Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Amazon Leaves New York: Anti-corporate activists give up 25,000 jobs to get what they want — Lost economic opportunity

February 15, 2019

As the company cancels its plans for a major Queens campus, anti-corporate activists got what they wanted at a great cost.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

“You have to be tough to make it in New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio boasted, choosing to jeer at Amazon as it canceled its plans on Thursday to build a new headquarters in Queens, after some local officials angrily criticized its proposal.

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Protesters unfurl anti-Amazon banners from the balcony of a hearing room during a New York City Council Finance Committee hearing titled Amazon HQ2

What a strange thing for the mayor to take pride in. It’s certainly true that you have to be tough these days. But that’s because the subways don’t work, the streets are gridlocked, the housing is unaffordable, the shelters are overcrowded, and the schools are segregated and often inadequate. Now think how much tougher it’ll become for the typical citizen — not the ones who ride in chauffeured government cars — if New York gets a reputation for the smugness of its politicians and their hostility to business.

Image result for anti-Amazon protests in new york , pictures

There were all sorts of problems with the deal New York cut to bring Amazon to the city, and Amazon is no paragon, but its abrupt withdrawal was a blow to New York, which stood to gain 25,000 jobs and an estimated $27 billion in tax revenue over the next two decades. This embarrassment to the city presents a painful lesson in how bumper-sticker slogans and the hubris of elected — and corporate — officials can create losers on all sides.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio, in a rare fit of comity, rolled out the red carpet for Amazon, for what would have been one of the biggest economic deals ever in the state. They offered the company $3 billion in tax benefits to build a campus in the Long Island City neighborhood. But it was clear as soon as the company, governor and mayor announced the deal in November that not all New Yorkers felt welcoming.

Politicians and activists had good reason to criticize the size of the tax breaks and the secrecy of the negotiations. After years of rapid development in New York that has come with soaring real estate prices, many rightly feared Amazon’s arrival could accelerate already costly gentrification.

Things quickly got out of hand, though, and reasonable criticism of the deal was overwhelmed by opposition to the company itself, even as polls showed wide support for Amazon’s move to Queens. Elected officials who identify as progressive painted Amazon as a rapacious engine of inequality. It seemed that few were interested in having a constructive conversation about how to improve the deal and make it work for the tech giant and the city.

Some berated the company’s executives in a City Council hearing and at rallies. That kind of tough talk is par for the course in “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” New York. But in grandstanding, they missed an opportunity to try to get the company to help address housing and infrastructure problems that the development, for all its benefits, would exacerbate. Perhaps they thought the city’s pool of skilled workers and many other attractions made it so irresistible that there was no need to negotiate.

“We have the best talent in the world, and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone,” the mayor said. “If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.” Because, you know, Amazon’s competitors have a great track record of seeing the future more clearly than Jeff Bezos.

Last week, the State Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, nominated a critic of the deal, Senator Michael Gianaris, to a state board that had veto power over it. Mr. Gianaris, who represents the district where the campus would have been located, had legitimate concerns over the arrangement and wanted more investment from Amazon in the city. Though his staff was engaged in discussions with Amazon, he refused even to meet with anyone from the company. His appointment could only have helped Amazon decide to call New York’s bluff. The governor seems to think so.

“The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement on Thursday. “They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.” He’s got a point.

Blame also needs to be assigned, of course, to a system in which powerful corporations can milk billions in tax benefits out of cities and states to locate facilities, without any added investment in infrastructure, schools and other benefits. Amazon, one of the richest companies in the world, run by the richest man in the world, had held a nationwide contest in which governments scraped together enough entitlements to satisfy it, even as those same cities struggled to fortify corroding infrastructure and stave off a housing crisis that has pushed the middle class to the brink and forced the poor into homeless shelters.

Amazon’s initial offerings to New York — like a $5 million commitment to work force development — were meager. The company displayed arrogance of its own and seemed to have little respect for greater public scrutiny and review, and little interest in salvaging the deal once it became vulnerable.

