general depression trends vs. Timesizing®
[Commentary] © 2004-14 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
Those who need no convincing can jump to an outline of the solution by clicking on Timesizing.   Note that * (asterisk)  means another website.

"What depression trends?"  That's what experts kept asking all through the Roaring '20s despite waves of mergers and downsizings, especially in banking.  Well, as Will Rogers put it, "We only know what we read in the papers" and what we read is... ongoing depression, due to more income concentration and less circulation. *Economics Toy Box of Watertown MA nails the fact that as we redistribute money upwards, it circulates slower because the more money you have, the smaller the percentage of it you spend, or donate, or even invest in anything that creates jobs or grows the consumer base. And the major economic policy currently pushed by a tiny subset of the 1% onto the central bank of the world's largest economy, the Federal Reserve, is worsening, not helping things. Wall Streeters disguise this sickening cure with the happy-sounding polysyllables of "quantitative easing" = QE1,2,3... but it amounts to massive money printing in an attempt to stimulate an economy getting slower as more and more of the money supply is coagulated in the topmost 1% and 0.01%. But the only beneficiaries of this "stimulus" are the tiny population of the wealthiest, who funnel unlimitedly large percentages of the money supply to an unlimitedly small percentage of the population, themselves, and as we saw, this actually circulates a smaller percentage of their money than any other bracket, and circulates it more slowly than in any other bracket, and indeed, actually CAUSES depression by a coagulation of, or an embolism or black hole in, the money supply. Here it is, *explained and *re-explained, in cartoons.   And below on this page, from the deep-structure viewpoint of worktime economics (dba Timesizing), we track the unending "stumbling recovery" that the wealthiest people in the economy are causing against their own interests:

7/17/2014  depression trends from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), regional papers or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


6/01/2014  depression trends from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), regional papers or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


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12/19/2013  depression trends from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), regional papers or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


12/15/2013  depression trends from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), regional papers or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -

  1. The great mismatch - Unemployment remains vexingly high despite a slew of job openings - The reason? Workers often lack skills the new positions demand, by Jay Fitzgerald, 12/15 Boston Globe, G1.
    The Massachusetts unemployment rate remains above 7 percent, with more than 250,000 workers officially listed as unemployed. Thousands can’t find full-time jobs. And thousands more are so discouraged by job prospects that they’ve stopped looking for work.
    Yet the state’s health care industry has thousands of job openings, with some individual hospitals needing hundreds of workers, both with and without college degrees, industry officials say. The booming life sciences sector — which includes biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical-device companies — also has plenty of jobs available, and not just for scientists with PhDs. Hundreds of full-time lab technician positions, which don’t require college degrees, are going unfilled.
    Even manufacturing, which has yet to fully recover from the recent recession, is experiencing acute shortages within certain fields, especially for workers trained to run sophisticated computerized machinery.
    This contradiction between historically high unemployment and labor shortages in certain industries is partly the result of a changing economy that is demanding new and different types of skills and is leaving many workers behind. Four years after the last recession ended, policy makers, economists, and job-training specialists remain frustrated about how to get the right people into the right jobs — and drive down the jobless rate.
    “There’s a mismatch between the skills of the unemployed and the skills required by employers,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, the economic research subsidiary of the rating agency Moody’s Corp. “The people stuck in unemployment are often those in construction, old-line manufacturing, and other industries that aren’t doing as well, and they can’t make the transition to another [profession].”
    In other words, the skills in shrinking industries don’t match those required in growing ones. A look at employment statistics helps explain why some are finding it so hard to get work while others get recruited for jobs.
    Though it is recovering, the construction industry is still down 13,800 jobs, or about 10 percent, from April 2008, when Massachusetts employment reached its prerecession peak, according to the US Labor Department. Manufacturing has 42,700 fewer jobs, and financial services 16,400 fewer jobs than their prerecession highs.
    Yet health and education services, which include universities and hospitals, now have 72,700 more jobs than before the last recession.
    The information sector, which includes Internet, data processing, and telecommunications firms, has gained 3,000 jobs from its prerecession peak. And professional and business services, which include many research, scientific, and information technology positions, have 11,800 more jobs than before the recession.
    In any economy undergoing such labor market turmoil and shifts, said Northeastern University economist Alan Clayton-Matthews, it is simply unrealistic to expect tens of thousands of people trained for one occupation to suddenly retrain for an entirely different one.
    “You can’t be roofing houses one day and breaking down molecules in a laboratory the next,” he said. “It’s not an easy switch for people.”
    Sonja Stern, 50, a former marketing and customer-analysis manager for a local health insurer, has discovered just how hard it is to switch professions
    After staying home to raise her children, Stern decided to reenter the job market two years ago and discovered that her computer skills were out of date for the type of data analysis she used to perform. She also found that when she came across an attractive job, many people with fresher skills were applying.
    “It became very clear very quickly that I was a dinosaur, skills-wise,” said Stern.
    But Stern, of Foxborough, heard that so-called medical coders, or specialized data-entry workers at hospitals, were in great demand. She started taking courses at Fisher College in Boston and last month landed a part-time internship as a medical coder at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
    “I’m hopeful it will work out,” said Stern, who could get paid from $40,000 to $60,000 as a full-time medical coder.
    Beth Israel Deaconess, meanwhile, has hundreds of jobs to fill over the coming year, including positions for medical coders, nurses, nursing assistants, and other occupations. “It’s really hard to find people with the right skills,” said Joanne Pokaski, the hospital’s director of workforce development.
    Besides skill mismatches, there are other explanations for labor shortages during a period of high unemployment. Geography can play a role, for example, if jobs are created in areas where unemployment is relatively low, but not where joblessness is high.
    Many economists, however, caution against making too much of reports of labor shortages. The main problem for the US and Massachusetts economies is not too few available workers, but too many. And the solution, they say, is finding the spark to accelerate the plodding recovery.
    “This is simply a stunningly weak economy with a very weak labor market,” said Peter Diamond, a Nobel Prize-winning MIT economist. “We’re not producing enough jobs. There are always places in an economy where one industry is doing better than another, due to technological changes and other changes. But the big problem is really about the economy as a whole.”
    Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, said that if a lack of workers was as serious as some employers contend, wages would be rising. But wages, adjusted for inflation, have remained flat for the past five years.
    “I don’t deny that some sectors are doing better than others and they might even be seeing [labor] shortages,” said Sum. “But, overall, there’s no labor shortage for the entire economy. The shortages we have are very isolated.”

