management_
Winners & Losers: Hedging Your Bets
"While picking future technology winners and losers is no simple task, there are a few points that I believe are universal constants in our industry: 1. The 'haves' (big companies with deep pockets but not necessarily the best technology) tend to win over the 'have nots': a. They win when times are bad as companies become more risk adverse. b. They also win over a short time period, as they can price the 'have nots' out of the market (I live in an area where a single airline dominates the market, and they continually price the competition out of the market). 2. The 'haves' often buy 'have nots' when they (the 'haves') are far behind technologically. 3. Long-term R&D capital expenditure is critical to staying as one of the 'haves'. Over the short term a company can market around a mediocre product, whereas long term that just doesn't work. 4. Not understanding the market, customers, and/or the competition can quickly turn a 'have' into a 'have not'."
Carl Hulse _NY Times_
Tobacco Growers Consider Giving Up Price Supports
"Tobacco farmers and senators are pressing for a buy-out of tobacco quotas, which would end the federal program that determines who can grow tobacco and how much they sell."
Walter E. Williams _TownHall_
"A job is not a good or service; it can't be imported or exported. A job is an action, an act of doing a task. The next time a right- or left-wing politician or union leader talks about exporting jobs over-seas, maybe we should ask him whether he thinks Congress should enact a law mandating U.S. Customs Service seizure of shipping containers filled with American jobs. Let's turn to the next part of the exporting jobs nonsense, namely that corporations are driven solely by the prospect of low wages. Let's begin with a question: Is the bulk of U.S. corporation over-seas investment, and hence employment of foreigners, in high-wage countries, or is it in low-wage countries? The statistics for 1996 are: Out of total direct U.S. over-seas investment of $796G, nearly $400G was made in Europe (England received 18% of it), next was Canada ($91G), then Asia ($140G), Middle East ($9G) and Africa ($7.6G). Foreign employment by U.S. corporations exhibited a similar pattern, with most workers hired in high-wage countries such as England, Germany and the Netherlands. Far fewer workers were hired in low-wage countries such as Thailand, Colombia and Philippines, the exception being Mexico... Let's look at a few of the reasons why some U.S. corporations choose to carry their operations over-seas. Much of it can be summed up in a phrase: less predatory government and the absence of tort-lawyer extortion. While foreign governments can't be held guiltless of predation, their forms of predation might be cheaper to deal with than those of our EEOC, OSHA, EPA and IRS."
Bob Rosner, Allan Halcrow & Alan Levins _abc_
Fund Your Genii: Supporting Work-Place Back-to-Schoolers with Tuition Re-Imbursement
"Every year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation makes grants... paid in quarterly installments over 5 years, and they are given with no restrictions or requirements that the recipients report back. The grants are simply votes of confidence in gifted people... Tuition reimbursement is an investment in your best and brightest, those people ambitious enough to pursue an education even while working. As employees develop their skills, you can reap the rewards of those improved skills on the job. It's a win-win for everyone... miscellaneous fees, books and supplies can add up. Consider reimbursing all related costs (when receipts are provided) or offering a fixed amount to offset those costs. Be consistent in your support. Don't say that you support education and then make it all but impossible for an employee to pursue it."
Michael E. Kanell _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_
Georgia jumps to tops in new jobs
"In July, the state's [seasonally adjusted] employment grew by 18,700 jobs, bettering runner-up New York, with 14,900 new jobs, according to Victoria Dinkins, an Atlanta-based economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, over the past 12 months, Georgia placed second only to Florida in job creation. Florida's over-the-year figure was 85,400 and Georgia's was 38,700... The state's unemployment rate climbed to 5.4% last month... Georgia also lost 16,600 jobs in July, before the seasonal adjustment was calculated... The economy has shed 2.6M jobs since 2000. Even after the economy started expanding again, growth was too slow to create jobs faster than people were entering the labor force. The national work force grows roughly 1% a year."
2003-08-21 05:37PDT (08:37EDT) (12:37GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims below 400K: 17K drop to 386K is lowest since February 8
"The 4-week average of weekly filings fell from a revised 395,500 to 394,250, the lowest since February 15. It's the third straight week under 400K for the 4-week average. The average number of initial claims had been above 400 for 22 weeks in a row. The weekly number of new claims fell 17K to 386K in the week ending August 16, the lowest level of new claims since February 8... the number of workers receiving state un-employment checks rose slightly to an average of 3.65M over the past four weeks. That puts the insured unemployment rate at 2.9%, unchanged from the prior week. The figures do not include some 850K workers who are receiving federal benefits... Nearly 2M workers have been out of work longer than 6 months. More than 9M Americans are counted as officially unemployed and 5M others are either discouraged or under-employed."
2003-08-21 13:48PDT (16:48EDT) (20:48GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks close higher on jobs data: Nasdaq at 16-month high
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 26.17 points, or 0.3%, to 9,423.68. Seven of the blue-chip index's 30 members registered fresh 52-week highs in intraday trades: Alcoa, Caterpillar, DuPont, Intel, 3M, United Technologies and Wal-Mart. The Nasdaq Composite raced higher by 17.01 points, or 1%, to 1,777.55 and the Nasdaq 100 Index rallied 14.92 points, or 1.1%, to 1,314.65... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($SPX: news, chart, profile) headed 0.3% higher while the Russell 2000 Index ($RUT: news, chart, profile) of small-capitalization stocks swelled 1.1%... Volume came in at 1.38G on the NYSE and at 1.72G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers sprinted past decliners by 20 to 12 on the NYSE and by 21 to 11 on the Nasdaq."
Ron Scherer _Christian Science Monitor_
Relaxing can wait as retirees flood the job market
"'We've got to scrimp and save and work, work, work.', he says while stocking needles and threads in the sewing aisle. Mr. B is one of a record number of Americans - 21M - age 55 or older and in the work-force. Last month, nearly another 1M older Americans were searching for work... cautious employers turn to those they see as reliable as well as inexpensive... According to the Bureau of Economic Statistics, interest income has fallen about $26G in the past 2 years... This spring, the Gallup Organization found that retirement income is the biggest financial worry for Americans. The poll also found that 7 out of 10 Americans expect to work part time after they retire. Of the 1M active seniors looking for work, 20% are re-entrants... One reason many retirees have had to go back to work is because of poor financial planning, says John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based out-placement firm. 'Among workers 40 to 59, which includes the leading edge of the baby boomers, more than half - 53% - have saved less than $100K for retirement - a far cry from the $1M most financial planners say is the minimum needed to live comfortably in retirement.', says Mr. Challenger."
Katie Hafner _NY Times_
3 Women and 3 Paths, 10 Years After MIT
"A decade ago, women accounted for 15% of computer professionals. That number has risen only slightly, to 20%, according to the Institute for Women and Technology, a non-profit group based in Palo Alto, CA. And women in the computer industry are at a disadvantage in pay, earning an average of $55K to their male colleagues' $65K, according to the National Science Foundation. In academia, the picture is little different. Of the 61 M.I.T. students receiving Ph.D.s in computer science and electrical engineering in 1993, 10 were women. In 2003, 63 Ph.D.s were awarded; 10 went to women... all 3 have all kept a hand in the computer industry, though sometimes drifting from their original areas of expertise. Ms. S, now 38, was already moving away from the technical fray and toward management a decade ago; she has since pursued a succession of Internet start-up opportunities. Ms. W, 39, who had 2 children in 1993 and now has 4, was already voicing concerns about the tug she felt between work and family; she has found a more balanced life through work in a legal office. And Dr. S, 35, who wrote an under-graduate paper titled 'Why Are There So Few Women in Computer Science?', has since produced many more: she is now a tenured professor of computer science."
