|jgo Resume||Reading Room|
|jgo Econ Data & Graphs||jgo Econ News Bits|
|Economic News Analysis Summary|
|Kermit's home page||jgo Links|
|jgo's Work in Progress|
2004-04-01 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Unemployment compensation insurance claims
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 295,820 in the week ending March 27, a decrease of 9,423 from the previous week. There were 371,692 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.7% during the week ending March 20... The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,398,430, a decrease of 119,576 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.1% and the volume was 3,939,370. Extended benefits were available in Alaska during the week ending March 13. 53 states reported that 161,806 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending March 13... The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 13 were in Alaska (6.4%), Puerto Rico (4.5%), Michigan (4.4%), Pennsylvania ( 4.3%), Oregon (4.1%), Illinois (4.0%), Wisconsin (4.0%), Massachusetts (3.8%), New Jersey (3.8%), and Rhode Island (3.7%). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 20 were in Oklahoma (+3,119), Indiana (+666), Pennsylvania (+430), Iowa (+396), and Tennessee (+339), while the largest decreases were in California (-2,832), Georgia (-1,168), North Carolina (-1,073), Texas (-971), and Delaware (-890)... Most recent week used covered employment of 126,250,343 as denominator."
2004-04-01 07:07PST (10:07EST) (15:07GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted PPI up 0.1% in February
BLS press release
"The [seasonally adjusted] finished goods producer price index rose a tame 0.1% in February after soaring 0.6% in January. The PPI is up 2.1% year-over-year, the slowest pace since 2002 December... Further back in the production pipe-line, inflation was hotter. Intermediate goods prices rose 0.9%, the biggest increase in a year. Core intermediate goods prices rose 0.9%, the biggest gain in 9 years. Intermediate energy prices rose 0.6%... Steel mill prices jumped a record 5.9%, while plywood prices rose 15.2%. Prices of cold rolled steel rose 12.4%. Crude goods prices rose 2.5% in February after 2.8% in January. At the crude goods level, prices of basic industrial materials rose a record 5.5%, including a 21.1% jump in iron and steel scrap prices. Crude energy prices were unchanged. Food and energy prices at the finished level both increased 0.2% in February. Capital equipment prices were unchanged... In a separate report, the Labor Department said the [seasonally adjusted] 4-week average number of initial claims for state unemployment benefits was unchanged last week at 304,250, matching a 3-year low. Last week, claims fell by 3K to 342K."
Pat Poyfair _Deseret News_
Feeling over-qualified? Problem may be particularly bad in Utah
"C is among the growing ranks of the under-employed. He has a job but not in a position that matches his skills, talents, education level or compensation expectations. Yet a precise definition of under-employment is hard to find, because the term covers many different situations and many kinds of people. 'Under-employment typically refers to a situation where individuals have the training, knowledge, skills and abilities to perform a job that is greater than the job they currently hold.', said David Cherrington, professor of organizational behavior at Brigham Young University... Compounding the problem of understanding under-employment is the difficulty in measuring exactly who or how many people are under-employed. Federal and state governments don't officially measure under-employment like they measure unemployment... Researchers at the University of South Carolina in 2002 looked at 517 executives who lost their jobs as a result of down-sizing and found replacement jobs that paid less, were at lower levels in the corporate hierarchy and did not fully utilize their skills. Among their findings, published in the 2002 December Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology: * The executives displayed consistently negative attitudes toward jobs and careers in general. * A decrease in using their finely honed job skills was more frustrating than a pay cut or a demotion. * Under-employment is not native to any salary range... H received his bachelor's degree in computer science more than 20 years ago from the University of Arizona. Back then, computer science was a field that held limitless possibilities for growth and vertical movement within an organization. H had no problems finding work through the year 2000, as the demand for his services spiked because of the Y2K fear that gripped the nation. One year later he was laid off from his job. Between the years of 2001 and 2003, H submitted 1K resumes for jobs in information technology. He was granted interviews at only 5 companies."
Dice Report: 42,002 job ads
2004-04-01 09:53PST (12:53EST) (17:53GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Chicago Fed director Michael Moskow puzzled over jobless recovery
"The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago says he's baffled that the U.S. recession ended more than 2 years ago and yet few companies are hiring. 'The most prominent puzzle we face now is the so-called jobless recovery.', Michael Moskow said, according to remarks prepared for delivery Thursday to a business group at Ohio's University of Dayton... Moskow said business spending on capital equipment appears to have increased at a brisk pace so far this year... Complete data on the number of jobs that have moved over-seas is hard to come by. But, even the higher estimates one hears of jobs lost to out-sourcing are only a few hundred thousand over the last few years. For an economy the size of ours, these are not large numbers -- especially in relation to the 2.5M jobs created and lost each month in the U.S.' Despite the loss of manufacturing jobs over 5 decades, the U.S. has added a net 80M new jobs in that period, he said. 'Out-sourcing also is not new.', Moskow said. 'Over the past 50 years, we have heard concerns about job losses attributed to competition from Japan, the Asian Tigers, Mexico, and, now, [Red China] and India.'"
2004-04-01 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Bill Tucker & Peter Viles & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
"The U.S. military vows an overwhelming response after the deaths of 4 American civilians in Fallujah... U.S. contractors in Iraq say they will not be deterred, but a major trade show in Baghdad is canceled. We will talk with a CEO of a U.S. company that plans to send dozens of Americans to work in Iraq. Over-seas out-sourcing is not only about computer programming and call centers, it's also about the export of American construction jobs... This is the Salt Lake City Public Library partially built outside the U.S. using tax-payer dollars. The walls were pre-cast in Mexico and shipped to Salt Lake City... But there were no protests. When the trade union learned what was going on it was too late. The situation is not as unique as it may sound. Here in the Astoria section of New York City a power plant is being planned for this site. It will rest here, it but won't be built here. It will be built in Singapore and then shipped here. New York State is helping finance that with $400M in liberty bonds. Those are low-cost taxes exempt bonds created to revitalize the city following the attacks of 9/11. In effect, the state is rewarding the off-shoring of jobs... Nick Niejelow invented a new process for making polycarbonate plastic lenses for eye-glasses. His new Resolution branded lenses are inexpensive, shatter proof, and compared to other plastic lenses, they provide much clearer vision. Niejelow's company Habilis, has 130 employees, is turning out 20K pairs of lenses a day, and recently got a huge order from [Red China].... It's a very unusual product. It is new, it is high demand for Russia to Brazil, and it is patented so the only place in the world where it is made right now, John, is right here in America... the Chinese government makes it difficult to sell into [Red China]... Most Chinese consumers really aren't fit to be consumers of American goods. They don't make enough money. They can't afford American goods..."
Thomas L. Friedman _NY Times_
What's That Sound?
"India and [Red China] are running off with jobs and markets Mexicans once thought they owned."
Joseph Loconte _NY Times_
Morality for Sale
"The UN Commission on Human Rights no longer can be counted on to 'name and shame' even the most egregious violators... For years, however, the commission instead has been a haven for rogue governments -- who get elected to the body in order to shield themselves from international scrutiny and criticism... Thus state groups, like the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and private actors like Freedom House, America's oldest human rights organization, release their own 'worst of the worst' guides to bad-guy governments. Their lists include Burma, [Red China], Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and VietNam. Between them, these states engage in a raft of injustices -- arbitrary arrests, the employment of child soldiers and violence against women, to name a few. Yet it's doubtful that any but a handful will be slapped with critical resolutions by the commission."
Jennifer Sullivan _CareerBuilder_
Job Out-Look & Salaries for New College Grads Improve Over 2003
"19% of hiring managers reported they plan to hire more new college graduates than they did last year, as revealed by a recent CareerBuilder.com survey. 28% also indicated that salaries offered to new college graduates will increase over those offered in 2003. The CareerBuilder.com _Hiring Trends 2004_ survey was conducted from 2004 February 17 to 2004 February 29 and included more than 230 hiring managers... Of the hiring managers surveyed this year, 71% say they plan to hire new college graduates. This is higher than the 65% of hiring managers who planned to hire new college graduates in 2003. The top three industries recruiting new college graduates are Retail (28%), Hospitality (11%) and Health Services and Professional Services (both at 10%)... 53% of hiring managers will be offering salaries of less than $30K a year, 32% will be offering $30K to $39,999 and 8% will be offering $40K to $49,999. Only 6% will be offering $50K and above."
2004-04-01 13:53PDT (16:53EST) (21:53GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Job Rebound or Not?
"Economists have had trouble forecasting monthly changes in non-farm pay-rolls lately; more often than not, they've been overly optimistic... the Conference Board's 'jobs hard to get' index, part of its consumer confidence measure, rose in March"
Jennifer Ma & Paula E. Stephan _TIAA-CREF_
The Growing Post-Doc Population at US Research Universities
Matt Hayes _Fox_
US law-maker Chris Cannon pushes for amnesty for illegal aliens
"...'Congressman Cannon objects to our participation in the political debate in Utah and calls us an outside special interest.', says Ms. Solin. 'Yet we're only Americans exercising our democratic rights. OTOH, congressman Cannon seems to have no problem with outsiders as long its cheap foreign labor driving down American wages and making life even more difficult for struggling American families.'..."
2004-04-02 14:18PST (17:18EST) (22:18GMT)
Leigh Strope _AP_/_San Francisco Chronicle_
New jobs surge by seasonally adjusted 308K, fastest pace in 4 years: unemployment rate edges up to seasonally adjusted 5.7%
Rex Nutting: CBS.MarketWatch.com
"For the first time in 44 months, the nation's factories did not shed jobs. But they didn't hire either. Revisions to pay-roll figures also showed a stronger jobs market in the first 2 months of the year than previously thought. Companies added 205K jobs [seasonally adjusted] in January and February, instead of the 118K reported last month... The economy has rebounded strongly, but companies, under intense pressure to compete globally, have been holding down their costs by giving existing employees more work instead of taking on new ones. That appears to be changing. Businesses have added to their pay-rolls -- however slightly -- for seven straight months. March's overall pay-roll increase of 308K was the highest since a match in 2000 April. The last time more jobs were added was in 2000 March, with [seasonally adjusted] increase of 493K."
2004-04-02 15:00PST (18:00PST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Louise Schiavone & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
job numbers improve
"The numbers could indicate that economic expansion is finally leading to major jobs growth... for nearly 15M Americans, the job market isn't working at all: 8.3M are unemployed, 1.6M want a job but don't qualify for unemployment, 4.7M work part time but want a full-time job. That's 14.7M... Two hundred and fifty of Clintwood, Virginia's best jobs are being out-sourced to India, and the town only has a population of 1,800. Donald Baker, mayor of Clintwood, VA: 'IMO, if something doesn't happen, it's not going to be too long until we'll be a third world country instead of some of these other countries being third world.' Online travel service Travelocity is pulling the plug on its call center here, where workers had been pleased to start at $8 plus training and benefits... things change fast these days when it comes to information technology jobs. Just before Travelocity came to town, Nexus Communications shut down their operation in Clintwood... [Companies that off-shore are] just very concerned that they're going to get a black eye for this because the focus so much, especially in this political climate, is on out-sourcing American jobs..."
2004-04-02 15:08PST (18:08EST) (23:08GMT)
Eleska Aubespin _Florida Today_
More workers changing jobs to live a healthier, happier life-style
"Career switches, it seems, are becoming more common. Whether it's because of layoffs, a desire to reduce stress or wanting to spend more time with families, American workers are changing vocations... According to a September 2003 CareerBuilder.com survey of more than 2,425 workers, 74% reported they do not work in their dream jobs. Reasons for staying in a less-than-perfect work-place ranged from the need to pay bills to a fear of the unknown."
Julie Gallagher _Insurance & Technology On-Line_
Protection Rackets Thump Training Band-Wagon
"To enhance their IT staffs, companies including MetLife (NY, $302.5G in assets) and Allstate (Northbrook, IL, $90.7G in assets) will participate in a program aimed at improving the IT skills of the U.S. work-force. Nearly 2,700 U.S. technology workers in 12 states will benefit from the program, funded by grants that have been awarded to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA, Oakbrook Terrace, IL) by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration. The grants total $6M, according to John Engman, director of strategic development, CompTIA... 1500 IT workers from MetLife and Allstate will be trained in areas including web design and development, network architecture, systems and database engineering, and software quality assurance. Funding for the grants is taken from fees paid by employers who bring foreign workers to the U.S. under H-1B non-immigrant visas..."
Jonathan Weisman _Washington Post_/_Yahoo!_
US Firms Keep Billions Over-Seas
"With sales up 5% last year, Merck & Co. was not satisfied: To hold down costs, the pharmaceutical giant shed 3,200 jobs as 2003 drew to a close, and announced that an additional 1,200 positions would go this year. But Merck's picture abroad was quite different. It made 1,300 new hires in 2003 outside the United States, on top of the 900 brought on the year before. Company documents indicate that Merck had a cumulative $18G in foreign earnings untaxed by the end of last year, $3G more than in 2002. And the company said it had no intention of ever paying U.S. taxes on that burgeoning sum. 'Foreign earnings of $18.0G... have been retained indefinitely by subsidiary companies for re-investment.', Merck's annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said. 'No provision is made for income taxes that would be payable upon distribution of such earning.'... By the end of its 2003 fiscal year, Hewlett-Packard Co. had 'indefinitely' deferred taxation on $14.4G of foreign earnings, according to SEC filings, a move that helped lower its effective tax rate from the statutory corporate income tax rate of 35% to 12%. Domestic employment at Intel Corp. slipped by more than 3,300 people last year, but it grew by more than 4,300 abroad. By the end of 2003, the company had $7G in cumulative foreign earnings, $700M more than it had sheltered in 2002, according to SEC filings. The semiconductor power-house stated that it 'intends to re-invest these earnings indefinitely in operations outside the US'."
Sun & MSFT Settle, Sun Cuts More Jobs
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
"Sun Microsystems Inc. and MSFT Corp. on Friday settled their long-running legal battle over patents and unfair competition. Under the agreement, MSFT will pay Sun about $1.6G to resolve the disputes, and shares of Sun rose about 10%. At the same time, Sun, which has had 11 straight quarters of declining revenues, said it would slash its work force by 3,300 jobs, or about 10%, to rein in costs... Sun said that under the agreement, MSFT will pay it $700M to resolve pending antitrust issues and $900M to resolve patent issues. 'It's a huge step forward.', [Sun] Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott McNealy said... Sun also named software head Jonathan Schwartz as its president and chief operating officer, effective immediately... In addition, Sun and MSFT have agreed to pay royalties for use of each other's technology. MSFT will make an initial payment of $350M, and Sun will make payments when its uses the technology in its computer servers."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Negotiators Reach Accord on Pension Bill
"House and Senate negotiators agreed on a bill that would [allow companies to short their employees] $80G in pension contributions over 2 years."
_The Big Picture_
Spectacular Job numbers not an April's Fool Joke
"Non-farm business pay-rolls grew by [a seasonally adjusted] 308K jobs last month, faster than at any time since April of 2000..."
William Spain _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Finger-print & photo expansion to cover those from visa waiver countries raises hackles in travel industry
"Travel industry trade groups have reacted with anger and concern to a decision that could greatly expand the number of foreign visitors who will have to give pictures and prints to upon arrival in the United States -- and potentially slow down a steady increase in in-bound travel. On Friday, the federal government said that as of September 30 the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, or US-VISIT system, will be extended to citizens of 27 nations -- including close allies like Great Britain, Japan and Australia -- currently eligible to enter the country without pre-issued visas under a waiver program. The requirements already apply to all other foreigners except diplomats, Canadians and some Mexicans. Following the announcement of the expansion, Travel Industry Association head William Norman said the group was 'greatly disappointed and very concerned about potential negative reactions in key inbound tourism markets in western Europe, Japan and other important visa waiver countries'. Over-seas travel to the U.S. has declined by 27% since the attacks of 2001 September, TIA noted, and it had forecast a modest increase of 3% this year, primarily from the United Kingdom... The trade group also charged that the move was part of a deal between Congress and the Bush administration that includes extension of a deadline requiring biometric passports for citizens of visa waiver countries, which applies to all passports issued on or after October 26. The White House is asking Congress to extend it for about 2 years... The average amount of time the process adds to the average admission... having been reported variously from 8 to 30 seconds... Citizens of the U.K. make roughly 4M visits to the United States each year, or about 10% of the total... In 2002, about 8% of Las Vegas' over 30M annual visitors were from outside the U.S."
Rachel L. Swarns _NY Times_
U.S. to Mandate Fingerprinting and Photos of More Foreigners
"Travelers from 27 industrialized nations will be photographed and electronically finger-printed when they arrive in the U.S... Once the program goes into effect, by September 30, at 115 airports and 14 seaports around the nation, only diplomats, Canadians and Mexicans carrying border cards, which are typically used for 72-hour visits to the United States, will be exempt from the new rules."
James Dao _NY Times_
Conservative Takes on Moderate G.O.P. Senator in Pennsylvania: Radical Left Look At a Normal Election Contest
"A Republican candidate for Senate and his conservative backers are hoping to send a message to all Republican moderates: turn right or face costly challenges."
Edward Rothstein _NY Times_
Puzzles + Math = Magic
"Every 2 years at Gathering for Gardner, a conference named for a former Scientific American columnist, devotees come together in the pursuit of recreational mathematics."
2004-04-03 16:24:24PST (19:24:24EST) (2004-04-04 00:24:24GMT)
Rachel Konrad _AP_/_Marin County Independent Journal_
CEOs have history of friendship, antagonism
"Sitting side by side in directors chairs at a posh hotel, the chief executives [Scott McNealy & Steve Ballmer) reminisced about under-graduate years at Harvard, where the Michigan natives drank Stroh's beer and shared a love for the Red Wings and Motown tunes... McNealy and Ballmer attended rival high schools in Detroit's tony suburbs; their fathers worked at rival auto-makers. They grew up with what some believe was an inflated competitive streak - possibly putting ego before logic - and appeared to relish trash-talking the other at conferences and to the media. But McNealy and Ballmer said yesterday they would forgive their past insults to please customers, particularly large corporations, which have complained that Sun and MSFT products haven't exactly worked well together."
2004-04-04 03:53PDT (06:53EDT) (10:53GMT)
Natalie Christenson _Portsmouth, NH SeaCoast On-Line_
HR4052/S2252 "Save Summer Act of 2004" gets support
"Local tourism-related businesses are scrambling after the Department of Homeland Security announced without warning in mid-March that the number of seasonal work H-2B visas had been reached for the year... Paul Hartgen, with the New Hampshire Restaurant and Lodging Association, has been active in getting the word out about the legislative action. New Hampshire Republican U.S. Sens. Judd Gregg and John Sununu on March 30 announced a measure to increase the number of H-2B visas. H-2B visas are part of a series of H visas that are issued to cover temporary work [a.k.a. bodyshopping]. H-1B is for a specialty worker such as a fashion model; H-1C workers are nurses; H-2A visas are for temporary agricultural workers; H-2B workers are temporary skilled and unskilled workers; H-3 is a trainee visa; and a H-4 is a visa for a spouse and child of an H-1, H-2 or H-3... Hartgen estimates New Hampshire had about 700 workers who came to New Hampshire to work in 2003 using the H-2B visa program. The estimates in Maine are significantly more at 3,500... The recently introduced measure would temporarily increase the number of H-2B visas issued by the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal year 2004. It is named the 'Save Summer Act of 2004', and would up the number of H-2B visas from 66K to 106K this year. It would also require the Department of Homeland Security to annually report to Congress on the status of the H-2B visa program."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Altering of Worker Time Cards Spurs Growing Number of Suits
"Experts say the illegal doctoring of hourly employees' time records is far more prevalent than most Americans believe... Inside a cramped office, he said, his manager was sitting at a computer and altering workers' time records, secretly deleting hours to cut their pay-checks and fatten his store's bottom line... Top managers there ordered him not to let employees' total hours exceed a certain amount each week, and one day, he said, his district manager told him to use a trick to cut pay-roll: delete some employee hours electronically... Experts on compensation say that the illegal doctoring of hourly employees' time records is far more prevalent than most Americans believe. The practice, commonly called shaving time, is easily done and hard to detect -- a simple matter of computer key-strokes -- and has spurred a growing number of law-suits and settlements against a wide range of businesses... Family Dollar and Pep Boys... Taco Bell... WM... Kinko's... Toys 'R' Us... 'Unless you keep track of your time and keep records of when you punch in and punch out, there's no way to stop this.', he said... Some said that when they clocked more than 40 hours a week, managers transferred extra hours to the following week, to avoid paying over-time. Federal law bars moving hours from one week to another. WM executives acknowledged that one common practice, the 'one-minute clock-out', had cheated employees for years. It involved workers who clocked out for lunch and forgot to clock back in before finishing the day. In such situations, many managers altered records to show such workers clocking out for the day one minute after their lunch breaks began -- at 12:01, for example. That way a worker's day was often 3 hours and one minute, instead of 7 hours... In interviews, 5 former WM managers acknowledged erasing time to cut costs... 'We never had any problems like this at McDonald's.', she said."
Parts of U.S.-Canadian Border Disappear in Brush
"The agency, the International Boundary Commission, has warned that border markers are deteriorating and parts of the border are becoming over-grown by trees and brush to the point that the border's location could be lost in some areas. Officials of the agency said they had not been able to carry out a 5-year plan for turning things around because they did not have enough money. The agency, which received $1.23M this year from the United States and the same amount from Canada, will very likely ask that its budget be doubled, said Michael O'Sullivan, who is Canada's commissioner for the agency... The agency, consisting of two commissioners, six field engineers and a small support staff, is responsible for surveying and maintaining more than 8K monuments and reference points on the 5,525-mile border. Its workers are also responsible for cutting a 20-foot-wide path through woods along the border. With no fence, the boundary looks like a utility easement with markers dotting the ground down the middle. Created by treaty in 1925... The agency's United States budget will be reduced to $1.15M in the next fiscal year, so any hope for additional financing will have to wait for the 2006 fiscal year, Mr. Schornack said."
Alex Berenson _NY Times_
Despite 2 Mistrials, Prosecutors Rack Up White-Collar Victories
"Although last week's Tyco trial did not end as prosecutors would have liked, they have won guilty verdicts and guilty pleas in dozens of other white-collar crime cases."
