Timesizing® Associates - HOMEPAGE
Good News, Sept. 14-30, 1999
[Commentary] ©1998,1999 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080
9/30/99 2 more glimmers -
9/29 2 glimmers -
- Nucor to spend [about $600m] cash on acquisitions of share buybacks, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
[Here's hoping they go for the buyback. They might have a little trouble if they succumb to pandemic merger mania if they checked option A - they're the most flexible company in the world, cruising on a 3-day workweek and an $8/hr wage, and expanding up to a 7-day workweek and $20-22/hr if and when the contracts roll in. That could be a tough corporate-culture merge. Second-most flexible firm, Cleveland-based Lincoln Electric, played around with a management fad a few years ago and got its fingers burnt. It invested in South America and lost heavily in Venezuela. And therein started a devolution that is now hopefully stemmed.]
- [One more UPsizing reported - ]
New Disney European park, Reuters via NYT, C4.
Europe's largest theme park operator, Euro Disney, announced plans to build a new theme park dedicated to film and television next to Disneyland Paris, which is already Europe's most popular tourist attraction.
[So much for the myth of superior European taste. Hey, at least it'll create jobs, right?]
[At last (gasp!) - ]
- [At last American taxpayers stop getting "volunteered" to bail out every defaulting government on the globe (and the mainly fatcat "investors" holding their IOUs).]
Ecuador allowed to default as a warning for markets - White House and IMF give Ecuador the cold shoulder, leader, NYT, C1, and article by David Sanger, NYT, C4.
The Clinton's administration's decision to let Ecuador default on its debts is being interpreted as a message from Lawrence H. Summers, the Treasury Secretary, that a little fear would be good for the markets....
[Too bad this wasn't decided last year when the latest round got started. And, yeah guys, how about reinvesting in your own employees and markets for a change and solidifying the stock bubble yourselves, instead of continuing to blow it up and expecting Clinton, Greenspan & Summers to drag us into bailing you out time after time?! Take a hint from the following upsizing - ]
- [And one UPsizing - ]
Ames plans  openings, remodeling of stores, Bloomberg via Boston Globe, C9.
...to "fill in" its markets....
[That's how you solidy a stock bubble. You reinvest in your own markets (e.g., via your employees), then "fill in" those markets.]
...and may consider opening more stores as the fiscal year progresses, Joseph Ettore, president and chief executive, said.... Ettore did not disclose sales figures for September, though he did say Ames did not suffer a loss of sales because of Hurricane Floyd.
[Probably quite the contrary.]
Only one of its stores closed, he said....
[Lucky him. Let's hope Ames isn't getting disaster-dependent.]
9/28 Emission standard for trucks proposed, by Josef Hebert, AP via Boston Globe, A20.
WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] is writing rules for tougher emission standards and cleaner burning diesel fuel to reduce pollution from large, heavy-duty trucks,...plans to announce interim steps in a few weeks and follow up by proposing regulations early next year that would dramatically reduce the amount of smog-causing chemicals and soot.... The EPA is also preparing regulations that would cut sulfur in diesel fuel, perhaps by as much as 90%.... The tougher emissions and fuel standards for large trucks would be phased in beginning in 2007..\..
In April, the EPA announced that it would complete regulations by the end of the year to reduce smog-causing chemicals from automobiles, including popular sport utility vehicles [SUVs] and pickup trucks. And it proposed requiring low-sulfur gasoline to be sold nationwide....
[Gradually, over the long long term, all our human "moralities" will converge on and be dictated by ecology. Why? Because in the very long run, we have no choice. And humans have always been good at compromising for survival. "Necessity is the mother of invention" or as *Buckminster Fuller would have it, more positively, "Humans are designed for success."]
9/26-27 3 glimmers -
9/25 2 bright glimmers -
- 9/26 DNA revolution - Reading the human genome - Invisible to the naked eye, genes control us from birth to old age [& control aging, or lack thereof, aka optional immortality], by Zitner and Saltus, Boston Globe, front page.