David Abel _Boston Globe_
The invisible jobless: Unemployment rate does not include the "discouraged"
"Even as the economy shows signs of new life, the number of discouraged workers has nearly doubled to 500K since 2000 -- helping to account for a drop in the nation's unemployment rate in July. If the government had added Lupaczyk and other discouraged workers to the total, the unemployment rate would have risen to 6.5%, instead of fallen to 6.2%... Still, with steady unemployment checks and a few months' worth of severance pay, he had a cushion, and he kept at it -- up early every day and at his desk, often for 10 hours straight, he would scroll through web sites, posting queries on some and finding names on others. In a typical day, he said, he would send out 10 resumes and make 10 calls. But the months went by and nothing happened... Of about 150K jobs cut in Massachusetts since the start of 2001, nearly half were technology-related positions...according to the state Division of Employment and Training. In the same time, twice as many state residents -- now about 85K people -- have resorted to 'involuntarily part-time' work... Between 2000 and 2002, the average number of weeks the state's jobless spent collecting unemployment benefits nearly doubled to 18 weeks, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies. And last year, 31K more people left Massachusetts than moved here, the highest level since the recession of the early 1990s... Others are worse off... 'marginally attached' workers, last month included 3 times as many people, or nearly 1.6M potential workers who haven't given up looking for work but cite reasons ranging from a lack of child care to transportation problems for their lack of success in landing a job. And among the 8K discouraged workers in Massachusetts..."
Margaret Steen _San Jose Mercury News_
San Jose Exploring Ways to Foster Growth
"With Silicon Valley struggling through the third year of a brutal down-turn, local leaders are looking for ways to encourage job growth. Today, the San Jose City Council and Mayor Ron Gonzales begin a week-long forum with representatives from business, labor and community groups on how to bring jobs back to the area."
Caille Millner _San Jose Mercury News_
San Jose forum hears tough talk on jobs
"Middle-income technology jobs are vanishing from Silicon Valley... The city's [San Jose's] unemployment rate of 9.9% is higher than that of any major metropolitan area in the nation. According to San Jose's Office of Economic Development, tech jobs paying $40K to $80K will be a 'vanishing breed' in the next 5 years, leaving just high-end engineering and leadership positions along with low-level service jobs. As mid-level tech jobs move off-shore to Asian nations where wages and the cost of living are much lower, San Jose must find a way to compensate for its relatively high costs to businesses... Considering the harsh business climate that's crippled the tech industry around the region and around the world, there is little the city alone can do about most of the issues troubling employers. Some of the highest costs of doing business in Silicon Valley -- such as sky-rocketing premiums for workers compensation insurance -- are state matters. And certain quality-of-life issues, such as the educational system, are in the hands of the county."
Francine Knowles _Chicago Sun-Times_/_Job Bank USA_
Lay-offs more common in last 4 months of year
"Research by Chicago-based out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. finds that employees are more likely to lose a job in the final 4 months of the year than the previous 8... From 1995 to 2002, job cuts announced during the last 4 months out-numbered summer job cuts by 36% , according to a survey by the company. Nearly 2.6M job cuts were announced between 1995 September and 2002 December. That was roughly 700K more than the nearly 1.9M announced between 1995 May and 2002 August, the firm said. Job cuts from 1995 September through 1995 December to 2002 were also 15% higher than the 2.3M job cuts announced between January and April of those years."
2003-08-21 20:22PDT (23:22EDT) (2003-08-22 04:22GMT)
Walter C. Jones _Athens Georgia Banner-Herald_/_Morris News Service_
Jobs created aren't as good as those lost
"Georgia may lead the rest of the country in the number of jobs created in a month, but they're not as good as the jobs Georgians are losing, said a noted economic forecaster Thursday. The good news is an 'optical illusion', said Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University in Atlanta... the average weekly wage for the fastest-growing category of jobs is $479, well below the average factory pay and less than half of what computer-industry employees make. Factory and computer jobs are still disappearing across the state in the face of growth in the category of 'other services', which includes jobs like pet care, temporary parking and dry cleaning. Many people in 'other services' typically had better-paying jobs but are launching their own small businesses at a significant cut in their own pay-check, Dhawan said."
2003-08-22 14:03PDT (17:03EDT) (21:03GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_ US stocks close with losses
"On a weekly basis, the Dow and S&P 500 both rose 0.3% while the Nasdaq advanced 3.7%... The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 74.81 points, or 0.8%, to 9,348.87 after rising up to 76 points early on. Seven of the index's 30 members reached new 52-week highs in morning trades. The Nasdaq Composite pulled back by 12.23 points, or 0.7%, to 1,765.32 after climbing up to 35 points intra-day. The Nasdaq 100 Index of larger-capitalization stocks fell 10.11 points, or 0.8%, to 1,304.54. The Dow reached a new 14-month high early in the session while the Nasdaq hit a 16-month high and the Russell 2000 jumped to a 15-month peak before pulling back. The S&P 500, which rose to a 5-week high, was the only major index that failed to break yearly highs. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 1% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks shaved 1.9%... Volume totaled 1.30G on the NYSE and 1.69G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Losers took out winners by 22 to 10 on the NYSE and by 21 to 11 on the Nasdaq."
Bob Rosner _abc_
Free to be Fired: 4th in a 4-part series about work-place laws
"Our series on the most important workplace laws concludes with a legal doctrine that was first established by a 19th century law-suit. Believe it or not, this precedent, the 'at will' doctrine, still largely defines the relationship between employers and employees into the 21st century... It all began with a 1894 court case, Payne vs. Western Atlantic Railroad. The court ruled that employers can hire and fire as they choose. They also held that even if the reason you were dismissed was morally wrong, no legal wrong has occurred and the government has no reason to intervene... In addition to state laws like Montana's, union contracts, written promises, implied promises from an employee handbook or a breach of the 'good faith and fair dealing' requirement can all be exceptions to the at will doctrine. There is another exception called a public policy exception. For example, if an employee is fired to discourage him or her from complaining about illegal conduct or a wrong that an employer committed, such as failing to pay workers a minimum wage or over-time pay when it was required."
Daniel Read _Developer Dot Star_
An Interview with Paul Hanrahan of the Programmer's Guild
"Currently the programming profession in the United States is in deep trouble because of
1) Importation of labor meant to drive down the wage;
2) Legislative efforts to govern how much programmers can make and where they can and can't work;
3) Unfair performance improvement practices by H.R. departments in large corporations that discredit competent programmers;
4) Lack of standards and certification which leads to poor product and tarnishes our profession; and
5) Powerful anti-American-worker lobbying efforts by India's lobbying organizations and groups like the ITAA...
I think the 'permanent' employee concept is a thing of the past, yet corporations pretend that concept still exists in I.T. To the best of my ability to determine the average time in service for a person in I.T. is 2 years or less, yet when I started at IBM in 1979 anyone who had any status as a programmer had a minimum of 10 years with the company. Despite the shift in the meaning of 'permanent', the mechanisms for treating employees like they have a long term commitment to a company and visa versa, are still in place in terms of performance improvement plans (PIPs) and evaluation processes that happen only once a year, or perhaps at a 6 month interval if you are new. The PIP in today's world is nothing more than an H.R. contrivance to allow corporations to terminate employees with cause and have signed documents on file that state the employee admits to incompetence.
This entire thing started with a the down-sizing craze of the 1980s and 1990s. The down-sizing craze can be traced back to business philosophies and trends preached and analyzed in our more prestigious MBA schools here in the United States."
Tom de Weese _News with Views_
Total surveillance equals total tyranny
Joanne Cleaver _Chicago Tribune_
The not-so-temporary worker: Contract workers used to be here today, gone tomorrow, but as companies abuse more of these workers for longer, career employees and "perma-temps" must learn to work side by side.
"One emerging characteristic of the 'jobless recovery' is how companies are [ab]using contract labor. Instead of scrambling to hire temps to cover spikes in work, companies are using contract workers in a planned, deliberate way to contain the costs of staffing permanent hires... Until the last 2 recessions, temp workers were last-hired, first-fired. That's not the case in the just-finished recession, says Stacey Schreft, vice president and economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, MO... Companies are using contract workers to hedge their bets. When orders start to pick up, they call in the temp cavalry to get through the spike. If the spike becomes permanent, they will start -- slowly -- to hire permanent workers. If the spike starts to fade, the contract workers are 'cut loose', Schreft said. A June survey released by [body shop] Manpower Inc. on corporate hiring intentions under-scores her point. Despite encouraging economic signals, companies still are reluctant to start adding permanent staff in the third quarter, Manpower found in its Employment Outlook Survey. Only 20% of employers said they planned to increase hiring, while 9% expected to reduce hiring. The majority -- 65% -- predicted that they would make no changes in their hiring intentions. Meanwhile, temporary hiring continues to rise. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics, employment by temporary help increased for the third consecutive month, adding 42K jobs in July."