Gretchen Morgenson _NY Times_
Two Pay Packages, Two Different Galaxies
"The pay package for Costco's James D. Sinegal seems like a throw-back to another era, especially when compared to the lavish one for Henry R. Silverman of Cendant... Run-away executive pay generates more share-holder rage than any other corporate issue today. So far this year, almost 40% of the proposals to be voted on at annual meetings relate to how much the corner-office crowd pulls down, according to the Investor Responsibility Research Center in Washington. That is up from 19% 2 years ago. But even as share-holders' ire rises, so, too, does chief executives' pay... 'Jim [Sinegal] is a highly ethical capitalist of the old school.', said Mr. Munger, a Costco director since 1997... 'He must visit hundreds of stores per year; he's mixing with the troops. If you were to rank retail executives, I would say Sinegal would be in the top 10 of the last century, as far as talent and work. And it's there in the numbers.' A 2000 survey by Towers Perrin, the consulting firm, found that the pay of chief executives, on average, was 531 times that of their lowest-paid rank-and-file workers... While Mr. Sinegal keeps a lid on his own pay, his company is known for providing salaries and health care benefits to lower-level workers that are higher than average for the industry. For example, Mr. Sinegal said, a fork-lift driver at the company typically makes more than $40K annually, after 3 years on the job. And Costco pays 92.5% of employees' health care costs... [pilfering or 'shrinkage'] losses run under 0.2% at Costco each year. Other companies have 10 to 15 times that amount of theft... Even by today's standards, 10-year contracts, especially those with guaranteed salaries and bonuses like Mr. Silverman's, are highly unusual in corporate America. A study by Equilar Inc., a compensation analysis firm in San Mateo, CA, of executive employment contracts at 70 large companies found that only 1% of the agreements carried 10-year terms. The average length is 3.1 years. Fewer than half the contracts studied by Equilar - 45% - had a minimum salary guarantee, and only 16% had minimum guaranteed bonus arrangements. Mr. Silverman's bonus deal is set up so that he is guaranteed annually as much as $100K for every penny a share that Cendant earns... Mr. Silverman's pay has stirred up some shareholder outrage. The Catholic Equity Funds, a mutual fund concern that owns Cendant shares, submitted a proposal that would require the company to limit Mr. Silverman's compensation to 100 times the average compensation paid to the company's non-managerial workers in the previous year. Under the proposal, the chief executive would be entitled to more than that amount only if the company achieved one or more goals mainly reflecting his contributions. In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking it to keep the proposal from being voted on by share-holders, Eric J. Bock, Cendant's corporate secretary, said that if Mr. Silverman's compensation were capped at 100 times the salary of non-managerial workers, he would receive $2.7M even though his contract guaranteed him $3.3M plus a bonus... Cendant share-holders will vote on the proposal at the company's annual meeting on April 20 in New York. The company advised share-holders to vote against it. 'The proponent's arbitrary and formalistic pay cap proposal would restrict the compensation committee's role in engaging in the complex analysis necessary to determine appropriate compensation levels.', the proxy said."
Karen MacPherson _Pittsburgh PA Post-Gazette_
States Sending Jobs Over-Seas: Legislatures Consider Ban on Off-Shore Out-Sourcing of Government Business
Katherine Yung _Dallas Morning News_/_Indianapolis Star_
Continuing a trend from the 1980s, employees strain under corporate demands
Salt Lake Tribune
"When DX entered corporate America in the late 1980s, he didn't think twice about job security. 'There was still a lot of employee loyalty. You never worried about lay-offs or even expense freezes.', he said. But for the technology sales veteran, everything changed in the late 1990s. Within a 2-year period, he weathered 2 lay-offs and his earnings dropped by nearly half. He even worried about whether his travel and other business expenses would get reimbursed... For many workers, life in corporate America is turning into a pressure cooker loaded with non-stop stress, long hours and never-ending fears about the next lay-offs. Workers are being asked to do more with less and at faster speeds even as they contend with down-sizing, re-structuring and now off-shoring. As if the wage freezes and pay cuts of recent years weren't enough, many now are forced to shoulder more of the cost of rising health care premiums."
2004-04-05 07:56PDT (10:56EDT) (14:56GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Record activity in US service sector: ISM non-manufacturing index soared to 65.8 in March
"The ISM's non-manufacturing index rose to 65.8% in March from 60.8 in February, indicating improving conditions in the services sector... Last Friday, the ISM reported that its factory index jumped to 62.5% in March from 61.4% in February... New orders rose to 62.8% from 60.3%. The employment index rose to 53.9% from 52.7%. The prices-paid index jumped to 65.7% from 57.3%. Sixteen of the 17 industry groups reported paying higher prices in March compared to February."
2004-04-05 16:34PDT (19:34EDT) (23:34GMT)
Paul Nowell _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Bank of India to Cut 12,500 Jobs
"[Bank of India, formerly called Bank of America] Corp., newly merged with FleetBoston Financial Corp., said Monday it will cut 12,500 jobs -- or nearly 7% of its work force -- over the next 2 years. Approximately 30% of the cuts will come through attrition, the Charlotte-based bank said, with the remaining jobs -- about 8,750 -- being eliminated through lay-offs and vacancies that won't be filled. The cuts will begin this month, as the company starts to notify affected employees from its combined work force of 181K... The completion last week of Bank of America's merger with Fleet created the nation's No. 3 bank with assets estimated at $966G. With about 5,700 branches, the new bank's footprint reaches from California through the South and up to New England. In assets, the bank trails only Citigroup and another planned megamerger between Chicago-based Bank One and J.P. Morgan Chase."
2004-04-05 16:36PDT (19:36EDT) (23:36GMT)
Patricia Guadalupe _Hispanic Business Magazine_
H-1B Visa Program to Resume
"The Bush administration will this month begin accepting applications for the H-1B professional visas for fiscal year 2005, having suspended the program for several months because it had reached the congressionally imposed quota of 65K visas per fiscal year. The 2004 quota was reached in less than 5 months. The popular H-1B visas are issued largely to fill highly skilled positions in the technological field, but have been a subject of criticism from opponents who assert the program is used as an excuse to pay foreign workers less than their U.S. counterparts..."
2004-04-05 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles & Kitty Pilgrim & Casey Wian & Christine Romans _CNN_
Iraq, borders, off-shoring
"Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, US deputy chief of operations: 'Individuals who create violence, incite violence, who execute violence against persons inside of Iraq will be hunted down and captured or killed.'... Tonight, U.S. forces in Iraq are on the offensive. In Fallujah, more than 1K American Marines surrounded the city after the brutal killing and mutilation of 4 American contractors there last week. In Baghdad, troops used helicopter gun-ships against armed supporters of a radical Shiite cleric. And the coalition says authorities have issued an arrest warrant against that cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr... Campaigning in North Carolina, the president says what seems obvious: A more productive worker makes more money. The trouble is, it's not working out that way. Productivity is up. Corporate profits are up, but wages are flat. A new study from Northeastern University showed median weekly earnings in real dollars were flat from 2001 to 2003... Never before have American corporations earned so much and employees so little during a recovery. In the 4 previous economic recoveries, employee compensation gains made up 62% of all income growth, corporate profits just under 14%. But in this recovery, corporate profit growth accounts for 40% of all income growth, employees just under 39%. And, one factor in a slack labor market, the threat of out-sourcing appears to be depressing wage growth... About 35% of the funding in the current jobs training program is eaten up by paper-work, administrative costs. President Bush wants to cut administrative costs to 15% of funding... The government spends some $4G on this type of job re-training already. This new proposal gains $300M from making administration programs more efficient. It also adds another $250M in new funding to community colleges, where most of the new job training takes place. Most statistics on re-training are almost a decade old, and point to very little success... John MacArthur: '[NAFTA] was sold as a free trade program, had nothing to do with free trade, it had to do with protecting American investments in Mexico in a cheap labor environment, with little or no environmental regulation.'... You maintain in your book, and convincingly so, that NAFTA, as an example, is all about protecting U.S. investment and corporate financial interests, and effectively little more. The same with permanent or normal trade relations with [Red China]... John MacArthur: 'The Democratic party, remember, is responsible and the Clinton administration are responsible or principally for NAFTA and PNTR... there's a lot that could be done. You could increase the incentives for companies to manufacture in the United States decrease the incentives, which you know all about, to manufacture over-seas, and try to redress the imbalance between the wage rates. Because right now, it's a no-brainer for an American corporation to move it to Mexico and now shut it down in Mexico and move it to [Red China], because at 30 cents an hour, you're not talking about comparative advantage, you're talking about what I call labor racketeering. It's labor price-fixing, essentially... It's between 2 governments, a corporation, and the local workers' committee of the Chinese Communist Party or the National Union of Mexico, which does not permit collective bargaining. You can't form an independent union in Mexico, still. If you even think about it in [Red China], you're clapped in irons... [One solution would be to give] direct incentives to small manufacturers, the way they do in other countries that will agree to employ workers in the United States.'... Kelly Gay, chair & CEO of KnowledgeStorm: 'The biggest surprise, contrary to many other surveys that have been taking on this topic, since ours was so broad and large in size, what it pointed out is that out-sourcing or off-shoring is not a single trend, it's a series of many trends. Those trends seem very dependent upon company size, the industry you're in, and most importantly, your IT adoption profile, how quickly or slowly your company innovates in its use of technology... information technology as an industry, is the second highest off-shore user as it is right now from an industry stand-point with communications as the highest of off-shore services right now... 63% of the almost 2K people surveyed are increasingly less open or neutral to off-shoring in the future, with a 37% remainder who are increasingly more [amenable to off-shoring... First, they're hesitant to publicly defend off-shoring.] Secondly, I think it's become very apparent there are both hidden costs and ulterior outcomes to out-sourcing. The hidden costs are things like you have to change your processes, you have to add management, you have to be able to define processes in a way that it doesn't matter. There are 6K miles in between that's a hidden cost. In terms of the ultimate out-comes, if you have out-sourced your customer service, the group of people who is dealing with your customers to India or wherever it may be, if they aren't representing you as a company in the way that you'd like, that doesn't bode well for you, and it will be a long time before you know it, because it's 6K miles away.'... U.S. border patrol agents today saved the lives of several Mexican citizens trapped on their roof-tops during a flash flood just accord the border in northern Mexico. Authorities say the Escondido River rose 25 feet in 15 minutes. 21 people were killed in the flooding, dozens more remain missing tonight. In broken borders, the federal government has begun cracking down on the smuggling of illegal drugs and aliens along Arizona's border with Mexico. At the same time, desperate smugglers are becoming more violent, especially toward the residents of the area... A barrage of AK-47 and 9mm bullets hit his house. K says he returned fire, but too late to save his trailer, which burned to the ground... school children catch the bus, under the watch of sheriff department's volunteers. They've been patrolling bus stops since a group of illegal aliens car-jacked a mother and daughter on their way to school 2 months ago... A growing number of residents are arming themselves and patrolling their neighborhoods... Over the week-end, the U.S. Coast Guard said it stopped 6 boats, 345 illegal aliens aboard those 6 boats, trying to enter the United States. The action was taken with the help of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Dominican Republic's navy... the Bank of [India, formaerly called Bank of America] - Fleet bank merger will cost...12,500 [jobs] over the next couple years... Cigna... recently slashed 3K jobs... CEOs... are very confident right now, but they're not hiring. They're paid quite well..."
John M. Broder _NY Times_
Stymied by Politicians, WM Turns to Voters
"Voters in Inglewood, CA, go to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to turn over 60 acres of barren concrete to WM, which sponsored the ballot initiative... The ballot initiative is sponsored by WM, which collected more than 10K signatures to put the question to voters after the Inglewood City Council blocked the proposed development last year, citing environmental, traffic, labor, public safety and economic concerns. While WM has turned to the ballot in a number of cities and towns to win the right to build its giant emporiums, the Inglewood initiative is significantly different. The proposal would essentially exempt WM from all of Inglewood's planning, zoning and environmental regulations, creating a city-within-a-city subject only to its own rules. Wal-Mart has hired an advertising and public relations firm to market the initiative and is spending more than $1M to support the measure, known as initiative 04-A... Company officials say that Wal-Mart adopted this aggressive new tactic only after it became clear that Inglewood officials -- backed by allies in organized labor, church groups and community organizations -- would never approve the complex. Wal-Mart is strongly anti-union."
Stephanie Strom _NY Times_
Fluctuating Market a Culprit as Foundation Grants Slip
"Giving by foundations last year fell victim to the stock market malaise that pummeled foundation assets in 2002 and the uncertainty of the economic recovery."
Bob Herbert _NY Times_
We're More Productive. Who Gets the Money?
"While corporate profits, the stock market and executive compensation sky-rocket, workers remain on the tread-mill... Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University: _The Unprecedented Rising Tide of Corporate Profits and the Simultaneous Ebbing of Labor Compensation - Gainers and Losers from the National Economic Recovery in 2002 and 2003_."
_Milwaukee Journal Sentinel_
Job drain sends students elsewhere
"Under-graduates in U.S. universities are starting to abandon their studies in computer technology and engineering amid widespread worries about the accelerating pace of moving jobs off-shore by high-technology employers. A new study, to be published in May, shows there was a dramatic drop-off of enrollment in those fields last year - 19% - and some educators warn about the potential consequences for America's global competitiveness. Enrollment in under-graduate computer-science courses continued to grow after the collapse of the dot-com bubble until the sharp decline in the 2002-2003 academic year, according to the Washington-based Computing Research Association [CRA]. The number of newly declared majors in computer science also showed a sudden 23% plunge last year... The Computing Research Association's annual Taulbee Survey tracks enrollments at U.S. and Canadian universities granting doctorates in computer science. The numbers of under-graduates surveyed - showing a fall from 94,461 to 76,844 for enrollment and 23,033 to 17,706 for newly declared majors - represent an estimated one-third of the total in all institutions. But researchers said they believed that their findings accurately reflect trends in computer education across the nation. Research for the CRA's study was directed by Stu Zweben, chair of the Ohio State University's computer and information science department, who said he was alarmed to find a 30% drop in enrollment last year in his own department."
2004-04-05 21:25PDT (2004-04-06 00:25EDT) (2004-04-06 04:25GMT)
Stephanie Armour _USA Today_
Workers asked to train foreign replacements, again
"What really stunned him was his last assignment: Managers had him train the worker from India who'd be taking his job... some employers are asking the workers they're laying off to train their foreign replacements -- having them dig their own unemployment graves. Almost one in 5 information technology workers has lost a job or knows someone who lost a job after training a foreign worker, according to a new survey by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. The study is the first to quantify how widespread the practice is. Here's what typically happens: U.S. workers getting pink slips are told they can get another paycheck or beefed-up severance if they're willing to teach workers from India, [Red China] and other countries how to do their jobs. The foreign workers typically arrive for a few weeks or months of training. When they leave, they take U.S. jobs with them. The U.S. employees who trained them are then laid off... 7 in 10 information technology workers say they would support legislation requiring companies to inform local officials if they plan to use U.S. workers to train foreign replacements, according to the survey by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, known as WashTech... Some employers say they're hiring workers in other countries -- a trend known as off-shoring -- because they can pay lower wages, providing a much-needed competitive advantage. They say U.S. workers aren't forced to train replacements (known as 'knowledge transfer'), but are given the choice whether to participate... those who did got extra incentives... [She] felt trapped. She says she believes that if she refused, she would have probably been fired without severance and would have been ineligible for unemployment benefits. If she quit, she says, she wouldn't have received severance or been eligible for unemployment... 30% of employers said off-shoring has hurt morale at their companies in the USA, according to a March survey by benefits consultants Hewitt Associates. 11% say it has had a negative impact on brand image."
2004-04-06 04:57PDT (07:57EDT) (11:57GMT)
Brad Cain _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Ralph Nader Fails To Get on Ballot in Oregon
"Most political observers had expected Nader would easily draw enough supporters at a Monday evening petition-signing rally intended to make Oregon the first state to qualify Nader for the 2004 ballot. But only 741 people showed up -- far short of the 1K required by Oregon law... Still, Nader said he would not abandon his quest to qualify for the Oregon ballot, but will try another option available under Oregon law -- collecting 15K signatures over a 3-month period, rather than 1K signatures at a single gathering."
2004-04-06 14:25PDT (17:25EDT) (21:25GMT)
Anna B. Brutzman _Greenville News_
Ex-sheriff's major enters county council district 21 race
"Charles Earl Barnett, who worked under former Sheriff Johnnie Mack Brown, is running as a Libertarian... After leaving the sheriff's office in 1995, Barnett worked over-seas in former conflict areas such as Serbia and East Timor. He worked with a state department program to help develop law enforcement agencies and election systems."
2004-04-06 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles & Casey Wian & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
pressured to train foreign replacements, guarding the borders
"several hours ago, a band of Iraqi insurgents, upwards of 100, forced their way at gun-point into a number of government buildings in Ramadi. Ramadi is an Iraqi town about 60 miles west of Baghdad. It's in the heart of the so-called Sunni Triangle. This is where the remnants of Saddam's army have formed, reformed. This is where much of the opposition over the course of the last year to the American occupation has taken place. There was some very severe fighting. This is the U.S. Marines' area of responsibility. We're told upwards of 12 U.S. Marines have died trying to retake those Iraqi government buildings in Ramadi, fighting the insurgents. We're told at least a dozen more Marines were injured. Again, the situation's very, very fluid at this point... A new report from [GAO] shows that 63% of U.S. corporations paid no federal income tax in the year 2000. 73% of foreign companies operating in the U.S. paid nothing as well... Through tax shelters, write-offs, creative accounting and many, many friendships in Washington, corporate America has reduced its tax burden over the years. In the 1950s, corporate income taxes made up a third of all federal revenues, now just one-fourteenth. Income taxes for individuals account for roughly half. The big tax increase is in what's collected for [Socialist Insecurity] and Medicare... a fraction of companies in this country, less than 1%, do pay well over 90% of all the corporate taxes collected... [Southern Arizona is] a major smuggling route for drugs and illegal aliens where Border Patrol agents are regularly assaulted by rock-throwing Mexicans. Border Patrol vehicles here are caged to deflect rocks and agents now use modified paint-ball guns that shoot pepper powder at rock throwers... Within seconds of our arrival, agents capture 5 suspected illegal aliens who crossed over Hamburger Hill headed to New York. They don't all go so peacefully. Last month outside this detention facility, an alien tried to grab an agent's gun. Both were shot... Lee Morgan, ICE agent in charge: 'Dope smugglers and human traffickers are probably the meanest, cruelest criminals on the border or in the United States. They're unparalleled in their viciousness.'... Human smugglers are operating over the same routes as drug smugglers. The border patrol is responding with more agents and monitoring devices so alien smugglers are bringing larger groups across knowing some will get away... A new survey by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers found 23% of technology workers said their company had shifted jobs over-seas. 17% said they had personally lost their job or knew someone who lost their job after training a foreign worker. And 81% said they supported restricting the H-1b visa program which allows companies to bring foreign workers to the United States... David Kelly of Putnam Investments: 'I don't think that out-sourcing is good... But I do think that free trade is good... We have got to bring our currency down...against the Chinese currency. But [Red China] is, you know, a relatively new part of the global economy in terms of its size. I think we do have time to open up Chinese markets, I think that's what we should do, but I think we should do it from the perspective of trying to build our exports rather than trying to restrict our imports.'... Jesse Jackson: 'It is, in fact, cheap product and then cheap wages and cheap benefits. Small businesses cannot survive the onslaught of a WM.'... Wal-mart has used the tactic before in California. In Contra Costa County, near San Francisco, voters there passed an initiative to allow a Super Center to open. The company lost, however, a similar vote for an additional Wal-mart store to open in San Marcos, a suburb of San Diego."
Agnes Crane _Dow Jones_
Challenger: March Job Cut Announcements Down 12% from February
"The March total is 12% lower than February's total and 20% lower than in 2003 March. The latest tally brings total job cuts in the first quarter to 262,840, down 28% from the previous quarter and down 26% from the first quarter of 2003..."
Travis E. Poling _San Antonio Express-News_
USAA takes WOAI to court over video-tape of USAA execs planning to displace American employees
"USAA went to court Monday to force WOAI-TV and parent company Clear Channel Communications to return confidential documents and video-tape USAA said were stolen. USAA filed a motion in 166th District Judge Martha Tanner's court calling for a deposition of WOAI anchor and reporter Tanji Patton. USAA executives said they want a tape of a management meeting and a management manual returned and to find out who took the materials, which they said are confidential and proprietary. Part of the video-tape was used in a February WOAI story by Patton on USAA's use of contract workers from India for information technology jobs. In the tape of a January 27 management meeting, USAA CEO Robert Davis told management staff the company couldn't find the same quality of work in the United States."
Richard Perez-Pena _NY Times_
Ohio Utility Could Have Halted 2003 Black-Out
"An Ohio power company [FirstEnergy] should have prevented last summer's black-out across a wide swath of North America by intentionally cutting off electricity to most of the Cleveland area, American and Canadian officials said yesterday... FirstEnergy did not shut off some customers as a preventive measure and apparently did not have a plan for doing so on short notice... The report did not fully explain why the black-out spread from Ohio to Michigan to Ontario to New York, while other areas were spared. Each region is connected to its neighbors by relays, switches on the major transmission lines, that can cut off the flow of power automatically when serious trouble is detected. Such relays stopped the rolling power failure from spreading from New York into Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But the report did not address why relays in up-state New York allowed the collapse to spread through much of the state."
Challenger Survey: Job Cut Announcements Hit 9-Month Low in March
NY Daily News
"The out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said planned job cuts decreased to 68,034 in March compared with 77,250 in February. The group's 12-month moving average, which smooths out month-to-month volatility, fell to 95,289 in March from 96,736 in February... One reason given for the reluctance to hire was most companies would rather keep older and more experienced workers rather than invest in the training of new ones... the financial services industry led all others with 16,120 job cuts. The telecommunications industry was a distant second, with 9,823 lay-offs. The report said total planned lay-offs in the first quarter of 2004 fell to 262,840 compared with the fourth quarter of last year when 364,346 job cuts were announced. Planned lay-offs in the first-quarter lay-offs were 26% [of what they were] during the first quarter of last year. The Challenger report arrives before the dust has settled on Friday's surprisingly positive employment report for March, which showed the economy created 308K non-agricultural jobs, reinforcing beliefs that the job market is firming."
US job cut announcements growing less severe
"Planned job cuts in the United States declined in March for the second consecutive month to 68,034, a Chicago out-placement firm said Tuesday. The March figure is the lowest in nine months, since 59,715 cuts were announced in 2003 June, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported."
Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
2004-04-07 07:08PDT (10:08EDT) (14:08GMT)
Brian Mitchell _Investor's Business Daily_/_Yahoo!_
Jobs Data Fail to Brake Slide in Confidence
"The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index fell 1.7 points to 52.8 in April, a third straight month of decline. The index has lost 7.8 points since hitting January's 22-month high of 60.6. Its lowest point under President Bush was 48.8 in 2003 March, the only month it was under 50. Under 50 means pessimism; over 50 means optimism. 'Most Americans continue to be very optimistic, but in about 30% of households, someone has either lost a job in the past 12 months or fears they might lose a job in the next 12 months.', said Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP, a unit of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, IBD's polling partner. 'These job-sensitive households have a gloomier view of the economy than the 70% of non-job-sensitive households, which are still very optimistic.', Mayur said. Optimism fell 2.8 points to 45.8 among the job-sensitive. It slipped just 0.7 points to 57.5 among the not-job-sensitive... Households with annual incomes below $30K dived 6.1 points to 46.5. Those with incomes of $30K to $50K shed 2.3 points to 52.2. But households with incomes between $50K and $75K rose 1.1 points to 54.6. And those with incomes over $75K rose 0.4 point to an up-beat 60."
2004-04-07 08:31PDT (11:31EDT) (15:31GMT)
Matt Andrejczak _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Judge rejects Lea Fastow plea deal: trial looms
"Lea Fastow will go to trial for her role in the Enron scandal after Judge David Hittner rejected her plea agreement with federal prosecutors..."