Scientists using the most powerful computers ever brought to bear on human biology are within months of completing a first reading of the genetic "Book of Life," the information coded in DNA that says why one person looks and acts differently than another, why some are more prone to fall sick, and what exactly goes awry in the body when that happens.
....If researchers' highest hopes are met, knowledge of the human DNA code will help scientists fashion novel treatments for nearly every human ailment....
[...including death, which now we need so badly to lose specimens like Idi Amin on the dramatic, nauseating vistas of reality, but also on the rather-not-think-about-it everyday fronts where we need arbitrary agist retirement to open up jobs, and non-indefinitely-delayed death for retirees in order to avoid breaking corporate and government pension budgets.
[The alternative, of course, is for the private sector to shoulder the discipline of a progressively shorter workweek and a more delayed mandatory retirement age, so that self-support becomes easier and easier
for everyone, including older and older people. And that, we would argue, is the primary purpose of technology anyway - making life easier. As we say in our collapse trends story today (9/26), this effectively redistributes retirement from the elderly to all working adults, and from a once-a-life basis to a once-a-week basis. And we'd argue that this trend is already starting but not in a particularly healthy way, as more and more of the workforce get marginalized by technology & the frozen (or rising) workweek, and scramble to suture together 2-3 part-time incomes into a living, or work the disability or welfare angle, or brave the status of homeless, or steal necessities and risk joining our record prison population.]
- 9/26 Buchanan wields a monkey wrench on economic issues, Robert Kuttner, Bos Globe, E7.
...Both major parties have an almost identical view..\..
and anything smacking of protection is bad.... Even within the Democratic party, both candidates, Gore and Bradley, are devout free traders....
...[An alternative view that] is not getting much of a hearing \though\ represented by figures like the House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt and much of the labor and environmental movements [is that] more international commerce is to be welcomed, just like more domestic commerce. But in the same way that the national market economy requires rules, so does the international one. In the past century, the national laissez-faire economy has been "encumbered" with multiple rules designed to protect ordinary people from its instability and injustice. These include minimum wage and labor-standards laws, health and safety regulation, banking and securities regulation, and social insurance.
- Both parties have become the party of Wall Street....
- Freer trade is good,
[Note here again the bizarre blindspot toward the major feature of the first two thirds of our economic history - maximum hours laws. Read your economic history, Bob! We can't help wondering if this economic blindspot is somehow connected to our general (and historically recent) cultural blindspot - we use time solely as something to complain that we don't have enough of. But then, if being overworked confers importance, sweatshop workers must be the most important people in the world.]
All of these are being sacrificed on the altar of free trade. A principled fair-trade position would extend these social protections to the global economy, most notably in the field of labor and environmental standards. Countries that wanted free trade wit the United States would have to have minimum standards of decency in their own economies.... If Buchanan's entry into the race compels Gore and Bradley to notice [ordinary people], he will serve a constructive purpose....
- 9/26 $26m plan to aid women off welfare - Mass. program stresses retention of jobs, by Michael Crowley, Bos Globe, front page.
9/24 6 glimmers -
- Quietly defusing the nuclear threat - US, Russia are dismantling an arsenal, Yevgeni Maslin and Harold Smith Jr., Boston Globe op ed, A23.
On June 16, without ceremony, at the Russian Embassy in Washington, Russia and the United States agreed to continue for seven more years the Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement, also known as the Nunn-Lugar program. The umbrella agreement...assists Russia in dismantling its strategic arsenal in accordance with bilateral and international agreements.... Even when tensions reached their climax..., implentation [of the agreement] continued with few exceptions at its pre-determined pace. [It] has become one of the few elements of the partnership to withstand the test of Kosovo.
Since its inception in 1991, amost a billion dollars has been spent in Russia along, and Congress is likely to appropriate a half-billion more for the coming fiscal year....
[Hey, if richboy Bill Gates really wanted to lay a couple o' bill' on an important area, this one would be right at the top.]
