Posts Tagged ‘Public Unions’

The Overlapping Crises of Neoliberal Global Capitalism

The Overlapping Crises of Neoliberal Global Capitalism

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

Conventional wisdom holds that today's global financial crises are political rather than systemic to Neoliberal Global State Capitalism.

It is tempting to place the blame for the U.S. economy's deep woes at the feet of our corrupt, captured political system of governance and those who captured it via concentrated wealth and power. But that would avoid looking at the crises unfolding in global capitalism itself.

From the "progressive" ideology, the "problem" is inequality of income and wealth, and the "solution" is to take more of the wealth and income away from "the rich" (i.e. those who make more than I do) and redistribute to the "have-less" citizenry.

From the "conservative" ideology, the "problem" is that the Central State, in cahoots with public unions and Corporate Overlords, grabs an ever-larger share of the national income to redistribute to reward its cronies and favorites. In so doing, it mis-allocates the nation's capital away from productive investments and strangles free enterprise, the only real engine of wealth.

There is of course a grain of truth in each point of view. As I describe in Survival+, there is a positive feedback in the process of concentrating wealth and thus political power: the more wealth one acquires, themore political influence one can purchase, which then enables the accumulation of even more wealth as the State/Elite partnership showers benefits and monoplies on those who fund elections, i.e. the wealthy.

This process eventually leads to over-reach, when the nation's capital and income are so concentrated that the economy become precariously imbalanced and thus vulernerable to devolution and collapse. Returns on favoritism and capital become marginal, and it take more complexity and capital to wring ever-smaller profits and power from ever-greater investments.

It is also true that the State and the Power Elites mask their massive redistribution to the wealthy and powerful behind politically popular redistributions to the lower-income and/or unproductive citizenry, garnering their loyalty and complicity.

It is also true that as the State and its private-sector Elites channel an ever-larger percentage of the national income to the Central State and its fiefdoms, both public and private, then the productive…
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Understanding Reality – You Don’t Know What You’ve Lost Till Its Gone

Understanding Reality – You Don’t Know What You’ve Lost Till Its Gone

Courtesy of Mish 

ITAR-TASS 66: SINGAPORE. FEBRUARY 2, 2010. The Cessna 750 Citation X, the fastest civilian aircraft, on display at the Singapore Airshow 2010. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Marina Lystseva)

As everyone should know by now, my main concern with unions is specifically with public unions. While I do not care for unions at all, and never have, at least with private unions, someone other than corrupt politicians buying votes is bargaining at the other end of the table.

In the case of public unions, if politicians strike a bad deal, taxpayers foot the bill. In the case of private corporations, if management strikes a bad deal, the company goes bankrupt, shareholders take a hit, or the jobs move elsewhere, as soon as the contract is up.

Except in few cases every now and again, private unions just cannot seem to understand this simple economic fact.

Machinists Union Pickets Cessna Aircraft

The Kansas Wichita Eagle highlights the typical union response, public or private, in Cessna’s initial offer to Machinists includes wage cut

Machinist union members at Cessna Aircraft picketed near the company’s plant in southwest Wichita on Thursday to protest jobs being sent outside the city.

Members fought strong, gusty afternoon winds and carried signs that read "Keep it Made in Wichita," "Outsourcing is Treason" and "We built the Air Capital," as they picketed at K-42 and Hoover roads. Some carried American flags.

Cessna and the Machinists union are in the midst of contract negotiations. The current contract expires Sept. 19. About 2,300 hourly workers at Cessna are covered by the agreement. Hawker Beechcraft also has reopened negotiations with the union as it considers sending work to Louisiana, Mississippi and outside the country.

Cessna’s initial proposal is for a 10-year agreement that cuts wages 4.2 percent, weakens job security, replaces the pension plan with a 401(k) plan and increases the share of the cost of health insurance paid by the workers to 30 percent, said union spokesman Bob Wood.

