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|M||mega-||million||one thousand thousand||10^6||1,000,000|
|G||giga-||billion||one thousand million||10^9||1,000,000,000|
|T||tera-||trillion||one million million||10^12||1,000,000,000,000|
|P||peta-||quadrillion||one million billion||10^15||1,000,000,000,000,000|
|E||exa-||quintillion||one billion billion||10^18||1,000,000,000,000,000,000|
Except that computer people use 2 as a base raised to multiples of powers of 10, instead of 10 raised to multiples of powers of 3 because powers of 2 are handier for them, but they also want to stay somewhat close to the values of 10 most folks are used to.
2004-01-01 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
capture of Saddam Hussein
"From dictator on the run to U.S. prisoner number one, Saddam's capture. For some, cause for celebration. For others, a time for revenge... 2004 will be a world with one less dictator oppressing and torturing his people. Saddam Hussein began the year a wealthy, bloody despot with a vast apparatus of killers and thugs at his command. He ended the year, as we all know, alone, dirty and living in a hole. But what, if anything, does that mean for the larger struggle between radical Islam and the West?... Daniel Pipes: 'Democracy can be imposed from the outside. It's happened. Look at Germany, Italy, Japan, Austria. It's happened. It doesn't necessarily mean it can happen in Iraq. So it can be, in theory.'... George W. Bush: 'Today in Tripoli, the leader of Libya, colonel Moammar al Gadhafi, publicly confirmed his commitment to disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction programs in his country.'... Infectious diseases kill millions of people each year. In fact, those diseases account for more than a quarter of the deaths worldwide. And it is not only new diseases. Public health experts are fighting outbreaks of tubercolis, malaria and other diseases that we once thought had been eradicated. It is all part of why 2004 will see a continuing battle against the microbe. In an isolated facility at Columbia University, under very tight security, and off limits to all but four scientists, are some of the deadliest killers known to man. West Nile, Hanta virus, SARS and many others you may never have heard of... A group of scientists here developed a test for the new virus. Armed with 10K SARS test kits lab director Dr. Ian Lipkin flew to [Red China]... It seems the harder we battle against the microbes, the stronger they come back. One reason, drug companies may not be producing the needed drugs... Graeme Maxton, director of Autopolis: '[Red China] is the home of counterfeits, copying DVDs and videos and all sorts of software.' The FBI estimates that American businesses lose $200G to $250G each year to counterfeiting."
New Statutes Challenge Citizens in 2004
"stop hogging the left lane on Illinois Interstates. Do not try to sell a used mattress as new in Tennessee. And be extra careful not to call in a false fire alarm in Delaware... Identity theft drew attention in many states in 2003. New York, Delaware and New Mexico will now require that store receipts print only a few digits of a customer's credit card number... Such fraud costs $2G a year nationwide."
David Cay Johnston _NY Times_
The Very Rich Give Their Share & More in Charity
"top 400 American earners in 2000 provided nearly 7% of all the charitable gifts reported on income tax returns for that year, well in excess of their roughly 1% share of overall income, according to data released yesterday by the NewTithing Group, a charity that tracks giving. The 400 tax-payers with the highest reported incomes in 2000 made an average of $174M and gave away, on average, $25.3M that year. Their combined giving totaled $10.1G, or 6.9%, of the $146G in charitable donations that Americans deducted on their income tax returns in 2000. Charitable giving by this wafer-thin yet deeply rich slice of Americans, the new Internal Revenue Service data showed, represented an average of more than 14% of their incomes, compared with overall charitable tax deductions equal to 2% of adjusted gross incomes. Only a fourth of tax-payers file returns that allow them to deduct charitable gifts... Giving by the top 400 from 1997 to 2000 grew significantly faster than their incomes... Their average incomes rose 80% in those years, to $174M from $93M, while average giving from the stratum more than quadrupled to $25.3M from $5.9M... The I.R.S. also issued a special report on the 400 Americans with the highest incomes each year since 1992. There were 2,211 tax-payers in the 3,600 tax returns examined over the 9-year period; just 21 tax-payers made the list every year."
John Schwartz _NY Times_
For the Ex-Buccaneer a Pillage-Free Play-List
"As one whose living depends on copyright protection, I couldn't see myself denying others the value of their creative labors... The $20 per month for iTunes will add up, as will the $10 per month for Rhapsody, once our free trial period is over. If you're keeping score, that's $360 a year..."
Amy Waldman _NY Times_
Indian Soy Bean Farmers Enter Global Futures Markets On-Line
"'If it goes up there, it goes up here.', Mr. Choudhry said. The correlation is rough but real. Real, too, is the link between farmers in rural central India and around the globe, thanks to a company's innovation.The concept is the e-choupal, taken from the Hindi word for village square, or gathering place... E-choupal allows the farmers to check both futures prices across the globe and local prices before going to market. It gives them access to local weather conditions, soil-testing techniques and other expert knowledge that will increase their productivity... There are now 1,700 in this state, Madhya Pradesh, and 3K total in India. They are serving 18K villages, reaching up to 1.8M farmers... Even more tantalizing, ITC now has the means to reach into some of India's 600K villages, where 72% of the people live and where the greatest potential markets lie. Most businesses never venture to an area with fewer than 5K people, said ITC's chairman, Y.C. Deveshwar... An Indian soybean farmer is one-third as productive as an American one, said David Upton, co-author of a case study of e-choupals for Harvard Business School."
2004-01-02 06:53PST (09:53EST) (14:53GMT)
Allen Wan _MarketWatch_
Asian Stock Markets Booming
"Markets in South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore were sharply higher Friday in the first trading day of 2004 as investors anticipated the global economic rebound will yield more gains. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.3% to end at 821, Taiwan's Weighted Average jumped 2.6% to finish at 6,041 and Australia's All Ordinaries Index edged up 0.1% to 3,309. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.8% to 12,801 while Singapore's Straits Times Index climbed 1.5%..."
2004-01-02 07:05PST (10:05EST) (15:00GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
US December ISM shows surprising strength
"...grew in December for the sixth straight month and at a faster pace than November the Institute for Supply Management reported. The ISM index rose to 66.2% in December from 62.8% in November. The new orders index rose to 77.6, the highest level since 1950 July."
2004-01-02 13:31PST (16:31EST) (21:31GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _MarketWatch_
US stocks closed mixed as Dow slides
"The Institute of Supply Management's reading on manufacturing activity for the month of December rose to 66.2% from 62.8% in November. Economists surveyed by CBS MarketWatch had been expecting a dip to 61.5%... The Dow Jones Industrials Average slipped 44 points, and closed at 10,409.85. The S&P 500 slipped 3.44 points to 1,108.48 and the Nasdaq Composite ended up 3 points at 2,006.68. The Dow reached a peak of 10,527 in intraday trading, its highest level since 2002 mid-March. The S&P 500 has risen an average of 1.9%, and the Nasdaq has gained an average of 4% in January the past 33 years. The Dow has posted gains in 9 of the last 12 years on the first trading day of January, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac. It has advanced an average of 2.3% during the month of January over the past 33 years... Volume was respectable, given that many Wall Street traders extended the New Year holiday. On the Big Board, a total of 1.14G shares changed hands and 1.65G shares turned over on the Nasdaq. The dollar fell 0.4% vs. the euro to $1.2592, but rebounded from its overnight low of $1.2630. Against the Japanese yen, the buck lost 0.5% to 106.93."
2004-01-02 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Kitty Pilgrim & Kelli Arena & Satinder Bindra & Casey Wian & Louise Schiavone & Miles O'Brien & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
terrorism concerns delay flights
"Tonight, concerns about a terrorist attack are disrupting airline travel around the world. British Airways today canceled another flight from London to Washington, also a flight tomorrow between London and Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh... officials tell us that that that flight number and the naming of the airline [British Airways flight 223 from London to DC] both came up through a variety of sources, one being an informant, a human source, over-seas that gave U.S. officials that information... Religious passions run high outside Baghdad's Ibn Taymiyyah mosque. The Sunni Muslims who worship here every Friday are incensed after U.S. forces raided their mosque Thursday... At a news conference, U.S. forces displayed pictures of a large arsenal of weapons, sticks of explosives, TNT, grenades, grenade launchers, AK-47s, and magazines that they say were uncovered there; 32 people, including the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque top religious leader, Imam Mahadi Emed Sumede (ph), have been taken into custody. The U.S. says it appears some of those in custody are -- 'foreigners'. Crying out for a holy war against the Americans, these protesters deny the mosque was used for terrorist activities. They say it was raided because clerics here had just set up a council to politically mobilize Iraq's Sunnis... The [Los Angeles] sheriff's department temporarily lost 110 deputies and 270 employees total to the war on terror... SM, U of MD student: 'I want my beliefs challenged. And I want them challenged by either students, by faculty or by nonuniversity members who can come on, provide me with an argument which I may disagree with. And I can argue with them and challenge my beliefs and learn from them.' The University of Maryland, like many universities, has a speech code that enrages free speech advocates. Drafted in 1990, the code goes on at great length about sexual harassment and prohibits a wide range of behaviors, including 'suggestive or insulting sounds such as whistling, sexual looks such as leering, and holding or eating food provocatively'. A loose-knit coalition of free speech advocates called FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights and Education, estimates that about 40% of the nation's roughly 3K state-sponsored universities maintain speech codes... This summer, the university had to back down from another common speech-related policy, one restricting protest to small free speech zones, after an American Civil Liberties Union court challenge. The tug-of-war between what is offensive and the fundamental American right of free speech has raged on campus for years, with political correctness slowly gaining the upper hand. Now it seems the pendulum may be heading in the other direction... Price tag for the souped up golf carts christened Spirit and Opportunity [robotic exploration vehicles sent to Mars], more than $800M, 3 times the cost of the probes that cratered... Mission scientist Marc Gollenback (ph) was there in the summer of 1997 when the last air-bag bounced on mars. The craft inside, Pathfinder with a tiny rover named Sojourner captivated the world with the first pictures from the martian surface since the Viking landing successfully touched down in 1976... Passengers applaud as a Japanese train sets a world speed record, 581 kilometers or 361 miles per hour. The train is powered by magnetic levitation, [and] opposing magnetic fields propel the train forward. A southern California local government group is pushing for more federal money to develop a 270-mile network of maglev trains running between the region's airports. Other proposals that would connect Anaheim to Las Vegas, Baltimore to Washington, DC, and Pittsburgh to its suburbs are also being studied. Supporters say maglev trains would reduce freeway and airport congestion and cut air pollution. So far [Red China] has the only maglev line in commercial operation... But skeptics say maglev trains aren't worth the cost. Japan, Germany and [Red China] have all scaled back maglev plans because of financial concerns. Southern California's proposal would cost more than $6G... Robert Lenzner of _Forbes_: 'the economy can't expand as fast as it did in the third quarter, when it grew by 8%, and profits of the big companies grew by 35%.'"
Sergeant Randy Davis, sniper in the Stryker Brigade (reported in Eric Schmitt _NY Times_
In Iraq's Murky Battle Snipers Offer USA a Precision Weapon
"We don't have civilian casualties. Everything you hit, you know exactly what it is. You know where every round is going."
Floyd Norris _NY Times_
Energized by the Economy, Small Stocks Lead the Way to Big Gains
"Small stocks had their best year ever and some stars of the bubble era made impressive come-backs."
UK Computing-Market Indices
graph of job ads
Steven R. Weisman _NY Times_
Iran Turns Down American Offer of Relief Mission
"The government in Tehran cited the overwhelming difficulties facing relief workers, but did not rule out the possibility of a future visit."
Patricia Leigh Brosn _NY Times_
In One Suburb, Local Politics With Asian Roots: Perhaps best known as the head-quarters of Apple Computer, Cupertino, CA, is gaining new attention as a beacon of Asian-American politics.
"But perhaps the most potent symbol of the transformation of this sprawling Silicon Valley suburb may be found at the Joy Luck Place in the Cupertino Village shopping center, where members of the city's Asian-born power elite strike deals over dim sum and tea in a new twist on the smoky back-room... Asian-Americans now make up 19.3% of the population in the Bay Area, and 31.1% in San Francisco. But Cupertino, which is about 45 miles southeast of San Francisco, has undergone an even bigger change. Its population of 50K is now 44.8% Asian-American, compared with less than 10% in 1980. Unlike in other places with booming Asian populations - most notably Los Angeles - the demographic shifts here have translated into significant political involvement. 9 out of 28 local elected officials are Asian-American... Her first employer, Altos Computers, paid for her master's in business administration."
Jonathan D. Glater _NY Times_
Off-Shore Services Grow in Lean Times: Those Pushing Off-Shoring Thrive While Millions of American, European, Australian Workers Are Displaced
"others call the makings of an economic nightmare. The business of his privately held company, one of Procter & Gamble's consultants, is to advise companies about moving white-collar jobs over-seas. That process is a hot-button issue in American business and politics, both awash in worries that the job losses in American manufacturing over the last 3 decades [have been corroding] the service and technology sectors, as well... Moving operations to cheaper locations has always been a response to economic weakness; in this case, though, consultants say the shift is unlikely to slow or reverse as the economy improves. With excess capacity for almost every kind of service function making competition intense, companies have every reason to take advantage of the lower wage scales in other countries... 'How do we make sure that the jobs that are off-shored,' Mr. Kodali explained, 'that the people who were in those jobs, have opportunities?' That task may become more difficult as the kinds of jobs that companies want their over-seas employees to perform continue to change... any functions that are not unique to the company and are not part of its essential business, said Rudy Puryear, director and head of the information technology practice for Bain & Company in Chicago. 'Activities that are highly proprietary and that are unique to the company, it's particularly difficult' to move, he said. And companies are reluctant to relocate those operations whose secrets they need to protect - the development of corporate strategies, for example... Todd Furniss, the chief operating officer of Everest Group, another firm specializing in helping companies move operations off-shore, distinguished between rules-based and judgment-based operations... Andersen Consulting, the company now known as Accenture, played a critical role at this juncture, helping Procter & Gamble identify countries that would be hospitable. The company and its consultants narrowed the list of cities to 12 from 104 and eventually picked ... the company has sold most of its employee services operations in each location to International Business Machines, which runs them for Procter & Gamble but can also offer the same services using the same facilities to other companies."
"Washington has not made any serious attempt at reform since the Reagan administration... American officials cannot keep pretending that 8M to [12M] illegal immigrants do not exist. A simple crackdown aimed at sending all illegal immigrants back where they came from would not work. It would simply drive people without proper documentation deeper into the shadows, where they would continue to be at the mercy of unscrupulous employers and would be afraid to report crimes, send their children to school or seek treatment when they had infectious diseases."
_Madison Wisconsin Journal Times_
State legislation aims to keep jobs in state
"State senator Bob Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, is supporting the American Jobs Act, legislation drafted to require all contractual services purchased by state agencies to be performed in the United States. The legislation was drafted by state Sen. Judy Robson, D-Beloit, and state Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, in response to what they described as the continued out-sourcing of jobs by American companies to other countries... Green Bay experienced a similar loss of tax-payer-supported jobs last year when eFunds Corp. moved its call center to India."
2004-01-04 12:34:06PST (15:34:06EST) (20:34:06GMT)
Corruption arrests tied to South Korean affiliate of IBM
"Prosecutors indicted 48 government and IBM company officials Sunday on corruption charges linked to a South Korean affiliate of the U.S. computer giant, a media report said. Yonhap news agency said prosecutors alleged that IBM's South Korean branch and its local affiliates used bribes to win some 66G won ($55M) worth of procurement contracts from government agencies." ---
Mars Exploration Rover Mission
Sara Rimer _NY Times_
Unruly Students Facing Arrest, Not Detention
"She was one of more than two dozen students in Toledo who were arrested in school in October for offenses like being loud and disruptive, cursing at school officials, shouting at classmates and violating the dress code. They had all violated the city's safe school ordinance... Schools are increasingly sending students into the juvenile justice system for the sort of adolescent misbehavior that used to be handled by school administrators... Others, however, say the trend has gone too far. 'We're demonizing children.', said James Ray, the administrative judge for the Lucas County juvenile court, who is concerned about the rise in school-related cases. There were 1,727 such cases in Lucas County in 2002, up from 1,237 in 2000... According to an analysis of school arrest data by the Advancement Project, a civil rights advocacy group in Washington, there were 2,345 juvenile arrests in 2001 in public schools in Miami-Dade County, FL, nearly three times as many as in 1999. 60%, the project said, were for 'simple assaults - fights that did not involve weapons - and 'miscellaneous' charges, including disorderly conduct."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
The Joyless Recovery (4 pages)
"The stock market is surging and the economy appears to be booming, but Judith Pike is getting out of business. 'I'm finished; I'm out of here.', said Mrs. Pike, owner of Acme Grinding, whose customers have been vanishing and whose work force has shrunk from 40 to 4. Two days before Christmas, Mrs. Pike sold her business and more than 40 machines used to grind and finish metal parts. 'It will be for pennies on the dollar.', she said. 'Less than what it cost to buy just one of these machines.'... here in Rockford, and in the nation as a whole, factory owners like her have seen their worlds turned upside down. And their struggle goes a long way toward explaining why this continues to be such a joyless recovery. More than 11K jobs have disappeared in and around Rockford in the last three years, and many of those are not expected to return. Motorola shut down a big repair plant not far from Mrs. Pike's company last year, eliminating more than 1K jobs, even as it invested $1.9G in a new electronics factory in [Red China]... Manufacturers have been shedding jobs in the United States for decades, moving plants to low-wage countries or squeezing ever more production from fewer workers at home. But the process accelerated recently, with manufacturers trimming a whopping 2.8M jobs over the last 3 years alone. A study published in August by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that more than half of those job losses stemmed from structural changes and were likely permanent... This is the second 'jobless recovery', the first having occurred after the slow-down in 1990 and 1991... This city has long been synonymous with manufacturing. It has scores of automobile suppliers, tool-and-die makers, machine-tool producers and small companies that provide contract manufacturing services. The unemployment rate is nearly 11% in the city and about 8% in the surrounding Rock River Valley, much higher than the national average of 5.9%... One of the few thriving metal-working industries here is the business of scrap metal - mainly because of voracious demand from [Red Chinese] steel mills. Some of the metal is discarded industrial machinery from factories that have closed... Companies that once sold easy-to-replicate products to nearby car companies are being bypassed by distant rivals in [Red China]. "We have lost our technological edge, our pricing edge and in many cases our quality advantage," said Eric Anderberg of Dial Machine, testifying before a recent panel on manufacturing that was convened by the Commerce Department... North American Tool, which makes precision tool parts, was able to retain its 100 employees over the last three years and is now beginning to have a solid pickup in demand. But it specializes in customized parts ordered by the dozens rather than the thousands..."
2004-01-05 07:44PST (10:44EST) (15:44GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Construction spending up 1.2%
full Commerce Department report
"Led by outlays for homes, spending on U.S. construction projects rose 1.2 in November after an upwardly revised 1.1% gain in October, the Commerce Department estimated Monday. Total spending on construction hit a record annual rate of $934.5G in the month. Outlays are up 7.4% in the past year."
2004-01-05 10:06PST (13:06EST) (18:06GMT)
Frank Barnako _MarketWatch_
On-line holiday sales rise 30%
"Virtual registers were busy this holiday season as consumers drove holiday shopping sales up 29.5% in the last 2 months of 2003. Sales in the holiday season, which runs between November 1 and December 31, totaled $12.5G, according to preliminary data from ComScore Networks. These sales exclude revenue generated from travel or auction-related transactions. For the full year, on-line retail spending hit $52G, up 22% from 2002. The growth rate of nearly 30% in the holiday season tops ComScore's previous estimate for growth of 25% to 30%."
2004-01-05 13:48PST (16:48EST) (21:48GMT)
Jenny Spitz _MarketWatch_
Kmart gains on positive sales update
"Kmart gained 27%... but most other top retailers declined Monday as analysts weighed in with pessimistic previews of their holiday sales results."
2004-01-05 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Bob Franken & Lisa Sylvester & John King & Kitty Pilgrim & Bill Tucker & Jamie McIntyre _CNN_
Foreign Visitor Tracking System
"The government has launched a huge program to photograph and finger-print millions of foreign visitors. Critics, however, say it will do little to stop terrorists... U.S. companies are not only shipping American jobs over-seas. They're also destroying the living standards of middle-class Americans... the CIA says the latest audio-tape attributed to Osama bin Laden is likely his voice. Terrorism experts say the tape could be a sign another big terrorist attack is imminent... Of the 8M to 10M [some sources say 8M to 15M] illegal aliens in the United States, half of them are estimated to be Mexicans... The federal government today launched a massive new screening program to track millions of foreign visitors to this country. Citizens from most foreign countries will be photographed and finger-printed when they arrive at air-ports and some sea-ports... The program has the benign name US-VISIT... At 115 U.S. air-ports and 14 seaports, foreign visitors will undergo what amounts to a digital finger-printing and will have their pictures taken as well. The information will be matched against various watch lists and will become part of a permanent record; 28 nations are excluded. Some of those that are not excluded are not happy. Brazil, for instance, is retaliating by fingerprinting U.S. tourists. But officials insist, it is only a minor inconvenience. And many who had just under-gone the process agreed, even some Brazilian visitors... The so-called VISIT program gives visa waivers to 27 countries, mostly European countries. Nearly all Canadian visitors will be exempt as well from this new system. Those 27 countries include the largest nations in Western Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as 17 smaller European nations. Countries outside Europe that are exempt from the new program include Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore. There are also more a few other several significant holes in the programs as well. Dozens of sea-ports in this country are not yet included in this new registration system. And foreign visitors arriving from Mexico and Canada are also exempt... The average U.S. manufacturing worker is paid more than $21 an hour, Mexico, far less, and in [Red China] and India, only 25 cents to 27 cents an hour. An American textile worker makes $15 an hour. In Costa Rica and Mexico, wages are less than $3 an hour, in [Red China], only around 48 cents, and, in VietNam, even less, about 22 cents an hour. Call center workers in India are paid as little as $1.35 an hour. Accountants in [Red China] make just under $2 an hour, according to the McKinsey & Company Group. This puts downward pressure on American wages... if the high-paying jobs move off-shore, that could leave him and other American workers permanently under-employed... Labor groups say, the U.S. government needs to take a long, hard look at trade agreements and to negotiate protections for American workers, the same way safe-guards are built in for U.S. multi-national corporations... Most of the candidates acknowledge that cheap foreign labor, lower pay, fewer worker rights, and fewer regulations have caused the hemorrhage of jobs over-seas... Coalition For the Future American Worker: 'How much longer can Iowa workers be the punching bags for greedy corporations and politicians? First, meat packers replaced Iowans with thousands of foreign workers. Next, wages were cut almost in half. Now, politicians want new laws to import millions more foreign workers and give amnesty to illegal aliens.'... After a rough and tumble landing which put the Spirit, a 400-pound vehicle right where NASA wanted it, the rover is not expected to extend its legs and get rolling until a thorough checkup is complete. The immediate desired destination? A depression near the rover that scientists have named Sleepy Hollow... Seven months to journey to the surface of Mars. And as you were speaking, we're looking at that panoramic, the 3-D image that has just come back. Color photographs on their way. It will be about nine days on it before Spirit, the rover leaves the platform and heads out... the army investigation concluded that the Iraqi prisoners brought to a detention camp in southern Iraq last May were mistreated by 3 army military police officers, all from the same Pennsylvania reserve M.P. battalion. The reservists have all been demoted, fined and discharged from the military, 2 under less than honorable conditions after deciding to accept administrative punishment rather than risk a court-martial that could have sent them to prison... Master Sergeant Lisa Girman, a 14-year veteran Pennsylvania state trooper, was found to have mistreated an Iraqi prisoner by repeatedly kicking him in the groin, abdomen and head, and encouraging her subordinate soldiers to do the same. Staff Sergeant Scott McKenzie was found to have abused a prisoner by holding his legs apart and encouraging others to kick him in the groin, while other U.S. soldier kicked him in the abdomen and head. And Specialist Timothy Canjer was determined to have mistreated a detainee by violently twisting his previously injured arm and causing him to scream in pain. A fourth reservist Shawna Edmundson was given a less than honorable discharge in lieu of a court-martial... George Washington: 'If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it. If we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.'... the Agriculture Department today said it will destroy 450 calves in a Washington state herd that has now been linked to mad cow disease. Those calves include the offspring of the cow that tested positive for the disease. And 2 more letter bombs have been sent to members of the European Parliament. They exploded today. A third letter bomb was discovered before it blew up. At least 7 letter bombs have been intercepted since last week. No one has been injured..."
Mark Niesse _AP_/_Yahoo!_
US Government Has Begun Taking Finger-Prints, Tracking Visiting Foreigners
"Authorities began scanning finger-prints and taking photographs of arriving foreigners Monday as part of a new program that Home-land Security Secretary Tom Ridge said will make borders 'open to travelers but closed to terrorists'. The program, aimed at letting Customs officials instantly check an immigrant or visitor's criminal background, targets foreigners entering the 115 U.S. air-ports that handle international flights, as well as 14 major sea-ports. The only exceptions will be visitors from 27 countries -- mostly European nations -- whose citizens are allowed to come to the United States for up to 90 days without visas. Ridge was at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to meet with some of the first foreign passengers to go through the new system."
Carlotta Gall _NY Times_
Afghan Council Approves Constitution
"Delegates at a national meeting approved a new Constitution for Afghanistan on Sunday, concluding 3 weeks of often tense debate. Their decision heralded a new era of democracy after a quarter-century of war... For the first time, Afghans have set up a democratic presidential system, with a directly elected president and a 2-chamber national assembly; elections are to be held in just 6 months. An independent judiciary is also being organized. In a carefully balanced wording, the country will be renamed the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, combining democracy and religion. There is to be a system of civil law, but no law will be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of Islam. The 502 delegates from all over Afghanistan who have been assembled in a vast white tent in Kabul Polytechnic approved the Constitution by acclamation. They said prayers, then rose and stood in silent respect."
Matt Richtel _NY Times_
Regulation of VOIP
"As a member of the Florida Public Service Commission, [Charles Davidson] is a regulator who is eager to see Internet telephone service spread because he predicts it can make the nation's phone services less expensive and richer in features. That is why Mr. Davidson wants the federal and state governments to let Internet-based phone service blossom, free from regulation, taxes and surcharges. Like a growing number of officials who advocate minimal oversight of the service - including Michael K. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission - Mr. Davidson says Internet telephone service should be treated just like other unregulated Internet services, including e-mail messaging and web surfing... Because Internet-based phone service rides over traditional telephone or cable lines, it will not work unless the conventional phone network is intact... While consumers may pay less each month for Internet telephone service than for regular phone service, they cannot obtain the service unless they first have high-speed Internet access - on which they are likely to spend $40 to $70 a month. So the ability to use Internet phone service may actually require a total monthly outlay of $100 or more. Those are table stakes far higher than the bare-bones 'life-line' conventional telephone service subsidized by the regulated industry's universal service fund, which can make basic dial tone and 911 service available to the poor or elderly for less than $10 a month in some states."
John Markoff _NY Times_
5 Giants in Technology Unite to Deter File Copying
"That way everyone can celebrate the long-awaited recovery for the consumer electronics and entertainment businesses that manifested itself in their best holiday buying season since the late 1990s."
David Bernstein _NY Times_
Song-Writers Say Piracy Eats Into Their Pay
"Song-writers think of themselves as the unsung victims of Internet music piracy since their incomes can depend on royalties from sales of recorded singles and albums."
Geraldine Fabrikant _NY Times_
Hollinger Board Accused of Lax Supervision
"The board of Hollinger approved deals benefiting top company executives without independent analysis, according to a law-suit filed by a major Hollinger share-holder."
Michael Liedtke _AP_/_Seattle Washington Times_
High-Profile, High-Tech Under-Taker Takes Up Residence in Silicon Valley
"Amid rising hopes for a high-tech turnaround, there's this sobering sign: Martin Pichinson, a man who has buried nearly 150 failed startups since 1999, has swooped into Silicon Valley like a vulture lurking over a pack of wounded animals. Pichinson, a self-described 'doctor of reality' who helps liquidate companies, says he wouldn't have moved from Los Angeles to Palo Alto a few months ago had he not smelled more high-tech trouble looming... Pichinson figures more than 50K people have lost their jobs on his death watch."
John Gerome _AP_/_Knoxville News_
Tennessee's 5.7% unemployment rate in November highest since 1997
"The 2 hardest hit sectors are manufacturing and construction, which have lost 6,900 jobs and 4,700 jobs, respectively, since 2002 November. Transportation and warehousing also had heavy losses with 4K jobs disappearing... On average, the service jobs that have been replacing durable manufacturing jobs do not pay as well, although Fox says there are many exceptions, especially in the health fields."
Stacy A. Teicher _Christian Science Monitor_
Update on 4 long-term job seekers: Still looking
"A former vice president at Putnam Investments, he has spent the past 2-1/2 years job hunting and doing 'survival' work in the Boston area - including selling recreational equipment at REI... Four former executives who were working the cash register with him at REI finally landed jobs back in the corporate world... Getting a foot in the door doesn't seem any easier yet - especially for the nearly 2.5M people who have been looking for work for at least six months or have stopped looking out of discouragement. That's because, compared with the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, this one resulted in more permanent job losses, says Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Economy.com in West Chester, PA..."
Andrea Jares _Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram_
Home starts and foreclosures high
"In January, 3,007 homes were posted for foreclosure in Tarrant, Dallas, Denton and Collin counties, the highest monthly batch of foreclosures since the real-estate crash of the late 1980s. During the fourth quarter, 7,608 homes were posted for foreclosure, also the highest number since the crash. Construction of new homes also soared. There were 29,823 home starts during the first 3 quarters of 2003, according to Metrostudy, a housing-analysis company, on par with the 29,812 home starts in the first three months of 2002, itself a record year."
2004-01-05 16:59PST (19:59EST) (2004-01-06 00:59GMT)
Bambi Francisco _MarketWatch_
It's beginning to feel eerily like 2000
"While it feels eerily like early 2000 just ahead of the market tipping point in March of that year, there are many differences between then and now... The U.S. adult population grew to 126M in 2003, up from 86M in 2000 March, according to Pew Internet & American Life Project. On-line advertising revenue has surpassed levels unseen since the Fall of 2001, and is growing at a 20% clip... Reports out on Monday from Goldman Sachs and ComScore show that on-line commerce grew 30% in the holiday season... advertisers spend a bulk of their dollars trying to create demand, and not just to fulfill demand."
2004-01-06 06:12PST (09:12EST) (14:12GMT)
Irwin Kellner _MarketWatch_
Green-back's pull-back needs perspective
"The problem isn't that the U.S. dollar has fallen against the euro. The problem is that it hasn't fallen enough against the rest of the currencies out there... What matters is where the dollar was before its decline, and how it measures up against all the other currencies that trade in world financial markets... what's been happening in the foreign-exchange markets is not only no big deal -- it's actually healthy all around... First of all, before the dollar began its slide against the euro, it was seriously overvalued against the single currency. This means that our goods were very expensive to holders of euros, while their goods were very cheap here. The flows of goods reflected this. Imports were sucked into the U.S. as our firms had a tough time selling abroad. Naturally, this added to our foreign trade deficit -- not to mention hurting our important manufacturing sector... U.S. manufacturers are already benefiting from this change in trend. The Institute for Supply Management reported the other day that factory activity in December jumped by the fastest rate in 2 decades... it's fallen only half as much against a broader index of 35 currencies, according to the Federal Reserve Board. It's also gone nowhere against [Red China's] currency, which remains nearly 60% under-valued against the dollar. That's the country with which we are running our biggest bilateral trade gap -- even though [Red China] is only our third-largest trading partner. And there are other currencies besides [Red China's], such as those in Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, which have fallen against the dollar over the past 2 years. By the Fed's calculations, the dollar has actually risen some 5% against the currencies of these other important trading partners."
2004-01-06 07:01PST (10:01EST) (15:01GMT)
Lay-Offs at US Firms Ease in December
"Planned lay-offs at U.S. companies fell to 93,020 in December from 99,452 in November, job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. said in its monthly report. For 2003, job cuts declined to 1,236,426 from 1,466,823 [in 2002]... For the first time in 3 years, lay-offs in the government and non-profit sectors in 2003 out-paced job cuts in the telecommunications sector, it said."
2004-01-06 08:27PST (11:27EST) (16:27GMT)
Jeffry Bartash _MarketWatch_
Fresh data paint mixed economic picture
"Factory orders fell 1.4% in November, as expected, in a Tuesday report from the Commerce Department that investors heavily discounted because much of the information was considered old... For October, orders were revised to an increase of 2.4% from the 2.2% initially estimated... The Institute for Supply Management reported that its non-manufacturing index fell to 58.6% from 60.1% in November... Also Tuesday, the out-placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas reported that publicly announced U.S. lay-offs fell 6.5% in December from the month before, though the fourth quarter saw the heaviest round of job cuts in 2003. In December, publicly announced lay-offs totaled 93,020, down from 99,452 in November and flat compared with 2002 December. The total was just below the average job cuts of 104K per month announced last year. None the less, planned job cuts registered 364,346 in the fourth quarter, or 51% higher than in the third quarter, Challenger said."
2004-01-06 11:25PST (14:25EST) (19:25GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Will Job Market Improve (graph)
"U.S. businesses announced 93,020 job cuts in December, down 6.5% from 99,452 in November, according to Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which keeps track of monthly job-cut announcements. December's announcements slightly exceeded those of 2002 December, when 92,917 cuts were announced. There were 364,346 announcements in the fourth quarter, making it the largest job-cut quarter of 2003. The first quarter had the second-most cuts, with 355,795. There were 1,236,426 job-cut announcements in all of 2003, down 16 percent from 1,466,823 in 2002... Industrial goods makers led the job cutting in December, announcing 12,039 cuts, according to Challenger. Computer firms announced 10,496 cuts, telecommunications firms announced 8,740 and consumer products makers announced 7,303. For the full year, government and non-profit employers announced the most cuts, with 177,215, followed by telecommunications, which announced 111,342... The percentage of people in the Conference Board's monthly consumer confidence survey who say jobs are 'hard to get' has stayed near the highest level in a decade..."
