Poor Us: The Great Depression 2.0

May 18, 2009

Interactive Misery Map: Watch US jobs disappear before your eyes

June 2007June 2008 March 2009

A lot of people are unemployed, even 24-hour cable news anchors tell us that much; and we can turn to the internet to fill us in on the multi-million dollar Wall Street paydays that remain a fact of life. Still, while we’re told things are getting better, everyday people continue to tell stories of hardship. So how can we get a handle on the impact the recession is having on the nation? Slate’s recently updated interactive map of job loss across the country did the trick for me. The trio of images above provide national snapshots of employment –blue for job growth, red for job loss– in June 2007, June 2008 and March 2009 (updated last week using the latest figures ). For the record, the number of jobless claims — those drawn by workers collecting benefits for more than one week — rose 202,000 in the week ended May 2 to 6,560,000, the highest level since the government started keeping track in 1967.

When Did Your County’s Jobs Disappear?An interactive map of vanishing employment across the country, updated with the latest figures.
By Chris Wilson

The economic crisis, which has claimed more than 5 million jobs since the recession began, did not strike the entire country at once. A map of employment gains or losses by county tells the story of how those job losses first struck in the most vulnerable regions and then spread rapidly to the rest of the country. As early as August 2007, for example—several months before the recession officially began—jobs were already on the decline in southwest Florida; Orange County, Calif.; much of New Jersey; and Detroit, while other areas of the country remained on the uptick. Updated Thursday, May 14, 2009 The Slate map uses the Labor Department’s local area unemployment statistics for each county in America. Because the data are not seasonally adjusted for natural employment cycles throughout the year, the numbers you see show the change in the number of people employed compared with the same month in the previous year. Blue dots represent a net increase in jobs, while red dots indicate a decrease. The larger the dot, the greater the number of jobs gained or lost. Click the arrows or calendar at the bottom to see each month of data. Click the green play button to see an animation of the data.

h/t Creditslips

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May 15, 2009

News Business Tanks; Business News On A Roll

Corporate Failure  by VitamEternum via Deviant ArtThe dire condition of print journalism has been making headlines recently as newspapers around the country fold or are on the brink of doing so. The situation has become so worrisome that last week Sen. John Kerry held a hearing on” The Future of  Journalism” that featured testimony from Internet journalists like Arianna Huffington, and print journalists like former Baltimore Sun reporter, and producer of “The Wire” David Simon.

The hearing itself although temperate in tone managed to stir a snarky response from Joe Weisenthal of The Silicon Valley InsiderThe Ridiculous Newspaper Bailout Begins:

Yesterday, Sen. John Kerry held a hearing on the “Future or Journalism” — but we’ll just call it what is was: A hearing about a possible newspaper bailout.

Which inspired an immediate retort from Kenneth Corbin of  InternetNews.com suggesting  Weisenthal should Stick to the Facts: No One’s Bailing Out the Newspapers.  So if the good ship Future of Journalism seems to be sinking rather quickly,  it could be due to the increasingly leaden weight of all the last words being stockpiled by members of the crew.

In other news news, the much maligned business journalists (Mother Jones How Could 9000 Business Reporters Blow It? And the Huffington Post answer,  How 9,000 Business Reporters Blew the Mother of All Meltdowns, with even a discouraging word thrown in by Poor Us) are finally feeling the love. Not from the Pulitzers or any big deal awards outfit like that, but from the nonetheless very honorable UCLA Anderson School of Management.

The Loeb Awards are the highest honors in business journalism. They were established in 1957 by Gerald Loeb, a founding partner of E. F. Hutton, to encourage quality reporting in the areas of business, finance and the economy in order to inform and protect private investors and the general public. Presented by UCLA Anderson School of Management since 1973, the awards recognize writers, editors and producers of both print and broadcast media for the significant contributions they make in this field.

