Monday, March 11, 2013

Today's links

1---The Erosion Of The U.S. Economy In Two Words: Jobs And Wages, of two minds

2---A Human Rights Crime?--Obama’s Mass Deportations, counterpunch

The federal government has made it clear what they are capable of: they can set a quota of 400,000 deportees a year and meet it. They can detain over 400,000 people a year....

The good news here is that the federal government can easily stop detaining immigrants and quickly save a lot of money. This is because the vast majority of immigrant detainees are not held in federal buildings. Instead, they are held in private detention centers and in county jails which contract out bed space to the federal government. Relying on private prisons has made it more feasible for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to achieve its quota of 34,000 beds a day.

Since 84 percent of ICE’s detained immigrants are housed in either contracted facilities owned by private companies or in state or local facilities where ICE rents space on contract, it should be relatively seamless for ICE to release them.
Of course, this will be bad news for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group – the two private prison companies that hold the largest numbers of immigrant detainees. However, that is their problem, not the problem of the federal government.

3---Dwindling Deficit Disorder, Paul Krugman, NY Times

For three years and more, policy debate in Washington has been dominated by warnings about the dangers of budget deficits. A few lonely economists have tried from the beginning to point out that this fixation is all wrong, that deficit spending is actually appropriate in a depressed economy. But even though the deficit scolds have been wrong about everything so far — where are the soaring interest rates we were promised? — protests that we are having the wrong conversation have consistently fallen on deaf ears.
What’s really remarkable at this point, however, is the persistence of the deficit fixation in the face of rapidly changing facts. People still talk as if the deficit were exploding...; in fact, the deficit is falling more rapidly than it has for generations, it is already down to sustainable levels, and it is too small given the state of the economy. ...
There are, of course, longer-term fiscal issues: rising health costs and an aging population will put the budget under growing pressure over the course of the 2020s. But I have yet to see any coherent explanation of why these longer-run concerns should determine budget policy right now. And as I said, given the needs of the economy, the deficit is currently too small. ...
Yes, we’ll want to reduce deficits once the economy recovers... But unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, is still unacceptably high. “The boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity,” John Maynard Keynes declared many years ago. He was right — all you have to do is look at Europe to see the disastrous effects of austerity on weak economies. And this is still nothing like a boom.
4---Chavez's legacy, economix

Strong aversion to both his political values and his personal style has often led to dismissive assessments of Venezuela’s economic record since he became president in 1999. But as Mark Weisbrot and Jake Johnston of the Center for Economic and Policy Research have carefully documented, the Venezuelan economy experienced significant growth after 2003, when the Chávez government successfully gained control over the national petroleum industry, and fared surprisingly well even after oil prices collapsed in 2008.

Oil revenues were used to finance large public investments in health, education, housing, pensions and food subsidies to the poor. World Bank indicators show a sharp decline in poverty from slightly more than 60 percent in 2003 to slightly more than 30 percent in 2011.

Many projects or “misiones” that Mr. Chávez put into place proved so popular that even Henrique Capriles, his opponent in the last election, promised voters he would maintain and augment them.
While some critics of Mr. Chávez suggest that his policies have not had much impact on other Latin American countries, others contend that they are not that different from those carried out by other social democratic governments in the region, like Brazil’s. The influential Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, past president of Brazil, has lauded Mr. Chávez’s contribution to regional initiatives.....

Even more striking are the effects of one particular hallmark of Chavismo: the expansion of free public higher education. Tertiary enrollments increased to about 80 percent in 2009 (the latest year for which data are available) from 40 percent in 2003, far higher levels than those of Brazil, Mexico or Peru.
We will never know what path Venezuela would have followed if Mr. Chávez had not repeatedly been elected president there. But we should recognize that much of the public spending he financed with oil revenues represents investment in the human capabilities of Venezuelans themselves.
They are the ones who will determine the ultimate meaning of Chavismo.