Out-Sourcing Jobs: Is It Bad?: An accelerating pace is raising concerns over its effects. Two _Business Week_ economists debate whether that's good or bad
"hardly a week goes by without another report of a batch of high-paying, white-collar jobs getting exported to far cheaper locales such as India, [Red China], or the Philippines... But a structural change is also afoot that could result in a worsening job picture 10 or 15 years down the road. Overall, the global economy will do much better, but the U.S. work-force may face frequent career changes and downward pressures on wages through every part of the economy subject to competition from foreign labor... Instead, more attention should be paid to educating the U.S. work-force. America is on the cutting edge of the information and technology economy. But others are catching up. India and [Red China] award more natural science and engineering degrees than we do."
Lowell Ponte _Front Page Magazine_
Wesley Clark: General Issues
"But an unexpected bolt from the blue suddenly ignited Clark's life, turning mediocrity into a sky-rocket ride that could yet land him in the Oval Office. He was named Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, III Corps, at sweltering Fort Hood southwest of Waco, Texas. On a late winter day in 1993, Texas governor Ann Richards suddenly called the base, later meeting with Clark's Number Two to discuss an urgent matter. [She alleged that] Crazies at a Waco compound had killed Federal agents. If newly-sworn-in president Bill Clinton signed a waiver setting aside the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally prohibits the military from using its arms against American citizens within our borders, could Fort Hood supply tanks and other equipment? Clinton did. Wesley Clarks command at Fort Hood 'lent' 17 pieces of armor and 15 active service personnel under his command to the Waco Branch Davidian operation. It is absolute fact that the military equipment used by the government at Waco came from Fort Hood and Clark's command. The only issue debated by experts is whether Clark was at Waco in person to help direct the assault against the church... What happened at Waco was the death, mostly by fire, of at least 82 men, women and children, including two babies who died after being 'fire aborted' from the dying bodies of their pregnant mothers. Planning for this final assault involved a meeting between Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno and two military officers who developed the tactical plan used but who have never been identified. Some evidence and analysis suggests that Wesley Clark was one of these 2 who devised what happened at Waco."
Steve Jobs _Business Week_
Apple's and Pixar's Steve Jobs
"Q: Many tech companies have cut research and development spending because they believe the industry is slowing down. You haven't. Why? A: What has happened in technology over the last few years has been about the down-turn, not the future of technology. A lot of companies have chosen to down-size, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of [customers], they would continue to open their wallets. And that's what we've done. We've been turning out more new products than ever before, and Apple is one of only 2 companies making money in the [micro-computer] business... Stealing music is not right, and I can understand people being very upset about their intellectual property being stolen. But the stick alone isn't going to work. So we're working on a better product. The music industry is based on selling unprotected CDs that can be read on CD players that are as dumb as a rock [and can't detect pirated music]... To turn really interesting ideas and fledgling technologies into a company that can continue to innovate for years, it requires a lot of disciplines. Sometimes the spark is some students in a university. But it has to be surrounded by venture capitalists, people with management expertise, and others. A lot of skills are required..."
Michael Schuman _Time_
India's young are becoming world-class consumers and multi-nationals are taking note
"Kedia is a new breed of consumer in India -- young, increasingly wealthy and willing to spend on everything from mobile phones to sneakers to French fries. In the not-too-distant past, such goodies were off limits to all but a fortunate elite in India, but a rapidly changing economy is making the higher life available to more and more of the country's billion-strong population. College graduates are landing well-paying jobs in a host of emerging industries that barely existed in India three years ago: retail chains, fast-food restaurants, mobile-phone companies and especially call centers, data-processing firms and other businesses that do "back office" work for U.S. companies. KSA Technopak, a management-consulting firm in New Delhi, estimates that these young adults command $10.5G in cash to burn. The spending of these college grads is rising about 12% a year -- more than twice the pace of the economy's growth... The National Council of Applied Economic Research estimates that the number of people living in households that earn at least $1,800 annually ó considered the minimum for middle-income families -- has increased 17% in just the past 3 years, to more than 700M. At this income level, Indian families can purchase motor-bikes, televisions and refrigerators. The organization expects the number to rise an additional 24% by 2007... [Red China's] per-capita income, now about $900, has been growing at least twice as fast as India's for the past 20 years. With incomes rising in [Red China], foreign investors found a more sizable market for their wares there than in India. For example, [Red China] has 230M mobile-phone users, India a measly 18M... Only 3 or 4 years ago, high-paying jobs were largely limited to India's famed technology sector, centered in the southern city of Bangalore -- only engineering geeks needed apply... Two years ago, Kedia was just a run-of-the-mill college grad with little idea of what to do next. He tagged along with a friend visiting a call center. The recruiter there asked if he would interview for a job, and he scribbled out a resume on the spot. His first task was trouble-shooting for U.S. computer-maker customers over the phone, working all night in New Delhi to help Americans with their PCs during the day. Since then, Kedia moved to a similar company and has been promoted twice to manager. His salary has quadrupled to $6,200 annually -- a treasure in a country where the per-capita income is only $470 -- and he believes it will double again over the next 2 years... In June, Sthankey and her brother, who manages a Pizza Hut restaurant, moved into their first, small house, its $10,400 cost paid entirely with savings. A month before, she spent a month's salary on a Nokia mobile phone... Executives and economists see little chance that the boom in spending will slow down anytime soon. The National Association of Software & Service Companies [NASSCOM], an industry [executive lobbying] group in New Delhi, expects that 1M people will be working in call centers and other 'back office' operations in India by 2008, up from 160K in March."
Bombay, India Blasts Kill at Least 44, Wound 150: 2 car bombs explode at jewelry market
"Car bombs exploded at a crowded jewelry market and a historic land-mark in Bombay on Monday, killing at least 44 people, wounding 150 others and shaking buildings in India's financial capital. The bombs, hidden in the trunks of two taxis, blew up within five minutes of each other, police said. Several people were being interrogated, including one taxi driver. Police were focusing their investigation on Muslim militant groups... The benchmark index of Bombay Stock Exchange, the Sensex, closed at 4,005, down 119 points or 3%. One of the bombs exploded at the Gateway of India, a well-known historic land-mark and popular lunch-time eating spot frequented by both Hindus and Muslims. The other was at a crowded neighborhood of jewelry stores, where many shops are owned by Hindus but many of the artisans are Muslims."
Gasoline Prices Take Record Jump Amid Refinery & Pipe-Line Troubles
"Supply shortages pushed average retail gasoline prices up more than 15 cents a gallon nationally during the past 2 weeks, the largest retail price hike on record since the Lundberg Survey began keeping records 50 years ago. The survey of 8K service stations on Friday showed an average of all grades of gasoline, including taxes, reached $1.7484 a gallon, just short of the survey's all-time high weighted average of $1.7608 set last March 21, analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday. Self-serve regular gasoline showed an average weighted price of $1.7191 a gallon, with mid-grade at $1.8127 and premium grade at $1.9046. Phoenix had the highest leap in the nation during the 2-week period, with prices jumping 60.42 cents a gallon for self-serve regular. On August 22, self-serve regular averaged $2.1425, the highest price in the nation for that grade. By comparison, the lowest price for that grade was in Charleston, SC, where the average for self-serve regular was $1.4920."
F. Warren McFarlan & Richard L. Nolan _Harvard Business Review_
Why IT Does Matter
"In no other area is it more important to have a sense of what you don't know than it is in IT management. The most dangerous advice to CEOs has come from people who either had no idea of what they did not know, or from those who pretended to know what they didn't... The cost performance of IT technologies over the first 40 years changed by roughly 10^7 , and for the foreseeable future will continue to evolve at the same rate. That is in sharp contrast to a train, which after 80 years moved 6 times faster than it had in the earlier period. This is impressive, but not nearly as dramatic as a computer produced in 2000, which runs 10M times faster than a 1960s' computer... It is naive to assume that other sharply discontinuous technologies will not offer similar transformation opportunities in the future... The economics of financial transactions have continually dropped from dollars to cents. New entrants have joined many industries and have focused on taking strategic advantage of IT's associated economics. Company boundaries have become permeable, organic, and global in scope through IT networks and the Internet... Often, only the senior management team's imagination limits new IT-based opportunities... New technologies will continue to give companies the chance to differentiate themselves by service, product feature, and cost structure for some time to come. The first mover takes a risk and gains a temporary advantage (longer if there are follow-on possibilities). The fast follower is up against less risk but also has to recover lost ground... Unless nurtured and evolved, IT-enabled competitive applications, like many competitive advantages, don't endure."