Mssrs. Cuomo and de Blasio should have better prepared for what was in store, since their constituents are maybe more worried about housing, subways and the cost of living than in job creation alone. In fact, it’s partly thanks to the failure of these elected leaders to seriously address the subway and housing crises that Amazon was met by some with such visceral anger and anxiety. If they’d better anticipated that reaction, they might have worked with the company to address these issues, and win local buy-in before things went off the rails. Then, together with Amazon, they could have helped the city diversify its economy and leverage the power of a tech giant to help solve big problems. It’s an opportunity lost. May it also be a lesson learned.



Green New Deal That’s Not Beyond Belief

February 12, 2019

The emphasis should be on climate change while limiting costly new entitlements.

Stick to the point.
Stick to the point.   Photographer: Ira L. Black/Corbis News/Getty Images

The planet is in grave danger from climate change. No reasonable person can doubt this fact. Drastic and immediate action is needed to reduce global carbon emissions.

But that doesn’t mean that any sort of drastic action is a good one. The Green New Deal, proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has two big flaws. First, the plan overreaches in its desire to deliver a raft of expensive new entitlements — guaranteed jobs, benefits, health care, housing, education, income and more. If the large deficits required to pay for all of these things ended up harming the economy, it would actually hurt the cause of limiting climate change rather than help it. Second, the plan focuses far too much on the U.S.’s own carbon emissions. The U.S. accounts for only about 14 percent of global carbon output, and that percent is falling every day. The climate change battle will be won or lost in developing countries such as China:

So I propose an alternative Green New Deal, which would focus on actually defeating climate change. Some of the proposals here are included in the Green New Deal resolution; some are not.

The first pillar of an alternative Green New Deal would be green technology. If the U.S. can discover cheap ways of manufacturing cement and concrete without carbon emissions, and of reducing emissions from agriculture, it will give developing countries a way to reduce carbon output without threatening their economic growth. To this end, the U.S. should pour money into research. The budget of ARPA-E, the agency charged with leading this research, should be increased from about $300 million to $30 billion per year.

The second way to move green technology forward is to encourage the scaling of these technologies. As companies build more solar power, batteries, smart grids, low-carbon building retrofit kits and other green technologies, the costs go down. To that end, the government should provide large subsidies to green-energy companies, including solar power, batteries and electric cars, as well as mandating the replacement of fossil-fuel plants with zero-carbon plants.

Infrastructure spending is also important. The original Green New Deal’s goal of building a smart electrical grid is a good one, as is the idea to retrofit American buildings to have net zero emissions.

Technologies developed in the U.S. need to spread quickly to other countries. All ARPA-E breakthroughs should be freely transferred to other countries, through the offices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or other agencies. Subsidies should be increased for companies that export their emissions-reducing products. The plan should also include offers of favorable trade relations for countries that reduce their use of fossil fuels, as well as tariffs on the carbon content of imported goods.

An alternative Green New Deal should also provide incentives for higher density in urban areas, since sprawl contributes to emissions. It shouldn’t require the decommissioning of nuclear plants. It should also implement a carbon tax, something now missing from the plan. This would encourage factories to reduce carbon output, to encourage air and sea travel to search for lower-carbon alternatives and to address various other sources of emissions.

In addition, an alternative Green New Deal should include proposals to make sure as little as possible of the costs of the transition fall on the economically vulnerable. Government infrastructure and retrofitting projects will naturally create many green jobs. The proceeds of a carbon tax can be rebated to low-income Americans, either as a carbon dividend, or through earned income tax credits, child tax credits, food stamps, housing vouchers and income support for the elderly and disabled. These policies combine the goals of fighting climate change and supporting the poor and working class.

In order to sweeten the deal politically, an Alternative Green New Deal should also include some economic policies that aren’t directly related to climate change — but make sure these are things that should be done anyway, and which won’t break the bank. Universal health insurance, which would free employees to move from job to job, as well as giving the government power to negotiate lower health-care prices, should be included. Increased spending on public universities and trade schools in exchange for tuition reductions, and grants to help lower-income students pay for these schools, would help increase educational attainment without being too costly.

