sabato 14 agosto 2010

Sempre più populista? I valori di un banchiere di successo e i tagli di stipendio dei lavoratori. La crisi economica vista dal segretario del Tesoro U.S:A.

A spasso sul web sono incappato in questa vignetta del superideologico Doonesbury: mi ha ricordato qualche mia conoscenza e mi ha fatto sorridere, così ve la ripropongo qui accanto.

Poco dopo leggendo il New York Times ho trovato questo articolo relativo ai tagli di stipendio che i dipendenti pubblici (ma non solo) stanno subendo negli U.S.A. Secondo il NYTimes
“We’ve seen pay freezes before in the public sector, but pay cuts are something very new to that sector,” said Gary N. Chaison, an industrial relations professor at Clark University. Outsize pension costs and balanced budget requirements are squeezing many states as tax revenue has come up short.
It is impossible to say how many employers have cut workers’ pay, because the government does not keep such statistics. Economists say a modest but growing number of employers have ordered wage cuts, especially in the public sector. In a 2010 survey by the National League of Cities, 51 percent of the cities that responded said they had either cut or frozen salaries of city employees, 22 percent said they had revised union contracts to reduce some pay and benefits, and 19 percent said they had instituted furloughs.
Some businesses are also cutting workers’ pay, often to help stay afloat or to eliminate their losses, although a few have seized on the slack labor market and workers’ weak bargaining power to cut pay and thereby increase their profits and competitiveness.
Economists note that wages continued to increase in 2008 after the recession began, even adjusted for inflation. But those wages have been flat for the last 18 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.(...)
While most of the pay cuts seem to hit unionized workers, David Lewin, a professor of management at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has written extensively on employee compensation, says some cuts are also quietly taking place among nonunion employers.
Reed Smith, a firm with 1,500 lawyers, has cut salaries for first-year associates in major cities to $130,000 from $160,000. Warren Hospital, a nonunionized facility in Phillipsburg, N.J., ordered pay cuts of 2 to 4 percent because lower Medicaid reimbursements had squeezed the hospital’s finances.
Fast-rising pension and health costs are making benefit costs grow more rapidly than wages, some employers say, and cutting wages is often easier than other ways to pare labor costs. But some workers say these cuts are unfair at a time when corporate profits and employee productivity have risen strongly.
Sometimes unions and their workers cooperate with management on pay cuts, hoping to recoup some wage increases when conditions improve. In Madawaska, Me., 460 unionized workers accepted an 8.5 percent wage cut in May to help keep their paper mill in business.
“Workers, of course, do not like to have their pay cut, but I think that workers’ major concern now is, ‘Do I have a job?’ ” Professor Lewin said. “If the unemployment rate were lower, we’d see a lot more resentment toward pay cuts.”

La situazione dei disoccupati U.S.A. è peggiorata sensibilmente negli ultimi due anni: la percentuale dei senzalavoro in attesa di occupazione da oltre un anno è schizzata da un fisiologico (e invidiabile) 10% pre-crisi ad oltre il 30%. Anche altri indicatori sono decisamente sconfortanti, primo fra tutti la percentuale degli occupati sulla popolazione totale, scesa dal 65% al 59%.

Qualche giorno fa il New York Times ha pubblicato un breve Op-Ed del ministro del Tesoro americano Timothy Geithner dedicato alle prospettive dell'economia statunitense. Secondo Geithner ci sono segnali incoraggianti di difesa è d'ufficio e scontata e soprattutto necessaria viste le midterm elections  incombenti. La riproduco ugualmente qui visto che la fonte è indiscutibilmente la seconda massima autorità USA in materia (dopo il governatore della Fed):

While the economy has a long way to go before reaching its full potential, last week’s data on economic growth show that large parts of the private sector continue to strengthen. Business investment and consumption — the two keys to private demand — are getting stronger, better than last year and better than last quarter. Uncertainty is still inhibiting investment, but business capital spending increased at a solid annual rate of about 17 percent.
Together, private consumption and fixed investment contributed about 3.25 percent to growth. Even the surge in imports, which lowered the rate of increase of G.D.P., actually reflects healthy and growing American demand.
As the economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart have written, recoveries that follow financial crises are typically a hard climb. That is reality. The process of repair means economic growth will come slower than we would like. But despite these challenges, there is good news to report:
• Exports are booming because American companies are very competitive and lead the world in many high-tech industries.
• Private job growth has returned — not as fast as we would like, but at an earlier stage of this recovery than in the last two recoveries. Manufacturing has generated 136,000 new jobs in the past six months.
• Businesses have repaired their balance sheets and are now in a strong financial position to reinvest and grow.
• American families are saving more, paying down their debt and borrowing more responsibly. This has been a necessary adjustment because the borrow-and-spend path we were on wasn’t sustainable.
• The auto industry is coming back, and the Big Three — Chrysler, Ford and General Motors — are now leaner, generating profits despite lower annual sales.
• Major banks, forced by the stress tests to raise capital and open their books, are stronger and more competitive. Now, as businesses expand again, our banks are better positioned to finance growth.
• The government’s investment in banks has already earned more than $20 billion in profits for taxpayers, and the TARP program will be out of business earlier than expected — and costing nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars less than projected last year.
We all understand and appreciate that these signs of strength in parts of the economy are cold comfort to those Americans still looking for work and to those industries, like construction, hit hardest by the crisis. But these economic measures, nonetheless, do represent an encouraging turnaround from the frightening future we faced just 18 months ago.
The new data show that this recession was even deeper than previously estimated. The plunge in economic activity started an entire year before President Obama took office and was accelerating at the end of 2008, when G.D.P. fell at an annual rate of roughly 7 percent.
Panicked by the collapse in demand and financing and fearing a prolonged slump, the private sector cut payrolls and investment savagely. The rate of job loss worsened with time: by early last year, 750,000 jobs vanished every month. The economic collapse drove tax revenue down, pushing the annual deficit up to $1.3 trillion by last January.
The economic rescue package that President Obama put in place was essential to turning the economy around. The combined effect of government actions taken over the past two years — the stimulus package, the stress tests and recapitalization of the banks, the restructuring of the American car industry and the many steps taken by the Federal Reserve — were extremely effective in stopping the freefall and restarting the economy.
According to a report released last week by Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi, advisers to President Bill Clinton and Senator John McCain, respectively, the combined actions since the fall of 2007 of the Federal Reserve, the White House and Congress helped save 8.5 million jobs and increased gross domestic product by 6.5 percent relative to what would have happened had we done nothing. The study showed that government action delivered a powerful bang for the buck, and that the bank rescue on its own will turn a profit for taxpayers.
We have a long way to go to address the fiscal trauma and damage across the country, and we will need to monitor the ups and downs in the economy month by month. The share of workers who have been unemployed for six months or more is at its highest level since 1948, when the data was first recorded, and we must do more to ensure that they have the skills they need to re-enter the 21st-century economy. Small businesses are still battling a tough climate. State and local governments are still hurting.
There are urgent tasks to be undertaken to reinforce the recovery, and Congress should move now to help small business, to assist states in keeping teachers in the classroom, to increase investments in public infrastructure, to promote clean energy and to increase exports. And while making smart, targeted investments in our future, we must also cut the deficit over the next few years and make sure that America once again lives within its means.
These are considerable challenges, but we are in a much stronger position to face them today than when President Obama took office. By taking aggressive action to fix the financial system, reduce growth in health care costs and improve education, we have put the American economy on a firmer foundation for future growth.
And as the president said last week, no one should bet against the American worker, American business and American ingenuity.
We suffered a terrible blow, but we are coming back.

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