Robert Trigaux _St. Petersburg Times_
The call to move over-seas: The latest jobs likely to head over-seas: higher-end, white-collar work in information technology, accounting, engineering & human resources, exactly the types of employment the Tampa Bay area is trying so hard to attract.
"Nobody wants to lose U.S. jobs to cheaper over-seas workers, but we're sure getting used to it. We did not make much of a stink in the 1990s when textile and low-wage apparel jobs in plants located on the Florida Panhandle moved to Mexico. We winced but half-understood when companies in super-competitive industries like St. Petersburg's Jabil Circuit cut staff in domestic electronics facilities and expanded lower-cost factories in Malaysia and other countries. Lately, we've been biting the bullet as Tampa's help-desk operator Sykes Enterprises shuts down call centers across rural America. That work is heading to new call centers, some expanding by thousands of jobs, in Costa Rica, the Philippines and today's hottest job magnet: Bangalore... Best known these days as 'off-shore out-sourcing', the over-seas movement of such jobs is not, of course, just a Tampa Bay phenomenon but a trend striking the state and entire nation... Here in Florida one thing is perfectly clear. 'We cannot compete on a cost or price basis.', says longtime Tampa economic development leader Robin Ronne of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's Committee of One Hundred. But the Tampa Bay area and Florida may be able to compete on a higher level with cutting-edge job expertise in certain key industries, in job innovation supported by focused training from the educational community and in the sheer ease with which companies can relocate or expand here with a minimum of red tape. Instead of helplessly watching the 'off-shoring' of so many white-collar jobs from Wall Street, for example, Ronne wants to redirect some of those better jobs right here. He calls the task 'near-shoring'... As more jobs are handled over-seas for less, U.S. companies may feel more justified in cutting benefits and pay here. And if higher-degree MBAs, engineers and software developers find their services aggressively under-cut by more competitors around the globe, what will motivate young Americans to pursue such careers in the future?"
Jon Bonne _NBC_
Are we done with the 40-hour work week?
"K's schedule is flexible, but not light. Work often comes home. 'You want 40 billable hours a week.', he says. 'Then you have management time and marketing time, and that's all done above the 40 hours you're billing.' Such are the trade-offs of modern working America. There was a time -- first during the Great Depression, then in the postwar years -- when the 40-hour week was an American staple. But those days bear little resemblance to today. For one thing, employers nowadays frequently find it easier to add hours to workers' schedules than to hire, train and provide benefits to a new employee. Employees, meanwhile, rely on comp time, employer flexibility and technology to remold their schedules in ways never envisioned in the past... 'The social contract is shifting.', says Susan Meisinger, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management: 'For the jobs that fall into the category of knowledge worker, I think the lines are much blurrier.'... The new rules could provide over-time to more than a million low-wage workers, if Labor Department estimates are correct. But the rules could also curtail over-time pay for many workers whose jobs reside in the modern economy's gray areas... Economist Peter Kuhn at the University of California, Santa Barbara, finds greater numbers of men now work over 50 hours a week ó most of them highly educated, well paid, white-collar workers. Though numbers leveled off in the 1990s, one-fifth of American men work those hours, up significantly from 25 years ago. At the same time, most get bigger salaries and bonuses, part of what Kuhn calls 'the incentivization of white-collar work': more compensation for longer hours and more job commitment, with implied penalties if you don't give your all. Indeed, that pressure to perform may have flipped the hourly balance... Both manufacturing and high-tech employees told ISR that their workload was too heavy and they had trouble balancing their work and personal lives. That's a common theme in work-place studies. If the 1950s family bread-winner -- almost certainly Dad -- provided for his family on 40 hours a week, today's working couple often more than doubles that in combined hours... When you consider that benefits account for 25% to 30% of each employee's total compensation, fewer employees doing more saves companies big money... The length of the work week soared during World War II, for example, but productivity in many factories plateaued as bosses found they couldn't get much more from a worker doing a 12-hour shift than one doing 10 hours."
Lee Perry _PR Web_
Workers to Stage Labor Day Protest at Site of Dumped Worker's Suicide
Elizabeth Becker & Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
U.S. Job Losses Blamed on Red China's Currency
"American manufacturers are blaming their troubles on Red China's currency, the yuan, which they say is deliberately under-valued."
Barnaby J. Feder _NY Times_
WorldCom Report Recommends Sweeping Changes by/for Its Board
"The effort to transform the bankrupt, scandal-ridden telecommunications giant known as WorldCom into a paragon of good management called MCI will reach a milestone today with a court filing outlining changes in how the board will govern the company. The 78 recommendations -- which were unanimously approved last Tuesday by WorldCom's directors -- reflect specific weaknesses exposed by WorldCom's collapse but are also intended to be a model for other companies, the report's author, Richard C. Breeden, said. Mr. Breeden, a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has been serving as a court-appointed monitor of WorldCom's efforts to overhaul itself and restore trust in its accounting under new management... Among the more novel requirements are provisions that bar directors from serving more than 10 years and a mandate that at least one member depart each year. Another gives large share-holders a voice in nominating members. Mr. Breeden also insisted that MCI switch outside auditors every 10 years. Another change intended to give share-holders a bigger voice is the creation of an Internet site where MCI investors can bring concerns to the attention of the board -- and other share-holders. The site will allow them to have resolutions voted on without having to win approval to do so at the annual meeting."
John Markoff _NY Times_
Spam-for-Money Plan Suspected by Expert(s) on E-Mail Viruses
"The program that is known as SoBig, which is transmitted as an e-mail attachment and then is widely resent on its own via the Internet, is actually the sixth variant in an experiment by an unknown attacker. During the last 8 months, the author or authors have persistently tried to implant a range of secret tools for stealing information and sending unsolicited commercial e-mail messages, or spam, according to security experts. One theory is that the program is an attempt to create software engines for sending spam by using unprotected computers that have been surreptitiously commandeered by the virus. Access to such computers could then be sold to e-mail marketing companies... Law enforcement officials and security experts said today that they did not know the identity of the attacker, but expected that there would be a new variant of the experiment, possibly next month. The current version of the program, labeled SoBig.F, is scheduled to expire on September 10 and experts are bracing for a new onslaught shortly afterwards. 'We don't have any technical reason to expect a follow-on, but given the past history it is reasonable to assume there will be more.', said Brian King, an Internet security analyst at the Computer Emergency Response Team [CERT] Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh... SoBig and its variants take advantage of human gullibility. The program spreads further only when a computer user selects the attached program that then secretly mails itself to e-mail addresses stored in the user's computer."
John Schwartz _NY Times_
Eyes on a Prize, Entrepreneurs Seek to Launch a New Industry
"If the past of space-flight lies with NASA, the future may lie with any of the 2 dozen teams that are hoping to win the X Prize."
Nicholas D. Kristof _NY Times_
Soviet Shadows, Ukraine Ghosts
"The former Soviet Union not only repressed and impoverished its citizens in its 7 decades, but continues to do so today, posthumously."
Diane Stafford _Kansas City Star_
Wage gap grows between CEOs & other workers
"Find the 50 U.S. companies that laid off the most workers in 2001. Note that median pay for their chief executives sky-rocketed 44% from 2001 to 2002, to $5.1M. Find the 30 U.S. companies with the biggest short-falls in their employee pension funds. Note that their CEOs earned 59% more than the median CEO salary at 365 large U.S. corporations. Find the 25 Fortune 500 companies with the most subsidiaries in off-shore tax havens. Note that their CEOs earned 87% more in the 2000-2002 period than their peers in the 365 corporations surveyed annually by BusinessWeek. Those 3 CEO pay findings are the focal points of _Executive Excess 2003: CEOs Win; Workers and Tax-Payers Lose_, a report by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy... overall CEO pay rose 6% from 2001 to 2002. The ratio of average CEO pay to average worker pay stood at 281 to 1. Twenty years ago, the ratio was 42 to 1... If workers' wages had risen since 1990 at the same rate as CEO pay, the average U.S. production worker in 2002 would have earned $68,057 instead of $26,267. Similarly, if the minimum wage, which was $3.80 an hour in 1990, had risen at the same pace as CEO pay, it would have been $14.40 an hour in 2002, the report said. The minimum wage was -- and continues to be -- $5.15 an hour... the report calls for mandatory expensing of stock options. (A separate study by the Towers Perrin compensation consulting group said options accounted for about 80% of U.S. management compensation in 2001.)... The report particularly criticized senator Joe Lieberman for leading congressional opposition against a 1993 proposal by the Financial Accounting Standards Board [FASB]. It said the Connecticut Democrat fought the accounting rule-making body when it proposed that companies be required to include the estimated value of stock options in their income statements. Lieberman continues to oppose renewed accounting standards board efforts to mandate expensing, the report said, as do fellow Democratic presidential candidate U.S. representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri and President Bush."