Finally, an alternative Green New Deal should involve progressive taxes, both to raise revenue for the spending increases and to let the nation know that the well-off are shouldering more of the burden. Wealth taxes and inheritance taxes are good ideas. Income taxes should also go up, not just on the super rich, but on the affluent and the upper-middle class as well. And most importantly, capital gains and dividends should be treated as ordinary income, which would increase the tax rate actually paid by the wealthy.

This alternative Green New Deal has similarities to Ocasio-Cortez’s version, but also has key differences. By focusing on technological development and international assistance, it would tackle the all-important problem of global emissions. By avoiding huge open-ended commitments like a federal job guarantee or universal basic income, and by including progressive tax increases, it would avoid the threat of excessive budget deficits. Ultimately, this plan would represent the U.S.’s best shot at fighting the looming global menace of climate change while also making the country more egalitarian in a safe and sustainable way. It would be a worthy successor to the original New Deal.

Majority of New Yorkers Support Amazon Project in Queens, New Poll Shows

February 12, 2019

Despite vocal opposition by some legislators, 56% of voters around the state support the project

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Long Island City is the Queens neighborhood where Amazon plans to build the campus. PHOTO: PETER FOLEY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Despite vocal opposition by some legislators, a majority of voters in both New York City and the state support the deal to bring Inc. to Queens, a poll released Tuesday shows.

The Siena Research Institute found 56% of voters around the state support the project, which Amazon says will create 25,000 jobs. Siena poll director Don Levy said the project had majority support in almost every category. Among city residents polled by the upstate college, 58% supported the project and 35% were opposed when told of both the promised jobs and incentives.

“Upstate voters are evenly divided but suburban voters strongly approve and in New York City, where some local activists have voiced opposition, voters approve of the deal by 23 points,” Dr. Levy said in a press release.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio offered up to $3 billion in tax incentives to the tech company, and say its new campus will diversify the economy and generate $27 billion of new government revenue over 25 years.

“This was the grand prize from an economic development point of view,” Mr. Cuomo said Monday during a press conference.

Opponents of the deal include the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union—which is trying to unionize employees at an Amazon warehouse on Staten island—as well as progressive groups, including the Democratic Socialists of America. Democratic politicians, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Mike Gianaris, also oppose the deal. Mr. Gianaris represents Long Island City, the Queens neighborhood where Amazon plans to build the campus.

The poll was released after The Wall Street Journal and other outlets reported Friday that company executives are reconsidering their plans to come to New York in light of the opposition. Last week, Mr. Gianaris was nominated to sit on a state board where he could veto the deal.

Mr. Gianaris has said the current deal with Amazon should be thrown out, and has attended several rallies and demonstrations against the project. On Monday, supporters of the project led by Bishop Mitchell Taylor held a press conference in Queens to describe its benefits.

Mr. Taylor sits on a group convened by Amazon to discuss benefits of the project.

The poll of 778 registered voters was conducted from Feb. 4 to 7 and has a 4.3% margin of error.

Write to Jimmy Vielkind at

See also:

Amazon HQ2 plans deeply dividing Queens community

No-deal Brexit ‘could cost 600,000 jobs worldwide’: study

February 11, 2019

A British departure from the European Union without a deal could put 600,000 jobs around the world at risk, with Germany the hardest hit, a study published Monday found.

Researchers at the IWH institute in Halle, eastern Germany, examined what would happen if UK imports from the remaining EU fell 25 percent after Brexit.

They reckoned that some 103,000 jobs would be under threat in Europe’s largest economy Germany and 50,000 in France.

Being affected by Brexit would not necessarily mean workers were laid off, the economists noted.

Germany's car industry would feel much pain from any no-deal Brexit

Germany’s car industry would feel much pain from any no-deal Brexit AFP

“Given the lack of skilled labour in many advanced economies, firms could also try to keep staff on by cutting hours or opening new markets,” they said.

It is so far uncertain whether Britain will strike a deal with the EU before its legally-binding exit date of March 29, after a huge majority of lawmakers last month voted down Prime Minister Theresa May’s painstakingly-negotiated accord with Brussels.

A “hard” departure without a deal would see tariffs imposed at the border, “tangling up global supply chains,” study co-author Oliver Holtemoeller said in a statement.

