Posts tagged ‘Predatory Corporations’

Whites with No Diploma Live Shorter Lives – Truthdig


For White People Who Vote REPUBLICAN You Have Alot To Think About

Whites with No Diploma Live Shorter Lives – Truthdig.

Life expectancy for the least-educated Americans has shrunk by four years since 1990, a reminder that social inequality is not just a matter of having fewer things than those who are better off than you.

Exactly why the decline occurred isn’t understood, but a rise in prescription drug overdoses among white youths, higher rates of tobacco use, growing obesity and a lack of health insurance were offered by researchers as possible explanations.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The New York Times:

The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found.

White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed. But blacks over all do not live as long as whites, while Hispanics live longer than both whites and blacks.

“We’re used to looking at groups and complaining that their mortality rates haven’t improved fast enough, but to actually go backward is deeply troubling,” said John G. Haaga, head of the Population and Social Processes Branch of the National Institute on Aging, who was not involved in the new study.

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Earnings Outlook in U.S. Dims as Global Economy Slows – NYTimes.com


Earnings Outlook in U.S. Dims as Global Economy Slows – NYTimes.com.

The boom in American corporate profits, which has far outpaced the gains in the broader economy since the end of the last recession, is faltering.
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A Burberry store in Manhattan. The company has issued a warning about earnings.
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A FedEx truck being unloaded in New York.
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Giants like FedEx and Intel, two bellwethers of the global economy, are warning of lower quarterly profits because of weakness in worldwide demand. Overseas companies are feeling the pinch, too. Burberry, the British luxury retailer which had seemed immune to a slowdown, is offering a similar warning.

Even smaller, family-owned companies like Eastman Machine in Buffalo, which makes cutting equipment for the textile industry, are wary. “We feel like we are walking on a tightrope,” said Robert Stevenson, Eastman Machine’s chief executive.

In all, Wall Street expects quarterly profits at the typical large American company to decline for the first time since 2009.

The causes of the expected decline are many. In addition to the anemic economy in the United States, much of Europe has fallen into recession while growth in China, once white-hot, has slowed. There is also the looming prospect of automatic tax increases and spending cuts in Washington, which has caused companies to sit on the sidelines.

After reducing spending and eliminating jobs during the recession, American companies reaped huge gains by keeping expenses down and putting off aggressively hiring new workers as growth slowly returned. Strong profits have also propelled the stock market higher, reassuring investors whose other assets, like real estate, have declined in value over the same period.

But while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index on Friday reached its highest close since 2007 — after the Federal Reserve’s announcement of its latest stimulus effort — the cycle of steady earnings increases appears to have run its course.

“A lot of the profit gain you had in the last few years was a bounce from the recession and a result of very aggressive cost-cutting,” said Ethan Harris, chief United States economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Those factors are going to be very hard to replicate.”

The expected decline in profits has yet to set off big layoffs. But it is another factor that is inhibiting hiring and keeping unemployment above the politically important level of 8 percent, executives and economists say.

Last week, the Federal Reserve announced its boldest effort yet to kick-start growth and confront persistently high unemployment. The next day, the government reported that industrial production in August fell 1.2 percent, the biggest monthly contraction since March 2009.

While executives welcomed the Fed’s announcement, many express concern over just how much impact it will have.

Just over half of managers at North American companies now expect production levels to increase in the next 12 months, down from 64 percent in the second quarter, according to a survey by CEB, a member-based advisory firm. In the same survey, the percentage of executives who expect to hire more workers fell to 34 percent from 41 percent last quarter.

“We’re sort of like in this limbo environment,” said Gregory T. Swienton, chief executive of Ryder System, the truck rental and transportation company. “I’d love to be able to say we’re hiring, but there is no natural big growth that would require hiring.”

The slowdown overseas is beginning to cut into profits at both large and small companies, many of which had benefited in the last few years from heightened demand abroad even as growth in the United States slowed.

At Eastman Machine in Buffalo, orders from China and Europe are below last year’s levels, said Mr. Stevenson, the chief executive. Business has held up better domestically, and Mr. Stevenson says he is optimistic about the future of his family-owned company over the long haul.

Wall Street analysts expect earnings for the typical company in the S.& P. 500 to decline 2.2 percent in the third quarter from the same period a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters, the first such drop since the third quarter of 2009. Earnings are expected slide 3 percent from the second quarter of 2012.