If you want to catch up on your Financial Crash history, the work of the 2009 nominees provide an excellent reading list (allow me to particularly recommend Charles R. Morris’s  book “Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash.” It’s the only one of the three nominees I’ve read, but Morris provided a clear and thorough explanation of the causes of the current crisis)

And here are all of the  2009 nominees:

Large Newspapers Category

The finalists in the large newspapers category (circulation of more than 300,000) are:

* Gretchen Morgenson, Peter S. Goodman, Charles Duhigg, Carter Dougherty, Eric Dash, Julie Creswell, Jo Becker, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Stephen Labaton for “The Reckoning” in The New York Times (more…)

April 29, 2009

Fun in Acapulco? Really? Poor Us correspondent reports from Mexico’s travel trade show Tianguis Turistico

Influenza by Cyphermx via Deviantart.com With the global economy tanking and a nasty Narco War raging, the Mexican Ministry of Tourism was really looking to book a win at their 34th annual tourism trade show Tiagnguis Turistico in Acapulco.

I’m sure they imagined the odds were in their favor. What else could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, the bad stuff was just getting started (don’t you hate when that happens?).

The travel industry pros—the people that organize conventions, package tours, weddings, and the people who write about it—arrived in Acapulco on Sunday, the day before a traveler’s advisory went into effect and a pandemic of panic headlines circled the globe faster than the Swine Flu outbreak they were freaking out about.

Luckily, there had been no reported cases of the flu in Acapulco, so they decided to go on with the show, holding meetings outside and nixing discos and other venues where too much mixing with the locals might turn out to be, well, fatal.

So far so good?  Not so fast, the god of screw you wasn’t done with Acapulco yet,  as Poor Us correspondent Traveljones reported: “ We had an earthquake, a 5.6, while I was blogging in the press room. People were sprinting for the exits.”

How fun is that? Despite earthquake, epidemic and the Bullet Flu, (as Jon Stewart nicknamed the drug war),  Traveljones reports that Tiagnguis Turistico stuck as close as possible to business as usual. “Es la economía, estúpido,” is the bottom line on both sides of the border:Fun in Acapulco or is Elvis examining Ursula Andress for Swine Flu symptoms?

Flu news came after the conference started, so it didn’t keep people away, though  some people have left early, partly because of the flu and partly because business is slow this year in general.

I mean the flu isn’t really as huge a topic as you’d think. People are more concerned about the lack of business to Mexico, with US travelers freaked out by yet another story about big bad Mexico and canceling their trips left and right. Some people are wearing masks, but from what’s been said the outbreak has been in the southern section of Mexico City, the huge teeming barrio of bottom rungers.

The narco war isn’t really a topic, since everyone here (travel agents, travel writers) knows that the places with all the violence (Tijuana, Juarez) have never been travel destinations, and those places aren’t represented here anyway.

As far as the recession, most people in this country have been living in permanent recession/depression anyway, farther down the ladder than ours even goes. But yeah, this’ll take them one step lower since tourism is a major industry here. I guess one way they’re dealing with it is the tons of deals they have here now, more than ever. I mean, in general, things are subdued but people are still out, life goes on and they gotta make a buck.  TJ

April 28, 2009

Who Puts the Swine in Swine Flu? Republicans Do.

Filed under: Reduced Circumstances — Tags: , , , , , — debacled @ 2:05 am

Varken_Van_Hebzucht_by_amymai

Well, I suppose it’s kind of a cheap shot to point out that Republicans stripped $900 million for pandemic preparedness out of the Obama Stimulus Bill on the grounds that it was pork.

Indeed, we probably should be worried about this sinister-sounding story that appeared in The Independent :

“…alarming reports from Mexico City, Felipe Solis, a distinguished archaeologist who showed Mr. .Obama around the city’s anthropology museum during his visit to Mexico earlier this month, died the next day from "flu-like symptoms." via The Copycat Effect

However, Obama doesn’t seem to have the flu (at least not that they’re telling us) and the Republicans do have it coming.  After all, they’ve spent decades trying to convince Americans that government is useless and spendthrift by recklessly undermining public services and safety from Katrina to climate change to credit card regulations while hogging all the tax cuts and government contracts for their porcine pals.  Somehow, Swine Flu seems a fitting end for them, but the rest of us deserve the best pandemic preparedness government “pork” can buy.