The economists focused only on trade in goods and services, leaving out other possible economic impacts of Brexit like changes to investment flows.

They noted that “since markets are linked up across the globe, suppliers based outside the European Union are also affected” by a no-deal Brexit.

Within the 27 remaining EU countries, a total of almost 180,000 posts at firms directly exporting to the UK would be at risk.

But 433,000 more workers in the EU and around the world would be affected, as their employers sell to companies who in turn export to Britain.

For example, the study found some 60,000 workers in China and 3,000 in Japan could lose their jobs.

In the UK, the study turned up around 12,000 jobs dependent on supplying EU firms with inputs for products which are then sold back to Britain.

But a study published early last year by research firm Cambridge Econometrics estimated that a total of 500,000 British jobs would be at risk if there is no deal.

In European powerhouse Germany, the vital car industry would be the worst affected with 15,000 jobs, many of them in Volkswagen company town Wolfsburg and at BMW’s factory in Dingolfing.

By contrast, France’s service sector would be the worst hit, the IWH study found.


Italian unions lead mass demonstration for economic growth

February 9, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Rome on Saturday led by unions demanding pro-growth policies from the populist government, the biggest such protest in four years.

No violent incidents were reported at the gathering.

Unions had helped protesters from elsewhere make their way to the capital using 12 special trains, 1,300 coaches, ferries and low-cost flights.

Holding banners with slogans such as “A future for work”, demonstrators called for a massive publicly and privately funded investment programme, and further-reaching reforms than what the government — made up of the far right League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement — is currently offering.

The union-sponsored demonstration in Rome was the biggest in four years

The union-sponsored demonstration in Rome was the biggest in four years AFP

Italian unions have called investment plans announced by the government too cautious, its pension reform plan not far-reaching enough and have also criticized a plan to pay the poorest Italians a monthly income, saying it undermines the fight against both poverty and unemployment.

The new boss of the CGIL union which claims 5.5 million members, Maurizio Landini, said investment had fallen by 30 percent over the past decade.

“The government must change direction, we already have one foot in recession,” said Annamaria Furlan, the head of Italy’s second-biggest union CISL.

“It needs to come out of its virtual reality and face the reality of our work,” she said.

The Italian economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2018 because of a slowdown in exports, plunging the eurozone’s third-largest economy into a technical recession and increasing the government’s budgetary problems.

Italian unions feel overlooked by the government and did not take well to an encounter between Five Star Movement chief Luigi Di Maio with members of the “yellow vest” protest in France which caused a diplomatic uproar between Paris and Rome.

“It is unusual, to say the least, that a deputy prime minister finds the time to meet opponents of the government in a neighbouring country but doesn’t have the time to meet with the opposition in his own country, i.e. the unions,” Landini said on Friday.

Saturday’s demonstration was the biggest since mass demonstrations just over four years ago against reform plans by the then-prime minister Matteo Renzi.

Meanwhile, an Italian version of “yellow vest” protests, also planned for Saturday, was cancelled by police because of fears of violence.


Chinese state media shows itself to be “backward” — Western journalists say economic slowdown shows dangers of Chinese system

February 9, 2019
  • China’s economy is growing at its slowest rate for 30 years
  • How does its state-owned media’s economic coverage compare with international publications?
  • State media propaganda not believed by anyone…..
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2019, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2019, 7:00pm
South China Morning Post
Image result for Xi Jinping, waving, pictures

China’s economic slowdown is headline news around the world, with readers intrigued by the ongoing trade war with the United States.

But how is it being reported in China’s state media? Everything is just fine.

Chinese people rest in Wangfujing Street in Beijing, China, 21 January 2019. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.6 per cent in 2018, according to a report of the National Bureau of Statistics issued on 21 January 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE

Gross domestic product (GDP)

Why it is important: This is the headline figure generally viewed as a barometer for the overall health of an economy. It is commonly described as “economic growth”.

The fact: China’s economy grew at 6.6 per cent in 2018, the slowest growth rate since 1990. It slowed from 6.9 per cent in 2017.

How was it reported in China?