    One of those areas may be the biopharmaceutical industry, said Jill Chanin, vice president for the Boston area at Kelly Services Inc., a job placement firm. Chanin said her company is constantly on the prowl for qualified lab technicians, who can earn $16 to $30 an hour with benefits. But too many candidates lack associate’s degrees or certificates that biotech and pharmaceutical companies require.
    “It’s unfortunate, but the demand for jobs doesn’t always match up with the skills of candidates,” said Chanin, adding she’s also seeing intense demand for qualified engineers and software developers.
    Cody Sisson, owner of Sisson Engineering Corp., a Northfield machine shop, said his industry can’t find enough skilled workers to operate computerized manufacturing equipment, known as “computer numerical controls,” or CNC. Sisson’s company, which employs 20, makes precision parts for medical-device, telecommunications, electronics, robotics, and other products.
    Sisson also is vice chairman of the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, which oversees publicly funded workforce training and placement programs in Western Massachusetts. Government, he said, could do more to help train workers for high-demand jobs.
    But the real problem is that many large companies, particularly manufacturers, no longer take it upon themselves to train workers through apprenticeships, internships, and other programs, he said. And the consequence is a labor force not prepared to perform many modern jobs.
    “You see people who need jobs and they look beaten down,” said Sisson. “You can see it in their eyes. They’re moral, decent, good people, but they don’t have the right skills. The system has not supported them for what they were brought up to do.”
    Jay Fitzgerald can be reached at jayfitzmedia@gmail.com.

  2. Replaced by an app, by Doug Handler, Boston Globe, G1.
    There is a disconcerting element to estimating the number of new jobs created each month in the United States. Not because the number is difficult to forecast, but rather that there is a perpetual sense of pessimism about the prospects for better job growth in the future.
    And as an economist who studies the composition of the labor force and is familiar with how technology can displace jobs, I am frightened by what I see.
    Since the economic peak just before the recession, the US production of goods and services has grown by 5 percent, yet total employment remains below prerecession levels, with many of these jobs lost to technology. A quick look at the Labor Department’s statistics suggests that we should expect more of the same.
    A lot of people work in occupations where the value they add to goods and services has changed little over several years, making them ideal targets for programmers’ and engineers’ efforts. You’ve heard of “There’s an app for that”? Well, soon we could hear “There’s an app for you!”
    As the United States becomes more of an information-intensive society, companies constantly seek ways to automate labor intensive processes that perform tasks by using the same information repeatedly. This describes millions of jobs across the country.

