October 1, 2007

CNNMoney.com E-mail Doesn’t Acknowledge Dow Crossing 14000

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 4:20 pm

Ya gotta love this e-mail from CNNMoney.com:

CNNemail100107

So what level has did the Dow reach, O friendly CNN e-mailer?

Could it possibly have been a nice round number? Like, say, 14000? You wouldn’t want readers to pick up any unwarranted optimism, would you?

Both the NASDAQ and S&P closed near or above roughly 6-year highs.

If the stock market is a leading indicator, as it’s generally considered, it appears to be “leading” to good things, press gloom and doom notwithstanding. I personally don’t believe that the prospect of another rate cut is as important as the fact that the economy’s fundamentals are still pretty strong. The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM’s) Manufacturing Index for September was in expansion mode yet again, though at 52.0, it came in slightly lower than last month’s 52.9 (go to middle of post).

Newly-blogrolled Clearview Economics’ take is this:

Overall take. This report shouts, “Moderate growth.” Production (54.6) grew moderately. Orders (53.4) grew moderately. Exports (54.5) grew moderately. Imports (53.0) grew moderately. Even employment (51.7, +0.4) is expanding—in contrast to the Labor Department’s count of manufacturing payrolls. Despite fears and even a few recession calls, this economy is still making good headway. The ISM says that the reading of 52.0 is consistent with 3.1% GDP growth. Right now, most people—me included–would be very happy with this level of performance.

….. What goes down must come up. Inventories are running very lean. The inventory component of this survey plunged to 41.6, a fall-off of 3.8 points. And this account for 0.4 points of the overall decline in the index. But in the end, this will be a good thing, as these goods will need to be restocked, requiring future production increases. That’s like money in the bank.

It looks like investors agree.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

The New UAW Contract: A New Beginning, and a Sobering Lesson Hopefully Learned

Filed under: Business Moves,Health Care — Tom @ 6:15 am

Saturday’s OpinionJournal.com column laid it out nicely about the realities of “job security” in the global economy, and noted a little-known historical precedent that one hopes the United Auto Workers union will learn from (bolds are mine):

The problem with unions is not all that dissimilar to that posed by entrenched management: Once they win comfortable contracts, they often become impediments to the kind of innovation and flexibility essential to success in today’s economy. So in the name of “job security,” they undermine a company’s–or a nation’s–competitiveness. The result, over time, is less job security for everyone, especially the union workforce. There’s no better example of this than GM, where the UAW now represents about 74,000 hourly workers, compared to 246,000 in 1994. Some security.

The new GM-UAW contract is a belated recognition that the choice has now become change, or Chapter 11. Under the deal, wages are frozen, save for bonuses and some lump-sum payments. GM in turn promises to invest in American plants with UAW workers, though of course it will also keep investing abroad.

In what seems to be the most creative stroke, GM will pay some $35 billion toward a new health-care trust fund to be administered by the union. That’s a big initial cash flow, but it means the company can divest itself of some $50 billion in long-term liabilities, which would only have grown as health-care costs rose and retirees lived longer. Investors loved it, driving up GM stock by around 7% for the week.

The UAW now gains ownership of its members’ health-care resources, in effect becoming a financial manager of a giant Health Savings Account for auto workers. If the union is creative, it will rethink its coverage plans, using the new generation of consumer-driven health-care options (such as personal health savings accounts) to encourage and reward more careful spending by beneficiaries. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has told his members the trust fund will last 80 years, and the union’s job now is to make sure it does. A similar arrangement at Caterpillar Inc. didn’t work because the money ran out in six years.

Gettelfinger had best learn, and soon, that continuation of the current regime of very generous, and therefore overutilized, health benefits can’t continue. With the kitty it has to work with, the UAW could become a pioneer in creative health-benefits strategies — or watch the well run dry.

It also seems that the agreement, especially assuming that Ford and Chrysler fall in line, will reduce some of the big-company pressure to “do something” about health insurance (i.e., nationalize it, as all three major Democratic presidential candidates are proposing).

Cross-posted at Wide Open.

Finally, 38 Years Later …..

Filed under: General — Tom @ 6:10 am

Cubs’ Schadenfreude — Having endured the Cubs’ 1969 implosion at the hands of the Amazin’ Mets, you’ll have to excuse me for not reaching for the kleenex yesterday when I learned that the 2007 Mets had completed a collapse like no other. I reckon that Philadelphia Phillies fan Ben Keeler was similarly unsympathetic.

The 1969 Cubs supposedly rate the 5th worst collapse in major league history. I disagree; it should be at least few notches higher. I don’t think that any team with a double-digit lead has ever suffered through a net swing of about 19 games in their final 50 — from something like 11 games up to eight games out at the end.