"There’s no job security in the current proposal," Wood said.

"Wichita is based on aircraft," said Cynthia Hise. "If you don’t get a good contract…." Darren Hise finished her sentence. "It’s going to hurt the whole economy in Wichita."

Reflections on Job Security

Here’s the deal. The Hise’s and the union in general, appears ready willing and able to "hurt the whole Wichita economy" if they do not get what they want.

I have to ask "How stupid is…
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Schwarzenegger on Public Pensions and the Cost of the “Protected Class”

Schwarzenegger on Public Pensions and the Cost of the "Protected Class"

Courtesy of Mish

44014, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Thursday August 26, 2010. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 38th Governor of California, is spotted walking back to his convertible after having breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Brentwood. Arnold, who could be seen snacking on a treat, wore a white button up, blue trousers, a silver wallet chain and a large wrist watch. Photograph: Pedro Andrade/Kevin Perkins,  PacificCoastNews.com   + 1

Now that Schwarzenegger is a certifiable lame duck (dead duck may be a more appropriate term) Schwarzenegger sees fit to take on public unions in a major way. It’s too late now (for him) even as he speaks the truth.

Please consider Public Pensions and Our Fiscal Future by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Recently some critics have accused me of bullying state employees. Headlines in California papers this month have been screaming "Gov assails state workers" and "Schwarzenegger threatens state workers."

I’m doing no such thing. State employees are hard-working and valuable contributors to our society. But here’s the plain truth: California simply cannot solve its budgetary problems without addressing government-employee compensation and benefits.

Thanks to huge unfunded pension and retirement health-care promises granted by past governments, and also to deceptive pension-fund accounting that understated liabilities and overstated future investment returns, California is now saddled with $550 billion of retirement debt.

The cost of servicing that debt has grown at a rate of more than 15% annually over the last decade. This year, retirement benefits—more than $6 billion—will exceed what the state is spending on higher education. Next year, retirement costs will rise another 15%. In fact, they are destined to grow so much faster than state revenues that they threaten to suck up the money for every other program in the state budget.

At the same time that government-employee costs have been climbing, the private-sector workers whose taxes pay for them have been hurting. Since 2007, one million private jobs have been lost in California. Median incomes of workers in the state’s private sector have stagnated for more than a decade. To make matters worse, the retirement accounts of those workers in California have declined. The average 401(k) is down nationally nearly 20% since 2007. Meanwhile, the defined benefit retirement plans of government employees—for which private-sector workers are on the hook—have risen in value.

Few Californians in the private sector have $1 million in savings, but that’s effectively the retirement account they guarantee to public employees who opt to retire at age 55 and are entitled to a monthly, inflation-protected check of $3,000 for the rest of their lives.

In 2003, just before I became governor, the state assembly even passed a law permitting government employees to purchase additional taxpayer-guaranteed, high-yielding


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Antioch California Considers Bankruptcy; Former LA Mayor Predicts Bankruptcy for LA

Antioch California Considers Bankruptcy; Former LA Mayor Predicts Bankruptcy for LA

Courtesy of Mish

Bankruptcy talk is heating up in California with the city of Antioch on the front burner. Please consider Bankruptcy talk spreads among California municipal officials.

Two years after Vallejo, California, filed for bankruptcy protection, officials in nearby Antioch are also tossing around the ‘B’ word.

Antioch’s leaders earlier this month said bankruptcy could be an option for the cash-strapped city of roughly 100,000 on the eastern fringe of the San Francisco Bay area.

"We just want to alert people to the possibility," Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Mary Helen Rocha said.

Orange County Treasurer Chriss Street would not be surprised if more local governments across the Golden State sound a similar alarm.

Street expects more talk of municipal bankruptcy across California because local government finances are in such dire shape — a situation underscored on Wednesday when a top finance officer for Sacramento County projected a worse-than-expected shortfall for the county of $181 million, which could force more than 1,000 layoffs from the county’s payroll.