2004-01-06 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & John King & Lisa Sylvester & Peter Viles _CNN_
Bush's amnesty/guest-worker proposal
"The White House today called on Pakistan to live up to its promises to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The White House statement reflects new concerns about nuclear proliferation, after published reports that Pakistan supplied Libya with nuclear weapons technology. Pakistan strongly denies any involvement in nuclear transfers. U.S. officials, however, fear individual Pakistani scientists may have helped Libya for personal gain... Administration officials acknowledge that those in this country now illegally, some of them will be able to come forward and join a new temporary worker program and keep their jobs and get on the path eventually to legal status here in the United States... President Bush wants to pave the way for millions of illegal aliens working in the United States to be legally recognized. It would allow illegal aliens to remain in the country as long as they had a willing employer... In 1986, President Reagan signed an amnesty bill. Since then, the number of illegal aliens have grown from an estimated 5M in the early 1980s to as many as 12M [or possibly 15M] today... Now Maytag is closing its factory and moving most of the work to a new plant in Mexico. And Galesburg is bracing for an unemployment rate of 20% and an uncertain future... But now the jobs, all 1,600, are leaving... Scott Ward: 'You can't go to work knowing that you do a good job every day. And, if you're in manufacturing, knowing that you're making a good product, that's not what is going to keep your job here. You have to understand that they can move to Mexico or to the Pacific Rim and have your job done for pennies-on-the-hour wages.'... JC made $15 an hour, but Maytag is building a new refrigerator factory in Reynosa, Mexico, where workers are paid less than $1 an hour... The local jobless rate right now, 9%. There are fears it may rise to 20%. At the heart of this story is a broken promise. Free trade agreements promised workers at plants like this one a chance to export their products to new markets around the world. But the reality is, the only thing being exported from this city is American jobs... _The Times of India_ says Bangalore now has 150K information technology engineers and says that is 20K more than are now employed in Silicon Valley, California... Joseph Stiglitz: 'Well, it [NAFTA] didn't live up to its promise. A lot of people thought that it was going to be the magic bullet that would lead Mexico to prosperity. In fact, the gap between the United States and Mexico has actually grown in the decade. Real wages in Mexico have actually fallen, and the growth in Mexico in the last decade is much poorer than it was in the decades after, say, 1948... Mexico is being hurt by our huge subsidies for agriculture... remember, after NAFTA was signed, unemployment in the United States fell. It fell to 3.8%... The point I'm making is that when you have the economy managed well, it can create jobs even though we're reshifting our economy, losing some low quality jobs and gaining high quality jobs... we have to do at a global level is make sure that we have fair trade agreements, and the problem is United States has been advocating unfair trade agreements [unfair to other countries].'... we're watching hundreds of thousands of high valued jobs being transferred, along with capital and production facilities, over-seas. No one ever anticipated that situation, did they? Joseph Stiglitz: 'Well, what we anticipated is that at the same time we would also be creating new jobs... We have unemployment, because the president, President Bush, decided to push a tax cut for upper income Americans rather than the kind of stimulus that the country needed and would have gotten us out of the economic down-turn far quicker than it did. We've lost 3M jobs in the last 3 years. We should have been creating...' And $1.5T [really $35G] in stimulus isn't enough to drive it, you think?..."
2004-01-06 15:31PST (18:31EST) (23:31GMT)
abc News/Money poll shows consumer confidence at highest level since 2002 July
"The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index, which assesses consumer views on the economy, personal finances and the buying climate, is now at -7 on a scale of +100 to -100, its best level since July 7, 2002. Despite a late year surge, the index averaged -19 in 2003, its worst annual performance since 1994. 42% of Americans last week said the economy's in good shape, raising ratings for this category to their highest level since 2002 May. The highest level of confidence in this category was set at 80% on 2000 January 16, while the lowest, 7%, occurred in late 1991 and early 1992. About as many, 41%, say it's a good time to buy things. Consumer confidence in this category edged up slightly from 40% the previous week and hovers between its best level, 57% set on 2000 January 16, and its worst, 20% set in 1990 Fall. 57% of respondents rate their own finances as excellent or good, up from 55% the week prior. Consumers expressed the most confidence in their personal finances on 1998 August 30 and in 2000 January when ratings reached 70%. All 3 gauges are now at or just above their 18-year averages."
David Barboza _NY Times_
Questions Seen on Seed Prices Set in the 1990s
"Senior executives at the 2 biggest seed companies in the world met repeatedly in the mid- to late 1990s and agreed to charge higher prices for genetically modified seeds, according to interviews with former executives from both companies and to court and other documents. The Monsanto Company and Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. acknowledge that their executives met to discuss genetically modified seeds. Monsanto also said the companies discussed prices, but added that they were engaged in legitimate negotiations about changes to an existing licensing agreement, not illegal price fixing."
Dan Hurley _NY Times_
Crime Control a Neighbor at a Time
"Dr. [Felton] Earls [a psychiatrist] and his colleagues argue that the most important influence on a neighborhood's crime rate is neighbors' willingness to act, when needed, for one another's benefit, and particularly for the benefit of one another's children... Will a group of local teenagers hanging out on the corner be allowed to intimidate passers-by, or will they be dispersed and their parents called? Will a vacant lot become a breeding ground for rats and drug dealers, or will it be transformed into a community garden? Such decisions, Dr. Earls has shown, exert a power over a neighborhood's crime rate strong enough to overcome the far better known influences of race, income, family and individual temperament... His study, based in Chicago, has challenged [complements] an immensely popular competing [complementary] theory about the roots of crime. 'Broken windows', as it is known, holds that physical and social disorder in a neighborhood lead to increased crime, that if one broken window or aggressive squeegee man is allowed to remain in a neighborhood, bigger acts of disorderly behavior will follow."
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_/_Job Bank USA_
Can Job Situation Continue?
"US businesses announced 93,020 job cuts in December, down 6.5% from 99,452 in November, according to Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which keeps track of monthly job-cut announcements. December's announcements slightly exceeded those of 2002 December, when 92,917 cuts were announced. There were 364,346 announcements in the fourth quarter, making it the largest job-cut quarter of 2003. The first quarter had the second-most cuts, with 355,795. There were 1,236,426 job-cut announcements in all of 2003, down 16% from 1,466,823 in 2002... '...year in which more than 1.2M people fell victim to down-sizing.', said John Challenger, the firm's CEO. 'That is more than double the 553,044 job cuts averaged annually during the 6-year period before the recession.' Industrial goods makers led the job cutting in December, announcing 12,039 cuts, according to Challenger. Computer firms announced 10,496 cuts, telecommunications firms announced 8,740 and consumer products makers announced 7,303."
_Economic Times of India_/Lou Dobbs 2004 _Exporting America: Why Corporate Greed Is Shipping American Jobs Over-Seas_ pg83
Sili Valley falls to Bangalore
Bangalore now has 150K IT engineers, 20K more than are currently employed in Sili Valley.
2004-01-07 11:45PST (14:45EST) (19:45GMT)
George W. Bush
White House brief
"between 1891 and 1920 -- our nation received some 18M men, women and children from other nations [about 600K per year as compared to 2,300K per year, now]... About 14% of our nation's civilian work-force is foreign-born. Most begin their working lives in America by taking hard jobs and clocking long hours in important industries... more than 35K foreign-born men and women currently on active duty in the United States military... we should have immigration laws that work and make us proud. Yet today we do not. Instead, we see many employers turning to the illegal labor market. We see millions of hard-working men and women condemned to fear and insecurity in a massive, undocumented economy. Illegal entry across our borders makes more difficult the urgent task of securing the home-land. The system is not working... our laws should allow willing workers to enter our country and fill jobs that Americans are not filling... If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job. Third, we should not give unfair rewards to illegal immigrants in the citizenship process or disadvantage those who came here lawfully, or hope to do so... I propose a new temporary worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. This program will offer legal status, as temporary workers, to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States, and to those in foreign countries who seek to participate in the program and have been offered employment here. This new system should be clear and efficient, so employers are able to find workers quickly and simply... Employers who extend job offers must first make every reasonable effort to find an American worker for the job at hand. Our government will develop a quick and simple system for employers to search for American workers. Employers must not hire undocumented aliens or temporary workers whose legal status has expired. They must report to the government the temporary workers they hire, and who leave their employ, so that we can keep track of people in the program, and better enforce immigration laws. There must be strong work-place enforcement with tough penalties for anyone, for any employer violating these laws. Undocumented workers now here will be required to pay a one-time fee to register for the temporary worker program. Those who seek to join the program from abroad, and have complied with our immigration laws, will not have to pay any fee... Decent, hard-working people will now be protected by labor laws, with the right to change jobs, earn fair wages, and enjoy the same working conditions that the law requires for American workers. Temporary workers will be able to establish their identities by obtaining the legal documents we all take for granted. And they will be able to talk openly to authorities, to report crimes when they are harmed, without the fear of being deported."
2004-01-07 11:48PST (14:48EST) (19:48GMT)
Tech Execs Try to Defend Moving US Jobs Over-Seas; Argue that shifts are necessary for profits
2004-01-07 12:49PST (15:49EST) (20:49GMT)
Jennifer Loven _AP_/_San Diego Union-Tribune_
Illegal immigrants who register could stay for 3 years under Bush plan
"His plan would create a temporary worker program for [illegal alien] workers now in the United States and those in other countries who have been offered employment here."
2004-01-07 13:25PST (16:25EST) (21:25GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Nasdaq hits 29 month high
"The Nasdaq Composite ended the session up 20 points or 1% at 2,078, its best closing level since 2001 August."
2004-01-07 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & John King & Lisa Sylvester & Stuart Rothenberg & Casey Wian & Jamie McIntyre & Bill Tucker & Peter Viles _CNN_
Bush's amnesty program for illegal aliens
"President Bush today out-lined a new immigration plan that critics say will give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in this country. The president's plan will enable illegal aliens to work legally in the United States as temporary workers. The plan would also allow those illegal aliens to apply for permanent residency... he would like these new 3-year visas to be available to prospective immigrants now outside of the United States, so long as there is a job waiting for them in the United States that no American will take... those temporary visas should also be made available to the 8M to 10M [to 15M] illegal aliens in the United States, so long as those illegals could come forward and prove that they already have a job and if they are willing to pay a registration fee... He says there are jobs waiting for workers. He also says it is compassionate to bring these undocumented workers out of hiding... George W. Bush: 'We must make our immigration laws more rational and more humane. And I believe we can do so without jeopardizing the livelihoods of American citizens.'... Tom Tancredo: 'People are here illegally. They need to be deported. People who hire them need to be fined. If they keep doing it, they need to be sent to jail. It's against the law.'... But many, including the Chamber of Commerce, favor more broad amnesty for those in the United States illegally, some sort of a permanent program... There are 38.7M Hispanics in the United States. In the 2000 election, 13M were U.S. citizens. Only 7.5M were registered voters. And fewer than 6M Hispanics actually voted in the presidential race... Pro-immigration groups... said his proposals reward businesses that employ illegal aliens, while doing nothing for illegal aliens themselves... Glenn Spencer of American Border Patrol: 'This is asinine. This is turning the United States into a day labor center.'... At least 35 American soldiers have been wounded in a mortar attack against their base west of Baghdad. The military says about 6 mortars struck the logistical base in Balad in the Sunni Triangle. It is among the worst attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq in recent weeks... A Harvard study found that, for example, in California, during the mid-1990s, [it cost] the average household in the state of California...$1,200 a year to provide services to illegal aliens...in that state. The issue here is a diffused cost to the country, other studies showing $190G to $200G in costs to this economy [to] tax-payers at the state, federal and local level, while businesses are paying low wages to illegal aliens, instead of hiring Americans... Angela Kelley of National Immigration Reform: 'People are here and they are working. But without legal status, it is very easy for employers to exploit them.'... 1, I would enforce security at our borders. Absolutely. No. 2, I would make certain that everyone who employed an illegal alien was penalized under the terms of the law. No. 3, I would make certain that everyone who comes to this country receives a fair wage. And, secondly, in all of this, I would make certain that our immigration policy reached out to people whose skills and talents were needed in this economy and rationally considered, not simply allowing a flood of immigrants to arrive from Asia, from Europe, from Mexico, Central America, without any concern for our laws at the border... All across America they gather. Those displaced by H-1B Visas, L1 Visas, those that lost their job to [off-shore] out-sourcers... Representative Rosalea DeLauro of CT has a bill to limit the number of L1 Visas and it's co-sponsered by Representative John Mica of FL. Representative Nancy Johnson, also of CT has a proposal to change the L1 and H1-B Visa programs. Representative Tom Tancredo of CO wants to completely eliminate the H1-B Visa program... The argument goes when qualified workers are available American countries shouldn't be turning their back on them... The Sanford study is showing as many as 14M jobs at risk to exporting abroad. We thank you very much. In a report released just today, chief executives from some of this country's leading technology company defended their exporting of American jobs to cheap over-seas labor markets. The CEOs are members of the something called the Computer System Policy Project... 2 advertising executives face criminal charges in a Manhattan court-room alleging they cheated the federal government by over-billing for the work they did for the government's ad campaign for the war on drugs. Two executives at Ogilvy & Mather indicted on criminal charges alleging they systematically over-billed the government. Thomas Early and Shona Seifert were both senior partners at Ogilvy. They both left the agency and both pled not guilty today in federal court. The alleged over-billing estimated at less than $1M, took place in 1999 and 2000 during the Clinton administration when Ogilvy was beginning a 5-year contract valued at $684M. Prosecutors have a source inside Ogilvy who tells us he was part of the conspiracy. Former Congressman Bob Barr, one of the first to spot the billing problem blames both the government and the ad agency... It [Ogilvy] paid $1.8M in 2002 to settle civil charges... They said, guys, we're not billing enough, let's just bill more, change the time cards."
Keith Bradsher _NY Times_
Red China Has Announced New Bail-Out of Big Banks
"[Red China] announced a complex transfer on Tuesday of $45G from its soaring foreign exchange reserves to 2 of the 4 big government-owned banks, the third large bail-out in the banking system in less than 6 years... The central bank admonished the commercial banks to do a better job of controlling fraud and limiting bad loans... Beijing bars Chinese journalists from reporting on the full extent of the banks' troubles, especially writers for mass-media publications read by many depositors. But with their promises of tough action against errant bank officers, the statements issued on Tuesday by the central bank and other agencies hinted at a concern about public perceptions of the bail-out. The costs of the American savings and loan bail-out more than a decade ago - $123.8G in public funds and $29.1G in supplemental deposit insurance premiums from financial institutions - drew considerable complaints from politicians and the public in the United States. [Red China] has been eager to prevent a similar controversy. Its latest bail-out, while costly, covers less than half of the non-performing loans at 2 of the 4 troubled banks, and in an economy that is one-eighth the size of America's."
Ted Bridis _Atlanta Georgia Journal-Constitution_
Technology Firms Attempt to Rationalize Moving US Jobs Over-Seas
"Worried about possible government reaction to the movement of U.S. technology jobs over-seas, leading American computer companies are defending recent shifts in employment to Asia and elsewhere as necessary for future profits and warning policy makers against restrictions."
Grant Gross _InfoWorld_/_IDG_
Tech CEOs Claim that Hiring Off-Shore Workers Is Good
"Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP). The 20-page report, titled _Choose to compete_, calls on U.S. law-makers to avoid 'protectionism' through limits on international trade and collaboration, and instead to form a partnership with U.S. companies to improve how the nation competes globally. 'Because U.S. companies are operating globally, they must hire qualified workers around the world to meet customer demands and expand their capabilities -- a business model that makes sense, given that increasing corporate revenues come from abroad.', says the CSPP, representing chief executive officers (CEOs) at 8 U.S. IT companies... But organizations representing IT workers, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA (IEEE-USA) have questioned how moving jobs off-shore helps unemployed IT workers in the U.S. In late 2003, U.S. the unemployment rate for electrical and computer hardware engineers was near 7%, according to the IEEE-USA. 'Their interest is in profits.', Ron Hira, chairman of the IEEE-USA's research and development committee, said of off-shoring defenders during an interview last month. 'They don't feel a responsibility to their work-force.'"
2004-01-07 21:29PST (2004-01-08 00:29EST) (2004-01-08 05:29GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _MarketWatch_
Little economic effect expected from Bush's illegal alien amnesty plan: more about politics than the economy
"Bush proposed granting temporary legal status for millions of illegal immigrants working in the United States... 'New immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job.', Bush said in an East Room speech announcing the plan... Under the terms of the proposal, undocumented workers would be allowed to apply for temporary worker status in the U.S.A. for an unspecified number of years and receive benefits already given to the legally employed, such as minimum wage and due process. Those who are approved also could apply for a green card granting permanent residency in the U.S.A. Workers in other countries could also apply for guest worker status in the U.S.A., provided there was no American to take the job... Michael Piore, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology... noted that the program would require workers to have a long-term relationship with their employer, something most of the 6M undocumented workers don't have. And those that do have a long-term relationship with their employer are unlikely to expose themselves as having provided false documents in the past and run the risk of being deported after 3-years if they have not been granted citizenship... it is estimated there are fewer than a million workers who are completely off the books... Bush said the government would increase the number of workers eligible for citizenship (currently 140K are granted annually), but he did not say how much that would increase."
2004-01-08 00:34:09PST (03:34:09EST) (08:34:09GMT)
Norm Matloff _H-1B/ L-1/ Off-Shoring e-News-Letter_
major change point for the USA
2004-01-08 04:20PST (07:20EST) (12:20GMT)
Jonathan Krim _Washington DC Post_/_Yahoo!_
Executives Say that US Could Lose Technology Dominance
"An organization of high-technology executives yesterday renewed industry calls for government spending and tax cuts to spur research, improved mathematics and science education and policies that make building technology infrastructure a national priority. With India, [Red China], Russia and other countries rapidly becoming technology centers, the executives warned that without such measures the United States could lose its dominance in the knowledge economy... By some estimates by financial consulting firms, 10% of jobs at U.S. information technology vendors will move off-shore by the end of this year... Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) has introduced legislation that would require employees of call centers to identify their location. Organizations of technology employees, many of whom remain out of work after the post-tech-bubble downturn, argue that companies are simply reaping greater profits at the expense of U.S. workers. In November, Indiana governor Joseph E. Kernan (D) canceled a $15M contract with an out-sourcing firm that would have had engineers in India upgrading state computers, even though a domestic contractor cost more."
2005-01-08 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (13:30GMT)
Thomas Stengle _DoL ETA_
un-employment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 546,823 in the week ending January 3, an increase of 30,431 from the previous week. There were 620,004 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.9% during the week ending December 27, an increase of 0.3 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,724,660, an increase of 485,181 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.2% and the volume was 4,081,930."
2004-01-08 07:34PST (10:34EST) (15:34GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
UnEmployment Compensation Insurance Claims Up for Week, Down on Average
"The average weekly number of initial claims for state unemployment benefits over the past 4 weeks fell by 5,500 to 350,250 in the week ending January 3. It's the lowest number since 2001 February 3. However, claims in the most recent week increased by 14K to 353K. Initial claims had fallen 3 weeks in a row... The 4-week average has fallen by about 50K in the past 3 months... The number of Americans collecting state unemployment benefits in the most recent week ending December 27 fell 12K to 3.27M. The 4-week average of continuing claims dropped to 3.275M, the lowest since 2001 Sept 22. The figures do not include some 770K workers receiving extended federal unemployment benefits, which are available only after state benefits are exhausted, typically after 26 weeks. The federal program is phasing out. No new workers will be eligible for the program."
2004-01-08 08:35PST (11:35EST) (16:35GMT)
Jennifer Waters _MarketWatch_
Last-minute shopping brings up holiday sales figures
"An eye-popping 74% of the retailers tracked by Thomson First Call served up better-than-expected December sales results Thursday as spending sprees in the final days ahead of Christmas were only outdone by a rush of post-holiday shopping... Cumulatively, the results rolled in with a 4.2% increase in sales at stores open longer than a year -- a key industry bench-mark known as comparable-store sales. The results were in line with predictions by the International Council of Shopping Centers but ahead of even the best intra-month average projection reached by analysts surveyed by First Call."
2004-01-08 14:15PST (17:15EST) (22:15GMT)
Andrea Coombes _MarketWatch_
Over-due credit kkkard bills reach new high
"Late-paying American consumers drove the number of past-due credit-card bills to its highest level ever in the third quarter, even as other consumer-loan delinquencies fell, according to the American Bankers Association. The number of delinquent credit-card accounts rose to 4.09% of all accounts in the third quarter last year, up from 4.04% in the second quarter, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to the ABA's survey of banks released this week. The previous record-high was 4.07% in the fourth quarter of 2002. 'Clearly the weak job market has had an impact on people as unemployment has lengthened.', said Keith Leggett, senior economist with the ABA... Of the total credit-card dollars owed, 4.66% is late, up from 4.51% in the second quarter, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, but below the record-high of 5.45% in 1996... Counting eight installment-type loans, including auto, personal and home-equity loans, the delinquency rate dropped to 2.14% of all accounts in the third quarter, seasonally adjusted, from 2.18% in the previous quarter... Personal-loan delinquencies fell to 2.75% of all such loans, from 3.17%, and late payers on indirect auto loans, which are borrowed through financing and other companies and not directly from banks, dropped to 1.8% from 1.86%. Past-due payments on home-equity lines of credit dropped to 0.52% from 0.63%. Still, some installment loans saw a rise in delinquencies. Late payments on auto loans borrowed directly from banks rose to 2.46% from 2.41%, while home equity loan late-payments rose to 2.52% from 2.48% and mobile-home loan delinquencies moved to 6%, from 5.98%."
2004-01-08 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Harris Whitbeck & Peter Viles & Casey Wian & Bill Tucker _CNN_
amnesty program, Enron plea bargain
"An estimated 7M illegal aliens in this country are Mexican citizens... As we have reported here, the millions of illegal aliens in this country already are driving down wages for Americans by as much as $200G a year. President Bush's proposal will, without question, benefit some corporations, many employers, but it will cost workers even more... George W. Bush: 'Our laws should allow willing workers to enter our country and fill jobs that Americans are not filling. And I believe we can do so without jeopardizing the livelihoods of American citizens.'... Bill Hawkins of the US Business & Industry Council: 'The impact is going to be to keep wages down. It's supply and demand. Increase the supply in a given demand situation and prices fall. And, in this case, prices are wages.'... 9M Americans are officially unemployed and real wages have fallen in this country over the past 30 years. And by giving employers a new option, to seek out cheaper foreign labor with the government's blessing, the proposal also appears to create a new incentive for those employers to offer wages so low that no American will take the job in the first place. Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute: 'You will often hear it said that we need an immigrant work force in this country because no one else will take these jobs, no one else will perform these services in the low-end sector. But, in fact, that's really not the case. What we are really saying is, no one will take these jobs, given their current quality, given the wages and the compensation that they pay.' Immigration, both legal and illegal, is already driving wages down in low-wage jobs. A UCLA study of wages earned by construction corkers, gardeners, cooks, and farm workers found that nonimmigrants in those professions suffer a wage penalty of up to $200 a month, because recent immigrants, both legal and illegal, drive down wages for everyone... Sheila Jackson Lee: 'We are 6M [visa] applications behind at the Department of Home-land Security... It would be almost impossible to deport between 8M and 14M individuals... But what his bill is, is a temporary guest program that I don't necessarily support. And the reason is, because all you do is encourage individuals to either not go into the program or, when the 3 years is up, then become someone who is deportable. Let's have an earned access to legalization, get people in line, assess their criminal background, what kind of job commitment they have, the investment they have made in this country, and get them in line for citizenship.'... Harvard studies show that $190G to $200G a year are lost in wages to working men and women in this country as a result of illegal immigration... Tom Tancredo: ' There are 8M, 12M, sometimes people even suggest 15M people who are here illegally. The existence of those people here right now depresses labor, regardless of what happens beyond that. It is a supply-and-demand issue. And if you have 12M people right here who are vying for low-skill, low-wage jobs, I assure you that that, in and of itself, if you didn't do another thing, would have a very depressing effect on wage rates, and it already has.'... Tom Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce: 'The reason we have 10.5M, or whatever the number is, illegal aliens in this country, or illegal workers, is, we don't have sufficient workers to take these jobs. If you take all the unemployment in our country, which is a little less than 9M, figure half of those are structurally employed, there are not near enough to take care of the hospitals and the nursing homes, the hotels, and all of the jobs these people fill... 70% of the jobs in this country do not require extensive training... you can go to Los Angeles and, for $250, you can buy a [Socialist Insecurity] card, a driver's license and a green card.'... the most recent estimate that I have seen suggests that two-thirds of illegal immigrants coming to this country don't even have a completed secondary education. They do not speak English, for the most part. How effective a work force can they be?... Tony Samaniego, of San Diego, California: 'It is not Fiorina's God given right to pay [Red Chinese] or Indian wages and expect to get American prices and exorbitant CEO bonuses to return for driving our standard of living into the ground.'... Levi Strauss closed its last manufacturing plant in this country after making jeans for more than is 50 years in the United States, Levi has moved all its production overseas to suppliers and workers at a fraction of wages paid to Americans... In 1997 Levi Strauss had 37 North American factories, and 37K employees world wide. Now the plants and 15K workers are gone mostly to [Red Chinese] sub-contractors... The company's sales dropped for 7 straight years to the lowest level since 1990... Juan Zarate, deputy assistant treasury secretary: 'Worldwide we have frozen over $136M in assets, seized over $60M [of alleged terrorists], and we've had an unprecedented effort worldwide... We also work very closely with all the federal regulators, like the Office of Comptroller Currency and the Federal Reserve System to make sure that they are checking to make sure those types of safe-guards are in place.'... OFAC, the Office of Foreign Asset Control... federal officials report that more than 90 children, however, died of the flu this season."
Elisabeth Bumiller _NY Times_
Bush's Plan for Amnesty for Illegal Aliens (graphs)
Sheryl Gay Stolberg _NY Times_
Mad Cow Case Aids Push for Food Labeling
"to require that super-market meat carry country-of-origin labels immediately... contend that they benefit consumers as well as independent farmers and ranchers, who could get a premium price for meat labeled Made in America. Critics, including meatpackers and the major organization representing cattlemen in the United States, say labels are too costly and do not improve food safety... The labeling requirements, which apply to beef, pork, fish and fruits and vegetables, are scheduled to take effect on September 30, under a bill passed in 2002. But the spending bill includes a provision that would delay the program by two years for all foods except farm-raised catfish and Alaskan salmon products, which face stiff foreign competition and are produced in Mississippi and Alaska, the home states of two powerful appropriators, Senators Thad Cochran and Ted Stevens."
Ian Austen _NY Times_
"The apartment has 360 LED arrays, and about 20 yards of plastic ribbons embedded with the glowing semiconductors... Despite its enormous number of light fixtures, [the] apartment uses no more electricity than four 100W incandescent bulbs would... he spent $50K to create the apartment's lighting system... About 20% of all electricity in the United States is used for lighting... About 90% to 95% of the electricity that goes into most incandescent bulbs is converted to heat rather than light... The vast video screens and animated signs that cover buildings in Times Square are the most dramatic commercial use of the technology. But the most common applications tend to be prosaic. Many traffic signals, Walk/Don't Walk signs and indicator lights on trucks and buses use LEDs... Currently no LED produces light of a color that that is suitable for everyday household use. The best produce a white light that has a pronounced and very unflattering blue tinge... Christmas lights with LEDs can provide up to 200K hours of continuous use."
Ted Bridis _AP_/_Philadelphia Inquirer_
Off-Shoring of High-Tech Jobs Rationalized
"Leading technology companies urged Congress and the Bush administration yesterday not to impose new trade restrictions aimed at keeping U.S. jobs from moving over-seas, where labor costs are lower... The effort shows the industry's growing concerns that lawmakers may clamp down on the off-shoring of U.S. jobs during an election year... 'This is not a recipe for job creation in this country.', said [Marcus] Courtney, president of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, of Seattle. 'This is a recipe for corporate greed. They're lining up at the public trough to slash their labor costs.' A Commerce Department report last month said increasing numbers of technology jobs were moving from the United States to Canada, India, Ireland, Israel, the Philippines and [Red China] - and predicted that 'many U.S. companies that are not already off-shoring are planning to do so in the near future'."
Matt Marshall _San Jose Mercury News_
Off-Shore Labor Drove Firm to Brink
"Go ahead, join the lemmings in the rush to India. But if you're a Silicon Valley entrepreneur or venture capitalist still considering it, contemplate the over-the-cliff tale of Ishoni Networks. Last month, the Santa Clara start-up filed for bankruptcy, a victim of moving to India too quickly. Backed with more than $68M from venture capitalists from the United States of America and elsewhere, Ishoni once was branded a rising star. It was developing a cutting-edge chip to allow voice and data services over a single Internet connection -- and was valued as high as $200M and employed 170 people. Seeking to cut expenses, Ishoni created a subsidiary in Bangalore, India, and hired software engineers there on the cheap. Weirdly, though, the subsidiary stopped returning phone calls from Ishoni's Santa Clara-based chief operating officer, Amin Varis, early last year. Varis made a surprise visit to India in May and learned a big lesson about how much damage 12K miles of distance -- even when connected by Internet and phone lines -- can do. Indian executives, he found, had forced their engineers to join a rival firm, Ample Wave Communications, apparently in a scam to scoop up Ishoni's intellectual assets and then bankrupt it. Ishoni notified police, and 3 Ishoni India executives were charged with illegally copying Ishoni's software..."
2004-01-09 15:05PST (17:05EST) (22:05GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Dow closes on triple-digit loss: Nasdaq follows on weak job market data
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 134 points, or 1.3%, at 10,458, its first triple-digit intraday decline since November 17. Alcoa, SBC Communications and AT&T were the most notable fallers. In the first full week of trading for 2004, the bench-mark index gained 49 points, or 0.5%. The Nasdaq Composite ended its winning run -- 5 consecutive sessions of gains -- to close down 13 points, or 0.6%, at 2,087. That was well off an intraday high of 2,113... The Nasdaq ended the week with a 4% gain, based on last Friday's close of 2,006.68. The S&P 500 was down 10 points or 0.9%, at 1,122. Total volume was 1.7G on the NYSE and 2.5G on the Nasdaq Exchange. On the broader market, there were an equal number of advancers to decliners on the NYSE, while decliners out-paced gainers by a margin of 19 to 12 on the Nasdaq Exchange."
2004-01-09 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles & Katharine Barrett & Bill Tucker & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
job creation stalled, interview with commerce secretary Don Evans
"virtually no new net jobs created in this economy last month, corporate America enjoying rising profits, while unemployed Americans struggle to find work and pay their bills. In 'Exporting America' tonight, not only does this country have a half-trillion dollar trade deficit with the world; Americans don't even own the ships that bring those products to our shores... more than 300K people looking for work simply abandoned their search for jobs... retailers cut 38K jobs last month, on top of 28K jobs they cut in November... Backed by worker productivity gains, corporate profits rose an estimated 22% last quarter... Richard Trumka: 'The jobs that are being created...two-thirds of them are part-time, and they are inferior when it comes to wages, on average, $2.50 an hour less.'... Americans are working harder, smarter and more productively and they have nothing to show for it right now... Labor leaders now talk of 15M Americans who want work. And here's how they get there: 8.4M officially unemployed, another 1.5M not working, but not counted as unemployed, because they have given up working lately, and another 4.8M who want a full-time job, but can only find part time work, total 14.7M. Now, there is another factor. And that is the huge underground labor market in the United States, illegal workers. It is likely there is job creation in that sector. And it could well be that that job creation hurting job growth in the legal economy... [State] governments are using tax-payer dollars to employ workers in India, Mexico, and other countries to do government business... The Indian sub-contractor building Washington's new health authority software has repeatedly delayed delivery... The bill to ban [off-shore] out-sourcing of state contracts sailed through the New Jersey Senate, passing unanimously on a vote of 40-0, and then hit a brick wall in the assembly state government committee, where it sat for over a year and was never given a hearing or a vote. The Information Technology Association of America opposed the bill and actively lobbied against it... The ITAA is an industry alliance. Time Warner, parent of CNN, is a member. The bill was also supported by NASSCOM, a consortium of companies in India that provide out-sourcing services. Public relations powerhouse Hill & Knowlton represents NASSCOM's interests... The senator [Shirley Turner of New Jersey] will re-introduce her bill to ban tax-payer money from going to overseas labor as early as next week... Foreign companies have bought out nearly all of the top American cargo carriers. And now our port terminals are increasingly under the control of, you guessed it, foreign companies. $750G worth of goods come into the United States on ships each year, but not one of the top 10 international shipping companies is American-owned... Four major American shipping companies have been bought in the last six years. The premier American shipper, Sealand, has been bought by Danish-owned Maersk. A company once known as American Presidential Line is now called APL and has been bought by Singapore-based NOL. Lykes was bought by Canada's C.P. Ships, and Farrell bought by Anglo-Dutch P&O. One reason for the buyouts, foreign governments often subsidize their international shipping companies. So many American firms found they just couldn't compete in international shipping... An estimated 50% of East Coast terminals and 30% of West Coast terminals are leased and operated by foreign companies.... Virtually all U.S. oil imports that come by sea are transported by foreign vessels... One of [Red China's] leading exports to this country is furniture. Today, the United States International Trade Commission voted unanimously that there is evidence that cheap [Red Chinese] imports are hurting American furniture-makers. The Commerce Department now must decide whether [Red China] is illegally dumping that furniture and whether then to take action. Last year, the government imposed anti-dumping sanctions against [Red Chinese] textile and television makers... Don Evans: 'I wake up every morning thinking about what it is we can do to... improve the conditions for job creation... including making the president's tax cuts permanent, including doing things like encouraging Congress to pass an energy bill, encouraging Congress to take action to reduce health care costs and to reduce the lawsuit burden on our businesses all across America... the global economy is becoming more integrated, more interlinked, more networked than anybody thought imaginable even five or 10 years ago. But I really think it is all about free trade and open trade and fair trade. And I think that's healthy in the long run for the American economy and the American workers. I think the more we work to open up trade all around the world, open up markets for our good products and our good workers around the world, it means that our economy will be stronger. And so I'm not concerned about the level of job out-sourcing that I hear about... remember, this is a very dynamic economy. It's an economy that creates some 1M new jobs every week.'... Illegal aliens in this country may number more than 12M people. Close to half of the illegal aliens reside in the 4 states that border Mexico, more than 5.5M people, California, 3.5M, Texas with 1.6M... Before being folded into the Home-land Security Department, the Immigration and Naturalization Service revised estimates up to 8M, well below current estimates... Kathleen Newland of the Migration Policy Institute: 'I don't think we know how to make people leave, if we did know how to make people leave, we wouldn't have 8M to 12M people living here without authorization today... not every immigrant who comes to the United States wants to stay here forever. Some want to be able to come and go to work for a few years and then go home... I think there is work that Americans don't want to do at the wages offered. But the pattern in this country for centuries has been that people come take the jobs on those lowest rungs and then work their way up. Once they started working their way up, they don't want to go back to the lowest rungs.'... more than 10% of Mexico's current population now lives in the United States. Yet Mexico is one of the wealthiest countries in all Central and South America in this hemisphere outside the United States and Canada... Mexican citizens in this country, legally and illegally, send an estimated $14G in hard currency back to Mexico, second only to the amount of money generated by Mexican oil, $17G... In more than three decades after they died, the remains of two U.S. Navy pilots have been returned to the country. The Pentagon says the pilots were killed when their war plane was shot down over North VietNam in 1973. More than 1,800 American troops are still MIA from the VietNam War... Do you find it fascinating that no one is trying to figure out how many jobs are being out-sourced [off-shored] under various means and guises? It's critically important. The Labor Department isn't tracking it, commerce isn't tracking it, business associations aren't tracking it. Labor organizations aren't tracking it... Nearly every CEO we have talked with all over the course of years have invested billions of dollars in [Red China], talking about it as a consumption market. It turns out, whoops, [Red China] is a production market, not a consumption market. And what we thought is a production market is a consumption market, the United States... every proponent of free trade says it isn't a zero sum game. I would love to get us to zero. We're down a half trillion. We're looking at $3T in claims against American assets... I think there are a few people who might say some probably 15M of them, who say, hell, we need to earn first then we'd be delighted to save, too... we're not only exporting jobs, we are also exporting intellectual capital, technology, and the factors of production to over-seas economies."