    In 2000, for example, there were 124,000 travel agents who had the most efficient access to all the airline databases. By 2012, only 65,000 travel agents remained as almost everyone can now book their own tickets.
    In 2012, the Labor Department noted there are more than 500,000 bank tellers. But banks are aggressively adopting technologies to reduce the time required for each transaction through better automation and video call centers, where fewer tellers can help more customers.
    [And you don't want to know the shrinkage in auto workers as Detroit automated and robotized over the last 50 years! You can probably figure it out from the fact that Detroit has lost so much of its tax base that it's now bankrupt. And that's just one manufacturing industry in our erstwhile rust belt...]
    If these technologies allow each teller to increase their transactions by 25 percent, it doesn’t take a complex economic model to figure out how to forecast bank teller employment.
    [And it does not happen that "technology makes life easier for everyone" unless these productivity jumps are responded to with 25% hourscuts for employees instead of 25% cut in the number of employees, thus cutting the number of bank customers.]

    There are 125,000 switchboard operators, 304,000 data entry clerks, and so on. One can even imagine that some of the 16,000 professional sports officials could be replaced by intelligent video analyses. (Football coaches would have to learn how to argue with video producers.)
    It’s very easy to go through the labor statistics and identify more than 10 million workers at occupations where such technology displacement could occur. If just 3 percent of these employees, or 300,000 workers, lose their jobs in a year because of technological displacement, this would subtract 25,000 from the monthly tally of net new jobs created.
    Among economists, this increment could be the difference between a genuinely good month of employment growth and a so-so one. And for investors and companies that make decisions based on these assessments of the economy, it could make the difference in whether they invest, hire, or expand.
    US companies are becoming very adept at cost cutting. Sophisticated cloud-based technologies, ample quantities of case studies, and generally better management techniques all help companies boost profits by reducing costs. The good news is that this cost cutting is a finite process. Eventually, firms will have to grow the old-fashioned way by identifying new markets, targeting new customers, and making new products that come to market faster.
    What needs to happen for workers to parlay this eventuality into jobs? It’s been often said that training in “STEM” disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — is critical to finding and retaining good jobs. That’s stating the obvious, but not enough prospective employees understand how to add value in these areas, that is, how to harness new technologies to their existing situations to become better, more efficient, and more productive.
    You don’t have to be an engineer to add value, but you do have to understand what your company’s inherent business problems are and how technologists are at work to solve them.
    What worked in the past in the workplace is probably not a very good indicator of what will work in the future to get or retain a job. Those job seekers who understand this and act on it will quickly be an addition to the monthly new jobs count.
    Doug Handler is chief US economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington.


11/23/2013  depression trends from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), regional papers or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


11/11/2013  depression trends from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), regional papers or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