2004-04-07 10:38PDT (13:38EDT) (17:38GMT)
Rachel Konrad _AP_/_San Diego Union-Tribune_
Off-shoring jobs could drain public coffers: Taxes move off-shore
San Jose Mercury News
"some tax experts say the migration of lucrative technology jobs to India and [Red China] is shrinking U.S. employee tax contributions and could exacerbate state budget short-falls. Others say off-shoring could erode already-strapped Social Security, Medicare, workers compensation and other payroll-deduction funds more quickly than anticipated... up to one-quarter of lost wages translate to lost tax revenues, by conventional accounting methods. So if 3.3M white-collar jobs and $136G in wages move over-seas by 2015 as Forrester Research predicts, that means federal, state and local tax receipts could decline as much as $34G."
2004-04-07 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
"In the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah, U.S. Marines are fighting house to house against insurgents. Elsewhere in Iraq, U.S. soldiers are preparing to go on the offensive against the militia loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al- Sadr. About three dozen coalition troops have been killed since Sunday, all but two of them American... Don Evans secretary of commerce: 'Because your personal and your business taxes are lumped together. The president's tax cuts went to families and small businesses in this country and small businesses create 70% of the new jobs in America.'... When you invest plant and equipment and hire people in India to serve the Indian market or [Red China] to serve the Indian market, that makes all the sense. That's just good, competitive business. But it doesn't make any sense for the American people to be tolerating U.S. multinationals exploiting this market and costing U.S. jobs by hiring cheap labor in countries that have cheap labor markets... Voters in a suburb of Los Angeles have voted against the construction of a huge WM super center in their community... Thousands of illegal aliens apprehended each year are simply turned loose in this country, because there's not enough room to hold them in jails and other facilities... Near midnight in Nogales, Arizona, the busiest place in town is the Border Patrol's detention facility. Here, captured illegal aliens are identified, photographed, finger-printed, and entered into a computer data-base. Aliens are separated by gender, nationality, and criminal background. Non-criminals are on their way back to Mexico within a couple of hours, classified as voluntary returns. They could face felony charges if caught again... OTMs, for 'other than Mexican'. Deporting these aliens can involve months of bureaucratic maneuvers. And because space at detention facilities like this is so limited, each year about 6K are brought before judges who set a deportation hearing date, then release them onto the streets of the United States. Not surprisingly, 86% don't show up and simply disappear... Michael Garcia assistant secretary of homeland security: 'We detain about 23K people at any given time. That's our maximum bed space. So we're always looking at, what are the worst cases...'"
Erin E. Arvedlund _NY Times_
Hollywood faces piracy in the FSU
"The American film industry is fighting rampant DVD piracy in Russia with a radical new tactic: cutting prices."
Kelly Davis _Anderson South Carolina Independent-Mail_
Libertarians running in Anderson county SC
"Anderson County and the Libertarian Party are not quite 2 peas in a pod, but with 3 of the small political party's legislative candidates likely to make the November ballot, the county is a leading front in the party's fight to shrink government and expand personal freedom."
Larry Nickerson _UT Arlington ShortHorn_
Sign for the Times: A free political market-place is necessary to spread ideas
"You may not be aware of the political battle going on in Texas for the Libertarian Party and the Green Party to get on the November ballot. The requirement is for approximately 45K qualified petition signatures (1% of the total votes cast in the last governorís race)... It was not but a few days ago that I was on the UTA campus with the mistaken idea that I could just talk to students directly for petitioning. I had less than a handful of signatures when security intercepted me and directed me to the Student Governance office. We need a sponsor in order to be allowed to do this. Ah yes, free speech on campus has a stop sign even where you would think student involvement could be a good thing... They [the 45K petition signers] must be a registered Texas voter, must not have voted in the March primary and not already signed a petition sheet."
Betty Stanley _Ozark County Times, Gainesville, MO_
Candidates prepare for August primary
"Candidates for United States representative include Democrats Jerry Cass of Hartville amd Dean Henderson of Peace Valley; Republicans Incumbent JoAnn Emerson of Cape Girardeau and Richard Allen Kline of Gipsy; and Libertarian Stan Cuff of Poplar Bluff. Seeking the U.S. Senate seat are Democrats Charles Berry and Nancy Farmer, both of St. Louis and Ronald Bonar of Versailles; Republicans Mike Steger of St. Louis and Incumbent Christopher (Kit) Bond of Mexico; and Libertarian Kevin Tull of Kansas City. Other state races and candidates are as follows: Governor: Democrats Bob Holden, Claire McCaskill, Jim LePage and Jeffery A. Emrick; Republicans Karen Lee Dee Skelton-Memhardt, John D. Weiler, Matt Blunt, Jennie Lee (Jen) Sievers, Martin Lindstedt, Jeff Killian and Roy W. Lang; and Libertarians Randall (Randy) D. Langkraehr and John M. Swenson. Lieutenant Governor: Democrats Rebecca McDowell (Bekki) Cook and Ken Jacob; Republicans Patricia (Pat) Secrest, Peter Kinder and Bruce Hillis; and Libertarian Mike Ferguson. Secretary of State: Democrat Robin Carnahan; Republican Catherine L. Hanaway; and Libertarian Christopher Davis. State Treasurer: Democrats Jason Klumb, Mark Powell and Mark C. Abel; Republicans Chet Boeke, Al Hanson, (Will) William R. Pundmann, Tom Klein, Sarah Steelman, Anita Yeckel and Blaine Luetkemeyer; Libertarian Lisa J. Emerson. Attorney General: Democrat Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon; Republicans Chris Byrd and Dewey Crepeau; and Libertarian David R. Browning."
Katherine Ann Rowlands _San Luis Obispo Tribune_
A truly unique cover story: Donated high-tech press spot-lighted in Poly project for magazine (An Excellent Publication Shows Its Dark Side)
"There's little chance of the post-man delivering the June copy of Reason magazine to the wrong address. The home of each of the 40K subscribers to the Libertarian publication will be circled in red on the cover, which will show an aerial photo of a subscriber's neighborhood. By marrying satellite aerial photography with the sophisticated technology of a donated Xeikon digital printing press, Cal Poly graphic communication students are creating 40K individualized covers for the upcoming edition of the monthly print magazine of 'free minds and free markets', which started in 1968. The unusual covers go with a lead story by Declan McCullagh on privacy issues and the positive power of data-bases... 'In a weird way, it's like what we're doing is rubbing your face in it.'"
_Business & Legal Reports_
Ted Kennedy Calls for More H-2B Visas
"Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that would provide an emergency increase to the number of H-2B visas, the Boston Globe reports. H-2B visas cover low-skilled workers coming to the United States to perform work in seasonal jobs... 'It is inconceivable that members of Congress would be campaigning on job creating and economic recovery on one hand, while giving away American jobs on the other.', says Dan Stein, the executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a conservative lobbying group in Washington, DC."
J. Scott Moody & Scott A. Hodge _Tax Foundation_
Tax Freedom Day Comes on 2004 April 11, Earliest Since 1967 (with graphs & table)
Tax Freedom Day report in PDF
"According to Tax Foundation calculations using the latest government data on income and taxes, Tax Freedom Day in 2004 will be celebrated on April 11th, the earliest Tax Freedom Day for 37 years. April 11th is three days earlier than 2003's Tax Freedom Day of April 14 and an amazing 21 days earlier than in 2000, when the boom and bubble pushed tax burdens to a record high, and Tax Freedom Day was postponed until May 2."
Comparing Tax Burdens Across the Nation
Ron Paul _Lew Rockwell_
stupid, evil law of the sea treaty
2004-04-08 05:29PDT (08:29EDT) (12:29GMT)
Leslie Miller _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Government Licenses First Private Rocket: The very concept of government prohibiting personal rockets is absurd
"The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it gave a one-year license to Scaled Composites of Mojave, CA, a company founded by aviation maverick Burt Rutan. His goal is public space travel within 10 years... The Scaled Composites craft consists of a rocket plane, dubbed SpaceShipOne, and the White Knight, an exotic jet designed to carry it aloft for a high-altitude launch. SpaceShipOne, made of graphite and epoxy, has short wings and twin vertical tails. It reached 12.9 miles altitude in a trial flight; the license will allow the space-craft to reach the edge of space, about 60 miles up."
2004-04-08 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Thomas Stengle _DoL_
Unemployment compensation insurance weekly claims
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 295,820 in the week ending March 27, a decrease of 9,423 from the previous week. There were 371,692 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.7% during the week ending March 20... The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,398,430, a decrease of 119,576 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.1% and the volume was 3,939,370. Extended benefits were available in Alaska during the week ending March 13. 53 states reported that 161,806 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending March 13... The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 13 were in Alaska (6.4%), Puerto Rico (4.5%), Michigan (4.4%), Pennsylvania ( 4.3%), Oregon (4.1%), Illinois (4.0%), Wisconsin (4.0%), Massachusetts (3.8%), New Jersey (3.8%), and Rhode Island (3.7%). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 20 were in Oklahoma (+3,119), Indiana (+666), Pennsylvania (+430), Iowa (+396), and Tennessee (+339), while the largest decreases were in California (-2,832), Georgia (-1,168), North Carolina (-1,073), Texas (-971), and Delaware (-890)."
2004-04-08 05:54PDT (08:54EDT) (12:54GMT)
Princeton Weighs Plan to Curb Grade Inflation
"Earning high marks at Princeton University may soon be a tougher task. Faculty members and school officials are reviewing proposed changes to the university's grading system that would limit the number of As that professors could award. The goal of the proposal made public this week is to lower the number of As from the current 46% to 35% for under-graduate courses... According to the proposal, grades could vary class by class, but each department would be expected to try to meet the limit on As. It also would allow faculty members to see the grades for every department. In her memo, Malkiel said that 65% of the graduating seniors in Princeton's class of 2002 had grade-point averages of B-plus or better, and fewer than 5% fell below B-minus. A student with a straight C average, she said, stood second to last. Malkiel said several students have supported the plan, which has been under development for several years, but she expects some opposition to the proposal from faculty members."
2004-04-08 06:45PDT (09:45EDT) (13:45GMT)
Rukmini Callimachi _San Diego Union-Tribune_
Extras, new editions drive college text-book costs to $900 per year
"A study spear-headed by students in Oregon and California found that the cost of text-books has sky-rocketed because of the bundling of ancillary products like CD-ROMs. It also claims that publishers roll out new editions year after year, forcing students to buy new books although the content scarcely changes. Pat Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers and a former congress-woman, said the report was one-sided and flawed. Fifteen members of Congress have asked for an investigation into the pricing policies of U.S text-book publishers. The Government Accounting Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress, has given the request high priority, said Cornelia Ashby, the director of the office's education branch."
2004-04-08 07:03:00PDT (10:03:00EDT) (14:03:00GMT)
Solid Sales Lift US Retailers in March
"A flood of new fashions helped lift many of the nation's retailers to their fourth straight month of solid sales during March... The robust results released by retailers Thursday cut across industry sectors, with many long-struggling department stores also enjoying a sales boost... He said the International Council of Shopping Center-UBS sales preliminary tally is up 6.8% in March, based on [same-store sales] results from 55 retailers, compared with a 0.2% decline a year ago... March was the fourth month in a row that retailers have had strong sales. After reporting same-store sales of 4.3% in December, stores have done even better, averaging about 6.5% so far this year. Niemira said the January-March sales performance is the industry's best performance since the 1999 July-September period, whose same-store sales averaged 6.8%."
2004-04-08 07:42PDT (10:42EDT) (14:42GMT)
Challenger: Tech job cuts at lowest in 3 years
"Down-sizing in the technology sector slowed in the first quarter of 2004, with job cuts down 52% from the same quarter a year earlier, an out-placement consulting company said Thursday. High-tech job reductions fell to 29,513 in the first 3 months of 2004, 64% lower than the 82,328 cuts announced in the final quarter of 2003 by technology industries of computers, telecommunications, electronics and e-commerce, according to the consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. The firm said the first-quarter number is the lowest on record since it began tracking in 2001 January. The tech job cuts represented 11.2% of the 262,840 cuts announced by all industries during the 3-month period, down from 17% in the first quarter of 2003, Challenger said. By contrast, technology job reductions accounted for 32% of all cuts in 2002 and 36% of all cuts in 2001, according to the firm. Telecom firms led all technology firms in job cutting, as they have in 11 of the previous 12 quarters, Challenger said."
2004-04-08 08:22PDT (11:22EDT) (15:22GMT)
Steve Kerch _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US mortgage rates jump in latest week
"U.S. mortgage rates rose more than a quarter of a percentage point in the week ending Thursday, a response to positive jobs data in recent days, Freddie Mac said. The benchmark 30-year, fixed rate mortgage shot up to a national average 5.79% versus 5.52% a week ago."
2004-04-08 12:36PDT (15:36EDT) (19:36GMT)
Michael Kanellos & Ina Fried & Richard Shim _CNET_
Is the tech world partying like it's 1999?
"A resurgent economy and increased technology spending have revived -- on a small scale, at least -- some of the gung-ho business tactics and giddy public behavior of the dot-com era... On Wednesday, for instance, search giant Yahoo and BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion both announced 2-for-1 stock splits. Until recently, stock buybacks were more the thing... Even the luxury goods market is coming back to life, a sign that executives and engineers feel more comfortable in their jobs... And though businesses say they'll be increasing their IT budgets this year, executives say those increases will be modest, with big-ticket items lower on the list."
2004-04-08 14:15PDT (17:15EDT) (21:15GMT)
Matt Andrejczak _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Reliant Energy & its traders indicted
"A grand jury indicted Reliant Energy Services and 4 of its energy traders Thursday, charging them with manipulating the California energy markets in 2000 and 2001. The 6-count indictment alleges that the company - facing a multi-million dollar loss after energy prices dropped - intentionally drove up electricity prices by shutting off its power generation to create the false appearance of a shortage. Reliant Energy Services, a unit of Reliant Resources, allegedly reaped millions in illegal profits from the scheme, according to the indictment. The division is responsible for purchasing fuel and selling power from its generation facilities. In a statement, Reliant said its subsidiary broke no laws. It was charged with conspiracy, commodities manipulation and wire fraud."
2004-04-08 14:29PDT (17:29EDT) (21:29GMT)
David Tirrell-Wysocki _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Imaging Automation System Can Detect Fraudulent PassPorts
"Australia, one of the United States' strongest allies, has added a new weapon to its arsenal -- a toaster-sized document reader that tells in seconds whether a passport is a fraud and identifies travelers who might be included on terrorist watch lists... In a multimillion-dollar contract, Australia has installed 400 iA-thenticate units from Imaging Automation Inc. of Bedford, NH, at its international airports in hopes of authenticating the documents of every person entering. The system ranges from $5K to $15K per unit. It uses multiple light sources to examine hundreds of security features on travel documents. Many of the features, including the composition of ink, are invisible to the naked eye."
2004-04-08 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Casey Wian _CNN_
"a lack of detention space forces Border Patrol Agents release thousands of illegal aliens entering the country each year. Now immigration officials are trying to recapture many fugitives and send them out of the country... Three teams of immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents, or ICE, will spread out across San Diego looking for a few of the 5,600 illegal aliens here under deportation orders. Nationwide, more than 400K illegal aliens are loose. Michael Magee, ICE deputy field director: 'All the people we're looking for are fugitives that were apprehended once already. The Border Patrol or investigations or inspections at the port of entry caught these people and then we let them go.'... 45% of the fugitives ICE catch are criminals. ICE Agents here in San Diego apprehend around 50 fugitive aliens every month. The problem is a hundred are added to the list every month... In San Diego, only four agents are assigned to fugitive operations full type. The field director says he has enough work for 18. On this night, they caught nine of their 13 targets, but because detention space is short, other illegal aliens will be released so the most dangerous stay behind bars until they're deported."
2004-04-08 16:03PDT (19:03EDT) (23:03GMT)
Green tea helps kill form of leukemia
"A component of green tea helps kill cells of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the second most common leukemia in American adults, according to new research. Mayo Clinic researchers found that the component, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), destroys leukemia cells by interrupting the communication signals they need to survive. The research appears online in the journal _Blood_... Mayo scientists found that EGCG prompted leukemia cells to die in 8 of 10 patient samples tested in a laboratory."
Hemayet Hossain _Bangladesh New Nation_
US firms lobbying to raise H-1B visas: Bush's immigration reform plan faces strong challenge
"Meanwhile, since the United States government has reduced the number of H-1B visas substantially, different American companies have expressed strong resentment failing to appoint foreign professionals. For instance, Rockwell Scientific Company is heavily dependent on meritorious professionals from outside the US. Chief Executive of the company Derek Chiang says he has not been getting adequate number of professionals in the US for manufacturing high-tech products... However, critics of the H-1B Visa Programme say that many companies have been using the programme as a weapon for importing foreign workers at lower prices."
John M. Broder _NY Times_
Voters in Los Angeles Suburb Say No to a Big WM
"Voters in Inglewood, CA, have rejected a ballot initiative to permit the building of a 60-acre WM shopping complex exempt from most state and local regulation."
Melissa Sanford _NY Times_
Illinois Tells Mormons It Regrets Expulsion
"Illinois officials went to Salt Lake City on Wednesday to apologize for the expulsion of the faith's earliest members and the killing of its founder, Joseph Smith... The events that led to Wednesday's meeting began in 1839, when the Mormons, having fled persecution in Missouri (and before that in New York and Ohio), founded the Mississippi River town of Nauvoo, IL. The town prospered, but its rapid growth and strong voting power, along with further religious bias, drew outsiders' antagonism. Smith was also besieged by dissension within the church. As mayor of the town, he ordered the suppression of the dissidents and, when violence resulted, called out the Nauvoo militia. The Illinois authorities arrested him and his brother Hyrum on charges of treason and conspiracy, and jailed them in the town of Carthage. A mob stormed the jail on 1844-06-27, and killed the brothers. Expulsion followed 2 years later... Illinois is now home to 50K Mormons. They rebuilt their Nauvoo temple in 2002, and more than 300K people a year visit the town."
Jeff Gerth & Stephen Labaton _NY Times_
Oman's Oil Yield Long in Decline, Shell Data Show
"The decline in oil production raises doubts about whether new technology can extend the life of mature oil fields."
Jonathan D. Glater _NY Times_
Tyco Case Puts New Focus on Issues of Criminal Intent
"The question of whether an executive who does something questionable without criminal intent is guilty was central to the out-come of the Tyco trial."
2004-04-08 17:16PDT (20:16EDT) (2004-04-09 00:16GMT)
Carolyn Pritchard _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
3 former CA execs plead guilty
"Three former top Computer Associates International executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges in a New York court Thursday as part of a continuing investigation into the software company's accounting practices. They also agreed to cooperate with investigators, according to media reports. Computer Associates also said that it has fired Steven Woghin, the company's former general counsel, effective immediately. Former CFO Ira Zar and 2 former senior vice presidents for finance, David Rivard and David Kaplan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, the company said late Thursday... Zar faces as much as 20 years in prison. The other 2 face 5 years for each of the two charges, according to Reuters. Islandia, NY-based Computer Associates announced in early 2003 October that its audit committee had concluded that the company had prematurely recognized revenue in fiscal 2000 on the basis of software license agreements that were signed in a later quarter... The SEC also filed actions Thursday against the 3 executives, charging each of them with committing accounting fraud while at the company, according to media reports... In late January, former vice president of finance Lloyd Silverstein pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. Silverstein admitted to lying about the company's accounting practices in an interview with the Securities and Exchange Commission and FBI agents in 2002 September."
2004-04-09 05:26:56PDT (08:26:56EDT) (12:26:56GMT)
More Firms to Hire New College Grads
"nearly 1-in-4 hiring managers expect to add jobs... In its 2004 _Life at Work_ survey, CareerBuilder.com found that 21% of hiring managers plan to hire more than 100 workers this year as compared to 13% in last year's survey. And, CareerBuilder chief executive Matt Furgeson says 71% of hiring managers plan to hire [new] college grads, compared to 65% last year."
2004-04-09 12:36PDT (15:36EDT) (19:36GMT)
Ledyard King _Gannett_/_Arizona Republic_
State governments also shipping jobs over-seas
"Forty-one states are contracting with companies that use workers in India to answer questions from U.S. welfare recipients about state food stamp programs and other benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which monitors the food stamp program. States are also directly or indirectly hiring companies in Canada, Mexico and over-seas for technology consulting, software programming and records processing - work that can be done with a computer from any corner of the world. Of the $3.8G in technology spending states will out-source this year, nearly 5% will go off-shore, according to Gartner Dataquest, which analyzes work force technology trends. Gartner projects that will double in two years. Many states aren't sure how much of their residents' tax dollars are paying foreign workers' salaries. That's because the companies they hire may sub-contract the work to other companies over-seas. Some legislatures and governors are asking state agencies to investigate how much work is being sub-contracted over-seas. A cursory review by Washington state found that 29 of 41 state agencies and higher education institutions had some work done out of the country since 2002."
2004-04-09 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
"Many [illegal aliens] are working in some of the country's largest businesses and corporations... Last October, federal agents raided 61 WM stores arresting 250 illegal workers. The retail giant now faces stiff penalties, but these raids are more the exception than the rule. In 1990 more than 14K employers were fined for hiring illegal workers. By 2000 only 178 faced fines. The Bush administration has proposed spending $23M more next year for immigration and customs enforcement to verify worker documentation. But still, fewer than 2,500 agents will be assigned to interior enforcement to track more than 10M illegal aliens... Walter Wriston says this country imports more jobs than he exports... Walt Wriston served as chairman and CEO of Citibank and then CityCorp for 17 years... That is simply to lower wages. It has nothing to do with productivity. Period."
Carl Hulse & Micheline Maynard _NY Times_
Senate Approves Deal For Companies to Under-Fund Pensions by $80G
"it failed to afford the same financial benefits to some smaller union pension funds... The legislation, a top priority of business groups, saves companies substantial amounts on their pension plans by changing the way their required contributions are calculated. The legislation ends a requirement that contributions be tied to interest rates on 30-year Treasury bonds; it substitutes a rate based on a composite of long-term corporate bonds for 2004 and 2005. A separate provision grants an estimated $1.6G in savings to airlines and steel companies with weak pension plans by allowing them to pay only 20% of what they would have to provide under requirements to bolster their pension funds."
Jon Kamman _Arizona Republic_
Maricopa county nearing state's 1990 population: May exceed in 2 years
"As of last July 1, the county had just under 3.4M residents, a gain of 317K since the official census count, dated 2000-04-01. With growth averaging 267 people a day, the county would reach the state's 1990 population of 3.67M around 2006 April... Two other Arizona counties were in the top 100 nationwide for numerical growth. Pima County ranked 35th, adding 49K residents, and Pinal was 84th, with a gain of 24K."
Dean Calbreath _San Diego Union-Tribune_
New unemployment compensation insurance claims at 3-year low but many jobs are low-paying, part-time, temp
"Of the 8.8M jobless people, 2.1M, or nearly 24%, have been out of work for more than 6 months. That's up from 724K, or 11% of the total, in 2001 March. On average, it takes a jobless worker more than 20 weeks to find a job, one of the longest search periods in years. Part-time workers. The vast bulk of the workers who joined the labor force last month were temporary or part-time workers. Nearly 5M part-timers say they want full-time jobs but can't find them, compared with 1.5M workers 3 years ago. In California, 57% of the people who are on unemployment have completed temporary jobs and have not been able to find full-time employment... Only 65.9% of adults participate in the labor force ñ the lowest figure since the recession of 1991-92... 74K jobs, or nearly a quarter of the new jobs added, were in the relatively low-paying retail and hospitality sectors -- not the type of work that will help the economy surge forward."