Republicans Strip Stimulus Money for Pandemic via The Guardian

According to John Nichols of The Nation, back during the January-February stimulus fight, Republicans in Congress stripped about $900 million from the package that was intended to…drumroll…fight pandemics. Yep.
One could plausibly argue, I suppose, that pandemic-prevention spending did not exactly count as stimulus in the same way that rail construction did. But Democratic members of Congress like David Obey of Wisconsin countered that argument this way, writes Nichols:

Obey and other advocates for the spending argued, correctly, that a pandemic hitting

(more…)

April 22, 2009

O Zud, We Broke Mongolia, Too

Filed under: Reduced Circumstances — Tags: , , , — debacled @ 6:04 pm

Cashmere couple The Global Downturn Lands With a Zud on Mongolia’s Nomads – WSJ.com Falling demand for cashmere among recession-hit shoppers in the West is cutting into earnings among nomadic herders in Mongolia, whose goats produce the soft fiber used in high-end sweaters, scarves and coats. The result: herder loan defaults.

Mongolians are calling the current situation a financial zud, invoking a local term for unusually harsh winters that devastate herds.

WSJ’s Josh Chin’s photo shows the glut of meat flooding Mongolian butchers since herders started to sell off their livestock to make payments on overdue bank loans

Cashmere kasimiya_jpg Mongolian butchers swamped with meat as herds are sold to pay debts, photo by John Chin WSJ

April 15, 2009

Ways the Economy Will Change Poor Us? #1 Rise of Gen Millennial Clans

WALTZ_FARM Earlier I posted about the The Christian Science Monitor’s 10 Ways the Economy Will Be Different, an article that offered reasonable assumptions about how the crash will change our economic future and how we’ll adapt.

Personally, I have seen no evidence that we can be level-headed in financial matters given that not long ago the median home price in this area was $1million but people kept buying based on the belief that home values always rise. With that level of credulity mixed with wishful thinking, I feel sure our economic Tomorrowland will be far more unpredictable, fractious and changed than the penny-pinching, EBay shopping reality of the CSM’s list of ten.

How far will the paradigm shift? So far, the Poor Us Economic Outlook is a list of one.  It will grow as I find surmises as good as this one from Adam Nathaniel Mayer’s NewGeography blog post, The Millennials First Recession. As a member of the 20ish Millennial generation, Mayer and many members of his cohort are fresh out of college and have already lost their first jobs.  They’re finding it difficult to find new jobs given that the Baby Boomers (Millennials

(more…)

April 14, 2009

Easter Egg Salad: “Helicopter Ben” Buzzes SF Fed; H/T to Madoff in NY

Helicopter Ben Buzzs SF Fed Protest

Bunny Better at Hiding Loot

An Obama Ninja disguised as Helicopter Ben” Bernanke buzzed  San Francisco ahead of the Easter Bunny Saturday to drop a delicious load of inflation fighting cashsfprotest.jpg to the Federal Bank.  The 200 protesters picketing the location attempted to stop delivery but were foiled by Obamanke’s aerial derring-do and a mad grab by 50 police  officers scrambling to protect the crowd from a downpour of $100 bills unleashed by military personnel. via Silicon Investor

Ponzi’d Easter Bonnets

At the other end of Easter Sunday Liz Borod Wright of Travelogged reports in Recessionwire that New York has its own style of protesting the financial crisis:

“One family got more creative – and that New York has protesters too timely. The parents, their teenage daughter and dog all wore Lost-Our-Nest-Egg hats. But these weren’t ordinary victims of the downturn: The mother wasn’t shy about telling everyone that they had lost their savings to none other than Bernie Madoff.