By 2007, one thousand ICBMs and 500 silos should be eliminated, and one hundred bombers and 700 SLBMs dismantled....
- Striking down abortion bans, NYT editorial, A26.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rendered three crucial rulings on abortion yesterday, striking down as unconstitutional the so-called "partial birth" abortion [bans] in Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa.... The Court found that all three state laws placed an undue burden on abortion rights by outlawing even the procedures most commonly used prior to fetal viability..\.. The language of the [stricken] Nebraska and Iowa laws was nearly identical to definitions used in the Federal partial-birth abortion ban proposed in Congress [making the Federal definitions less enactable]....
[Truly, humans progress by contradictions. At a level (surpassing six billion of our species) when we are most overpopulated on this planet (relative to its carrying capacity in terms of ground water, trace minerals, ozone layer, semi-natural agricultural sustainability and a number of other ecological constraints), a vocal minority decides to depart from the traditional, visible and obvious starting-point for personhood and human rights, namely, birth, and switch to a radical, perfectionistic, privacy-invading starting-point, namely, conception, largely because of dramatic Swedish advances in the late 1950s in x-ray microscopic movie making. Now, we are as attracted by the Absolutely Perfect as anybody, but this is Absolutely not the time or the place for it.]
9/23 5 glimmers -
- President vetoes GOP tax-cut bill as 'bloated', by Susan Milligan, Boston Globe, A1.
[How about "as 'taxcuts for the rich'"?!]
- Perot is leaning toward Buchanan, by Richard Berke, NYT, A1.
[Good! Anything to give us a real 3rd party in this land of "cosmetic democracy" instead of a 2-party cycle between gridlock and irrelevance. As long as the Reform "Party" stays under Perot's thumb, it's not a party - it's a feudal fiefdom. It's already full of Buchananites anyway, so let the preacher and the committed get it together.]
- Jobless claims drop by 17,000, AP via NYT, C3.
...But economists chalked up much of the decline to Hurricane Floyd...that...prevented some unemployed people from getting to claims offices....
- Stratton Oakmont executives admit stock manipulation, by Edward Wyatt, NYT, C3.
[And with all this technology, a little fiddling is soooo easy these days.]
- Milken-supported [$35m] libel suit against a writer is dismissed, by Doreen Carvajal, NYT, C6.
...against the best-selling author James B. Stewart...centered on one paragraph in Mr. Stewart's book "Den of Thieves," which...accused [Milken's brother's lawyer] of preparing a false affidavit for a witness to sign to exonerate [Milken's brother] on charges of violating security laws.... In his written opinion, issued yesterday, Justice Barry A. Cozier found that the passage in the book concerning [the lawyer] were substantially true....
- 1 "untakeover" -
Clein & Walker to break into two, by Courtney Kane, NYT, C6.
...An entertainment public relations agency that has offices in W. Hollywood, Calif., and in New York, is being dissolved as two new agencies take its place...Clein & White [in W. Hollywood and] Jeremy Walker & Assocs. [in New York]....
9/22 6 happyfroths -
- [The gal that put together the corporate-style "annual report" on the Federal Government speaks out on behalf of Generation X, and has something to say about our work habits.]
Generation X is taking over where it really counts, by Meredith Bagby, Bos Globe op ed, A23.
...We watched our parents dedicate their lives to one company only to suffer layoffs in return. As a result, we have learned to count on ourselves rather than a corporation.
[Ironic how CEOs have screwed themselves with downsizing, when in the past they've yapped so much about the importance of the "discipline of the workforce" - with them holding the ruler of course. Now look where their obsession with control has got them with the younger generation!]
And the 1980s taught us another lesson: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We don't want to repeat our parents' uncompromising work schedules....
[Amen to that, Meredith!]
- [Globe's Jeff Jacoby goes to bat for initiatives & referendums.]
Ventura sells out citizens on issue of direct democracy, by Jeff Jacoby, Bos Globe op ed, A23.