What is more, 88 companies have already said that results will come in below expectations; 21 that have signaled a positive outlook, said Greg Harrison, corporate earnings research analyst at Thomson Reuters.

“That’s much more pessimistic than normal,” said Mr. Harrison, who added that the third quarter of 2001 was the last time that earnings guidance leaned so heavily to the downside.

To be sure, pockets of optimism remain. In addition to the stock market rally this month, corporate earnings are still expected to finish 2012 up 6.1 percent from 2011, largely because gains in the first half of the year will offset any decline in the third quarter. And earnings results in the fourth quarter could benefit from a slowdown late last year, making make year-over-year comparisons look better.

Looking ahead, if corporate profits enter a sustained decline, big companies are likely to face increased pressure to cut jobs, since there is much less room left to cut costs elsewhere.

After rising steadily in the wake of the recession, profit margins for S.& P. 500 companies peaked at 8.9 percent in late 2011, said David Kostin, chief United States equity strategist at Goldman Sachs. Margins are expected to fall to 8.7 percent in 2012.

Indeed, margins are eroding at some companies as revenue dips. Intel said this month that it estimated revenue for the third quarter would total $13.2 billion, plus or minus $300 million. That is off from an earlier forecast of $13.8 billion to $14.8 billion, and 7 percent below revenue a year ago. Profit margins are estimated at 62 percent, down from 63.4 percent a year ago.

Wall Street estimates that Intel will earn about $2.58 billion in the third quarter, a 26 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. The company, which makes semiconductors, has been hurt as computer makers cut chip inventories in Asia, while demand for personal computers has been soft worldwide.

At FedEx, which warned of lower-than-expected results on Sept. 4, profits in the current quarter are projected to decline by 2 to 6 percent. When the company reports earnings Tuesday, analysts will watch closely for weakness in shipments in China and the United States, two major markets that have been softer than originally forecast.

While profit margins have plateaued in corporate America, productivity gains in the overall economy have ebbed as well. After rising at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in 2009, and a 3.1 percent pace in 2010, productivity inched up 0.7 percent in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“There’s only so much you can cut,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers.
A version of this article appeared in print on September 17, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Earnings Are Beginning To Feel a Pinch.

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Health Care Premiums Rise Modestly, Report Says – NYTimes.com


Health Care Premiums Rise Modestly, Report Says – NYTimes.com.

A family with employer-provided health insurance now pays just under $16,000 in annual premiums, an increase of about 4 percent over a year ago, according to a study released Tuesday by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

Individual policies purchased through an employer rose even less, increasing just 3 percent from last year to an average of $5,615, the study said.

“It is a year of very moderate increases in premiums and health care costs,” said Drew Altman, the chief executive and president of Kaiser, which tracks health care spending. The foundation surveys more than 2,000 small and large employers each year.

The increase, to $15,745 from $15,073, contrasts with the 9 percent increase Kaiser reported from 2010 to 2011, which gave rise to concerns that health care spending might begin rising rapidly again.

Kaiser said the lower premiums were a sign that the rise in health care costs continued to be modest. But the study’s authors were cautious about the explanation, wondering whether the smaller increases in recent years signaled the start of a long-term trend or were simply the result of a slow economy.

“We don’t know if health care premiums and costs will shoot back up and by how much when the economy improves,” Mr. Altman said. Insurers generally base the premiums they charge on what they expect the health care costs of their members will be.

Analysts generally agree that the deep recession and the sputtering recovery have helped keep health care spending — and insurance premiums — lower than the double-digit increases experienced in 2004 and before. In 2002, for example, Kaiser reported a 13 percent jump.

Part of the reason, they say, is that many consumers have decided not to go to the doctor or have elective surgery during the downturn because of higher out-of-pocket costs.

About half of workers covered by employers now have a deductible of at least $1,000 for individual policies. In 2007, only 21 percent of workers had deductibles that high, according to Kaiser. The study is being published online by the journal Health Affairs.

The report also looked at differences between how much employees are paying for premiums in companies where at least 35 percent of workers earn $24,000 or less a year, compared with how much employees are paying where at least 35 percent of workers earn $55,000 a year.

Employers typically ask workers to pay some share of the overall premium cost out of their paychecks.