Marc Levinson, a lawyer with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP who is representing Vallejo in its bankruptcy proceeding, agrees that California’s hard times and lean local budgets are forcing local leaders to weigh bankruptcy.

"It’s a topic on everyone’s lips because cities and counties and local governments are hurting," Levinson said.

Like Vallejo, Los Angeles is suffering from weak revenue at the same time the cost of its pensions and other retirement benefits are rising. Former Mayor Richard Riordan said those factors put the government of the second largest U.S. city on track to declare bankruptcy between now and 2014.

Riordan sees bankruptcy as a necessary tactic for squeezing concessions from the city’s public employee unions. It could also pave the way for 401(k) retirement accounts for new city workers instead of defined pension benefit plans with escalating costs, he said.

"The threat of bankruptcy is really the only way you’re going to get them to make major changes," Riordan recently told Reuters.

Talk of municipal bankruptcy has not escaped California’s politically powerful public employee unions. A number of them are pressing the legislature to pass a bill that would require local governments to get the approval of a state board before filing for bankruptcy. Since the board could be stacked with union-friendly appointees, bankruptcy pleas could be


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Padded Pensions and What to do About Them

Padded Pensions and What to do About Them

Courtesy of Mish

The New York Times article Padded Pensions Add to New York Fiscal Woes has been making the rounds. At least 20 people sent me the link. Let’s take a look at few snips, then a look at a followup Times article on addressing the problems.

In Yonkers, more than 100 retired police officers and firefighters are collecting pensions greater than their pay when they were working. One of the youngest, Hugo Tassone, retired at 44 with a base pay of about $74,000 a year. His pension is now $101,333 a year.

It’s what the system promised, said Mr. Tassone, now 47, adding that he did nothing wrong by adding lots of overtime to his base pay shortly before retiring. “I don’t understand how the working guy that held up their end of the bargain became the problem,” he said.

According to pension data collected by The New York Times from the city and state, about 3,700 retired public workers in New York are now getting pensions of more than $100,000 a year, exempt from state and local taxes. The data belie official reports that the average state pension is a modest $18,000, or $38,000 for retired police officers and firefighters. (The average is low, in part, because it includes people who worked in government only part time, or just a few years, as well as surviving spouses getting partial benefits.)

Some will receive the big pensions for decades. Thirteen New York City police officers recently retired at age 40 with pensions above $100,000 a year; nine did so in their 30s.

The Times article is 4 pages long so please give it a closer look.

Legal Theft

Undoubtedly Mr. Tassone is not as stupid as he sounds. He knows full well he gamed the system, but it was legal.

Tassone argues he held up his end of the bargain. Excuse me for asking what end is that? Public unions are legalized mobs. They coerce votes from corrupt politicians willing to buy there patronage.

There is no "public end" because there is no one working on the public’s behalf. Indeed the public in general has been crucified with never ending tax hikes to support union thugs who pack every school board in the country, and promise Armageddon if police or firefighters get laid off.

The public is


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The $2 Trillion Public Pension Hole and What You Can Do About It

As I mentioned last week, I find the multi-billion dollar gifting to bankers and the ultra-rich much more troublesome than Unions, but here’s Mish’s perspective on Unions and the problems they pose for state budgets. – Ilene 

The $2 Trillion Public Pension Hole and What You Can Do About It

time is money

Courtesy of Mish

The cover story of Barron’s is on public pensions, an issue I have been railing about for years, and heatedly so for several months. Please consider The $2 Trillion Hole

LIKE A CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE, populist rage burns over bloated executive compensation and unrepentant avarice on Wall Street.

Deserving as these targets may or may not be, most Americans have ignored at their own peril a far bigger pocket of privilege — the lush pensions that the 23 million active and retired state and local public employees, from cops and garbage collectors to city managers and teachers, have wangled from taxpayers.