5---The Big Picture
Employment Report: A terrible chart that gets a little better each month

6---The Rise of Part-Time Work, NYT

7---Karzai Accuses US of Colluding With Taliban to Keep War Going, antiwar

Vows to Ban NATO From Universities Over Student Kidnappings

8---Venezuela: Economic and Social Performance Under Hugo Chávez, global research

9---Hugo Chávez Frías: An Unforgettable and Victorious Permanence, global research

Among the numerous impressive social and economic achievements under Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution, scholars have gathered the following details:
To make a more objective assessment of the real progress achieved by the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela during the last 13 years it is essential to review some of the key available data on the social determinants of health and poverty: education, inequality, jobs and income, health care, food security and social support and services.

With regard to these social determinants of health indicators, Venezuela is now the country in the region with the lowest inequality level (measured by the Gini Coefficient) having reduced inequality by 54%, poverty by 44%.Poverty has been reduced from 70.8% (1996) to 21% (2010). And extreme poverty reduced from 40% (1996) to a very low level of 7.3% (2010). About 20 million people have benefited from anti-poverty programs, called “Misiones” (Up to now, 2.1 million elderly people have received old-age pensions – that is 66% of the population while only 387,000 received pensions before the current government).

Education is a key determinant of both health and poverty and the Bolivarian government has placed a particular emphasis on education allotting it more than 6% of GDP. UNESCO has recognized that illiteracy [has] been eliminated furthermore, Venezuela is the 3rd county in the region whose population reads the most. There is tuition free education from daycare to university; 72% of children attend public daycares and 85% of school age children attend school. There are thousands of new or refurbished schools, including 10 new universities. The country places 2nd in Latin America and 5th in the world with the greatest proportions of university students. In fact, 1 out of every 3 Venezuelans are enrolled in some educational program. It is also a great achievement that Venezuela is now tied with Finland as the 5th country with the happiest population in the world.

Before the Chavez government in 1998, 21% of the population was malnourished. Venezuela now has established a network of subsidized food distribution including grocery stores and supermarkets. While 90% of the food was imported in 1980, today this is less than 30%. Misión Agro-Venezuela has given out 454,238 credits to rural producers and 39,000 rural producers have received credit in 2012 alone. Five million Venezuelan receive free food, four million of them are children in schools and 6,000 food kitchens feed 900,000 people. The agrarian reform and policies to help agricultural producers have increased domestic food supply. The results of all these food security measures is that today malnourishment is only 5%, and child malnutrition which was 7.7% in 1990 today is at 2.9%. This is an impressive health achievement by any standards.
Some of the most important available data on health care and public health are as following:
*infant mortality dropped from 25 per 1000 (1990) to only 13/1000 (2010);
10--Profit margins and gov deficits, prag capitalism

To see this, notice that corporate profit margins have always moved inversely to the sum of government and household savings.”
huss Profit Margins and the Governments Deficit
That’s a pretty important chart. What it’s essentially showing is that government deficits have been a big driver of corporate profits. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this website as I’ve been pointing that out for years, but it’s important to keep in mind going forward as the USA moves to what looks like an increasingly more austere position. I am not hugely worried about collapsing corporate profit margins at this point because I see private investment recovering AND I still see big budget deficits, but it’s an important risk to keep on the radar 
as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.” (Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince in July 2007) You know how that turned out.
It’s that time again. The Dow surpassed its all-time high and the S&P 500 is not that far from the tops of 1553 on March 24, 2000 and 1576 on October 9, 2007. Just as in 2000 and 2007, the economic, valuation and political background does not support the budding euphoria....

Moreover, corporate earnings growth has come to halt and is threatening to turn down. In fact, third quarter S&P 500 operating earnings declined from a year earlier, and fourth quarter reports seem to be falling short as well with the vast majority of companies having already reported. Two quarters of declining year-to-year earnings growth has been seen only in recessionary environments. Earnings for the full year were up a miniscule 0.6% from 2011.

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