...Laws voted on at the ballot box tend to be more carefully vetted, more thoroughly debated, and more widely understood than those gaveled through on pro-forma voice votes in the capitol....
[Hear! Hear! Direct democracy is a vital part of the Timesizing program.]
- Giuliani vows to cut subsidy over 'sick' art, by Barry and Vogel, NYT, A1.
...[at] Brooklyn Museum of Art unless it cancels next week's opening of a British art exhibition that features, among other works, a shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde, a bust of a man made from his own frozen blood and a portrait of the Virgin Mary stained with a clump of elephant dung.... The Mayor...derided the works...as "sick stuff." But he singled out the portrait of the Virgin Mary as particularly offensive. "You don't have the right to government subsidy for desecrating somebody else's religion," he said....
[We have always wondered why all taxpayers are forced to pay for some taxpayers' hobbies, such as stadiums, museums, and art galleries. Why not taxpayer subsidies for rock concerts, horse racing, and the Ryder Cup? Are all these things to be rationalized on the grounds of providing jobs? Why, if the job market is as "tight" as the Fed says it is, should government officials be so desperate to provide jobs? Check out the following item...]
- ["Research as makework" dept.]
Mass. groups fight cuts in research aid - Universities, businesses say thousands of jobs in peril, by Kate Zernike, Boston Globe, A1.
[Is that all research is? Just makework? Why are all taxpayers forced to subsidize some taxpayers' jobs, especially in a "tight" job market? Where do these job subsidies end?]
...Congress [is] under pressure to stay within spending caps approved in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 [and] New England stands to lose $1.5b in research and design money, about a third of the money university research here now receives....
[Personally, we welcome these cuts. The government is not the employer of last resort, but it will only get out of that unending scam if it takes up its rightful role as first-resort referee - and last-resort reinvestor - in the job market. That means overseeing a transition to a new, much more inclusive unemployment rate (our present one is just valium), indexing overtime to it so when it rises so does overtime (easily done by reverse indexing the workweek to unemployment), and introducing a tax on overtime with an exemption for reinvestment in training and hiring. It's time the private sector took care of its own, by sharing the vanishing work instead of overloading it on some and suctioning it away from others. "Timesizing".]
- [1 UNtakeover]
Travel deal blocked, by Andrew Sorkin, NYT, C4.
Airtours PLC's ambition to become the largest tour operator in Britain by acquiring First Choice Holidays PLC was squashed as the European Commission blocked the deal over concerns that it would be anti-competitive. Airtours had offered...$1.4b for First Choice....
9/21 3 glimmers -
- Bankruptcy bill is blocked in fight over minimum pay, by Rosenbaum & Labaton, NYT, A22.
Sept. 21 - Trying to force a vote on a measure to increase the minimum wage, Democratic senators today blocked Republican legislation to revamp Federal bankruptcy laws, at least for the time being....
[Good. Two bad measures holding each other back. A bankruptcy law that would make it tougher for consumers to declare bankruptcy in a world where bannks are practically shoving credit cards down your throat, no matter who you are. And another installment in the whole misguided effort to raise ourselves by our own bootstraps by directly raising wages at the bottom, when we should be indirectly raising throughout the middle and lower range by lowering hours at the top, blocking our juggernaut back to slavery (mega-overtime on salary), and cutting our so-vast-it-blends-in, wage-stagnating, global labor surplus.]
- Congress likely to curb IBM's ripoff pension switches - The IRS counsel testifies that rules hurting older workers are being rethought, by Richard Oppel, NYT, C4.
- Nasdaq, once hot for a public issue, now heading private, by Diana Henriques, NYT, C1.
[The sages of Wall Street stop trying to make the whole into one of its parts. Similarly, "let the Market decide" (Friedman) cannot apply to the most comprehensive level of the whole Market itself. Thus, the job market cannot set its own preconditions, such as workshare per person per time unit.]