David Barboza _NY Times_
Bias Issue Faces Judge in Monsanto Case
"A federal judge now presiding over a price-fixing case involving Monsanto did not disclose that he was once listed as a Monsanto lawyer in a case that covered some of the same issues."
Tracie Rozhon _NY Times_
Holiday Sales Hopping for Luxuries (with graph)
"Store sales for last month, measured against the same stores open in December 2002, rose 3.7%, according to the Bloomberg composite same-store sales index. Last year, called one of the worst in decades by analysts, holiday sales rose 2.2%... Bloomberg said its composite index rose 3.26% in November... The sale of 18-karat gold watches, for example, rose 12% in the holiday season, through December; watches from $5K to $10K rose 16%, according to LGI Network, which tracks watch sales. Over all, while store sales were up 12.6% at Neiman and its Bergdorf Goodman unit, sales rose 27% for Neiman's online and catalog sales... The Bloomberg index for department stores rose only 1.62%, weighed down by the more traditional department store chains - Federated and the May Company - which barely eked out a positive comparison with last year. Saks, on the other hand, rose more than 9% and Tiffany rose 16%."
Putting Sex Slavery on Notice
"Around the world, about 1M women and children are seduced into leaving their home-lands every year and forced into prostitution or menial work in other countries. Most are duped with promises of good jobs in more prosperous nations. These cases are not confined to remote parts of the world. Of the 15 nations the State Department listed last year as having done little or nothing to stop this growing human rights abuse, five of the worst offenders were in the Western Hemisphere: Belize, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname. A study by the Inter-American Commission of Women at the Organization of American States in Washington shows that Latin American nations have mostly sat back as women and children were treated as chattel... Young Mexicans were enslaved in several states, including Texas, Florida and New Jersey... Evangelical groups were partly responsible for President Bush's strong statement at the United Nations on human trafficking. They also won the appointment of John Miller, a former congressman from Washington State, as an adviser on human trafficking to Secretary of State Colin Powell."
Paul Krugman _NY Times_
Enron and the System
"Although Enron prosecutors finally seem to be getting somewhere, it would be a big mistake to conclude that the system is working. It isn't... The charges against Mrs. Fastow don't focus on dubious corporate deals; they focus on her failure to report the personal kickbacks she received from participants in those deals. And it's still unclear whether the company's top executives will ever face charges. More important, in political terms the statute of limitations may already have run out. The political figures with the most direct ties to the Enron scandal, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White and former Senator Phil Gramm, are no longer in office. War and a rising market have, at least for the time being, diverted attention from the role of other political figures whose deference to corporate demands aided and abetted Enron and other corporate malefactors."
David Abraham _NY Times_
American Jobs but Not the American Dream
"President Bush's immigration reform proposal, unveiled on Wednesday, is a classic guest worker program on the European model. As such, it may be doomed from the start... Guest worker programs were widely used in Europe from the 1950's through the 1970's during a period of [alleged] extreme labor shortages... Germany's guest worker program was ended more than 2 decades ago. Yet Germans still have not resolved the question of what to do with the millions of immigrants living in their midst. Although these immigrant workers get some benefits of citizenship -- health care, for example, and unemployment insurance -- they are not citizens. They are not allowed full membership in German society, yet neither are they forced to return home. It is virtually impossible to find anyone in Germany today who would favor re-establishment of its guest worker program."
Carolyn Lochhead _San Francisco Chronicle_
US workers object to being displaced by cheap, less-skilled foreign labor
"Comments made in Washington on Tuesday by Carly Fiorina, CEO of Palo Alto information technology giant Hewlett-Packard, and Craig Barrett, chief executive of Santa Clara chip-maker Intel Corp., drew an unusually strong reaction from workers, who suggested the pair forfeit their own highly paid jobs to [Red Chinese] or Russian executives working for a quarter of their pay... But with unemployment at 7.2% in Santa Clara County in November, the latest figure available, Fiorina's statement hit a sore spot. 'I am curious how Ms. Fiorina would feel about her job being outsourced to China or India.', Sean Ryan of Alameda, where the county unemployment rate is 6.1%, wrote in a representative e-mail to The Chronicle. 'I am certain that there are many extremely bright, ambitious and successful executive types in those countries who would be able to do her job just as well if not better than she can at a cost savings to HP share-holders of millions of dollars per year.' Many Bay Area residents argued that it was the low wages in India and [Red China] that were motivating Silicon Valley corporations, not a lack of skilled U.S. workers. Some argued for 'Buy America' campaigns and greater U.S. self- sufficiency. 'I have many, many friends who are unemployed, and continue to be so because they are ''over-qualified'' or ''not a good fit'' for a particular position.', one tech worker at Bechtel Corp. in Seattle wrote. 'I'm talking about people with degrees from Caltech and Stanford... It's not that Indians and Chinese are better educated. It's that they'll work for cheap, and they'll work for what most Americans couldn't live on. That's the issue.'"
Mike Cassidy _San Jose Mercury News_
Tech titans tell government to let them do as they will but spend money to help them
"At the same time tech titans are madly moving jobs to low-wage countries, they are asking political leaders here to keep the United States competitive and make it a job-creation machine... Solutions like, well, 2 mostly. First, government should leave business alone. Don't pass restrictions on trade or moving jobs over-seas. Second, spend money. Not Intel's money or HP's money or IBM's money or the money of Dell, EMC, Motorola, NCR or Unisys. See, that's their money. The report calls for spending government money -- billions in federal, state and local tax money. It urges more government spending on research and development. It calls for fixing our failing schools. It calls for corporate tax breaks."
Dean Reynolds _abc News_
Laid-Off Workers Just Cannot Find Comparable Jobs
"after 30 years as a systems engineer -- laid off from a job that had paid him close to $100K annually. Now [he] holds down a part-time job at a Best Buy in suburban Chicago and freelances. His annual income? 'I'll be lucky if I can crack $10K.', he said... For millions of Americans today, being employed means lowering your expectations... for the most part the new positions are on the lower end of the pay scale. And now, with white collar jobs being farmed out to nations overseas, that situation is unlikely to change for years. John Challenger of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a firm that helps workers look for new jobs, said it's important that American workers come to terms with this new reality. 'There isn't going to be any miraculous job rebound.', he said. To suggest that this economy is capable of creating 250K jobs a month is 'unfair', he added... S worked at the local printing plant in Cedar Rapids for 27 years. When he was laid off he was making about $22 an hour. Now he drives a delivery truck for less than half that wage."
2004-01-10 02:00PST (05:00EST) (10:00GMT)
Jon Friedman _MarketWatch_
Red Chinese Piracy
"[Red China], featuring more than a billion untapped consumers who might just embrace all sorts of U.S. movies, represents one of the world's most promising markets. But until the nation can conquer its piracy problem, it'll fail to fulfill its potential - and will continue to frustrate both Western media and entertainment companies and the Chinese government. The problem is so rampant that it's a common sight along some of [Red China's] streets to glimpse [pirates] peddling the latest Hollywood block-busters - and the hottest-selling compact discs... Of course, piracy is hardly a problem that is exclusive to [Red China]. The U.S. has its own head-aches trying to grapple with the thieves... China remains one of the largest offenders in the piracy problem around the world, and it is the No. 1 nation in the Asia Pacific area in terms of losses to U.S. intellectual property copyright holders, making up $168M of the overall $3G lost worldwide each year, according to a report compiled last year by the Motion Picture Association, a trade association in Washington. [Red China] is feeling the effects of its negligence, too. Indeed, the foreign direct investment in China plummeted 39% in 2003 November from year-before levels and is not likely to expand by 10% from 2002's $57G, as the [Red Chinese] officials had predicted."
Douglas Jehl _NY Times_
Hussein Assigned P.O.W. Status
"The prisoner of war status sets standards for how Saddam Hussein is treated and allows the Red Cross to see him."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
Bush Seeks Ways to Create Jobs, and Fast
"The problem confronting Mr. Bush is that there is little he can do between now and the elections except wait and hope that the employment picture improves. And the administration is not likely to get much more help from the Federal Reserve, which has already reduced short-term interest rates to just 1%... Last year's tax cuts are expected to produce another big bulge of tax refunds and lower tax bills between now and June - about $40G in extra cash flow to households, according to economists at Goldman Sachs and Macroeconomic Advisers... Both the White House and the Fed are confronted by a recovery unlike any other in modern history. Economic growth has been soaring for months, corporate profits have shot up and the stock market has regained much of its old ebullience. Yet job creation has been slower than in almost any previous recovery, and wage growth has slowed to a crawl. That appears to reflect another big new element that lies entirely outside the president's control: the enormous increases in productivity, which have made it possible for companies to squeeze more output from each worker. 'The evidence is powerful that we can have 4% or 5% growth without hiring much.', said John Makin, a senior economist at the American Enterprise Institute."
John M. Broder _NY Times_
Governor Schwarzenegger Seeks Big Cuts in California's Spending Plan
"Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's first state budget, a $76G spending plan, includes cuts in health care, public education and payments to local governments."
Karen W. Arenson _NY Times_
Students' Data on Web, and N.Y.U. on Defensive
"NYU notified about 1,800 of its students that their Social[ist In]Security numbers, phone numbers, and names had been posted on the Internet... NYU officials said the information was posted on an Internet page run by Brian Ristuccia, a computer technician in Massachusetts who found it on NYU's web site in a list of students interested in intramural sports. The university said it was considering taking legal action."
David Brooks _NY Times_
Workers in the Shadows
"Imagine a person 10 times as determined as you are. Picture a guy who will wade across rivers, brave 120-degree boxcars and face vicious smugglers and... vigilantes - all to get a job picking fruit for 10 hours a day. That person is the illegal immigrant... Between 1986 and 1998, Congress increased the Border Patrol's budget 6-fold. Over that time the number of [illegal aliens] in the U.S.A. doubled, to 8M."
Paul Craig Roberts _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
Clarifications on the Case for Free Trade
Gil Guillory: Comparative Advantage vs. Absolute Advantage
George Reisman: A Reply to Schumer and Roberts
Response by Don Boudreaux
Comment & Clarification by Don Boudreaux
Jose Ferre: Some nuances on Roberts's last reply
Michael Newton: Absolute advantage
Robert P. Murphy, Free Trade and Factor Mobility
Robert P. Murphy, Who Benefits from Free Trade, and How
Paul Craig Roberts: The Real Issue
"Economists need to address precisely what is being traded when a US multi-national discharges its US employees and hires foreign ones."
Robert P. Murphy, Can trade bring poverty?
Robert P. Murphy, Is Free Trade (or "Free" Trade) Wrecking the USA?
James R. Edwards _NY Times_
Astray on Amnesty
"The Bush administration¥s amnesty/guest-worker proposal should be promptly pricked and all the president¥s men brought back in touch with reality. The idea is yet another mass amnesty of alien law-breakers, this time in the guise of a massive 'guest-worker' scheme just as the president prepares to visit Mexico... DHS recently killed the NSEERS alien registration program. Males 16 years or older here on a temporary visa from 25 terrorist-sponsoring countries had to register with immigration authorities. Some 83K aliens showed up to register. About 14K registrants were breaking our immigration laws and held in custody. Another 143 were arrested on criminal charges, and 11 were connected to terrorism. That is, nearly 17% of NSEERS registrants were violating our laws. By actually enforcing these laws, thousands more illegal aliens left the country on their own. Many illegal aliens fled to Canada or their own country; they 'self-deported'."
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
Incentives Lure Many to Quit, Even With a Lean Job Market
"Fortified with big pension pay-outs and promises of health benefits, early retirees are gambling on the devil they don't know rather than sticking with the devil they do."
Mark Landler & Daniel J. Wakin _NY Times_
The Rise and Fall of Parma's First Family
"The epic accounting fraud that may have siphoned more than $10G out of Parmalat has brought ruin to one of Italy's most ambitious family dynasties."
Jacob S. Hacker _NY Times_
Risks Have Been Shifted
"The reality is that the economy has become more uncertain and anxiety-producing for most of us - not just over the past 3 years, but over the past 30... an increasing shift of economic risk from government and corporations onto workers and their families. Signs of this transformation are everywhere... University of Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics... family finances have grown much more insecure... In fact, the instability of family incomes was roughly 5 times greater at its peak in the 1990s than in 1972... incomes have grown little for the middle class and working poor - even as wages have become more unstable, the financial effects of losing a job have worsened, and the cost of things families need, from housing to education, has ballooned..."
Kimberly Blanton _Boston Globe_
US Job Market Poised
"the job market is responding slowly. Historically, when the country emerges from a down-turn, employment lags as cautious employers try to make do with people who are already on the pay-roll... The collapse of high-tech manufacturing caused the state's total employment to plunge dramatically to 3.195M currently from 3.371M in 2001 January. In November, the most recent month for which state data is available, total non-farm employment fell 7,800... Last year, growth in demand for high-tech equipment nationwide - from semiconductors and machines that make them to computer parts and other electronic equipment - grew nearly as fast as it did during the boom, about 17.7% in the first 10 months, he said. Rising demand for high-tech products caused Massachusetts' manufacturing employment to expand, albeit modestly, for four consecutive months. November saw the biggest gain in factory jobs - 600 - according to a monthly survey of the state's nonfarm businesses. Various factors point to job growth in 2004, Clayton-Matthews said. Massachusetts' unemployment rate declined for 3 consecutive months, to 5.4% in November from 5.8% in August."
Robert P. Murphy _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
Free Trade and Factor Mobility
2004-01-12 04:39PST (07:39EST) (12:39GMT)
Steve Goldstein _MarketWatch_
Adecco Slammed on Accounting Woes
"Shares of Switzerland-based staffing giant Adecco lost close to half their value Monday after uncovering 'material weakness' in the internal controls at a North American unit. Adecco said it would delay publishing its 2003 accounts, initially scheduled for February 4, until it resolves 'possible accounting, control and compliance' issues in 'certain countries'... Swiss-listed shares were rocked 44% at 45.60 Swiss Franks per share. Adecco is the third major European company to admit to accounting irregularities in the last year, following in the foot-steps of Italian dairy group Parmalat and Dutch food services and super-market operator Royal Ahold. Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, which was quick to cut its rating from buy to sell, speculated that the Olsten deal in 2000 unravelled. 'Olsten was primarily U.S. but did have decent sized operations in U.K. and Germany...', the broker noted. Through 9 months, Adecco posted revenues of 12.1G euros and net income of 254M euros. Its North American unit of Adecco Staffing posted revenues of 2.233G euros, and at 13M euros, 3.16% of operating income before amortization."
2004-01-12 12:18PST (14:18CST) (15:18EST) (20:18GMT)
_Dallas Morning News_
Firm to screen foreign nurses
"Hospitals have increasingly relied on foreign nurses over the last few years to alleviate the [alleged] nursing shortage, but they have been forced to deal with immigration paper-work and training certification issues on their own. Now the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council and a Nashville, TN, health care staffing and management firm are teaming up to help local hospitals hire as many as 500 foreign nurses over the next 4 to 6 years."
2004-01-12 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Dana Bash & William Schneider & Susan Lisovicz _CNN_
Bush meets with Vicente Fox at the Summit of the Americas, and Made in America?
"The president says his immigration proposal is designed to allow illegal aliens to remain in this country to do jobs that Americans don't want. Economists say those illegal aliens and high immigration levels depress working wages in the United States... Do you remember when labels carried 'Made in America' and that was a persuasive buying point in this country? Tonight, whatever happened to made in America?... Now, while the president obviously making clear that he wants to give temporary legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States, he is, he said, again, opposed to any formal amnesty. Now, as for President Fox, last week, Lou, you remember, he suggested that he wanted more out of this proposal. Today, he really embraced the idea, coming out with President Bush, saying, what we want is the plan presented by President Bush. He said, what else can we wish?... The United States, as you know, wants to put trade on the agenda here. And that has rubbed some of the countries the wrong way. They want to focus on helping with poverty, to reduce poverty in these countries, and also to change -- to promote democratic institutions. The United States, as you know, thinks that those two things are very much intertwined and you can't separate the two... The American public opposes the Bush immigration plan 55% to 42%. The plan is opposed by a majority of whites, nonwhites, Southerners, Westerners, low-income Americans, and high-income Americans, everybody, almost. Who likes the president's plan? Republicans. Most Republicans support the plan because, well, it's President Bush's plan... By better than 2-1, people say immigrants hurt the economy by driving down wages... Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute: 'Both of those sentiments are true. I think it's true that immigrants do take jobs many American workers would not take. But if those immigrants weren't here, those jobs would be of much higher quality.'... Danielle McDonough of Brenda's Best Cleaning Service: 'I wouldn't say that Americans don't particularly do this job. We're everywhere, the American people who are trying to make a living at doing something that other people don't want to do.'... The organization that represents all 9K rank-and-file Border Patrol agents today described President Bush's new immigration plan as a slap in the face. The National Border Patrol Council said the president's plan to legalize millions of illegal aliens implies this country is not serious about immigration enforcement... Richard Pierce of the National Border Patrol Council: 'Well, Lou, to tell you the truth, the support from the American people has been very good... we just can't help but feel that the president is getting some bad advice on this issue... Our members deserve strong representation on this. They go to work every day. They have rocks thrown at them. They're shot at. They're assaulted. We're the ones that are doing a very difficult job. And for someone to say that what you've done in the past just doesn't matter, we're going to legalize these people, we can't stand for that. And we won't let it go... Well, I think the first thing that should be done regarding this is, close the border, seal it up, and then direct your attention towards a guest worker program, one that can be handled with aliens that are outside the country, not to someone that's here already in an illegal status... Sealing the border, when I say that, I mean between the ports of entry. You can have legal immigration into the United States and know who's coming in here and protect the security of the home-land without worrying about who's coming through between the ports of entry.'... Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico: 'Well, I think the president's initiative is a step forward. It's a small step forward. And what I meant, Lou, was that he had an opportunity to get these 8M immigrants out of the shadows with a workable immigration plan that led to a green card and some kind of legalization. I think President Fox is being a diplomat. At least you've got the process started, but it clearly doesn't go far enough. And my worry is that there is no constituency for this proposal in the Congress. You mentioned those on the Republican side, the conservative side that say -- quote -- it's too generous. It opens up and rewards those that have come here illegally. -- endquote. Yet there is no constituency, like I think potentially a number of Hispanic groups and Democrats and moderate Republicans, that would have wanted to see what I have examined as a pretty decent proposal in terms of Social Security benefits, some worker protections, but then, at the end of three years, no light at the end of the tunnel, a threat of deportation, rather than some kind of legalization status that leads towards bringing them under the rubric of America... of course, you don't want to reward illegal immigration that comes in at the border. I think President Fox needs to do more to keep Mexicans and his people well-fed and working. He hasn't done as good as he should. We can't resolve the problem in its entirety.'... Remember when union workers picketed foreign competitors?... Or when WM boasted about its 'Made in America' program. That was about the time Hollywood said it shopped the union label. But these ads have faded to black... Bruce Raynor, president of UNITE: 'For us to advertise to the masses, to go into Macy's, and buy and look for ladies' blouses made in the United States, you will find none. So we need to send people on a mission that they can accomplish.'... Even products thought to be made in America...have a growing list of parts made off-shore. Since 1990, the U.S. trade deficit has more than quadrupled. Manufacturing is the biggest casualty... Since 1990, more than half a million jobs evaporated in the textile industry alone... But the retailers themselves don't buy American, which explains why the shelves are full of cheap imported goods... Albert Einstein: 'Everything that is really great and inspiring, is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.'..."
2004-01-12 06:57PST (09:57EST) (14:57GMT)
Steve Goldstein _MarketWatch_
Body Shop Adecco Pulls Down European Exchanges Due To Concerns About North American Accounting
"Accounting concerns at staffing giant Adecco and the selling of Infineon stock by former parent Siemens helped pull European markets lower on Monday. The German DAX Xetra 30 index declined 0.7% to 3,988 and the French CAC 40 index eased 0.6% at 3,554. London stocks also eased... Swiss staffing group Adecco was hit 36% after it said it will not be able to release an audit of its 2003 full year accounts by February 4 after finding 'material weaknesses in internal controls' in its North American operations. The company said it had to resolve possible accounting, control and compliance issues without detailing them. See Adecco Slammed on Accounting Woes."
2004-01-12 08:15PST (11:15EST) (16:15GMT)
Leslie Haggin Geary _CNN_/_Money_
Off-shoring back-lash rising: At both state and national levels politicians are rushing to introduce anti-off-shoring laws
"Politicians in at least eight states this year are slated to vote on bills that aim at banning foreign workers from public contracts. They include Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and Washington. Meanwhile, there are eight bills pending in Congress that in some way restrict the use of foreign workers in the United States or limit non-citizens from participating in government contracts. One of those bills is from presidential candidate John Kerry. The Democratic senator wants call center operators to identify themselves and their location... In fact, the use of foreign workers to perform government tasks 'is causing both Democrats and Republicans to feel pressure from constituents', says Justin Marks, research analyst National Conference of State Legislatures. 'I don't think it will go away any time soon.'... In Maryland, Democratic Assembly member Pauline Menes introduced a bill last year seeking to prohibit contractors or subcontractors from hiring over-seas employees to perform work for the state. 'It got no attention whatsoever.', said Menes. 'It was under the radar screen...'... Michigan representative Steve Bieda, Democrat, who has introduced anti-off-shoring legislation in his state and has launched an online anti-off-shoring petition drive to support his bill. Bieda learned off-shoring was a potent issue when he was campaigning door-to-door last year. Unemployed constituents kept giving him the same story... 'It was an eye-opening experience.'... In Washington State, for example, representative Sandra Romero and representative Zack Hudgins, both Democrats, introduced a bill that would ban non-U.S. workers from state jobs."
Paul Andrews _US News & World Report_
Time For a Tech Turn-Around
"Buoyed by a strong third quarter and economic-recovery euphoria, IBM announced it would add as many as 10K jobs in 2004. Less than 2 months later, Big Blue said it would export almost 5K jobs, mostly to [Red China] and India. And these weren't call-center or back-office jobs but well-paying, white-collar programming positions. Then IBM went mum on job talk... PC shipments reached a record 152M in 2003, up 8.8% over Y2K's previous high. On-line spending jumped more than 25% during the recent holiday. The number of U.S.A. Internet users reached a record 150M. And broad-band usage continues to explode, putting the industry on track to reach 40% of the world's Internet-wired homes this year... But even as businesses bump up their tech spending by 6% to 8%, says tech trend-watcher IDC, structural changes facing the sector could dampen growth. Commoditization of equipment and software will pressure the profit margins of name brand and proprietary suppliers... High-tech employment in the United States, which is expected to drop by 3.9% in 2003, continues to get whacked by off-shore hiring. Information services provided over-seas to U.S.A. businesses are expected to double in 2004 to $16G and reach $46G by 2007, predicts IDC."
Out-Sourcer Beware: Quality and security woes can eat expected savings
"The code the Indians delivered was riddled with errors. Intentia's own engineers had to re-do it from scratch. 'Indian companies are very aggressive.', says Linus Parker, president of U.S. subsidiary Intentia America Inc. However, leaders of this Indian company, which he would not name, 'over-stated their technical skills'... A 2003 June survey of 104 software projects by the Center for eBusiness at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the median Indian project had just 10% more bugs than comparable U.S. projects. So it's not a matter of whether to send work off-shore but rather under what circumstances and how to minimize risks... India, for instance, has the world's 16th-highest piracy rate. Outright theft can also be a problem. Last year, after SolidWorks Corp., a software maker in Concord, MA, out-sourced programming to India-based Geometric Software Solutions Co., a Geometric employee allegedly stole SolidWorks' intellectual property and tried to sell it to the company's rivals. The FBI helped Indian authorities make an arrest, and the programmer is awaiting trial."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Business Cheer's Bush's Plan to Hire Immigrants More Easily But Labor Is Wary
"Not only are there not enough American-trained nurses available, said [the disingenuous] Mr. Romano, who hires 300 new workers a year, but hardly any Americans are willing to take the lowly, sweaty jobs in a nursing home's kitchen or laundry... Not surprisingly, he joined executives in many industries, including hotels, restaurants, hospitals, construction and agriculture, to applaud President Bush's new proposals to revamp immigration policy and to make it easier to hire foreign workers. 'Americans just don't want to take a lower-paying, entry-level job.', said Mr. Romano, founder and owner of the Essex Group, a chain of 15 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, based in Rowley, Mass. 'They will not apply for it. Last year, I had to spend close to $300K on help-wanted ads because it was such a struggle to find people to do the jobs we need done.' Mr. Bush's proposals would give renewable three-year visas to illegal immigrants already working in the United States as well as to foreign applicants who are newly hired for jobs here. But many unions and immigrant advocacy groups have denounced the plan, saying it would create a permanent, exploitable second-tier of workers who would never have the opportunity for permanent residency and full citizenship... One fear, for example, is that a business that now pays American construction laborers $11 an hour will say that it henceforth needs laborers at $6 an hour, knowing that hardly any Americans would take arduous jobs paying so little. As a result, some labor unions say they want a wage floor incorporated into the immigration reforms. 'If you don't have these protections, you're going to have a race to the bottom.', said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a liberal group that seeks to ease immigration rules."
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
To Understand US Job Market Picture, Connect the Dots & Find the Dots
"More people are working than have as yet been recorded in the official job count - the one compiled by Bureau of Labor Statistics that gets all the attention. But the official unemployment rate, in turn, greatly understates the number of people who would like to be working... the labor force has changed, and the official data no longer easily capture these changes, particularly the sharp rise in low-wage employment. The disparities in the numbers are giving politicians unusual leeway to make conflicting claims about the employment picture... The official count is based on a monthly survey of net job changes at 400K companies, called the establishment survey. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also counts monthly job changes through a less sweeping survey, one based on interviews with 60K households... More often than in the past, for example, people who lose a job list themselves as early retirees or self-employed rather than unemployed... Andrew Sharpe, a labor economist who is helping to direct a project financed by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations to develop a more realistic measure of unemployment. 'What we really want to do in this project,' he said, 'is measure idle labor capacity; that is, the number of additional hours people would work if the jobs were there, the pay were high enough and there was adequate child care.'... 8.5M corporations across America. The expectation is that the recovery, particularly the strong economic growth in the third quarter, has stepped up job creation at existing companies while also creating jobs at new companies not yet counted by the government."
_San Diego Union-Tribune_
What's in store in 2004?
"Job cuts declined 16% in 2003, despite the heaviest downsizing of the year in the fourth quarter. That, from outplacement service Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Government and nonprofit employers announced the largest number of job cuts in 2003 with 177,215, 59% more than the second-rank telecommunications sector, with 111,342... 'it is difficult to get too excited about a year in which more than 1.2M people fell victim to downsizing.', said John A. Challenger, the company's chief executive officer. 'This is more than double the 553,044 job cuts averaged annually during the 6-year period before the recession.'... From 1995 through 1997, job cuts averaged 450,460 a year. Between 1998 and 2000, the annual average climbed to 655,629, despite the strength of the economy... The majority of callers -- 92% -- expect to find a job in 6 months or less; and less than 5% estimated a 10-to-12-month search; while the average expected 4.2 months. The average caller had been out of work for 15.6 months; nearly 36% jobless for 13 months or longer; and 14% for 25 months or more."
Indian, Other Shrimpers Accused of Dumping
"The American shrimp fishermen alleged that shrimp products from India, Thailand, [Red China], VietNam, Brazil and Ecuador are being dumped in the American market causing unprecedented material injury to them. A coalition of American Shrimp fishermen in eight southern states that includes Florida, which is politically most important for the US President George W Bush in the elections next year, are calling for slapping anti-dumping tariffs up to 267% on shrimp producers from India and others. An anti-dumping action is taken when ever there is evidence that exporter of a product is selling under normal prices to cause injury to the industry in the imported country. The complaint would be first examined by the US International Trade Commission (ITC), which will examine whether dumping is taking place from these six countries."
Harley Sorenson _SF Gate_/_San Francisco Chronicle_
The Decline And Fall of the American Job: View from the Radical Left
"But [Joe] was having a hard time making a profit. Oh, sure, he was worth a few million, but he could have been worth a lot more if labor costs weren't so high. And those unions! So, one day, Joe got a bright idea. 'Those people in Arkansas and Tennessee and South Carolina will work for a lot less than my employees.', he thought, 'so why don't I move my business down there?' And that's what he did... About the same time Joe made his move, Geno began to wonder why he was freezing his butt off in Duluth and paying big bucks to ship his frozen foods all over the country. 'I could save big transportation bucks if I moved my operation to Ohio.', Geno thought, and so he did. Duluth wept. The folks there had lost a folk hero, and the town's best employer. [Geno himself moved on to Florida and offered to build new express-ways in response to the cities' and state's declared needs if the governments would pay back his investment from tolls, but Florida bureaubums and legislators refused.] Meanwhile, the iron-mining companies pried the very last shred of iron ore out of the ground in northern Minnesota, so they left with an eye on Venezuela... logging companies... [Still later, Joe] canned his American crews and replaced them with people with Hispanic surnames... [Then] He moved his manufacturing plants to Mexico. And so it went, with Joe and all his competitors and men and women in other businesses... The hot spot now is Communist China, which specializes in slave labor. We abhor that, of course, but what can we do? If we don't send our jobs there, our competitors certainly will, and where will we be then? Out of business, that's where. The big down-side to all this is that we're destroying customers. Every job lost in the United States is a customer lost. Every job lost is a tax-payer lost and a tax burden gained... big government in India is what's moving a lot of our high-tech jobs there. India, thanks to government sponsorship, has the best technical institutes in the world... 'Made in Japan' used to be another way to say 'junk'. Japan had a reputation of producing everything out of used American beer cans. That all changed in 1959, when the Japanese government told its manufacturers that, henceforth, everything shipped from Japan had to be of high quality... Not only are we out-sourcing [and off-shoring] production to the lowest bidder, but we've done a pretty good job of dumbing down all the jobs so that any low-paid worker can perform them... And the Wal-Martization of America continues apace, with our choices of retailers, grocers, banks, gas stations -- just about everything -- getting smaller and smaller."
_AP_/_Foster's Citizen On-Line_
Personal bankruptcies rise in NH
"The number of bankruptcies in the state rose by 8.4% last year, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. In 2003, the court handled 4,357 cases, up from 4,018 in 2002. The great majority were personal bankruptcies; only 175 were business failures. Nationwide, bankruptcy filings in 2003 were expected to total about 1.6M, compared to 1.5M in 2002."
Richard C.B. Johnsson _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
On Ricardo and Free Trade
2004-01-12 16:48PST (19:48EST) (2004-01-13 00:48GMT)
India and USA to boost technology and trad ties
"The Bush administration has announced it will increase cooperation with India on civilian nuclear energy, civilian space programs and high technology trade."
2004-01-13 06:07PST (09:07EST) (14:07GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Export prices rise at 8-year high: Weaker dollar boosted export profits in 2003
"The weaker dollar helped U.S. exporters raise their prices in 2003 at the fastest rate in 8 years, according to Labor Department figures released Tuesday. Export prices as measured in dollars rose 2.2% last year, the most since 1995. Most of the gains came in agricultural exports, prices for which rose 13.6%. Non-agricultural exports cost 1.3% more. Price indices."
2004-01-13 06:37PST (09:37EST) (14:37GMT)
Irwin Kellner _MarketWatch_
Off-Shoring May Prove To Be a Passing Fad
"Many companies have not even given off-shoring a second thought, while several firms that tried it have found that the benefits are not worth the costs... Considered the most vulnerable to off-shoring, managerial and professional specialty workers saw their share of the reported jobless fall to 17.4% in December, after spiking up to more than 20% in the previous month. Their current proportion of the unemployed is now about equal to the average for the past 2 years."
2004-01-13 10:36PST (13:36EST) (18:36GMT)
Mike Tarsala _MarketWatch_
Ellison, while continuing to bad-mouth others' privacy, secretly weds
Remains CEO but resigns as board chair
"he completed another big merger over the holidays, marrying his fiancÈe, novelist Melanie Craft... According to de Guzman, Oracle's Ellison, 59 and Craft, 35, tied the knot before Christmas at an unknown location... Sources say Craft is currently living with Ellison at his Woodside, CA, estate."