“For added effect, they were waving around a coffee mug for donations. The daughter was heard telling her parents that “someone from another country” put some money in the cup after taking their photo.”
h/t Calculated Risk

April 13, 2009

Downsizing the Dream: 10 Ways Economy Will Change

Saving_Money_by_MaxHierro

If you ask me, it’s still far too soon to know when the recession will end or how much damage has been done to us, fools that we’ve been, by them, Wall St. money changers, crooks that they are.

The Christian Science Monitor, being more concerned with the return to health than the sickness itself, is way ahead of me. They’re already considering the economy’s post-crash complexion, and it’s going to cast  a bean-counter’s pallor over us all.

Peter Grier’s 10 Ways the New Economy Will Look Different makes reasonable assumptions about how our current losses will affect our future actions.  Far too reasonable, I’m afraid.  It’s too soon for all the people who’ve lost jobs that aren’t coming back to realize just how thoroughly they’ve been had by the Money Masters of the Universe.  I think we’ll figure it out, though, and before we all meekly resign ourselves to downsized dreams, and cat food dinners, there’s going to be some some score settling that will definitely raise the color on those to the milquetoast cheeks.

Here’s some highlights, read the rest of 10 Ways here:

1. Value as the New Virtue–Housing prices are not going to rebound 20 percent soon. The Dow is not getting back to 14,000 this decade, and maybe not the next….The Era of Bling is over.

2. The Return of the Tightwad–Consumers realize they have been wasting money on products that weren’t actually better, but were pitched as items that could improve their status. Now they find status in being discerning shoppers.

3 EBay America—Nervousness of consumers is why EBay and similar outlets will take on greater importance in the future. About one-third of US residents feel at immediate risk of downward mobility.

(more…)

April 5, 2009

Recession Round Up at the Not-OK Corral

Filed under: Reduced Circumstances — Tags: , , , — debacled @ 1:18 pm

__Cowboy___by_ldinami7e

Hard times worsen for horses & owners
Illinois has closed down several slaughterhouses, and while Reuter is not in favor of slaughterhouses, she sees the practicality of having a place like that around. “If you are going to let a horse starve to death versus putting him down and taking him to a slaughterhouse, which is more humane?” (more)

Cattle rustling increases with economic hard times
Another sign of tough economic times is an increase in cattle thefts.
Because the critters tend to wander on their own, statistics are difficult to verify. However International Livestock ID Association Secretary Rick Wahlert tells Dow Jones Newswire that the 1,000 or so cattle and horses reported missing in 2008 are 20 to 30 percent more than in 2007.  (more)

March 31, 2009

Jobless, Foreclosed, Broke? Pack up troubles in Uncle Sam’s Emotional Rescue Kit

Filed under: Reduced Circumstances — Tags: , — debacled @ 8:42 pm

Lost your house? Lost your job? Car repossessed? Creditors calling ’round the clock? Don’t know where your next meal is coming from? Suffering from any of these symptoms:

  • Persistent sadness/crying
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Lack of sleep/constant fatigue
  • Excessive irritability/anger
  • Increased drinking
  • Illicit drug use, including misuse of medications

Hey, don’t worry, be happy. Your good ol’ Uncle Sam’s got your back.

The U.S. government is offering an online emotional rescue kit.
Maggie Fox, Reuters, March 30, 2009

The “Getting Through Tough Economic Times” guide at http://www.samhsa.gov/economy/ is meant to help people identify any serious health concerns related to financial worries, develop coping skills and find help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said on Tuesday.

Studies show a serious risk of clinical depression, anxiety and compulsive behaviors such as gambling, overeating and even spending stemming from stress, SAMHSA said.

“By helping people remain resilient, we can help promote the overall recovery of our nation,” SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick said in a statement.

viaboom2bust

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