People’s Daily

Headline: Exceeded 90 trillion yuan! China’s economy reached new heights

Excerpt: “The estimated size of China’s GDP in 2018 was 90.0309 trillion yuan, exceeding the historic mark of 90 trillion yuan for the first time, and remaining the second largest in the world. The annual growth rate of China’s GDP was 6.6 per cent in 2018, achieving the growth goal of 6.5 per cent. The Chinese economy contributed nearly 30 per cent of global economic growth, and continued to be the largest contributor to global growth.”

What did the foreign press say?


Australian Financial Review

Headline: China’s economy faces its toughest year in more than a decade

Excerpt: “China’s economy faces its toughest year in more than a decade with some economists warning true growth will fall as low as 4 per cent as deteriorating consumer confidence, a slowing manufacturing sector, and Donald Trump’s tariffs take their toll on Australia’s biggest trading partner.”

A newborn baby is weighed at the Anxin county hospital in Xiongan New Area, north China’s Hebei Province. The number of babies born in China dropped to the lowest level in almost 60 years in 2018. Photo: Xinhua

Birth rate

Why it is important: Fears over a falling birth rate feed into long-term anxieties about China’s shifting demographics. An ageing population with fewer people in the workforce is viewed as having negative implications for the economy.

The fact: New births in China fell to 15.23 million last year, the lowest since China relaxed its one-child policy in 2014. This is down from 17.86 million in 2016 and 17.23 million in 2017, according to official data.

How was it reported in China?


Xinhua News Agency

Headline: China’s population is still in a relatively stable period of growth

Excerpt: “Li [Xiru, head of the population and employment statistics department at the National Bureau of Statistics, or NBS] said the ‘comprehensive two-child policy’ has played a positive role in raising the fertility level, the number of second babies has largely offset the impact from declining numbers of first born children.

“He added that China still has a demographic dividend, with sufficient labour resources, even though the working age population has declined and the population is ageing.”

What did the foreign press say?

The Irish Times

Headline: China’s birth rate falls to lowest level in 60 years

Excerpt: “The number of babies born in China dropped to the lowest level in almost 60 years in 2018, a sign the birth rate is slowing in the world’s most populous nation despite efforts to encourage more children. “

“The population data adds to growing concerns about the world’s second largest economy. The Chinese economy grew by its slowest rate since the 2009 financial crisis during the last quarter, as the government deals with an ongoing trade war with the US and high levels of debt.”

Students looking at postings at a job fair at Shenyang Aerospace University in Shenyang, in China’s northeast Liaoning province. More than 100 enterprises, both private and state owned, advertised jobs at the fair. Keeping the jobless rate in China low is a key priority for the government in Beijing, given that mass job losses could lead to social unrest. Photo: Agence France-Presse


Why it is important: Keeping the jobless rate in China low is a key priority for the government in Beijing, given that mass job losses could lead to social unrest.

The fact: China’s surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas stood at 4.9 per cent in December 2018, 0.1 per cent lower than in December of the previous year, according to data from the NBS.

Another metric of unemployment, the registered jobless rate, was measured at 3.8 per cent at the end of 2018.

How was it reported in China?


Headline: New changes in China’s employment – read about China’s annual economic achievements

Excerpt: “China’s job market maintained its stable development over the last year. The number of new jobs in urban areas hit a record high, boosting economic growth and underpinning social stability. The employment situation was improved thanks to better economic fundamentals. Over the past year, the structure of the Chinese economy continued to improve while the quality and efficiency kept rising, generating more jobs, stabilising employment, and driving the optimisation of job quality.”

What did the foreign press say?

The Diplomat (US)

Headline: China’s slowdown is starting to hit where it hurts: Employment

Excerpt: “The growing downward pressure on China’s domestic economy has made the employment situation particularly grim.”

“The reality confirms the grim employment situation in China. The internet industry is experiencing a downturn at the moment. Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, China’s internet giants, are a desirable place for jobseekers. But since September, the news of Alibaba scaling back its campus recruitment programme has caused an uproar on the internet. At the same time, news spread that Baidu and have stopped social recruitment and that Tencent will lay off about 6,000 of its staff.”