2004-01-13 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & John King & Lisa Sylvester & Bill Tucker _CNN_
Made in America
"The president was in Mexico, of course, for the Summit of the Americas. He had his first one-on-one meeting with the new Canadian prime minister, Paul Martin. And Mr. Bush saying that Canada will now be allowed to bid on those major reconstruction contracts, U.S.-funded contracts in Iraq. The first $5G in contracts will go only to those who were part of the coalition of the willing, as Mr. Bush calls it. But Mr. Bush now saying that Canada, which, of course, firmly opposed the war in Iraq, can participate in the $13.5G in contracts that will be left over in the second and subsequent rounds, the president saying that Canada has been very supportive of the postwar efforts in Iraq... We all know it's tough to buy an American-made product these days. It's made even more difficult when foreign manufacturers turn out cheap imitations of the few products still made in this country... Many of the American companies that have moved their manufacturing and many American jobs overseas still claim that their products are made in the USA... A made-in-the-USA label means a product is not only crafted by American workers, but the materials are of American origin as well. But some companies will still try to skirt the rules... Elaine Kolish of the Federal Trade Commission: 'Sometimes, consumers write to us. They will have something which on the package says made in the USA. They will open the package, find the product, and it will say, made in Mexico, made in China or some other foreign country.'... Violators are asked to stop making false claims, but there are no penalties. Corporations have also become quite savvy at using terms that sound a lot like they are American-made, but fall short of the gold standard, 'made in the USA': 'manufactured by a North American company', but 'made in China', or 'made in the USA of imported fabric', or a new buzz-word, 'brand America'. The new ad campaign promises to promote products by American companies, even though they could be made entirely over-seas... There was a push in Congress last year to raise the Pentagon's buy-American to 65% of domestic content, but it did not pass, after heavy lobbying by the European Union... One of my favorite labels... is... 'proudly packaged in the USA'... George Borjas: 'The problem is that there are really two components to any kind of long-run solution to the illegal immigration problem. One component is what do we do about the 10M or so illegal immigrants already in the country? The other component is what do we do to prevent this problem from recurring 5 years from now, 10 years from now. In other words, what do we do to make sure we don't have to address this problem again in the future? Addressing the proposal is addressing the first of these issues by basically providing amnesty to 8M or 10M illegal immigrants. It really doesn't address the second issue... he's proposing a guest worker program where after 3 years or after renewal you can apply for a green card and he is also proposing to increase the number of green cards available to people by some amount he hasn't specified yet. You can call it what you want but it really is a way of legalizing the status of people... Oh, it's definitely going into the pockets of those who hire illegal immigrants. Part of that also gets transmitted eventually to lower prices to consumers. But I would suspect a huge chunk of it is kept by employers which explains why employers happen to be one of the biggest supporters of these types of open immigration programs... [It] reminds me of an old quote from the German experience about guest workers which is what the president is proposing. And that is that we wanted workers but we got people instead. And that's one thing that people tend to forget that when illegal immigrants come here, the guest workers come here they get sick, they need health-care, they have children who are American citizens... we have got to take action and impose real strict border control as well as enforce our laws regarding employer sanctions.'... Accenture [subsidiary of Andersen Consulting] is accentuating the [off-shore] out-sourcing, the company making it clear that's where it sees its future. Revenues for that part of Accenture's business, up 45% in the first quarter. [Off-shore] out-sourcing now accounts for more than a third of the company's total revenue, just over $1G in the latest quarter alone... [Off-shore] out-sourcing doesn't have nearly as sweet a margin as does consulting and it's a very competitive sector making it hard to raise prices. But the income it generates is steady, more reliable, if not also a great deal more controversial... The company has 86K employees. Of those 25K are American citizens..."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Self-Audit Confirms On-Going Labor Law Violations at WM: Execs Feverishly Rationalize
"An internal audit now under court seal warned top executives at WM Stores 3 years ago that employee records at 128 stores pointed to extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations requiring time for breaks and meals. The audit of one week's time-clock records for roughly 25K employees found 1,371 instances in which minors apparently worked too late at night, worked during school hours or worked too many hours in a day. It also found 60,767 apparent instances of workers not taking breaks, and 15,705 apparent instances of employees working through meal times.... But missed breaks and lunches have become a major issue in more than 40 law-suits charging WM with forcing employees to work without pay through lunch and rest breaks... The audit was conducted in 2000 July... John Lehman, who ran several WM stores in Kentucky, said he was sure that large-scale violations on child labor, breaks and meals continued at WM... He now works for a union trying to organize WM workers. 'WM stores are so systematically under-staffed that they work minors just like they do adults.', he said. 'They don't have enough workers to take care of the business. Yes, their prices are low but then the stores are so under-staffed that workers often don't have time to take their breaks or lunches.'"
Steve Lohr _NY Times_
Red China Steps Up Attack on US, Europe, Japan Tech Workers, Industries: Adopting Protectionist Barriers
"These measures include efforts to develop [Red Chinese] software standards for wireless computers, the introduction of exclusive technology formats for future generations of cellular phones and DVD players - even tax policies that favor computer chips made in [Red China] and sold in the [Red Chinese] market... last month when it announced that foreign computer and chip makers that want to sell certain kinds of wireless devices in the country would have to use [Red Chinese] encryption software and co-produce their goods with a designated list of [Red Chinese] companies... foreign companies are worried about the possible loss of intellectual property if they are forced to work with Chinese companies that have the potential to become competitors... The semiconductor industry is protesting a Chinese tax that is as much as 14% higher on imported computer chips than on those designed or manufactured in [Red China], whether by domestic or foreign companies. The higher tax rate applies to chips used in products sold into the Chinese market but not to exported products... Tian Jun, counselor for economic affairs at the [Red Chinese] Embassy in [DC]... So far, [Red China] has shown little interest in addressing the grievances of American technology companies, according to industry executives and government officials... The [Red Chinese] have, in fact, adopted roughly 8K international product standards, but they have also created 20K national product standards. '[Red China] has national standards that are basically what we would say are regulations.', said Oliver R. Smoot, president of the International Organization for Standardization [ISO], a federation of national standards bodies based in Geneva. 'It's totally different from the U.S. approach, which is for producers to write a document and call it a standard. Then, people are free to adopt it or not.' [Which is clearly illustrated by widespread lack of compliance with the ISO date format standard.]"
Alex Berenson _NY Times_
Computer Associates May Face S.E.C. Action
"The S.E.C. may file civil charges against the giant software company for booking sales before contracts were signed, a securities violation, the company said on Monday."
S. Srinivasin _AP_/_Information Week_
Inspired by India Poor Asian Nations Eye Western Out-Sourcing: Countries such as Bangladesh and Mongolia are taking steps to produce skilled workers and improve facilities in hopes of luring out-sourcing business from Western nations.
"Abdul Moyeen Khan, science and information technology minister for Bangladesh, said Tuesday at a meeting of Asian technology ministers in the south Indian tech center of Hyderabad. He said Bangladesh already exports software to 23 countries, including the United States, and wants to emulate neighbor India, which is expected to generate $13G in revenue in the fiscal year ending in 2003 March from technology out-sourcing... India gets a huge amount of that work but also has set up so-called centers of excellence in Mongolia, Mauritius, and Nepal..."
Jennifer Warner & Brunilda Nazario _WebMD_
Making Co-Workers Angry Could Prompt Revenge
"anger at the work-place is widespread but so is revenge. Researchers found people get most angry about immoral behavior at work, such as cheating, lying, or stealing, and when they are treated unjustly with too much work or excessive criticism. But the study also showed that making colleagues angry may also have negative consequences for the offender. The most common reaction to irritating behavior was to dole out some form of unofficial punishment, such as gossiping and telling lies about the offender or giving them undesirable jobs."
Chief Executives' Confidence Dies
"The Conference Board's quarterly measure of CEO Confidence, which had improved to 67 in the third quarter, slipped to 66 in the final quarter of 2003. A reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses. The survey covers more than 100 CEOs in a wide variety of industries."
2004-01-13 17:13PST (20:13EST) (2004-01-14 01:13GMT)
Andrea Coombes _MarketWatch_
Distrust of execs goes beyond accounting
"44% of American workers say top managers and executives are sometimes dishonest, and 40% say the same of co-workers, according to a new survey of 1,200 workers by global consulting firm Watson Wyatt. Meanwhile, 51% of workers say companies too often 'spin' the truth when talking to them, according to a separate survey of 1K Americans by Towers Perrin, another global consulting firm. The lack of trust is contributing to weaker ties between workers and the companies for which they work, said Ilene Gochman, director of organization measurement at Watson Wyatt. 30% of workers say they would leave their company if they could, and that doesn't bode well for companies' bottom line over the long term, Gochman said... The 3-year total return to share-holders is almost 3 times lower [I wonder if they're trying to say one-third of returns] at companies with low trust levels than at companies with high trust levels, according to Watson Wyatt's WorkUSA 2002 survey... 60% say their bosses are more honest with shareholders than with workers, and 58% say employers are more honest with customers than with workers, according to the Towers Perrin survey... companies were [are] more focused on balance sheets than employees' well being."
2004-01-14 06:54PST (09:54EST) (14:54GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
PPI up 4% in 2003, mostly on energy; core rate rises 1%
"U.S. prices of raw materials and other producers' inputs soared in 2003, as finished goods prices increased at the fastest rate in 13 years, according to figures released by the Labor Department on Wednesday. The producer price index for finished goods rose 4% in 2003, after a 0.3% gain in December that matched expectations. It's the biggest calendar year increase since 1990. Finished energy prices rose 1.8% in December and 11.5% for the year. Finished food prices rose 0.2% in December and 7.7% for the year. Excluding food and energy prices, the core PPI rose 1% in 2003 after falling 0.1% in December... Finished capital equipment prices dropped 0.1% in December, bringing the annual increase to 0.9%."
2004-01-14 07:18PST (10:18EST) (15:18GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
Trade deficit narrowed by 8.6% in 2003 November to $38G
"Monthly exports rose an estimated 2.9% to $90.6G, the highest level in 3 years. Imports, meanwhile, shrank 0.8% to $128.6G after setting a record in the previous month. The October deficit was revised lower to $41.6G from the $41.8G estimated a month ago. The narrowing of the trade deficit -- to its lowest level since 2002 October -- caught economists by surprise... The increase in total U.S. exports was largely due to a 59% gain in air-craft sales. U.S. producers also exported a record $5.1G in foods, feeds and beverages and a record $8.1G in consumer goods... Despite record imports of agricultural goods, total U.S. imports for November sank on a significant decline in crude-oil imports, down by 8.2% to $7.8G. The U.S. imported 290.2M barrels of crude last month, the lowest level since February. This is down sharply from 327.4M barrels in October -- the second largest monthly import on record... Consumer good imports eased 0.8% to $28.8G. The closely watched U.S. trade deficit with [Red China] widened to $10.8G from $10.4G in 2002 November, although U.S. exports to [Red China] reached a record $3.3G... the U.S. trade deficit has already set a new yearly record. Through the first 11 months of 2003, the trade deficit totaled $446.8G, surpassing the prior year's record deficit of $418G."
2004-01-14 08:01:03PST (11:01:03EST) (16:01:03GMT)
Frank Barnako _MarketWatch_
Geeks are gregarious
"A study of Internet users has found the typical web surfer is a social animal, with lots of friends, who reads lots of books and watches less television than a person who does not use the Internet. The London based World Internet Project (http://www.worldinternetproject.net/) conducted the research, Reuters reported. 'Use of the Internet is reducing television viewing around the world while having little impact on positive aspects of social life.', said Jeffrey Cole, director of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy..."
2004-01-14 11:31PST (14:31EST) (19:31GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Federal Reserve's Beige Book Says Economy Improving: Some regions report better labor market
"Most of the 12 Federal Reserve districts reported 'modest improvements' in labor markets, with either reduced lay-offs or 'modestly increased hiring'... Wage growth was subdued, but benefit costs were rising. Nearly all 12 regions reported up-beat retail sales and busier factories. Housing was strong, especially in New England and the West... The San Francisco district, which encompasses the 9 westernmost states, reported the strongest activity."
2004-01-14 12:24PST (15:26EST) (20:26GMT)
Antone Gonsalves _TechWeb News_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Contributes To IT Salaries' Downward Spiral
"The growing number of companies moving information technology work to low-wage foreign countries has driven down salaries for many IT jobs in the U.S., and the trend is expected to continue, a salary research group said Wednesday. Overall, the premium paid for IT workers with specific skills was 23% lower in 2003 than in 2001 [i.e. there was a 23% drop in pay from 2001 to 2003 while inflation continued at 2% to 3% per annum], and the pay for certification in particular skills dropped 11%, Foote Partners LLC said. The New Canaan, Conn., firm found that while the general economic down-turn contributed to salary deflation, [off-shore] out-sourcing pushed compensation down even further. In a year-long study of 400 Fortune 1000 companies, researchers found that by 2006, the organizations expected from 35% to 45% of their current full-time IT jobs to go to workers over-seas, David Foote, president and chief research officer for Foote Partners, said... The exodus of jobs has caused U.S. salaries in many IT areas to plummet, particular application development and maintenance, call centers for tech support and some database work... In 2002, the high-tech industry lost 540K jobs in the U.S., dropping to 6M, according to the AeA, formerly known as the American Electronics Association. In 2003, the industry is expected to shed another 234K..."
2004-01-14 12:44PST (15:44EST) (20:44GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Visa program may be aiding foreign firms
"Indian information technology companies with operations in the United States actually are some of the biggest applicants for H-1B visas and are heavy users of L-1 visas, according to a study by Rochester Institute of Technology public policy professor Ron Hira and statistics culled from Securities and Exchange Commission filings. India-based Wipro, for example, had 850 workers in the United States on H-1B visas and 1,401 employees on L-1 visas as of 2003-09-30, according to a filing with the SEC. Those visa holders made up 'the majority of our personnel in the United States', the company said. Wipro applied for 3,120 H-1B visas for the [fiscal] year ended 2001-09-30, Hira found, while by comparison U.S.-based IT services giant Electronic Data Systems asked for 452 of the visas."
2004-01-14 13:43PST (16:43EST) (21:43GMT)
Mike Tarsala _MarketWatch_
SCO expands push to collect license payments for Linux adn other UNIX variants
"SCO Group said Wednesday it is expanding its software licensing program as a way to force European companies who use the free Linux operating system to either pay fees or face the threat of a law-suit... [Blake] Stowell said SCO began to offer its licensing program in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, and plans to roll out a similar program in France and Italy this week... In July, Lindon, Utah-based software maker SCO began rolling out a similar licensing program in the United States, in which it attempted to charge companies who use Linux. SCO Group, formerly known as Caldera Systems, has claimed that Linux infringes on intellectual property it purchased when it bought the operating systems division of the original company known as SCO, The Santa Cruz Operation... While several large companies...have disputed various parts of SCO Group's intellectual property claims to Linux, SCO Group has sent letters to Linux customers and Unix licensees, warning that they should pay requested fees to avoid legal action."
2004-01-14 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & John King & Peter Viles & Jen Rogers _CNN_
Space exploration, bastardy, off-shoring, made in the USA at Hickey Freeman, illegal aliens and criminal executives
"George W. Bush: 'Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives and lifts our national spirit.'... One-third of all children born today will be born out of wed-lock and into a single-parent home. Theodora Ooms of the Center for Law & Social Policy: 'A lot of the problems we see in society today that have to do with the fact that children are being raised in single-parent or broken homes or homes where there is a lot of instability. Children are much more poor for that reason. They don't do as well in school. They are much more likely to have children out of wedlock themselves.'... 96% of all clothing bought in this country imported. Chicago-based Hart Marx is no exception. Much of it production takes place outside this country. But one of its brands remains untouched by [off-shore] out-sourcing. The brand is Hickey Freeman, the century-old manufacturer of fine men's suits, suits that are made today as they were a century ago in Rochester, New York... Inside the factory, Hickey Freeman makes fine men suits that retail $1,200 and up. And here's what is unusual. Hickey Freeman actually believes its factory is a special place, the workers there so well-trained, so dedicated to quality that [off-shore] out-sourcing is out of the question... When Gary Hickey and Jake Freeman founded the company, the work force was mainly immigrants. The company taught them to speak English; 100 years later, tailoring still attracts immigrants. The plant is unionized. Average pay is $11 an hour. Average work is not accepted. Perfection is our goal. Excellence will be tolerated. Anything less will not. Employees are actually given bonuses for spotting mistakes. Hickey Freeman is old-fashioned. It buys the world's finest fabrics, mainly from Italy, competes based on quality, not on price, and believes fine clothing can still be made in America... Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institute: 'But we have to remember that states like Maine and Nebraska and Iowa that don't have large numbers of illegal workers from Mexico get along fine. They still have restaurants. They still have their lawns mowed. And California, until about 1975, we had no problem. This is a relatively recent phenomenon of enormous numbers of people who come illegally, but not knowing English, with not a lot of education, are this sort of bonanza for employers who want cheap labor and the rest of us who think that it's a bonanza for us as well. But it only turns -- it turns out to be a fool's bargain, because the entitlement industry must make up the remedy of cheap wages. And that suppresses wages for American workers as well.'... Ruben Navarrette: 'I don't think we question of illegal immigrants depressing wages. We have a problem with employers who hire illegal immigrants depressing wages, because it's the employers who make the profit, therefore, they are the ones who deserve the blame. They are the ones who run the system. Here's what I suggest... You got to get tough... Three strikes program for people who hire illegal immigrants, who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The first time you do it you get a warning. The second time you do it, you get what the law allows, a fine in the amount of $8K to $10K per incidents. The third time you do it you get 30 days in jail.'... Andrew Fastow in a deal with the government will be heading to prison. Both Fastows were here at federal court in Houston and entered guilty pleas. Andrew Fastow for his part pled guilty to 2 counts. Conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud. His wife, Lea, pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return. Now for his part, Andrew Fastow, in his agreement with the government, will begin cooperating with investigators. He will serve that 10-year prison sentence and he will also forfeit some $29M in assets. Now, Lea Fastow's agreement calls for her to serve five months in prison and then five months home confinement. It is unclear when they would start their prison terms. Both Fastows are set for sentencing in April."
_Federal Reserve Board_
"San Francisco said that the improving job market was making it harder to shift increases in health care premiums to workers, resulting in slightly higher growth of total compensation.... Despite a pick-up in hiring, wage and salary pressures in the [San Francisco] District remained modest in recent weeks. However, contacts noted that, as job markets have improved, companies have found it more difficult to shift increases in healthcare premiums, workers compensation insurance premiums, and other employee-related costs to workers. As a result, the growth rate of total employee compensation has edged up for many employers... Most contacts reported that holiday sales met expectations, leaving retail inventories in balance heading into 2004... In California, the reversal of the October increase in the vehicle license fee reportedly contributed to a pickup in sales; this allowed most District auto-dealers to run down inventories that were accumulated in October and November."
Jonathan D. Glater _NY Times_
Study Disputes View of Costly Surge in Class-Action Suits
"A new study has concluded that both the average price of settling class-action law-suits and the average fee paid to lawyers who bring them have held steady for a decade... The 2 law school professors [Theodore Eisenberg of Cornell & Geoffrey P. Miller of NYU] who conducted the study, which was not financed by corporations or by trial lawyers, expressed surprise themselves over the results... According to the study, the average settlement over the 10-year period was $100M in inflation-adjusted 2002 dollars. It rose as high as $274M in 2000 - a result of 4 settlements that year for more than $1G each - and fell as low as $25M in 1996... The average fee rose as high as $31M in 2000, but exceeded $10M in only 2 other years. The professors also report that as one might expect, the larger a settlement, the smaller the percentage allocated to legal fees. For the largest 10% of settlements, which averaged $929M, lawyers received an average of 12%. For the smallest 10%, which averaged $800K, lawyers received nearly 30%. Fees were higher in cases that were more risky and were higher in federal court cases than in state courts."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
Bush Proposal Seeks to Block Leasing Done for Tax Benefit
"The Bush administration introduced proposals on Tuesday to block several corporate tax shelters, signaling a new effort by the administration to take the lead on tax loop-holes."
_NY Times_/_Bloomberg News_
Supremes Shield Regional Phone Monopolies
"The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Verizon and other local telephone [monopolies] could not be sued by consumers on anti-trust grounds."
Nicholas D. Kristof _NY Times_
"One of the most unfortunate trends... has been the way nearly all of the candidates... have been flirting with anti-trade positions by putting the emphasis on labor, environmental and human rights standards in international agreements... Nhep Chanda averages 75 cents a day for her efforts. For her, the idea of being exploited in a garment factory - working only 6 days a week, inside instead of in the broiling sun, for up to $2 a day - is a dream... All the complaints about third world sweat-shops are true and then some: factories sometimes dump effluent into rivers or otherwise ravage the environment. But they have raised the standard of living in Singapore, South Korea and southern [Red China], and they offer a leg up for people in countries like Cambodia [Kampuchea]... Here in Cambodia factory jobs are in such demand that workers usually have to bribe a factory insider with a month's salary just to get hired... In Asia, moreover, the factories tend to hire mostly girls and young women with few other job opportunities. The result has been to begin to give girls and women some status and power, some hint of social equality, some alternative to the sex industry... The Democratic Party has been pro-trade since Franklin Roosevelt [FDR]..."
Trudy Tynan _AP_/_Everett Massachusetts Herald_
KB Toys files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
"KB Toys, a nationwide chain of 1,300 stores, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday, blaming the fierce holiday price wars... KB Toys, with 13K employees nationwide, said it will look to close unprofitable stores and cut jobs... The company, which accounts for about 4% to 5% of the U.S. toy business, was the second casualty in the toy market this season. In early December, FAO Inc., owner of the FAO Schwarz toy stores, filed for Chapter 11 for a second time. Toys 'R' Us, the nation's second-largest toy chain behind WM, also suffered. Earlier this month, it said that its overall sales rose less than 1% for the critical holiday sales period, and that sales at U.S. stores open more than a year fell almost 5%."
Antone Gonsalves _TechWeb News_/_Information Week_
Out-Sourcing Is Key As IT Salaries Spiral Downward
"A study by Foote Partners shows salaries for IT workers with specific skills was 23% lower in 2003 than in 2001, and that the number of jobs moving over-seas will continue to grow... Overall, the premium paid for IT workers with specific skills was 23% lower in 2003 than in 2001, and the pay for certification in particular skills dropped 11%, Foote Partners said. It also found that while the general economic down-turn contributed to salary deflation, out-sourcing pushed compensation down even further. In a year-long study of 400 major companies, researchers found that by 2006, those companies expected 35% to 45% of their current full-time IT jobs to go to workers over-seas, said David Foote, president and chief research officer at Foote Partners... In 2002, the high-tech industry lost 540K jobs in the United States, dropping to 6M, according to the AeA, formerly known as the American Electronics Association. In 2003, the industry is expected to [have] shed another 234K jobs."
Juliana Barbassa _Miami Herald_
Bush Amnesty Plan Flawed
"California agriculture still produces most of what goes into the average American's salad bowl: 75% of the nation's lettuce, 85% of tomatoes, 88% of broccoli. The state also produces much of the country's fruit - 82% of strawberries and 92% of the grapes. To compete globally, U.S. farmers need a reliable supply of farm-hands willing to work for the prevailing wage of $7 to $8 per hour, said Roy Gabriel, labor affairs director with the California Farm Bureau Federation. 'We know that with $20 an hour we could attract all kinds of people, but the wages have to be competitive.', said Gabriel. 'We get a lot of fruits and vegetables from Mexico, Chile, [Red China], and I'd hate to tell you what their wage rates are.' The need for an authorized, relatively cheap agricultural labor supply has led the industry to lobby for years for the reform of the existing guest-worker program, known as H-2A. The program currently brings about 45K workers into the country, but growers, especially those in California, say H-2A is expensive, complicated and unfolds too slowly to meet their needs... But they're wary of Bush's proposal, remembering what happened after a 1986 amnesty: Many of the farm workers quit the fields as soon as they were granted permanent residency."
2004-01-14 16:00PST (19:00EST) (2004-01-15 00:00GMT)
Lisa Sanders & Matt Andrejczak _MarketWatch_
Fastows Plead Guilty in Enron Case, Face Prison
"Andrew Fastow, Enron's former chief financial officer, pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud charges in the highest level corruption plea yet after the energy giant's collapse three years ago. He will serve 10 years in jail without parole and pay a $23M fine. Separately, Fastow's wife, Lea, pleaded guilty to a charge of filing a false income tax return and faces at least 5 months in prison... Previously, former Enron treasurer Ben Glisan had pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges but did not agree to cooperate with prosecutors and is serving a five-year prison term. Michael Kopper, Andrew Fastow's top aide in running Enron's partnerships, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money-laundering charges. He surrendered $12M as well as agreeing to testify against his ex-boss. David Delainey, chief executive of Enron North America and Enron Energy Services, pleaded guilty to the one-count indictment of insider trading. Delainey, who is cooperating with the Justice Department, reported directly to Skilling. Enron North America's former chief accounting officer, Wesley Colwell, settled SEC charges similar to Delainey's. He also is cooperating with the federal prosecutors."
2004-01-15 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
unemployment insurance claims
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 677,883 in the week ending January 10, an increase of 128,233 from the previous week. There were 724,111 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.3% during the week ending January 3, an increase of 0.4 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 4,175,184, an increase of 456,916 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.5% and the volume was 4,486,870. Extended benefits were available in Alaska, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington during the week ending December 27. 53 'states' reported that 791,877 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending December 27."
2004-01-15 06:29PST (09:29EST) (14:29GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
December retail sales up seasonally adjusted 0.1% excluding strong auto sales
"Sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5% last month after an upwardly revised 1.2% gain in November. Auto sales, up 1.6%, accounted for the bulk of the December gains. December's retail sales were up 6.7% from a year earlier. Excluding autos, retail sales were up an anemic 0.1% in December after rising an upwardly revised 0.7% in November. Excluding both autos and gasoline, the nation's retail sales rose 0.2% in December... For all of 2003, U.S. retail sales rose 5.6% to $3.8T, while sales excluding autos rose 5.4% to $2.9T. The figures aren't adjusted for price changes."
2004-01-15 07:19PST (10:19EST) (15:19GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _MarketWatch_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims fall
"The number of people filing for unemployment insurance for the first time fell by 11K to 343K in the latest week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The 4-week moving average fell by 3K to 347,500 claims, the lowest level since 2001 February... The number of Americans collecting state unemployment benefits in the most recent week ending January 3 fell 128K to 3.27M. The 4-week average of continuing claims dropped to 3.23, the lowest level since 2001 September. That puts the insured unemployment rate at 2.5%, down from 2.6% in the prior week and the lowest since 2001 September. The figures do not include some 770K workers receiving extended federal unemployment benefits, which are available only after state benefits are exhausted, typically after 26 weeks."
2004-01-15 07:45PST (10:45EST) (15:45GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _MarketWatch_
CPI increase tame in December
"U.S. prices for consumer goods rose at a 0.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate in December after falling by 0.2% in the prior month, the Labor Department said Thursday. The so-called core rate of inflation, factoring out volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.1% last month after falling by the same amount in November... For all of 2003, consumer prices rose 1.9%, the lowest growth rate since 2001. And the core inflation rate at the retail level rose a scant 1.3% over last year, matching the lowest rate since 1960... Energy prices rose 0.2% in the month after falling 3.0% in November, the department said. And medical care costs rose 0.6% in December after rising 0.3% the prior month. Food prices rose 0.6% in December, following a 0.4% gain a month earlier. Tempering those gains, clothing prices fell 0.4% while transportation prices fell 0.2% in December. Clothing prices have fallen 2.1% for all of 2003. Within the transportation sector, airline fares fell 1.9%, while prices for new automobiles were unchanged in December. For the year, airline fares fell 0.1% and car prices declined 1.8%."
2004-01-15 07:46PST (10:46EST) (15:46GMT)
Steve Kerch _MarketWatch_
US mortgage rates fall
"Freddie Mac said Thursday that the national average interest rate on a 30-year mortgage dropped to 5.66% from 5.87% a week earlier. The rate on the 15-year loan, a popular refinancing choice, slid below 5% at 4.97%. One-year, Treasury-indexed, adjustable-rate mortgages also fell, averaging 3.62% versus 3.76% a week ago."
2004-01-15 09:42PST (12:42EST) (15:42GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Factories strengthen in Philly region
Business Out-Look Survey
"Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region continued to accelerate in early January, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Thursday. The Philly Fed's activity index rose to 38.8 from 30.3 in December, the eighth month in a row above zero, indicating expansion... The new orders index fell to 36.5 from 37.9 in December. The shipment index fell to 33.1 from 39.6. The employment index dipped to 17.5 from 19.4 in December. The expectations index showed high levels of optimism, despite the drop to 53.9 from 55.2 in December. The prices paid index rose to 35.3 from 30.3, with more than 40% of firms reported paying higher prices for inputs in January. In a special question, more than 58% of firms said they'd increase capital spending this year, with half of the new orders beginning in the first quarter and another third in the second quarter."
2004-01-15 10:31PST (13:31EST) (18:31GMT)
David Weidner _MarketWatch_
JP Morgan Chase to merge with Bank One
"When a young Commercial Credit [former subsidiary of super-computer manufacturer Control Data Corporation] executive named Jamie Dimon called on William Harrison of Chase Manhattan in a sales pitch years ago, the 2 men began a relationship that culminated in one of the biggest bank deals in history. Standing side-by-side Thursday, Dimon, chief executive of Bank One and Harrison, his counterpart at J.P. Morgan Chase, unveiled the details of the $58G bank merger that challenges the industry's lack-luster history of deal-making... For all mega mergers - those over $10G - statistics show that the 'so-called efficiencies' and 'economies of scale' - fancy words for cost cutting, don't materialize, [Lawrence J.] White [a banking professor at NYU's Stern School of Business] said... Bank One was crippled by First USA, the credit card unit it bought for $7.9G in 1997. The deal ultimately led to the ouster of CEO John B. McCoy, who was replaced by Dimon. J.P. Morgan which gets its name from Chase Manhattan's acquisition of J.P. Morgan & Co. in 2000, has had a mixed past. Combinations in the 1990s included Manufacturers Hanover, Chemical Bank and Chase... But the $30G acquisition by Chase of J.P. Morgan has received mixed reviews at best. First, Harrison was attacked for his acceptance of a $10M 'merger' bonus, a criticism that had added sting as the bank cut 10K workers. Added to the mix was the banks' combined $2G exposure to Enron which erased earnings in 2002. It lost $1.2G in private equity investments that same year... The combined bank will derive 33% of its $18G pre-tax income from retail banking, 39% from investment banking, 16% from credit cards and the rest from asset management and other business lines. Harrison said J.P. Morgan would follow through on an earlier promise to pare its private equity business as a percentage of capital to 10% from its current 15%. And both executives laid out some bare numbers: $3G merger costs, $2.2G in cost reductions and close to 10K job cuts."
Stephanie Overby _CIO_
How to Safe-Guard Your Data in a Dangerous World
"This is a new mine-field for defense IT. While other parts of the business have incurred major penalties for export violations, military defense contractors have, up until now, largely dismissed the idea of using off-shore talent on their systems. 'If you look at my counterparts at Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin and compare us to the rest of our peers in the Fortune 500, we're the rare breed that still does very little off-shoring, and that's all because of [International Traffic in Arms Regulations] and export regulations.', says Tom Shelman, CIO for Northrop Grumman. But as the cost pressures to exploit off-shore out-sourcing mount, CIOs now face a complicated conundrum: how to protect their sensitive information while enabling the global collaboration necessary to compete in today's business environment... Since World War II, the United States has been placing restrictions on the export of certain arms and related data. Today, the State Department's Office of Defense Trade Controls administers the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, which require specific licenses for exporting items on the U.S. munitions list, from aircraft and ships to firearms and chemical weapons, as well as any technical data needed to make them. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) ministers the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which control the export of commercial items that could have military applications (computers, civilian aircraft, viruses for scientific research, even radios). Both ITAR and EAR prohibit the release of related data to foreign nationals (anyone not a USA citizen or permanent resident alien), which is why CIOs at companies like Raytheon find themselves in a fix. The potential for trouble has only increased with the pervasiveness of off-shore out-sourcing, especially since companies such as India's Tata Consultancy Services [TCS] and Wipro are sub-contractors to some of the largest [out-sourcers doing business in the USA] including CSC, EDS and IBM. Amplified sensitivity to issues of national security and terrorism have further fueled concerns, making this a hot-button issue for CIOs in regulated industries... Just last year, Raytheon agreed to pay $25M in civil fines to settle charges from the Department of Justice that it tried to evade export laws in the attempted sale of sensitive radio technology to Pakistan via a Canadian subsidiary. Similarly, Lockheed Martin settled a federal law-suit for $13M in 2000 for providing technical advice to a Hong Kong company working on [Red China's] commercial satellite program. Two years earlier, Boeing Satellite Systems paid $10M for sharing rocket data with Russian and Ukrainian partners."
2004-01-15 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester & Christine Romans _CNN_
Growing Anger Over Cheap Foreign Labor
"It may well be the most important film to debut at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is 'Farmingville', a hard-hitting documentary about the impact of illegal aliens on one small New York community... Fred Tedesco's company, Pa-Ted, makes springs and small mechanical assemblies for larger companies. But in the last 3 years, he's closed three plants and laid off 48 employees after his biggest customers turned to foreign suppliers. Then he got mad, literally, starting a group called Mad in the USA. Fred Tedesco: 'There's a tremendous number of people, up to maybe 17M in this country, that are underemployed, that either can't find work or can't find full-time work or have had to take a pay much lower than what they were used to. That's not America.' Members of Mad in the USA are threatening to boycott companies...that favor foreign suppliers over domestic ones. Pa-Ted has warned its company's insurance carrier, The Hartford Financial Services, that it will pull $200K worth of annual business if the financial firm does not stop out-sourcing over-seas... Some small-business owners are breaking away from large lobbying groups, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, because they feel these groups represent corporate interests [rather than theirs]... The past 24 hours in Iraq have been auspicious, noteworthy, no reports of American casualties or deaths over the past 24 hours. A new Iraqi currency was introduced today. And there were large demonstrations by thousands and thousands of Iraqis. And those demonstrations were peaceful. Tens of thousands of people today demonstrated in Basra. They were calling upon Paul Bremer to hold early elections. Both the Iraqi demonstrations and the notion of elections are remarkable evidence that Iraqis are beginning to embrace the idea of democracy... Today, cell phone service is available... 42 of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis have been captured, killed or have turned themselves in. Attacks against coalition forces have declined by 50% since November. Weapons, explosives and ammunition have been seized or turned in by the truck-load. Iraqi security force now number more than 200K, as the newly freed citizens train to provide their own public safety. Great strides have also been made in education... Nearly 6M Iraqi children are now in school and their teachers are being paid at least 5 times their salary that they received under Saddam Hussein... The National Association of Manufacturers expects 4% economic growth this year... 250K new manufacturing jobs, mostly, Lou, in fabricated metal, electronics and industrial equipment... you can sense the pain of the citizens of Farmingville as they struggle to deal with the sudden onslaught of illegal aliens, an estimated 1,500, you have actually watched through your eyes we are watching them struggle with all the issues. The issues of racism. The issue of economics. The issue of comfort and knowledge of the familiar being totally disrupted."
Carol Kleiman _Chicago Tribune_
Patience: Hiring as slow as molasses
"That was then, and now it's even tougher to get a response after a job interview. 'A return call, even with a rejection, is much preferred to no call at all.', said Ostergaard, who has an under-graduate degree in mathematics."
David Pogue _NY Times_
Recording Studio in a Mac
"But iLife 2004 (for the Mac OS X operating system) also includes a new program called GarageBand. It's designed to let people with even the feeblest musical talent, or even musical interest, create professional-sounding digital recordings. It puts at least as much power into amateur hands as its i-predecessors; all it lacks is the traditional first initial. You can build a song using 3 distinct tools. First, GarageBand comes with 1,100 loops: snippets recorded by studio musicians (bass, drums, guitars, strings, keyboards, mallet instruments, horn and string sections, and synthesized choirs). You can drag these snippets into a sequence as though they're tiles, stretch the blocks on the screen to make them play over and over, and layer one instrument upon another. It's a lot of instant gratification, even if you don't know a quarter note from a quarter-pounder. The loops almost always sound good together - even when you layer Island Reggae Drums 03 with Nordic Fiddle 01. That's because all of the loops play essentially the same, unchanging chord... You can transpose these loops, making them play higher or lower, and even change their tempo. (Indeed, that's one of GarageBand's most impressive bits of magic; how can software make a digital recording play in a different key, or at a different tempo, without distorting it?) Still, that's not quite the same thing as complete freedom to choose chords or melodies. In terms of compositional choices, nonmusicians are pretty much limited to fooling around with when various instruments play, not what. GarageBand's second primary tool requires a little more training. Using your Mac's USB jack, you can plug in a MIDI keyboard, guitar or drum pads. (MIDI stands for musical instrument digital interface, and refers to a standard connector for plugging electronic instruments into computers.) For $100, for example, Apple will sell you a 4-octave, touch-sensitive MIDI key-board that produces no sound of its own. But when plugged into GarageBand, its plastic keys trigger (from the Mac's speakers) the sound of a $50K Yamaha grand piano, an orchestra full of strings, the brassy sting of rock-hall trumpets, or any of 185 other sampled instrument sound variations. At this point, GarageBand is a 64-track digital tape recorder... you can then clean up your mistakes by editing the notes, which appear as horizontal bars on a piano-roll grid. You can also perform an old favorite trick of electronic musicians: recording your performance at low speed and then playing it back at a much faster tempo, so that you sound like a virtuoso."