11/08/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -

  1. The mutilated economy - The long-term costs of short-run failure are piling up and up and up and up, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A29.
    Five years and eleven months have now passed since the U.S. economy entered recession. Officially, that recession ended in the middle of 2009, but nobody would argue that we’ve had anything like a full recovery. Official unemployment remains high, and it would be much higher if so many people hadn’t dropped out of the labor force. Long-term unemployment — the number of people who have been out of work for six months or more — is four times what it was before the recession.
    These dry numbers translate into millions of human tragedies — homes lost, careers destroyed, young people who can’t get their lives started. And many people have pleaded all along for policies that put job creation front and center. Their pleas have, however, been drowned out by the voices of conventional prudence. We can’t spend more money on jobs, say these voices, because that would mean more debt. We can’t even hire unemployed workers and put idle savings to work building roads, tunnels, schools. Never mind the short run, we have to think about the future!
    [Unfortunately Krugman is still beating this dead horse of government makework, instead holding the private sector's feet to the fire of recycling their own disposable employees = hiring/funding their own markets, by moving on to worksharing and timesizing.]
    The bitter irony, then, is that it turns out that by failing to address unemployment, we have, in fact, been sacrificing the future, too. What passes these days for sound policy is in fact a form of economic self-mutilation, which will cripple America for many years to come. Or so say researchers from the Federal Reserve, and I’m sorry to say that I believe them.
    [And so have said we for the last 15 years. In fact, we say that what passes these days for sound policy on the part of our wealthy and insulated decision-makers amounts to Suicide, Everyone Else First.]
    I’m actually writing this from the big research conference held each year by the International Monetary Fund. The theme of this year’s shindig is the causes and consequences of economic crises, and the presentations range in subject from the good (Latin America’s surprising stability in recent years) to the bad (the ongoing crisis in Europe). It’s pretty clear, however, that the blockbuster paper of the conference will be one that focuses on the truly ugly: the evidence that by tolerating high unemployment we have inflicted huge damage on our long-run prospects.
    How so? According to the paper (with the unassuming title “Aggregate Supply in the United States: Recent Developments and Implications for the Conduct of Monetary Policy”), our seemingly endless slump has done long-term damage through multiple channels. The long-term unemployed eventually come to be seen as unemployable; business investment lags thanks to weak sales; new businesses don’t get started; and existing businesses skimp on research and development.
    What’s more, the authors — one of whom is the Federal Reserve Board’s director of research and statistics, so we’re not talking about obscure academics — put a number to these effects, and it’s terrifying. They suggest that economic weakness has already reduced America’s economic potential by around 7 percent, which means that it makes us poorer to the tune of more than $1 trillion a year. And we’re not talking about just one year’s losses, we’re talking about long-term damage: $1 trillion a year for multiple years.
    That estimate is the end product of some complex data-crunching, and you can quibble with the details. Hey, maybe we’re only losing $800 billion a year. But the evidence is overwhelming that by failing to respond effectively to mass unemployment — by not even making unemployment a major policy priority — we’ve done ourselves immense long-term damage.
    And it is, as I said, a bitter irony, because one main reason we’ve done so little about unemployment is the preaching of deficit scolds, who have wrapped themselves in the mantle of long-run responsibility — which they have managed to get identified in the public mind almost entirely with holding down government debt.
    This never made sense even in its own terms. As some of us have tried to explain, debt, while it can pose problems, doesn’t make the nation poorer, because it’s money we owe to ourselves. Anyone who talks about how we’re borrowing from our children just hasn’t done the math.
    True, debt can indirectly make us poorer if deficits drive up interest rates and thereby discourage productive investment. But that hasn’t been happening. Instead, investment is low because of the economy’s weakness. And one of the main things keeping the economy weak is the depressing effect of cutbacks in public spending — especially, by the way, cuts in public investment — all justified in the name of protecting the future from the wildly exaggerated threat of excessive debt.
    Is there any chance of reversing this damage? The Fed researchers are pessimistic, and, once again, I fear that they’re probably right. America will probably spend decades paying for the mistaken priorities of the past few years.
    It’s really a terrible story: a tale of self-inflicted harm, made all the worse because it was done in the name of responsibility. And the damage continues as we speak.

