MCAD/MCAE Industry View – A November 2010 Update


… it's important to remember that it was the Bush Administration's deregulation policies of 2001 through 2007 that led to Bush 43's second recession, which put the country into this pickle! This is because the public has a very short-term collective memory; accordingly, it now runs the chance of once again favoring (and adopting) the very misbegotten policies which led to that economic downturn in the first place, starting in December 2007 (i.e. 14 months before President Obama took office). The outcome of the mid-term elections earlier this month (November 2010) demonstrates that much the public has already begun to forget which party was in the oval office when the worst recession since the Great Depression began and worsened.

The fact of the matter is, that the Obama Administration has been doing a fairly decent job of recovering from the jobs hole that the recession created and that Mr. Obama inherited.

If one considers the critical statistic of job creation in the U.S. from private employers (i.e. not census workers and the like), the progress from the middle of 2009 is obvious, with just a hiccup in mid-2010 (when the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP Gulf Oil Spill momentarily dulled the country's optimism), as the chart below shows:

On November 5, 2010, the U.S. Labor Department said that the United States economy added 151,000 total jobs in October 2010,of which 159,000 were private sector jobs (the orange bar in the graph above), even though “economists” had forecast a net gain of only 50,000 for October. The Labor Department also revised upward the employment numbers for August and September 2010, showing 110,000 fewer jobs lost than previously reported. In total, the American economy has added 860,000 positions just this calendar year, indicating that the picture is not quite as bleak as Mr. Obama's rivals painted it before the midterm elections.

There were other positive notes in the November 5th report as well. Hourly wages were slightly higher last month. A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who are working part time because they cannot find full-time jobs and people who have given up seeking work, went down to 17.0% from 17.1% in September.

John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics, looks for growth in the fourth quarter of 2010. “The notion that the economy might be double dipping can now be safely tossed out,” he said.

Among the industries with the biggest gains in October were education and health services, which added 53,000 jobs;retail, which added 28,000; and temporary help services, which expanded by 34,900 jobs. Another positive sign was a lengthening of the private-sector workweek, which rose by one-tenth of an hour, to 34.3 hours. Like the hiring of temporary workers, an expanding workweek is a harbinger of more permanent hiring. Longer hours and higher hourly wages should help propel consumer spending, which in turn will lead retailers to hire more workers.

So with all this progress since the middle of 2009, why does the U.S. unemployment rate still just hover above 9%? The basic reason is that far more Americans enter the work force each month than the jobs progress to date can absorb. As the New York Times points out, even if the economy suddenly expands and starts adding, say, 208,000 jobs a month, it would still take 12 years to close the gap between the growing number of American workers and the total available jobs.

We really need eight years like 1993 through 2000, when the Clinton Administration managed an economy that added an average of 240,000 jobs per month.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama's clear progress in creating private sector jobs to this point is constantly threatened, because both the Republicans and the Tea Party seem to oppose every Obama policy, simply to discredit Obama and limit him to one term, regardless of the relative success of the Obama policy in discussion. These same Obama opponents are constantly vocal about keeping the Bush tax cuts for the rich, killing the new Health Care bill, upping the retirement age to 70, cutting Social Security benefits, ad nauseum -- the country and the rest of us be damned.

In fact, there was only a moment in mid-November when Mr. Obama's critics fell silent. It was when General Motors had one of the most successful public stock offerings in history, raising $23.1 billion in its return to the stock market, allowing the U.S. Government to reduce its stake in GM from 61% to 26%. Mr. Obama's bailout of GM has been under intense criticism from the right wing ever since his courageous decisions nearly two years ago to try to save the American auto industry and the millions of jobs it represents. “We are finally beginning to see some of these tough decisions that we made in the midst of the crisis pay off,” Mr. Obama said. “Our automakers are in the midst of their strongest period of job growth in more than a decade.”

But that moment of silence from Mr. Obama's critics passed quickly.

These same Obama opponents went right back to their shouting pulpits, this time to actually propose leaving the new START treaty un-ratified!Signed by Mr. Obama and Russian president Dmitri Medvedev in Prague in April 2010, the new treaty mandates 30% cuts in deployed strategic nuclear weapons by both sides, and it is the cornerstone of a new era of U.S.- Russian cooperation.


The weapons cuts are valuable in themselves, because they oblige the two countries, which together possess 90% of the world's nuclear weapons, to reduce to 1,550 warheads each. The treaty also imposes drastic reductions in delivery vehicles (intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers) from 1,600 for each country under the last treaty (signed by Bush 41) to only 700 in the future.

But the symbolic importance of the new treaty is at least as important,as it was the first concrete step in the reconciliation of the two former superpowers after the growing hostility of the last decade.

The immediate diplomatic benefits of the treaty for the United States have included Russian support for harsher sanctions in response to Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, Russian logistical support for NATO's operation in Afghanistan (Moscow is supplying one-third of the fuel used by U.S. troops there), and a remarkable degree of Russian-American co-ordination in dealing with the violent chaos in Kyrgyzstan earlier this year.

Failure to ratify the treaty would drastically undermine the new mutual trust that has been established between Russia and the United States.Yet that is exactly what many Republicans are proposing, merely to deny Mr. Obama a foreign policy victory. Plain nuts!

Oh Yeah … one parting thought: These same Obama opponents are also arguing against extending unemployment insurance payments for the U.S. jobless. So much for “faith, hope and charity.” Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays, everyone!


[1] Footnote: Virtually all US companies that have international operations, and any company whose HQ is outside the USA (e.g. Dassault Systemes, ESI Group, ARM Holdings plc, et al) encounter the need to express financial data in both GAAP as well as IFRS standard formats. Apparently, the world is moving more and more to merging the two accounting standards, with a definite bias toward IFRS.

(This is not to say that companies will totally abandon the use of non-GAAP or non-IFRS reporting when it suits their reporting presentation goals).

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) have been affecting US companies for some time, whether through their business dealings with non-US customers and supply chains that use IFRS, or through their non-US subsidiaries' adoption of IFRS. If they have not done so already, US companies will feel the increasing effect of IFRS as key aspects of United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US GAAP) and IFRS continue to converge. The US Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) roadmap for adopting IFRS recently called for adoption by 2014, although that date is of course subject to delay.

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