November 09, 2003

dems call for saudi pullout

the bombing killed 17 and injured over 100.  several children are among the casualties.

following another horrific bombing in riyadh, saudi arabia this week, the nine or so 2004 democratic presidential hopefuls are making an emotional plea for the saudi royal family to be withdrawn from the war-torn country.

"the saudis are easy targets for terrorists. it's a guerrilla's another vietnam" said senator john kerry, himself a vietnam veteran, and a man with connections to the reputable heinz fortune.

"we've got to get the sauds out of there now and bring them home safe and with honor" added ambassador carol moseley-braun.

"if president bush keeps the saudi rulers there even one more day, we will know it was all about the oil from the start" added michael moore, who has just announced his candidacy for president. mr. moore, a director of fanciful films he likes to call "documentaries," will be running as the candidate of the recently created "liver and onions party." when asked how he expects his party to do against traditionally insignificant fringe parties such as the greens and the communists, moore responded only with: "yum. the taste speaks for itself, man!"

representative dick gephardt has not had much to say about the bombing in particular, but would like to remind america that president bush is a "miserable failure" (5x): "if i was president, we would (1) not have committed our saudis to fighting this unwinnable war, (2) have had way more than a measly 7.2% economic growth in the third quarter, and (3) have created more than a meager quarter of a million jobs in the last two months."

democratic and L&O party hopefuls all DO seem to agree on two things: (1) if we simply leave the terrorists alone, they will go away peacefully and (2) howard dean is a rascist.

in related news, al-jazeera has announced a new contest to honor the "terrorist(s) of the day." the contest's inaugural winners are the men who carried out the most recent bombing in riyadh. contest organizers hope to inspire excellence in the growing and increasingly competitive corps of terrorists because, "they really only get one shot at this. the first time has got to be good." officials at the arabic news network also note "it will be unlikely that there will be any repeat recipients of this award."

i reprint the last two links for you, both from the detroit daily news:

Even those of us who don't like numbers should be able to understand these:

The economy grew at an annual rate of 7.2 percent in the third quarter. The Standard & Poor's 500 is up more than 30 percent since March. General Motors Corp.'s booked a 14-percent return on its pension fund assets, meaning the "legacy costs" albatross we heard so much about looks a lot less burdensome than it did a year or so ago.

This is good for Michigan, scrambling as it is for ways to reverse the disappearance of jobs, a decline in state revenue and the political fallout of it all. It's also good for Detroit's automakers, even if it doesn't quite feel like it yet.

The snarky among us may remain unimpressed by such developments, the twisted political calculus goes, because anything that undermines the Bush administration, demonizes Republicans and discredits business trumps whatever might be construed as helping the White House.

To wit: Who cares about the hottest quarter of economic growth since 1984 when the unemployment rate is 6.1 percent nationally and 7.4 percent in Michigan? We've lost 3 million jobs. The budget deficit has exploded. Corporate scandals have mounted. America's standing around the world has been damaged, and U.S. soldiers keep dying in Iraq.

Never mind, apparently, that unemployment lags economic recovery. Or that free trade, improving technology, political liberalization in once totalitarian states and China's entry into the World Trade Organization contributed to job erosion. Or that deficits are fueled by sharply higher defense spending after the September 11 attacks and sagging capital-gains tax receipts.

Politics in an election year being what they are, players on both sides will use whatever data they can to score points against the other side while ignoring what doesn't help them. The more the facts go against one side, the more likely the other will play dirty out of desperation.

Let's try this again: 7.2 percent growth is huge. Consumers are spending. Businesses are investing again after a three-year hiatus. Corporate profits are improving. Opening your mutual fund statements is no longer cause for grabbing your chest and canceling your vacation.

Happy days aren't quite here again. Then, too, we shouldn't underestimate what appears to be happening and how it's likely to benefit the engines of the local and regional economy.

First, national growth historically is good for Michigan because Michigan builds things people and businesses buy: cars and trucks in Detroit, home appliances in Benton Harbor and office furniture in Grand Rapids.

Second, surging equity prices reverse the declines in personal paper wealth and ease the pension liabilities weighing on GM, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group. The longer the run, the better it should be and the less you'll hear about crushing "legacy costs."

Third, the economic updraft is coming as Detroit's automakers are preparing a blitz of new cars and trucks -- between 25 and 40, depending on how you count them -- that generally will be cheaper to build, meaning incentives shouldn't take as big a bite out of the bottom lines.

It is the economy, stupid, and right now more things are headed in the right direction than the wrong one. --Daniel Howe

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy gained jobs for a third month in October, and the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent, giving fuel to a recovery that started two years ago.

Payrolls rose by 126,000 last month, almost twice as much as expected, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions raised the number of jobs gained in September to 125,000, and August changed from a decline to a 35,000 gain. The jobless rate fell from 6.1 percent, the first decline since August.

The fastest pace of economic expansion in 19 years, rising productivity and profit gains have positioned companies to start hiring again. The increased payrolls may also encourage more household spending after consumers used up tax refunds and the proceeds from refinancing mortgages.

"All the pieces of a typical expansion are falling into place," said Louis Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC, in Jersey City, New Jersey, before the report. "We are using up other available resources very quickly at this point, so that will lead to a need for increased labor."

Payrolls in services, the largest part of the economy, rose. Manufacturing employment had the smallest decline in more than three years.

The job numbers, after more than a week of favorable reports on manufacturing, services and consumer sentiment, may also help President George W. Bush fight criticism about his handling of the economy going into next year's election.


Economists had expected payrolls would rise by 65,000 last month after a previously reported increase of 57,000 in September, according to the median of 68 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. Forecasts had ranged from no gain to 150,000 jobs added. Economists had projected the unemployment rate would hold at 6.1 percent.