Dan Collins _CBS_
SAT Scores Soar: Best Math Performace In 36 Years; Verbal Scores Hit 16-Year High
"Overall, some 1.4M students in the class of 2003 took the SAT during their high school career. The non-profit College Board said 36% of those taking the test were minority students, up 6% from a decade ago... The College Board said the higher scores were due to increased enrollment in advanced math and science courses such as physics, precalculus, calculus and chemistry."
2003-08-26 21:05PDT (2003-08-27 00:05EDT) (2003-08-27 04:05GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nasdaq lends its voice to CEOs; Execs are beneficiaries of new lobby effort
"According to a top Nasdaq executive, the exchange will proudly debut this September the Nasdaq CEO Council, a grass-roots organization made up some of the richest people on the planet. Since CEO voices seemingly go unheard, the new council plans to lobby government officials and pepper the public with press releases and op-ed pieces, expressing view-points from the brass of top technology companies... Some executives may also be worried about new rules the SEC is considering that would allow share-holders with just 3-percent ownership in a company to nominate a limited number of candidates to a company's board, in direct competition with management's selections. And, of course, technology leaders -- as well as the Nasdaq -- are against accounting changes that would require companies to expense the true cost of offering stock options, according to Aust... Instead, the Nasdaq continues to fight on behalf of its executives, at shareholders' expense. That's why Grant calls the Nasdaq CEO Council a 'public sell-out' to member companies. 'It's sucking up to the listed companies, and its a reflection of the clout those listed companies have with Nasdaq.', says Patrick McGurn, vice president with Institutional Shareholder Services..."
2003-08-27 12;53PDT (15:53EDT) (19:53GMT)
Jeffry Bartash _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Oklahoma prosecutors charge MCI, Ebbers: Also, state law-suit targets former CEO in surprising twist
"Oklahoma [prosecutors] filed criminal charges Wednesday against MCI and Bernie Ebbers -- the first legal action taken against the former chief executive -- in connection with the phone carrier's $11G accounting scandal. Drew Edmondson, the state's attorney general, said 15 counts have been filed against six former executives for violation of Oklahoma securities laws. He accused them of a 'scheme to artificially inflate the value of WorldCom stock and bonds by intentionally falsifying information'. Federal investigators have declined to charge MCI itself, leery of taking action that could put the former WorldCom out of business. MCI has 50K employees and 20M customers. Instead, federal investigators have filed charges against several senior executives, including ex-Chief Financial Officer Scott Sullivan. Ebbers, however, had avoided prosecution until now. The company's new management, which has cooperated with federal investigators, has also agreed to pay $750M in stock and cash to settle claims of creditors... Each count carries up to a $10K fine and up to 10 years in jail."
Paul Kaihla _Business 2.0_
The Coming Job Boom: Forget those grim unemployment numbers. Demographic forces are about to put a squeeze on the labor supply that will make it feel like 1999 all over again.
"If she wanted to, she could fill every opening at a salary 15% below the going rate -- as, in fact, many of her competitors do. But that's one advantage Reed won't take. She recently hired an engineer with more than 10 years' experience for nearly 6 figures -- the same wage she paid at the height of the bubble. Reed isn't just being kind. She asserts that any other course of action is asking for trouble down the road."
Mary Hayes _Information Week_
Not Much Change Expected in 4Q IT Hiring: Most CIOs surveyed by Robert Halfwit Technology say they expect no change to their staff size
"85% of respondents say they expect no change to their IT staff sizes in the fourth quarter of 2003. In fact, planned staff reductions are up slightly from a survey conducted three months ago. In the most recent survey, 9% of CIOs say they plan to expand their IT departments and 4% anticipate staff reductions, for a net hiring increase of 5%. In the survey that forecasted third-quarter hiring, the net hiring increase was 7%."
Stacey L. Bradford _Smart Money_
Don't be a Fall guy
"Lay-offs are 25% more common in the 4 months after Labor Day than in the 8 months before, according to recruiting firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. From 1995 to 2002, average monthly job cuts during the last 4 months of the year totaled 80,858, compared with an average of 64,914 in the preceding 8 months... don't be afraid to send your boss memos detailing your accomplishments. You'll be surprised at how effective a little PR can be... Show your face... Wear many hats... Solve problems... Dress the part..."
_Indian Express_/_Press Trust of India_
Top-paid US CEOs are from firms with most worker lay-offs "The typical chief executive of a major US company earned $3.7M last year, with the largest pay-checks going to those whose firms had the most worker lay-offs, under-funded pensions and tax breaks, a new report stated. Chief executive officers at the 50 corporations that announced the largest lay-offs in 2001 saw their pay rise 44% in 2002óa year when overall CEO salaries rose 6%, said the report by Research and Advocacy Groups Institute for Policy Studies and United for a fair economy on Tuesday. 'All told, the top 50 job-cutting CEOs pulled down more than $570M in 2002, the year after they collectively slashed over 465K jobs.', it said. At the 30 companies with the greatest short-fall in their employees' pension funds, chief executives made 59% more than the average chief executives, added the report, the tenth in an annual series... At the 25 major companies with the most subsidiaries in off-shore tax havens, chief executives garnered an average of $26.5M in pay between 2000 and 2002, compared with an average of $14.2M for all chief executives at the 365 largest US companies surveyed annually by Business Week magazine, the report said. Overall, average chief executive earnings rose 279% between 1990 and 2002, far out-stripping the Standard and Poor's 500 stock index, which rose 166% during that time, and corporate profits, which increased by 93%."
2003-08-27 21:04PST (2003-08-28 00:04EDT) (2003-08-28 04:04GMT)
David Callaway _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
It's good to be a CEO again: Recession? What recession?
"Two years after the collapse of Enron inaugurated the biggest wave of corporate scandals in a generation on Wall Street, only the former chief executive of ImClone Systems [Samual Waksal] languishes in prison for his crime... They say the wheels of justice move slowly. But this is getting ridiculous. When the state attorney general of Oklahoma has to rise up and charge Worldcom (now MCI) and its ex-chief Bernie Ebbers with criminal fraud because he isn't sure anymore that the Feds will act, you know there is something wrong... Enron's Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling remain untouched by the law... It even turns out that those CEOs who did the most slashing and burning during the tough years made out the best. According to new report this week by 2 watch-dog groups, the median pay for CEOs who spent the last few years slashing thousands of jobs rose seven times faster than overall CEO compensation. The report, titled 'Executive Excess 2003' and authored by the Industry for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, cited Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard, former Warner Time AOL CEO Gerald Levin and former Tyco head Dennis Kozlowski as examples of folks who reaped millions... Grasso never used to disclose his salary, and for good reason it turns out. While the economy was collapsing in 2001 he made $12M. And while the corporate scandals were raging in 2002 and his board members, like Martha Stewart and Jean-Marie Messier of Vivendi, were resigning, he made $15M... This week... Grasso surprised Wall Street by re-upping for another 2 years, at a guaranteed $2.4M a year."
2003-08-28 05:38PDT (08:38EDT) (12:38GMT)
Greg Morcroft _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US 2003 Q2 GDP revised up to 3.1%
"The U.S. economy accelerated to a 3.1% annual pace in the second quarter from a tepid 1.4% pace in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday."
