Saturday, September 12, 2015

Your Last Call Chart Of The Week

Here's the chart of average job openings per job since 2000.

Screen Shot 2015 09 11 at 11.58.48 AM

In other words, we're back to an employee's labor market rather than the employer's. Thanks Obama!

"The ratio of the unemployed to the level of job openings has decline to 1.43x, far below the near-7x peak at the worst part of the Great Recession and a place we have been at just two other times before (since the JOLTS data were first published.) 
This may well be the most accurate measure of just how tight the labor market is — we are heading to an environment where we are down to one person competing for one job. 
The sands have shifted towards this being a sellers' market for labour. 
Wage acceleration either starts real soon or we can simply take the laws of supply and demand and throw them in the dustbin."

Of course, a well-timed extended government shutdown might cause some problems there with the economy...

That would be a shame, wouldn't it?

United, We Fall

Things are looking pretty bad for United Continental (the parent company of United Airlines, which recently completed a merger with Continental Airways) as CEO Jeff Smisek has suddenly quit his job.  The reason?  The Feds are closing in on Smisek as evidence grows of a bribery scheme where the airline created flights specifically to keep the now former head of the Port Authority of NY/NJ happy.

Jeff Smisek’s sudden exit as United Continental Holdings Inc.’s chief executive officer deepens questions about whether he was more than simply a victim of pressure by Port Authority officials who made demands during business negotiations with the carrier in 2011. 
Prosecutors are looking into whether United’s creation of the so-called
chairman’s flight amounted to a bribe by the airline or a shakedown by then-Port Authority Chairman David Samson, according to people familiar with the matter. They said the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey is investigating United’s decision to launch twice-weekly flights between Newark Liberty International Airport and Columbia, South Carolina, near Samson’s weekend home after Samson pressed United to do so. At the time, United was seeking millions of dollars in investments from the authority
Samson first mentioned his interest in the flights a year before they began, at a September 2011 dinner in Manhattan attended by Smisek and two other United executives who also resigned Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported in April, citing people familiar with the event.

United said the resignations were tied to an ongoing internal inquiry “related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.”
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who is leading the probe in Newark, is probably weeks from deciding whether to charge anyone from the airline, according to a person familiar with the case who isn’t authorized to discuss it publicly. 
“The easiest knee-jerk reaction is he stepped down because criminal charges are imminent,” said Michael Koenig, a former federal prosecutor now with Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP who isn’t involved in the case. But Smisek and the two others may have violated a company policy, or it may be a situation where “the very existence of an investigation brings unnecessary publicity on the company -- and someone has to pay the price.”

One hell of a bribe, eh?  Getting an airline to create a twice-weekly flight to your hometown from work?  That's nice if you can get it, especially since oil prices (and jet fuel prices) are a lot lower, and airlines are still charging passengers fees for everything from carry-ons to peanuts.  The airline industry looks like it'll have their best year ever in 2015 too, with $30 billion in profits alone as taxpayers are expected to pay for airport improvements and subsidize the airlines as they continue to cut flights and pack in as many people like sardines in cans.

But hey, if you're in charge of an airport, airlines will like you.  A lot.

Taxing America's Patience

If you're still wondering how Jeb! Bush is hovering around the 5% mark in GOP polls, it's because he's trying to sell his brother's policies with all the charisma of Mitt Romney with a head cold. Greg Sargent:

Time magazine reports that a new analysis from the Dem-aligned Center for American Progress calculates that Jeb Bush’s new tax plan would cut his own taxes by $773,000. This suggests that Democrats will try do to Jeb what they did to Mitt Romney: Cast him as a walking symbol, and personal beneficiary, of GOP priorities that seek to preserve or even exacerbate a tax code rigged for the rich and against the middle class. 
What’s interesting here is the Bush campaign’s response to charges that his tax plan would result in a huge windfall for the rich: It is arguing that his plan would nonetheless increase the share of the overall tax burden that the wealthy bear.
Buttressing the argument that people like Jeb would make out very well from Jeb’s plan, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new analysis from a business-backed tax group concludes that the biggest boost in after-tax income under his plan goes to the top one percent of earners, that is, people making more than $406,000:

They would see their after-tax incomes increase on average by 11.6%, according to the analysis. That’s the biggest change for any income group. 
The average for all income levels would be a 3.3% increase in income. The second-biggest beneficiaries would be folks in the top 10%, those making more than about $117,000. Their incomes would go up by 4.7%. 
The Bush campaign responds that his tax plan also cuts taxes for tens of millions of middle class families, and eliminates income taxes entirely for a range of lower income families. In sum, a Bush campaign spokesman told the Journal, the Bush plan means that “the highest earners actually pay a greater share of the tax burden than they did before.”

Even stupid Republican voters are figuring out that a tax plan that would save the one percent billions in taxes means somebody's got to pay for schools and roads and water pipes and things, and that if the one percent isn't paying for it, somebody else has to.

More and more are finally realizing that "somebody else" = "me".  Only took them 40 years to figure that out, too.

The West's Katrina Moment

It's time to come to terms that with all the idiocies flying around with President Obama's various "Katrinas", policy decisions that somehow evoke the disastrous response of the Bush administration to New Orleans ten years ago, the one single thing in the Obama presidency that actually qualifies as a true humanitarian disaster on his watch is our response to the Syrian refugee crisis.  Emily Hauser:

The numbers are almost unfathomable. What does more than 11 million people look like? It looks like the entire population of Ohio. It looks like Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York City, and Washington, D.C., rolled into one. In relative terms, Syria's 11 million refugees and IDPs are the equivalent of 155 million Americans fleeing death and chaos, more than half of them children
Of the the four million or so who have escaped Syria, about 50 percent are being hosted by Turkey. Jordan has taken in 630,000, which, given that country's population of six million, means one out of every 13 people in Jordan today is actually Syrian. Lebanon has absorbed 1.7 million refugees — a number that translates to about one out of five people currently in Lebanon. 
To repeat: This has been going on for four years. More than four years, actually, as it all began when Assad turned his armed forces on peaceful protesters in March 2011. Remember the heady days of the Arab Spring, when news out of the Middle East was actually inspiring? The current Syrian horror show is a big chunk of what happened when the news stopped being so inspiring. When the Syrian "Spring" became all-out war and it got so complicated that seemingly no one knew what to do, so most of the West stopped paying attention and an entire nation imploded. 
During all that time, the U.S. has taken in 1,434 Syrian refugees; the U.K. a total of 216; and the fabulously wealthy Gulf states have sheltered none.

And here, President Obama is not alone.  It's not just his Katrina, but Europe's Katrina and the Gulf States's Katrina as well, Canada and the UK, Germany and Saudi Arabia.  It's Katrina for dozens of world leaders, of which President Obama is one.  He didn't cause this mess, that's all Bashar Al-Assad's fault.

But the response has been an utter, shameful failure on our part, and the failure has been absolute. Half the population of Syria has fled.  Half.

We screwed up on Syria, big time.  As much as this administration has done wonders for America and the world, this is the one subject on which I believe the Obama administration has been totally incompetent to the point of near criminal negligence.  Several other world leaders, from Angela Merkel to King Salman to Stephen Harper and more deserve the blame, and at the top of the list of Bashar Al-Assad.  He is the monster who caused this mess.

And whether or not we should have invaded Syria and deposed Assad is a moot point, we chose not to do that...but we also chose to do nothing as 5 million people lost their homes.  And yeah, times were tough here and we still have our own millions of homeless, but at least here they have some support mechanism which Obama has fought for keeping and improving, unlike the GOP.

It's not going to be a popular sentiment around here, but our response to Syria has been complete indifference and as Emily says, shameful.  It is the world's Katrina.  And we're going to have to live with this for a very long time.
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