But the 1969 Cubs isn’t THE worst blowup. That honor should belong to the aforementioned Phillies, who in 1964 blew a 6.5-game lead with 10 to play.

Don’t worry too much, Mets fans — The Cubs, known unaffectionately to many as the Manila Folders, still have plenty of time to reprise the playoff disasters of 1984 and 2003. Maybe this time it will happen against the Phils. Or could this finally be the year?

Couldn’t Help But Notice (100107)

This FrontPage column (HT PrairiePundit) by Alan Dershowitz is very important, and a hard-drive saver, as it debunks the false claim made by Ahmadinejad at Columbia last week that “the Palestinian people” had nothing to do with the Holocaust.

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John Murtha has been ordered to give a Haditha-related deposition (HT Hot Air). I suspect there will be a few appeals before he’s forced to do it.

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Meant to note this when it happened, because it’s important, and a major development in a matter yours truly has been following for quite a while (selected posts here, here, here, and here):

The co-founder of a prestigious New York law firm that made an estimated $250 million by filing class-action lawsuits against some of America’s largest corporations was indicted Thursday on charges that he conspired to pay kickbacks to people who agreed to be plaintiffs.

Melvyn Weiss is accused of two counts of conspiracy and one count each of obstruction of justice and making false statements in relation to documents that were the subject of a grand jury subpoena, the U.S. attorney’s office said. If convicted of all counts, he could face up to 40 years in federal prison.

….. Prosecutors contend the firm secretly paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to get people to take part in more than 225 class-action and shareholder lawsuits, allowing its lawyers to be among the first to file litigation and secure the lucrative position as lead plaintiffs’ counsel.

The firm targeted some of the nation’s largest companies in litigation, including AT&T, Lucent, WorldCom, Sears, Roebuck, Microsoft, Prudential Insurance and Lincoln Savings & Loan.

This follows the indictment of other partners and the firm itself last year.

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“Somebody” isn’t willing to debate global warming globaloney. Consider how he did in the 2000 presidential debates, I don’t blame him:

But three different Al Gores showed up at the three debates. In the first debate there was Arrogant Al, sneering and huffing while Bush spoke. In the second there was Milquetoast Al, now so meek and mild that he appeared to have been drugged. In the final debate Normal Al showed up — but by then it was too late.

If “Normal” Al appeared, how would we know?

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John Edwards and Chelsea Clinton as subprime lender and heartless landord, respectively (HT Kaus; scroll down a bit).

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Media Matters for America tries to beef up its radical cred by attacking New Media stars like Rush Limbaugh (click here for the MMA smear if you think it’s worth reading; trust me, it’s not). In this case, some members of Old Media have repeated and extended the Big Lie. Friday, Rush struck back.

Limbaugh’s audience has a significant plurality of libs and moderates, and he reaches 13.5 million people a week. Every single one of those listeners trumps MMA, because (haha) Rush’s web site traffic alone beats the daylights out of MMA’s. This is why it’s so important for MMA to get Old Media to swallow their garbage, because otherwise their echo-chamber squeaks are drowned out by sense. But on the occasions when Old Media buys in, some liberal and moderate Limbaugh listeners clearly see through the Old Media Lies …. and end up not being libs or moderates any more. Old Media decline continues, and the country inches towards further conservatism.

Keep up the good work, MMA. And Old Media, trumpet that MMA rubbish every chance you can.

Positivity: E-pal saved her life, became her hubby

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Washington State, and Massachusetts, via Dear Abby:

Dear Abby:

I started reading your column when I was 8. (I am now 38.) From time to time you print stories about how couples met, and I would like to share mine.

I have severe asthma, and in January 2001 I was out sick from work for three days. While I was home, I started talking to John over the Internet. At the time, he lived in Massachusetts, and I lived in Washington state.

After an hour or so, he convinced me to seek medical help. I was taken to the hospital and don’t remember much after I got there. Three days later, I woke up with a tube down my throat. My doctor told me if I hadn’t come in when I did, I would have died, and my children would have been left motherless!

I was released a few days later, and when I returned home, I found e-mails from John leaving me his work number, home number and pager number. I called him and told him he had saved my life from 3,000 miles away.

In June 2001, I flew back East and we drove back to Washington together. We were married in July 2002 and renewed our wedding vows last Valentine’s Day. We have a 3-year-old son, and not a day goes by that I am not thankful for my husband, who was an emergency medical technician. He says he was “just doing his job.” He is now an EMT-intermediate, and I am taking an EMT class myself.

I tell John every day that I fall more and more in love with him. We always talk over our disagreements and never go to bed angry at each other.

Go here for Dear Abby’s response.