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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ValueWalk

Senate approves $1.9T bill, but changes coronavirus stimulus checks eligibility

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Democrats moved one step closer on Saturday to pass the next coronavirus relief package. On Saturday, the Senate approved the massive stimulus package, but with several amendments. One of the amendments was related to the eligibility for the $1,400 coronavirus stimulus checks.

Q4 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Senate makes three crucial changes to relief package

On Saturday, the Senate made several changes to the relief package legislation. There were, however, three notable c...



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Zero Hedge

CDC Says "Fully Vaccinated" People Can Stop Wearing Masks, Distancing In Private

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Update (1100ET): As federal health officials including Dr. Fauci chide states for easing COVID restrictions, the CDC has just released new guidelines proclaiming that fully vaccinated people can spend time together indoors without masks or social-distancing.

The CDC's highly anticipated report cites early evidence suggesting vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infections, and are less likely to transmit the virus to other people.

For the record, according to the CDC ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

China Creates Back To Back Bearish Patterns At 6-Year Resistance!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Could China be sending an important message to stocks around the world? Very possible!

This chart looks at the Shangai Index on a monthly basis since the early 2000s.

The index has peaked twice in the past 6-yeas at its 50% Fibonacci retracement level. These peaks took place in 2015 and 2017 and were followed by declines of at least 25%.

The past two months it has tested this 6-year resistance line/50% Fibonacci level, where it created back-to-back monthly bearish reversal patterns.

If the index closes much below risi...



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Phil's Favorites

How the world ran out of semiconductors

 

How the world ran out of semiconductors

Courtesy of Hamza Mudassir, Cambridge Judge Business School

There’s a global shortage in semiconductors, and it’s becoming increasingly serious. The US is currently reviewing of its supply of the technology, following a landmark executive order from President Joe Biden.

The president also pledged US$37 billion (£26 billion) to cover the short-term costs of rebuilding and securing America’s supply of ...



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Chart School

Who is King? The Bond Market or the FED

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

The King Arthur story is battle between a false KING and the true KING. Generally the movie involves surprises, love and violence, and all this coming to the risk on markets very soon. 

The financial blog space expects the FED to do some sort of Yield Curve Control (YCC) to hold interest rates down while inflation moves higher, this is allowing inflation to run hot. The FED wishes to do this over time to deflate the debt away. Very similar to the 1940's post WW2, yields were pegged to 2% and risk on assets went sky high.

However Peter Boockvar suggest the FED may soon learn it is not in control and the true king of the markets is the BOND MARKET. Peter says simply the bond market is telling the FED to bite me!

The FED is not us...

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Biotech/COVID-19

88% Of COVID Deaths Occurred In Countries Where Over Half Of Population Overweight

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

A new report by the World Obesity Federation found that 88% of deaths in the first year of the pandemic occurred in countries where over half of the population is classified as overweight - which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) above 25. Of note, BMI values above 30 - considered obese - are associated with 'particularly severe outcomes,' accor...



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Politics

Why repressive Saudi Arabia remains a US ally

 

Why repressive Saudi Arabia remains a US ally

A demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with blood on his hands protests outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8, 2018. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Courtesy of Jeffrey Fields, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman “approved an operation … to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” according to a...



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Mapping The Market

Which Governments Ordered Johnson & Johnson's Vaccine?

 

Which Governments Ordered Johnson & Johnson's Vaccine?

Courtesy of Niall McCarthy, Statista

On Wednesday, U.S. regulators announced that Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine being developed by its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Belgium is effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of the disease. The jab has been deemed safe with 66 percent efficacy and the FDA is likely to approve it for use in the U.S. within days.

The Ad26.COV2.S vaccine can be stored for up to three months in a refrigerator and requires a single shot, ...



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Digital Currencies

Crypto - It Is Different This Time

 

Crypto – It Is Different This Time

Courtesy of Howard Lindzon

?I have been astonished as you know by the growth of crypto.

I remember back in 2017 when I noticed that Stocktwits message volume on Bitcoin ($BTC.X) surpassed that of $SPY. I knew Bitcoin was here to stay and Bitcoin went on to $19,000 before heading into its bear market.

Today Bitcoin is near $50,000.

Back in November of 2020, something new started to happen on Stocktwits with respect to crypto.

After the close on Friday until the open of the futures on Sunday, all Stocktwits trending tickers turned crypto. The weekend messages on Stocktwits have increased 400 percent.

That has continued each weekend...



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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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Promotions

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Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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