2004-01-16 08:58PST (11:58EST) (16:58GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
UMich Consumer Sentiment Index Up
"Consumer sentiment soared to a reading of 103.2 in early January from 92.6 in December, data reported Friday showed. This marked the highest level of consumer sentiment since 2000 November. It's also the largest 1-month increase since 1992 November and the third largest increase on record."
Federal Reserve Board St. Louis
Federal Reserve Board St. Louis
2004-01-16 14:20PST (17:20EST) (22:20GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Dow closes higher: Nasdaq hits 30-month high
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at session highs, up 47 points, or 0.4%, at 10,600.51. The bench-mark index has posted 8 consecutive weeks of gains. In the last week, the Dow industrials gained 142 points, or 1.35%. The Nasdaq Composite closed up 31.38 points, or 1.5%, at 2,140.46, its best level since 2001 July 3, when it closed at 2,140.80. The tech-rich index posted its sixth week of consecutive gains. The Nasdaq rose 54 points, or 2.6%, since last Friday's close at 2,086.92. The S&P 500 was up 7.78 points Friday, or 0.7%, at 1,139.83... On the broader market, there were 18 advancers for 13 decliners on the NYSE, while gainers out-paced decliners by 19 to 12 on the Nasdaq. Total volume was 1.7G on the NYSE, while 2.6G shares changed hands on the Nasdaq Exchange."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Federal Government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Deficit Has Soared Due to Dead-Beat Firms
"The federal agency that insures pension plans said yesterday that its deficit had grown from $3.6G to $11.2G in just a year and that it would try to deal with the escalating problem by overhauling its own investments, among other measures... two consecutive years of record failures by corporate pension plans and continuing adverse market conditions left it with a shortfall much greater than a year earlier, which had been the previous low point in the agency's 30-year history... the pension funds of at least some companies are dangerously invested in stocks and may be unable to fulfill their promises to retirees, leaving the government to make good on them... Detailed information about individual plans is not disclosed by companies, but pension specialists say that about two-thirds of their assets are typically invested in stocks. This practice allows companies to post larger investment gains when the stock market is moving up, and accounting rules allow those gains to bolster the corporate bottom line... At a briefing for journalists yesterday, Mr. Kandarian noted that the agency was less concerned about the strong, growing companies with underfunded pension plans than with companies whose pension funds are in bad shape and are unstable themselves."
Illegal Music Down-Loading Climbs
"The number of people down-loading music illegally surged a month after recording companies began suing hundreds of music fans, a marketing research firm said Thursday."
Carol Sliwa _ComputerWorld_
Sears CEO, Alan Lacy, sings praises of off-shoring
"Alan Lacy, CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Co., this week talked about off-shore out-sourcing and expressed keen interest in the 'non-U.S. opportunity' available for out-sourcing some IT functions during a general session on retail trends at the National Retail Federation's annual conference here... 'I think that lots of companies are going to focus on cost structure, and I think, just particularly from an IT standpoint, every year we always have more IT projects than we can rationally afford to invest behind. And it's often the case that... administrative functions fall to the bottom end of that prioritization scheme that you want to develop behind sales growth or margin expansion or customer data or what have you. And the administrative stuff kind of falls to the end.'"
2004-01-16 16:36PST (19:36EST) (2004-01-17 00:36GMT)
Carolyn Pritchard _MarketWatch_
Falling dollar boosts 2003 Q4 sales
"With a third of their sales coming from overseas, the top U.S. companies are reporting better-than-expected profits this season because of the dollar's fall... According to Kenneth Shea, director of global equity research at Standard & Poor's, the 500 companies in the S&P index derive 32% of their sales from outside the United States, led by the technology, energy, materials and industrials sectors. Tech companies get 47% of their sales outside the borders, while just 7% of telecom companies' revenue is international... Repatriating overseas profits can also trigger huge tax bills, so a company may instead choose to reinvest in the overseas operation. In that case, the sales go up but the profit does not... Topping the list are technology companies... U.S. energy companies get 42% of their sales from outside of the country, according to S&P... The green-back's fall, particularly against the euro, should provide a positive tailwind for the fourth-quarter earnings of major pharmaceutical and medical device makers when they translate their foreign sales back into dollars... 'Over the last few quarters we've seen the earnings in the medical technology group boosted as much as 4% to 5%.', said Ben Andrew, medical technology analyst with William Blair & Co... For the year, the effect of currency contributed 5% to the 19% increase in sales, Natick, Mass.-based Boston Scientific said... Internet companies have been benefiting from the depreciation in the dollar."
2004-01-17 12:23PST (15:23EST) (20:23GMT)
4500 out of 15K new IBM jobs to be in USA
"IBM will hire 15K new employees in 2004, with an additional 4.5K jobs in the United States, a top executive said Saturday... In total, the move will increase IBM's work-force by nearly 5% to about 330K or more depending on attrition. That number is the highest since 1991 when IBM began a decade-long over-haul under former chief executive Louis Gerstner."
John Markoff _NY Times_
Plaintiffs Say M$ Still Behaves Badly
"Two reports filed with a federal court suggest that the government's anti-trust agreement with M$ has not changed the company's anti-competitive behavior."
Nicholas D. Kristof _NY Times_
Girls for Sale
"in northwestern Cambodia. Girls here are bought and sold, but there is an important difference compared with the 19th century: many of these modern slaves will be dead of AIDS by their 20s. Some 700K people are trafficked around the world each year, many of them just girls... 'The police wouldn't help me because they get bribes from the brothel owners.'..."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Workers Assail Night Lock-Ins by WM
"For more than 15 years, the world's largest retailer has locked in over-night employees at many WM and Sam's Club stores."
Matthew L. Wald _NY Times_
Airline Gave Government Information on Passengers
"A second air-line has [confessed to] releasing information on its passengers for an experiment to determine if the government could 'mine' the data to spot terrorists."
David K. Shipler _NY Times_ adapted from _The Working Poor_
A Poor Cousin of the Middle Class (7 pages)
"[She] embraces the ethics of America. She works hard and has no patience with those who don't. She has owned a house, pursued an education and deferred to the needs of her child. Yet she can barely pay her bills. Her earnings have hovered in a twilight between poverty and minimal comfort, usually between $8K and $12K a year. She is the invisible American, unnoticed because she blends in. Like millions at the bottom of the labor force who contribute to the country's prosperity, [her] diligence is a camouflage. At the convenience store where she works, customers do not see that she struggles against destitution. Others of the unseen sew clothes, clean offices and harvest fruit. They serve Big Macs and stack merchandise at WM. In a California factory, they package lights for kids' bikes. In a New Hampshire plant, they assemble books of wall-paper samples... She had earned a college diploma (a two-year associate's degree), and she had gone from a homeless shelter into her own house (owned mostly by a bank). The third objective, 'a good paying job', as she put it, still eluded her... 'I'm only making 80 cents more than I did more than 20 years ago.' Or less, taking into account the rise in the cost of living... [She's] 'a nice lady' with lots of enthusiasm. 'She's self-driven.', he observed. 'She's always willing to learn and better herself. She's got potential. She can definitely move up.' But she did not move up. She had never moved up... Again and again, she applied to manage...and again and again she was passed over in favor of men -- or, she observed wryly, women who were younger and slimmer... [Her] teeth had succumbed to poverty, to the years when she could not afford a dentist... If she were not poor, she would not have lost her teeth, and if she had not lost her teeth, perhaps she would not have remained poor. Poverty is a peculiar, insidious thing, not just one problem but a constellation of problems: not just inadequate wages but also inadequate education, not just dead-end jobs but also limited abilities, not just insufficient savings but also unwise spending, not just the lack of health insurance but also the lack of healthy households... Gathering credits from community colleges in Vermont and Florida, she ended up with a 2-year associate's degree in office technology and information processing. She also ran up a debt of $17K in student loans, a sum that rose to $20K as she deferred payments. It turned out to be a bad investment; she never landed a job in her field of training, never got one that required anything more than a high-school diploma... Working at the edge of poverty means working on the coldest side of corporate America... if the factory had just let Caroline work day shifts, her problem would have disappeared. She asked a supervisor and got brushed off, but nobody else -- not the school principal, not the doctor, not the myriad agencies she contacted -- nobody in the profession of helping thought to pick up the phone and appeal to the factory manager or the foreman or anybody else in authority at her work-place. Indeed, this solemn regard for the employer as untouchable and beyond the realm of persuasion unless in violation of the law permeates the culture of American antipoverty efforts, with only a few exceptions. The most socially minded physicians and psychologists who treat malnourished children, for example, will advocate vigorously with government agencies to provide food stamps, health insurance, housing and the like. But when they are asked if they ever urge the parents' employers to raise wages enough to pay for nutritious food, the doctors express surprise at the notion. First, it has never occurred to them, and second, it seems hopeless. Wages and hours are set by the market-place, and you cannot expect magnanimity from the market-place. It is the final arbiter from which there is no appeal."
Dale Buss _Detroit News_
job flight stirs fight: Michigan tech executives claim it helps competitiveness
"'Once our communities lose these professional jobs, will we get them back?', asked United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger in a recent monograph on the topic. 'Not likely. And unfortunately, the low wages paid over-seas prevent developing countries from creating the broad consumer demand that is necessary for sustained economic growth.'... This trend, known as off-shoring, is expected to grow by about 20% a year to $10G annually by 2005, despite a slow-growing information technology market, according to Meta Group, a consulting firm based in Stamford, CT... The technology job losses seem to be a problem, although the federal government doesn't keep good statistics on technology jobs, says Josh Bivens, an economist for the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC. 'We have a huge blind spot.', he says. 'We really don't know how many jobs we're losing or even what kind of jobs are being off-shored.' Detroit helped create over-seas technology work. In 1974, the Detroit-based Burroughs Corp., now part of Unisys, agreed to help get programming contracts for what has become India's largest computing company, Tata Consulting Services [TCS], in exchange for Tata's serving as Burroughs' sales agent in India. Tata's first large USA software contract came on a Burroughs reference -- from the Detroit Police Department... American universities haven't succeeded in training enough knowledgeable workers [says Robert Kennedy, a business school professor at the University of Michigan]."
Martha E. Myers, PhD _Kennesaw State University_
Technology Trends in 2004
"the Atlanta area continues to experience the low end of the business cycle with many technology professionals either unemployed or under-employed..."
2004-01-19 00:00PST (03:00EST) (08:00GMT)
Peter Burris _IT Manager's Journal_
Prediction: Lots of IT will muddle through
"Four topics have been particular darlings this past season: off-shoring; open source penetration; the impending Salesforce.com IPO; and business process out-sourcing. As varied as these topics are, they all share a common rope: 2004 will be a pivotal year for evolving role of software development. To listen to many, the changes being rendered by these issues will be as simple as slotting cheap labor here and rented software there. Viola! Cheap solutions!... Credible estimates suggests that:
* 10% of IT work has been off-shored;
* quality software development labor in emerging markets costs [10% of what it does] in the U.S., but has been and continues to rise at a rate of 25% per annum compounded;
* labor accounts for roughly 80% of the costs of solution development, but only 40% of the costs of solution operations;
* software accounts for roughly 10% of the costs of solution development, and considerably less than that for solution operations;
* solution development fails 60% of the time...
In the last few years, the productivity of IT labor in U.S. IT organizations has gone up as much as 1% to 2% per annum... Where has this productivity been applied? Well, let's see: Y2K remediation work; bloated ERP implementations; creation of dot-com tools. I see a pattern forming: It's becoming cheaper to maintain and implement crap. Which is why, recently, business leaders have chosen to reap these productivity benefits mainly in the form of IT budget cuts... the real metric to watch over the next few years will be solution development failure rates. To put it simply: from an ROI stand-point, a 1% reduction in the cost of solution risk is worth about 5 percentage points worth of development labor savings. It's worth even more relative to software license savings."
Ameet Sachdev _Chicago Tribune_
Law firms slow to out-source & off-shore: Confidentiality out-weights cheapness
Stephanie Strom _NY Times_
Charities Raised More Money in 2003 but Costs Grew Even Faster
"While 64% of the 236 organizations across the country that responded reported more income, 66% said they had higher costs for health and liability insurance as well as for wages and salaries and other expenses. More than half of the respondents reported being in 'severe' or 'very severe' financial stress... in an era in which donors are increasingly demanding accountability and ways to measure effectiveness, organizations are moving fast to try to quantify themselves."
Laurie J. Flynn _NY Times_
Job Losses Slower Than They Were in Silicon Valley
"According to the most recent federal data available, Silicon Valley lost jobs from the second quarter of 2002 through the second quarter of 2003 at only half the rate -- 5% -- of the year-earlier period... for the first time, venture capital investment in biotechnology in Silicon Valley equaled investment in software companies... _The 2004 Index of Silicon Valley_... is to be released Monday... Through last year's second quarter, Silicon Valley had lost approximately 202K jobs from the peak of employment in the second quarter 2001, when the region's work force was 1.38M. For the third year in a row, average pay declined in Silicon Valley, but by a smaller margin than the previous year. In the 2003 period, average pay in the area declined 1.5%, to $62,400. That is in contrast to a 6% decline the year before, after accounting for inflation. The area's average pay peak was $81,700 in 2000. Even with the declines, average pay in Silicon Valley is 60% higher than the average for the rest of country, which is $37,300. The valley's cost of living, though, is 47% higher than the national average."
Douglas Heingartner _NY Times_
Software Piracy Is in Resurgence, With New Safeguards Eroded by File Sharing
"The advent of peer-to-peer, or P2P, file-sharing programs like Kazaa is quickly eroding the industry's gains over software piracy."
Back-lash to the off-shore out-sourcing back-lash
"Executives from Silicon Valley to Wall Street are adamant that shifting white-collar jobs from the United States to developing countries is good business, but a back-lash is [beginning to show some results]... Out-sourcing critics say Americans have been complacent about the loss of technology jobs to over-seas workers since the trend began in the late 1990s. But with elections in both the United States and India, they believe 2004 could be a turning point... Scott Kirwin, founder of the Wilmington, Del.-based lobbying group Information Technology Professionals Association of America, which compiles data from nearly 100 anti-out-sourcing web sites. Kirwin, who launched ITPAA after a large investment bank asked him to train the Indian worker who then replaced him, says said only broad consumer revolt will reverse the trend."
2004-01-20 08:25PST (11:25EST) (16:25GMT)
Brian Deagon _Investor's Business Daily_/_Yahoo!_
Demand for Engineers Rising in US
"The National Science Board and a think tank of tech executives recently warned that the economic vitality of America is threatened by a lack of U.S. graduates in science and engineering. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says demand for science and engineering workers will increase three times faster than all job categories this decade. 86% of those jobs - 2.2M - will be in the computer field. Yet unemployment in engineering occupations rose in the third quarter of 2003, say BLS data. The unemployment rate was 6.7%, up from 6.4% in the second quarter and 5 times higher than it was in 2000. George McClure, chairman of career and work force policy at the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, says there are several reasons for the disparity... the tech industry is still losing jobs - down 3.9% in November... He points off-shore, where firms such as IBM, Dell and Yahoo are hiring engineers by the truck-load... ome U.S. engineers say they are having a tough time finding work because the U.S. government has let 900K foreign engineers work in this country since 2000... The National Science Board and the Computer Systems Policy Project have voiced concerns about the increased reliance on foreign workers and jobs moving off-shore... There were 295K U.S. graduates in science and engineering fields in 2001, down from 330K in 1995. Meanwhile, the number of foreign-born engineers working in the U.S. has been steadily rising."
Declan McCullagh _CNET_/_NY Times_
IT industry lobbyists watch Iowa
"as primary season gets under way, the off-shoring controversy could provide a catalyst to raise the profile of high-tech concerns in the campaign. The flow of U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas has been a recurring theme... 'One of the concerns I have is what happens in this situation when, in their eagerness to create a policy issue, some of them have engaged in a lot of anti-trade rhetoric and anti-globalization rhetoric.', said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). 'From the association's perspective, it will be an ongoing concern if it turns into a hard-and-fast policy concern in the general election.' Off-shoring offers among the biggest technology interests in [the] campaign..."
Job losses push states to consider off-shore out-sourcing bans
"Executives from Silicon Valley to Wall Street are adamant that shifting white-collar jobs from the U.S. to developing countries is good business, but a back-lash is brewing. Indiana canceled a $15M state contract with an Indian consulting firm in November, and 8 states last year voted on bills that would have banned using taxpayer money on contracts with foreign workers. Though none of those measures passed, those states -- Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina -- and others are expected to consider similar bills this year... 'Politicians can't out-source the vote.', said Scott Kirwin, founder of the Wilmington, DE-based lobbying group Information Technology Professionals Association of America, which compiles data from nearly 100 anti-out-sourcing web sites."
Bell Labs Develops Engine for Cell Users
"Bell Labs says it has developed a network software engine that can let cell users be as picky as they choose about disclosing their where-abouts... wireless companies would prefer the flexibility to service a variety of customers..."
2004-01-20 20:07PST (23:07EST) (2004-01-21 04:07GMT) (2004-01-21 12:07HKT)
Wipro profit boosts IT confidence in India
"Leading Indian IT services company, Wipro Ltd, says its quarterly net profit rose a surprising 18.6% amid signs of a rebound in the information technology sector. The Bangalore-based company, India's third-largest software services company, said on Wednesday it expected revenue of $269M from its global information technology business in the quarter to March 31. It reported a net profit of 2.74G rupees ($60.35M) in the fiscal third quarter ending December 31."
2004-01-20 21:48PST (2004-01-21 00:48EST) (2004-01-21 05:48GMT)
Edmond Jacoby _North San Diego County Times_
Grocers' profit-sharing agreement examined
"Details of the so-called profit-sharing agreement among the three super-market chains involved in the Southern California grocery clerks strike have come to light... The agreement was reported in November, and promptly drew Lockyer's interest. His request for a copy to review its legality was initially rebuffed by the three chains, Vons, a division of Safeway, Inc.; Ralphs, a subsidiary of Kroger Co.; and Albertson's. An investigative sub poena was issued 2003 December 1, and the agreement and any other documents related to it were turned over just two days before Christmas. While Lockyer's office has been studying the agreement, the National Labor Relations Board has been investigating charges by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union that Ralphs supermarkets have been illegally hiring locked out Ralphs and Albertson's workers under assumed names and Social Security numbers... The agreement was described, however, in a convoluted statement made to institutional investors by Kroger's chief financial officer, Mike Schlotman, during a telephone conference explaining the company's third-quarter financial performance... 'what I ultimately have is an obligation either to pay or receive money under the terms of the agreement, based on our relative changes of sales compared to our historical sales'"
2004-01-21 05:04:46PST (08:04:46EST) (13:04:46GMT)
_Marin Independent Journal_
Grocery strike may spread nation-wide: AFL-CIO calls for protest actions across country
"As part of a new strategy, the powerful AFL-CIO labor union called yesterday for its members across the nation to implement a broader attacsk against three big super-market chains locked in a bitter strike with Southern California grocery clerks. The plan, worked out during a meeting in Washington, DC, between officials from the AFL-CIO -- the nation's largest federation of local unions -- and the United Food and Commercial Workers union focuses on attacking the parent companies of Albertsons, Vons and Ralphs in their markets elsewhere. Pleasanton-based Safeway, one of the largest grocery chains in North America, is the parent of Vons. Albertsons Inc. is based in Boise, Idaho, and Ralphs' parent, Kroger Co., is based in Cincinnati. Other elements include wider use of informational pickets outside California, town hall meetings, demonstrations at the homes of company executives and pressuring big investors to punish the companies for their stance in the dispute by selling off their shares."
2004-01-21 09:28PST (12:28EST) (17:28GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
2003 had most construction since 1978: December housing starts highest in 20 years
"Construction of new homes in the United States grew about 2% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.09M , the most in nearly 20 years, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. November's housing starts were revised slightly lower to 2.05M from 2.07M. Read the full release... The last time monthly starts were higher was 1984 February. For all of 2003, housing starts increased 8.4% over 2002, rising to a 25-year high of 1.85M. The record was set in 1972 with 2.36M... December's gains came in apartment buildings, which rose about 12%. Starts of single-family homes sank about 0.6% to 1.66M from November's record 1.67M."
2004-01-21 10:21PST (13:21EST) (18:21GMT)
John Gapper _Financial Times_/_Yahoo!_
USA brand names are still in demand globally regardless of relations between national governments
"Consumers around the world put aside any ill-feeling about USA foreign policy when they choose their fast food, soft drinks and athletic shoes, a Harvard Business School study has found. The survey of 1,800 consumers in 12 countries including Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia found that, despite expectations of a consumer backlash against USA brands, most people still choose brands such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's. About 88% of people, a consistent figure across most of the countries surveyed, selected well-known global brands rather than local alternatives when asked which products they would like to buy. There was a rump of 12% who did not want to buy such brands, associating them with the US and globalisation. Professor John Quelch of Harvard Business School, who led the study with Douglas Holt, an assistant professor, said that local consumer boycotts following the US response to the September 11 attacks had proved short-lived."
Census Bureau Report of New Residential Construction
|year||total||single unit||2-4 units||5+ units|
David Leonhardt _NY Times_
Even for Experts Analysing the Job Market Is an Adventure
"the government recently ignited new talk of a jobless recovery by reporting a measly gain of 1K jobs in December, nearly every other measure of the labor market offers a more encouraging picture... Since September, the number of people receiving state jobless benefits has fallen by almost 500K, or over 13%. A survey of executives suggests that companies in the service sector are increasing their employment at the fastest rate since 2000. The amount of help-wanted advertising being placed across the country has risen more than 10% since May, according to an index compiled by the Conference Board, a research company in New York. In early January, Americans reported being more confident about the economy than they had been in more than 3 years, according to a University of Michigan survey that often moves in tandem with job-market changes... Even if the job market is improving, it remains well short of healthy by almost any measure. But for all of the payroll survey's strengths, it often underestimates job growth at economic turning points because it misses numerous start-up businesses, many economists say... For the last 3 months of 1992, for example, the department initially reported average monthly gains of 65K jobs; it now says the economy was adding 177K jobs a month at the time, based on jobless-claims records and other information... Robert J. Barbera, chief economist of ITG/Hoenig...said he thought the economy was creating in the range of 50K jobs each month that were not being captured in the government's survey of businesses. Ian C. Shepherdson, the chief domestic economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, NY, said he thought the gap could be closer to 100K... Since June, the [seasonally adjusted unemployment] rate has fallen to 5.7%, from 6.2%... Gregory Mankiw, who as the chairman of Mr. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers...has said the [unemployment] rate understates the job market's current problems."
John Noble Wilford _NY Times_
Spirit Investigates Composition of Martian Rock
"Two of the Spirit's main science instruments, the Mossbauer spectrometer and the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, made a close examination of soil near the landing base. German scientists in charge of the studies reported that X-rays emitted by the surface soil indicated a chemical composition mainly of silicon and iron, with smaller amounts of sulfur, chlorine and argon. Argon is a noble gas that is part of the Martian atmosphere. Previous Martian sites visited by landing craft also contained significant amounts of sulfur and chlorine. Other members of the project's science team said the Mˆssbauer spectrometer found considerable amounts of the mineral olivine in the soil. Olivine, which contains oxygen, iron and magnesium, is often found in volcanic rocks."
Nicholas D. Kristof _NY Times_
Bargaining for Freedom
"I woke up her brothel's owner at dawn, handed over $150, brushed off demands for 'interest on the debt' and got a receipt for '$150 for buying a girl's freedom'. Then Srey Neth and I fled before the brothel's owner was even out of bed. But at Srey Mom's brothel, her owner announced that the debt was not $70, as the girl had thought, but $400. 'Where are the books?', I asked. A ledger was produced, and it purported to show that Srey Mom owed the equivalent of $337. But it also revealed that the girls were virtually ATMs for the brothels, generating large sums of cash that the girls were cheated out of. After some grumpy negotiation, the owner accepted $203 as the price for Srey Mom's freedom... Some brothel owners use beatings and locked rooms to enslave their girls, but most use debts and ostensible kindness to manipulate them -- and the girls are often so naÔve, so stigmatized by everyone else and so broken in spirit that this works. With Srey Mom sobbing in her room and refusing to be freed without her cell phone, the other prostitutes -- her closest friends -- began pleading with her to be reasonable. So did the brothel's owner... last-minute cold feet about whether her family and village would accept her if she returned. The possibility of rejection by her mother was almost as frightening as the idea of finishing her life in the brothel. On our return with the phone and jewelry, the family of the brothel's owner lighted joss sticks for Srey Mom and prayed for her at a Buddhist altar in the foyer of the brothel. The owner (called 'Mother' by the girls) warned Srey Mom against returning to prostitution."
New Wave of Law-Suits Brought Against 532 Copyright Violators
"The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today filed a new round of copyright infringement law-suits against 532 individual computer users who have been illegally distributing copyrighted music on peer-to-peer networks. The move is part of the RIAA's ongoing effort to protect the rights of copyright holders, while at the same time creating a level playing field on which the numerous existing legitimate on-line music services can compete and thrive."
"web fairy" & "FO Langston" _Freedom Writer_
companies that have gone over-seas
2004-01-22 08:11PST (11:11EST) (16:11GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims fall to 3-year low: Seasonally adjusted weekly initial claims sink 1K to 341K
"The seasonally adjusted weekly average for initial jobless claims sank by 3,250 in the 4 weeks ending January 17 to a 3-year low of 344,500... The 4-week average has fallen by about 20K in the past month and by 60K in the past 4 months... Meanwhile, the 4-week average for continuing claims fell by 22,750 to 3.21M, the lowest since the week before the terror attacks on 2001 September 11. The figures do not include some 788K workers who were receiving extended federal benefits that are available once workers exhaust their state benefits, typically after 26 weeks. The federal program is not accepting new applications."
2004-01-22 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Unemployment compensation insurance claims not seasonally adjusted
Other Department of Labor releases
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 487,333 in the week ending January 17, a decrease of 190,318 from the previous week. There were 542,563 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.1% during the week ending January 10, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,881,870, a decrease of 276,053 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.2% and the volume was 4,123,632... Extended benefits were available in Alaska, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington during the week ending January 3. 53 states reported that 787,817 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending January 3... The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending January 3 were in Alaska (6.3%), Michigan (5.3%), Pennsylvania (5.3%), Oregon (5.1%), Idaho (5.0%), Wisconsin (5.0%), Washington (4.7%), Connecticut (4.3%), Massachusetts (4.3%), New Jersey (4.2%), Rhode Island (4.2%), and South Carolina (4.2%). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending January 10 were in California (+14,857), Texas (+13,685), Georgia (+13,253), Illinois (+11,356), and Tennessee (+10,125), while the largest decreases were in Kentucky (-4,223), New York (-4,160), Wisconsin (-2,740), Indiana (-1,292), and Michigan (-851)."
2004-01-22 10:34PST (13:34EST) (18:34GMT)
Nell Henderson _Washington Post_
NBER says recesion started in 2000
"'We have discussed it already and there seems to be some inclination to move the date', to some time in the last 3 months of 2000, said Victor Zarnowitz. He is a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research's business cycle dating committee, which determines the widely accepted start and end dates to U.S. recessions. The 7-member panel had earlier decided that the recession began in 2001 March and ended in November that year... NBER President Martin Feldstein said, 'It is clear that the revised data have made our original March date for the start of the recession much too late.', but he did not offer a different date... The panel picked 2001 March as the beginning of the recession primarily because that was when U.S. pay-roll employment began to drop seriously. [But employment is a lagging economic indicator.]... '3 of the 4 components would definitely point to an earlier date', for the beginning of the recession, he said. 'Only one lagged.'"
2004-01-22 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Kitty Pilgrim & Peter Viles & Julie Vallese & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Overwhelmed America & Broken Borders
"Wages are stagnant, productivity is soaring, which means many Americans are effectively working more for less. And making matters even worse, millions of American workers now find themselves competing with cheaper foreign labor just to hold on to their jobs... This is the California grocery strike, but it might as well be from a time capsule, because the strike, the ultimate workers' weapon, is almost extinct in America. In the 1950s, there were 352 major strikes per year, so far this decade, 25 per year. Unions have lost membership and lost clout. Real wages have been stagnant for 3 decades. One labor scholar describes workers right now as frightened, overwhelmed and exhausted. Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University: 'They are frightened because they wake up each morning and they don't know whether their job is going to be out-sourced, down-sized, contracted out or eliminated. They are overwhelmed because they feel like forces way beyond their control are making the decisions that affect their lives. And they are exhausted because they are working harder and longer and faster just to stand still.'... In growing numbers, workers are feeling overworked, underappreciated and burned out. That's according to a recent study of 1,100 workers... The work-place anxieties fueled by what some economists are now calling the worst hiring slump since the Great Depression in America, a jobless recovery that continues to surprise and disappoint economists, but also continues to give employers the upper hand in the labor market... Until the millions of people who are unemployed and the millions working part-time who want full-time work get into the job market, employers have the leverage. Employers don't give raises because they think they should. They give raises because they have to. And right now, they don't have to... a controversial policy that bans local police from enforcing immigration policies in major cities across the country. Heather MacDonald is the senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and she says the rules are evidence of the sheer number of immigrants coming into the country is driving the nation's policies on immigration. Brent Wilkes is the executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens and he says the rules protect immigrants from racial profiling... Brent Wilkes: 'know if they were to start enforcing immigration laws the word would get out to those communities they would no longer come to the police. They wouldn't report crimes or be witnesses. If they were victims they wouldn't come forward.'... Jack Pritchard of Brookings Institute: 'I think the most significant was the fact that the 8K spent fuel rods that had previously been under seal in monitoring by the IAEA for which the United States believed was still in the spent fuel storage pond, we discovered that they were gone. The North Koreans said they had reprocessed them and it appears that they have. All we can confirm they are not in the building any longer.'... And a South Dakota judge today sentenced former Congressman Bill Janklow to 100 days in jail for a deadly car accident last summer. He was convicted last month for running a stop sign and colliding with a man on a motorcycle who was killed instantly. Janklow's sentence begins February 7... Today, Enron's former chief accountant surrendered to authorities in Houston. He pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from Enron's sham accounting and collapse. He's the first Enron indictment since former CFO Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty last week. A former Computer Associates executive pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn court today to obstruction of justice in a probe of accounting abuses there. And the founder of Marketwatch.com [Thom Calandra] resigned today. He's also the lead commentator for CBS 'Market Watch'. The SEC is investigating his trading activities, going back to 2002 October... New technology installed in more than 100K vehicles offers drivers a friendly reminder when the car payments are due. Friendly that is until you miss a payment... The On Time device uses blinking lights and sounds to remind customers when their car payment is due. Make a payment, input a code that changes every pay cycle and customers are good to go. The closer it gets to a payment date, lights flash and On Time beeps. Miss a payment and the car won't start. On Time won't turn a car off, instead it keeps it from starting."
Geraldine Fabrikant _NY Times_
In a Surprise Move Liberty Media Fattens Stake in News Corp.
"Liberty Media disclosed that it had increased its voting stake in the News Corporation to 9.1%, making it the second-largest share-holder after the Murdoch family."
Alex Berenson _NY Times_
Guilty Plea Is Expected From Inquiry Into Earnings
"Lloyd Silverstein, a former executive for Computer Associates, is expected to plead guilty to a charge that stems from the federal investigation into the company's accounting practices."
Stephen Labaton _NY Times_
Federal Thugs Demand More Power to Tap the Internet
"As a result of the [FCC's] actions, said John G. Malcolm, a deputy assistant attorney general who has played a lead role for the Justice Department, some telecommunications carriers have taken the position in court proceedings that they do not need to make their networks available to federal agents for court-approved wire-tapping. [Their real complaint is that wire-tapping that has not been warranted is impeded.]"
Nancy Cleeland _LA Times_
Low-Pay Sectors Dominate US & State Job Growth: In California, industries that are hiring pay 40% less than those that are shrinking
"The report by the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute paints a picture of a state and national economy in which employment growth is being driven largely by low-skilled service jobs... In Los Angeles... 'under-ground' cash economy... very low-wage workers... might account for as much as 15% of all jobs in the metropolitan area, said Dan Flaming of the Economic Round Table... 'It's really scary.', Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said of the long-term implications. An economy increasingly dependent on lower-wage jobs will have a smaller tax base and see less consumer spending, checking economic growth and reducing the quality of public services and infrastructure, Kyser said... [Jeff] Chapman [of EPI] said California lost 127K manufacturing jobs and 55K jobs in the information sector from 2001 November to 2003 November. Meanwhile, the leisure and hospitality sector gained 48K jobs, retail trade grew by 32K and health and education, which includes day-care teachers and low-wage hospital crews, grew by 65K."
Robert X. Cringely _National Socialist Television_
Thick as a Campaign Plank: U.S. Leaders Either Don't Understand or Prefer Not to Understand the IT Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Crisis, So Here's the Cliff Notes Version
"Last year, I wrote a pair of columns on information technology out-sourcing to countries like India, suggesting that the practice was generally not a good idea. It was a smoke-screen for age discrimination, and was not in the long-term interests of either the American employees or their companies... In the 1950s and 1960s in England, there was a phenomenon they called the 'brain drain', which was the mass emigration of scientists and engineers to the United States... Send enough technical work to India or [Red China], and what once was the engineering department ends up working down at Home Depot. The industries that are being particularly affected are information technology, telecommunications, and aerospace. These are also the only U.S. industries that in the 1990s produced substantial trade surpluses. We are shipping over-seas the only manufacturing work that still makes money for America... The only groups who really want this are investors and top management -- 2 groups that have the shortest time perspective, thinking no further ahead usually than the next financial quarter. Shipping work over-seas saves money that drops to the bottom line as profit... But it isn't good for local taxes in my community and maybe yours... The same businesses that complain about a lack of local technical training aren't generally paying their share for that training... Each time, the old industry moved to a place where business could be done cheaper, moving in turn to Korea, Malaysia, [Red China], etc. This is a story of upward mobility, but what about what's happening in America? Our exports that have real value in the world are in IT, aerospace, telecommunications, medical technology, entertainment, and agriculture. Losing any of those becomes a story of downward mobility -- a story that has already begun to be told."
