Is our economy really going to hell?(OT)

I have a freind who follows Wall street carefully,hes an investment broker who looks after my meagre portfolio.(I should have enough to live well when
I retire at 65,as long as I don't get older than 67) Hes been predicting a major meltdown, on Oct 26 as a matter of fact. I understand how bad things are for the big 3 auto companys, but as I work for a US company, recent events are making me quite nervous. The company I work for had 1200 employees up till one year ago. Last December 500 were laid off,it seems pemanently. Of the 700 left,a few have been axed (both staff and hourly) in dribs and drabs untill were down to about 500. The company announced the cancellation of the order of "center beam" cars weve been working on a few weeks ago,due to a downturn in the building market in the US (these rigs carry lumber) When the remains of this order is completed in two weeks,all but about 100 will be laid off. We have an order for 400 flat cars that is supposed to start up when they get the line set up in January, but only about 300 people will be reqired,and those 400 cars will be done by spring. No more orders on the books. Eveyday I read more company E-mails and there all bad, the high Canadian dollar,increased fuel costs,slowdown in markets etc. Now theres a rumour that even this flat car order is to be cancelled. I don't see anything new being set up in the assembly shop. As a power engineer,I think Ill be safe till spring,as surely they'll want to heat the place, we have 27 acres of buildings under roof thats heated by our steam plant. But Im starting to wonder,I sure don't want to go to Alberta,or anywhere. I know a lot of you guys know a lot about this stuff,and this post isn't meant to start any wars(I hope it dosen't) but Id just like to get a feel for what you guys think is going on. 1929 all over again?
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No.
The closest thing to 1929 since 1929 was 1979-81. Double digit inflation, a Prime interest rate near 20%, and double digit unemployment. Many have forgotten 1979-81. I won't.
Interest rates and inflation are both tame. And, I'd have died to have the job opportunities that are available today, to me, when I graduated high school in 1981.
The current housing adjustment is just that, an adjustment. After many years of unbridled growth, the market is getting a reality check. Existing home sales began increasing once again last month. 6-7% Mortgages are still more reasonable than the first ones I signed up for. The market is not going to crash.
If you are locked into working for a certain company, unable or unwilling, whichever be the case, to change, the fortunes of that company control your destiny. Individual companies can fail during the best of overall economic times. Especially if they are in a maturing business that is oversupplied, or becoming obsolete.
Studebaker survived the technological obsolescence of the horse and buggy by becoming an auto maker. Then, Studebaker ceased making automobiles in one of the best years ever to that date for the auto industry. Think about that.

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Absolutely NOT!!!
for the last 4 years, since the dot-com bust, my commute down I-680 into Silicon Valley has been a breeze - it went from almost 2 hours in the morning ( 25 miles) to about 35 minutes. Instead of seeing traffic get lighter in the summer, and get heavy again when school started in september, it's been fairly steady... until this fall. Traffic has gotten worse. Not quite as bad as 2000 or 2001, but still worse.
The economy is booming - this is a prime indicator.
some pre-announcements ( of lower revenues) by my company's competitors in the semiconductor industry means that we're probably heading into a recession next year, but for today, things are still hopping.
just my 2 cents.
Jeff
Kevin Wolford wrote:

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Thank Clinton for NAFTA and selling us out to the Chinese.
Robert Black wrote:

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I hear the Chinese economy is doing well.
I predict that in 30 years we'll be peddling bikes to work for minimum wage for a subsidiary sweatshop of WalMart (which will buy out everyone by then) while the Chinese are driving gas guzzling SUV's into work from the suburbs.
Lee

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Thanks for the obligatory Clinton slam, now this topic can spin off into hate and discontent.
Jeff, you asleep?
Michael - Roseland FL wrote:

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Nope. Wide awake and too smart to bite with crappy bait and lures like this. Jeff ( Fishing in stocked ponds is way too easy <lol>..) Rice
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Wrong Presidents
NAFTA:
December 17, 1992 Salinas, Bush, and Mulroney sign the NAFTA agreement.
Most China favored Nation:
"MFN status was restored to China in 1980 conditionally under Title IV (including the Jackson-Vanik freedom-of-emigration amendment) of the Trade Act of 1974 and must be renewed annually." It has been renewed by every President since.
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John Poulos wrote:

Yeah, but it was not in effect until an intense campaign by Clinton, Gore in 1993 or 1994. Remember the famous Gore/Perot debate??? Perot was right!
Oh, and don't forget GATT, a 100% Clinton deed that followed..