2003-08-28 06:53PDT (09:53EDT) (13:53GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US unemployment compensation insurance claims slightly higher: Weekly initial claims rise 3K to 394K
"The [seasonally adjusted] 4-week average of weekly filings rose to 396,250 from a revised 395,750. It's the fourth straight week the 4-week average has come under 400K, after remaining above that level for 22 consecutive weeks. The weekly number of new claims rose 3K to 394K in the week ending August 23. That puts the number of initial claims under 400K for 5 of the past 6 weeks... Meanwhile, the number of workers receiving state unemployment checks rose by nearly 10K to an average of 3.64M over the past four weeks. That's the highest level since July 19. The [seasonally adjusted] insured unemployment rate remained at 2.9%, unchanged from the prior week. The figures do not include some 850K workers who are receiving federal benefits, which are available once state benefits are exhausted, typically after 6 months."
2003-08-28 06:55PDT (09:55EDT) (13:55GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Silicon Graphics to cut 600 jobs, 17% of work-force
"The cut will bring operating costs in line with sales that have fallen from the same quarter last year, Silicon Graphics said. Management said the job losses will cut quarterly expenses to $100M, bringing the company's breakeven profit level to about $235M to $240M in revenue a quarter. Silicon Graphics had sales of about $240M in its first and second calendar quarters this year, down from about $285M in the June quarter of 2002."
2003-08-28 14:05PDT (17:05EDT) (21:05GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Japan stock surge prompts revival talk
"After a decade of gloom, the sun is rising over Japan once again as the stock market booms and the economy revs up ahead of elections later this year. The renewed interest in Japan is no doubt due to the soaring Nikkei Average, which has climbed almost 40% since late April. But with all the fuss about the markets, it's easy to miss the underlying issues... Investors holding on to Japanese stocks since the go-go era of the late 1980s, when the Nikkei Average hovered around 39K, may have to keep praying for a miracle... The Nikkei has climbed from a 20-year low of 7,607.88 in late April to above 10K for the first time in almost a year, closing at a high of 10,405 on August 27. Some experts say they would be happy if the stock index just ends the year on a positive note, which would be above 8,500. That's no small feat given that the Nikkei has posted gains only once in the last 7 years, back in 1999... Foreigners have been net buyers of Japanese stocks for the past four months. They bought 1.254T yen ($10.66G) of stocks in June alone, the second-highest monthly amount ever, according to the ministry of finance... Consumer spending, which accounts for 60% of Japan's gross domestic product, also showed improvement, growing 0.3% in the last quarter. However, some analysts questioned whether spending can continue to rise if Japan's unemployment rate stays high and wages remain suppressed. In June, the jobless rate fell to 5.3% from the record of 5.5% set earlier in the year... Tokyo consumer prices, a bench-mark for the rest of the nation, have fallen for 46 consecutive months."
2003-08-28 14:37PDT (17:37EDT) (21:37GMT)
Les Christie _CNN_/_Money_
Retro-bikes gain ground: Names like Indian, Triumph and Royal Enfield are taking a page from Harley's classic play-book
"Vincent motor-cycles never sold in the same numbers as Indian or Triumph (a new Vincent in the early 1950s cost about the same as a small house). But fans admired the bikes for their technologically advanced designs and powerful engines. A Vincent set a speed record of more than 150 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1948. Seven years later, however, the company folded. In 1994 a San Diego businessman, Bernard Li, began working to bring the bike back. In 2002 October he unveiled 5 prototypes including the Black Lightning S, based on the 1955 Black Lightning. Li said the Vincent will be more of a 'performance bike'. At 400 pounds, it's lighter than any Harley and is powered by a 130 horsepower engine. If all goes well Li will begin filling orders in 2005. The Black Lightning S, he said, will sell for about $20K."
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stock indices end with gains Thursday: Nasdaq pushes past 1800 mark
"The Nasdaq ended above the 1,800 mark for the first time in over 16 months Thursday as buyers snapped up the shares of technology and biotech companies... With the exception of gold, all of the market's sectors trekked higher, led by the hardware, oil service and biotech groups. Gold shares took their lumps as the metal's futures contract slid following out-sized gains on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 40.42 points, or 0.4%, to 9,374.21, after sliding up to 72 points intra-day. The index's frontrunners included Alcoa, Boeing, J.P. Morgan Chase and General Motors following an analyst upgrade. The Nasdaq Composite rallied 18.05 points, or 1%, to 1,800.18 and the Nasdaq 100 Index ascended 13.40 points, or 1%, to 1,332.33. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 0.6% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks sprinted 1%... Volume was thin at 1.15G on the NYSE and to 1.45G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Winners squashed losers by 22 to 10 on the NYSE and by 19 to 12 on the Nasdaq."
Keith Bradsher _NY Times_
Red China's Growth Creates a Boom for Cargo Ships
"The new-found prosperity of ship lines illustrates how a global industry can become dependent on [Red China] in just a few years... [Red China] has become a ship line executive's dream. It is importing huge and growing quantities of oil, iron ore, coal and other bulky raw materials from the Persian Gulf, Australia, Brazil and Canada, and exporting rising quantities of furniture, consumer electronics, toys and other finished goods to American and European markets... [Red China] is now the world's largest market for cellphones and color television sets, and the second largest for personal computers after the United States. Some technology stocks now trade as much on how the companies' sales are faring in China as in the United States. Because computers and communications are the biggest users of computer chips, Intel announced today that it would build a $200M semiconductor assembly and testing factory in [Red China]. 'It is the fastest-growing market for us.', Craig R. Barrett, Intel's chief executive, said in a telephone interview. Yet a growing dependence on the Chinese market is a 2-edged sword, making more industries susceptible to China's sometimes vertiginous economic booms and busts... The ports in the Pearl River delta of southern China now handle almost as many containers a year as all the ports in the United States combined. Chinese ports are also the fastest-growing destinations for dry-bulk carriers -- freighters that haul commodities like coal and iron ore -- and for tankers. Though the United States still imports more oil by ship than China does, the Chinese reliance on Middle East oil is growing. As the output from its own aging oil fields has stagnated, the energy to sustain [Red China's] 8% annual economic growth has had to come from abroad... Low interest rates have fed a construction boom in [Red China], contributing to a doubling of [Red China's] enormous steel output in the last four years, with many more mills still being built. [Red Chinese] mines have been unable to keep up with the demand for iron ore to be melted into steel, so [Red China] has tripled its iron ore imports since 1999."
Scott Kirsner _NY Times_
Wind Power's New Current
"Mr. Fitch, general manager of the Princeton Municipal Light Department, is planning to upgrade his wind farm. The town-owned utility is overseeing a $4M project to replace the eight older windmills with two gargantuan modern ones. The current system generates enough electricity for about 1% of the town's 1,450 households; the new one, expected to be in place next year, is to satisfy roughly 40% of the town's appetite for power... 'The efficiency of the turbines has gone up about 5% every year.', said Philipp Andres, a vice president for business development at Vestas American Wind Technology, a subsidiary of the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines... Michael O'Sullivan, a senior vice president at FPL Energy, the biggest domestic operator of wind farms... Jim Lyons, the advanced-technology leader for GE Wind Energy, the biggest domestic maker of turbines. At the bottom of the tower that supports the nacelle and rotor is a cylindrical space housing the computers that collect data from throughout the turbine. The collection of computers is known as a Scada system, for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition... For every kilowatt hour of electricity generated, a wind farm operator can take 1.8 cents off its federal tax bill. In addition, 13 states have established a requirement called a renewable portfolio standard. It mandates that utilities generate a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources like wind. In New Jersey, the standard requires that 6.5% of the state's power come from renewable sources by 2012."
Highest Jumps in Job Postings Since 2003-01-01
2003-08-29 07:21PDT (10:21EDT) (14:21GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
According to Commerce Department spending & income both up in July: Spending rose 0.8% while income rose 0.2%
"The [Commerce] Department reported that personal income rose 0.2% in July, while spending rose an expected 0.8%, the fastest rate since December of last year. Disposable personal income, or money not needed to pay fixed monthly bills, rose 1.5% in July, the largest increase since January of last year... Personal savings rose to 3.8% July from 3.1% in the prior month, the highest rate since February. Savings rose to a level of $315.5G, the highest level since September of last year. Real income, which subtracts out inflation from nominal pay raises, registered a 1.3% rise in July, up sharply from a 0.2% increase in June. Real personal spending rose 0.6% in July, faster than the 0.4% recorded in June. Real income rose the fastest since 2002 January, while real spending was the largest increase since December. In a separate report, manufacturing activity in the Chicago region expanded in August. The monthly index stood at 58.9 vs. 55.9 in July, the National Association of Purchasing Managers - Chicago said Friday. Economists polled by CBS MarketWatch expected a reading of 56. Readings over 50 indicate more firms are reporting expanding business vs. contracting business."