Michael Hiltzik _LA Times_
Lengthy Strike Shows Evolution of Union Hasn't Kept Up with Ries of Grocery Giants
"The UFCW's regional locals, to start with, vastly under-estimated their opponents in this fight. When talks opened in August, union leaders told me, they were blind-sided by the depth of the cuts demanded by the super-market chains in health care and other provisions. Since then, things have only gotten worse. Union workers not only have gone without pay, most have lost their health benefits and seen their strike benefits cut. When the companies came back to the bargaining table in December after a long siesta, their new offer was worse than their original. It's estimated that the three chains have forgone more than $1G in sales during the fight, but because they record combined revenue of more than $121G a year, it may be a while before they judge their investment in beating down the unions to be a poor one... they've under-estimated Safeway Chairman Steven A. Burd, who is spear-heading the assault... But the nationwide consolidation of the super-market business didn't occur over-night; it has been going on for most of those 15 years, and by no means secretly... they're surprised at the absence of the collegial we-can-work-it-out atmosphere that prevailed at negotiations in past contract cycles. Yet that's what happens when labor policy is made not by executives who live in the same communities where they've provoked a labor war, but by corporate bureaucrats ensconced thousands of miles away... A string of contracts with the three chains is expiring over the next few months, including pacts in Denver, Chicago, Washington and Las Vegas. The Northern California contracts come up in July. If strikes drive away shoppers across the nation, the chains' smugness might evaporate. There are also signs that Wall Street, which goaded the super-markets into this fight, has wearied of the fun. This week, Smith Barney issued a 'sell' recommendation on Safeway stock, citing, among other things, Burd's 'heavy-handed' approach to labor."
2004-01-23 00:57PST (03:57EST) (08:57GMT)
Stephanie Armour _USA Today_
Labor Department to Issue New Over-Time Rules
"Under the proposal made by Labor last year, the changes would cause some workers to lose over-time and others to get it. Companies now must generally pay workers time-and-a-half their regular pay for hours worked over 40 a week, but who qualifies is to be based on pay and type of job. Pay. Workers automatically qualify for over-time if they earn less than $155 a week. Under the changes, that threshold would be raised to $425 a week. The change means an additional 1.3M lower-income workers who now don't get over-time would be eligible... The government estimates that roughly 640K white-collar workers would lose over-time pay under those job duty changes, but they also say that the status of millions of other workers would be made clearer... Jared Bernstein, with the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), says as many as 8M workers who now get over-time will lose it. They say veterans who learned job skills in the military also would lose over-time under a change that allows work experience to make some professionals exempt. Government officials say those with military training wouldn't lose over-time and that the current proposal isn't a change from what's now in place."
2004-01-23 11:40PST (14:40EST) (19:40GMT)
Ina Fried _CNET_
Carly Fiorina reaps $2M bonus for devastating HP
"Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina took home more than $3.4M in salary, bonus and other compensation last year. Fiorina received a salary of $1.24M, up from $1M in the 2 prior years, according to documents filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Her bonus of $2.1M was down from the $2.9M bonus she received in 2002; Fiorina received no bonus in 2001. Fiorina also received more than $170K in other compensation including payment for company-required personal use of HP aircraft and mortgage assistance. Her 2003 salary reflects the fact that the board approved an increase in her base salary from $1M to $1.4M. A number of other top HP executives received retention bonuses in excess of $2M, including Chief Financial Officer Bob Wayman, PC unit head Duane Zitzner, printing chief Vyomesh Joshi and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Winkler. All 4 also received bonuses in excess of $2M last year."
2004-01-23 14:01PST (17:01EST) (22:01GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Nasdaq ekes out small gain: Dow snaps 8-week winning streak
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 54.89 points, or 0.5%, at 10,568.29, off an intraday high of 10,643.48. The bench-mark index fell 32 points, or 0.4%, in the past week. The Nasdaq Composite was up 4.86 points Friday, or 0.2%, at 2,123.87. The tech-rich index shed 17 points, or 0.8%, over the holiday-shortened week, ending a six-week run of gains. The S&P 500 eased 2.39 points, or 0.2%, at 1,141.55... On the broader market, advancers had a 17 to 15 edge over decliners on the NYSE, while gainers out-paced decliners by an 18 to 13 score on the Nasdaq. Total volume was 1.5G on the NYSE and 2.2G on the Nasdaq."
2004-01-23 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Kitty Pilgrim & Christine Romans & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
illegal aliens, Socialist Insecurity, and Harvard
"Dana Rohrabacher: 'I think President Bush has a very good heart and I think that he's motivated because of the predicament that we have with so many people in our country, illegally, who are being exploited and live in very bad conditions. And I think the try to normalize the situation, the president is trying to reach out for a solution, but I don't think that solution will be very good for the rest of us. I think it will have dramatically bad impact on people's wages and on our social services... If we start providing that people in our country illegally can be part of our [Socialist Insecurity] system, there is going to be no end to it. It will just -- most countries in the world do not have retirement plans for their people. And if they learn all over the world and third world countries that they get to the United States, that they could be part of our Social Security system, it is going to have a horrendous damage... Our people today don't pay into [Socialist Insecurity] as much as they get out. After a few years, it becomes a stipend from the government to help people live well or live better when they are older. Well, if we extend that same courtesy to tens of millions of people who come from foreign countries. When they go back to their own country, we are going to be providing retirement benefits for millions and millions of people all over the world. It will break the system... Senator [Kyl's] addition was that there was a billion dollars added to the bill to provide emergency health care for illegal immigrants. Well, my bill -- I was not going to vote for the bill, but to get my vote they agreed that we would have some legislation that I would write that would mitigate the bad impact of having the tax-payers officially picking up the medical costs, emergency medical costs, for illegal immigrants. What my bill says is that if an illegal immigrant comes in for emergency healthcare. Yes we're going to treat him if it's an emergency, but we are not going to be treating him, and it does define what an emergency is, for conditions that he had when he came into this country. We can't have people coming here and expecting to be treated for genetic conditions, for cancer, for long-term health care problems. No, we will treat someone if they are in an emergency, if their life is threatened at that moment and only to the degree that they can then get back to their home country. Furthermore, the hospitals will be required to get the names and ask the legal status of the people they are treating. Then make that available to the INS.'...
$101M, Harvard: 5 fund managers were paid for the performance that they gave for Harvard's big endowment helping grow Harvard's nest egg. One fund manager got $34M, another money manager, $35M. Harvard says that those two accounted for $700M in gains to its already huge endowment. Some alumni... are screaming. They call the pay-out obscenely high. After all, the fund managers took home 2,700 years worth of Harvard tuition. Harvard says it will re-examine its pay policies and come up with a pay ceiling from now on, a maximum, if you will."
Jonah Goldberg _TownHall_
Gap Widening between Shrub and Conservatives
"...I was invited to Manhattan to address the New York State Conservative Party right before the president addressed the nation. It seemed only fitting since the subject of my speech was the conflict between Bush's 'compassionate conservatism' and traditional conservatism. You see, conservatives in New York City have suffered more and for longer than conservatives in the rest of America. Trust me, I grew up on New York City's Upper West Side. We felt like Christians in Ancient Rome. Well, after 3 years with George W. Bush at the helm, many conservatives are starting to feel like we've been sent to the catacombs. Don't get me wrong. Out in real America where most Americans - liberal and conservative - don't focus on politics every day, Bush is still doing very well... But among ideological and intellectual conservatives, emotional support for Bush is starting to ebb... For some it started with his plan to offer amnesty-lite to illegal immigrants. For others, it's his fence-sitting on gay marriage. For others, like me, it was his signing of the campaign finance reform bill even though he thought it was unconstitutional. Or maybe it was his support for steel tariffs. Or the farm bill... What unites pretty much all of these grumblers is a deep sense of, well, disgust with how much this administration is spending... Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation sums it up this way : 'Overall for 2003, the federal government spent $20,300 per household, taxed $16,780 per household, and ran a budget deficit of $3,520 per household.'"
John Noble Wilford _NY Times_
Mars Rover Falls Silent, Fraying Nerves at NASA
"Flight controllers have had no intelligible communication with the Mars rover Spirit since early Wednesday."
"The delay of a country-of-origin labeling plan for food products is a significant defeat for farmers and consumers alike."
Paul Krugman _NY Times_
Democracy at Risk
"Electronic voting is not just a bad technology -- it's a threat to the Republic."
Melissa Eddy _AP_/_San Jose Mercury News_
European Mars Orbiter Finds Evidence of Water on Planet
"A European space-craft has found the most direct evidence yet of water in the form of ice on Mars, detecting molecules vaporizing from the Red Planet's south pole, scientists said Friday... Omega observed the southern polar cap of Mars, as seen on all three bands. The right one represents the visible image, the middle one the CO2 (carbon dioxide) ice and the left one the H2O (water) ice."
Denise Gellene _LA Times_
Biotech Sees Highly Concentrated Growth: Bio-tech is expanding but will have little effect on US economy
"But the reality is that although the business is expanding -- one expert thinks bio-tech pay-rolls could grow by 15% in 2004 -- it is probably too small and too geographically concentrated to give the broader economy a big booster shot. Bio-tech firms employ only about 200K people in all. That's relatively puny, a mere 15% of the number of people who work for retail giant WM Stores Inc. Total annual revenue for bio-tech firms in 2002 was not quite $35G, which is less than General Electric Co.'s sales for about 3 months... David Gollaher, president of the California Healthcare Institute, said biotech employment in the state could increase substantially in the next 5 to 6 years as firms hire sales and manufacturing employees to launch products. 'We're looking for significant growth, but we need to keep our companies here instead of going to Singapore or [Red China] or Texas or North Carolina.', he said."
Scott Gold & H.G. Reza _LA Times_
Border Agents Assail Bush's Amnesty Plan for Illegal Aliens
"The agents -- many of whom otherwise support the White House -- savaged the Bush proposal as a grab for Latino votes and a favor to the business community, factions of which rely on cheap immigrant labor. And they say they are bracing for a rush of people trying to sneak into the United States... But several agents said there was anecdotal evidence that an immigration wave already had begun. People recently detained along the border, the agents said, have demanded 'amnesty' upon their capture... Immigration officials estimate that there are between 8M and 11M immigrants living illegally in the United States. T.J. Bonner, a 25-year veteran of the force and president of the National Border Patrol Council, said the number might be closer to 16M."
David Olinger _Denver Post_
Child abuse off the charts: Official blames economy, budget cuts, meth
"Child abuse cases are rising dramatically in Colorado courts, according to the agency that provides guardians for the children... Spahn's office, which assigns attorneys to represent the child's interest in court, found that guardian appointments for new child abuse cases jumped 54% in Jefferson and Boulder counties from the last half of 2002 to the last half of 2003. Adams County appointments were up 42%."
Michelle Morgante _Sarasota Herald Tribune_/_AP_
Hundreds march in SoCal to show support for grocery strike
Los Angeles Daily News
"More than 100 days after their walk-out began, hundreds of grocery workers marched through down-town San Diego Friday to demand progress on contract talks and warned that the labor strife would spread from Southern California across the country unless a deal is made... The crowd of union members and supporters - union leaders estimated its size at more than 1,800 marchers, but police described it as a few hundred - moved onto downtown streets with police on motor-cycles and horses escorting them toward a Ralphs grocery store... The 3 store chains have been negotiating as a bloc. They have been operating with replacement workers since the strike began. Key contract differences include the cost and scope of health care benefits for current employees and future hires. Butkiewicz said union supporters began picketing grocery stores Friday in Portland, OR, Seattle, Philadelphia, Detroit and Washington. Pickets would spread to 5 new cities each week until a contract is reached."
Giant Cal PERS Seeks End to California Grocery Strike
"The mammoth California Public Employees' Retirement System is stepping up its investor campaign to end the bitter 3-month-old super-market strike in Southern California."
Robert P. Murphy _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
Who Benefits from Free Trade, and How
"First, let's be clear what I mean by free trade. When I say I'm 'for free trade', that means I do not think the US government should impose tariffs or other barriers (such as import quotas) on the importation of foreign consumption goods by US consumers. Now it's true, I'm a philosophical anti-statist and so I oppose the very existence of the US federal government..."
2004-01-23 17:13PST (20:13EDT) (2004-01-24 01:13GMT)
_San Diego Union-Tribune_
More than 1K drawn to grocery clerks' rally
"An afternoon rally and march by striking grocery workers brought more than 1K workers and supporters to down-town today, but their efforts generated little enthusiasm from the public. The workers, who have either been on strike or locked out from Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons stores for 15 weeks, were joined by members of teachers, machinists, iron workers and other unions... The strikers received support from San Diego Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins, Council member Donna Frye and radio personality Ted Leitner."
2004-01-23 17:30PST (20:30EST) (2004-01-24 01:30GMT)
Rex Crum _MarketWatch_
Apple Macintosh after 20 years
"That innovation has been the hall-mark of the Mac: * The first mass-market graphical user interface. * The first mouse (on a commercially available computer). * The first 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. * The first one-piece computer with the monitor built in. * The first to use a CD-ROM drive instead of a floppy disk. * The first with a DVD drive. * The first truly portable note-book computer... But like many sculptors, Apple has learned the hard way that the best work isn't doesn't always lead to the best sales. Especially when it comes with a $2,495 price tag, as the first Mac did. IBM, which Apple targeted with the Mac in the 1984 commercial, already had a jump on Apple in one important respect. 'It was a brilliant move by IBM to coin the term PC', said Jay Elliot, who worked at Apple from 1979 to 1986 and was executive vice president of administrative operations when the Mac launched. 'It made a differentiation between Apple and IBM.' 'When the Mac was introduced, IBM made it look like a toy, and that made IBM more acceptable for the market it was going after.', said Elliot, who is now CEO of Forward Solutions, a developer of mobile technologies. 'The Mac really didn't have a chance in corporate America.'... There was a failed attempt to clone Apple computers in the mid-1990s, the flame-out of the Newton personal digital assistant and a $740M quarterly loss in 1996. While Apple cranked out computers that, stylistically, put the rest of the industry to shame, the company's demise was predicted nearly every year."
2004-01-23 17:33:44PST (20:33:44EST) (2004-01-24 01:33:44GMT)
Michael Rappaport _Pasadena Star News_
Two sides still far apart in grocery strike
"It was October 11 22:30 that the United Food and Commercial Workers union called a strike against Vons and Pavilions, and only a few hours later that Ralphs and Albertsons locked out UFCW members. With the Southern California super-market strike already 8 days longer than a 14-week strike against Safeway in 1983 in Hawaii, 71K workers have been without pay-checks for 3 1/2 months. No end is in sight, either... The super-markets, which see a changing retail atmosphere, are looking for a 2-tier wage and benefit system in which future employees would earn lower hourly pay and contribute more toward their own benefits. Wall Street analysts have told them they need to bring their employee costs more in line with companies such as WM, which pays many of its employees less than half the top wage they pay and offers lesser benefits as well. The UFCW argues that a 2-tier system would be the same as painting a target on every existing employee's back... They say they have been making wage concessions in order to keep company-paid health care for years, and indeed, maintaining health-care benefits has become the raison d'etre for the strike."
2004-01-24 07:00PST (10:00EST) (15:00GMT)
"'The focus has shifted towards selling out-sourcing rather than selling off-shore.', Datamonitor analyst Ryan Powell said. 'Once firms have out-sourced to a third party, it becomes much more acceptable [in their minds] to move that work off-shore.'... Mexico, South Africa and Malaysia are growing in popularity as off-shore locations at the expense of leaders India and the Philippines... The demand for non-English-language services is expected to increase. &nnbsp; In the United States, for example, the demand for Mexican call center agents will grow to serve the country's increasing number of Spanish speakers, many of whom are of Mexican origin."
2004-01-24 08:11PST (10:11CST) (11:11EST) (16:11GMT)
Michael J. Martinez _AP_/_Chicago Tribune_
Tech Stocks Could See a Boost from IT Spending
"corporate out-looks that appear bland for at least the first quarter of the year. Yet there's still hope. As the rest of the economy recovers, many businesses will begin upgrading their older technologies, some of which are left over from the Y2K scare and are overdue for replacement. That means more workstations, more laptops, more phones -- and more semiconductors... According to Barbara Gomolski, an analyst with the technology think tank Gartner, spending on information technology could rise about 5% in the coming year."
2004-01-24 10:34PST (12:34CST) (13:34EST) (18:34GMT)
WM Over-Time Suit Denied Class-Action Status by Panama City, Florida Judge
"A judge has denied class-action status for a law-suit that accuses WM of failing to pay low-level employees for extra work. Circuit Judge Glenn Hess... wrote that the court would face between 900 and 2,300 trials to determine damages if even 1% of the 90K to 230K WM employees in Florida since 1997 joined the law-suit. A former night shift manager in the Panama City Beach WM Super-center and several former employees of Chipley WM sued the nation's largest retailer in 2001. They said they were forced to work through breaks, skip meals and return to unfinished tasks after they had clocked out. They wanted to include all the hourly workers WM stores have employed in Florida since 1997 in a class-action, a number WM said would include 232,358 people."
Gardiner Harris & Monica Davey _NY Times_
FDA Begins Push to End Drug Imports
"The [FDA] is hoping to use a combination of inspections and pointed political advice to persuade local officials to stop importing medicines from Canada."
_Bloomberg News_/_LA Times_
Carly Fiorino's Pay Fell 38% in Fiscal 2003
"Hewlett-Packard Co. said the pay of Chief Executive Carly Fiorina was reduced 38% in its 2003 fiscal year after the firm's $18.9G purchase of Compaq Computer Corp., according to a proxy filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission... The board will be cut to 9 members from 11... Fiorina cut 7K jobs and recorded $752M for severance and other costs in fiscal 2003. That was after cutting 17,500 jobs and taking about $2.8G in costs for severance payments, retention bonuses and restructuring related to the acquisition of Compaq in 2002. Fiorina's pay, including salary, bonus and options, fell to $6.64M, from $10.7M in fiscal 2002, according to the proxy."
Michael Kinsman _San Diego Union-Tribune_
Personal bond with strikers keeps people from crossing picket lines
"With the Southern California grocery strike and lockout in its 106th day, an unusual solidarity has developed among disgruntled shoppers that may last as long as the strike is unresolved. 'At this point, the people who are not going into the grocery stores won't be going back in until this is over.', said Peter Olney, associate director of the Institute for Labor and Employment at the University of California... San Diego State University marketing professor George Belch thinks some shoppers may be avoiding the chain stores simply because of anti-corporate feelings... Independent markets, smaller chains and warehouse outlets... are doing a bustling business because some shoppers refuse to cross picket lines... Support for the strike may wane if consumers sense strikers are becoming too aggressive in their protests or if picket lines begin to shrink at super-markets, one labor economist said."
Mike Freeman _San Diego Union-Tribune_
About 700 gather for boisterous union rally
"the grocery workers union yesterday held one of its largest rallies since the 106-day-old strike and lockout began, drawing roughly 700 people to a down-town San Diego demonstration... While union leaders have held rallies throughout Southern California during the strike, recent demonstrations have taken on a more urgent tone. Fifteen union supporters were arrested January 17... About 70K grocery workers have been locked out or on strike since October 11 over contract differences, particularly the cost and scope of health care benefits for current employees and future hires. Religious leaders have become increasingly involved in the labor dispute. Clergy were among those arrested in recent demonstrations in the Los Angeles area. In addition, Los Angeles-based Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice has organized a bus tour next week from Southern California to the home of Safeway Chief Executive Steve Burd, who lives in a gated community near Walnut Creek. Union leaders claim Burd is the most intransigent of the super-market executives in the dispute."
_Cleveland Plain Dealer_
"Live on his talk show, he switched parties from Republican to Libertarian. He was influenced in part, he says, by watching how Republicans used their power once they took control of Congress. 'They spend tax dollars like there's no tomorrow.', he says. 'It's amazing. I don't know how they can with a straight face call themselves the party of smaller government.'... He believes in dramatically reducing the federal government, ending all federal income and corporate taxes, and eliminating all agencies that fill roles not specifically cited in the Constitution... Lawrence Jacobs, a professor at the University of Minnesota who has researched the role of third parties since 1978, says two factors could help Libertarians. First, he says, third parties have done best in presidential elections that follow midterm elections in which they also do well... Second, he says, third parties typically are most dangerous to incumbents... Nolan will have to win over his fellow Libertarians, who will pick their nominee at a convention in Atlanta on Memorial Day weekend. Until recently, his main opponent had been Michael Badnarik, a computer consultant in Texas. But Aaron Russo, a Hollywood producer, this month announced plans to run as a Libertarian."
2004-01-25 15:53PST (18:53EST) (23:53GMT)
Brendan January _MarketWatch_
In presidential election years, economy & markets rise
"Since 1948, the U.S. economy has grown, on average, 4% annually versus only 3.3% when election years are not included. Or, 11 of the past 14 election years have seen growth of 3.3% or higher. The markets have been even more cheerful. In only 2 of the last 14 election years (1960 and 1984) has the Dow Jones Industrial Average fallen... Paul Wachtel, economics professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, says the president's tools to steer the economy are limited. The Federal Reserve, which regulates interest rates and the money supply, is independent. Considering the size of the U.S. economy, most fiscal maneuvers may take years to have an impact... 'Expectations are extraordinarily important.', says Wachtel. 'If consumers are expecting good times, then they will insure good times.' In short, the belief in an economic bounce is almost enough to guarantee it will happen."
Gretchen Morgenson _NY Times_
Why the Execs Are Paid So Much Why Workers' Real Compensation Falls
"One person taking aim at egregious executive pay is Daniel J. Steininger, chairman of the Catholic Funds, a $30 million fund company in Milwaukee. He has submitted a proposal to limit the chief's pay at seven companies to a figure that is 100 times that of the average worker, unless shareholders approve more. If a company asks them for higher pay, it would have to list at least one performance goal that was reached mostly because of the chief executive... The Steininger Seven are Cendant, Compuware, Delta Air Lines, the El Paso Corporation, International Paper, Sun Microsystems and Viacom. All were picked because their chiefs' pay had rocketed versus that of their average workers... J.P. Morgan, the financier, is credited with suggesting that executives earn no more than 20 times the pay of low-level workers. How quaint: a 2000 study by Towers Perrin showed that chiefs at big domestic companies earned 531 times what their hourly employees did, on average."
John H. Cushman _NY Times_
5 GIs Are Killed in a Wave of Violence
"Insurgents in Iraq killed or wounded scores of people in several attacks on Saturday, including 5 U.S. soldiers."
Peter Landesman _NY Times_
Slavery Next Door
"The house at 1212 1/2 West Front Street in Plainfield, NJ, is a conventional midcentury home with slate-gray siding, white trim and Victorian lines. When I stood in front of it on a breezy day in October, I could hear the cries of children from the playground of an elementary school around the corner. American flags fluttered from porches and windows. The neighborhood is a leafy, middle-class Anytown. The house is set back off the street, near two convenience stores and a gift shop. On the door of Superior super-market was pasted a sign issued by the Plainfield police: 'Safe neighborhoods save lives.'. The store's manager, who refused to tell me his name, said he never noticed anything unusual about the house, and never heard anything... On a tip, the Plainfield police raided the house in 2002 February, expecting to find illegal aliens working an underground brothel. What the police found were four girls between the ages of 14 and 17... But they weren't prostitutes; they were sex slaves. The distinction is important: these girls weren't working for profit or a pay-check. They were captives to the traffickers and keepers who controlled their every move... Because of the porousness of the U.S.-Mexico border and the criminal networks that traverse it, the towns and cities along that border have become the main staging area in an illicit and barbaric industry, whose 'products' are women and girls... the United States has become a major importer of sex slaves. Last year, the CIA estimated that between 18K and 20K people are trafficked annually into the United States. The government has not studied how many of these are victims of sex traffickers, but Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves, America's largest anti-slavery organization, says that the number is at least 10K a year. John Miller, the State Department's director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, conceded: 'That figure could be low. What we know is that the number is huge.' Bales estimates that there are 30K to 50K sex slaves in captivity in the United States at any given time."
William Sluis _Chicago Tribune_
Brach's moves closer to Mexico
Candy Workers Face Bleak Out-Look
"Chicago's full-scale retreat in the candy wars continued, as Brach's Confections Inc., the nation's seventh-largest candy manufacturer, said it would depart the city in favor of Dallas. Leaving with the company's head-quarters are 34 employees. 16 will be laid off. Brach's once employed as many as 4,500 workers at a huge plant on the West Side, but that facility became history at the end of last year. 'It was a very difficult decision' to move the company to Dallas, said Terry O'Brien, Brach's chief executive, who lived in the Texas city for 14 years before joining the Chicago candy-maker in 2002. The move will put head-quarters closer to a huge candy-making facility Brach's has opened in Mexico... Watch for: efforts in Washington to stem the loss of domestic candy-makers to other countries, as pressure builds on Congress to alter the way the government pays subsidies to U.S. sugar producers."
Robert Manor _Chicago Tribune_
New news-papers mostly Spanish
"There are fewer news-papers to pick from these days -- unless you speak Spanish. While the number of English-language daily news-papers has declined by roughly 17% since 1970, the number of Spanish-language or bilingual dailies has more than quadrupled, from 8 to about three dozen, according to the Latino Print Network... The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are 37M Hispanics in the country, or about 13% of the population, up from 9M, or about 4% of the population, in 1970. The bureau says that by 2025 there will be 55M Hispanics in the U.S., or about 17% of the population."
Andrew Leckey _Chicago Tribune_
"Technology investing has made a dramatic come-back, with stock gains of 50% or better over the past year. IBM has announced it will add 15K jobs worldwide [4,500 in the USA] because it is bullish on the information technology industry in 2004. New high-tech applications seem to be sprouting up everywhere. A lot of investors are making big money. But before you say 'batter up' in this new inning of tech investing, remember the 80% correction in tech stock prices that followed 2000 March."
Peggy Andersen _AP_/_Chicago Tribune_
Super-Market Scan KKKards Absed to Track Purchasers
"During the recent mad-cow beef recall, one super-market chain used its 'preferred customer' discount cards to identify and warn shoppers who had bought the suspect meat. In fact, many super-market chains could do the same thing -- but they don't, largely for fear of being accused of violating customers' privacy... The cards, when combined with the use of bar code scanners at the cash register, give stores a detailed, computerized record of all items bought by each customer, along with the customer's name, address and phone number... QFC stores, an 87-store chain in the Pacific Northwest that is an affiliate of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co."
Alex Veiga _AP_/_Yahoo!_
California Grocery Workers Struggle in Strike
"The picket lines began thinning after Christmas, when union strike pay for the grocery workers was cut in half, and every day since there have been fewer people holding picket signs... The strike and lockout affecting 70K Southern California grocery workers at 3 super-market chains is in its third month... workers have had to take other work or cross picket lines to return to their old jobs, unable to make ends meet on the $20 to $25 a day they get [from union funds] for walking the picket lines... Leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers union portray the dispute as a symbol of a growing schism between American workers and corporations, as companies seek to reduce health care and other benefits while holding down wages... 'Our members average $20K a year. The employers are asking us to pay $5K of that (toward health care).', said Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770 in Los Angeles."
James Flanigan _LA Times_
From the War on Terrorism, New Jobs
"President Bush used more than half of his State of the Union address last week to talk about jobs, although you may be excused if you missed it. The job references were indirect but implicit in his extended discussion of home-land security and the continuing threat from terrorism... Next Fall, USC will start awarding a master's degree in systems security. Last year, the school inaugurated a master's program in cyber-security -- the protection of computer systems from thieves, terrorists and mere hackers."
Gordon Lafer _LA Times_
Bush's Call for Job Training Is a Cruel Joke on Unemployed
"For 20 years, every jobs crisis -- whether inner-city poverty, jobs lost due to the North American Free Trade Agreement or loggers put out of work by the spotted owl -- has been met with calls for retraining... The most comprehensive evaluation of training programs, conducted by the Department of Labor, followed 20K people over 4 years. For the vast majority, the government concluded that training made no difference whatsoever. People got the same kind of jobs whether or not they'd been through the program... Those who did not go through training ended up making 47% of the poverty line, and those who did made 54% of the poverty line... in studying more than 40 years of job training policy, I have not seen one program that, on average, enabled its participants to earn their way out of poverty. Why doesn't training work? First, there simply are not enough decent-paying jobs. Any individual may benefit from education, but training by itself does not create more jobs. Second, outside of the professional job market, most jobs just do not require much in the way of sophisticated training. Fully two-thirds of American jobs are in occupations that do not require a college degree... The president insists that much of our job growth will be found in high-skilled fields...' But the biggest-growing occupations are jobs in fast-food preparation, customer service, retail and security. Of the 25 occupations projected to add the most positions between 2000 and 2010, more than two-thirds can be learned in a few days of on-the-job training. And almost half pay wages near the poverty line. The truth is that more technology jobs are being sent out of the country than are being created for Americans, with the industry estimating that one-tenth of all high-tech jobs will be exported to places like India by the end of 2004... the president's new $250M initiative would serve less than 1% of the 8.5M Americans currently unemployed... union workers make roughly 25% more than non-union workers in the same occupations and industries"
2004-01-26 08:15PST (11:15EST) (16:15GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
US home sales surged unexpectedly in December
"Existing home sales rose 6.9% in December to 6.47M units on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. This was the biggest monthly jump in home sales since 2001 January... On a year-on-year basis, the nation's existing home sales were up 8.9%. For 2003, ownership of a record 6.1M homes changed hands, easily beating the old record of 5.6M set in 2002."
2004-01-26 09:35PST (12:35EST) (17:35GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Greenspan praises markets, denounces protectionism: Sees only limited role for government in economy
"Nimble markets -- not clumsy governments -- have moderated economic downturns in the past few decades and led to higher living standards, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan declared Monday. 'So long as markets are free and human beings exhibit swings of euphoria and distress, the business cycle will continue to plague us.', Greenspan said. But, he continued, 'flexible institutions appear to significantly ameliorate the amplitude and duration of the business cycle'. Read his speech."
2004-01-26 11:50PST (14:50EST) (19:50GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
H-1B visas going fast
"This year's cap of 65K H-1B guest-worker visas is already close to being reached, as employers snap up the controversial visas. Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services posted notice on its web site that in the first quarter of fiscal year 2004, 43,500 H-1B visas had either been approved or are 'pending in the queue for adjudication'. The federal fiscal year started 2003 October 1. This year's quota for the visas, which allows skilled foreign workers into the country for up to 6 years, is a drop from the annual limit of 195K that was in place for 2001, 2002 and 2003."
2004-01-26 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles & Louise Schiavone & Joe Johns & Christine Romans _CNN_
Embroidery work off-shored, Federal off-shore out-sourcing restriction passes, Outstanding executive loans
"Embroidery, a craft, an industry, one of the mainstays of the New Jersey economy for more than a century. But apparel manufacturers have been taking advantage of cheap over-seas labor and the embroidery industry has changed forever... Mitchell Pfeiffer of L&L Corp.: 'Mostly [Red China], some Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, everywhere but here.' The embroidery industry isn't going anywhere, but its customers are. American clothing manufacturers going over-seas for cheaper labor... Left behind, hundreds of small New Jersey factors that once made 90% of the embroidery in American lingerie, clothing, bedding and even flags. Many of those factories now vacant... This was once a half a billion a year industry with up to 7K jobs, fewer than 1K of those jobs are now left. Professor Silvio Laccetti of Stevene Institute of Technology: 'If you replicate this everywhere there are kinds of industries like this, then you begin to see it on a national level. It's not just one industry. If it was only one industry, I guess we would lose it. But so many industries like it, we have to answer the question, do we want to lose them all?'... Mitchell Pfeiffer: 'We sent people down to Congress and they gave us an answer like you can bring us 100K signatures and $1M and we can't do anything for you people.'... As is the case in so many industries, including high-value tech jobs that are also being exported. One of the most chilling comments to me came from Alan Greenspan today speaking in London suggesting this is just a painful process, but, none the less, an historical imperative... And not particularly painful for the bankers at the Federal Reserve, they're not experiencing it. We don't know if that's the case. Many economists believe there will be new jobs, but we don't believe the pain is for some higher economic goal at this point... 96% of all apparel [bought here] is manufactured outside these borders... in the spending bill the Congress passed just last week. The law now awaiting the signature of President Bush places severe [mild] restrictions on government work that can be exported over-seas... Close to half a million federal jobs will switch from public to private sector [contractors] -- everything from building maintenance to call centers and the technology sector. Less than half of these jobs actually could be done in another country, but the author of the provision, Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, wanted to specify that [federal work is performed by American workers]... Dan Griswold of Cato Institute: 'It only applies to a few government agencies and it's expected to affect only about 2% of our contracts with India.'... Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said today the millions of American jobs being shipped over-seas will eventually be replaced in this country... Greenspan said new jobs will be possible, if the economy stays flexible and American workers retrain... The fed chairman offered no suggestions on exactly what jobs the unemployed in this country should be training for... On Capitol Hill today, astonishing new details about poor security on our borders before September 11. The independent commission investigating those attacks said as many as 8 hijackers had fraudulent visas. At least 6 of them violated immigration laws after they arrived in the country... Jose Melendez-Perez, customs agent: [turned Mohammed al-Qahtani back because he did not know where he was going after he left the USA.] 'The first thing that came to mind was he was a hit-man. A hit-man doesn't know where he's going because if he's caught, that way he doesn't have anything or any information to bargain with.'... al-Qahtani...later turned up in Afghanistan where he was taken into custody by U.S. forces. He now resides at Guantanamo Bay... a report on those now illegal insider loans. The Corporate Library says 65% of companies still have loans to executives on the books. Sarbanes-Oxley forbade any new loans after 2002 June. Union Pacific is still working off $40M in loans to top brass it awarded back in 1999. Some of those have been paid back, others forgiven. There's still about $8M on the books. Tellium had $20M in loans. There were millions in retention loans for Kmart executives. Chuck Conaway got his and the taxes paid for even though he left the company. That's what I call retention loan. Intuit, AT&T Wireless, Pepsi Company, Mattel, Sun Microsystems all had millions in loans to management and the report makes a special mention of those companies that rushed in with new loans to top brass just before the Sarbanes-Oxley, Electronic Arts, Sun Microsystems, Reebok and Wyeth."
Lou Dobbs _US News & World Report_
trade deficit & difficulties of finding American-made goods to buy
"76% of consumers who look for U.S.-made products say that they have a hard time finding them, and the reason for this is simple: We've given away our manufacturing base through 'free' trade. In 1951, the average U.S. trade tariff was approximately 15%. By 1979 the average industrial tariff had sunk to 5.7%, and now it is just under 3%... In recent years, the yearly trade deficit has expanded by more than 2,500% from $19G in 1980 to its current level of about half a trillion dollars. Cumulatively, our total trade deficit since 1976 is a staggering $3.5T. And countries like China, Japan, Germany, Canada, and Mexico are the primary beneficiaries."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
Fed Expected To Stand Pat Awaiting More Recovery Signs
"The difference this time is that inflation, running at barely 1% and still slowing, is, if anything, lower than Fed officials would like. Job creation, meanwhile, remains weaker than in any recovery since World War II and factory use remains at surprisingly low levels. Analysts all but unanimously predict that when the Fed's policy-making committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday, members will leave the federal funds rate - the interest rate at which banks lend to each other overnight - at just 1% and will probably offer few new hints about rate increases in the future."