Marisa Taylor _San Diego Union-Tribune_
Feds say 31 Northrup Grumman employees were illegal immigrants
"Federal agents arrested 31 immigrants yesterday on charges of working illegally for a San Diego division of the global defense giant Northrop Grumman. The immigrants worked as welders, mechanics, painters and pipe fitters at the shipyard of Continental Maritime, a Navy ship maintenance and repair contractor with more than 700 San Diego employees. Nine of the detained immigrants had criminal records for theft, drug trafficking, domestic violence and other offenses, federal officials said. Most of the workers were arrested at their homes. During the arrests, agents also detained 12 other people as illegal immigrants, none of them associated with Northrop. The arrests marked the second time this year that illegal immigrants have been found working at a local division of Northrop, a $26G defense enterprise that employs 123K worldwide... In San Diego County, only one business owner, whose company hired workers for major hotels, has been prosecuted for hiring illegal workers since 2000, and he was given probation. No business has been fined."
Karl Schoenberger _San Jose Mercury News_
Infosys forms separate firm to promote off-shoring
"India's second-largest software company, Infosys Technologies, announced Thursday that it is expanding operations in Fremont with a new management-consulting subsidiary to advise technology companies on shipping software-development work off-shore... with a target of hiring 500 consultants over 3 years, Kennedy said. The new jobs would be open to senior executives trained in business consulting, and not aimed at local technology workers, Kennedy said. Infosys, a $1G company based in Bangalore and listed on the Nasdaq, has a U.S. work-force of about 4K, including about 2,200 Indian technology workers in the country on temporary H-1B and L-1 visas, she said."
Linda Rosencrance _ComputerWorld_
Tech job cuts fall to 3-year low in 2004 Q1: off-shore out-sourcing is slowing job creation
"Planned work-force reductions in the technology sector in the U.S. plummeted to 29,513 in the first quarter of this year, the lowest level in more than 3 years, according to Chicago-based out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. First-quarter job cuts in the high-tech sector, which includes telecommunications, electronics, computer and e-commerce, were 64% lower than the 82,328 cuts posted in the previous quarter and 52% lower than the 61,032 cuts announced in the first quarter of 2003, the firm said. The first-quarter figure is the lowest since 2001 January, when Challenger began issuing its high-tech job-cut reports. Technology cuts represented 11.2% of the 262,840 job cuts announced in all industries during the first quarter, down from 17% in the first quarter of 2003. In contrast, technology accounted for 32% of all cuts in 2002 and 36% of all cuts in 2001, according to Challenger."
2004-04-10 01:54PDT (04:54EDT) (08:54GMT)
Ciara Linnane _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks face earnings, data blitz in coming week
"The Dow ended the holiday-shortened week at 10,442, down 0.3% from a week ago. The Nasdaq composite was down 0.2% at 2,052. The S&P 500 lost 0.2% to 1,139... Thursday's action... The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 38.12 points, or 0.4% at 10,442.03, after falling to an intraday low of 10,393.91 on news of a bomb alert in Paris. In early action, the benchmark index climbed as high as 10,554.10. The Nasdaq Composite was up 2.64 points, or 0.1% at 2,052.88, well off its session of high of 2,075.33. The tech-rich index got some support from gains in the chip sector, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index rising 0.9%. Other technology sectors were also moving higher, most notably Internet stocks on the back of Yahoo's first-quarter earnings performance. The S&P 500 was down 0.1% at 1,139.33, while the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks fell 3.76 points, or 0.6% to 597.88. On the broader market, decliners out-paced gainers by a 21 to 11 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, and by a 16 to 14 score on the Nasdaq. Volume was light, with 1.19G shares traded on the NYSE, and 1.68G on the Nasdaq."
Eduardo Porter _NY Times_
A Shortage of Seasonal Workers Is Feared
"Even as economists worry about the lack-luster growth in employment, and politicians rail against the loss of jobs to over-seas out-sourcing, many employers across the country are sounding alarms about an impending shortage of foreign temporary workers this summer... With this year's limit of 66K already reached, the employers are pressing for an immediate increase. Otherwise, many of the companies say, their businesses will be in jeopardy - and so will the jobs of many Americans who also work for those businesses... It is the first time since the H-2B visa program began 14 years ago that the annual limit has been reached, and the reasons are disputed... employers simply want cheaper foreign workers and could get local applicants if they simply paid more."
Piracy and Terrorism
"More action is required to control piracy on the high seas, one of the world's most serious forms of organized crime and a magnet for terrorists."
Ledyard King _Indianapolis Star_
States feel heat to curb off-shoring of jobs and work
"Forty-one states, including Indiana, are contracting with companies that use workers in India to answer questions from U.S. welfare recipients about state food stamp programs and other benefits, according to the Department of Agriculture, which monitors the food stamp program... Of the $3.8G in technology spending states will out-source this year, nearly 5% will go off-shore, according to Gartner Dataquest, which analyzes work-force technology trends. Gartner projects that will double in two years. Some legislatures and governors are asking state agencies to investigate how much work is being sub-contracted over-seas. A cursory review by Washington state found that 29 of 41 state agencies and higher education institutions had some work done out of the country since 2002."
Don Lee _LA Times_
California Posts Weak Job Growth in March
"Non-farm employers statewide added a skimpy 5,200 net jobs in March, suffering from hefty cuts in government and manufacturing, state officials said Friday... Moreover, California's Employment Development Department revised downward its jobs tally for February. Employment fell by 2,300 that month, they said, versus a previously estimated rise of 8,800... California's unemployment rate rose to 6.5% in March from 6.3% the previous month... Northern California, in particular, continues to be a drag on the rest of the state economy... In March, 6 of the state's 11 major sectors added jobs, but only 1 -- trade, transportation and utilities -- showed significant pay-roll increases, adding 11,800 positions. And that gain was largely offset by continuing cuts in manufacturing and government... In California, construction showed virtually no employment growth, and the sprawling professional and business services sector lost 1,300 jobs. The high-paying information sector declined by 2,500. On the positive side, financial-activities businesses, boosted by the solid housing market, added 2,700 jobs over the month. State and local agencies reported a drop of 6K jobs last month. In the last 12 months, public-sector employment in California has shrunk by 56,900 jobs, or 2.3% of its total pay-rolls. By comparison, government payrolls nationally have declined by 0.2% in the same period... Larry Lisenbee, San Jose's budget director...said San Jose, which hasn't recovered from the high-tech down-turn, trimmed 230 jobs in the current fiscal year and would probably need to erase 300 to 400 jobs in July... In the last 12 months, non-farm employment in the Bay Area has fallen by 1.6%, or 51,400 jobs, while the seven-county Southern California area has grown by 33,400, an annual growth rate of 0.4%."
Frosty Wooldridge _Mich News_
Immigration from a Border Patrolman's Holster: Part 2: Quagmire of filth across the desert
"This is second in a series exposing the vulnerability of our southern borders to infiltration by any terrorist who wants access to the United States. Mexican drug rings and coyotes cross our borders at will 24/7. They bring in 75% of all illegal drugs sold on the streets of America. As for human cargoes, they charge from $1,500 to $3,500 per client... once illegal aliens make their way into the United States, they earn money to send for their relatives... illegal aliens & legal immigrants alike send $15G back to Mexico annually... They send their poorest and least educated into our country and let us pay to educate their children... You have to wonder why Arizona's Kolbe, Flake and McCain keep doing everything they can do to help illegal aliens, instead of representing American citizens. The same goes for Chris Cannon and Orin Hatch of Utah. Let's not forget Mark Udall and Diana Degette of Colorado. Those are the folks who vote for H-1B visas, L-1 visas, Dream Act, out-sourcing, off-shoring and everything else they can to help other people from other nations."
Tina Rosenberg _NY Times_
What the World Needs Now Is DDT
"Malaria kills millions of people every year. The careful use of DDT in developing countries could drastically reduce that number. So why are we standing in the way?"
Joel Wachman _Boston Globe_
A geek's fall from grace
"As far as jobs are concerned, I'm a serial monogamist. I'm not the type to go moon-lighting on clandestine contracts, or sneaking around with a fresh résumé in my brief-case. But last year, after a long period of wondering exactly where our relationship was going, my employer and I finally split up. Actually, I was dumped. Caught in a round of lay-offs. I did all those things you do after a difficult break-up: I changed my e-mail address and eradicated my boss from my PDA. It didn't take me long to get out there and start looking again. After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Only it's been different this time around."
2004-04-11 18:51PDT (21:51EDT) (2004-04-12 01:51GMT)
Alan M. Webber _USA Today_
Abusive firms will pay when workers make escape
"The bad news has been the lack of new job creation... This beneath-the-surface issue isn't jobs. It's work. Specifically, it's the growing recognition by workers that corporate leaders have so abused them during the recent recession that, when a job-producing recovery really kicks in, as appears to be happening, companies will suffer a tsunami-like wave of employee defection. The disruption will be enormous; the costs, astronomical. And the signs are already there that foreshadow just how serious the problem could become. According to a recent study by Spherion, a Florida-based [body shop], workers are already gathering at the doors of many companies. The study found that 51% of the 3K workers interviewed wanted to leave their jobs, and 75% said they were likely to leave within one year. Both percentages are substantially higher than the numbers from Spherion's 1997 study."
2004-04-11 19:38PDT (22:38EDT) (2004-04-12 02:38GMT)
Dennis Cauchon _USA Today_
Rising property extortions scare off home-buyers
"Property taxes are taking center-stage in the debate over taxes. Many homeowners are grumbling about sky-rocketing tax bills, which are driven by higher home prices. And many state legislatures are looking for new ways to tame the most unpopular of all taxes... Business, in particular, has won important property-tax reductions in recent years ó some by challenging assessments, others by getting laws passed. Ohio reduced taxes on utilities and business inventories. New Hampshire approved an exemption for telephone poles. Oklahoma eliminated taxes on pollution control equipment in oil refineries, one of 17 exemptions added in recent years. Still, businesses pay higher property-tax rates than homeowners in most states, which can hurt a state's economy. The Arizona Legislature has created zones where property taxes are low to attract businesses such as Intel to the state. State law there normally taxes businesses at 2Ω times the rate of home-owners."
2004-04-11 23:29PDT (2004-04-12 02:29EDT) (2004-04-12 06:29GMT)
Michelle Kessler _USA Today_
Dot-com bust isn't over for workers
"Four years after the dot-com bust, some tech companies are still slashing staff and restructuring operations... These ongoing restructurings show how far the tech industry has fallen since 2000, and how slowly it's recovering. Nearly every tech company ordered cuts after the bust of 2000, but many underestimated the length of the downturn, says CIO magazine publisher Gary Beach. Tech spending is up 1.4% this year, says technology research firm Gartner. That's far below boom-era growth, says Gartner analyst Marcus Blosch... If workers constantly fear for their jobs, morale suffers. Customers may bolt. And constant confusion can make it tough to get things done, Scott says."
2004-04-12 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester & Kitty Pilgrim & Christine Romans _CNN_
illegal aliens, education
"An astonishing break-down in airport security. 130 illegal aliens board commercial aircraft in Los Angeles and fly to the East Coast... For the second time in 4 days, customs agents have captured and arrested dozens of illegal aliens at Newark Liberty Airport. The illegal aliens were detained after they had flown across the country from California... When passengers on Continental Flight 1803 from Los Angeles to Newark got off the plane Thursday, customs and border agents were waiting for them at the gate; 88 illegal aliens were detained. On Saturday, 42 more illegal aliens were stopped traveling on a Continental and American Airlines flight on the same route. The Department of Homeland Security is investigating how the passengers were able to board the planes. They may have used Mexican matricula cards, which are accepted as valid forms of I.D. by the Transportation Security Administration. Peter Gadiel, whose son died in the 9/11 attacks, says the U.S. government needs tougher screening standards... The Department of Homeland Security says TSA does not have the authority to enforce immigration laws... smugglers may be trying different routes now that security has been tightened along the Arizona border. Instead of traveling by land, it may be easier to take a flight. The Department of Homeland Security initially proposed including immigration status in the new airport prescreening program called CAPPS-2, so, if someone's immigration information did not check out, it would automatically be red-flagged. But [some] privacy groups said this was going too far... Teachers who scored in the top quarter of SATs and had higher grades in college tended to work in private schools and at the high school level... The government says we now pay on average $1.79 for a gallon of gas in this country and will spike another 20 cents this summer."
Drought Worsens Across West and Threat of Wildfires Grows
"From the brittle hill-sides of Southern California to the drying fields of Idaho, from Montana to New Mexico, water supplies are dwindling and the threat of wild-fires is rising."
Laurie J. Flynn _NY Times_
Presidential Politics Divide Silicon Valley
"Marc Andreessen, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who in 1995 made a fortune taking Netscape public, is not returning calls from the Democratic Party these days. In the last 2 election cycles, Mr. Andreessen donated $350K to Democratic candidates, including a single $250K check to the Democratic National Committee during Al Gore's 2000 run for the White House. He even held a dinner at his home in Palo Alto, CA, for John Kerry's Senate campaign in 2000. But for now, he is sitting this one out. 'If they're going to run on an anti-business message, forget me.', he said. Mr. Andreessen is angered by Senator Kerry's position on out-sourcing, the growing trend of farming out white-collar technical jobs to lower-wage countries like India and [Red China]."
Brad Stone _NBC_
Some firms are having second thoughts about off-shore out-sourcing
"Frances Karamouzis, an analyst at Gartner Research, says the return trips often have more to do with the poor communication and organization on this shore. 'Companies are focusing on relentless cost-cutting and are off-shoring their problems rather than finding a true business solution.' So how will U.S. companies control the costs of their off-shoring ventures while maintaining quality and tight managerial control? [By buying foreign firms where they can.] Experts say U.S. companies may also have to lower their expectations about the types of tasks workers over-seas can do well. G.V. Dasarthi, a mechanical engineer in India, says that developing new technologies is not yet his country's specialty. He recently wrote an online article arguing that there isn't much support for innovation or creative thinking in India.... In the meantime, the real innovation seems to be in finding new ways to sell it to an uneasy public."
Stan Gibson _eWeek_
It's Time to UpDate the Trade Laws
"Workers displaced by off-shoring services need assistance, and extending the Trade Act of 1974 to cover them is well within the spirit of the original measure... groups such as the IEEE-USA, which counts electrical engineers and computer professionals among its members, will have to remain content to decry the short-term tech job loss -- a phenomenon that the ITAA admits..."
Don Lee _Los Angeles Times_
Firms Have a Long List of California Turn-Offs
"'Workman's comp is a big issue, but it's just one of many items.', Monia said, rattling off a list of California's comparatively high operating costs: energy, rents, labor, taxes. 'Even the garbage costs are cheaper in Nevada.'... The exodus of businesses and jobs to lower-cost states like Nevada has picked up in the last year, experts say. Now, with the economy gaining steam, many companies are nearing a point where they must decide whether to expand in California or invest and create jobs elsewhere. Many have already made up their minds. In a recent survey for the California Business Roundtable, consultants reported that nearly 30% of 50 California companies interviewed had explicit policies to move jobs out of state if possible. And half said they planned to avoid adding jobs in California. Some cited high housing costs, others the widening gap between operating expenses in California and other states."
John Pardon _Computer World_
Lost Your Job Yet?
"I rebelled at my former employer's 'wage compression', out-sourcing and [ab]use of H-1B and L-1 visa holders. One year ago, I resigned my IT job at NCR Corp., a Fortune 500 company based in Dayton, OH, because I was too disgusted and demoralized to continue working in a profession I [had previously] enjoyed after my employer made it evident that American workers are disposable and replaceable no matter how loyal, productive, competent or well educated. I concluded there was no future for me at NCR or in IT. Like many other corporations, NCR was indifferent to its employees and American society"
Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
Arafat's courtship of Hamas
2004-04-12 17:38PDT (20:38EDT) (2004-04-13 00:38GMT)
Thomas Kostigen _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Price of milk expected to rise
"The price of milk is expected to reach record highs this year, increasing about 50 cents per gallon by as soon as next month, according to some analysts. The price for a gallon of milk already shot through the $3 mark this month, up from $2.85 in March. The Department of Agriculture predicts higher raw milk prices will create an increase of between 4% to 6% in retail prices for all dairy products this year. Dairy product prices typically increase between just 1% to 2% per year, according to the USDA. Mad cow disease, fewer growth hormones and higher feed prices are behind the price jump. Last year, milk prices had been on the down-swing, hitting record lows. Dairy-futures traders are having a field day... The CME trades contracts in 4 different dairy products: Class III milk (cheese), Class IV milk (skim milk and cream), non-fat dry milk and butter. These contracts provide price indicators for retail products in months to come. However, because volume and trading has been inconsistent in the fresh market, price indicators aren't as reliable as other commodity futures (i.e. crude oil), analysts note."
2004-04-13 (02:42CDT) (03:42EDT) (07:42GMT)
Brian Bakst _AP_/_KSTP TV_
Minnesota senate adopts minimum-wage hike
"Seven years after the last increase, the Minnesota Senate voted 36-30 Tuesday to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.65 over the next 16 months. The vote might be more symbolic than anything because the GOP-led House has shown no interest in considering the issue this year. Sen. Ellen Anderson's bill would raise the minimum wage, which now matches the federal rate, in 2 increments. Effective July 1 of this year, it would rise to $5.90 an hour, and on 2005-07-01 to $6.65. For employers with annual gross sales of less than $500K, who are not covered by the federal minimum, the rate would rise from $4.90 an hour to $6.40, also in 2 steps."
2004-04-13 02:29PDT (05:29EDT) (09:29GMT)
Osamu Tsukimori _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Infosys net profit for the quarter up 30%
"Infosys Technologies Ltd., India's leading [IT body shop], said Tuesday its quarterly group net profit rose 30% from a year ago on robust sales of software development services. Its consolidated net income for the quarter ended March 31 rose to 3.37G rupees ($77M ) from 2.59G rupees. Its sales topped the $1G mark, the company said in a statement. Infosys said it will conduct a 3-for-1 stock split in the form of giving 3 bonus shares for each share owned and will pay a special dividend of 100 rupees per existing share."
2004-04-13 02:39PDT (05:39EDT) (09:39GMT)
Osamu Tsukimori _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tokyo stocks close at 32-month high
"The Nikkei Average closed at a fresh 32-month high Tuesday as tech and banking issues gained on optimism for Japan's economic recovery. The Nikkei Average gained 85 points, or 0.7%, at 12,127.82, its highest close since 2001-08-08. The broader Topix was up 10 points, or 0.8%, at 1,216.60, also its highest finish since 2001-08-08."
2004-04-13 06:40PDT (09:40EDT) (13:40GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retail sales up 1.8% in March
census bureau report
"U.S. retail sales rose 1.8% in March, the fastest growth in a year, the Commerce Department estimated Tuesday. Sales at most types of retail stores were healthy in March. Auto sales increased 2.1%. Excluding autos, sales increased 1.7%, the biggest increase in 4 years. Read the full release. Core sales excluding cars and gas also rose 1.8%, the biggest gain since 2001 October... Retail sales in the first quarter were up 2.3% from the fourth quarter. Retail sales are up 8.2% over 2003 March levels. Sales excluding autos are up 8.5% in the past year. The figures are not adjusted for price changes."
2004-04-13 13:44PDT (16:44EDT) (20:44GMT)
_San Diego Union-Tribune_
Dell employs more people outside the USA than in
"Computer maker Dell Inc. has more workers over-seas than it does in the United States, reversing the makeup of its work force of just a year ago. Round Rock[, TX]-based Dell said it was allocating resources where growth has been fastest, including [Red China] and Japan... Dell had 46K employees as of January 30. About 22,200 of those, or 48.3%, were in the United States, while 23,800 people, or 51.7%, worked in other countries, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. A year ago, 54.2% of Dell's workers were in the United States, according to company filings. Dell's work force grew 17.6% during 2003."
2004-04-13 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Iraq, terrorism, educationism
2004-04-13 16:01PDT (19:01EDT) (23:01GMT)
Clint Swett _Sacramento Bee_
Apple shuts down manufacturing in Elk Grove
"Apple Computer on Tuesday shut down its manufacturing operations in Elk Grove, idling a reported 235 workers as it attempts to cut costs in the cut-throat computer-making business. The company said it will continue to run other operations at its facility on Laguna Boulevard..."
Michael Luo _NY Times_
Taxi-Cab Industry Is No Free Market in NYC
"[He] drives his yellow taxi-cab 7 days a week, usually 14 or 15 hours at a time. On a decent day, he stumbles back home with $150 after expenses -- including about $100 to lease the New York City taxi medallion on his hood... has been scrambling to come up with $25K, down payment on a dream he has long been nursing -- buying his own medallion. Hundreds of drivers in the city, many of them struggling immigrants..., have been doing the same, conferring with their banks, cajoling relatives and checking their savings, in preparation for a rare city auction this month of taxi medallions, which are expected to fetch more than $250K apiece. They are simply the aluminum shields affixed to taxi hoods; they bestow the seemingly unromantic right to operate a yellow taxicab in this city, the only kind of cab allowed to pick up street hails. But for generations of immigrants who first found their way in this country as cabbies, the medallions have stood for something far more precious: the chance to work for themselves and perhaps clamber up a few rungs in the economic ladder... On April 23, he will sweat it out with a few hundred other aspiring owners in an auditorium, awaiting the opening of sealed bids for 126 new medallions. Over the next 3 years, the city will auction off 300 medallions each year, only the second such sale since the city capped the number of licensed taxis in 1937 and representing the largest expansion of the city's taxi fleet since the Depression. By law, about 40% will be sold to individual owner-drivers and the rest to corporate taxi fleets, which rent out the medallions. The corporate auction takes place this Friday."