Some 80% of these public employees are beneficiaries of defined-benefit plans under which monthly pension payments are guaranteed, no matter how stocks and other volatile assets backing the retirement plans perform. In contrast, most of the taxpayers footing the bill for these public-employee benefits (participants’ contributions to these plans are typically modest) have been pushed by their employers into far less munificent defined-contribution plans and suffered the additional indignity of seeing their 401(k) accounts shrivel in the recent bear market in stocks.

Most public employees, if they hang around to retirement, can count on pensions equal to 75% to 90% of their pay in their highest-earning years. And many public employees earn even more in retirement than their best year’s base compensation as a result of "spiking" their last year’s income by working ferocious amounts of overtime and rolling in years of unused sick and vacation days into their final-year pay computation.

THE PROSPECTS ARE BLEAK for many state and local governments as a result of all this. According to a survey last month by the Pew Center on the States, a nonpartisan research group, eight states — Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and West Virginia — lack funding for more than a third of their pension liabilities. Thirteen others are less than 80% funded.

The more likely outcome is dramatic cuts in essential services, such as police and fire protection, health spending, education and


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Governor Christie Declares “New Jersey on Edge of Bankruptcy”

Governor Christie Declares "New Jersey on Edge of Bankruptcy"

Courstesy of Mish

New Jersey is in a state of fiscal emergency. Expect to see more states follow suit. Please consider Christie to freeze $1.6 billion in NJ spending.

Gov. Christie today declared that New Jersey had veered to the edge of bankruptcy and

ordered a broad array of state cuts in an effort to make up a $2.2 billion deficit in the current budget amid falling revenues.

Christie froze aid to more than 500 school districts and public colleges and universities, ordered the end to several state programs and the Office of Public Advocate, and seized unspent money across state government.

"Today, we come to terms with the fact that we cannot spend money on everything we want,” Christie told a special joint session of the legislature. "The days of Alice in Wonderland budgeting in Trenton are over.”

The state’s sales tax revenues are 5.5 percent below projections, corporate business tax receipts are down 8 percent, both below what had been planned under former Gov. Jon Corzine’s administration, Christie said.

Christie also announced the state would not contribute $100 million toward pensions costs and signaled that he would push for massive pension restructuring.

Christie highlighted the benefits for unnamed individual teachers as an example: a retired teacher who contributed $62,000 in total toward her pension who would be expected to receive $1.4 million in pension payments and $215,000 in medical benefits over the rest of her life.

"Is it fair for all of us and our children to have to pay for this excess?” Christie said.

Christie said the state would have to pay $7 billion a year to make up unfunded pension and medical liabilities. ""We don’t have that money. You know it and I know it,” Christie said.

Hello Alice, Wonderland Accounting Is Over

Hello New Jersey, "Wonderland" accounting is over. Hello public teachers and unions, you better be prepared for the results.

Here is a snip of the Text of Governor Christie’s Speech on the State Budget. Please read the snip, but I also encourage you to read the entire speech.

Today, we must make a pact with each other to end this reckless conduct with the people’s government. Today, we come to terms with the fact that we cannot spend money on everything we want. Today,


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Zero Hedge

History In The Making: Amazon's First Fully-Automated Grocery Store Opens To The Public

 

History In The Making: Amazon's First Fully-Automated Grocery Store Opens To The Public

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

After nearly a year of testing - plus a few highly publicized practice runs involving reporters from a handful of influential tech media outlets like the New York Times - Amazon will open its small-format Seattle test store, dubbed “Amazon Go” on Monday.

The store will feature cashier-free checkouts, allowing customers who install the “Amazon Go” app to simply pick up an item and walk out with it. ...



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ValueWalk

Jeffrey Tarrant at the Fall 2017 Grant's Conference

By Akhlaqahmed9941. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Jeffrey Tarrant from Protege Partners speaks before the audience at Grant’s conference at The Plaza hotel.