2003-08-29 09:45PDT (12:45EDT) (16:45GMT)
Shawn Langlois _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
South lags in web use
"California; Washington, DC; and New England fared well in terms of Internet usage with 64% to 66% of adults on-line, according to a survey conducted by Pew Internet & American Life. The Pacific Northwest was the most linked up at 68%. On the other end of the spectrum, the South, with its lagging household income and education levels, had the lowest level of Internet penetration -- 48%. Alabama took the dubious honor of least wired with 45%. [So we're agreed; there is no telecomm 'over-capacity'.]"
2003-08-29 14:30PDT (17:30EDT) (21:30GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end with broad gains: Chicago PMI surgest to 15-month high
"The S&P 500 closed at levels not seen in over two months while the Nasdaq ended at a 16.5-month high... The Dow Jones Industrial Average swelled 41.61 points, or 0.4%, to 9,415.82, underpinned by the shares of AT&T, General Motors and Caterpillar. United Technologies was the only Dow member to breach a new 52-week high in intraday action. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 10.27 points, or 0.6%, to 1,810.45 and the Nasdaq 100 Index gained 8.87 points, or 0.7%, to 1,341.20... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ascended 0.5%, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks advanced 0.3%. The airline, biotech and software sectors posted the best gains, while oil service and gold issues dripped in red ink... Volume was feather light, checking in at 944M on the NYSE and at 1.21G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Winners overtook losers by 21 to 10 on the NYSE and by 18 to 13 on the Nasdaq... 'The big news might be the employment measure [of the Chicago PMI index], which jumped to 51.2. If manufacturers are indeed starting to hire, that would be big news. But we wouldn't rely too much on a survey of buyers, who might not be the right people to talk to about human resources matters anyway.', noted Avery Shenfeld, an economist at CIBC World Markets... And the final reading of the University of Michigan's August consumer sentiment index dropped to 89.3 from July's 90.9. It was the lowest reading since April's 86.0."
2003-08-29 14:57PDT (17:57EDT) (21:57GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stronger economic news expected
"The next hurdle for the economy is to achieve growth strong enough to force employers to hire more workers. It's been 6 months since non-farm pay-rolls showed any increase... The number of workers applying for state unemployment benefits has dropped to a 7-month low in recent weeks, but the number who are collecting checks remains high, signifying fewer lay-offs but no real pickup in hiring... The economy needs to create about 150K jobs a month just to absorb the population growth."
Bill Moyers _National Socialist Television_
Job Flight: Foreign Service
"a new wave of jobs are leaving U.S. shores: software development, customer service, accounting, back-office support, product development and other white collar endeavors... _FrontLine World_ reported last year that over half of Fortune 500 companies have moved jobs off-shore... Many are indeed going to India, as portrayed in NOW's story, but others are heading to [Red China], Russia, VietNam, the Phillipines, Malaysia, and the Czech Republic. In short, they are moving toward cheaper labor costs [and countries with less respect for liberty]. In 2003 November Bangalore will be hosting a huge IT job conference..."
_San Francisco Business Times_
Job search time nearly doubles
"Unemployed workers at almost all levels are needing nearly twice as long to find new jobs as they did 2 years ago, according to new statistics released Friday by Right Management Consultants of Philadelphia... Lower- to mid-level managers have landed jobs this year in an average of 5.5 months, compared to 3.3 months in 2001. More junior employees, who carry job titles such as assistant, coordinator or project manager, are requiring 4.5 months, on average, to find new work, compared to 2.5 months 2 years ago, according to Right Management's figures. The hardest-hit employees are those at the higher levels. Senior executives, such as department heads and senior vice presidents, have needed eight months to find new work this year. Two years ago, that number was 3.5 months. In 2002, it was 7 months. Key executives, defined as those at the executive vice president level up through chief executive officer, are requiring an average of 22 months to find new employment, up from 9 months 2 years ago."
Peter Brimelow _V Dare_
New George Borjas Bomb-Shell: Immigration Impacting College Grads' Incomes & Employment Opportunities
"The source of this stark message: another Borjas bombshell – a new research paper from Cuban-born Harvard University economist George J. Borjas, author of Friends Or Strangers and Heaven's Door, who more than anyone has turned around the immigration debate among labor economists by demonstrating that the post-1965 immigrant influx has brought no significant benefit to native-born Americans and in fact is probably costing them money, through welfare and other transfer payments. Borjas' new finding, euphoniously entitled 'The Labor Demand Curve Is Downward Sloping: Re-Examining The Impact Of Immigration On The Labor Market', has been available since June as a working paper (pdf) from the National Bureau of Economic Research. It will be published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics this Fall... immigration 1980-2000 increased the work-force by some 11%. This 'supply shock' reduced the wages of the average native-born worker in 2000 by 3.2%. The supply shock's impact differed dramatically across education groups. For native-born high school drop-outs, wages were reduced by 8.9%. But, significantly, even for native-born college graduates, wages were reduced on average by 4.9%. The impact was greatest on college graduates with 11-15 years work experience -- i.e. most likely to have young families -- when it amounted to 5.9%. But even new college graduates, with 1-5 years experience, faced a reduction of wages of 3.5%... Americans were moving out of immigrant-impacted areas, causing the wage effect to be detectable only at a national level."
2003-08-29 17:52PDT (20:52EDT) (2003-08-30 00:52GMT)
William Spain & Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Worked over: Job exporters seen constraining US recovery
"After sacrificing millions of high-paying manufacturing jobs to cheaper imports, the U.S. economy now faces the unforeseen consequence of technological innovation -- the loss of service-sector jobs few imagined could be exported over-seas... Yet others contend cost-savings reaped by lower-cost foreign labor ensures cheaper products and services for U.S. consumers and allows firms to stay competitive. Companies that don't exploit cheap labor abroad could go belly up, leading to job losses here, they say... The large-scale 'off-shoring' of high-tech jobs began as the Internet explosion and fears over Y2K prompted widespread information-systems upgrades, and left employers begging for help. [Yah, sure.]... One solution was to bring in foreigners, including tens of thousands of highly educated and well-trained Indians. In addition, U.S. firms began out-sourcing IT work to foreign companies through ever improving global computer networks. At the time, labor-cost savings were often seen as little more than a bonus; the main thing was to get the job done. As the crunch subsided with the recession's on-set in early 2001, many of the guest workers headed home with their contacts and skills -- which became marketable across international borders as telecommunications networks grew cheaper and more reliable... Gartner estimates 1 in 10 jobs at specialty IT firms in the U.S. will move abroad within the next 16 months, along with 1 in 20 IT jobs at general businesses -- a loss of about 560K positions."
James Dao _NY Times_
As Crime Rises DC's Police Chief Comes Under Fire
"It has not been a good year for crime fighting in the nation's capital. Or murder capital, as it were. Washington has reclaimed the distinction -- which it held for much of the 1980s and early 1990s -- from Detroit, recording the nation's highest homicide rate for large cities in 2002: 45 per 100K residents... the city's 3,200 unionized police officers... n most categories, crime is down from historic highs in the 1980s and early 1990s, statistics reported to the F.B.I. show. There were 262 homicides last year, compared with 454 in 1993. And violent crime -- which includes homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- has fallen almost 50% in that period. But the same statistics show that violent crime has climbed in the district since 1998. Last year, only 5 cities with populations exceeding 500K had more homicides, and all of them are much larger than Washington: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit... Those numbers prompted Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who lives in Washington, to assert in June that Baghdad has a lower homicide rate than Washington."
Charles Lockwood _NY Times_
Night Lights Obscuring Vision
"The American Automobile Association has cited glare as a contributing factor in traffic accidents. Why has America gone night-light crazy? In part, because fear of the dark is as old as humanity. Now, thanks to Mr. Edison and the brothers Klieg, the fear of evening crime is leading us to replace the night with an orange-ish twilight zone. But do these bright lights make us safer? Only in our imaginations. The 'more light is better' myth has been shot down in studies done at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Huddersfield in England, among others. Over-lighting does not reduce crime; it merely alleviates fear of crime, possibly creating a false sense of security. Excessive lighting can actually increase danger because it creates deep shadows where criminals can lurk. Light pollution is also linked to sleep disorders, and it can disrupt plant and animal life, including the nesting and hatching patterns of endangered loggerhead turtles on Florida's beaches. And it is a terrible waste of energy and money. The International Dark-Sky Association, a Tucson-based group, estimates that American consumers, corporations and government agencies waste $2G a year on un-needed lighting. A prime culprit is the 175-watt mercury vapor lighting that has long been the choice for parking lots & street lights; the bulbs are cheap, but they draw a great deal of electricity & shed far more light than is usually needed."