Chinese police officers watch a cargo ship at a port in Qingdao in China’s eastern Shandong province. China’s trade and exports are under pressure from an ongoing trade war with the United States. The world’s two largest economies have been engaged in a tit-for-tat tariff battle since July 2018. Photo: Agence France-Presse


Why it is important: China has, since July 2018, been engaged in a tit-for-tat tariff war with the United States. Trade data, which measures the country’s exports and imports, is therefore keenly watched.

The fact: In December, total exports fell to US$221.25 billion, down 1.4 per cent from November and 4.4 per cent from the same month in 2017, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs.

However, overall Chinese exports for 2018 were the largest in seven years and the trade surplus with the US reached a record high, boosted by strong gains in the first half of the year and the effects of order front-loading in the second half.

Both of these data were released at the same time.

How was it reported in China?

Xinhua News Agency:

Headline: Exceeded 30 trillion yuan! China’s foreign trade volume hit a record high in 2018

Excerpt: “China’s foreign trade volume reached a record high in 2018, increasing 9.7 per cent from the previous peak posted in 2017.”

“The country is expected to keep its position as the world’s largest trader of goods, said Li Kuiwen, spokesman for China’s customs administration. Li said the Chinese government had taken effective measures in last year to support the stable development of foreign trade and is coping with deep changes in the external situation. ‘Foreign trade remains stable and has seen advances,’ he said.

What did the foreign press say?

The Japan Times

Headline: Chinese exports in December contracted the most in two years, raising risks for global economy

Excerpt: “China’s exports unexpectedly fell the most in two years in December, while imports also contracted, pointing to further weakness in the world’s second-largest economy in 2019 and deteriorating global demand. Adding to policymakers’ worries, data on Monday also showed China posted its biggest trade surplus with the United States on record in 2018, which could prompt US President Donald Trump to turn up the heat on Beijing in their bitter trade dispute.”

Newly manufactured cars are seen at the automobile terminal in the port of Dalian, Liaoning province, China October 18, 2018. Car sales in China fell in 2018, another sign that consumption is being squeezed in the world’s second largest economy. Photo: Reuters

Retail sales

Why it is important: As China attempts to shift its growth model from one that is powered by trade, investment and infrastructure, to one built on domestic consumption, these figures are a barometer of how that policy move is progressing.

The fact: The annual retail sales of consumer goods grew 9.0 per cent in 2018, slower than the growth rate for 2017, which was 10.2 per cent.

How was it reported in China?

Xinhua News Agency

Headline: Building a powerful home market, how consumer spending spurs economic growth.

Excerpt: “China’s annual retail sales moved above the 38 trillion yuan mark in 2018, reaffirming the position of consumer spending as the primary engine for the economic growth. Final consumption expenditure contributed 76.2 per cent of GDP growth last year, up 18.6 percentage points on 2017.”

“Consumer spending has been the number one driving force of economic growth for five consecutive years, exceeding investment and exports. Consumers are spending more on services, which will make the size of the consumer market larger and upgrade the market structure.”

What did the foreign press say?

The Guardian (UK)

Headline: Cautious consumers feel the pinch as Chinese economy slows

Excerpt: “For the many businesses that depend on the spending power of China’s middle class, winter has already arrived. After decades of breakneck growth, the world’s second largest economy is slowing down, and Chinese consumers are feeling the pinch.”

Powell says Fed ‘paddling against the current’ of public mistrust in institutions

February 7, 2019

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday his goal is for the central bank to earn the public’s trust.

In a Washington town hall for teachers, Powell said he wanted the public to know the central bank was working in a “non-political way” to support the economy.

“That’s really the essence of our job,” he said.

“Surveys show that all over the world people are losing faith in large institutions, so we’re paddling against the current in trying to sustain public faith in the Fed,” Powell said.

The central bank must be accessible to ordinary Americans and lawmakers, he said.

Powell said he does a “great deal of outreach to Congress,” in order to be accountable to elected officials, and noted he would be meeting lawmakers for three straight days this week.

Related image

Powell noted he also meets with White House officials.