2004-04-14 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
_Dept. of Commerce_
US International Trade in Goods & Services
"The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that total February exports of $92.4G and imports of $134.5G resulted in a goods and services deficit of $42.1G, $1.4G less than the $43.5G in January, revised. February exports were $3.5G more than January exports of $88.8G. February imports were $2.2G more than January imports of $132.3G... The January to February change in exports of goods reflected increases in capital goods ($1.5G); industrial supplies and materials ($0.7G); consumer goods ($0.3G); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.3G); other goods ($0.2G); and foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.1G). The January to February change in imports of goods reflected increases in industrial supplies and materials ($2.0G); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.7G); other goods ($0.3G); and foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.2G). Decreases occurred in capital goods ($0.8G) and consumer goods ($0.6G). The February 2003 to February 2004 change in exports of goods reflected increases in capital goods ($3.2G); industrial supplies and materials ($1.9G); consumer goods ($1.1G); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.4G); foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.3G); and other goods ($0.3G). The February 2003 to February 2004 change in imports of goods reflected increases in industrial supplies and materials ($3.6G); capital goods ($2.9G); consumer goods ($1.8G); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($1.6G); foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.7G); and other goods ($0.2G). Services exports increased $0.4G from January to February. The increase was mostly accounted for by increases in travel, other private services (which includes items such as business, professional, and technical services, insurance services, and financial services), and other transportation (which includes freight and port services). Changes in the other categories of services exports were small. Services imports increased $0.3G from January to February. The increase was mostly accounted for by increases in travel, other private services, other transportation, and direct defense expenditures. Changes in the other categories of services imports were small... The February figures showed surpluses with Hong Kong $0.7G (for January $0.3G), Australia $0.6G (for January $0.4G), Singapore $0.2G (for January $0.1G), Egypt $0.2G (for January $0.2G), and Brazil $0.1G (for January deficit of $0.4G). Deficits were recorded with [Red China] $8.3G (for January $11.5G), Western Europe $8.1G (for January $6.6G), the European Union $7.4G (for January $5.9G), Japan $6.1G (for January $5.3G), Canada $5.0G (for January $5.3G), OPEC $4.7G (for January $4.7G), Mexico $3.6G (for January $3.0G), Korea $0.9G (for January $1.5G), and Taiwan $0.7G (for January $1.1G). Advanced technology products (ATP) exports were $16.0G in February and imports were $16.7G, resulting in a deficit of $0.7G. February exports were $1.3G more than the $14.7G in January, while imports were virtually the same as in January."
2004-04-14 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Record exports in February decrease net trade deficit: Exports from US up 4%, biggest gain since 1996 October
"As a result of higher exports for autos, industrial supplies, and civilian aircraft, the U.S. trade gap narrowed 3.2% in February to $42.1G... The January trade gap was revised slightly higher to $43.5G from the initial estimate of $43.1G. Both exports and imports rose in February, but exports rose faster than imports. February exports rose $3.5G, or 4.0%, to a record $92.4G... Imports rose $2.2G, or 1.6%, to a record $134.5G in February. Exports of goods surged 5.1 pct to $65.1G for the month. This is the largest increase since 1994 March. The increase was widespread, with all sectors recording increases. Exports of capital goods had the largest increase, rising 5.9% to $27.3G. This is the highest level since 2001 May... The U.S. trade deficit with [Red China] widened to $8.3G in February compared with $7.6G in the same month last year, but well below the monthly record of $13.6G set last October. Imports from [Red China] were the lowest since last March. The February trade deficit with Mexico totaled $3.6G, the highest since 2003 March."
2004-04-14 06:19PDT (09:19EDT) (13:19GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
CPI increased 0.5% in March: Core up 0.4%, biggest gain since 2001 November
latest CPI report
"Energy prices jumped 1.9%... The CPI increased 0.3% in February and 0.5% in January. The core rate rose 0.2% in both months. The CPI is up 1.7% in the past 12 months, but it's risen at a 5.1% rate in the past 3 months. The core rate, up 1.6% in the past 12 months, has risen at a 2.9% annual rate over the past three months. In a separate report, the Commerce Department said the biggest increase in exports in nearly 8 years helped shrink the nation's trade gap to $42.1G in February from $43.5G in January... In March, energy prices were the main inflationary force, rising 1.9% after gaining 1.7% in February and 4.7% in January. Gasoline prices rose 5.5% in March and are up 86.6% year-to-date. Yet energy prices are up just 0.4% in the past 12 months... Core commodities, adjusted to exclude food and energy, increased 0.1%, the second increase in a row after 18 months of declines. Services excluding energy increased 0.5%."
2004-04-14 06:31PDT (09:31EDT) (13:31GMT)
Emily Church _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Fund managers see inflation rising: Japan favored over UK, Europe, Red China
"Global fund managers have turned more cautious on the prospects for growth as they grow more sceptical about the Chinese economy, a survey released Wednesday showed. More fund managers believe the Chinese economy will weaken over the next 12 months than will strengthen, according to the influential monthly survey released by Merrill Lynch. Pessimism on Chinese growth prospects were last at similar levels in 2003 June amid the SARS scare."
2004-04-14 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
Iraq, terrorism, borders, Israel
"Homeland Security is the largest domestic federal agency in the country, and what you may not know is that it employs thousands of private security guards to protect federal property, including our ports. One of those contracts is about to expire, and that could mean changes at one of the nation's busiest border crossings... More than 100 private security guards help protect 3 border crossings in the San Diego area, where some 160K people cross every day. The private security guards work for a company called U.S. Protect. And they help government customs and border officers under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security. But, as of midnight tomorrow, government funding for that contract will stop. U.S. Protect says there aren't enough government border patrol officers to do the job right, and they claim their private contractors have seized nearly 800 weapons in the last week at those crossings... 15K private security guards protect federal buildings all over the country. But border protection a different job entirely. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says only federally screened, federally trained people should do these jobs; 42K government employees work at the country's borders, as they put it, to look for terrorists and terrorist weapons. Up until now, Customs and Border Protection has paid part of the cost of the private security work force contract in San Diego. But today, they told us they don't want to continue it, saying, Customs and Border Protection do not want anyone but federal officers doing inspections and decided not to contribute to the contract... Border Patrol and ICE have said that they do not have adequate man power to protect our borders and ports..."
Tom Ramstack _Washington Times_
"'There just aren't enough Americans to go around.', [falsely claimed] Mr. Winkler, president of Hyattsville-based Winkler Pool Management Inc. Normally, he supplements his staff of about 1K employees with 80 foreign workers in the summer. They earn $7.50 per hour plus a housing subsidy. This year, when he applied to the federal government for H-2B visas for the foreigners, he got none... The H-2B non-immigrant program allows employers to hire foreign workers for temporary non-agricultural work, which can include onetime jobs, seasonal or intermittent labor... American workers tend to shun the temporary jobs either because of low pay, few benefits or the short-term employment opportunity, employers say... The 7M-employee construction and supply industry increases its work force by 11% between winter and summer... Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, has introduced legislation to raise the cap placed on the number of H-2B workers. An identical bill is pending in the House."
Jason Main _Newark Ohio Advocate_
Extended economic forecast looks bright for most
"Brian Wesbury, chief economist for Chicago-based investment bank Griffin, Kubik, Stephens & Thompson Inc., spoke to local business leaders about economic trends Tuesday at the Reese Center on the Newark campus of the Ohio State University... In 1970, technology-based business accounted for 0.2% of the economy, Wesbury said. By 2000, high-tech investment was 4.7% of the economy, growing 3 times faster than the economy as a whole, he said... Within a decade, give or take, technology will account for 10% to 12% of gross domestic product, he said. Increased technological innovation has led to higher productivity and eliminated the need for many manufacturing jobs, Wesbury said. While the number of workers in manufacturing has stayed about the same over the past 30 years, their proportion to the total work-force has shrunk. Facilities that employed perhaps 30 people in the past can now get by with only a handful or even one worker without losing productivity, he said..."
2004-04-15 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Thomas Stengle _Dept. of Labor Employment & Training Admin._
Unemployment compensation insurance weekly claims
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 348,232 in the week ending April 10, an increase of 44,319 from the previous week. There were 434,911 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.5% during the week ending April 3, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,125,523, a decrease of 191,533 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.9% and the volume was 3,701,064. Extended benefits were available in Alaska during the week ending March 27. 53 states reported that 77,173 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending March 27... The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 27 were in Alaska (6.2%), Puerto Rico (4.3%), Michigan (4.2%), Pennsylvania (4.1%), Oregon (4.0%), Wisconsin (3.7%), Massachusetts (3.6%), New Jersey (3.6%), Idaho (3.5%), Rhode Island (3.4%), and Washington (3.4%). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 3 were in Pennsylvania (+1,784), Georgia (+1,656), Illinois (+1,543), Texas (+1,165), and Ohio (+1,019), while the largest decreases were in New York (-2,783), California (-1,913), North Carolina (-1,481), Oregon (-1,080), and South Carolina (-885)."
2004-04-15 05:32PDT (08:32EDT) (12:32GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US unemployment compensation insurance claims highest in a month
"The seasonally adjusted 4-week average of first-time filings for state unemployment benefits rose by 6,750 to 344,250, the highest level since March 6... Meanwhile, the number of workers receiving state benefits fell below 3M for the first time since the summer of 2001. Continuing claims dropped 22K to 2.98M."
2004-04-15 07:20PDT (10:20EDT) (14:20GMT)
Expert warns California to brace for big quake by September
"Russian-born University of California at Los Angeles professor Vladimir Keilis-Borok says he can foresee major quakes by tracking minor temblors and historical patterns in seismic hot-spots that could indicate more violent shaking is on the way. And he has made a chilling prediction that a quake measuring at least 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale will hit a 31,200-square-kilometer (12K-square-mile) area of southern California by September 5. The team at UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics accurately predicted a 6.5-magnitude quake in central California last December as well as an 8.1-magnitude temblor that struck the Japanese island of Hokkaido in September."
2004-04-15 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
Americans accuse Palestinians of bias, Iraq, terrorism, over-medication of students
"General Peter Pace, vice chair of the joint chiefs of staff: 'We have the capacity with 2.4M individuals available to us active Guard and Reserve to handle this ongoing war and anything that I can think of that's on the horizon.'... There are an estimated 15K civilian contract security guards working now in Iraq, many of them from the United States... they face many of the same dangers as the much more heavily armed U.S. troops. Private security guards, however,earn as much as $500 a day... Many middle-class families are having to pay what's known as the alternative minimum [extortion], a tax that was supposed to close loop-holes for the ultra-rich. But because the AMT was never adjusted for inflation, many middle-income wage earners are having to pay this tax... according to the Council on Budget and Policy Priorities, about 75% of American families pay more in Social Security and Medicare taxes than in income taxes... You know, I can remember 40 years ago...when the CIA funded centers, research centers and academic centers, not only in the United States, but all around Europe, and parts of Asia, where they assembled speakers and cultural experts and that funding was clandestine, certainly covert. Why in the world would we not [still] be doing that, and availing the resources rather than being so linear in the thinking?... Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar... Millions of children, in fact, are taking prescription drugs every day... An estimated 6M children in the United States take Ritalin every day. That's up 500% since 1990, the fastest-growing segment for anti-depressants is pre-schoolers 5 and under. Critics argue some drugs have not been fully tested on children, and their effects on developing brains are not fully known. Many diagnoses originate in school... Last year the House approved a bill that would ban schools from forcing drugs on children... A UCLA professor says a magnitude 6.4 quake will hit southern California between now and September 5... Dell for the first time has more employees outside the United States than in it: 22K here, almost 24K abroad. It has new technical and customer support centers in India, Panama, Morocco, Slovakia, and [Red China]. While the majority of Dell's work-force is abroad, the majority of its revenue still here..."
Marisa Taylor _San Diego Union-Tribune_
Private border guards' contract canceled
"The Department of Homeland Security is canceling a contract that pays for 105 private security guards who work at three California border crossings. The contract officers perform some of the same duties as government border inspectors, such as guarding illegal immigrants and manning X-ray machines. The $9M-a-year contract with USProtect ends at midnight today. The Silver Spring, MD, company provides more than 1K guards to federal agencies nationwide. Bill Anthony, a spokesman with Customs and Border Protection, which over-sees the inspectors at the border, said Homeland Security decided to cancel the contract as a national security measure. The guards were stationed at the San Ysidro, Otay Mesa and Calexico border crossings with roughly 1,500 government inspectors."
Dean Calbreath _San Diego Union-Tribune_
Low-wage jobs rapidly growing, middle-salary positions shrinking
"Nearly one-fourth of the jobs created in the county between 1999 and 2002 were for restaurant cooks and servers, with an average salary of $18,043 per year, according to a report released yesterday by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. The chamber's report warns that the rapid growth of low-income jobs is mirrored by a shrinkage in middle-wage jobs... Cunningham said the trend is similar to other parts of coastal California, including Orange County and Los Angeles. Other economists say it follows a nationwide trend in salary weakness... Of the 70,810 jobs created in San Diego County between 1999 and 2002, 42,320 ñ or 60% ñ paid less than $30K a year, according to the chamber's report. Leading the pack were 26,110 new office and administrative workers, earning an average of $29,703 a year; 15,880 cooks and servers, averaging $18,043; and 2,550 janitors and maintenance workers, averaging $22,167. Many of those salaries are far below the level needed for survival in San Diego, said Paul Karr, communications director at San Diego's Center on Policy Initiatives. In a recent study, the center estimated that a family of 4 requires at least $50K a year to provide such basic necessities as food, rent, clothing and child care. 'That doesn't include such costs as saving for college or the luxuries we all take for granted, such as birthdays, holidays and back-to-school expenses.', Karr said. 'As a regional local economy, relying on that kind of job growth is unsustainable, since we'll have a large class of folks who are unable to pay basic needs. How can they afford increased costs in housing, let alone gasoline, energy, child care?' From 1999 to 2002, the number of high-wage jobs, defined by the Chamber of Commerce as jobs that averaged above $55K in 2003, rose 8%. The most lucrative growth centers from 1999 to 2002 were for business and financial operations, which added 12,470 jobs at an average salary of $55,365; life, physical and social sciences, 8,070 jobs averaging $57,565; and computer and mathematical workers, 3,070 jobs averaging $67,743... The slowest employment growth was for jobs that paid between $30K and $55K, which rose only 2% between 1999 and 2002... a number of mid-range occupations shrank, including educators, designers and production workers."
Curt Anderson _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Terror Surveillance Up 85%
"The number of secret surveillance warrants sought by the FBI has increased 85% in the past 3 years, a pace that has out-stripped the Justice Department's ability to quickly process them. Even after warrants are approved, the FBI often does not have enough agents or other personnel with the expertise to conduct the surveillance. The FBI still is trying to build a cadre of translators who can understand conversations that are intercepted in such languages as Arabic, Pashto and Farsi."
Christopher Koch _CIO_
AT&T Wireless Self-Destructs
"A major CRM system had crashed during an upgrade, and customer service representatives could not set up or access new accounts... It deprived the telco of thousands of potential new customers and cost the company an estimated $100M in lost revenue. But that wasn't all. The failure so damaged AT&T Wireless's reputation that many analysts believe it hastened its sale to Cingular in February for $41G, or $15 per share, which was just under half the value of AT&T Wireless's shares when it went public in 2000 April... AT&T Wireless's CRM upgrade was ham-strung from almost the very beginning by rumors of out-sourcing deals and future lay-offs. These rumors generated pervasive morale problems that hurt the productivity of project staff. Second, it should be understood that complex projects require flexible dead-lines."
80% of companies that out-source HR functions would do so again
"More than three-fourths of executives at large North American and European companies that currently out-source one or more major human resources functions said they would do so again, according to a survey released today by The Conference Board and sponsored by Accenture [a prominent out-sourcer/bodyshopper believed to have engaged in fraud under the name Andersen Consulting]. 'HR Out-Sourcing: Benefits, Challenges and Trends' is The Conference Board's second study to track the benefits of human resources (HR) outsourcing and changes in the HR market-place. Based on the results of a survey of executives at more than 120 companies in North America and Europe with annual revenues of at least US$1G, the new study found that out-sourcing is now firmly embedded as part of HR service delivery."
William Welsh _Washington Technology_
States get tangled in contractor's out-sourcing moves
Laurie J. Flynn _NY Times_
Profit at Apple Almost Triples on a Sharp Rise in iPod Sales
"Apple Computer Inc. said that its profits nearly tripled in its second quarter because of iPod and note-book computer sales."
2004-04-15 22:00PDT (2004-04-16 01:00EDT) (2004-04-16 05:00GMT) (2004-04-16 07:00 Jerusalem)
Ilana Mercer _World Net Daily_
skilled trades initiative
"Last week, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced her _Skills to Build America's Future_ initiative. This is a 'nationwide outreach and education effort designed to attract young people and transitioning workers to' the 'key' occupations of the [near] future: 'skilled trades'... Essentially, the mathematically precocious -- youngsters with aptitudes for science, engineering or accounting -- must be yanked down to earth... Yet the IEEE-USA, the world's largest technical professional society -- representing more than 225K electrical, electronics, computer, and software engineers -- reports that 'American high-tech firms shed 560K jobs between 2001 and 2003, and expect to lose another 234K in 2004'. This contraction cannot be dismissed as the nadir of the dot-com correction. The jobless rate for electrical and electronics engineers was in fact lower in 2002 (4.2%) than in 2003 (6.2%). Meanwhile, the Computing Research Association's [CRA's] Taulbee's Survey found that total enrollment in bachelor-degree programs in computer science and computer engineering fell 19% in 2003, a factor it attributes to 'the decline in the technology industry and the moving of jobs off-shore'. (Curiously omitted are the impacts of the H-1B and L-1 work visas.) College administrators are already hip to Ms. Chao's future. For example, San Francisco State University is considering the closure of its engineering school. Indeed, today's college graduate cannot even expect to find entry-level jobs in the hi-tech industry, warns entrepreneur Rosen Sharma, [who] heads a Silicon Valley start-up that 'could not survive without out-sourcing'... the Bureau's Employment Situation Summary suggests that high-value knowledge jobs are being replaced with low-value service and manual-labor jobs. The ensuing loss of income to American workers will surely out-weigh the lower prices out-sourcing engenders."
2004-04-16 05:22PDT (08:22EDT) (12:22GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Alan Greenspan says character trumps laws
prepared text of speech
"A reputation for honesty is once again becoming a necessary corporate virtue for companies that want to thrive, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Friday. In remarks to a conference on financial markets hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Greenspan said, 'Rules cannot substitute for character.'."
2004-04-16 06:15PDT (09:15EDT) (13:15GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US March industrial production down 0.2%
"U.S. industrial production unexpectedly fell 0.2% in March after strong gains the previous 2 months, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. Capacity utilization fell to 76.5% from 76.7%, the first decline since June... Output of utilities fell 2.3%."
2004-04-16 08:28PDT (11:28EDT) (15:28GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Housing starts top 2M in March; First increase of 2004, 6.4% gain is largest since 2003 May
census bureau report
"Starts of new U.S. houses rose about 6.4% in March to a seasonally adjusted, annualized pace of 2.01M units, the Commerce Department estimated Friday... Starts hit a 20-year high of 2.06M last December as builders reacted to low interest rates and record new home sales. The nation's housing starts have risen 15.3% since March of last year."
2004-04-16 14:25PDT (17:25EDT) (21:25GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end the week mixed
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended just shy of turning positive for the year, up 54.51 points, or 0.5%, at 10,451.97. In the last 30 minutes of trading, the benchmark rallied to its intraday high of 10,460.06 before falling back. Over the last week, the Dow edged up 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite was down 6.43 points, or 0.3%, at 1,995.74, well off a morning low of 1,982.14. The tech-rich index gave back 2.8% in the last week. The S&P 500 gained 5.73 points, or 0.5%, at 1,134.57, up 0.4% on the week. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 0.5% at 583.37. On the broader market, there were 23 advancers for every 8 decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, while the Nasdaq, in a turnaround from earlier weakness, saw gainers mover ahead by a 16 to 14 score. Volume was 1.48G on the NYSE, and 1.86G on the Nasdaq."
2004-04-16 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Iraq terrorism, Israel, bi-lingual educationism
"5.5M students in our public schools don't speak English. And the federal government spends billions of dollars each year trying to change those numbers... Nationally, $13G in federal funding goes to English-language programs in school, including funds for non-English-speaking students... 19 states have reported up to a 200% increase in English-language students over the past 3 years. Federal programming for those programs has increased to nearly $700M during that time... Whether one is talking about the Bush administration or the Clinton administration, are there, if I may ask this -- because it's curious to me in terms of accountability -- are there instances in which failures on the part of the intelligence community and the FBI led to a senior official of any kind being fired for a failure to be effective?... Alan Greenspan today said those committing acts of corporate scandal should be expeditiously punished. They're doing collateral damage to the markets."
2004-04-16 16:44PDT (19:44EDT) (23:44GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Customers left hanging by insurors
"The decision on whether your private health insurance will pick up the cost of a recommended procedure often rests on the interpretation of two little words: Medically necessary. But outside of emergency care, determining what your plan considers 'medically necessary' can be difficult."
Matthew L. Wald _NY Times_
Train Station Set as Test Site for Screening of Passengers
"The administration plans to begin testing techniques for improving passenger rail security at a station in suburban Maryland."
Peidong Shen, Tal Lavi, Toomas Kivisild, Vivian Chou, Deniz Sengun, Dov Gefel, Isaac Shpirer, Eilon Woolf, Jossi Hillel 2004 _Human mutation_ vol24 #3 pp248–60
Reconstruction of patrilineages and matrilineages of Samaritans and other Israeli populations from Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA sequence variation (pdf)
2004-04-16 17:29PDT (20:29EDT) (2004-04-17 00:29GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US companies buying into body-shopping/off-shoring firms over-seas: Local laws, regulations generally prohibit 100% foreign ownership
"The profit to be made and money to be saved in the out-sourcing industry proved too tempting for IBM and Citigroup to ignore. The 2 U.S. corporate titans announced purchases in the past week of India-based out-sourcing contractors in a bold advance into a controversial industry. While the world's leading out-sourcing firms remain foreign-owned, large American companies are eyeing mid- to small-sized contractors to get into the business, for their own needs and to cater to others, analysts say... Many U.S. companies...are so attracted to the low cost and quality of software development, customer relations and human-resources work done by India-based out-sourcing firms, they want to make the companies part of their own operations. And there seems to be growing pressure on Indian firms to sell, both to take advantage of high business valuations and because companies want a U.S. name on their marquee, says Nick Raich, director of research at Zacks Investment Research. Indian employees would rather work for a U.S. firm such as Price Waterhouse Coopers than an Indian concern, even if the wages are exactly the same, he says. Buying foreign-based out-sourcing contractors would allow U.S. companies to cash in on a service-industry sector that's growing more than 25% a year. Spending for global out-sourcing of computer software and services alone is projected to triple to $31G by 2008 from $10G last year, according to the Information Technology Association of America, a trade group. About $2G of business processes, such as customer service, are being out-sourced and are seeing similarly rapid growth, says Sameer Nadkarni, an analyst with W.R. Hambrecht & Co. in San Francisco."
Joyce Lain Kennedy _Buffalo NY News_
there are ways to fight back when your profession is at risk
"Something big is happening globally to people, technology and job migration. Even high-skill, high-pay jobs are traveling abroad. Not all are in the software professional cluster; other fliers in the White-Collar Job Flyaway include surgeons, accountants, architects, physicists, chemists, biologists, paralegals, non-litigating lawyers and researchers of every kind."
Greg Myre _NY Times_
Leader of Hamas Is Killed by Israel in Missile Attack in Gaza
"Abdel Aziz Rantisi assumed the post just last month after a similar attack killed the group's founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin."
