Monthly Archives: February 2011

Somebody’s wrong on home sales numbers

National Association of Realtors is going back and re-examining its home sales numbers back as far as 2007 in case it over-estimated them, according to the Wall Street Journal. NAR estimated realtors sold 5.2 million houses in 2009, while real estate data firm CoreLogic estimated 3.3 million were sold. That’s quite a gap.

If CoreLogis is right,  the oversupply of houses is higher than commonly thought.

Business chooses new hires — last

Big business is making decisions about how to spend the trillions in cash its earned in the last two years — and hiring more workers, it turns out, is its least favorite option. Companies continue to squeeze their work forces to increase productivity. Instead, they’re buying back stock, buying other companies and starting up plants and offices overseas. American workers are the losers with stagnant salaries and unemployment.

This is American Capitalism. We’ve seen this jobless recovery the last three recessions, but the phenomenon seems to be getting stronger. American companies are getting more competitive globally, but at a terrific cost to American workers. Instead, the main benefit flow to corporate executives getting bigger salaries, the owners (shareholders) and overseas workers.

No amount of Obama scolding will change that because of the financial incentives and, more importantly, the culture built into American-style capitalism. And, it should help guide government policy as it seeks to coax business to hire more.

Looking for a good deal on a house? Try Florida

17 of the 20 worst cities for foreclosure are in Florida, according to a new study, starting with Miami at 17.5 percent.  Wichita was 258th out of 367 cities with a rate of 3.3 percent.

Government seeks to rejigger big bank paychecks

FDIC is trying to curb “excessive” pay days for top execs of large banks, according to CCH. Many blame the incentive structure among big banks executives for causing the banking crisis and recession — huge paychecks for taking risks that later blew up. It affects banks with assets of more than $1 billion, 630 total, including several that do business in Wichita.

And for the biggest banks, those over $50 billion in assets, it wants executives to be forced to take half of their compensation over three years so they suffer if they make bad long-term decisions.

Push the unemployed off insurance, then what…?

I know it’s a common conception by many that the unemployed are just sitting around collecting their unemployment insurance and not trying to get another job. That may even be true for some, but the latest figures show that, as of December, there were 14 million unemployed workers and just 3.1 million jobs open. That means almost five people competing for every job.

Pushing them off insurance may whet their appetite to find work, but is that  humane given the fact is that most of them won’t find it and the alternative for them is…?

Trouble at Wal-Mart?

Interesting reading here from Yahoo about some choppy waters at the nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart.

Your thoughts?

Companies are pickier than they used to be

This interview with Jeff Joerres, CEO of Manpower, on Yahoo! Finance is really interesting. Nothing shocking, but he does have a nice analysis on why companies aren’t hiring: low demand (which is slowly improving), a more or less permanent commitment to doing more with less, and a new-found pickiness in hiring allowed by the slow ramp up in demand.

A view inside a Cargill Meat Solutions slaughterhouse

I was flipping channels last night when I came across a repeat of Tuesday’s Oprah Winfrey Show. The show’s focus was veganism, but the part that caught my eye was a segment by Lisa Ling.

Ling visited a Cargill Meat Solutions slaughterhouse in Fort Morgan, Colo. Ling toured the plant with Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, the general manager in Fort Morgan. Johnson-Hoffman did a great job explaining the process during the tour and in a segment on the show.

I found the video interesting, albeit a tad gross for this city boy, so beware if you just ate lunch and aren’t interested in finding out where your burger was a few days ago.