- Air Canada shoots down hostile takeover bid - AMR backed effort to merge 2 airlines, by Tim Pritchard, NYT, C3.
...Air Canada...with its weak rival, Canadian Airlines International [nee Canadian Pacific Airlines]....
[That would be like merging the CNR and the CPR, and then we'd be one step from merging Air Canada with American Airlines, just like British Air is hovering dangerously close to doing. Guys, quit merging and START MANAGING! And if that's too boring for you, RETIRE and go kill people "honestly" in East Timor.]
- TLC adopts measure to thwart hostile takeover bids, Bloomberg via NYT, C3.
...The plan...will make a hostile acquisition prohibitively expensive by flooding the market with new shares if anyone acquires more than 20% of company shares without the board's permission....
- Profit almost doubles at Pepsi Bottling, Bloomberg via NYT, C5.
[Is this because of the stories about Europeans getting sick from drinking Coke? = from Mad Cow to Mad Coke?]
[The phrase itself - ]
- A buyer for Eaton, by Timothy Pritchard, NYT, C4.
Sears Canada agreed to pay $20.4m for T. Eaton Co.... Sears will take over leases on 8 stores and has options on 5 more among Eaton's 64 stores, and will retain about 1,000 of Eaton's 13,000 employees....
[Not much of a rescue - or takeover for that matter - but bottom line, the ancient and honourable Eaton name has a slim lease on life.]
- French inquiry into Microsoft, AP via NYT, C4.
The French Finance Ministry said on Friday that its antitrust, fraud, and market surveillance agencies were investigating complaints about the business practices of the Microsoft Corp. The investigation follows complaints from French consumers who have said they do not want to have to buy Microsoft Windows software every time they buy a computer.... The [French] inquiry comes as Microsoft is in a protracted antitrust battle with the United States Government and 19 states.
[Ah, très bien! Allons, enfants de la patrie, fils de Lafayette, unissez-vous avec nous encore une fois, cette fois pour combattre le monsieur devenu monstrueux, ce gauche Gates gâté!]
- A web-researched Ford... Built to order with custom options. Some dealers are worried, by John Markoff, NYT, C2.
... allowing online customers to configure their own cars and obtain detailed information on product availability....
[Anything that can worry sleazebag car dealers has gotta be good.]
9/20 A glimmer of hope - Ten years ago, scientists scoffed at the thought that a paralyzed person would walk again; today, they're counting on it, by Judy Foreman, Boston Globe, C1.
["Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstoppèd. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing." Georg Frideric Händel's Messiah, lyrics from Isaiah 35:5-6.]
[Maybe now we'll stop subsidizing stupidity at last! - ]
9/20 Storm brewing over disaster relief - Government policy encourages people to remain in harm's way, many officials argue, by Scott Allen, Boston Globe, A1.
As homeowners, public works crews, and insurance adjusters tally the damage from last week's Hurricane Floyd, a growing chorus of authorities on natural disasters say Americans have mainly themselves and their government to blame for the rising cost of hurricanes, floods, and other "acts of God" that already tops $20 billion a year.
America's love affair with the coast, financially backed by government programs from low-cost flood insurance to money for rebuilding washed-out roads, brings more and more people into the path of hurricanes and other killer storms every year....
[Glimmers of reality penetrate Wall Street - ]
9/19 Some experts say true bull market died long ago [4/98] - Minority of large caps holding up the bottom line, by Pierre Belec, Reuters via Boston Globe, G2.
NEW YORK - A curious thing has happened. The bull market died in the spring of 1998, but Wall Street hasn't been told - at least that's what some experts say.
The headline-grabbing stock market indexes - the Dow Jones industrials, Standard & Poor's 500, and Nasdaq composite - may be cruising at record highs, but the truth is many stocks have not kept up. In fact, a big number of stocks are below the highs made in...the 1997 and 1998 bull market.
[This has been picked up before, with an emphasis on the splitting of stocks into have's and have-not's, just like the economy at large. See Syre and Stein's "Taking measure of the great divide - Chasm between stock values of tech, traditional firms could not be wider" on our Collapse Trends pages under date 4/13.]