  2. What growing income inequality is costing Canada’s future generations, by Barrie McKenna, Toronto Globe via theglobeandmail.com (nice catch credit to avid reader Dianne of Ottawa)
    Canada is at a crossroads. A gap has grown between the middle class and the wealthy. Now, that divide is threatening to erode a cherished Canadian value: equality of opportunity for all. This article is part of The Globe's Wealth Paradox series, a two-week examination into how the wealth divide is shaping Canada's cities, schools, social programs – and even its national sport.
    It’s been dubbed the Great Gatsby Curve.
    Plot countries on a graph. Put income inequality on one axis, mobility between generations on the other.
    A sobering picture emerges. The dream of achieving a better life than your parents is more elusive in countries where the gap between rich and poor is larger.
    For now, Canada sits comfortably in the middle of the curve among developed countries. It’s more equal and traditionally more upwardly mobile than those at the extremes of the scale, including the United States, but it trails countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
    And yet a disquieting trend has taken root as Canada emerges from a decade transformed by powerful forces – some beyond our borders, others closer to home. Globalization, a digital revolution and public austerity programs are reshaping the economy. Good paying factory jobs continue to vanish, and middle-class incomes are getting squeezed. Many of the great equalizers – pensions, public health care and education – are threatened by the fiscal challenges facing governments at all levels.
    That leaves a greater share of income, wealth and power in the hands of contemporary Jay Gatsbys.
    The challenge for the country is to preserve for future generations all the good things that helped previous generations – especially the massive Baby Boom cohort – thrive and get ahead, argues University of Ottawa economist Miles Corak, one of Canada’s leading experts on poverty and mobility.
    “We have a sense of being relatively successful in terms of mobility, but it reflects an era that was more equal,” he points out.
    Today’s twenty and thirtysomethings are likely to find it much harder to get ahead than their parents did, he warns. For them, even a middle-class life is increasingly elusive.
    Sicco Naets, a 39-year-old manager at an Ottawa high-tech start-up, is emblematic of many post-Baby Boomers, who worry the Canadian dream is passing them by. He and his wife earn “well above” the national average. They have two children, one car, little debt and a modest suburban town home.
    And yet Mr. Naets is frustrated and angry that his generation seems to be slipping further behind. He dreams of a larger house for his growing family, but he’s fearful moving up will leave him too much debt, too little savings for retirement, or both.
    “Compared to my parents, I’m way further ahead from a job point of view, I’m better educated and I’m probably in a higher income bracket. But my standard of living is a lot lower than theirs was,” he says.
    Stuck in a slow-growth economy after a decade of stagnating incomes for the middle class, experts say Canada is at a crossroads. It can look to countries that have found creative ways to nurture greater equality and mobility, without sacrificing economic growth. Or it can follow the U.S., Britain and other countries down the path of increasingly isolated social extremes.
    While inequality is significantly less pronounced than in the U.S., Canada is trending in the same direction as its neighbour on several key metrics, including ebbing mobility, a rising share of income in the hands of the top 1 per cent and a swelling gap between what CEOs and workers make.
    The country’s business elite – the chief executives of the top 100 companies – took home 122 times what the average worker did in 2012, up from a ratio 84-to-one a decade earlier, according to research commissioned by The Globe and Mail.
    The reality is that perfect equality is both unattainable and undesirable. Nowhere are wealth and income distributed completely evenly across a population. Countries are all unequal, and that’s generally a good thing. Inequality creates a powerful incentive to work, to invest and to get ahead. More income is the reward for success, which is spread to others when those at the top invest, start new businesses and hire more workers.
    But it’s all a question of degree. You can have too much of a good thing.
    Former prime minister Paul Martin, 75, figures he’s part of the most fortunate generation in Canadian history. He entered the work force in the booming 1960s, at the vanguard of an age group that would only know rising incomes and boundless opportunity.
    But Mr. Martin frets that Canada is now drifting towards a society of extremes and a hollow middle – conditions he argues have helped spawn the anti-government Tea Party movement in the United States.
    “The ability for succeeding generations to do better than preceding generations is an essential part of the glue that makes a democracy work,” says Mr. Martin, who now devotes his energy and part of his wealth to fighting for better aboriginal education. “The gutting of the middle class is more than the canary in the coal mine. It essentially opens your society and your economy to all kinds of fissures.”
    The major economic transformations of the past couple of decades have certainly been a mixed blessing for the middle class. Rapid globalization and huge advances in technology have depressed wages and marginalized routine work.
    They have also made life cheaper, driving down the cost of most household goods, from flat-screen TVs to clothing to furniture. Cheap money has meant people can borrow more to fuel these purchases.
    The economic emergence of countries such as China has driven up demand, and prices, for Canada’s prized natural resources – fertilizer, oil, metals, canola and the like. And the benefits of the long resource boom have spread wealth across the country.