Dave Murphy _San Francisco Chronicle_
Boomers plan to stay on the job
"Nearly a third of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers plan to postpone retirement because of the crumbling economy, but many also say they won't retire completely in any case because they enjoy certain aspects of their jobs. Those results from an Allstate Insurance Co. survey could simply mean that workers have snapped out of our irrational exuberance, but they also might mean that all the projections of a severe worker shortage by 2010 are at least a little premature. Here are some other findings of the random nationwide survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and involving 1,474 people born between 1946 through 1979, with annual household incomes of $35K or more: 29% expect to postpone retirement, with the average delay being 5.7 years. Gen Xers got particularly slapped by reality, with 38% saying they expect to delay retirement by an average of 6.2 years."
Kathy Kristof _Miami Herald_/_Job Bank USA_
Study ties biggest CEO raises to largest lay-offs
"Chief executives of companies that had the largest lay-offs and most underfunded pensions and that moved operations offshore to avoid U.S. taxes were rewarded with the biggest pay hikes in 2002, on average, a new report finds. The study, released this week by United for a Fair Economy in Boston and the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., used methodology that some companies criticized as misleading. Still, the report may add to the furor over executive pay... While the median CEO pay increase was 6% in 2002, median pay rocketed 44% for chiefs of the 50 companies that announced the biggest lay-offs in 2001, according to the study. At the 30 companies with the greatest short-fall in their employees' pension funds in 2002, CEOs that year made 59% more than the CEO median reported in BusinessWeek's annual executive compensation report, according to the study. Among the 24 companies with the most off-shore subsidiaries in tax-haven countries, CEOs earned 87% more than the median pay for the last 3 years, the study concluded... According to the study, CEOs at 22 of the companies with big lay-offs in 2001 saw their compensation drop in 2002."
2003-08-31 05:11PDT (08:11EDT) (12:11:GMT)
UN: US worker is most productive but some Europeans do better per hour
"Workers in France, Belgium and Norway beat the Americans in productivity per hour, said the International Labor Organization in its new issue of Key Indicators of the Labor Market. Output per person employed in the United States last year was US$60,728, the report said. Belgium, the highest-scoring European Union member, had US$54,333... 'U.S. workers put in an average of 1,825 hours in 2002.' Japanese worked about the same number of hours as Americans, but in major European economies the average ranged from 1,300 to 1,800 hours, it said. 'In terms of output per person employed, the U.S. is on top.', said Dorothea Schmidt, an economist on the team that produced the 855-page report... The U.S. figure of 1,825 hours worked in 2002 was down from 1,834 in 2000, it said. Norwegian hours worked dropped to 1,342 from 1,380 over the same period. Swedish hours worked went to 1,581 from 1,625. In France they went to 1,545 from 1,587. In Australia to 1,824 from 1,855; in Canada to 1,778 from 1,807; in Ireland to 1,668 from 1,690 and in Germany to 1,444 from 1,463. The ILO said U.S. productivity has been growing twice as fast as that in Europe and Japan over the past 7 years... For example, she said, an agricultural worker in the United States produces 650 times more than the worker in VietNam."
Jeff May _New Jersey Star-Ledger_
Wizards no longer: more tech jobs shift abroad which only adds to workers' woes
"Information technology, one of the hottest sectors of the U.S. economy during the past decade, has become one of its most down-trodden. Almost 560K tech jobs were lost from 2001 through the end of last year, according to the American Electronics Association [AeA]. And the pressure to cut costs continues: As many as one out of 10 technology jobs in the United States are expected to go over-seas by next year, estimates Gartner, a consulting firm in Stamford, CT... Gone are the days of working for one company for an entire career. Instead, tech workers will move from project to project, often working as consultants... The problem for programmers, systems analysts and other computer-related workers in affluent states such as New Jersey is they are a lot more expensive to hire. Programmers in India, Russia and China can work for less than a quarter of what their American counterparts earn, and still have the same purchasing power because of sharp differences in their countries' cost of living, according to research by the U.S. arm of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Out-of-work programmers and systems administrators in New Jersey talk about sending out resume after resume with barely a nibble. Others...are taking up other lines of work... In many ways, information technology is following the same path that manufacturing did during the past 3 decades, when factory operations where moved to cheaper spots over-seas. What angers many tech workers, however, is the role they say the federal government has played in accelerating the process by extending work visas for foreign workers. The visas, known as H-1Bs, allow foreign tech workers to train on the job in the United States for up to 7 years. Some of those workers then use their skills to set up firms back home that win technology contracts from U.S. companies... Many companies have moved to web-based information systems that are simpler, more interoperable and easier to maintain from remote locations... Some organizations, such as the Information Technology Association of America, still argue there is more demand than supply for tech workers... Few tech workers can expect to be hired by a company and work for it for the next 30 years, Luftman said. Most work will be project-based, and of shorter duration."
Richard Stradling, Karin Rives, Christina Headrick & David Raynor _Charlotte News-Observer_
Low-wage jobs multiply: Big labor pool and recession leave many stuck at bottom
"Over the next 8 years, the fastest-growing occupations in the region will fall mostly in 2 categories: computer engineers and specialists, with average wages topping $30 an hour, and low-skilled service workers who make $10 or less, according to the NC Employment Security Commission. 'They go hand in hand.', said John D. Kasarda , director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC-Chapel Hill... Of full-time workers in the Triangle, about 16%, or more than 70K, made less than $20K in 1999, putting them at or near the bottom of the pay scale. By 2010, 40K more workers will take low-paying service jobs, according to the ESC... overall wages in the Triangle rose 56% between 1992 and 2002 to an average of $38,910... the inflation rate of 28%... some economists such as Kasarda aren't worried about the growth in low-skill, low-wage jobs. They are the jobs that allow immigrants and the poor to get their start in the economy, making a better life for their children if not themselves, he said... And although the Triangle has one of the best-educated work forces in the country, more than 60% of people 25 and older don't have a bachelor's degree, according to the census... some people are getting rich off cheap labor... builders have grown so accustomed to paying Hispanics cut-rate wages that they have slashed pay for all contractors -- without reducing the price of houses."
Dice Report: 28,454 job ads
Erica L. Groshen & Simon Potter _Current Issues in Economics & Finance_
Has Structural Change Contributed to a Jobless Recovery? (intro page)
full html of article
"We find evidence of structural change in two features of the 2001 recession: the predominance of permanent job losses over temporary lay-offs [furloughs] and the relocation of jobs from one industry to another... rule changes by the federal government during the 1980s prompted states' unemployment insurance programs to shift more of the costs of frequent lay-offs onto the responsible employers -- an action that could discourage employers from using temporary lay-offs. Instead of furloughing permanent workers, firms increasingly hire temporary help when they are busiest and then cut back when demand falls. Indeed, firms' use [abuse] of temporary or contract employees to smooth labor needs has grown substantially. In 1972 January, the personnel supply [bodyshopping] industry (SIC 7360) had only 214K jobs; in 2000 September, jobs in the industry peaked at 3.965M. All else equal, this approach yields a smaller permanent work-force, more temporary workers, and more permanent lay-offs. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics pay-roll data, during the 2001 recession, personnel supply jobs shrank by 14.5%. This industry accounted for 531K pay-roll job losses, or 39% of the total. (Occasional Paper no. 89-6)... First, self-employment swelled by half a million from 2002 March to 2003 April. The newly self-employed are often excluded from pay-roll job counts, but they also leave the ranks of the unemployed. Second, a fall in labor force participation from its 2000 April peak of 67.4% puts the current rate (66.2%) at 1993 levels."
Gene Callahan & Roger W. Garrison _Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics_ vol6 pg89
Does Austrian Business Cycle Theory Help Explain the Dot-Com Boom and Bust?
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