Just goes to show that *all* politicians are bottom feeders...
JT

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Like I said, thank Clinton for NAFTA and sekking us out to the Chinese. Read this and get back to me:
Not even the boldest booster can deny the bare facts: U.S. exports did increase, by 36 percent to Mexico and 33 percent to Canada, between 1993 and 1996. But imports increased more--up 83 percent from Mexico, 41 percent from Canada--increasing the U.S. trade deficit by $39 billion.
Those import/export numbers presumably led the Clinton administration to backpedal from earlier claims: Issued quietly a week past the July 1 deadline, the official report claimed NAFTA had generated only a "modest positive effect" on the U.S. economy. The corporate-owned media followed that lead, producing a handful of stories that mirrored the administration's upbeat tone.
Most accounts noted perfunctorily that Clinton's evaluation was "likely to provide ammunition for both sides in the NAFTA debate" (L.A. Times, 7/12/97), but the anti-NAFTA ammunition went largely undescribed: Mainstream coverage overwhelmingly echoed Clinton's accent on the positive and, in particular, the emphasis on total exports as the measure of NAFTA's success, rather than balance of trade--even though balance is considered far more important than volume in determining the impact of trade on jobs.
Critics call the shift in emphasis an example of bait and switch. "During the debate, they said the overall trade balance would improve. Now that that hasn't happened, they've changed their tune," says Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Along with the Economic Policy Institute, Global Trade Watch and other groups, IPS issued its own report card, "NAFTA at Three Years: The Failed Experiment."
Establishment media also left unchallenged the administration's attribution of the disappointing trade balance results to internal Mexican economic problems that had nothing to do with the pact. The New York Times (7/11/97), for example, referred matter-of-factly to "the deep financial crisis that engulfed Mexico in 1995 and turned a small American trade surplus with the country into a deficit." A Washington Post article (7/11/97) speculated on NAFTA's effect "if the impact of Mexico's financial crisis is factored out."
But to "factor out" Mexico's peso crisis in assessing NAFTA is disingenuous in the extreme, Anderson says, because the two are deeply entwined. "The Failed Experiment" argues that the peso's fall was a necessary part of Mexico's "aggressive export-led growth strategy"--a strategy that was premised on NAFTA. The artificially high peso had kept down inflation in Mexico, which was key to NAFTA's passage in the U.S. and to the 1994 election of pro-NAFTA Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo.
In fact, mainstream media largely acknowledged this at the time; much of their pro-NAFTA reporting depicted the pact as crucial for Mexico's economic future. The L.A. Times declared in 1993 (3/25/93) that NAFTA would "keep Mexico stable." And the Washington Post explained why: It reported (7/1/93) that the Mexican economy "is supported by a heavy flow of investment from abroad," and "a lot of that investment is based on the assumption that the United States will keep its word in putting the trade agreement into effect."
But that's all forgotten now: The Mexican crisis, which devastated that country's economy, doubling the number of unemployed, dropping real wages 27 percent in just two years and pushing millions of people into poverty, is today just a sad story whose only connection to NAFTA is that it "initially overshadowed any gains from" the pact (U.S. News & World Report, 7/7/97).
Some outlets are categorical: "Analysts say the notion that NAFTA caused the 1995 peso crisis is simply wrong-headed," asserted the L.A. Times (7/9/97). "The crisis--and the slump that followed--were spawned by mismanagement on the part of Mexican policymakers, who had kept the peso artificially high to distract from domestic political problems, analysts say."
Jobs! Jobs! Jobs?
In 1993 (5/11/93), the Washington Post declared without qualification that NAFTA would "create twice as many jobs in this country as it will threaten," while other outlets (e.g., L.A. Times, 5/29/93) limited themselves to the claim that it would generate "many more U.S. jobs than it will eliminate."
In 1997, however, the same outlets that were so confident in predicting the future threw up their hands at the idea of reporting the present. "For all the claims and counterclaims about NAFTA's impact on employment, analysts have no good way to measure it," says the L.A. Times (7/9/97). The New York Times is similarly stumped: "Officials said there were largely unsolvable problems in generating an accurate estimate of job losses," they declare (7/11/97).
NAFTA critics aren't buying that line. Economists routinely use trade balances to reckon job creation and loss; the "Failed Experiment" indicates that the quadrupling of the U.S. deficit with Mexico and Canada works out to some 420,000 jobs lost to increased imports and to companies shifting production to Mexico to take advantage of lower wages.
Some articles did cite Labor Depart-ment statistics that, by July of this year, more than 133,000 U.S. workers had applied for the "transitional adjustment assistance" program set up to address job loss connected to NAFTA. But most accounts left out facts that suggest why that number isn't a very good indicator: It excludes all those who seek help through other, more accessible programs, and it only includes people employed directly in manufacturing--if a factory shuts down, the secretaries and administrators who lose their jobs don't qualify (much less other affected workers in the surrounding community).
NAFTA proponents often play down the numbers of people thrown out of work by "free trade" policies, arguing that it's more important that the jobs created are in export sectors that pay higher-than-average wages. That analysis, supported by the White House, repeatedly found its way into news reports; but readers had to find the occasional "opinion" column to get any countervailing information, however basic--like the fact that the jobs being lost to import competition also pay higher-than-average wages (Jeff Faux, Washington Post op-ed, 5/20/97), or that even the much-ballyhooed NAFTA-generated exports can wind up costing U.S. jobs, since "more and more, multinationals are shipping components to Mexico, so they can be assembled by low-wage workers, then sent right back as finished products to the United States." (David Bonier, New York Times op-ed, 7/13/97) This kind of "revolving door" export has more than doubled under NAFTA.
Unsubtle Threats
If disputes about the number of lost jobs were pushed to mainstream media margins, discussion of NAFTA's impact on wages and workers' rights was forced off the page entirely. Media overwhelmingly ignored, for example, the compelling report commissioned by the U.S. Labor Department on U.S. employers' use of the threat of "moving to Mexico" to hold down wages and benefits. (According to Cornell University researcher Kate Bronfen-brenner, who conducted the study, the Clinton administration sat on the results for several months before they were finally released--National News Reporter, 5/97.)