Bob Herbert _NY Times_
Education Is No Protection from UnEmployment
"The main objections came from a handful of protesters who stood outside in a brutally cold wind waving signs that said things like 'Stop Sending Jobs Over-Seas' and 'Put America Back to Work'. No one paid them much attention. The conference was titled 'Off-Shore Out-Sourcing: Making the Journey Work for Your Corporation'. Its goal was to bring executives up to speed on the hot new thing in corporate America, the shipment of higher-paying white-collar jobs to countries with eager, well-educated and much lower-paid workers. 'We basically help companies figure out how to off-shore I.T. [information technology] and B.P. [business process functions].', said Atul Vashistha, the chief executive of NeoIT, a California consulting firm that co-hosted the conference... He said his firm had helped clients ship about a billion dollars' worth of projects off-shore last year. Noting that he is an American citizen who was born in India, Mr. Vashistha said he is convinced that out-sourcing will prove to be a long-term boon to the U.S. economy as well as the economies of the countries acquiring the exported jobs."
2004-01-27 04:48PST (07:48EST) (12:48GMT)
Rick Aristotlte Munarriz _Yahoo!_/_Motley Fool_
Can WM Be Stopped?
"Grocery store chains, rural traditionalists, and mom and pop shops weren't able to stunt WM's growth the way a simple piece of paper has. By prohibiting establishments with more than 100K square feet of selling space to derive more than 10% of sales from non-taxable merchandise, Alameda County's Large Scale Retail Ordinance effectively prevents WM from opening a Super-center in the California county. The Super-center concept relies on cheap groceries and prescription refills to keep shoppers coming back. That won't fly in Alameda County. The county's Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance -- which might as well be labeled 'Keep WM Super-Center Out' -- earlier this month. Last night, WM filed a petition to have the ordinance over-turned. If grocers with operations in California, including Kroger, Safeway, and Albertson's are applauding the move, they are doing so quietly. All 3 chains are trying to mop up their own reputations in the aftermath of their recent union disputes [which arose out of their attempts to match WM's employee abuses]."
2004-01-27 08:56PST (11:56EST) (16:56GMT)
No guarantees for high-tech degrees: Off-shore out-sourcing dims job prospects for many tech grads
Steve Giegerich _AP_/_Detroit News_
"'Now, nobody wants to get in [to computer science] because all the jobs are going to India.' While there are hopeful signs outside the technology sector, [off-shore] out-sourcing of computer programming and customer service jobs to [Red China], India and other countries with cheaper labor costs have dimmed prospects for seniors like Zhou, said Richard White, director of career services at Rutgers... After 2 consecutive years of little or no growth, the National Association of Colleges and Employers -- which tracks college to work-place job trends -- is forecasting a 12.7% jump in hiring this year... NACE spokeswoman Camille Luckenbaugh warned, however, that while 51% of the employers surveyed by the group said they would increase recruitment of college graduates this year, another 28% indicated they would curtail hiring on campuses. A leading Internet source for college students seeking entry-level jobs said listings in the accounting and retail fields have both jumped by over 50% compared with last year."
2004-01-27 11:46PST (14:46EST) (19:46GMT)
Leticia Williams & Matt Andrejczak _MarketWatch_
Law-makers probe hidden mutual fund fees: Eliot Spitzer defends tactics to lower fund share-holder costs
"The smoldering debate over hidden mutual-fund costs ignited Tuesday as New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer defended efforts aimed at forcing fund companies to lower management fees. In pointed testimony before a Senate panel, the crusading state regulator swung at critics who say that his office over-stepped its bounds in seeking to curtail fund expenses."
2004-01-27 12:07PST (15:07EST) (20:07GMT)
Emily Kaiser _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
WM Takes Lead in Privacy Violating Technology: RFID
Other Retailers Wait and See
2004-01-27 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Kitty Pilgrim & Peter Viles _CNN_
Legal Practice Off-Shored
"First, it was manual labor, then service jobs. Now it's legal work being shipped overseas to cut costs... Market research firm Forrester Research predicts, in the next 11 years [by 2015], some 8% of law jobs will shift to low-cost countries. Paralegal work and work done by junior lawyers is particularly vulnerable to off-shoring. Experts say large legal firms, who pay young associates high salaries, are looking to cut costs. David Wilkins, Harvard: 'The more work that is taken away from them...the less opportunity there will be for young lawyers to be trained... Richard Maltz, association of the bar of the city of New York: 'The quality of the work has to be supervised. You have to make sure that nonlawyers aren't performing legal work. And also very important for lawyers is confidentiality.' Legal research and publishing has already discovered the cost-cutting benefits... West is a legal information company based in Minnesota and has a pilot program where some work is done in India... 23 Republicans in Congress in a letter to the president writing, 'what amounts to an offer of amnesty to law violators has left many of our core supporters dismayed, angry and confused'. Meantime, in the forum design toward such debates, the presidential campaign, there isn't much discussion at all because the leading Democrats, Senators Kerry and Edwards and Howard Dean all agree with the president that illegal immigrants should have a shot at earned legalization, all part of what one expert calls symbolic politics... A CNN/Gallup poll found 74% say the government should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Increasingly, Americans believe immigrants are driving down wages... Alan Greenspan, federal reserve chairman: 'In developed countries, lowest-skilled workers are being priced out of the growing labor market.'... We want to share with you the names of those Republicans in the house who signed the letter to President Bush criticizing his immigration plan. Those congressmen include Congressman Otter of Idaho, Goode of Virginia, Miller of Florida, Akin of Missouri, Jones of North Carolina, Garrett of New Jersey, Ryun of Kansas, Deal of Georgia, Tancredo of Colorado, Stearns of Florida, LaTourette of Ohio, Bartlett of Maryland, Brown-Waite of Florida, Simpson of Idaho, Wamp of Tennessee, Smith of Texas, Crane of Illinois, Duncan of Tennessee, Istook, Oklahoma, King of Iowa, Manzullo of Illinois, Rohrabacher of California, Gallegly of California... Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum:'The problem [with Bush's guest-worker amnesty proposal] is he gives people temporary status but not a path to citizenship and we think that's contrary to our history of assimilation in this country... the biggest buildup in our border patrol in U.S. history and it's coincided with the largest increase in illegal immigration.'... The fact of the matter is we have a million illegal aliens crossing our borders each year... What is that constituency? [It is] the employers who hire illegal aliens and exploit that labor under the cry they can't find Americans to work for slave wages... Frank Sharry: '[the Hagel-Daschle proposal] combines legal channels for workers, legal channels for family members, effective enforcement and making sure that if workers come in they fill available jobs and get paid prevailing wages... Some say the way to do it is to let's throw the army at the border. We say combine professional law enforcement, legal channels, real wages, labor rights, legal status, path to citizenship, bring it under the rule of law.'"
Steven R. Weisman _NY Times_
Powell Displays Tough U.S. Stance Toward Russians
"The secretary of state criticized curbs on free elections and the media, as well as the Russian military campaign in Chechnya."
Andrea Coombes _MarketWatch_/_Chicago Tribune_
Bi-lingual job seekers rise above the crowd
"English-only speakers will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage for a growing number of U.S. jobs in coming years as employers enter global markets, experts say... About 1 in 5 Americans speaks a language other than English at home, and the number of Spanish speakers rose 62% in the 1990s, to 28.1M in 2000 from 17.3M in 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau... M$'s decision to have Taiwanese programmers translate Windows software for sale in China backfired when the programmers inserted pop-ups with phrases such as 'Take back the mainland' and 'Communist bandits', Zweifel said."
H.A. Scott Trask _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
Perpetual Debt From the British Empire to the American Hegemon
"we are faced with at least half a century of intermittent war and a further augmentation of the national security state that has been draining our wealth like a voracious vampire since 1950. There is no secret as to how they will finance itóby borrowing and inflating."
Index of articles on mises.org
Deborah Bach _Seattle Post-Intelligencer_
Proposed school cuts would shed 40 jobs: harsh steps to save $9M
"2.6 full-time equivalent school nurse positions, from 29.9 to 27.3 (savings: $160K)"
Polio: Idaho's state of medical emergency
"National polio epidemics in the 1920s and the 1940s reached all the way to Idaho. In 1927, there were 14 known cases in the state and 8 in the Boise area. On 1927 November 8, Boise public schools were closed and all children were barred from all indoor gatherings until further notice. A special 'board of control' made up of prominent doctors and local officials had proclaimed a state of medical emergency. The ban was lifted after Thanksgiving 1927, as no new cases had been reported since November 10... A breakthrough came in 1954 with Dr. Jonas Salk's development of a polio shot, followed in 1955 by Dr. Albert B. Sabin's more effective oral vaccine. Millions of children worldwide still are being given the Sabin vaccine, and the disease is now virtually unknown in the United States. Idaho has had only 3 cases since 1970."
2004-01-28 07:40PST (10:40EST) (15:40GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Durable goods orders were flat in December: Communications equipment orders lowest in 7 years
"Total orders for durable goods were unchanged in December after falling a revised 2.3% in November. The durable-goods category comprises equipment designed to last for at least 3 years, such as airplanes, cars, computers and machine tools. Read the full release. Orders for communications equipment plunged 18.1% to $4.2G, the lowest level since 1996 December. Core capital-goods orders -- considered the best monthly gauge of business investment -- fell 0.4% after plunging 5.6% in November... For all of 2003, durable-goods orders increased 2.8% to $2.1T after falling 1.9% in 2002. Shipments increased 0.8% to $2.15T after sinking 2% in 2002. It was the first gain in either orders or shipments since 2000... Computer and electronics orders fell 2.7% in December, excluding semiconductors. Shipments including semiconductors fell 0.7%."
2004-01-28 07:51PST (10:51EST) (15:51GMT)
David Zielenziger _Reuters_
US Tech Workers Help Companies Export Their Jobs
"U.S. companies are asking technology workers to help export a new product: their jobs. As programing and other computer services move to low-cost locations in India and [Red China], some workers are in the awkward position of training their replacements... So far, while there is no federal legislation to cover private-sector job losses in high-tech fields, the number of visas issued to technical workers dropped sharply last year [when an extraordinary increase expired]... Most workers in corporate units targeted for out-sourcing do not make the cut. Cognizant's D'Souza said his company, which has 9K people in India, took a little more than 30 workers from a health-care company last year, but fired 110. While the process is usually handled quietly, major companies 'can no longer hide what they're doing', said Clive Chajet, a New York-based marketing consultant whose clients include AT&T Corp."
2004-01-28 08:59PST (11:59EST) (16:59GMT)
David Zielenziger _Reuters_/_USA Today_
Tech workers help companies export their jobs
"As programming and other computer services move to low-cost locations in India and [Red China], some workers are in the awkward position of training their replacements. Software developer Mike Emmons recalls his shock 2 years ago when Siemens, the German telecom equipment giant, decided to replace him and his colleagues with lower-paid programmers from India. According to Emmons, Siemens told about 20 co-workers in Lake Mary, FL, that out-sourcing was the wave of the future. The company gave them severance -- provided they trained employees imported by Tata Consultancy Services [TCS] of India to do their jobs. Tata employees received $12K annual salaries plus another $24K in living expenses while they were training in the United States -- a fraction of what Emmons and his co-workers were paid... many of his former colleagues remain unemployed, he said. A Siemens spokeswoman said the out-sourcing was necessary, and the company helped 5 former employees [25%] find comparable jobs. Companies... don't usually broadcast these shifts. Instead, they use a euphemism -- 'change management' -- for the careful process of importing foreign labor or moving operations abroad... not all USA workers lose their jobs. Some keep their jobs, sometimes permanently, or just to train the new work-force... Forrester Research predicts as many as 3.3M USA jobs that now pay combined wages of $136G will transfer off-shore by 2014... Unemployment rates for engineers and software professionals remain around 7%, higher than the overall unemployment rate of 5.7%... Zack Hudgins, a Washington state representative, is sponsoring laws to promote disclosure. One requires a company with more than 100 workers to notify them at least 90 days before a lay-off. Another forbids an employee from training a non-U.S. successor."
Paul Craig Roberts _Washington Times_
The jobs problem...
"Despite 25 months of 'recovery', the economy has 2.944M fewer private sector jobs than in 2001 January. American manufacturing has experienced the largest job loss, with 2.559M fewer jobs today than 35 months ago when President Bush took office. These figures include the losses of the 2001 recession... During those recovery months, the economy lost another 1.321M jobs in the manufacturing sector. A small gain in poorly paid nontradable services leaves a net loss of 907K private-sector jobs during 25 months of economic recovery... Trying to put a good face on disaster, some claim overtime has cut into employment growth, with businesses working existing workers longer before taking on new hires. This argument is contradicted by the empirical evidence. During the past 25 months of recovery, total hours worked have declined 1.7%, with manufacturing hours declining 7.7%. Pressed on the point, apologists for the recovery say fewer people and hours are needed because of increased productivity... Because of out-sourcing, off-shore production and Internet hires, the U.S. recovery is creating jobs for foreigners, not Americans. Every day, we read about another corporate giant replacing thousands of American jobs by moving operations to India, [Red China] or another foreign country where skills equal to those of Americans can be purchased at a fraction of U.S. wages and salaries... Until the collapse of world socialism about 15 years ago, the international mobility of First World capital and technology was confined to the First World. This limit on capital mobility ensured that First World labor would have productivity advantages over much-lower-paid Third World labor... American economists... have forgot the necessary conditions under which free trade produces mutual gains to the participant countries... The economic case for free trade rests on shared gains."
2004-01-18 10:47PST (13:47EST) (18:47GMT)
Eric Hellweg _CNN_/_Money_
Off-shoring meets its enemies: The president has signed a bill containing restriction on off-shoring, and the states are following suit
"Opponents of off-shore out-sourcing enjoyed a small victory on January 23, when President Bush signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill into law. Tucked inside the complicated legislation was the Thomas-Voinovich amendment, which forbids certain segments of the government to use foreign companies when out-sourcing some government work. The amendment is limited in scope and duration (it sunsets after a year), but already factions on both sides of the contentious off-shore out-sourcing debate are girding for battle... At least 13 bills that would ban off-shore out-sourcing are now wending their way through various state legislatures... When data-security issues are involved, I think keeping a task in the United States makes sense."
2004-01-28 08:33PST (11:33EST) (16:33GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
New home sales fell, down for 2nd straight month
"The Commerce Department said the pace of new single-family home sales fell 5.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.06M units from a revised rate of 1.12M units in November. Economists, on average, expected a pace of 1.1M units, according to Briefing.com. Still, in all of 2003, 1.085M new homes were sold, a new record, compared with 973,000 in 2002."
2004-01-28 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Kitty Pilgrim & Louise Schiavone & Christine Romans & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
"The hunt for Osama bin Laden has increased urgency, because it's believed al Qaeda was behind several assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf, who has been a key ally in the fight against Taliban and al Qaeda... When nearly every employee of Delta Brands found themselves protesting in front of the export-import bank in Washington, after a marathon bus ride from Irving, Texas, it was a cry for survival. Delta Brands DBI, founded by Cuban born Sam Savariego, manufactures and exports machines that can clean up steel and slice right through it... Four years ago DBI won preliminary approval from the U.S. Import Export Bank to finance the sale of machinery to Egamire (ph) a steel complex in Turkey. At the same time the steel industry was howling about steel imports and U.S. steel production job loses. Steel tariffs were rushed into place. And although Turkey was exempted from tariffs, DBI's loan was put on hold. Financing was finally killed for good when the Congressman Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania presueded Congress to bar government support for U.S. businesses nearly anything to enhance U.S. Steel production. Peter Saba, Ex-Im bank general counsel: 'They've come out and said that you know, Ex-Im is prohibited. They don't see it appropriate to use taxpayer financing to support increased production in those instances.'... Right now DBI has 5 separate transactions before the Export-Import Bank, including an application for $5M in working capital. Waiting, says DBI means European companies with plenty of support from their government will snap up more of this business... Kevin Kearns says if American companies keep sending jobs over-seas, unemployed Americans won't be able to buy their product. And he is president of the U.S. business and industry council. And on the other side, Dan Griswold from the Cato Institute said out-sourcing jobs has actually helped some American companies stay in business... 1.6M U.S. jobs expected to move off-shore by 2010. How can that be good for the American economy?... Dan Griswold, with Cato Institute: 'You know, despite all the hand wringing of the $240G U.S. information technology industry about 3% or 4% is captured by off-shore out-sourcing. So we remain the world's number one most sophisticated economy and this is just a way of allowing U.S. companies to save 10% to 30% to be more competitive in global markets.'... Kevin Kearns, president of the US Business & Industry Council: 'what these American multinational companies are doing and high tech services and hospitals, et cetera, is they are are basically firing their customers. Certainly Japan can make all our cars, all our electronics can be made in the far east. Brazil can supply our soybeans and orange juice. Canada can supply our timber, and our wheat, et cetera, there's very little that is done here that can't be done overseas because the governments are subsidizing the foreign companies or labor is dirt cheap et cetera. And the question is, where are Americans going to work?... every day... I get e-mails from people with MAs and Ph.Ds and electrical engineering and computer science, et cetera, they say, what are you going to retrain me for? I get e-mails from people that work in textile mills that are getting their GEDs that somehow think that getting a high school equivalency degree is going to retrain them for the future... The best retraining program is a job where you work for a productive company and work your way up and increase your knowledge and your skills and get paid a higher salary.'... Dan Griswold: 'We're manufacturing 40% more stuff than we were 10 years ago, twice as much in the 1970. We're doing it with fewer people because they are so much more productive...'... According to the U.S. Department of Labor a million U.S. Jobs were lost because of NAFTA since 1994... Dan Griswold: 'The number of jobs in the U.S. economy is up by 10M or more since the passage of NAFTA. Half a million manufacturing jobs were added in the first 5 years after NAFTA. NAFTA is not the problem. We're coming out a lingering recession, but that had nothing to do with trade. It had to do with the dot com bubble bursting. It had to do with corporate scandals and all these things.'... Kevin Kearns: 'We lost 3M manufacturing jobs since 1997... I live in a real world where people are trying to make ends meet, keep their family together, pay a their mortgage. They are broke, the cities are broke, the states are broke, the federal government is running an enormous trade deficit...'... KB Toys [is] closing 375 stores and firing 3,500 workers."
John M. Broder _NY Times_
State Judge Says Schwarzenegger Broke Campaign Law by Taking Out Loan
"A state judge has ruled that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger violated state campaign finance law by using a $4.5M bank [signature] loan to cover campaign costs in the closing days of the recall election last fall. In ruling late Monday on a law-suit, the judge, Loren E. McMaster of Sacramento Superior Court, said the loan violated provisions of Proposition 34, a ballot initiative passed by voters in 2000, which prohibits personal loans of more than $100K by candidates to their own campaigns. Judge McMaster issued a temporary injunction barring Mr. Schwarzenegger from raising any money to repay the loan and ordering him to put any money raised for that purpose in an escrow account... Mr. Schwarzenegger's campaign lawyer, Colleen C. McAndrews, said the campaign had relied on an interpretation of the loan provisions of the finance law by the California Fair Political Practices Commission in 2002... he [will] probably repay the loan from his own bank account... Democrat and labor activists filed the law-suit..."
Laura M. Holson _NY Times_
Movie market, distribution plans for next year
"From 1991 to 2001, the average increase in box office revenue for a best picture winner from the day it was nominated until it received the Oscar was 14%, or $19.2M, according to Nielsen EDI, which tracks domestic ticket sales. The average increase in box office revenue after a film won best picture was 11%, or $15.1M."
Amanda Hesser _NY Times_
Kitchens Squeaky Clean? Not Even Close
"But most people don't seem to worry about what experts say is a petri dish for food-borne illness: the home kitchen. 'Everybody is so acutely aware of mad cow disease', said Janet Anderson, a clinical associate professor of nutrition and food sciences at Utah State University, 'but people aren't aware of the fact that they don't even wash their hands when they enter their kitchens, which is a much greater risk.' Professor Anderson filmed more than 100 people preparing dinner and found that only 2 did not cross-contaminate raw meat with fresh vegetables. It is not only people's hands, though. Dish towels, sinks, refrigerator door handles and warm, moist, crevice-filled sponges are also breeding grounds for bacteria. 'A sponge that's been in use for no more than 2 or 3 days in a kitchen will harbor millions of bacteria.', said Elizabeth Scott, co-director of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in the Home at Simmons College in Boston. That's a problem, she said, 'if you pick up the pathogen or a pathogenic E. coli, salmonella or campylobacter on the sponge'... many of the estimated 76M cases of food-borne illnesses in the United States each year are contracted in the home, and many can be prevented... Dean Cliver, a professor of food safety at the University of California, Davis, found that microwaving [cellulose] sponges wipes out harmful bacteria... 'one minute in the nuke and that pretty much did it.' cellulose in wood [cutting boards] absorbs bacteria but will not release it... 'They go dormant. Drying will kill, say, 90% of them, but the rest could hang around for weeks.'... water in dishwashers must get hotter than 140 degrees or all sorts of bacteria can survive... In 1998, Consumer Reports, for instance, found that 71% of store-bought chicken contained harmful bacteria. Most bacteria in food can be killed if the food is cooked properly. But much of the harm happens before the food gets near the oven... people who had the cleanest-looking kitchens were often the dirtiest. Because 'clean' people wipe up so much, they often end up spreading bacteria all over the place. The [bacteriologically] cleanest kitchens, he said, were in the homes of bachelors, who never wiped up and just put their dirty dishes in the sink... Professor Anderson found that only 34% of her subjects washed their hands before cooking, and most failed to use soap. Washing hands in hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds rinses off surface bacteria and makes it difficult for bacteria to cling to skin."
Nicholas D. Kristof _NY Times_
Loss of Innocence
"After I had purchased the freedom of Srey Mom and Srey Neth, the 2 teenage prostitutes whose story I've told in my last 3 columns, we took Srey Neth back to her family. Then we had to drive clear across the country to return Srey Mom to her native village... Completely illiterate... Srey Mom bounded out of the car and into the arms of an aunt. Both convulsed in happy sobs and shrieks, and other villagers came running over... The family, having given up hope that the girl was still alive, had planned a Buddhist funeral ceremony for her in 20 days' time - and now it would be turned into a celebration of her return... Since the villagers thought she had worked in a restaurant and didn't know her past, they embraced her return. An experienced aid group would monitor and help her... But a few days later, Srey Mom quarreled with her mother and fled to her old brothel in Poipet... Bernard Krisher, the chairman of American Assistance for Cambodia, a first-rate group that helps Cambodian children, is going to Poipet to meet Srey Mom and offer her a chance to learn modeling or hairdressing, live with a family and begin again... Typically, trafficking not only destroys its victims' bodies with AIDS but maims their spirits as well, leaving them feeling so worthless that they can't easily return to normal life. Multiply the dreams and fears of these two teenagers by the global scale of trafficking, 700K people per year, and you see why the U.S. and foreign governments have to get serious about stopping this modern form of slavery."
John Kearney _NY Times_
My God Is Your God: Let's get this straight: The god called variously "Allah", "El-Lah", "El-Lah-Ha", "El-Shaddai", "Yahweh", "Eheiah Asher Eheiah", "Jah" and "God" are all one and the same.
"Sunday is one of the most important holidays in Islam: Id al-Adha, the feast celebrating Abraham's faith and willingness to sacrifice his son to God... Lt. Gen. William Boykin, a deputy under secretary of defense, made head-lines last year suggesting that Allah is not 'a real God' and that Muslims worship an idol. Last month in Israel, Pat Robertson said that today's world conflicts concern 'whether Hubal, the moon god of Mecca known as Allah, is supreme, or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah, God of the Bible, is supreme'. Never mind that Hubal was actually a pre-Islamic pagan god that Muhammad rejected... So here's a suggestion: when journalists write about Muslims, or translate from Arabic, Urdu, Farsi or other languages, they should translate 'Allah' as 'God', too... In Aramaic, the language of Jesus, God is 'Allaha' [or 'El-Lah-Ha'], just a syllable away from Allah."
WM Has Become Object of Scorn Due to Labor Abuse: No Longer a Trusted All-American Company
"So far, none of this has dissuaded shoppers from taking advantage of WM's famously low prices, nor have the controversies caused even a blip in the $247G company's earnings, which analysts expect to come in at close to $9G, or $2.03 a share, when 2003 results are reported on February 19. That would be up 12% on a year earlier. That's good enough for Wall Street, where investors' priorities pretty much start and stop with the bottom line, and sympathy for $7-an-hour employees isn't normally a pressing concern... Tom Kochan, professor of management at MIT's Sloan School, [said that] 'we have major blinders on when it comes to the broader issues.'... 'The market signals got people's attention at Nike.', Kochan says... Sooner or later, argues Adrienne Eaton, professor of labor studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, it may occur to shoppers that 'there is a cost for those low prices'. Because a cashier's job that pays $7 or $8 an hour won't support a family, or even half of one, retail workers often decline to buy health insurance, even when it's offered, says Eaton... it spent $676M in the fiscal year ending in 2003 January, on ads to draw shoppers and burnish its image... WM's other strategy might simply be to weed out managers found to have acted improperly and, when necessary, introduce reforms. The draw-back, of course, is that the cost of such measures could alarm Wall Street, which usually doesn't award points for being nice to employees. If the cost of such changes amounted to a measly $1 an hour for each of WM's 1.2M employees, the bill would total $2.1G a year. That could reduce WM's profits by about 25% -- or force it to raise prices and lessen its advantage in the market-place. WM is a master at quashing union organizing drives... a significant number of WM workers have come forward to complain about an employer whose size and reach are so intimidating... United Students Against Sweatshops, helped bring Nike [partially] to heel."
Jessica Guynn _Contra Costa Times_
Unions seek probe of sheriff's tactics
"Religious and labor leaders are calling for the state attorney general to investigate the tactics of the Contra Costa sheriff's department when it sent 2 plain-clothes deputies, who identified themselves as home-land security officers, to a Martinez union hall and a labor rally in San Francisco."
_San Francisco Chronicle_
Grocery union charges Contra Costa sheriff with intimidation
"Union leaders are asking state officials to investigate how Contra Costa County's sheriff's department has been tracking the planning of a rally and march against Safeway in Alamo today. Specifically, labor leaders say sheriff's deputies, identifying themselves as home-land security officers last week-end, intimidated union organizers who are engaged in a labor dispute with the grocery chain. Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf said in a statement, 'My staff has not broken any law or any ethical standards of the law enforcement profession [in which such standards are exceedingly low].' In Sacramento, Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer, said the office is gathering facts to determine whether it would be appropriate to take any action, and if so, what it would be... On Saturday, the 2 plain-clothes officers observed a workers' rally at the Safeway store on Market Street in San Francisco. Asked repeatedly by Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, if they were cops, the deputies said no. Pulaski said he told them, 'We have a picture of you, and if we find out you are law enforcement, we will raise hell.' The officers then identified themselves, said Pulaski... Pulaksi was joined in a telephone news conference Tuesday by Joseph Grogan, a former justice of the California Supreme Court and now a professor of constitutional law at UC Hastings School of the Law, who shared his concerns."
Zeynep Tufekci _NewsDay_/_Washington Post_
The Workers Are Fine, the Job Market Is Sick
"The problem is that the only available jobs that use computers are those as secretaries and receptionists... Those jobs also have meager pay and benefits. The lesson here is that not every job that uses high-tech tools involves high-level skills or high pay. In his speech, Bush said that 'as technology transforms the way almost every job is done, America becomes more productive, and workers need new skills'. Sometimes that's exactly the problem. More productivity means more can be done with less, which often means fewer jobs, less skilled work and, consequently, less pay. Although some of the fastest-growing types of jobs do require advanced training, they are only a small proportion of the market - making the total number of new jobs in those areas very small. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2010, only 20.7% of all jobs will require a college degree or more, something 25% of the population already has. The bureau also projects that by 2010, almost 70% of job openings will require only work-related training and 42.7% only short-term on-the-job training - mostly, 'Here's your apron; don't be late.'. The fields adding the largest number of jobs are 'combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food', followed by 'customer service representatives', 'registered nurses', 'retail salespersons', 'computer support specialists', 'cashiers' and 'office clerks'. Even computer support specialists require only an associate degree; they had median annual earnings of $36,460 in 2000. Some of the well-paying fields Bush mentioned, such as biotechnology, are simply beyond the reach of the unemployed. And if the number of good jobs continues to decrease, advanced education will be no panacea for today's students, either."
Graeme Wearden _silicon.com_
IBM, Dell & HP under fire over sweat-shops
"Atrocious conditions and low pay exposed in report... Workers employed in factories in the developing world making computer components for companies such as IBM, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are suffering atrocious conditions for extremely low pay, according to a new report. The Catholic Agency for Over-seas Development (CAFOD) says it has uncovered 'dire working conditions' at computer production sites in Mexico, [Red China] and Thailand... unsafe factories; compulsory over-time; pay below the legal minimum wage; and cases where large numbers of workers have been deprived of basic legal entitlements such as health, pension and employment benefits... IBM in particular was criticised for failing to include provisions that would stop suppliers from using forced labour or child labour, imposing excessive working hours, or using harsh or inhumane treatment. It had also failed to ensure that suppliers pay a living wage..."
2004-01-29 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Thomas Strengle _DoLabor Employment & Training Admin_
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 386,263 in the week ending January 24, a decrease of 104,269 from the previous week. There were 434,888 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.0% during the week ending January 17, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,813,303, a decrease of 39,340 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.2% and the volume was 4,068,516. Extended benefits were available in Alaska, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington during the week ending January 10. 53 states reported that 695,525 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending January 10... The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending January 17 were in Florida (+2,555), Oregon (+1,331), Puerto Rico (+1,006), Nevada (+296), and the District of Columbia (+50), while the largest decreases were in North Carolina (-16,649), Michigan (-14,779), Pennsylvania (-14,679), Georgia (-14,344), and South Carolina (-11,472)."
2004-01-29 07:24PST (10:24EST) (15:24GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
"Employment costs" up a mere 0.7% in 2003 4th quarter: Benefits out-paced wages
"The cost of employing a U.S. worker increased a modest 0.7% in the fourth quarter, with the bulk of the increase coming from higher costs for fringe benefits such as health care, the Labor Department reported Thursday. It was the slowest increase in the employment cost index in 7 quarters. Benefit costs soared 1.2% while wages and salaries rose 0.5% in the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, employment costs rose 1%, with benefits up 1.5% and wages up 0.7%. Read the full release. For all of 2003, employment costs increased 3.8%, with benefit costs rising 6.3% and wages increasing 2.9%. Employment costs had risen 3.4% in 2002. It was the fastest annual increase in benefit costs since 1990."
2004-01-29 07:35PST (10:35EST) (15:35GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US seasonally adjusted unemployment compensation insurance claims up only slightly
"The seasonally adjusted 4-week average of new state claims rose by 750 to 346K in the week ended January 24, up from a three-year low of 345,250. It's the first increase since the first week of December. Read the full release. Initial claims in the most recent week fell by 1K to 342K. Economists favor the 4-week average as a better gauge of involuntary job losses than the more volatile weekly number. At this time of year, seasonal adjustment factors are particularly large, adding to the volatility of the weekly data. Initial claims have dropped by about 20K over the past 7 weeks and by 60K in the last 4 months... The Labor Department said the number of Americans collecting state jobless benefits rose by 11K, to 3.13M, in the week ended January 17. The 4-week average for continuing claims sank by 40,750 to stand at 3.16M, the lowest since 2001 August. The figures do not include some 700K Americans receiving the federal jobless benefits that kick in once laid-off workers have exhausted their state benefits, typically after 26 weeks... Long-term unemployment has been particularly harsh in this [depression]. In December, 1.9M of the 8.4M Americans officially classified as unemployed had been out of work longer than 6 months. The average length of unemployment was 19.6 weeks, close to a 20-year high."
2004-01-29 14:25PST (17:25EST) (22:25GMT)
Russ Britt _MarketWatch_
Pixar ends Disney distribution deal: Wants full ownership of future pictures
"After months of negotiation, Pixar let the other shoe drop Thursday on its distribution deal with Walt Disney Co. and ended its high-stakes relationship with the studio."
2004-01-29 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Kitty Pilgrim & Bill Tucker Casey Wian & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
"a small community in Tennessee pays a terrible price after the town's biggest employer ships more than 1K jobs over-seas... Twelve hundred people once worked in this Oshkosh plant in Celina, Tennessee. Now only 15 do. The town's streets, once full, are empty, shops closed and locked, the jobs sent out of the country to Mexico and Honduras. The laid-off workers left behind are struggling... Today, the unemployment in Celina is 15.5%. And per capita income has fallen to $13K... The biggest success story may be the most surprising, a call center that handles billing for hospitals. Health care management resources just expanded to Celina and now employs 120 people. The jobs don't pay as much as the factory jobs, but they do carry benefits... Roger Hernandez, West Covina, CA council-man: 'There's people here that have livelihoods that are dependent on good-paying jobs. WM presents a risk to those good-paying jobs.'... WM paid the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation $65K to study the economic impact of superstores. Not surprisingly, the report concluded that low prices trump concerns over job quality... The study found that supercenter wages are from $2.50 to $3.50 an hour lower than those of unionized grocery workers... Starting today, the government says telemarketers must identify themselves when making sales calls. The new regulations will allow [calling line identification] customers to see the company's name and number. The rules were established as part of the National Do Not Call Registry."
Adam Liptak _NY Times_
$4.5G Award Set for Spill of Exxon Valdez
"15 years after the Exxon Valdez spilled 11M gallons of crude oil in Alaska, a federal judge imposed punitive damages of $4.5G on the Exxon Mobil Corporation."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Senate Passes Pension Bill
"The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation yesterday that would save companies an estimated $80G on their pension contributions over the next 2 years, but it was unclear whether the Bush administration would support the measure. Companies that sponsor traditional pension plans have been coping with several years of bad market conditions, and the Senate bill is intended to tide them through until the climate improves. The centerpiece of the bill is a temporary change in the way companies calculate - in today's dollars - the amount they owe their employees in the future. The change would make these obligations look smaller, which in turn would allow the companies to set aside less money today. The Senate bill also contains several provisions intended to help airlines, steel companies, unions that operate pension plans and certain other employers deal with individual pension problems. The government has estimated these provisions would save those companies $16G, bringing the total savings to about $96G... The Bush administration has repeatedly expressed skepticism about such pension breaks for individual companies or sectors. Last week, 3 cabinet members issued a warning against pension legislation that 'encourages firms to under-fund their pensions'... Normally, companies with severely under-funded pension plans must make a series of accelerated catch-up payments to revive their plans before they become irretrievable. The Senate provision would waive 80% of these required catch-up payments for the first year, and 60% for the second... Dan DiMicco, the chief executive of the Nucor steel company, recently wrote to several senators saying he considered the special waivers to be an unfair subsidy that would help rival steel makers at his company's expense. He wrote that such a subsidy might lead to trade retaliation from other countries."