    But the Great Recession ended the party, leaving the world in slow growth mode for a while.
    The 1 per cent will be okay. No worries there. But the transition to sluggish growth and government austerity has left many middle-income earners feeling frustrated, financially squeezed and worried about slipping backwards.
    This middle-class angst has made inequality fertile ground for politicians, right across the political spectrum, in Canada and elsewhere.
    It’s lonely in the middle
    Canada experienced the greatest surge in inequality in the 1980s and 1990s, based on the broadest measure – the so-called Gini coefficient, which plots how far incomes deviate from a society where everyone earns exactly the same. Since 2000, inequality has remained flat.
    But other key measures of inequality suggest a less benign picture of what has happened in the past decade. While the middle class may not be sliding backward, it is shrinking. The share of Canadians with middle incomes has been in steady decline since the late 1980s. The share of the population at both the upper and lower extremes has grown.
    Canada’s experience of rising inequality isn’t unique among wealthy countries. A host of global factors are at work, including technological change, a shift of manufacturing jobs to developing countries, as well as a surge in self-employment and a proliferation of performance-based incentives for top executives and professionals.
    That’s meant downward pressure on the wages of the lesser skilled, and greater rewards for the highly skilled. Routine work – not just in factories but in offices – is rapidly losing value.
    But the trend line suggests Canada is not only impacted by wider changes but is breaking away from the pack in pursuit of what has generally been a particularly American dream of making it “big.” Inequality grew faster in Canada from the early-1990s to 2010 than in all but one other OECD country. The concentration of income in the hands of the richest 1 per cent was 10.6 per cent in 2010, down slightly from the pre-recession peak of more than 12 per cent, but up sharply from 7.1 per cent in 1982.
    The concentration of wealth is also rising. The top 20 per cent control 70 per cent of net worth.
    The Conference Board of Canada gives Canada a “C” grade for inequality, ranking it 12th out of 17 peer countries. Denmark and Norway earn the highest scores. The U.S. is last with a D.
    Meanwhile, the spillover effects from the success of the 1 per cent has completely bypassed many communities, including indigenous people and some new immigrant groups.
    Large swaths of the country are missing out as well. There is now evidence of growing regional and postal code disparity, exacerbated by the disproportionate growth of financial services, commodities and real estate. More than half of the rising share of income that flowed to the top 1 per cent between 1982 and 2010 went to just two cities – Calgary and Toronto – according to a newly released study by economists Brian Murphy of Statistics Canada and Michael Veall of McMaster University.
    The two cities are home to just 20 per cent of Canadian taxpayers. And unlike many other wealthy countries, tax policies have become less effective at reducing inequality in Canada over the past two decades, according to the OECD. That’s due to lower marginal tax rates, fewer tax credits for low-income workers and enhanced savings incentives that go mainly to higher income earners, including RRSPs and tax breaks that favour capital gains over earned income.
    In the workplace, many workers have less bargaining power now than at any time in their careers, a consequence of declining unionization, persistent labour surpluses and increased foreign competition.
    Health and wealth
    Why should Canadians care? It isn’t just a question of fairness. It’s about the long-term health of the economy, and society.
    Conservative Senator Hugh Segal argues that years of costly social programs have done little to lift up the one in 10 Canadians who live in poverty. Denying these roughly three million people the opportunity to get ahead, he says, is both “un-Canadian” and bad public policy.
    “There is room at the family table for all Canadians,” he says. “Leaving people behind – when so many who live beneath the poverty line work, but do not earn enough to get out of poverty – is simply negligent public policy in a market economy, at all levels of government.”
    Canadians are living in “dreamland” if they think the country can avoid rising inequality when the economy is headed into an extended period of sluggish growth and austerity, warns Ed Clark, 66, president and chief executive of the Toronto-Dominion Bank.
    “Slow growth doesn’t hurt people like Ed Clark, and closing fiscal gaps doesn’t hurt people like Ed Clark,” he says. “But it sure hurts the average person. So you have all the forces building that are going to put pressure on inequality.”
    A recent International Monetary Fund study debunks the conventional wisdom that less equality is a healthy byproduct of a growing economy – namely, that a rising tide lifts all boats. Instead, countries with greater equality tend to enjoy more stable growth over the long haul, according to the 2011 report by staff economists Andrew Berg and Jonathan Ostry. The authors argue that excessive inequality stifles investment, leads to more frequent boom-bust cycles and makes people wary of sound economic policies. Based on an analysis of dozens of countries, they found that reducing income inequality by just 10 per cent extends the length of economic expansions by 50 per cent.
    Interestingly, the authors argue that greater inequality may make financial crises more likely as lower income-earners borrow more and save less in a race to keep up with the lifestyles of those at the top. The massive run-up in Canadians’ ratio of household debt to income in recent years suggests many families are chasing a dream they can’t afford.