Employers have long used plant-closing threats to keep workers from forming unions and to force concessions, but Bronfenbrenner found (Multinational Monitor, 3/97) that between 1993 and 1995, employers used this illegal maneuver in a whopping 50 percent of all union certification elections; 15 percent actually did shut down within two years of a union victory--triple the rate found in the late 1980s, before NAFTA went into effect. "In fact, in several campaigns, the employer used media coverage of the NAFTA debate to threaten the workers that it was fully within the company's power to move the plant to Mexico if workers were to organize," Bronfen-brenner wrote.
The threats aren't subtle: During a United Auto Workers 1995 organizing campaign, Michigan's ITT Automotive parked tractor-trailers full of equipment in front of the plant, bearing hot-pink signs reading "Mexico Transfer Job." Another company posted maps of North America throughout the factory, with an arrow pointing from the current plant site to Mexico. Workers get the message; where employers used such threats, unions' success rate dropped significantly.
Of course, whether something is a problem or a boon depends on where you stand. U.S. News & World Report (7/7/97), for one, did acknowledge that "a growing number of U.S. companies [have turned] to Mexico for manpower and manufacturing capacity" as a direct result of NAFTA. But they see that as a good thing, since it "may have helped ease the bottlenecks that cause inflation during an economic expansion," providing what one source describes as a "relief valve" from inflationary pressure. Readers familiar with media corporate-speak know that "inflation" means higher wages; so U.S. News is telling us that NAFTA gives employers "relief" from having to pay workers more. Cham-pagne, anyone?
Losers Weepers
In place of thoughtful analysis of the kind and quality of jobs destroyed and created by NAFTA, the corporate-owned media offered a gloss: Trade pacts, in the ubiquitous simpleminded phrase, produce "losers" as well as "winners." While implicitly or explicitly arguing that winners matter more, media have made occasional passing mention of what might be done about those annoying losers.
"Congress should provide generous retraining and relocation assistance to those who will suffer" under NAFTA, the New York Times (8/17/93) suggested vaguely back in 1993. The Washington Post (3/15/93) agreed: Govern-ment must "acknowledge an obligation to the people who get hurt in the process," and that means "job training and adjustment legislation."
Critics like the Economic Policy Institute's Jeff Faux (Washington Post op-ed, 5/20/97) point to obvious fallacies in the retraining "solution." The ratio of U.S. to Mexican wages, Faux notes, is roughly 9 to 1. "Even if this administration and Congress were willing to finance first-class retraining for American workers, which they are not, it is impossible to make U.S. workers anywhere near nine times as productive as Mexican workers in competing industries."
But you won't find such criticism taken up in mainstream news accounts. Once they'd declared "retraining and education" the linchpin in ameliorating any harmful "free trade" fallout, the establishment press corps promptly lost interest in it. Recent NAFTA assessments offered no information on the scope, success or even the existence of any such effort.
In fact, establishment media won't even take up the issue of trade pacts' disparate impact on different groups of people when they're handed the opportunity. When more than 150 labor, environmental and human rights activists protesting the proposed expansion of NAFTA to Chile rallied in San Francisco on June 26, they were simply ignored by the city's major dailies, the Chronicle and the Examiner (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 7/2/97).
A group of mostly Latino members of Congress met similar media indifference when they publicly protested the disproportionate burden NAFTA puts on Latino, African-American and female workers, who often work in especially vulnerable regions and industries. The Washington Post (7/16/97), which ran a brief item on page C13, sidestepped the protest's substance to frame it as most importantly a "blow to President Clinton's trade agenda."
Another topic that somehow dropped off the media's radar between 1994 and 1997 was NAFTA's impact on the environment. It's a glaring absence in the current discussion, says IPS's Anderson, "because that's been perhaps NAFTA's most outrageous failure."
The disturbing information cited by Anderson and others would make for gripping reporting: In NAFTA's wake, fewer than 1 percent of trucks entering the U.S. each year are inspected--even though 50 percent of those inspected are rejected for major safety violations. Or that much Mexican produce is entering the U.S. with illegal pesticide residue due to weakened food safety inspections.
Such complaints got a mention in some of the mainstream accounts of the White House NAFTA report, but few outlets considered them worthy of any actual investigation. One exception, a June 30, 1997 L.A. Times story on pollution control efforts on the U.S.-Mexican border, provided a pretty bleak picture of NAFTA's public health repercussions.
While including information on some NAFTA-produced improvements, like a new water treatment plant in the Tijuana River Valley, the story found much more evidence of broken promises and official indifference. For example, "only 16 of 98 promised public utility projects have been approved for financing through NAFTA; just one has been completed." Forty percent of the Mexican population in the border area have no sewers or drinkable water, likewise some 400,000 people on the U.S. side. The notoriously toxic New River "still runs black on days when Mexicali's inadequate sewer system is overwhelmed," and ground water in expanding border cities is being depleted at alarming rates.
"As the trucks roll north carrying Zenith TVs, General Motors auto parts, Sony computer monitors . . . and a host of other name-brand products," wrote reporters Frank Clifford and Mary Beth Sheridan, "they pass through communities with elevated rates of tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, salmonellosis and other diseases associated with bad water and bad air."
NAFTA encouraged an explosion in industry in the already polluted maquiladora zone, but "did not mandate a crackdown on polluters or a cleanup of existing pollution." And while the pact outlined some programs for infrastructure improvements, "lending policies and high interest rates by NAFTA's financial arm, the North American Development Bank, have made it difficult for many small border towns, especially in Mexico, to qualify for assistance."
This kind of in-depth exploration of NAFTA's actual impact on real communities is just what was missing from most of mainstream coverage, which generally presents the issue as claims and counterclaims, facts be damned. That it appeared in the L.A. Times is noteworthy; in 1993, the paper argued in an outraged editorial (7/1/93) that calls for the trade pact to include an environmental impact statement were "based on dubious assumptions about NAFTA's negative effects on the environment, especially along the U.S.-Mexico border," and gave "too much credence to scare scenarios of extreme environmentalists."