The Fed chairman is facing some criticism for his dinner on Monday with President Donald Trump. Some said it gave the appearance of White House influence over policy as it came soon after the central bank unexpectedly shifted sharply to a more dovish policy stance.

Read: Powell’s dinner with Trump fuels unease about Fed independence

There was not much talk about interest-rate policy in the town hall. At one point, Powell said the economy was in “a good place.” He said inflation discussions at the Fed involved a “surprisingly deep and tricky set of questions.”

The Fed chairman said the central bank wanted prosperity to be “widely shared” and said education and mobility were key factors.

Powell gave some glimpses into his private life. He said as a teenager he became interested in public service after his father had to turn down a government job because the salary wouldn’t be enough to cover the tuition and college costs for his six children.

The Fed chairman said he learned Basic and Fortran computer languages in school in the 1960s but never followed up on computer programing.

Powell also said he likes to play the guitar to unwind. “I’m really hoping to get a Fed band going,” he said.

But Powell said any Fed chairman shouldn’t expect too many days off.

He said his predecessors, Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke, only managed to “get away for just a few days” during their tenures.

“That’s fine,” he said.

Fed chairman says American dream is fading — “We want prosperity to be widely shared.”

February 7, 2019

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested Wednesday night that the American ideal of earned success from hard work may be fading.

Image result for Jerome Powell, pictures

“We pride ourselves on being a country where you can go from the bottom to the top and there are plenty examples of that happening,” Powell said during a town hall event. “But if you actually look at the numbers and look at what are the chances that someone can go from the bottom quintile [of income] to the top quintile [of income], the U.S. lags now in mobility. And that is not our self-image as a country nor is it where we want to be.”

Powell, speaking at a Fed event for teachers, was asked by an audience member what he saw as major challenges to the U.S. economy over the next 10 years.

Powell painted a stark picture of worsening economic disparities in the U.S. and a decrease in economic growth being felt widely. For years, Powell said, incomes across different economic levels increased significantly across the board.

But, “In the last 40 years or so, the rate of increase in per capita income for the middle and at the bottom of the income spectrum has really decreased,” he said. “We have some work to do to make sure that prosperity that we do achieve is widely spread.”

“We want prosperity to be widely shared. We need policies to make that happen,” continued the Fed chairman, emphasizing improved education to prepare more Americans for the workforce and help them adapt to upcoming disruption to various industries because of rapid changes in technology.

“This isn’t really the Fed’s work, but there are policies that we need to do that everyone should be able to agree on that will enhance mobility, improve people’s chances in life, and enable people better to take part in the workforce of the future where technology’s going to be a bigger and bigger factor and that’s going to require advanced skills with technology,” said Powell.

Trump’s bizarrely brilliant State of the Union speech — 58 percent of the new jobs in America went to women

February 6, 2019

Discomfort with capitalism can’t help the Democrats

It was perhaps the single most bananas political moment of the Trump presidency.

Newly elected Democratic women in the House of Representatives, dressed all in white, stood up and cheered while the very president they entered politics to oppose and defeat looked on approvingly.

He had just cited a statistic that 58 percent of the new jobs in America had gone to women. They immediately applied this stat to themselves, and in an act of almost staggering solipsism, leapt to their feet and began to celebrate their own elections.

Then Trump advised them to stay standing because they were going to like the next sentence — a sentence about how there were more women in Congress than ever before. To which they and their fellow Democrats began chanting “USA! USA!” — in the middle of a Trump speech! And the president looked down upon these people for whom the word “impeachment” is a mantra . . . and smiled.

No one had that in the betting pool.

By John Podhoretz


There’s been a lot of weirdness since 2016, but this meeting of the feminist minds brought us to new heights — or depths — of cognitive dissonance.

One can only ask: Are these the end times? Or are they the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

Probably neither.

No one remembers State of the Union addresses, but Trump did make a bid for immortality with an unprecedented passage in which he warned that Democratic investigations of his administration could destroy our economy.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States,” Trump said. “And the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

I don’t mean to be ghoulish here, but it is historically not true that war is bad for the economy. And congressional oversight of administration practices is a constitutional requirement.