David Pogue _NY Times_
Phones, Too, Get TV Time
"Camera-cell-phone users are no longer limited to still pictures. New Sprint phones can take and send video."
Anne Eisenberg _NY Times_
New Conductor Guides Data Along the Fiber Optic Route
"a new, extremely tiny light guide is designed quite differently. Instead of holding the light in, this nanoscale fiber lets about half its light energy flow outside in a glowing, evanescent field. It acts 'like a rail for the light', said Eric Mazur, a professor of physics at Harvard University who led the research team that developed what are called optical nanowires. The nanowires, made of glass, are very small - some are 50 nanometers, or 50 billionths of a meter, in diameter, or about one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair. Because the diameters are smaller than the wavelength of the transmitted light, the nanowires become the path around which the light waves flow. The thinner the wire, the more energy goes into the evanescent field around it. In one of their experiments, for example, the Harvard team used a nanowire with a diameter of 360 nanometers to guide light with a wavelength of 633 nanometers. The wires are meant not for the long hauls of conventional fiber optic cables that run between cities and under oceans, Dr. Mazur said, but for distances measured at most at an inch or so. For instance, they might be used as practical low-loss interfaces between optical fiber and the devices that process optical and electronic signals, making more compact, faster processors possible... The fabrication process for the wires, which was described in a recent paper in the journal Nature, consists of 2 steps, said Limin Tong, lead author of the paper and a visiting professor at Harvard from Zhejiang University in [Red China]. Glass fiber about a micron wide was wound around a sapphire taper and then heated. The sapphire buffered variations in temperature that could lead to unevenness. Then Dr. Tong drew out the fiber. 'If you pull fast, it is very thin.', he said. Slower pulling produced a thicker fiber... The nanowires created by the Harvard team have high tensile strength - they are 2 to 5 times stronger than spider silk - and can be twisted to make sharp turns that are just a few microns in diameter."
Steven K. Paulson _AP_/_Denver Post_
Law-makers seek to punish companies that send jobs over-seas
"Companies that send jobs over-seas could kiss their state contracts goodbye if two Colorado law-makers have their way. Democratic state senators Deanna Hanna of Lakewood and Terry Phillips of Louisville said too many companies are moving jobs out of state or overseas, hurting the state economy... Hanna said her measure (Senate Bill 170) would require companies to keep workers assigned to state contracts in the United States."
_Atlanta Business Chronicle_
Newell Rubbermaid cuts loss in 2003
"Newell Rubbermaid Inc., which is in the process of moving its headquarters to Atlanta, reported its net loss narrowed in 2003. The consumer products company posted a net loss of $46.6M on $7.8G in sales in 2003, compared with a net loss of $203.4M on $7.5G in sales in 2002. Loss per share was 17 cents in 2003, compared with a loss per share of 76 cents in 2002. In 2003, the company recorded a pre-tax restructuring charge of $245M primarily related to severance and facility exit costs in connection with the company's stream-lining and productivity initiatives, and other charges of $48.7M, related primarily to product line exit costs and loss on the sale of businesses... In the fourth quarter of 2003, the company had a net loss of $211.6M on $2.1G in sales, compared with net income of $95.8M on $2G in sales in 2002. Loss per share in the fourth quarter was 77 cents, compared with earnings of 36 cents a share in the fourth quarter of 2002.The company recorded a non-cash impairment charge of approximately $289.4M in the fourth quarter of 2003, related to non-core businesses targeted for sale. These businesses contributed approximately $875M in sales in 2003. Newell Rubbermaid is a global marketer of consumer products including Sharpie, Paper Mate, Parker, Waterman, Colorific, Rubbermaid, Stain Shield, Blue Ice, TakeAlongs, Roughneck, Brute, Calphalon, Little Tikes, Graco, Levolor, Kirsch, Shur-Line, BernzOmatic, Goody, Vise-Grip, Quick-Grip, Irwin, Lenox and Marathon."
Tony Wilbert _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_
Newell Rubbermaid reports 4th quarter loss on hefty restructuring charges
"Newell Rubbermaid said Thursday it lost nearly $212M in the fourth quarter as charges related to the planned divestiture of poorly performing assets took their toll. The consumer products company, which moved its headquarters to Alpharetta in February, said its fourth quarter loss on a per-share basis was 77 cents. In the same period last year, Newell Rubbermaid reported a profit of $95.8M, or 36 cents a share. Excluding the charges, Newell Rubbermaid's fourth-quarter net income was $110.8M, down 16% from $132.3M in the same period in 2002. Sales in the fourth quarter of 2003 totaled $2.1G, up slightly from $2G in 2002... Joe Galli, chief executive of Newell Rubbermaid [said] 'We are moving quickly to reconfigure our portfolio, exiting low-margin product lines and pursuing the divestiture of non-strategic businesses.'"
_Economic Times of India_
Pay rising 9%-15% this year in India
Democrats Declare War on Working Men & Women in the United States
"Congressman Tom Tancredo (CO-06) today took issue with the Democrats' plan to give amnesty and citizenship to all illegal aliens presently in the U.S.A., while simultaneously opening up the door to a flood of unlimited numbers of foreign workers willing to underbid American workers for their jobs."
Robert X. Cringely _National Socialist Television_
Our Own Damned Fault: When It Comes to Understanding Why Government Doesn't Understand High-Tech and Why Financial Markets Seem to be Working Against Our Own Interests, Well, We Did It to Ourselves
"Since last week's column on IT out-sourcing as a very, very, very bad idea, I've been trying to come up with a tighter version that might even be understandable by politicians. So far I've failed... We have given away our power and are getting not much at all in return."
2004-01-30 05:02PST (08:02EST) (13:02GMT)
Kirstin Downey _Washington Post_/_NBC_
375K fall off unemployment compensation insurance rolls this month
"A record-high 375K jobless workers will exhaust their unemployment insurance this month and an estimated 2M workers will find themselves in the same predicament during the first half of the year, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities."
2004-01-30 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Virginia H. Mannering _Bureau of Economic Analysis_
Gross Domestic Product: Advance estimates on 2003 4th quarter show 4% increase
"Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 4.0% in the fourth quarter of 2003, according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 8.2%... The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter primarily reflected a deceleration in PCE, an acceleration in imports, and decelerations in equipment and software and in residential fixed investment that were partly offset by an acceleration in exports and an upturn in inventory investment. Final sales of computers contributed 0.25 percentage point to the fourth-quarter change in real GDP after contributing 0.65 percentage point to the third-quarter change. The price index for gross domestic purchases [a.k.a. GDP deflator], which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 1.0% in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 1.8% in the third. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.1% in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 1.3% in the third... Equipment and software increased 10.0%, compared with an increase of 17.6% [in the 3rd quarter]... Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment increased 0.7% in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 1.2% in the third. National defense increased 1.8%, in contrast to a decrease of 1.3%. Non-defense decreased 1.6%, in contrast to an increase of 6.5%. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment increased 0.9%, compared with an increase of 2.1%... Current-dollar personal income increased $70.1G (3.1%) in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $96.6G (4.3%) in the third. Personal current taxes increased $68.3G, in contrast to a decrease of $64.2G. The up-turn in taxes primarily reflected the drop-off in advance payments of the child tax credit sent to taxpayers in the third quarter as part of the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. Disposable personal income increased $1.7G in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $160.8G in the third. Real disposable personal income decreased 0.5%, in contrast to an increase of 6.3%. Personal outlays increased $62.7G (3.1%) in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $161.8G (8.4%) in the third. Personal saving -- disposable personal income less personal outlays -- was $127.2G in the fourth quarter, compared with $188.1G in the third. The personal saving rate -- saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- decreased from 2.3% in the third quarter to 1.5% in the fourth."
2004-01-30 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MaretWatch.com_
US 2003 Q4 GDP slows to 4% growth: below 4.9% expectations
"For all of 2003, gross domestic product increased 3.1%, the fastest since 2000. The core personal consumption expenditure price index increased at an annual rate of 0.7% in the fourth quarter, the lowest quarterly gain since 1962, and just 1.2% for the year, matching a 38-year low."
2004-01-30 14:36PST (15:36MST) (11:36EST) (16:36GMT)
_Denver abc 7_
Number of Evictions Sky-Rocketing in Denver: Land-Lords Say It's Hard To Find People Who Pay On Time
"President George W. Bush said Friday that the nation's economy is strong and getting stonger, but an increasing number of Colorado families are still struggling to find jobs and are being evicted for not paying their rent. Evictions in some parts of the metro are up 15%, 7NEWS reported. On Friday, a deputy with the Denver County Sheriff's Department stopped by an apartment in southeast Denver to evict a man who was four months behind his rent... The eviction was one of more than 500 the sheriff's department carried out in January..."
2004-01-30 13:56PST (16:56EST) (21:56GMT)
Michael Baron _MarketWatch_
Dow posts slight increase for January: Weak GDP growth sparks sell-off but month's gain is good sign
"Stocks finished lower Friday but the Dow was able to eke out a gain for January, a performance that historically bodes extremely well for its yearly return. According to the 2004 edition of The Stock Trader's Almanac, a positive January for the blue-chip barometer has led to appreciation for the year as a whole 92.5% of the time since 1950. Roiled by a weaker-than-expected gross domestic product number, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished off 22.22 points, or 0.2%, to 10,488.07, and the Nasdaq Composite slid 2.08 points, or 0.1%, to 2,066.15. The major averages did, however, bounce impressively off their respective lows of the day of 10,439 and 2,058.54. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave back 0.3% to 1,131.12, while the Russell 2000 index of small caps bucked the trend and added 0.2% to end at 580.77. The Dow closed 2003 at 10,454 and it drifted as low as 10,439 on Friday, an impressive level considering it was trading below 8,000 on this day a year ago, but a negative January would obviously have been troubling from a historical perspective... The last time the Dow logged a loss for the month was September, when it closed at 9,415.82 and ended the month at 9,275.06... The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index came in at 65.9% vs. 59.2% in December... University of Michigan [consumer] sentiment index improved to 103.8 in January from 103.2 in the preliminary January reading, media sources said. The index stood at 92.6 in December."
2004-01-30 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Louise Schiavone & Peter Viles & Michael Holmes & Casey Wian & Kitty Pilgrim & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
"Bruce Bartlett of the National Center for Policy Analysis: 'Reagan had big deficits, but he was trying to reduce the size of government. He was at least trying to cut spending. And he may not have been as successful as he wanted to be. But this president is not making even the slightest effort to cut spending.'... To date, the Bush administration has maintained the exporting of American jobs is not a series economic problem. But the administration has laid out a plan to boost manufacturing in the United States, largely through lowering the cost of doing business in this country... They have addressed the loss of manufacturing jobs directly with this manufacturing plan. They haven't addressed this idea that the jobs are moving overseas and there is something wrong with that. What the administration maintains is, we have the right trade policies, and international trade has been good for this country, drives down the cost of goods in this country, frees up Americans to do more valuable jobs. They have maintained that this exporting thing is not a significant economic issue... U.S. officials say large scale attacks like the bombing of U.N. head-quarters in Iraq last year, the attack on Italian soldiers and the bombing of the Imamali (ph) mosque in Najaf all bear the fingerprints of this man, Abu Mussab Zaqawi, a man they say is linked to al Qaeda. The officials say they believe Zaqawi moved into Iraq to plan the attacks. That and the recent capture of Hasan Guhl (ph), a key al Qaeda member, as he tried to enter Iraq from Iran, adds to what those officials and military chiefs believe is evidence of a mounting threat from al Qaeda and foreign fighters in general inside Iraq... Non-citizens now make up about 4% of the U.S. armed forces since 2002 July, when President Bush made it easier for service-men and -women to become U.S. citizens, more than 13K have applied... This Manhattan employment center is filled with people desperate for a job. When people are laid off 4 out of 5 people have less than 2 months savings to live on. They are usually out of money by the time unemployment benefits run out. In most states, that is typically 26 weeks. Federal benefits used to kick in for another 13 weeks but that program began to be phased out last month... An estimated 2M people will find themselves with their unemployment benefits running out [over the next 6 months]."
Eric Lichtblau _NY Times_
Veto Threatened on Bill to Restrict Powers Under Terrorism Law
"The Bush administration threatened [Thursday] to veto a pending bill that would scale back the government's powers under the USA Patriot Act... The bill has not even come up for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Supporters of the measure reacted angrily. Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who is a co-sponsor of the measure, called Mr. Ashcroft's comments 'an unfortunate over-reaction'... The bill would limit the government's ability to use roving wire-taps against terrorist suspects, to execute search warrants against suspects without immediately notifying them and to obtain business records from libraries or book-stores in intelligence investigations, among other measures."
John Schwartz _NY Times_
Security Poor in Electronic Voting Machines
"A report finds that widely used electronic voting machines have such poor computer and physical security that an election could be disrupted or even stolen... the machines, if not hacked, count votes correctly, and that issues discovered in the 'red team' exercise could be addressed in a preliminary way in time for the state's primaries in March. 'I don't want to beat people up.', said Michael Wertheimer, the security expert who ran the attack team for RABA Technologies, a consulting firm in Columbia, MD. 'I want to get an election that people can feel good about in March.' Further steps could be taken to ensure a safe general election in November, the report concludes. But ultimately, the report says, Diebold election software has to be rewritten to meet industry security standards and called for limited use of paper receipts to help verify voting... William A. Arbaugh, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Maryland and a member of the Red Team exercise, said, 'I can say with confidence that nobody looked at the system with an eye to security who understands security.' The new report vindicates a controversial report that found Diebold software lacked the level of security necessary to safeguard the election process or even to meet the standard practices of the computing industry, and it under-scores the results of two subsequent studies. Last July, an analysis of voting machine software by academic security experts at Johns Hopkins and Rice Universities found serious security problems... In response, Maryland hired the Science Applications International Corporation [SAIC sometimes referred to as CIA Systems] to review the Johns Hopkins report and to do a quick risk analysis. The company confirmed that many of the security vulnerabilities discovered in the earlier study did constitute serious problems, but said they could be corrected. An unrelated report for Ohio that was released December found serious security flaws in voting systems produced by all four major makers of electronic voting machines and offered suggestions for reducing risk. [Diebold claims they've already addressed or are in the process of correcting the flaws... but many remain at the end of 2007.]"
Saritha Rai _NY Times_
As India's Economy Rises, So Do Expectations
"Raghu Shenoy, 36, is a tad worried about financial matters. Though business is booming at the software company he founded here, Bit by Bit Computer Services, expenses for his traditional Indian wedding, planned for the end of February, are slowly spiraling beyond his budget... Among the guests will be a handful of his over-seas clients, mostly from Britain... 'I find people's expectations have shot up and I'm spending 10 times more than I would have spent some years ago.' The economy is indeed buoyant. Gross domestic product grew 5.7% in the country's first quarter, which ended in June, then jumped 8.4% in the next quarter, compared with levels the previous year. And the bounce is being felt across nearly all business sectors... growth is forecast to exceed 7% - perhaps even 8%... Good rain-fall, the best in more than half a dozen years, has bolstered the agricultural sector, and that, in turn, has increased consumer demand and manufacturing. High-technology businesses continue to grow spectacularly. A gradual upturn in the global economy is expected to bring in an even greater bounty of out-sourced jobs to India. In addition, despite political and labor opposition, India's government is slowly loosening its strangle-hold on various industries through privatization of state-owned companies... 'growing, fiscal deficit [is a problem]... will continue to boost personal wealth of all Indians, including the buoyant middle class and the very poor.'... Mr. Kulkarni led the local government's software services department and was responsible for attracting high-technology investment... Other industries, including automobiles and pharmaceuticals, have gained from an increased demand for high-quality products made in the country's low-cost manufacturing plants... India's foreign exchange reserves have grown to more than $100G. Its stock markets increased 73% in valuation, to $278G, with foreign concerns investing close to $7G... steady cash in-flows helped Indian software concerns make bold cross-border acquisitions of software, auto components, drugs, telecommunications and other businesses... Skeptics, however, say that not even 2% of India's population has been directly affected by the boom, and point to the abysmal state of infrastructure in urban centers and the stark poverty in India's villages... The entertainment industry, for instance, is expected to grow 8% to 12%%, on top of its 7% growth rate in 2003."
Unemployed Are Exhausting Federal Hand-Outs
"The pernicious joblessness bedeviling the nation is spawning a new category of Americans dubbed 'exhaustees': the hundreds of thousands of hard-core unemployed who have run through state and federal unemployment aid. According to the latest estimates, close to 2M Americans, futilely hunting for work while scrambling for economic sustenance, will join the ranks of exhaustees in the next 6 months. They represent a record flood of unemployed individuals with expired benefits -- the highest in 30 years -- who are plainly desperate for help... It costs $1G a month, money that is available from the federal unemployment fund. In January alone, 375K unemployed people are running out of state benefits..."
Karl Schoenberger _San Jose Mercury News_
Off-shore job losses on voters' agenda
"The issue of employment is high on the agenda in this political season. President Bush can take credit for an economic recovery, but he is vulnerable when it comes to jobs. The stock market is up, but job growth is dismal -- only 1K jobs were created in December, a fraction of the 300K new jobs the Bush administration projected. As the temperature rises over disappointing job growth, the practice of off-shoring -- sending jobs over-seas to cheap labor markets -- has worked its way into the rhetoric of the presidential campaign trail... There's no consensus among economists and experts over the long-term significance of the trend toward off-shoring... South Carolina, a key battle-ground state for the Democrats, has been hit hard by over-seas out-sourcing in the textile industry, and has lost about 64K manufacturing jobs over the past three years, according to the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, the Washington-based lobbying group that paid for the bill-board ads. Off-shoring statistics are fuzzy at best. One report estimates that 300K of the 2.4M jobs lost since the beginning of the recession in 2001 can be attributed to off-shoring. Future projections are all over the map: One predicts 3.3M service-sector jobs will go over-seas in the next 15 years, while a University of California-Berkeley report estimated 14M U.S. service jobs are at risk... Legislation has been introduced in Congress to address the issue... On the other end of the ideological spectrum, Sen. Craig Thomas, R-WY, won passage for his amendment to the Senate's omnibus appropriations bill last week that bans some federal contracts to vendors using off-shore labor... The ban applies only to a relatively small number of U.S. companies bidding for contracts under a Bush administration program to privatize certain federal government services, such as architectural design work, explained John Palatiello, a Washington-based lobbyist representing domestic companies bidding for privatization contracts. The strategy, he said, was to prevent federal unions from claiming their jobs were being sent over-seas... Antipathy to off-shoring has deep political roots."
Jeffrey McCracken _Detroit Free Press_
New jobs are out there, but same pay isn't: lower wages, loss of benefits
"there has been a net loss of 2.3M jobs since 2001 -- very little has been said about the disparity in pay between jobs lost and jobs gained. But combine the loss of jobs with the often reduced quality of new jobs, and it's likely this trend will become an issue between now and the November election.. A national study says the new jobs being created pay about 21% less than the jobs they replace. In Michigan, growing industries like health care pay 26% less than those like the auto industry that are losing jobs, said the Democratic-leaning Economic Policy Institute, based in Washington, DC. And experts say those growing industries have lesser benefits and pensions. Another concern: More people are working part-time involuntarily because they want a full-time job but can't find one. Part-time means working 34 hours or fewer a week, and part-time jobs don't typically offer health care benefits. In December, there were 4.79M involuntary part-timers, compared with 3.25M in 2000 December, federal labor statistics show. That's the most since 1994 June... From 1870 through 1920, tens of thousands of farming jobs vanished, and workers eventually found work in the auto industry or other fields. But many of the new factory jobs paid better than those farming jobs they replaced. Now, the new jobs pay about $35,410 a year, compared with $44,570 at the old jobs... in Michigan, where 365K more people are looking for work today than in early 2001."
2004-01-30 07:33PST (10:33EST) (15:33GMT)
Marilyn Much _Investor's Business Daily_/_Yahoo!_
WM's Low-Price Obsession Shifts Costs
"When WM enters a new geographic market, general merchandise, food and apparel prices fall in that area by 2% to 10% in the course of a year, says Carl Steidtmann, chief economist at Deloitte Research... During negotiations, a WM rep maps out how much the store intends to lower prices for consumers. If the supplier wants to do business with WM, it has to bring its yearly costs down the same amount, says Allen. 'By going back to a supplier and saying, ''Lower your costs by say 5%.'', WM is shifting (pricing pressure) down-stream.', Niemira said... WM's relentless cost pressure can lead vendors to cut corners, Allen says. For instance, in an effort to pare labor costs, a maker might end up sourcing through countries that have low safety and environmental standards and poor labor conditions. U.S. firms have been out-sourcing production to lower-cost nations for years. But the growth of WM has accelerated that trend... WM has been one of the leaders in sourcing goods directly from [Red China]... Badillo of Retail Forward...notes that No. 2 discounter Target set up a sourcing center in Shenzhen, China, in September. Chris Huber, Target's director of sourcing services, told China Daily that the retailer expects to double procurement from [Red China] this year over last. Badillo also cites the fact that early this month, Levi Strauss closed its last 2 U.S. sewing plants, and this spring it will shut its 3 plants in Canada, completing a shift to production in [Red China] and other countries with cheaper labor... It's also a non-union shop that pays lower wages and offers fewer costly benefits than super-markets, which are unionized... Sandy Skrovan, a vice president at Retail Forward [says] As WM has expanded its share of the grocery market and made the field more competitive, it's helped drive 13K mom and pop stores out of business in the last decade, Skrovan figures. She expects another 2K stores to close in the next 5 years, due largely to WM's competitive stance."
2004-01-30 17:51PST (20:51EST) (2004-01-31 01:51GMT)
Carolyn Pritchard _MarketWatch_
Oracle's Ellison & Henley to sell shares
"Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Chairman Jeff Henley will sell parts of their stakes in the company over the next year under trading plans announced late Friday. Ellison will sell up to 120M of his 1.4G shares. At Friday's closing price of $13.86, the sale would be worth up to $1.67G. Henley will sell up to 3M of his 14.6M shares, for proceeds of up to $41.6M. The sales will commence no earlier than March 4, Oracle said in a press release."
2004-01-30 21:01PST (2004-01-31 00:01EST) (2004-01-31 05:01GMT)
Michael Collins _MarketWatch_
Fair elections? Not for US corporations
proposed SEC rules
comments on proposed rules for director nominations (see especially, types C & G & I & J & L & O vs. D & E & F & N)
"Democracy is one of those funny concepts that most people support until there's a danger they won't win... it scares those in power, and those [rich and poor] who think they know better than others how the world should be run... Here at home, we have a system where those in power pick the candidates, print the ballots, make sure there is no opposition and then count the votes. We're not talking about politics, although in some cases I'm not so sure. No, this is the system by which we 'elect' the directors who over-see our public companies. They are supposed to represent us, the share-holders, but they are essentially chosen by management and incumbent boards. After researching how companies respond to the interests of their owners for a staff report last year, the Securities and Exchange proposed rules that would allow share-holders, in very limited circumstances, to put their own candidates for the board on the proxy ballot. The hurdles are set so high that cases of share-holder-sponsored directors will remain rare. But to hear the howls of protest from corporate America, you'd think the SEC was asking CEOs to justify their pay and perks... with this rule, the company is going to have to spend more money to make sure its hand-picked directors stay on the board."
2004-01-31 04:01PST (07:01EST) (12:01GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Show us the jobs: January pay-rolls expected to rise by 171K
"President Bush expects the job market to improve. So does Alan Greenspan. So do economists of every political stripe and ideological bent... So where are these jobs? Everywhere, it seems, except where they should be: in the monthly non-farm pay-rolls report. Despite the strongest 6 months' of growth in 20 years, the economy added just 221K jobs [seasonally adjusted] in the last half of 2003. Only 1K jobs [seasonally adjusted] were created in December, the government reported a month ago... The data will be released on Friday at 08:30. The average forecast calls for pay-roll growth of about 170,000, with estimates ranging from 90K to 300K, according to the survey conducted by CBS MarketWatch... The fundamental factors include steady declines in initial and continuing unemployment benefits over the past two months and improvement in industry surveys that measure hiring intentions and expectations. The technical factor can be summed up as: what came down must go up... Typically, as many as 2.85M workers are laid off in January following the seasonal hiring boom... in December... 697K adults dropped out of the labor force."
Glen Justice & John Tierney _NY Times_
Democrats & Republicans Assail, and Tap, 'Special Interests'
"Campaign finance reports show that some of the Democrat [and Republican] contenders benefit significantly from the lobbyists and special interests that they attack... 'Special interests are the Darth Vader of contemporary politics. Everybody loves to hate them, but politicians can't live without them because they need money to get their message out. It's very much a love-hate relationship.', said Darrell West, professor of political science at Brown University."
Felicia R. Lee _NY Times_
Research Around the World Links Religion to Economic Development
"Two Harvard scholars have found that what really stimulates economic growth is whether you believe in an after-life -- especially hell... after analyzing data collected in 59 countries between 1981 and 1999... Robert J. Barro and Rachel M. McCleary, wrote in a recent issue of American Sociological Review... The data comes from 6 international surveys, including ones by Gallup, the World Bank and researchers at the University of Michigan. They include questions about attendance in places of worship and religious beliefs. There were 4 measures of economic development: per capita gross domestic product, educational attainment by adults, the urbanization rate and life expectancy. Oddly enough, the research also showed that at a certain point, increases in church, mosque and synagogue attendance tended to depress economic growth... it uses a sophisticated analysis of a huge set of data to quantify the arguments of anthropologists, sociologists and political scientists... the widely discussed secularization thesis -- the idea that a country becomes more secular as it becomes richer and more industrialized -- did not apply to the United States, one of the most religious nations in the world. And over the last 30 years, many East Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea, have experienced both rapid economic growth and the spread of Christianity, Mr. Barro said."
How to Hack an Election
"Concerned citizens have been warning that new electronic voting technology being rolled out nationwide can be used to steal elections. Now there is proof. When the State of Maryland hired a computer security firm to test its new machines, these paid hackers had little trouble casting multiple votes and taking over the machines' vote-recording mechanisms. The Maryland study shows convincingly that more security is needed for electronic voting, starting with voter-verified paper trails."
Michael Liedtke _AP_/_Seattle Times_
Grocery strike puts pressure on Safeway CEO to pack it up
"Safeway Chairman Steve Burd, a strong-willed chief executive who once ordered his supermarket workers to be cheerful, has little to smile about. His slumping company is embroiled in a costly 3-1/2-month-old grocery strike in Southern California, where he is vilified by labor leaders, and his support is slipping on Wall Street. Nearly two-thirds of Safeway's market value has evaporated in the past 3 years, wiping out more than $20G in share-holder wealth. 4 top Safeway executives have left for other jobs in the past 13 months... Analysts believe the Pleasanton, CA-based company is losing at least $20M a month [due to the strike]... And yesterday, the California Attorney General's Office sued Safeway, Kroger and Albertsons, alleging the companies broke anti-trust laws and 'hurt consumers' by forming a financial mutual-aid pact. Attorney General Bill Lockyer contends the companies' arrangement, which they made several weeks prior to entering collective bargaining with some 70K grocery employees, violates federal antitrust laws, particularly the Sherman Act... The back-lash against Burd turned personal this past week when about 250 people marched to his estate in Alamo, an exclusive Bay Area suburb, urging Burd to resume negotiations with a more compassionate approach... Burd himself has pocketed $44M by exercising nearly 1.9M stock options, including $16.1M in the past 5 months..."
John Cook _Seattle Post-Intelligencer_
Amazon donors put Gary Nolan second to Kerry
"Amazon.com shoppers prefer Massachusetts senator John Kerry, though they are also supporting a relatively unknown Libertarian candidate and former radio talk show host by the name of Gary Nolan. Last week, the Seattle on-line retailer began accepting campaign donations on behalf of 10 presidential candidates. With just one click, Amazon.com customers who reside in the United States and are of legal voting age can donate as much as $200 to each of their favorite candidates... Nolan was not far behind, registering $10,972 from 349 donors."
Michael Bean _Forio Business Simulations_
The Pit-Falls of Out-Sourcing Programmers: Why Some Software Companies Confuse the Box with the Chocolates
"Many U.S. technology companies have out-sourced their software development to India. Last year Hewlett-Packard became India's largest multi-national IT employer, with more than 10K employees. The enthusiasm for over-seas out-sourcing, also known as off-shoring, mirrors the enthusiasm for Internet companies in the 1990s. In a recent article, Ravi Chiruvolu, a partner at Charter Venture Capital wrote that 'Venture Capitalists decided that because of cheap engineering talent in countries like India it would be more cost effective to out-source software development. If Nike could out-source sneaker manufacturing, we could do the same with code.' Following similar logic, Oracle has announced it will more than double the number of software engineers it employs in India to 6K... Operational effectiveness is about working cheaper or faster. Strategy is about the creation of a long-term competitive advantage, which for technology companies is usually the ability to create innovative software. Out-sourcing programmers works when the software developed isn't a key part of the pipe-line of innovation for products a company actually sells... But writing innovative software cannot be done on an assembly line. It requires hard-to-find development and design skills. Farming out development to legions of programmers over-seas will not create a differentiation advantage. When a technology company out-sources software development, that company loses its capacity to innovate and its competitive advantage... In the 1980s, Japanese companies unsuccessfully attempted to set up software factories to manufacture programs. They discovered that just throwing a lot of programmers together doesn't create innovative software... Most of the cost of clothing and toy manufacturing is in the assembly, not the design. Those products can still be designed close to corporate headquarters but assembled elsewhere to keep costs low. Programming is like design and nearly all of the costs of creating software come from writing the program, not the assembly..."
Michael Badnarik wins second straw poll, campaigns in NH
"The poll, hosted by the Cass County LP in Missouri... Badnarik started off November with a visit to New Hampshire, which will host the nation's first presidential primary on January 27. (The LP did not qualify to participate in that primary.) On November 1, Badnarik spoke at the New Hampshire LP's state convention in Manchester. Addressing about 70 people, Badnarik explained his 'no-compromise position on the issues', he said. 'For the people of New Hampshire, whose state motto is Live free or die, my message resonated in perfect harmony.' The previous day, on October 31, Badnarik had visited Dixville Notch in northern New Hampshire."
Andy Meisler _WorkForce_
Think Globally, Act Rationally
"Off-shoring jobs and salaries is all the rage in corporate America. But this panacea du jour has as many pit-falls as potential cost advantages. At a recent closed-door conference in Houston, promoters of off-shoring to India touted the benefits to a rapt audience. But there were some sobering asides amid the hoopla, such as news of a 50% failure rate and savings that aren't so spectacular... In the ranks of low-wage countries, India is followed by the Philippines, [Red China], Russia and Eastern Europe, and Central and South America... In 2001, according to a study by McKinsey & Co., off-shoring was a $25.75G industry. McKinsey estimates a growth rate of 30% to 40% a year over the next 5 years. Another prediction, quoted by several at the conference, was made by Forrester Research last year. Despite the fact that only 60% of Fortune 1,000 companies have yet begun off-shoring, Forrester has estimated that over the next 15 years, 3.3M U.S. service-industry jobs and $136G in wages will be relocated abroad... During the past decade the Indian government has [allegedly] embraced free trade and cleared away much of its legendarily suffocating bureaucracy... Only occasionally do the speakers mention problems with erratic power grids, obdurate local officials, inexperienced managers and unmotivated employees... In a stern voice [Mark Riedy of Pillsbury Winthrop] summarizes the approximately 20 anti-off-shoring bills now under consideration in the United States at the federal and state levels. He mentions the current controversies over H-1B and L-1 visas, and the possibility that the flow of foreign workers into and out of the United States could be sharply curtailed. He details a pending Indian government proposal to start taxing the off-shoring-related dollars streaming into and out of that country. Last, he describes some potential problems created by sending intellectual property, such as software code, and private personal information, such as medical records, over-seas... Sathyanarayan recounts the story of a client, a Silicon Valley software-development firm, that hired him after experiencing a 50% employee-turn-over rate at its operation in India... The entire direction of off-shoring angers American workers, who worry that theyíll be losing their jobs to what have been described derisively by critics as 'cybercoolies'. Theyíve found sympathetic ears at such organizations as the AFL-CIO and the Communications Workers of America, and are forming advocacy groups such as The Organization for the Rights of American Workers and Mad in USA."
Heather Mac Donald _City Journal_
Illegal-Alien Crime Wave
"Police officers know who they are and know that their mere presence in the country is a felony. Yet should a cop arrest an illegal [gangster] for felonious re-entry, it is he who will be treated as a criminal, for violating the LAPD's rule against enforcing immigration law... Fifty years ago, immigration policy might have driven immigration numbers, but today the numbers drive policy. The non-stop increase of immigration is reshaping the language and the law to dissolve any distinction between legal and illegal aliens and, ultimately, the very idea of national borders."
Gary F. Kohut _Belk College_
Management Perspectives: Communication Module Case
"For decades white-collar workers in U.S. organizations have believed and acted as if they had an unspoken 'contract' with their organizations. If they worked hard, were loyal and productive employees, and followed the rules of their organizations, they could expect to stay with their organizations as long as they chose to do so, to be rewarded for their contributions, and, eventually, to be supported during their 'Golden Years' by an adequate pension. But, after a decade and a half of mergers, 'down-sizing', and 're-structuring', that contract is almost extinct. A Towers-Perrin consulting firm survey in late 1995 found typical results: two-thirds of white-collar employees reported that their companies had down-sized or had undergone major re-structuring during the past 2 years; only 46% believe that they will retire from their current firm (30% among employees aged 34 or less)(Barlow, 1996). More than 43M jobs were lost in the United States between 1979 and 1995. Although even more jobs were created during that era, about 35% of full-time workers who lose their jobs are unable to locate new jobs with comparable salaries and benefits. Workers who earn at least $50K a year now fill twice as big a part of the unemployment line as they did during the 1980s. The fastest growing sector of the labor market between 1990 and 1995 was the category of 'temp/employment agencies'... Because these jobs do not include benefits like health insurance or pension plans, they seem to be relatively well paid (about $3-$4 per hour more than comparable permanent jobs), but the extra income still is not enough to buy health insurance (Emspak, 1996)... Productivity... increased during the 1980s and early 1990s, 19.5% in all. Until the late 1970s productivity increases were shared with workers at all levels. But since the early 1980s those increases have gone to fuel profits (up 57% between 1992 and 1994 alone; up even more in 1995) and upper management's compensation. In 1995 average wage and benefits of U.S. workers rose 2.9%, the smallest increase since 1981, while the incomes of CEOs soared. The CEOs of the 20 companies with the largest announced lay-offs rose an average of 25%."
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