David Cay Johnston _C-SPAN Book-Notes_
Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich and Cheat Everyone Else
"...paying attention to what actually government does, as opposed to what the politicians say that it does... the middle class and the upper middle class, people making $50K to $500K a year, actually subsidize the richest people in America now... The IRS just today came out this morning with new statistical tables on income for the year 2001. And on the way over here, I was calculating, and the 6,800 Americans who make more than $10M a year pay a smaller percentage of their income, 25%, in federal income taxes, than people who make $400K to $500K a year. And when you add in [Socialist Insecurity] taxes, people making $70K to $80K a year are paying a larger share of their income to the federal government than people who make $10M a year or more... [Executives] pay about a penny a mile, as a practical matter, to fly in the luxury of the company jet. The real cost of that flight is several dollars a mile, in many cases, $5 or $6 a mile. And that cost is charged to the share-holders and then taken as a deduction. So when a CEO travels coast to coast in the company jet, he pays $260. The real cost is more in the neighborhood of $15K to $17K. And so you and I, as [tax-victims], foot $5K of that money. And this was done under the guise of middle class tax relief in 1985."
2004-04-18 17:55PDT (20:55EDT) (2004-04-19 00:55GMT)
Barbara Kollmeyer _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
South Korea affected by cooling Red Chinese economy
"South Korea is one of Asia's brightest economic stars, but the potential for slower economic growth in its biggest export market -- [Red China] -- is giving some investors pause... The Asian Development Bank predicts economic growth of 7.9% for [Red China] this year, still an accelerated pace but off its 9.1% surge in 2003... South Korea's economy grew 3% last year, but a 5% expansion is predicted for 2004, the Asian Development Bank reports. Shaking off a credit card crisis, corporate scandals, and political upheaval, Korean stocks rose 27% in 2003, and the Kospi benchmark index is nearing 1K - a level not seen in more than four years. Last week's parliamentary elections overwhelmingly backed South Korea's embattled president Roh Moo Hyun, with his liberal Uri Party posting impressive gains. The result makes it likely that efforts to impeach Roh will be defeated. Indeed, an emboldened Roh is expected to push ahead with anti-corruption reforms and may also take a more conciliatory line towards North Korea. A stable government should encourage domestic spending. Asia Pacific's Squire said a recovery in consumer demand would be a key driver for South Korea's growth in the second half of this year."
2004-04-19 10:31PDT (13:31EDT) (17:31GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Computer Associates (CA) fires 9 connected to accounting scams
"Computer Associates on Monday fired 9 employees related to an internal probe and an ongoing federal investigation of the software maker's accounting practices. The Islandia, NY-based company didn't release the names of the employees, saying only that 5 of them worked in the finance department and 4 worked in the legal department. Eight worked at company headquarters, and one was based in Atlanta, the company said. Computer Associates' former Chief Financial Officer Ira Zar pleaded guilty to securities fraud earlier this month, and is now working with federal investigators. The company also fired Steven Woghin, the company's lead attorney, in recent days."
2004-04-19 14:25PDT (17:25EDT) (21:25GMT)
EarthLink CEO got 76% bonus in the same year they laid off 1300
"EarthLink gave its leader a 76% increase in his annual bonus last year, during which time the nation's third-largest Internet service provider said it was cutting 1,300 jobs, a regulatory filing shows. The Atlanta-based company paid chief executive Garry Betty a $346,790 bonus in 2003, compared to a bonus of $196,590 in 2002. His bonus in 2001 was $186,498... In 2003 January, EarthLink said it was cutting about 25% of its work force because of increased competition. At the time, EarthLink had 5,100 employees. This past January, EarthLink announced it was cutting another 1,300 jobs, which at the time represented 40% of its remaining work force. The company said 2K employees would remain after the latest round of cuts. Betty's bonus last year was on top of $621,154 in salary he received."
2004-04-19 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Bill Tucker & Christine Romans _CNN_
Iraq terrorists, Israel
"Baruch Spinoza: 'For peace is not mere absence of war, but it is a virtue that springs from force of character.'... One American technology company [Base One Technologies] is managing to remain competitive without shipping jobs to cheap over-seas labor markets... Zaneri of Base One Technologies: 'Many of my competitors have gone out of business. We can't compete with the off-shore companies. We can't compete price-wise. And the only thing that has kept us in business is because we were savvy enough and quick enough to take our engineering expertise and move away from corporate America, because corporate America really turned their back on us, in essence. And we moved towards the federal government.' Base One Technologies builds high-end sophisticated networks. The network it constructed for the Federal Reserve banking system, for example, handles 1G transactions a day. It's also built networks for J.P. Morgan, Chase, Merrill Lynch, and the Federal Aviation Administration; 45 engineers now work for the company, but 125 once did. Work from corporate America is drying up, as businesses squeeze their bottom lines and take their work offshore, increasing the unemployment rolls... few businesses value the quality of work or their employees as richly as they value their bottom line. And when the bottom line is the only object, the money goes offshore, along with the jobs, idling American engineers, leaving universities to wonder why are there fewer students studying engineering... The shock continues the fourth week now of record high gas price. The government says Americans, Lou, are paying $1.81 on average, 29 cents higher from last year and where companies can't raise prices they're absorbing higher costs by pinching salaries. Raising prices on all kinds of different goods, everything from paper products, kitchen appliances, plastics and food. Now, that sticker shock not a problem for well paid American CEOs, but the heat is on the board members who are excessive pay enablers. The AFL-CIO urges share-holders to vote against these 10 company directors that it blames for enabling pay excess."
Alex Berenson _NY Times_
At Computer Associates, Jobs on the Line
"As a criminal investigation of Computer Associates enters its final stages, the company's board will meet to consider the fate of its chief executive, Sanjay Kumar."
William Safire _NY Times_
Scandal With No Friends
"No one seems too eager to crack open the richest rip-off in history, the United Nations' oil-for-food program in Iraq."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_
Effort afoot to exempt 20K from H-1B cap: Allow more foreign grads with advanced degrees
"There's a new push in Congress to increase by 20K the number of foreign workers holding H-1B visas. Proposed legislation would accomplish that by exempting foreign graduates with advanced degrees from the visa cap. The bill, introduced earlier this month by representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), is supported by Compete America, a coalition of manufacturers, academic groups and IT vendors such as MSFT Corp., Intel Corp., Oracle Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc... Smith's bill, the American Workforce Improvement and Jobs Protection Act, wouldn't raise the cap, but it would exempt from that limit up to 20K graduates with a master's degree or higher from a U.S. university [i.e. it would raise the cap by 20K]. Students hired by universities and research institutions under the H-1B program are already exempt from the cap."
Frosty Wooldridge _Washington Dispatch_
Immigration's Riveting Question to Americans
"Senator Teddy Kennedy, Orin Hatch, John McCain, Wayne Allard, Ben Campbell -- aid and abet illegal immigration by doing nothing to stop it. Representatives Mark Udall of Colorado, Kolbe of Arizona, Chris Cannon of Utah, Flake of Arizona, Degette of Colorado and hundreds of other elected American leaders support illegal and legal immigration without end. They support H-1B visas, chain migration, anchor babies and diversity visas. Their actions and inactions on illegal immigration gave the 2001/09/11 terrorists an open door with driver's licenses, sanctuary laws in major cities, lax immigration standards and confidence to the terrorists they could succeed. But they also have given us a massive legal immigration crisis where by millions of immigrants pour into our country without end... It began in 1965 when Teddy Kennedy and President Johnson pushed the Immigration Reform Bill that changed the average of 178K immigrants allowed into this country annually to an unprecedented 1M which as ballooned to over 1.3M today. Added to that number, according to the Center For Immigration Studies, 800K illegal aliens now immigrate into America annually. The total of illegals is between 9M and 13M."
2004-04-19 04:06PDT (07:06EDT) (11:06GMT)
Millions Recall "Shot Heard 'Round the World": Patriots Day Recalls Start of American Revolution
"celebrate the real reason for Patriots Day -- the skirmishes that launched the American Revolution in 1775 April... a pre-dawn re-enactment of the battle of Lexington Green drew a crowd of about 15K spectators to the community northwest of Boston where British 'regulars' were sent on 1775-04-18 in an effort to arrest revolutionary leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock. The 'Redcoats' were to arrest them for treason and seize an arms cache rumored to be hidden at a Concord farm. But the colonial militia, or 'Minutemen' had been forewarned by riders sent from Boston, most notably Paul Revere. William Dawes and Samuel Prescott also accompanied Revere. When the British soldiers arrived in Lexington they were confronted by the Minutemen, who refused orders to stand down... By the time it was over, 8 colonists lay dead on Lexington Green and the American Revolutionary War had begun in earnest."
Linda McConchie _Boston Globe_
Patriotism, 1775 and 2004
"On 1775-04-18, Paul Revere and a few companions sounded the alarm that 700 British troops were advancing toward Concord. Colonial Minutemen were ready when the British arrived on Lexington Green in the early morning hours of April 19. Shots were fired and the conflagration began. Later that day in Concord, the "shot heard round the world" precipitated a bloody battle, and the British retreated from the thousands who had answered the call to arms. Patriots. It was clear in 1775... The Sons of Liberty, those audacious rabble rousers who met in secret to foment a revolution, were just as concerned with economic freedom as they were with the right to bear arms. But here in Boston, on the Freedom Trail, we have a different view of the meaning of words like patriotism. Every time we turn a corner in this splendid city, another historic place is there to remind us that the people of 18th century Boston Town were not afraid to declare their independence, and they were deadly serious about what it meant to be a patriot. We can imagine them, 5K strong in the benches and the balconies of the Old South Meeting House as they prepared for the Boston Tea Party. We can hear the rants and shouts of a weary but determined throng assembled under the balcony of Old State House as the words 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' were read to them for the first time from the Declaration of Independence. The meaning of patriotism was clear to them all. It meant they would be free to openly debate one another and challenge the government of their making. They would educate their children as they chose, and worship if they chose. They would write their own laws, enforce them, and change them if they needed changing. They would have these freedoms if it meant they had to die in the street for them, and a lot of them did... I encourage Bostonians to spend time on the Freedom Trail this election year. Taxes, trade, labor disputes, education, and, of course, war, ugly and sad were all part of the debate right here so many years ago. Let these beautiful places tell you their breathtaking stories. Extend a nod of appreciation to the people who lived them and left them for us to recall and retell to the world. Debate, dissent, participate, and vote. We owe it to them."
Today in History
"In 1775, the American Revolutionary War began at the Battle of Lexington, MA. 8 Minutemen were killed and 10 wounded in an exchange of musket fire with British Redcoats. In 1861, one week after the Civil War began, the first Americans died, the result of a clash between a secessionist mob in Baltimore and Massachusetts troops bound for Washington. Four soldiers and 12 rioters were killed. In 1943, Jewish residents of the Warsaw Ghetto revolted when the Germans tried to resume deportations to the Treblinka concentration camp. When the uprising ended on May 16, 300 Germans and 7K Jews had died and the Warsaw Ghetto lay in ruins. In 1971, the Soviet Union launched its first Salyut space station. In 1972, the U.S. Apollo 16 space-craft began orbiting the moon two days before astronauts landed on its surface. In 1989... pro-Democracy demonstrations began in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. In 1990, the U.S.-backed Contra rebels and the out-going Nicaraguan government agreed to an immediate cease-fire and a formula to disarm and demobilize the Contras by June 10... In 1993, the 51-day Branch Davidian [siege] near Waco, TX, ended tragically when a fire destroyed the fortified compound after authorities tear-gassed [and torched] the place... David Koresh and 85 followers, including 17 children, were [murdered]."
Scott McPherson _Future of Freedom Foundation_
2004-04-20 14:59PDT (17:59EDT) (21:59GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
New over-time rules
Exemptions for employees in computer-related occupations
"Police, fire-fighters and paramedics are guaranteed over-time pay in new rules released by the U.S. Labor Department Tuesday. But others, including some project leaders, [personal trainers,] financial-services workers and funeral directors will lose the benefit, critics say. The new rules include overtime-pay guarantees for all workers earning $23,660 annually or less, thus covering more workers than the $22,100 salary bar initially proposed by the Bush administration last year. Currently, the Fair Labor Standards Act guarantees overtime for those earning $8,060 or less. The new rules, slated to take effect in about 4 months, also exempt from over-time pay all employees earning $100K or more, if they meet certain tests, while the earlier rules set that threshold at $65K... 1.3M mostly lower-income workers will become eligible for the benefit."
2004-04-20 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Iraq, terror, selective slavery, over-time pay
"Samuel Johnson: 'Lawful and settled authority is very seldom resisted when it is well employed.'... McDonald-Pines: 'It is extremely discouraging for workers who are used to good pay and good benefits, a middle-class life, to have to look at a short-term training program and know that, at the end, they will probably get a low-wage job with no benefits.'..."
Marilyn Gardner _Christian Science Monitor_
One man's crusade against off-shore out-sourcing of American jobs: Replaced by Indians, Florida man runs for office on anti-visa agenda
"Michael Emmons had logged almost 6 years as a software developer when he and more than a dozen colleagues received bad news: Their employer was replacing them with workers from India. And instead of outsourcing the jobs to India, Siemens ICN had a plan that was every bit as controversial -- importing Indians to do the work here. The Americans even had to train their Indian replacements in order to receive severance pay."
Linda Greenhouse _NY Times_
Court Upholds Tribal Power It Once Denied
"The Supreme Court ruled that Indian tribes have the authority to prosecute members of other tribes for crimes committed on their reservations."
John Files _NY Times_
Amerindians sue for back-payments for government, others farming, grazing, & timber-cutting on their property
"Like many other American Indians, Elouise Cobell, a banker and Blackfoot from Montana, inherited some land from her parents. The federal government had long agreed to pay her family for farming, grazing and timber-cutting on the property... On behalf of nearly a half-million Indians, Ms. Cobell filed a class-action law-suit in 1996 challenging the government to rectify what she described as a collective wrong dating back more than a century. Ms. Cobell, 58, an energetic woman who grew up on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation near Glacier National Park in northern Montana, and thousands of other Indians estimate that they are owed about $137G from oil, timber, grazing and other leases on their lands... The conflict goes back to the Dawes Act of 1887, which initiated a practice of giving land allotments to individual Indians as their reservations were being broken up for sale. While the Indians owned the allotments and sometimes lived on them, the government retained title and generated income for the Indians from use of the land [but payments have been irregular]."
Elizabeth Becker _NY Times_
U.S. Expects Reciprocity on Trade with Red China
"[Red China] is expected to pledge this week to crack down on pirating and counterfeiting of software, DVD's and other forms of intellectual property... Only by adopting a narrow agenda and carefully choreographing a one-day session at which both sides appear to be making concessions has the administration been able to coax the [sham] semblance of a compromise from the Chinese [after decades of abuse by them]."
John Tierney _NY Times_
Using NMRs to See Politics on the Brain
"Researchers using brain imaging do not claim to have figured out [any] party yet, but they have noticed intriguing patterns... The researchers had already zeroed in on those images [of the attack on the world trade center and the 1964 daisy/nuclear explosion ad] and their effect among Democrats on the part of the brain that responds to threats and danger, the amygdala... Democrats tested so far, reacted to the...images with noticeably more activity in the amygdala than did the Republicans, said the lead researcher, Marco Iacoboni, an associate professor at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute who directs a laboratory at the Ahmanson Lovelace Brain Mapping Center there... [One] theory [is] that Democrats are generally more alarmed by any use of force than Republicans are... They still respond emotionally to the candidate of their party, but when they see the other party's candidate, there is more activity in the rational part of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. 'It seems as if they're really identifying with their own candidate, whereas when they see the opponent, they're using their rational apparatus to argue against [or fabricate rationalizations against] him.', Professor Iacoboni said."
2004-04-20 23:11:59PST (2004-04-21 02:11:59EST) (07:11:59GMT)
Norm Matloff _H-1B/L-1/Off-Shoring e-news-letter_
"An education argument popular with the industry lobbyists recently has been that we 'need' H-1Bs with graduate degrees... H-1Bs with graduate degrees are used as CHEAP LABOR by big firms... The fact that so many U.S. graduate degrees are obtained by foreign students does not mean we 'need' so many graduate degrees. Most people with a graduate degree are not doing work which requires a graduate degree. One does not need a graduate degree for most work in the field, including research and development. For example, Linus Torvalds developed the Linux operating system while he was an under-graduate. Marc Andreesen developed MOSAIC, which he later refined into the Netscape web browser, when he was an under-graduate. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, has only a bachelor's degree, and it is not in computer science. None of Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs, founders of MSFT, Oracle and Apple, respectively, even has a bachelor's degree. Even at the highly R&D-oriented firm which first developed the Internet, Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., only 4% of the staff have a PhD... If... the industry insists that it does need people with graduate degrees, then they should hire the tens of thousands of American programmers and engineers who have graduate degrees but are unemployed. The industry's refusal to do so shows that their current pitch based on graduate degrees is just yet another Phony Education Argument... Americans are now flocking to graduate schools... Our National Science Foundation [NSF], a government agency, saw this, and promoted bringing in foreign students, openly pitching them as a source of cheap labor -- first for the meager graduate student assistantship salary, and then after graduation to hold down U.S. PhD salaries... Though a small percentage of the foreign students are of outstanding talent, most are not. The analysis of David North has shown that foreign PhDs are disproportionately concentrated in the weaker schools."
2004-04-21 11:26PDT (14:26EDT) (18:26GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Beige Book reports widespread economic growth
"Stronger economic growth has been seen in most U.S. regions and sectors since late February, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday in its Beige Book report on current economic conditions... Retail sales improved, while manufacturing, mining, tourism and services all grew. Commercial real estate markets remain a soft spot. Meanwhile, labor markets 'tightened somewhat with modest wage increases', the report said. Many regions reported modestly higher consumer prices, but nearly all indicated 'significant increases in numerous commodities and input products'... Steel mills were operating at or near capacity in the Chicago and Cleveland districts."
_Federal Reserve Board_
"Chicago and Philadelphia mentioned that information technology firms noted increased demand... Orders for high-technology products increased in the Dallas and San Francisco districts... In the Dallas district, jobs increased for production workers in high tech, apparel and lumber manufacturing... Most of the reported capital spending increases are oriented toward new product development and production (especially in the life sciences industry) as well as productivity improvements (including production equipment and information technology)... Capital spending ranged from steady to strong, with some firms planning further increases in technology spending for expansion abroad, catch-up after a few years of deferral, or merger-related projects... Information technology firms have had some accelerating increases in activity. Contacts said system upgrades and maintenance, business applications, and information security measures have been the primary areas in which demand for information technology services has been growing... Temporary and permanent employment agencies in the region reported an increase in demand for workers since the winter months. The increase in hiring is coming in construction, trade, services, and finance. Placement offices at colleges and universities in the region reported that recruitment is up compared with last year. Industry sectors that are more active this year are finance, real estate, media, healthcare, information technology, and architectural services... A contact with one large technology firm said the improving economic environment led Information Technology managers to raise their forecasts for equipment and software spending in 2004... There were scattered reports of new permanent full-time hiring, and more firms indicated that they plan to hire later in the year. Still, much of the actual new hiring so far appears to be temporary, seasonal, or part-time... Some high-tech manufacturers reported significant price pressures, and bookings four months out suggest some moderate price increases. Telecommunication equipment prices remain low due mostly to an increasingly competitive market... Hiring is picking up for some types of workers, such as for production workers in high tech, apparel and lumber manufacturing... High-tech manufacturers report that growth in orders has increased slightly since the last survey. One contact said that growth is coming from increased demand for existing products and that, with the exception of high-definition TV and wireless communication, most manufacturers have not increased their research and development into new products. Telecommunications manufacturers have seen slow improvement in the last few months. Telecommunications service providers have seen a slight improvement in business spending, which is usually a promising signal of an improving market... Sales increased for media services and high-tech services in some areas, and reports indicated that activity at District seaports had stepped up to handle increased merchandise trade flows... Sales of semiconductors and other high-technology products strengthened, as businesses replaced existing stocks of computer and communications equipment. Prices for high-tech products rose modestly, due to reduced inventories and increased capacity utilization."
Dan Lee _San Jose Mercury News_/_Miami Herald_
Ciena to shut down San Jose operation: 425 Silicon Valley employees , mostly engineers, to lose jobs
"The reductions, almost all from the engineering staff, represent about a quarter of the Maryland company's work-force... Research in the San Jose site -- which develops fiber-optic networking equipment -- will be shifted to Ciena headquarters in Linthicum, MD, and centers in Georgia and North Carolina. The company also has development sites in Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada... Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said that while the pace of job losses in Silicon Valley has slowed, newly unemployed workers still face a tough market."
2004-04-21 12:48PDT (15:48EDT) (19:48GMT)
Russ Britt _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Sony negotiating to buy MGM
"MGM, now considered one of the smaller Hollywood studios, has been shopping for properties but reportedly has entertained buy-out offers from time to time. The venerable studio's value is estimated at $4.1G but is expected to command a premium, putting the price at $5G or more."
2004-04-21 13:07PDT (16:07EDT) (20:07GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Computer Associates' CEO, Sanjay Kumar, resigns, moves to chief software architect position, amidst controversy
"Computer Associates on Wednesday said Sanjay Kumar has stepped down under pressure as chief executive and chairman, amid a federal probe and a guilty plea to securities fraud and obstruction charges by three former company executives... The move comes a day after the board met to decide Kumar's future with the company, following an internal investigation that has led to about a dozen executive departures... Lewis Ranieri, who has been named CA's new chairman. A former vice chairman of Salomon Bros., Ranieri has served as CA's s lead independent director since 2002. The company said it will launch a search for a new CEO immediately and is expected to name an interim CEO shortly. Kumar will remain with the company as chief software architect, a new position."