Unquestionably, irresponsible Democratic Party behavior needs to be opposed, but a president standing in the Capitol saying congressmen will kill the golden goose by doing their jobs is nervy, even for Trump.

Here as elsewhere, Trump showed a certain mad brilliance in deploying his talent for Twitter-trolling to force Democrats into various uncomfortable positions.

For example, after talking about regime change in Venezuela, Trump promised socialism would never come to the United States. The TV cameras zoomed in on a clearly disgusted Bernie Sanders — while Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi only managed a slight clap to applaud a sentiment any Democratic leader of the past hundred years would have felt it necessary to stand for.”

State of the Union addresses don’t stick in the public consciousness, but making clear a discomfort with capitalism can’t help the Democrats.

He also established a really strange mood. He was conciliatory in one paragraph and hostile in the next and then conciliatory again. Democrats didn’t really know what to do with their anger and rage at him, and seemed to be looking to each other to make sure it was all right not to clap — and finding that, in fact, there were moments when they really just had to.

Meanwhile, Republicans were so intent on cheering every sentence that they even cheered lines you’re not supposed to cheer, like ones about people being murdered by gangs.

The speech went off in so many directions and the feeling in the chamber got so punch-drunk that by the time the first hour had come and gone, the House chamber was singing “Happy Birthday” to an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor.

Look. It was nice. No question. But it was still weird. Like the whole speech.

That said, in keeping the opposition party off-balance, Trump really did find a way to turn the political discussion in the country to his advantage for the first time since he announced he would take credit for the government shutdown.

US economy tops jobs estimates in January despite shutdown

February 1, 2019

Labour market adds 304,000 jobs, easily beating Wall Street forecast

By Peter Wells in New York

The US labour market started 2019 in robust shape, with the economy adding more jobs than expected in January in the face of the recent government shutdown, and despite a slight increase in the unemployment rate. Non-farm payrolls increased by 304,000 in the first month of the year, the US Labour department said on Friday, smashing Wall Street expectations for 165,000 jobs.

However, the large jump came at the expense of a sizeable revision to December’s number, which was revised lower by 90,000 to 222,000. The unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point to 4 per cent, versus forecasts it would hold at 3.9 per cent.

Image result for Hiring, U.S., jobs, pictures

Average earnings increased 3.2 per cent year-on-year in January, down from an upwardly revised 3.3 per cent (previously 3.2 per cent) in December, but still around the quickest pace in a decade. The jobs data come at a critical juncture for policymakers, with Federal Reserve officials pledging at their rate-setting meeting on Wednesday to take a patient approach to potential future rate rises, depending on the strength of incoming economic data.

Markets were roiled last year over concerns the Fed was raising rates too quickly, possibly jeopardising domestic growth.

Stock futures trimmed earlier declines, with those for the S&P 500 trading 0.1 per cent higher, having been down as much as 0.3 per cent earlier this morning. Trading in Treasuries and the dollar was choppier, though, with the former falling before staging a comeback.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury was 0.5 basis points higher at 2.6395 per cent, but had jumped to a session high of 2.6471 per cent immediately following the data.

The dollar was initially buoyed by the numbers, with the DXY index fighting back to be even for the day, but has since lost ground and was 0.1 per cent weaker at 95.522.

“A tight labour market and healthy wage growth support economic growth, and today’s data should buoy consumer spending and could boost the stock market,” said Kully Samra, vice-president at Charles Schwab. “However, a string of positive data could lead the Federal Reserve to ‘un-pause’ its rate hike cycle sooner than expected, which would likely result in volatility and pull backs.”

The view was echoed by James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, who said today’s jobs report means the case for further Fed rate hikes persists. “With worker pay on the rise and employees feeling secure in their jobs, consumer spending will likely remain firm while adding to inflation pressures in the economy,” he said.

“Fed Chair Jerome Powell talked of economic and market crosscurrents, justifying a pause from the Federal Reserve, but if we can get better news on US-China trade relations, that will lift some of the global gloom. We continue to believe that strong fundamentals should be enough to convince the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates once more in the summer.”