Services accounted for all the gains.

Employment in service-producing industries, which include retailers, banks and government agencies, rose by 143,000 last month after gaining by 138,000 the previous month. The increase was led by a 56,000 rise in education and health services employment. A 43,000 rise in business and professional services, which include temporary employment agencies, contributed to the rise as well.

Average weekly hours worked for all employees rose to 33.8 hours in October from 33.7 the prior month. Economists had expected hours would rise to 33.8 hours, according to the Bloomberg News survey.

A longer workweek may be a precursor to future hiring, economists said.

Jobs 'Revival'

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said yesterday he expects hiring to increase as companies begin rebuilding inventories depleted during the July-September quarter, when the 7.2 growth pace for the economy was the fastest in 19 years.

The economy has lost more than 1 million jobs since the last recession ended in November 2001, and more than 2.6 million since Bush took office in January 2001, based on Labor Department figures before today's release.

"The odds, however, do increasingly favor a revival of job creation," Greenspan told the Securities Industry Association yesterday in a televised speech.

Factory employment declined for a 39th month. Manufacturers shed 24,000 jobs last month, the fewest since July 2000, the last time there was an increase. Factory job losses have averaged 53,000 a month for the previous 12 months.

The manufacturing workweek held at 40.5 hours. Overtime held at 4.2 hours.

Incomes increased last month. Workers' average hourly earnings rose 0.1 percent, or 1 cent, after no change the previous month. Economists had expected a 0.2 percent increase in hourly wages. Average weekly earnings rose to $522.55 last month from $520.67 in September.

Economic Growth

Consumer spending grew the most in six years during the third quarter, while business investment in equipment and software rose at the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2000, Commerce Department figures showed last week.

The economy is expected to grow at a 4 percent annual rate this quarter and maintain that pace next year, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News this month. The U.S., the world's biggest economy, grew at an average 3.6 percent pace during the record 10-year expansion from 1991 to 2001.

"We are looking forward to that acceleration in the economy in our business area, so we are actually hiring at a fairly strong clip right now," said Irwin Jacobs, chief executive of Qualcomm Inc., in a radio interview with Bloomberg News yesterday. "We are having to do more research and development, and we have been adding people to do that."


San Diego-based Qualcomm, a maker of mobile-telephone technology, said fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 53 percent. The company raised the forecast for first-quarter sales.

Gains in payrolls may be accelerating this month. First-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits dropped to the fewest since January 2001, which was two months before the economy slumped into recession, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

If claims stay close to that level, "we will probably be revising up our expectations of job growth over the next quarter or two," said Robert Mellman, an economist at J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. in New York, before the report. J.P. Morgan economists are currently projecting an average of 75,000 jobs will be created a month in the next couple of quarters.

"We are currently actively hiring," said Alfred Mockett, chief executive officer of American Management Systems Inc., a Fairfax, Virginia, provider of consulting services to government agencies and businesses, in an interview Tuesday. "Just based on our current backlog and pipeline, we are going to have to step up our hiring as we go into next year. I can foresee a situation where the whole industry is going to get into recruitment mode next year."


Mockett said he would like to see the economy grow in the 4 percent to 5 percent range this quarter to be more certain the recovery is sustainable. American Management announced in July that it was cutting jobs amid a decline in second-quarter revenue.

Companies are adding workers after reaching the limit of what they can obtain from their present staff. Productivity surged to an 8.1 percent annual rate of growth last quarter after a 7 percent gain in the previous three months, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

"The combination of faster growth in demand and slowing productivity growth should lead, in the next few quarters, to increased hiring," Fed Governor Ben Bernanke told participants in an investment outlook conference in Pittsburgh yesterday.


Productivity has grown at a 7 percent annual pace or higher during 27 quarters since the end of World War II. In the subsequent three-month periods, it dropped to an average of 1.9 percent growth while companies hired an average of 462,000 workers. Hiring declined in just four instances, the last being the third quarter of this year.

Companies are more open to the possibility of taking on staff because earnings are rebounding. Of the 430 S&P 500 members that have reported third-quarter results so far, profits rose an average of 21.4 percent, according to Thomson Financial. Profits will swell 21.8 percent in the fourth quarter and 12.4 percent in 2004, according to analysts surveyed by the company.

"Companies are posting sales positions," said Jeff Taylor, founder and chief executive of Monster Worldwide Inc.'s, the biggest U.S. Internet site for employment advertising, in a television interview with Bloomberg News yesterday. "This is critical because it means companies have confidence in the future. We see a heavy amount of small- and medium-sized company postings."

Blacks, Teenagers

Among blacks, the unemployment rate rose to 11.5 percent from 11.2 percent in September. The jobless rate for Hispanics decreased to 7.2 percent from 7.5 percent and for whites fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent.

For teenagers, unemployment dropped to 17.1 percent last month from 17.5 percent. The jobless rate for women fell to 5.2 percent from 5.3 percent. The jobless rate for men decreased to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent.

The optimism among employers isn't uniform.

"Most companies are going to wait to see if this is sustainable" before hiring in earnest, said John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco Systems Inc., the world's largest maker of equipment to link computers, in an interview this week.

They will start by spending more on equipment and software and "then they are going to start spending on their hiring" a couple of quarters later, he said. Sales at Cisco, based in San Jose, California, were the highest in almost three years." --carlos torres

Posted by travis at November 9, 2003 08:16 PM | TrackBack

Where's the link to the "Liver and Onions" party HQ, in case someone wants to donate time or money. Also, you forgot the link to Al-Jazeera's "Terrorist of the Day" contest?

Posted by: Interested-Participant at November 11, 2003 01:42 PM