    Inequality is also linked to poorer health outcomes and higher rates of crime and social unrest. Even in Canada, low-income earners are less likely to have a family doctor and to seek early treatment for medical problems.
    The result: poorer health for those at the bottom of the income scale – a trend that can exact a heavy economic toll through lost productivity and higher health care bills.
    As the Great Gatsby curve suggests, inequality stifles upward mobility, putting the hopes of many Canadians at risk. A significant majority of Canadians – 61 per cent – now say inequality stands between them and enjoying a better life than their parents, according to recent survey by Ekos Research Associates
    And yet Mr. Naets, the Ottawa tech executive, figures he’s better off than the generation of twentysomethings behind him. For them, house prices are getting out of reach, many are stuck with too much debt and they face the prospect of much higher taxes for health and social programs that may not be around when their turn comes.
    “For people graduating now, how do you sell that story?” he wonders.
    Barrie McKenna is a columnist and business correspondent with The Globe and Mail, based in Ottawa. Reporting also contributed by Tavia Grant in Toronto.
    [The Toronto Globe lists 4-5 solutions from "experts" such as German-type apprenticeships, concentration on healthcare, more help (from taxpayers?) for the poor, and asks readers to choose one ... or comment. Here's our comment -
    The easiest way for any economy to reduce inequality is not mentioned as one of the options provided by the "experts." The very term "inequality" is not as actionable as the phrase "overconcentrated money supply." Our "intelligent" species has historically controlled this problem with plague and war (as in "wartime prosperity") which result in plenty of jobs and a labour shortage (as perceived by employers though everyone else perceives a labour-employment balance). An employer-perceived labour shortage maintains and raises general wage levels and prevents the national income from funneling to the topmost brackets by default. As money is redistributed to the top brackets, it circulates slower and slower in huger and huger transaction sizes, leading to economic recession. As money is redistributed downward, it circulates faster and faster in a greater and greater variety of transaction sizes, leading to economic growth. Historically, the major mechanism we have used to foster this magic labour shortage and downward redistribution has been full employment via worktime-per-person regulation, in brief, workweek reduction. We cut the workweek in half from 1840 (over 80 hours) to 1940 (40 hours). We have not touched it since, despite waves of worksaving technology and kneejerk downsizing. There's no way to solve inequality without unfreezing our standard "full time" workweek and adjusting it as low as it takes to restore and maintain full employment = an employer-perceived&complainedof labour shortage - employers get richly compensated by rising markets for their products and services, and investors get compensated by sustainable investments, which require marketable productivity and not just productivity. As Arthur Dahlberg breathtakingly observed in 1932 in his Jobs, Machines and Capitalism, capitalism always and only runs smoothly on a shortage of labour and poorly on a surplus. A well-designed core economy comprehends several of the other solutions suggested, such as training: eg: an overtime tax with an exemption for reinvestment in OT-targeted training and hiring mimics and improves on German apprenticeships; regulation of population variables such as imports, outsourcing, immigrants and eventually births prevents undercutting the magic labour "shortage" on the fly; referendums to set interest rates prevent central bankers from blocking business expansion with higher interest rates. But the basic approach centers on thawing our 73-year-frozen workweek and, if you really believe in freedom, giving everyone including yourself more of the most basic kind of freedom, free time, without which the other freedoms are either inaccessible or meaningless. But doesn't "the devil find work for idle hands to do"? No, the leisure industries do. But didn't workweek reduction fail in France? No, Paul Krugman dealt with the "Plot Against France" on Monday (11/11 NYTimes) & the German Kurzarbeit that francophobes praise is actually a form of workweek reduction.]


9/27/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


9/18/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -



9/17/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


9/06/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


9/06/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


7/01/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


5/11/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


4/29/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


4/26/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


4/24/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


4/22/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


3/29/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


3/25/2013  depression trends from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


2/28/2013  headlines from hell from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive pages -


1/15/2013  headlines from hell (or at least internal quotes) from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on post-2003 archive page(s) -


1/06/2013  headlines from hell (or at least internal quotes) from WSJ, NYT, regional or online - missing earlier and later dates are handled entirely on recent archive page(s) -





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    Check also doomtrackers *Roubini and *Dismal Scientist from The Economist (3/13/99 p.7), and how
    the way we're using technology makes life harder instead of easier at *NetSlaves.  
    Questions? Comments? email timesizing@aol.com.

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