If news reports ignored NAFTA's failures, or blurred them with ostensibly neutral language, editorials made it clear that the corporate-owned media are emphatically allied with "free trade" boosters. Indeed, mainstream editorialists all appear to be reading from the same primer.
NAFTA has been "a sweet deal economically" that President Clinton "should have no hesitation in declaring . . . a success," said the L.A. Times (6/30/97). The pact has been "good for Mexico," creating a "bountiful trade family." There is no mention whatsoever of the trade deficit, and the paper gives only a throwaway sentence to "legitimate concerns" like "the jobs picture, environmental aspects, political effects"; such questions, they allow, should be "heard out and investigated where necessary."
The Washington Post was equally upbeat: "Free trade is good for the U.S. economy," it declared (4/27/97); it "helps create jobs that tend to be higher-paying than average," and promotes the exports that have "helped revive the U.S. manufacturing sector." For workers who "lose out" under the new policy, the Post's remedy is the same glib panacea from 1993: "retraining" and "improved education to create the kind of labor force that will attract long-term investment."
In a New York Times op-ed (7/13/97) that questioned the conventional wisdom, a former member of a presidential commission on U.S./ Asian-Pacific trade, Kenneth Lewis, called for a "national dialogue" on trade. We need to ask fundamental questions, like: "What is the purpose of our trade policy and what do we want our domestic economy to look like?" and: "What conditions must exist--concerning human rights, workers' rights or environmental protections--for us to allow other nations' goods to enter our country?"
Far from providing the space for such a dialogue, when it comes to trade, mainstream media don't even pretend to present two sides: The "debate" they offer is between a presumed consensus of economists who "understand" the issue and a few stray "political Luddites" (L. A. Times, 7/1/93) who don't. Even as their concerns are borne out, organizations critical of NAFTA are portrayed as partisan--as in the New York Times (7/11/97) formulation, "labor unions, environmentalists and other Democratic constituencies"--or "protectionist." Trade policy dissenters are presented as merely wanting to "kill" trade pacts, instead of calling for open discussion of their implications and offering alternative economic visions.
Most disturbing is that while establishment media's coverage of NAFTA's effects sidestepped critics' substantive concerns and ignored myriad issues that cry out for investigation, these outlets were also clamoring for President Clinton to be given "fast track" authority to negotiate even further-reaching trade pacts (involving Chile and other countries) with limited discussion. But it's not surprising that national media who are so unwilling to honestly examine the effects of past trade pacts would be interested in squelching debate on future ones.
Grumpy AuContraire wrote:

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Holy crap a politician misled us, you got me, Clinton is responsible for everything bad that happened since. After all he piled up the pesky budget surplus so GW could piss it away on a bigger government and a war without end. Let's bash Nixon or Carter for a while, that we can agree on.
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The majority of that surplus can be thanked to his vice-president inventing the internet which created the .com boom. <G>
Lee

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Now that I agree with.
"The inventor of the Mosaic Browser, Marc Andreesen, credits Gore with making his work possible. He received a federal grant through Gore's High Performance Computing Act. The University of Pennsylvania's Dave Ferber says that without Gore the Internet "would not be where it is today."
Joseph E. Traub, a computer science professor at Columbia University, claims that Gore "was perhaps the first political leader to grasp the importance of networking the country. Gore never claimed that he "invented" the Internet, which implies that he engineered the technology. The invention occurred in the seventies and allowed scientists in the Defense Department to communicate with each other. In a March 1999 interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gore said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. Could we perhaps see an end to cheap shots from politicians and pundits about inventing the Internet?"
Lee Aanderud wrote:

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I predict Al Gore will be the next face carved into Mount Rushmore... or maybe they'll scrub the current faces and use the blank slate for Al. He's already the father of the internet which produced the latest economic revolution in this country. Next he'll be responsible for single-handedly reversing global warming and saving the planet... that is after he parachutes into Pakistan and retrieves the body (dead or alive) of Bin Laden and bringing the fighting in Iraq and the rest the Middle East to an end. Rambo is looking more and more like a Girl Scout compared to this guy. Or maybe I'm just revealing the script from the next Michael Moore movie.
Lee

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History will judge all the politicians, not us. We could keep a pissing contest going over events happening 20 years or more ago. If GW turns Iraq into the land of milk and honey, it'll come out one way, if the coast is under water in 100 years, it'll come out another. Hell, I now look back on Reagan as a conservative I could live with after seeing GW's version of a small government and less foreign involvement.
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History written by whom? Here's a joke that's relevant.
George W. Bush is seen crossing the Potomac river on foot. The Washington Post : "President Bush crosses the Potomac River". The Washington Time : "Bush's conservative approach saves taxpayers a boat". Mother Jones : "Bush can't swim".
Lee

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Not to change the subject but the OT topic was, is our economy really going to hell? The answers to THAT question is obviously NO, for anyone willing to do a search on the subject. If you do you will find the facts are that the current state of the economy is the highest it has ever been in our history, based on GNP. The income to the treasury is the highest in our history, even though everybody we given a tax rate cut to spur the economy after 9/11. Unemployment is at the lowest in history. The number of successful small business continues to grow. More people own their home than at any time in history, and the US is still by far the largest manufacturing.county in the world.
The biggest problem facing our economy is there is an ever growing shortage of qualified people to do the work that currently is available in the US, and it is aggravated by the growing number of boomers that are retiring. Labor Department figures show there are only three qualified people available to for every five job openings in the US! Employers are happy it they can just find somebody who will come to work on time, stay the shift and in trainable.
Although we currently are operating with a budget defect the county has historically operated with a deficit during wartime. When FDR was asked about the horrendous deficits during WWII his reply was; 'One does not worry about the water bill when the house in on fire.' We have plenty of time after our county is safe again to make up any deficit.
mike hunt

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If this is a war, why don't we have a draft. We've lowered the published standards to the level of people you wouldn't let into your house, and the unofficial (end of month) standards (which have existed since the end of the depression) even lower. I'm 67 years old, blind in one eye with glaucoma in both and a trouble-maker to boot! If I were ex-army instead of navy, I bet they could find a spot for me if I offered my sevices.
Karl
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Give the war a few more years and they'll take you. The Army Reserve age limit was raised from 35 to 40 in March 2005, then to 42 in Jan 2006.
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The draft was ended a long time ago. Today military is all volunteer.
mike hunt

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