2004-04-21 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Jim Clancy & Lisa Sylvester & Peter Viles & Richard Roth & Christine Romans _CNN_
"In southern Iraq, suicide bombers killed 68 people in Basra during the morning rush hour; 18 of the victims were children. In Fallujah, U.S. Marines killed 17 [terrorists] in 2 separate battles. Three Marines were wounded... The charred wreckage of civilian vehicles burned in the streets after five suicide bomb attacks hit four Iraqi police facilities in the southern city of Basra. Scores of civilians were killed and more than 100 wounded... Terrorists attacked a police building in Saudi Arabia today. They killed four people and wounded 150 others. A suicide bomber exploded a car bomb outside the police headquarters in the capital of Riyadh... [Byron Dorgan compared 2] bottles of Lipitor made at the same factory in Ireland. Byron Dorgan: 'Sent to Canada, sent to the United States, $1.01 per tablet in Canada, $1.81 per tablet in the United States. That is typical of what you find.'... the fact is that the drug industry expects Americans to subsidize research and development... The GAO says $5.7G in oil revenues were skimmed by Saddam Hussein and middlemen. Only after heavy pressure from members of the Iraqi Governing Council and the media did Secretary-General Annan agree to an outside investigation... Saxby Chambliss: 'we had a chance to visit with troops who had spent a year in Iraq, the 173rd Airborne Division, they've been in Kirkuk for a year. We had a chance to visit with young men and women who were on the way over there, as well as wounded soldiers. And let me tell you, the quality of those individuals is second to none... First of all, we need to think about jobs in Georgia and every other state in the continental United States versus jobs in Germany, for example, where we have a number of troops today, particularly where the national security of the United States can be protected just as easily from the continental United States...'... Todd Malan of the organization for international investment: 'If we have 6.4M Americans working for company that is are [sic] based abroad, but have operations within the United States, that's a good thing. You guys have done a great job with putting a human face on the cost of the global economy. If you're going to do that, we have to look at where the benefits are.'... Robert Scott of the economic policy institute: 'Well, I think that we have to analyze this notion that we're getting benefits from insourcing. And when we look carefully at the data, what we find is that we're actually seeing many more jobs destroyed as a result of a foreign investment in the United States than are actually gained through the creation of any new firms.'... the reason the jobs are created [in the USA] by the foreign companies is so they would have access to an $11T consumer market... Todd Malan: '[Foreign companies with facilities here] are responsible for 22.4% of exports from the United States.'... Robert Scott: 'Sure, exports create jobs, but imports displaced many more jobs. In fact, these companies in 2001 had a $206T trade deficit. That means, we lost millions of jobs as a result of the net imports these companies are bringing into the United States.'... 66% of corporations in this country don't pay federal taxes anyway... Todd Malan: 'If BMW builds a plant in South Carolina and make 166K cars there and 60% of them are exported from the United States, I just don't understand why we're having a debate. That's got to be good for the United States.' Robert Scott: 'Again, what's going on is that these companies are building car plants in the United States to bring in parts from around the rest of the world. And I looked at the trade data this afternoon. Our trade deficit in cars and trucks and parts more than doubled between 1991 and 2001.'... Opponents of illegal immigration failed to gain control of the board of the Sierra Club. Five candidates for the board of directors ran on a platform that included taking a tougher stance on immigration. They called U.S. population growth the greatest danger to the environment. 23% of the Sierra Club membership voted in the election. More than double last year's turnout, by the way... Chairman Greenspan thinks labor market weakness is behind us. But he said anxiety many feel in the work-place will not subside quickly. The fed chief acknowledge just how tough it is to find jobs: 85K people a week lose their unemployment benefits. He compared that with 2000 September when 35K coming off the jobless rolls. And, he says, it now takes 20 weeks on average for a laid off worker to find a new job. That's up from 13 weeks in 2000. These developments, he said, have led to a notable rise in insecurity among American workers. He acknowledged, Lou, that the American worker has not participated yet in this economic recovery... He points out the corporate profits have done very well with productivity. But if history is a guide, it is time for the American worker to share with those profits."
2004-04-21 16:23PDT (19:23EDT) (23:23GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Red China vice premier agrees to crack down on piracy... Yah, sure. We've heard it before.
"The announcement came after a day of high-level talks as part of the U.S.-[Red China] Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade and amid friction between the nations over the ballooning trade deficit and a host of other issues. The deficit rose to $124G in 2003 from $103G in 2002. [Red China] ran an overall trade deficit of $8.43G in the first quarter of this year, but the U.S. deficit with [Red China] widened to $8.3G in February from $7.6G in the same month last year. Wu said those statistics are exaggerated and told reporters the United States agreed to a working group to study the discrepancies in official statistics. [Red China] estimates the trade deficit was $38.6G in 2003... Apart from counterfeiting, other sources of friction include [Red China's] tax rebates for its semiconductor chip makers and its plans to impose a new wireless computer standard and [Red China's] complaint that the U.S. restrictions on high-tech exports to the Asian nation are too stringent. [Red China] agreed to delay implementation of the wireless standard, while the United States agreed to potentially allow more high-tech exports if it can prove the sales are not for military use."
Alan Greenspan _Federal Reserve Board_
prepared report to the Joint Economic Committee
"Nevertheless, some of the strains that accompanied the difficult business environment of the past several years apparently still linger. Although businesses are replacing obsolescent equipment at an accelerated pace, many managers continue to exhibit an unusual reluctance to anticipate and prepare for future orders by adding to their capital stock. Despite a dramatic increase in cash flow, business fixed and inventory investment, taken together, have risen only moderately. Indeed, internal corporate funds exceeded investment over the course of last year for the first time since 1975. Similar cautious behavior has also been evident in the hiring decisions of U.S. firms, during the past several years. Rather than seeking profit opportunities in expanding markets, business managers hunkered down and focused on repairing severely depleted profitability predominately by cutting costs and restricting their hiring. Firms succeeded in that endeavor largely by taking advantage of the untapped potential for increased efficiencies that had built up during the rapid capital accumulation of the latter part of the 1990s. That process has not yet played out completely. Many firms seem to be continuing to find new ways to exploit the technological opportunities embodied in the substantial investments in high-tech equipment that they had made over the past decade. When aggregate demand accelerated in the second half of 2003, the pace of job cuts slowed. But because of the new-found improvements in the efficiency of their operations, firms were able to meet increasing demand without adding many new workers. As the opportunities to enhance efficiency from the capital investments of the late 1990s inevitably become scarcer, productivity growth will doubtless slow from its recent phenomenal pace. And, if demand continues to firm, companies will ultimately find that they have no choice but to increase their work-forces if they are to address growing back-logs of orders. In such an environment, the pace of hiring should pick up on a more sustained basis, bringing with it larger persistent increases in net employment than those prevailing until recently. Still, the anxiety that many in our work-force feel will not subside quickly. In March of this year, about 85K jobless individuals per week exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits -- more than double the 35K per week in 2000 September. Moreover, the average duration of unemployment increased from 12 weeks in 2000 September to 20 weeks in March of this year. These developments have led to a notable rise in insecurity among workers. Most of the recent increases in productivity have been reflected in a sharp rise in the pretax profits of non-financial corporations from a very low 7% share of that sector's gross value added in the third quarter of 2001 to a high 12% share in the fourth quarter of last year. The increase in real hourly compensation was quite modest over that period. The consequence was a marked fall in the ratio of employee compensation to gross non-financial corporate income to a very low level by the standards of the past 3 decades. If history is any guide, competitive pressures, at some point, will shift in favor of real hourly compensation at the expense of corporate profits. That shift, coupled with further gains in employment, should cause labor's share of income to begin to rise toward historical norms. Such a process need not add to inflation pressures. Although labor costs, which compose nearly two-thirds of consolidated costs, no longer seem to be falling at the pace that prevailed in the second half of last year, those costs have yet to post a decisive upturn. And even if they do, the current high level of profit margins suggests that firms may come under competitive pressure to absorb some acceleration of labor costs. Should such an acceleration of costs persist, however, higher price inflation would inevitably follow."
2004-04-21 17:39PDT (20:39EDT) (2004-04-22 00:39GMT)
Paul B. Farrell _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Personal & National Deficits
2004-04-21 21:01PDT (2004-04-22 00:01EDT) (2004-04-22 04:01GMT)
MSFT sheisters whine like children as they fight being taken to the wood-shed
"the commission decision cites market surveys that indicate users took up MSFT products despite rating rival products more highly. It also says that it cannot wait till the company's practices have eliminated all competition because 'at that point MSFT could no longer be subjected to any meaningful anti-trust remedy'."
2004-04-22 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Thomas Stengle _Dept. of Labor Employment & Training Admin._
Unemployment compensation insurance weekly claims
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 332,775 in the week ending April 17, a decrease of 17,653 from the previous week. There were 399,180 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.5% during the week ending April 10, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,157,601, an increase of 45,356 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.0% and the volume was 3,736,748. Extended benefits were available in Alaska during the week ending April 3. 53 states reported that 52,775 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending April 3... The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending April 3 were in Alaska (5.8%), Michigan (4.0%), Oregon (3.7%), New Jersey (3.5%), Pennsylvania (3.5%), Wisconsin (3.5%), Massachusetts (3.4%), Washington (3.3%), Idaho (3.2%), Puerto Rico (3.2%), and Rhode Island (3.2%). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 10 were in California (+12,068), Pennsylvania (+4,056), New York (+4,031), Wisconsin (+3,329), and Michigan (+2,611), while the largest decreases were in Georgia (-2,311), Kentucky (-1,232), North Carolina (-497), Hawaii (-351), and Minnesota (-293)."
2004-04-22 07:22PDT (10:22EDT) (14:22GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Initial unemployment compensation insurance claims at 7-week high
"The [seasonally adjusted] average number of new claims for state unemployment benefits over the past 4 weeks rose by 2,250 to a 7-week high of 347K, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Initial claims in the week ending April 17 fell by 9K to 353K, the government said... Meanwhile, the number of unemployed workers receiving state benefits increased by 52K to 3.02M in the week ending April 10... Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Wednesday that 85K workers exhaust their benefits each week. Most workers are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits. A federal program that provided extra benefits beyond the 26 weeks has expired. Only 53K workers were receiving federal benefits in the week ending April 3, down from about 900K at its peak."
2004-04-22 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Casey Wian _CNN_
California to ban easily scammed electronic voting systems
"An advisory panel today recommended California ban 15K of its electronic voting machines mailed by Diebold Election Systems. California's secretary of state says computer glitches in the company's machines -- quote -- 'jeopardized the outcome of the March 2 presidential primary in California'. And today, protesters gathered outside the annual meeting of parent company Diebold Incorporated in Ohio, the protests voicing their concerns about the overall security of electronic voting, asking why Diebold doesn't provide voters with paper receipts of their electronic votes. As we've reported here extensively, state governments are exporting, in some cases, state contract work to cheaper foreign labor markets using, of course, taxpayer money. Now 36 states have legislation pending that would block the export of government work. So far, however, law-makers are facing some powerful resistance... One Indian outsourcing contract costs California $400M. Law-makers here and in most states don't even know how much taxpayer-funded work is being out-sourced over-seas. But a growing number are trying to bring the jobs home; 36 state legislatures are working on bills to limit off-shoring of state contracts, up from just eight last week. Florida state Senator Skip Campbell says he became involved after his brother-in-law lost his high-tech job to India. But Campbell's anti-off-shoring amendment was defeated largely because of opposition from Florida Governor Jeb Bush... Four governors most recently in Michigan and Arizona have by-passed their state legislators and acted on their own to block off-shoring of state jobs."
2004-04-22 16:04PDT (19:04EDT) (23:04GMT)
S. Srinivasan _AP_/_USA Today_
AMD moves design center to India, dismisses question of US job losses
"U.S. computer chip maker Advanced Micro Devices plans to set up a design center in Bangalore by July, officials said Thursday. The company plans to hire 120 engineers in the southern Indian city by the end of next year and insists no engineers in the United States or elsewhere will lose jobs... The company already runs design and engineering centers in Sunnyvale, CA; Austin, TX; and Dresden, Germany... The company plans to spend $5M over three years in creating the center."
Elizabeth Becker _NY Times_
Red China's Trade Negotiators Agreed to Postpone Plan to Impose Their Own Wireless Non-Standard
"The [Red Chinese] also agreed in the talks to concede to administration demands to crack down on counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property rights, to fully open their markets 6 months ahead of schedule and to sign international treaties protecting intellectual property rights on the Internet... The [Red Chinese] were spared questions about how they will respond once the global textile quota is lifted next year and, experts predict, [Red China] takes over 50% of the United States textile market. Also off the official agenda were [Red China's] currency controls, which will be discussed this weekend at the International Monetary Fund's spring meetings, and its labor practices. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. filed an unusual trade complaint last month asking President Bush to punish [Red China] for reportedly gaining a commercial advantage in trade through violating workers' rights... This was not the first instance where [Red China] promised to crack down on piracy under pressure from the United States... But the problem was never resolved and has grown worse in some areas, in part because piracy is carried out on such a large scale that it may be unstoppable, according to analysts. [Red China] agreed to further open its market to American agricultural products in talks on Wednesday. But the United States refused to discuss the $19G it pays in agricultural subsidies and supports its farmers to raise commodity crops, including cotton and soy beans. The United States contends that agricultural subsidies should only be discussed in the global setting of the World Trade Organization. Ann M. Veneman, the agriculture secretary, took part in the meeting and said afterward that American agricultural exports to [Red China] had grown threefold over the last several years. [Red China] is now the biggest customer for American soy beans and cotton, she said."
Thomas L. Friedman _NY Times_
Losing Our Edge?: More propaganda from tech execs
"Anyone who thinks that all the Indian and Chinese techies are doing is answering call-center phones or solving tech problems for Dell customers is sadly mistaken."
2004-04-23 05:54PDT (08:54EDT) (12:54GMT)
Emily Church _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
German memory chip-maker Infineon to invest $1G in Richmond, VA plant
"Germany memory chip-maker Infineon Technologies plans to raise its investment in a Richmond, Virginia plant by $1G. The expansion will add to the $1.8G Infineon has already invested in the plant, a spokesman said. Shares were up 0.3% in Frankfurt at 11.39 euros. 'Overall customer demand - both for logic as well as memory chips - is increasing at a strong pace.', Infineon said. The company expects to start production of advanced DRAM chips on 300mm wafers beginning in early 2005."
2004-04-23 06:57PDT (09:57EDT) (13:57GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
March durables orders up 3.4%: shipments up 3.3% (with graph)
Census Bureau report
"Led by metals and transportation goods, orders for new durable goods to U.S. factories jumped 3.4% in March after an upwardly revised 3.8% gain in February, the Commerce Department estimated Friday... Orders were up in three of the past 4 months... Shipments of durable goods also surged in March, rising 3.2%, the largest gain in 2 years. Shipments had increased 1.7% in February."
2004-04-23 08:31PDT (11:31EDT) (15:31GMT)
Emily Church _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
DaimlerChrysler stock increase drives DAX-30 up
"European stocks were higher Friday as a rally in DaimlerChrysler dominated attention. The German auto-maker plans to cut off financial support to Mitsubishi Motors Corp., raising hopes it will sell its stake in the troubled Japanese car-maker. The German DAX Xetra 30 index jumped 1.2% in Frankfurt to 4,106. The French CAC 40 index was up 0.8% at 3,816."
2004-04-23 08:33PDT (11:33EDT) (15:33GMT)
Emily Church _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
DaimlerChrylser cutting investment in Mitsubishi
"DaimlerChrysler will review its Asian strategy after opting to cut financial support for Japanese auto-maker Mitsubishi Motors Corp, said Manfred Gentz, the German auto-maker's chief financial officer on Friday... DaimlerChrysler was widely expected to play a major role in a funding for the struggling MMC that could reach $7G."
2004-04-23 11:06PDT (14:06EDT) (18:06GMT)
David Weidner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Merger Menace: community group fights J.P. Morgan and Bank One deal
"At a Federal Reserve hearing earlier this month, Lee pointed out that Claremont Check Cashing was actually financed by a more familiar name, J.P. Morgan Chase. In the last decade, J.P. Morgan has closed a dozen branches in the South Bronx, already the most underserved part of the city on a per capita basis. But the bank points out that it still has 29 branches in the borough, more than any other bank... the banks engage in predatory lending... both banks have financed hundreds of check cashing stores, payday lenders and pawn shops while closing branches in poor neighborhoods."
2004-04-23 14:01PDT (17:01EDT) (21:01GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stock markets return to positive territory for 2004
"U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, advancing for the second straight session... The Dow Jones Industrials Average finished the day up 11.6 points, or 0.1%, at 10,472.84. For the week, the Dow added a slim 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite rose 16.86 points, or 0.8%, to 2,049.77. It gained 2.7 for the week. With this week's gains, both the Dow and the Nasdaq returned to positive territory year to date. The S&P 500 tacked on 0.67 points, or 0.1% at 1,140.60. The index gained 0.5%. Declining stocks out-paced advancers by a roughly 2-to-1 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, and by 4-to-3 on the Nasdaq. Volume was 1.4G on the NYSE, and 1.9G on Nasdaq."
2004-04-23 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Casey Wian _CNN_
"A U.S. company closes a factory in Mexico and brings those jobs back to the United States."
Hong Kong's Yearning for Freedom
"[Red China] claiming that it has veto power over Hong Kong's political reforms renders the Basic Law's provision for autonomy a sham."
2004-04-24 12:31PDT (15:31EDT) (19:31GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
G-7 see brighter global economy
"Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world's 7 richest nations said Saturday that they see a stronger outlook for the global economy but cautioned that a spike in oil prices still jeopardizes growth... Officials from Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and the United States gathered Saturday morning before the twice-yearly meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund held throughout the weekend. The officials reaffirmed their statement from the February meeting in Florida that economic fundamentals should determine currency exchange rates."
Jonathan J. Higuera _Arizona Republic_
From Motorola to nursing school
"The married mother of one child went from making $70K in her last year with the company's Semiconductor Products Sector to virtually nothing since being laid off in 2002 February... Technically, her job was down-sized. It was sent to other U.S. contractors. But from there it went to foreign contractors, she said. In fact, before the layoff, she had helped contractors learn the nuts and bolts of the forecast sales management program she ran. 'I feel bitterness when you see H1-B workers because American workers could have those jobs.', said M, who graduated from Arizona State University in 1988 with a mathematics degree... After about nine months of searching for an information technology job, she enrolled in the nursing program at Mesa Community College. Her goal is to become a registered nurse."
Max Jarman _Arizona Republic_
Suppliers reap gasoline profits: top 5 in AZ post average gain of 90%
"From 2002 through 2003, the average price of unleaded regular gasoline in Phoenix rose 38 cents per gallon, or 29 percent. Nationwide, it rose 13 percent. During the same period, the combined profits for five of Arizona's largest suppliers - Valero Energy, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, BP plc and ExxonMobil - rose 99 percent, according to regulatory filings. And some companies saw profits surge more than 500%. Early first-quarter results show that trend is likely continuing... Duane Yantorno, air and fuel program director for the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, estimated that Valley drivers go through about 4.6M gallons of formulated gasoline every day. Based on that, the 38-cent increase at the pump translated to additional revenue of $1.7M per day... For instance, Valero, which operates refineries in California and Texas, saw its profits jump 580% in 2003 from the previous year, to $621.5M. Net income at ConocoPhillips, supplier of CircleK and Phillips 66 stations, rose to $4.73G in 2003 from a $295M loss in 2002... Felmy noted that industrywide the return on sales for oil companies was 6.4% in 2003, compared with 6.5% for all U.S. businesses. The figures for some companies also include profits due to the 30% run-up in crude oil prices since 2002. But all of the companies reported significant increases in refining margins and profits in 2003. ConocoPhillips saw its refining and marketing profits increase 790% in 2003, and Chevron Texaco reported a 221% increase."
Matt Wickenheiser _Portland Maine Press Herald_
Teens can bask in sunny job market this summer
"As many of her fellow teens begin to consider summer jobs, she's urging them to look at the tourism industry, where a labor shortage is [allegedly] developing. Businesses are not able to bring in the foreign seasonal workers they usually rely upon because a national visa cap has been reached, and that is further restricting the already tight market for seasonal help in southern Maine. As a result, the summer job market for high school and college students is shaping up to be a good one. Jobs will be available, and employers will be competing for young workers... Economists say the relative abundance of summer work should allow young people to be more choosy about the jobs they take... Last year, more than 3,500 foreigners worked in Maine on H-2B visas, the permit needed to fill temporary, unskilled positions. About 2,500 of those visitors worked in tourism, while the other 1K worked in fields ranging from fish processing to tree planting... Industries affected by the H-2B visa cap have been petitioning the federal government to allow more of the foreign workers in this year, and numerous politicians - including Maine's D.C. delegation - have taken up the cause."
2004-04-26 07:00PDT (10:00EDT) (14:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US March new-home sales reached record 1.23M
census bureau report on sales of new residences (pdf)
"Sales of new homes in the United States rose about 8.9% in March... Estimated sales in February were revised lower to an annual rate of 1.13M from 1.16M."
2004-04-26 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
"A massive explosion in Baghdad today killed 2 American soldiers as they searched a building for chemical munitions. Five other troops were wounded. The facility was supposed to be used for manufacturing cosmetics, but U.S. officials say it was filled with chemical agents. Iraqi gunmen are storing weapons in schools and mosques... the Pentagon is spending $400M racing to replace the Army's basic thin-skinned Humvees with reinforced up-armored versions. But the better armor is still not providing adequate protection, writes a 4-star general in a memo... Virginia State Troopers will soon have a new tool to crackdown on illegal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security will train 50 state police officers and deputize them to enforce federal immigration laws. Virginia is the third state to expand local police authority to help relieve overburdened federal immigration agents. Florida and Alabama have similar programs."
Laine Welch _Alaska Journal of Commerce_
Community fishing quota program breaks capital barrier for the little guys
"Alaska fishing operations are closely watching the status of a bill that will raise the visa cap for temporary foreign workers. The Department of Homeland Security drastically reduced the yearly cap of 66K on H-2B visas and that caught Alaska's salmon industry off guard. Companies can apply for the visas only 120 days prior to when the workers are needed. For summer fisheries, that means now."
Edward Wong _NY Times_
Truce Extended in Falluja Siege, and Talks Go On
"A cease-fire in Falluja was extended for at least 2 days, but Shiite rebels in Najaf were stock-piling weapons in mosques, shrines and schools."
Eric Chabrow _Information Week_/_CMP_/_UBM_
Solid Money, Worried Minds
Michael S. Teitelbaum _Alfred P. Sloan Foundation_
No Shortage of Shortages (pdf)
2004-04-27 07:04PDT (10:04EDT) (14:04GMT)
Mike Maynard _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US March existing home sales up 5.7% to 6.48M
"The rise in March sales was much stronger than the 6.18M units expected. On a year-on-year basis, existing home sales were up 12.7%... The median national sales price rose 7.4% from the previous year and stood at was $174,100 in March."
2004-04-27 07:10PDT (10:10EDT) (14:10GMT)
Anya Kamenetz _Village Voice_
Wanted: Really Smart Suckers: Grad school provides exciting new road to poverty
"Welcome to the world of the humanities Ph.D. student, 2004, where promises mean little and revolt is in the air. In the past week, Columbia's graduate teaching assistants went on strike and temporary, or adjunct, faculty at New York University narrowly avoided one. Columbia's Graduate Student Employees United seeks recognition, over the administration's appeals, of a 2-year-old vote that would make it the second officially recognized union at a private university. NYU's adjuncts, who won their union in 2002, reached an eleventh-hour agreement for health care and office space, among other amenities. Grad students have always resigned themselves to relative poverty in anticipation of a cushy, tenured payoff. But in the past decade, the rules of the game have changed. Budget pressures have spurred universities' increasing dependence on so-called 'casual labor', which damages both the working conditions of graduate students and their job prospects. Over half of the class-room time at major universities is now logged by non-tenure-track teachers, both graduate teaching assistants -- known as TAs -- and adjuncts. At community colleges, part-timers make up 60% of the faculties... The average holder of a graduate degree spends 13.5% of his or her income paying back loans (8% is considered manageable). 53% of those holding master's degrees, 63% of those holding doctorates, and 69% of those holding professional degrees are over $30K in debt."
2004-04-27 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Mary Snow _CNN_
heat wave, Iraq
"And a special panel with the governors of 3 states whose workers have been hard-hit by the exporting of America. I'll be talking with Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania. And then the growing debate over whether American troops have the protection they need in Iraq. I'll be talking with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky... Employees and retires of IBM today gathered outside the company's annual meeting to protest the exporting of jobs... 'On my floor where I work, I have six guys who are losing their jobs and they're training their replacements.'..."
