The current incarnation of the GOP is not your father’s Republican Party. These people are not fiscally responsible, and certainly not conservative. They’re really not that bright when it comes to economics. For some reason, they have convinced themselves that low wages are necessary for most companies to survive, and that is just insane. If it’s necessary to survive, then consider the example of Costco. They makes a higher profit per store than Walmart, and have for many years. Here’s another: the Washington, DC City Council proposed a minimum wage of $12.50 last year, and Walmart killed plans for three stores. There was no mass exodus of companies from the District; just Walmart. (By the way, they settled on $11.50, and there is still no mass exodus.) If low wages are so necessary to compete, why do so few companies pay the minimum wage? Fewer than 15 percent of all workers make less than $10 per hour, and small businesses that pay the minimum wage or less are actually at higher risk of failure. Most companies that pay at or around minimum wage are in the discount retail and fast food industries. Yet supermarket chains, which have a much higher union membership and pay higher wages against a much tighter profit margin, seem to do quite well.
Many minimum wage workers have no bank account, and rely on check cashing offices to get cash, pay bills and wire money to relatives abroad. Contrary to what social scientists believe, these workers prefer check cashing services over banks, because banks do not offer them the services they need, a researcher at The New School in New York City has found.
For example, if a worker deposits her paycheck on Friday in a checking account, she can’t spend that money until Monday or Tuesday. If she instead visits a check cashing service, the money is available immediately, and she can pay her bills at the same time.
The video is about 15 minutes long. Toward the end, Prof. Lisa Servon notes that the spending power of low-wage workers has declined dramatically since 1968, which makes it even harder for them to save money in a bank account.
More: Why the Working Poor and Banks Are a Bad Match - American Banker
The US Treasury has warned Congress that the debt ceiling raising time again, and as before, the Republicans are dancing around trying to tie the debt ceiling to one or another of their pet causes.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew says the day of destiny this time is Feb. 27.
The last debt ceiling showdown hurt economic output, employment, and America’s standing among global investors, experts say.
Flirting with default comes with costs, even if the government never misses a single payment, experts said. A new study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a research group based in Washington, suggested that the cost of last year’s fiscal standoffs lopped roughly a percentage point, or $150 billion, off economic output and cost 750,000 jobs.
Around the world, the perception of Treasury debt as being absolutely safe has shifted, said Adam S. Posen, president of the Peterson Institute and a former central banker at the Bank of England. Managers of sovereign-wealth funds in countries like Norway and Singapore are rethinking their exposure to the dollar, he said.
“The dumb money says, ‘Every time I reacted to a debt deliberation in the United States, I overreacted and lost money,’ ” he said. “But the smart money knows the market has been changed by this uncertainty.”
My news aggregator discovered this blog post by Charles Pierce in which he notes how American businesses and manufacturers are responding by retooling to cater to the wealthy.
As Elvis Costello put it, “Oh, I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused.” But the best I can do is shake my head sadly.
London-based professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers takes a close look at Bitcoin and recommends executives who want to stay ahead should consider integrating Bitcoin into their business plans, while advising them of potential risks.
The report focuses mostly on payments, PR and pricing, and offers several early adopters as examples for other firms to emulate.
PricewaterhouseCoopers explores the emerging impact of bitcoin on entertainment, media and communications companies. It is based on the company’s analysis of the 3.4 million online mentions bitcoin had in 2013 as well as a PwC-commissioned online consumer survey to gather awareness, attitudes and behaviors about the crypto-currency.
Download white paper (PDF) here
An interesting article in the NY Times outlines a former money addict’s journey.
To me just the term ‘money addict’ explains a great deal of the behaviour of those on Wall Street and the upper management of corporations. Addicts tend to be erratic and driven in their quest for their next hit. They also don’t care who gets hurt.
Food for thought.
Looks like your future medical career is safe for the time being. I’ve never been too fond of the idea of replacing doctors with machines primarily because its such a noble profession, and I see doctors as heroes.
Robots may be gaining an edge in package delivery, perhaps even telemarketing, but a new study says that surgeries performed using robots aren’t any more successful than traditional surgical methods. What they are, however, is more expensive.
Some Unsettling News via Jeremy Jacquot at Ars Technica. Climate Change will not be the only environmental issue humanity will have to deal with in the 21st century.
One of the unfortunate but inescapable consequences of population and economic growth has been the unabated proliferation of trash. The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” has become as emblematic of our soaring waste output as have the millions of cheap, disposable goods that we’ve come to rely on.
Every day, we generate over 3.5 million tons of solid waste—a tenfold increase over the past century. That figure will likely double again by 2025. On our current path, it could balloon to over 11 million tons per day by 2100, a tripling of today’s rate, with sub-Saharan Africa fueling most of the growth. These worrisome projections, a group of authors argue in this week’s Nature, underscore the already obvious need to balance future population growth and urbanization with more stringent waste reduction efforts.
Researchers have published two studies indicating that good teachers have a far greater influence on students than just their test scores. Good teachers raise their students’ earning potential.
There are other effects, as well.
Unsurprisingly, exposure to better teachers is associated with an increased probability of attending university and, among pupils who go on to university, with attendance at better ones, as well as with higher earnings. Somewhat more unexpectedly, good teachers also seem to reduce odds of teenage pregnancy and raise participation in retirement-savings plans. Effects seem to be stronger for girls than for boys, and English teachers have a longer-lasting influence on their pupils’ futures than maths teachers.
I suspect the greater influence of English teachers results from the wider use of reading and writing skills than math skills in most jobs, rather than the intrinsic usefulness of either subject.