Austerity Still Taking a Bite Out of Europe

By: Wednesday December 5, 2012 12:35 pm

While debating how much austerity outside of the magic no-budgetary-impact spending on the Pentagonto enact, the United States could take a lesson from, well, from the rest of the developed world. The relative lack of austerity in the US compared to Britain and the rest of Europe led to better economic performance (and it’s important to say “relative,” because US fiscal policy turned negative for growth at the federal level in 2010, and at the state and local level it’s been full-speed ahead for austerity since 2008).

 

My Walmart Black Friday Experience, and the Productivity/Wage Gap

By: Monday November 26, 2012 6:53 am

Walmart workers staged their historic strike on Black Friday. Management tried to downplay it, and given how massive Walmart is, the relative strength of the strike was small in real terms compared to the company’s 1.4 million workers. But it would be silly to just leave it at that without the context of the company witnessing no labor strikes in its 50-year history. The strikes were an expression of human dignity from a segment of their labor force that feels discriminated, retaliated, unappreciated and downtrodden.

Bernanke: Economy Still Weak, No Time for Austerity

By: Tuesday November 20, 2012 7:05 pm

Ben Bernanke’s speech on the economy today offered no new information. It was more of an overview on the state of the economy, and it hit on many very familiar themes which Bernanke has expressed for a long time now, including the need to loosen lending standards in a type of reinflation of the housing bubble, which infuriates me. But give Bernanke credit for actually depicting the economy as it is rather than as someone hopes it to be; a weak economy with troublingly high unemployment. In other words, the wrong time to engage in a fiscal cutback through austerity.

The Importance of the Walmart Strikes

By: Thursday October 11, 2012 4:32 pm

Low-wage retail jobs have been the source of the labor “recovery,” such as it is. And our system gives so much leverage to giant corporations like Walmart that it becomes very difficult for workers to collectively use their power for better pay and working conditions. There’s no question that a better labor market would help their cause markedly, giving them the flexibility to quit jobs offering low pay with the knowledge that a better one lurks just up the street.

But Walmart employs 1% of the total US workforce (that’s not a typo). This massive size enables them to set a wage, hour, benefit and working condition standard in a way that no other employer can. Furthermore, as stories about a “new normal” for unemployment continue to pop up, as theories about structural unemployment predominate, the idea that we will see a labor market favorable to workers in the near future is remote. This is the world these workers live in right now. And they need to use all their tools to force a better situation for themselves.

Brave New Retailing World: Merchants Can Charge Extra for Payment By Credit Card

By: Monday July 16, 2012 1:35 pm

The important element of this multi-billion dollar settlement with MasterCard and Visa on an antitrust lawsuit is not the total amount, though retailers stand to gain about $6 billion in damages. It’s the new regime of pricing, under which retails can charge more when you use a credit care, that will affect all our lives.

Troubling Data on Retail Sales Suggests Economic Slowdown

By: Monday July 16, 2012 10:55 am

Retail sales fell for the third straight month in June, a rare event that usually happens during recessions. With 70% of the US economy coming from consumer spending, it’s almost axiomatic that slower retail sales correlates with economic contraction.

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