Keith Bradsher _NY Times_
Red China Bars Steps by Hong Kong Toward More Democratic Voting: Resists Recognition of Human Rights
"The decision angered democracy advocates, who promised protests, and drew criticism from the U.S. and Britain... Bill Rammell, the British foreign office minister for [Red China] and Hong Kong, called in [Red China's] ambassador in London to complain about the move, saying in a statement that it was 'inconsistent with the '''high degree of autonomy''' which Hong Kong is guaranteed under the Joint Declaration'. The declaration, by Britain and [Red China] in 1984, cleared the way for Hong Kong's transfer to [Red Chinese] rule. [Red China's] leaders are tightening controls here after a series of developments that began with a march by 500K people last July 1 to protest stringent internal-security legislation. In November elections for neighborhood councils, pro-Beijing parties were trounced by pro-democracy parties, suggesting a grim future at the polls for Beijing's allies. Finally, Taiwan's politicians moved further toward independence, making Hong Kong less useful as an example of how Taiwan might someday be reunited politically with the mainland."
Elizabeth Becker _NY Times_
W.T.O. Rules Against U.S. on Cotton Subsidies
"Brazil won a preliminary ruling that could force the United States to lower the subsidies it pays farmers to grow cotton and, eventually, most subsidized crops... The largest American farmers have grown dependent on the $19G they receive in annual subsidies... The Brazilians accused the United States of breaking trade rules that limit to $1.6G the amount of subsidies it can pay American cotton growers every year. The United States defended the additional financing as domestic subsidies that do no harm to global markets... Without the subsidies, Brazil estimated that United States cotton production would have fallen 29% and that American cotton exports would have dropped 41%. That would have led to a rise in international cotton prices of 12.6%, which would have helped Brazil's cotton farmers. Brazil also said that the United States was providing illegal export subsidies to American agribusinesses and manufacturers, who were given $1.7G to buy American cotton... The cotton subsidies have helped make the United States the world's top cotton exporter, with more than 40% of the world market... Brazil was joined in the W.T.O. case as third parties by Argentina, Australia, Benin, Canada, Chad, [Red China], the European Community, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Taiwan [Republic of China] and Venezuela. The existing subsidies for American cotton farmers -- $10G over 7 years..."
Carl Hulse _NY Times_
Senate Votes to Consider Ban on Taxes on Net Access
"Senators took the legislation to the floor as President Bush called the ban critical to increasing the availability of high-speed broad-band service."
2004-04-28 13:46PDT (16:46EDT) (20:46GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stock markets awash in red ink: Red China worries, Nortel woes
"Fears of an economic slow-down in [Red China] and news of financial turmoil at telecommunications equipment maker Nortel Networks took a deep toll on stocks Wednesday. 'It's really a confidence thing, i.e. what happens in interest rates. What happens in the geopolitical arena, i.e. the Iraq front. What happens with [Red China] in tightening their system and cooling out their economy, and the swirl of are there any other accounting type things out there vis-a-vis Nortel.', said Thomas S. Caldwell, chairman of Caldwell Asset Management in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed just above its session lows, down 135.56 points, or 1.3%, at 10,342.60 while the Nasdaq Composite Index slumped 42.99 points, or 2.1%, to 1,989.54 and the S&P 500 shed 15.70 points, or 1.4%, to 1,122.41."
2004-04-28 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
2004-04-28 15:34PDT (18:34EDT) (22:34GMT)
Corbett B. Daly & Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US government rejects AFL-CIO complaint regarding Red Chinese trade practices and rights violations
"The Bush administration rejected a petition Wednesday from the AFL-CIO complaining that [Red China's] denial of workers' rights is an unfair trade practice under U.S. law and preemptively rejected a petition from U.S. manufacturers that [Red China's] fixed currency is a violation of global trading rules. 'Accepting these petitions would take us down the path of economic isolationism. That is a path we will not take.', U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said in a rare press conference with Treasury Secretary John Snow, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao at his side... Zoellick promised to launch 'a comprehensive joint effort aimed at the effective implementation by [Red China] of International Labor Organization core labor standards', but said the administration does not need 'to conduct a year-long investigation to know that there are serious concerns with labor rights and working conditions in [Red China]'... 'It shows decisively that this administration will only enforce U.S. trade laws when corporate profits and concerns are at stake, but will not go to bat to protect the fundamental human rights of workers.', [AFL-CIO President John] Sweeney said in a written statement after the announcement... A group of U.S. manufacturers had planned to file a petition asking the administration to challenge Beijing's fixed currency regime, but the administration rejected the proposal before the Fair Currency Alliance had a chance to file its petition... The U.S. labor groups said Chinese workers' wages are between 47% and 86% lower than they would be if workers were given basic rights to organize. Lower wages mean Chinese goods cost 11% to 44% less than they otherwise would."
Eduardo Porter _NY Times_
Companies Are Finding That Some Computer Jobs Are Best Done in the USA
"'For 3 years we tried all kinds of models, but nothing has worked so far.', said [Hemant Kurande, the Indian] co-founder and chief technology officer of Storability Software in Southborough, MA. After trying to reduce costs by contracting out software programming tasks to India, Storability brought back most of the work to the United States, where it costs 4 times as much, and hired more programmers here. The 'depth of knowledge in the area we want to build software is not good enough' among Indian programmers, the executive said... the cost advantage does not always justify the effort... 'The cost savings in India were 1 to 1.', Mr. Ittycheria said . 'But the difference in productivity was 6 to 1.'... Storability Software...has 25 employees in the United States..."
Andrew Ross Sorkin _NY Times_
Former Banker Returns to Stand in His Retrial
"Frank P. Quattrone testified in his retrial on charges of obstruction of justice, calmly offering a carefully prepared explanation."
John C. Dvorak _PeeeeCeeee magazine_
Scams, Lies, Deceit, & Off-Shoring
"Here is how the real scam works. You are a programmer at one of the big IT or computer companies. You're 55 and nearing a retirement plateau; in fact, you're a liability. You're making, say, $80K as a program designer. You have various responsibilities. The company eliminates your position in the process of down-sizing. To be fair to you, it creates a new position, Associate Program Designer, that pays $35K a year. Its responsibilities coincidentally match those of your old job. You can take this job, doing what you did before but at a huge cut in pay, or look elsewhere. If the latter, it's apparent that this new job is one that 'Americans don't want'. The company can then hire a body shop to drop in a foreign H-1B or L1 visa holder, who will not be quite as good but will work for a lot less. This is a bait-and-switch scheme that is designed to screw older and more experienced workers out of their retirement benefits, plain and simple... off-shoring, whereby we send the money as well as the jobs over-seas, mostly to India, where labor is even cheaper. The proponents of off-shoring have a rumored $100M PR budget; anyone who speaks out against this trend is bombarded by hate mail. Just mentioning the problem here will result in numerous requests to my editors that I be fired. Few of the senders will be traceable... We are lied to by the companies we do business with; plain dishonesty is at work here."
2004-04-29 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Thomas Stengle _Dept. of Labor_
Unemployment compensation insurance weekly claims
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 313,063 in the week ending April 24, a decrease of 21,902 from the previous week. There were 401,342 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4% during the week ending April 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 3,046,331, a decrease of 102,487 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.9% and the volume was 3,652,316. Extended benefits were available in Alaska during the week ending April 10. 53 states reported that 31,184 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending April 10... The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending April 10 were in Alaska (5.9%), Puerto Rico (4.8%), Michigan (3.9%), Oregon (3.7%), Pennsylvania (3.7%), New Jersey (3.5%), Wisconsin (3.4%), Washington (3.3%), Massachusetts (3.2%), Illinois (3.1%), and Rhode Island (3.1%). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 17 were in New York (+14,967), New Jersey (+2,879), North Carolina (+2,349), South Carolina (+1,539), and Rhode Island (+1,183), while the largest decreases were in California (-6,719), Michigan (-4,680), Pennsylvania (-3,577), Wisconsin (-2,436), and Washington (-2,322)."
2004-04-29 06:25PDT (09:25EDT) (13:25GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US GDP up 4.2% in first quarter (with graph)
"The U.S. economy grew at a 4.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, marking the third straight quarter of strong growth, the Commerce Department estimated Thursday... The nation's real gross domestic product increased by 4.1% in the fourth quarter and by 8.2% in the third quarter. It's the first time in 10 years that the economy grew faster than 4% for 3 quarters in a row. GDP is up 4.9% in the past year, the biggest gain in 20 years... The broad gross domestic purchases deflator increased at an annual rate of 3.2%, while the core rate increased 2.3%... The Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditure price index, also increased 3.2% after 1% in the fourth quarter, while the core PCE index rose 2% vs. 1.2%. It's the fastest core inflation -- excluding food and energy costs -- in 6 quarters."
2004-04-29 06:32PDT (09:32EDT) (13:32GMT)
Zinie Chen Sampson _AP_/_Silicon Investor_
Capital One to dump more employees
"Capital One Financial Corp. said Wednesday it plans to reduce costs primarily through lay-offs, out-sourcing and attrition... the Richmond area, which could lose about 2,550 jobs."
2004-04-29 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Iraq, illegal immigrants
"police and federal immigration agents [are] working together for the first time, searching for illegal aliens in Los Angeles."
"Final sales of computers contributed 0.07 percentage point to the first-quarter change in real GDP after contributing 0.29 percentage point to the  fourth-quarter change... Equipment and software increased 11.5%, compared with an increase of 14.9%."
Matt Hayes _Fox_
US Tech Workers Bear Brunt of Immigration Policy
"In 2003 April, Kevin Flanagan, a computer programmer with Bank of America, was fired from his job after being forced to train his replacement, an Indian worker who was taking over Flanagan's job as part of Bank of America's effort to replace its American work-force with foreign labor... What Americans need to understand is how complicit the U.S. government has been in helping large corporations secure cheap foreign labor, and the impact that has had not just on American workers, but on the foreign laborers doing their jobs for a fraction of their wages. In 2000, with the economy entering a full recession, America imported 650,263 foreign workers under two employer-friendly visa programs, H-1B (search) and L-1 (search ). In 2001, with the economy still struggling and the tech industry laying off 500K American workers, Congress responded to heavy lobbying by business interests by signing off on another 712, 671 employment-related visas for the year -- a surge of nearly 10 percent in labor imports. Even a 2002 report by the undersecretary for technology at the Department of Commerce, which found that several years of data did not support the IT industry lobbyists' claims of a critical worker shortage, could not stop Congress from issuing another 684,189 H-1B and L-1 visas that year. The flood continued into 2003. As top-dollar lobbyists made the rounds on Capitol Hill with the story that technology corporations couldn't find American computer programmers (and those corporations dumped money into Washington -- $201M in 2000 alone), American IT workers across the country were being laid off. And while some members of Congress, fresh from depositing their campaign contribution checks, were justifying their pro-industry votes with the industry line that Americans -- the people who invented computers -- were just too lacking in skills to program them, story after story emerged of middle-aged American IT workers fired and replaced with 25-year-old foreign nationals. As a final indignity, these American workers... are often required to train their own replacements in order to receive their desperately needed severance packages... Since Congress raised the H-1b visa cap in 2000, over two million employment-related visas have been issued... Not only does the foreign replacement worker earn about half what the American he or she replaced did, but Congress lets the worker's American boss control the visa -- ensuring a work-force as compliant as it is cheap."
2004-04-29 06:44PDT (09:44EDT) (13:44GMT)
Jon Friedman _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Warner Time 1st quarter earnings more than doubled
"The results were powered by proceeds from the sale of its music division and the addition of subscribers to its high-speed-data line. Its film and cable-television businesses also performed well. The stock rose 69 cents, or 4%, to $17.20, paring a bigger gain at the opening of trading. Revenue jumped 9.2% to $10.1G from $9.24G... Net income grew to $961M, or 20 cents a share, from $396M, or 9 cents... Warner Time's debt burden dropped to $18.8G from $22.7G by the end of 2003. Parsons said he finished a 2-year project to cut its debt to below $20G after selling Warner Music to an investor consortium directed by former Vivendi executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. for $2.6G... Warner Time upped its projections for this year's profit growth to 10% at the very least."
2004-04-29 06:55PDT (09:55EDT) (13:55GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted weekly unemployment compensation insurance claims fall 18K: 4-Week average down 1,250 to 346,500
"Meanwhile, the number of unemployed workers receiving state benefits increased by 3K to 3.01M in the week ended April 17, while the 4-week average of total claims fell 9,250 to 3M, the lowest level since 2001 July..."
Thom Shanker _NY Times_
Hussein's Agents Are Behind Attacks in Iraq, Pentagon Finds
"Many bombings against Americans and their allies are organized and often carried out by Saddam Hussein's secret service."
Amy Harmon _NY Times_
"Asperger's syndrome, an autistic disorder notable for the often vast discrepancy between the intellectual and 'social abilities' of those who have it... Lacking the ability to read cues like body language to intuit what other people are thinking, they have profound difficulty navigating basic social interactions... They are filling up scarce classes that teach skills like how close to stand next to someone at a party, or how to tell when people are angry even when they are smiling. Others... have decided to disclose their diagnosis, hoping to deflect the often-hostile responses their odd manners and miscues provoke... Since the condition runs in families, psychologists treating autistic children are often the ones diagnosing it in parents or relatives... Often the new diagnoses involve people who for years have been deemed rude, clueless or just plain weird because of their blunt comments or all-too-personal disclosures. They typically have a penchant for accuracy and a hard-wired dislike for the disruption of routine. Unusually sensitive to light, touch and noise, some shrink from hand-shakes and hugs. Humor, which so often depends on tone of voice and familiarity with social customs, can be hard for them to comprehend. Although many have talents like memory for detail and an ability to focus intently for long periods, Aspies often end up under-employed and lonely. Unlike more severely impaired autistics, they often crave social intimacy, and they are acutely aware of their inability to get it. Those with the condition often develop a passion for a narrow field that drives them to excel in it, but fail to realize when they are driving others crazy by talking about it. And they are reflexively honest, a trait that can be refreshing - or not... Pretending to be normal, even for a few hours, is mentally exhausting, many Aspies say. But for some, the diagnosis is an inspiration to master what autism experts call the hidden curriculum: social rules everyone knows but could never say how they learned... 'None of us fit in with the group.'... [Re: flirting] 'I find that sometimes shutting up and just not talking often makes them think you're a good listener when in fact you're just not talking.', said one participant."
Ken Belson _NY Times_
Nortel Fires 3 Top Executives and Will Halve 2003 Profit
"Nortel Networks, North America's largest telecommunications equipment maker, fired its chief executive, chief financial officer and controller on Wednesday."
John Markoff _NY Times_
Apple Sold 70M Songs in First Year of iTunes
Ian Austen _NY Times_
Higher Density DVD Formats
"The capacity of conventional DVDs, 4.7GB, was originally based on the need to store a 135-minute film in slightly compressed standard video along with a few extras, said Michael Fidler, who helped introduce the technology to the United States in 1997... The blue (or, more accurately, blue-violet) light from the new lasers has a much shorter wavelength, creating a beam about one-fourth the size of a red laser. That allowed developers to shrink the size of the pits and lands correspondingly and squeeze the spiral track closer together. As a result, much more data fits on a disc of the same size. For the developers of Blu-ray, a change in laser color wasn't the sole answer. Their new system may owe as much to chemistry as electronics. DVDs and CDs have a thin protective layer of plastic over the substrate containing the data. Once the Blu-ray engineers had reduced the incredible shrinking pits by a factor of 5, it became apparent that the coating, just six-tenths of a mm in thickness, was not thin enough. The slightest tilting of the disc while it was being read optically distorted the laser beam as it passed through the protective layer, leading to inaccurate data readings. The solution came from TDK: it developed a protective layer that is just 0.1mm thick but harder and more scratch-resistant than current coatings."
2004-04-30 08:53PDT (11:53EDT) (15:53GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Consumer spending slowed in March: Inflation-adjusted disposable incomes up 0.1%, a 6-month low
BEA press release
"In a separate report, sources said the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index improved by one point to 94.2 in the final April reading. Also, the Chicago purchasing managers index came in much better than expected, rising to 63.9% in April from 57.6% in March."
2004-04-30 13:49PDT (16:49EDT) (20:49GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nasdaq fell 6.3%, Dow down 2.4%
"The NASDAQ extended its losing streak to 5 sessions Friday amid weakness in the technology sector... After holding on to gains for most of the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at the session low, down 46.70 points, or 0.5%, at 10,225.57. For the week, the blue chip gauge lost 2.4%. In April, the Dow was down 1.3%. The Nasdaq Composite Index also closed at the day's lows, down 38.63 points, or 2%, at 1,920.15. The index was hit for a 6.3% loss this week, 3.7% for the month. The S&P 500 ended Friday down 6.63 points, or 0.6%, at 1,107.26. The S&P was down 2.9% for the week and 1.7% for the month. Networkers, Internet, semiconductors, hardware, software, airlines, bio-technology, and brokers were among the market's worst-performing sectors... Decliners outnumbered advancers 1,884 to 1,347 on the New York Stock Exchange and 2,224 to 959 on the NASDAQ. Big Board volume totaled more than 1.6G shares, while more than 2.1G shares traded on NASDAQ."
2004-04-30 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Iraq, half a dozen US soldiers to be court-martialed for abusing prisoners, California bans insecure electronic voting
"Kevin Shelley: 'We will not tolerate deceitful tactics as engaged in by Diebold. And we must send a clear and compelling message to the rest of the industry. Don't try to pull a fast one on the voters of California.'"
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Citing Pull-Back, Anti-Graft Team Quits Teamsters
"The head of the union's anti-corruption program and 20 others resigned, saying James P. Hoffa, the union's president, was not fully committed to the effort."
Fox Butterfield _NY Times_
Study Tracks Boom in Prisons and Notes Impact on Counties
"A study [by the Urban Institute] mapping the prisons built in the last 2 decades has found that some counties in the nation now have more than 30% of their residents behind bars."
Carl Hulse _NY Times_
Senate Extends Until 2007 Ban on Internet Access Tax
"The Senate agreed Thursday to extend a ban on taxes on high-speed Internet access for another 4 years."
David L. Kirp _NY Times_
And the Rich Get Smarter
"Teen-agers from wealthy families are beating out middle- and working-class youngsters, both at top private colleges and flag-ship state universities... The trend means that 'smart poor kids', as the educator Terry Hartle bluntly puts it, 'go to college at the same rate as stupid rich kids.'... In pursuit of competitive advantage, well-off parents spend thousands of dollars on test prep courses, college admission summer camps and 'dress for success' counseling. They are more adept than their less well-heeled rivals at working the system; that brings results, especially at prestigious universities. At the other end of the spectrum, the inequity is worsening as cash-starved state schools are forced to raise tuition -- an average of 14% last year. For 2003 Fall, for example, community college fees in California rose to $18 a class hour from $11. Though that typically amounts to only about $100 a semester, enrollment was more than 100K below the state's projections... Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, announced that parents who earn less than $40K a year will no longer be asked to contribute financially to their off-spring's education."
Karl Schoenberger _San Jose Mercury News_
Jobs that go & jobs that stay here... but not for Americans
Karl Schoenberger _San Jose Mercury News_
H-1B visa at center of labor dispute
"More than 1M H-1B visas were newly approved or renewed in the four years through 2003. H-1B visas are valid for three years and can be renewed only once. Immigration officials have no record of how many visa holders remain in the country. H-1B visas, widely used in health care, education and technology... authorities have failed to monitor wages and enforce regulations."
Susan Kuchinskas _Internet News_
California Crack-Down on RFID
"A measure by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) [and the senate sub-committee on New Technology] to set privacy standards for the use of RFID (define) in stores and libraries passed the California Senate on a 22-8 vote Thursday... SB1834 permits stores and libraries to collect the same information they already collect now using bar codes, while at the same time banning the use of the technology to track people as they shop or after they leave the store... while bar codes typically offer generic information, such as 'Peas $0.99', a project by EPCglobal, a retail and manufacturing consortium, hopes to create a unique identifies for each and every can of peas and every other product in the retail supply chain... The senator's bill limits the information that can be collected to the actual item a customer is buying, renting, or borrowing; it also precludes tracking anything the person may have picked up but put back while shopping, or what they're wearing, among other such information."
Scott Smallwood _Chronicle of Higher Education_
The Invisible Adjunct shut down her popular web log and says goodbye to academe
"After 5 years of being an adjunct and a year after starting one of the most popular academic web logs, she is giving up and getting out. More than a decade after entering graduate school with great promise, she hasn't landed that full-time, tenure-track spot she dreamed of. So although she's unsure what comes next, she is quitting the academy and shutting the blog down... But if someone with a Ph.D. from a top-tier college, publications, and writing skills good enough to get thousands of people to start their day by checking what she has to say -- if she isn't one of the good ones, who is? 'She has jumped through all the hoops that the profession set for her.', says Ralph Luker, a former professor at Morehouse College and a regular participant in the Invisible Adjunct blog. 'And we failed to find a place for her.'... It doesn't matter. To the academy, she's just an adjunct, filling in at the margins, earning a couple of grand per course."
Reginald I. Vachon Phil Hamilton _ASME News_
ASME initiative on off-shoring: I.e. we're selling out
"More than half of all Fortune 500 companies say they are out-sourcing software development or expanding their R&D centers around the globe. The trend toward global out-sourcing encompasses a wide spectrum of jobs, including architecture, engineering, financial services, pharmaceuticals, legal and general office support... Recent news stories have covered moves by IBM, EDS, GE, Oracle, Texas Instruments, Intel, J.P. Morgan Chase and Accenture [formerly Anderson Consulting before they were caught up in the Enron fraud]... Recognizing this trend, ASME has been advocating effectively in support of funding for R&D and incentives for education as primary means to enable engineers to stay on the leading edge of technology and innovation. Research and development and early commercialization of new technologies may prove to be one of the best ways to preserve and enhance engineering jobs and value in a highly competitive global economy..."
Phil Hamilton is ASME's lobbyist
"Some left immediately; others, like Bronstein, were asked to stay on for several weeks to train the new folks. 'Our severance and unemployment [compensation] were contingent on training the replacements. It was quite explicit... It's the difference between hopeful and hopeless. If you're just laid off, you can tell yourself that the economy swings back and forth, but if it's out-sourced off-shore, it ain't coming back. It still exists, but it just exists in another place. The IT industry in the United States has gone from being a very high-level, well-paying industry to being very low-paying sweat-shop labor, and that's an inexorable trend.'... 'Industrialization happened and people moved from farms to factories.', says Marcus Courtney, president of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. 'In this round of globalization, people aren't moving to anything. Skills do not grant one immunity.'... Drowned out in all the hype are the voices of those on the bleeding edge of the change -- the real people caught in the cross-winds of this massive global shift. The macro out-look seems irrelevant when the goal is to pay the rent... as off-shoring eats away at ever more sophisticated jobs, is it safe to assume that there is a skill level or point in the food chain at which jobs can no longer be out-sourced?... It's an increasingly common pattern. Full-time jobs become contract work, without benefits, and then vanish over-seas... 31% of workers who lost their jobs in earlier waves were never fully reemployed, with 80% taking pay cuts." --- Jennifer Reingold _Fast Company_
Into Thin Air
interview with Ronil Hira
Look Into Their Eyes: Victims of Off-Shoring
|jgo Resume||Reading Room|
|jgo Econ Data & Graphs||jgo Econ News Bits|
|Economic News Analysis Summary|
|Kermit's home page||jgo Links|
|jgo's Work in Progress|