]]> Get The Timeless Reading eBook in PDF

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The post Jeffrey Tarrant at the Fall 2017 Grant’s Conference appeared first on ...



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 21, 2017

Courtesy of Blain.

Investors suffered through two whole days of losses in a shortened week – but the indexes still gained on the week!  Boo yah!  Even a sharp reversal Tuesday (gap up, close at the lows) – which is usually negative short term – couldn’t stop the freight train.  Earnings season kicked off in earnest.  The government shutdown put absolutely zero fear into markets.

“I would characterize a shutdown as just the kind of political news that the market has demonstrated, over the past year, a willingness to ignore,” said Hank Smith, co-chief investment officer at Haverford Trust, which manages $8 billion.

The S&P 500 gained 0.9% for the week, while the NASDAQ jumped 1.0%.

Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at wealth manager Bleakley Financial G...



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Phil's Favorites

Donald Trump doesn't understand Haiti, immigration or American history

 

Donald Trump doesn't understand Haiti, immigration or American history

Courtesy of Chantalle F. VernaFlorida International University

 

After Haiti signed its Declaration of Independence from France, in 1804, the U.S. started a nearly 60-year political and economic embargo that hobbled the young nation’s growth. Wikimedia

Donald Trump’s denigrating comments about Haiti during a recent cong...



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Insider Scoop

34 Biggest Movers From Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Gainers
  • Forward Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ: FORD) shares surged 137.9 percent to close at $2.95 on Friday after the company reported the acquisition of Intelligent Product Solutions.
  • NuCana PLC (ADR) (NASDAQ: NCNA) shares climbed 41.55 percent to close at $20.51 as the company announced plans to initiate a Phase 3 study of Acelarin in front-line advanced biliary tract cancer.
  • New Age Beverages Corporation (NASDAQ: NBEV) shares jumped 22.5 percent to close at $3.92 on Friday.
  • ...


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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are just the Beanie Babies of the moment

 

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are just the Beanie Babies of the moment

Courtesy of Vitaliy Katsenelson, Contrarian Edge

If you invested in the markets circa 1999, it is hard to observe the Bitcoin mania and not experience the feeling that you’ve seen this movie before and know how it will end – in losses and tears. The internet was a great idea that convinced a lot of great minds to invest capital and energy into businesses that have transformed the world – Amazon, eBay, Cisco, PayPal … the list is very long (though in fairness the list of non-survivors is even longer – but they are not here to remind us of their nonexistence).

R...



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Biotech

How Alzheimer's disease spreads throughout the brain - new study

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

How Alzheimer's disease spreads throughout the brain – new study

Courtesy of Thomas E CopeUniversity of Cambridge

Harmful tau protein spreads through networks. Author provided

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating brain illness that affects an estimated 47m people worldwide. It is the most common cause of dementia in the Western world. Despite this, there are currently no treatments that are effective in curing Alzheimer’s disease or preventing its relentless progressio...



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Mapping The Market

Trump Admin Bans CDC From Using Words Like 'Science-Based,' 'Diversity'

By Jean-Luc

These are the policies of a theocracy, not a modern democracy:

Trump Admin Bans CDC From Using Words Like ‘Science-Based,’ ‘Diversity’

The Trump administration has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using words like “science-based,” “diversity,” and “transgender” in their official documents for next year’s budget, according to the Washington Post.

Senior CDC budget leader Alison Kelly met with the agency’s policy analysts on Thursday to announce ...



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Members' Corner

An Interview with David Brin

Our guest David Brin is an astrophysicist, technology consultant, and best-selling author who speaks, writes, and advises on a range of topics including national defense, creativity, and space exploration. He is also a well-known and influential futurist (one of four “World's Best Futurists,” according to The Urban Developer), and it is his ideas on the future, specifically the future of civilization, that I hope to learn about here.   

Ilene: David, you base many of your predictions of the future on a theory of historica...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Promotions

NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!

 

We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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