"The overall market has been in a bear market since April 1998...," said Don Hays, chief investment strategist for Wheat First Union in Richmond, Va.... "With only four technology stocks making up 25% of the weighting of the Nasdaq and the media only concentrating on the indices, the 'Stealth Bear Market' is being ignored," he said. "What do you think the headlines would be saying if the major indices were 19.7% under the mid-April 1998 highs [like the average stock in the 7,736-stock database of Ned Davis Research in Venice, Fla.]?" he asked.
[Such an easy slide from "stealth bear market" to "stealth depression", if 1929 be any guide.]
The experts backed up their words with some strong stuff.... Richard McCabe, chief market analyst for Merrill Lynch, found that 23.6% of the New York Stock Exchange's common stocks and 22.7% of the Nasdaq market's stocks are below their summer-fall 1998 lows..\..
[So nearly a quarter of the NYSE & Nasdaq are below the disastrous levels they fell to during the Asian currency crisis?!]
It's a smoke-and-mirrors market.... "The uptrend in the major market indices is misleading because it does not represent what the majority of stocks have been doing," he said. People have been buying the big-name stocks, such as technology and consumer growth companies, in the hopes that the sectors would stand up to the downward pressures on earnings from the economic problems in Asia and Latin America as well as the slowdown in Europe. "Investors went for the rapid and proven growth companies and ignored the medium and small stocks, which have been underperforming for more than a year," McCabe said.
[Investors or speculators??]
"It's created a new breed of 'Nifty Fifty' - the group of stocks that did well in the early 1970s when the rest of the market was having trouble," he said. The nifty Fifty stocks eventually went through a nasty period and they joined the bear market that had been dogging the other stocks since the late '60s....
A good, steady, and healthy market is usually one where the vast array of stocks are doing well. But, when it's a narrow advancing market, the risk is the majority of weak stocks will ultimately bring down the minority of strong stocks."
[...which is exactly what happened in the 1970s. Shades of "bad money driving out good".]
Some investors may be reacting to the warning signs. The emotional intensity of the bulls has tapered off over the past few weeks. The proof: The rallies have not generated a lot of new buying interest. Also, mutual fund investors have reduced their stock holdings at the fastest pace since December 1987. Downsizing stock portfolios began this summer. In July, investors redeemed shares from mutual fund companies at an annual rate of more than 20%, according to the Investment Company Institute, a Washington-based mutual fund lobbying group.
[Side issue: why in the world do people who make money on an up or down market need a lobbying group?!]
"A reasonable case can be made that what has been occurring simultaneously over the last 16 months is a bull market in a minority of large-cap issues and a bear market in a majority of mid- to small-caps," McCabe said. "There is little doubt, even in those partying 'tunnel vision' minds, that this bull market is being carried by a small pocket of stocks - mostly big-cap technology stocks," Hays said.
The good times have been rolling for the tech sector, which includes IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco, among others. In fact, the technology sector have jumped 32% so far this year, after soaring 72% in 1998. And, while the overall market was off 1% in August, the tech sector climbed nearly 6%, which explains why the market appears to be in a bull mode.
[The "currency base" angle - ]
During the days of the Nifty Fifty [in the 1970s], investors concentrated on a select group of stocks with extraordinarily high price-earnings [P/E] ratios of 40 to 80. How different are things from the 1970s? Cisco sells at 70 times projected earnings and Microsoft is at 60 times future earnings. Hays said tech stocks now make up a huge 24% of the Standard & Poor's market capitalization, up from 13% in 1997, [7%] in 1990 [and what % in the 1970s?]. Technology stocks, particularly the Internet group, are in a new era.... For that reason, Wall Street has no idea where the P/E limits should be for many [or any?] of them. After all, the limits of a stock's P/E are largely decided by investors' expectations of earnings growth and risk. For Internet stocks, the sky seems to be the limit.
