Trying to find news that doesn’t fall into the wrist-slitting category. Still looking.
This Boston Globe article, while interesting, is only a piece of the puzzle. Because if businesses are sitting on massive amounts of cash and refusing to hire, they’re really a much bigger reason why the economy is in such bad shape:
Homeowners are flocking to refinance their mortgage loans at record low interest rates, but unlike past refinancing waves, few are using their homes like ATMs and cashing out to buy cars, take vacations, or remodel, according to mortgage bankers and economic statistics.
This newfound frugality represents a sea change in how Americans have viewed their homes in recent years, when rising values provided a ready source of borrowed money to support spending. Cash-out refinancings have plunged 90 percent since peaking in 2006, according to Freddie Mac, the government-owned mortgage company.
Instead, homeowners are taking advantage of 30-year mortgage rates in the low 4 percent range, and 15-year rates that are even lower, to reduce debt, increase savings, and strengthen household finances. Michael Lou, for example, recently refinanced his Quincy home, shaving a percentage point off the interest rate and slashing his monthly payment by more than $250.
And where is the extra money going? Into savings.
“We try to put money away because you never know what will happen ,’’ said Lou, 39, who owns the home with his partner. “At any moment, one of us could lose our job.’’
Lou’s experience helps illustrate why historically low interest rates have provided just a modest boost to the US economy, which depends on consumer spending for about 70 percent of activity. The last time interest rates fell toward record lows, in mid-2003, consumer spending surged at an annual rate of nearly 6 percent, according to the Commerce Department. This year, consumer spending has increased at a 2 percent rate.
Cautious spending and increased saving will reduce household debt, increase disposable income, and strengthen the US economy in the long term, analysts said, but for now, it means subdued consumption and weaker economic growth.
Sep 11th, 2010 at 3:28 pm by susie
How are you observing this special day? A parade? Picnic? I went out and bought three dozen yellow ribbon magnets and slapped them on my car!
No doubt, you’ve heard this fairy tale from prominent politicians and business leaders who incessantly insist that our economic troubles do not emanate from neoliberals’ corporate-coddling trade, tax and deregulatory policies, but instead from an education system that is supposedly no longer graduating enough STEM experts. Indeed, this was the message of this week’s New York Times story about corporate leaders saying America isn’t producing “enough workers with the cutting-edge skills coveted by tech firms.”
As usual, it sounds vaguely logical. Except, the lore relies on the assumptions that 1) American schools aren’t generating enough STEM supply to meet employer demand, 2) the education system — not neoliberalism — is driving this alleged STEM drought and 3) if America came up with more of such specialists, they would find jobs.
To know these suppositions are preposterous is to consider a recent study by Rutgers and Georgetown University that found colleges “in the United States actually graduate many more STEM students than are hired each year.”
Continue Reading »
Imagine that. There was a Muslim prayer room, right in the World Trade Center, even after the first bombing. I guess people didn’t have Fox News and Glenn Beck to tell them they should be outraged yet:
Given the vitriolic opposition now to the proposal to build a Muslim community center two blocks from ground zero, one might say something else has been destroyed: the realization that Muslim people and the Muslim religion were part of the life of the World Trade Center.
Opponents of the Park51 project say the presence of a Muslim center dishonors the victims of the Islamic extremists who flew two jets into the towers. Yet not only were Muslims peacefully worshiping in the twin towers long before the attacks, but even after the 1993 bombing of one tower by a Muslim radical, Ramzi Yousef, their religious observance generated no opposition.
“We weren’t aliens,” Mr. Abdus-Salaam, 60, said in a telephone interview from Florida, where he moved in retirement. “We had a foothold there. You’d walk into the elevator in the morning and say, ‘Salaam aleikum,’ to one construction worker and five more guys in suits would answer, ‘Aleikum salaam.’ ”
One of those men in suits could have been Zafar Sareshwala, a financial executive for the Parsoli Corporation, who went to the prayer room while on business trips from his London office. He was introduced to it, he recently recalled, by a Manhattan investment banker who happened to be Jewish.
“It was so freeing and so calm,” Mr. Sareshwala, 47, said in a phone conversation from Mumbai, where he is now based. “It had the feel of a real mosque. And the best part is that you are in the epicenter of capitalism — New York City, the World Trade Center — and you had this island of spiritualism. I don’t think you could have that combination anywhere in the world.”
How, when and by whom the prayer room was begun remains unclear. Interviews this week with historians and building executives of the trade center came up empty. Many of the Port Authority’s leasing records were destroyed in the towers’ collapse. The imams of several Manhattan mosques whose members sometimes went to the prayer room knew nothing of its origins.
Chamber of Commerce accused of tax fraud. Let’s see what happens with this one.