With the announcement from Gallup that the unemployment rate had dropped precipitously in early October to 8.3 percent came the disclaimer that they could be wrong. Chief Economist Dennis Jacobe wrote that “the sharp drop in Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment rates may partly result from seasonal factors. Halloween has become the third-largest sales season for many retailers, who are likely increasing their staffing accordingly. In addition, some stores may have been minimally staffed and are beginning early to add employees for the holidays.” But it also “means it could be something of an aberration that will dissipate during the weeks ahead ... but for now, this job market improvement appears real.”
Writing for the New York Times, Andrew Sorkin was puzzled that he couldn’t find any evidence that Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder, had given away any part of his significant $8.3 billion personal wealth. What he did find is that when Jobs returned to his old company in 1997, he canceled Apple’s philanthropic programs and they have remained dormant ever since.
Standard and Poor’s was blunt in its assessment of America’s deteriorating financial condition when it announced Friday night that it was cutting its credit rating on United States’ Treasury securities from AAA to the second-tier AA+, with a negative outlook.
Moody’s announcement on Tuesday that it would retain its AAA rating of U.S. government sovereign debt as a result of the debt-limit agreement came with a warning: The government must rein in spending or risk a downgrade anyway. The deal “virtually eliminated the risk of [a] default,” but the agency warned that “Should the new mechanism put in place by the Budget Control Act prove ineffective, this could affect the rating negatively.” Moody’s added that it wanted to see the United States lower its debt-to-GDP ratio, now approaching 100 percent, to around 73 percent by 2015, and then gradually move the ratio lower.
The compromise bill that emerged Sunday night from behind closed doors is being loudly trumpeted in an attempt to persuade recalcitrant conservatives in both houses to vote for something — anything — in time to avoid the August 2 deadline.
Claiming that granting a “tax holiday” for her company (and other large multinationals) would be beneficial to the United States, Oracle President Safra Catz said that such a holiday would allow earnings sitting in idle accounts abroad to be “repatriated” and freed up for better use here in the United States. “It’s an absolute no-brainer,” she said. If the money flows back to the United States, “it will create jobs.” If it stays where it is, it will wind up “funding everybody else’s economies and banks.”
On Sunday, millions of Super Bowl fans will most likely ignore the huge investment Chrysler is making in television ads in promoting its new 2011 models. Those ads are part of the vehicle manufacturer’s efforts to revive the company and start making some money.
Despite their huge numbers and cultural and financial impact on the economy, the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have largely been unwilling to face fiscal reality. Robert Samuelson, a frequent writer for Newsweek, noted back in 2007 that “We [he is a Boomer] are trying to pillage our children and grandchildren, putting the country’s future at risk in the process. On one of the great issues of our time, the costs of our retirement, we have adopted a policy of selfish silence.”
When Bloomberg polled so-called real estate “experts” about the housing market, they expected a slight pull-back in housing prices of perhaps 0.2 percent when compared to a year ago. Instead, the Case-Shiller Index showed prices dropped four times greater than expected: “The biggest year-over-year decline since December 2009,” according to the group.
Despite being verbally abused and legislatively hamstrung ever since the start of the Obama administration, those CEOs arriving at the Blair House Wednesday for another Summit meeting with the President seemed in good spirits. In a pre-announcement, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, was all smiles: “[This] working session is an opportunity for the president to continue building strong partnerships in the business community.”