"We believe the next two months will be very chaotic and take those perpetual grins off those who think the bull market is still alive," Hays said. McCabe said the market sell-off could take place in October [as in 1929 and 1987]. He sees a correction in the Dow of 10-15%.
[No big deal. But we'll have to look up the % "correction" in 1929....
[This all brings up the old problem of the currency base. Granted all depends of agreement, what anchored the value of the currency once we went off the gold standard? Granted all is psychology, what's now anchoring the value of stocks now that we're going off the P/E standard? More generally, what anchors the value of stored wealth when whatever currency we're using needs the constant reconfirmation of its value that only circulation and exchange can provide? More simply, what anchors the value of unshared money when only sharing makes it valuable? As La Fontaine put it, in L'Avare Qui A Perdu son Trésor (The Miser Who Lost his Treasure), "l'usage seulement fait la possession" (only usage makes for real possession), or as Darwin might have said, about vestigial limbs etc., "Use it or lose it." We guess this is the truth underlying the "marginal utility of wealth" and "the more concentration, the less circulation" - and the less real value?
[We are still in a primitive stage of economics where sharing is thought of either as charity, when private individuals or firms do it, or redistribution (i..e., forced charity) when government does it. All more advanced stages of economics require an alternative to charity and redistribution. The logical candidate is reinvestment. But what is required is reinvestment that is automatic, high-frequency (weekly or daily), and, compared to anything we're familiar with today, GARGANTUAN. This is the approach that Timesizing, with DAR (direct automatic reinvestment) takes. It is the first of the next-generation of economic designs, and the only one as yet, so far as we know.]
[Standard economists get get wake-up call from students.]The historical economics of William Cunningham and successors lost the 1890s battle with the theoretical economics ("partial analysis" thought expts) of Alfred Marshall and successors (including Keynes and successive under-prioritized over-quantifiers) - major setback, but it has to be temporary if humanity is going to make any real progress.
The worktime economics of Arthur Dahlberg and allies (Hugo Black, William Green, the AFL, the technocrats,...) and successors (Walter Reuther, Eugene McCarthy, Ben Hunnicutt, Juliet Schor, Jeremy Rifkin,...) lost the 1930s battle with the welfare economics of Rexford Tugwell and allies (including Keynes again, plus FDR and perhaps surprisingly, Hitler) and successors (including Samuelson, Galbraith, Friedman and the whole of standard economics, left or right, liberal or conservative) - another major setback that will be reversed before humanity sees any real progress.]
9/18 Students seek some reality amid the math of economics, Michael Weinstein, NYT, A17.
On my first day as a graduate student in economics at MIT, the professor introduced the discipline by intoning, "All of economics is a subset of the theory of separating hyperplanes."...I started to giggle. But...everyone else was scribbling notes. So I...muttered, only to myself, that I had thought economics was about the plight of people living in sub-Saharan Africa or the impact of technological change on living standards....
Decades later, I find economics graduate students asking themselves the same question: where is the economic substance in graduate economics programs?
I recently joined several dozen first- and second-year students at a conference in Airlie, Va., that was convened to help them find their way toward applied economics - analyzing problems that real people face. During the weeklong conference, organized by the Social Science Research Council and paid for by the...McArthur Foundation, eminent scholars presented lectures on applied topics ranging from the plight of low-income mothers under the 1996 welfare law to the long-term determinants of innovation.
[So, basically, if it's about "plight," it's "all right."]
To noneconomists, these lectures would no doubt appear heavily theoretical, laced with mathematical and statistical derivations. ...Since the writings of Paul Samuelson...in the 1940's, economists have used large doses of mathematics to create insight and clarity....
[Or was it to harden up their soft science? Or give themselves the illusion of "hard science"? At any rate, it turned out to be useful as an intimidation device, and it's wound up, as this article implies, being a wonderful mask for the fact that most standard economists are making maximum investments (of research and publication time) at points of minimum relevance to human progress.]
Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton...a former member of Pres. Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and a driving force behind the council's efforts to promote applied economics...is unwavering when he criticizes [economics] training as "increasingly aloof and self-referential."
[We'd put this down to a couple of important themes in economics that have lost important battles in the last century, but not the war:
9/16/99 4 pieces of "goodnews, but..." -
8/14/99 At zoo, a cheerful, careful welcome - Tiny baby gorilla quarantined for now, by Kristin Vaughan, Boston Globe, B1.
- Inflation is missing despite four years of boom, by Louis Uchitelle, NYT, C1.
[But that's what always happens in pre-depression periods when the wealthy are concentrating all the money and not spending it themselves, nor reinvesting it in wages where it would spur a solid boom that would make our current hollow boom, aka bubble, look sick.]
...The much anticipated rise in the inflation rate, which so often mars prosperous times, has failed once again to make an appearance....
[Our reporters today are so screwed up that they think price rises "mar" prosperous times. Will they wake up when they start to notice the number of price decreases that are currently going on due to downsized consumer markets, and the fact that depressions are crises of deflation (dropping prices), not inflation (increasing prices)? Think about it. Rising wages are the mechanism by which we bridge the much-lamented income gap and reunify our society. How the "H" are we going to bridge that gap wiithout wages rising? If you think it's going to happen by Bill Gates' charity (see #4 below) or by falling top-executive pay, stock options and golden parachutes, we've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. Or possible a nice timeshare in Hurricane Alley?]
- Strong currency, weak economy - As the yen soars, Japan has more at stake than does U.S., by Michael Weinstein, NYT, C1.
[That's it right there - Good "strong currency" but "weak economy."]
- British unemployment falls, by Andrew Sorkin, NYT, C4.
...[but] largely because of hiring among service companies [who pay less]....
- Gates is pledging $1 billion for minority scholarships, by Sam Verhovek, NYT, A1.
[But market-bucking, discretionary (arbitrary, capricious, unreliable, irregular, etc. etc.) charity can never match direct automatic reinvestment for alleviating social problems via a market-facilitating way.]
Officials at Zoo new England are anxiously watching the development of a baby gorilla, the first one ever born at its Franklin Park Zoo, after its mother [Kiki] recently started showing signs of illness [and] have delayed plans..\..to begin exhibiting the baby gorilla to the public. \After\ Sunday's dramatic birth,...late Wed. afternoon Kiki and the four other adult gorillas at the park contracted a common gorilla illness...when they get stressed,...diarrhea. [Zoo staff] are cleaning up as soon as possible so that it won't spread.... All of the adult gorillas have been placed on a 10-day course of medication....
Zoo officials were concerned that Kiki, who was "hand-raised" by humans as a baby, would not have mothering instincts.... But the normally 230-pound gorilla has apparently taken to motherhood splendidly.... Zoo staff actually demonstrated mothering behavior for the gorilla to mimic. "We had a baby doll that one of the keepers would carry around and carry like a gorilla for a few months off and on, and the horticulturist's wife [who recently had a baby] would actually breastfeed so that Kiki could see. She came in twice a week or so for a few months and Kiki was very interested in the whole thing. She wanted one of her own"..\..said Dr. Hayley Weston, chief veterinarian.... "Kiki's a really good mother, very nurturing, very gentle. She cradles it all the time. I don't think she's put it down yet," Weston said. "She strokes and kisses it and inspects the fingers and toes. We thought she'd be a good mom and she is...."
[Listen up, anti-evolutionists in Kansas. With our mass firings, workplace violence, and highschool shootings, we should be flattered to have such relatives!]
Click here for good news in Sept. 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in Aug. 16-31/99.
Click here for good news in Aug. 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in July 16-31/99.
Click here for good news in July 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in June 16-30/99.
Click here for good news in June 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in May/99.
Click here for good news in Apr/99.
Click here for good news in Mar/99.
Click here for good news in Jan-Feb/99.