Kaiser found that workers at places with more low-wage employees paid on average $1,000 more in premiums than those working at places employing more higher-earning workers. The low-wage employees paid, on average, nearly $5,000 for their share of premiums, while higher-earning individuals paid about $4,000, on average.

Paul Ginsburg, the president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research group, cautioned against reading too much into survey results for any one year, especially since last year’s findings by Kaiser may have been high.

But, over all, he said, health care spending seemed to be relatively stable. “Recession and the slow recovery are probably the principal factor,” he said.

Some insurance executives are also cautious about predicting that health care spending will not rise rapidly, once the economy recovers. Many have been surprised at how much people have reduced their doctor visits. “I didn’t think I would see utilization this low, either,” said Janice Knight, an executive for Health Care Service Corporation, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans in states like Illinois and Texas.

Others speculate that there could be something more going on as both patients and doctors adapt to changes stemming from the federal health care law and a determination by private insurers to keep spending down.

When asked to share more of the cost of a branded prescription drug, for example, consumers were more willing to use generic medications, and the Affordable Care Act has numerous provisions that help rein in costs, said David Cutler, a health economist at Harvard University. “The slow economy is only part of it,” he said.

“Every data point makes me more likely to believe that this a fundamental change rather than just a temporary change,” said Mr. Cutler.
A version of this article appeared in print on September 12, 2012, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Health Care Premiums Rise Slightly.

News Wrap: Paul Ryan Attacks President Obama’s Economic Record in Iowa | PBS NewsHour | Sept. 5, 2012 | PBS


News Wrap: Paul Ryan Attacks President Obama's Economic Record in Iowa | PBS NewsHour | Sept. 5, 2012 | PBS.

Transcript

KWAME HOLMAN: Republicans today offered their own critical take on the Democratic Convention. In Adel, Iowa, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said tonight’s main speaker, former President Bill Clinton, will try to shift attention from Mr. Obama’s economic record.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-Wi.), Vice Presidential Candidate: We’re going to hear a lot of things in Charlotte, but we’re not going to hear a convincing argument that we’re better off than we were four years ago.
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We’re going to hear from President Clinton tonight in Charlotte. My guess is, we will get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s, but we’re not going to hear much about how things have been in the last four years.

KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continued debate preparations at a private home in Vermont. However, he took a quick trip to an appliance store in nearby Lebanon, New Hampshire, where he spoke with supporters about the needs of small business.

Wall Street hesitated today, after a profit warning from the shipping giant FedEx. The company says it’s being hurt by a slowdown in business, the latest sign that the global economy is dialing back. That was enough to keep stocks in check. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 11 points to close at 13047. The Nasdaq fell five points to close at 3069.

The passage of Hurricane Isaac has exposed oil from the 2010 spill along the Louisiana and Alabama coastline. BP acknowledged today that the oily tar came from its record-breaking leak at a Gulf well site. The tar balls and mats had been buried under sand since then, but reappeared after the hurricane caused severe beach erosion. Louisiana has closed one stretch of beach and restricted fishing.

The government of Syria came under new pressure today from two former allies. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Syrian regime of terrorism. He also criticized the

United Nations for not doing enough to stop the killing of Muslims.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish Prime Minister (through translator): The regime has become one of state terrorism. It is now in that situation. Since March 2011, the number of those who have been massacred and martyred in Syria is now almost 30,000. In Syria, the massacres that are empowered by the indifference of the internal community, especially the U.N. Security

Council, are continuing increasingly.

KWAME HOLMAN: In Cairo, Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi also denounced Syria. He called again for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Meanwhile, The New York Times cited reports that Iraq is again allowing Iran to use its airspace to fly weapons to the Syrian regime.

The Iraqis had shut down the air corridor earlier this year, under U.S. pressure.

A former police chief who touched off a major scandal in China has been charged with defection, taking bribes and abusing his power. State media announced the charges against Wang Lijun today. In February, Wang briefly took refuge at a U.S. Consulate after being demoted as police chief in a city in Southwestern China. That led to the ouster of Bo Xilai, his former boss, as Communist Party leader there. Bo is still under investigation.

Last month, Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence for the murder of a British businessman.

In Afghanistan, the military announced today it has arrested or expelled hundreds of soldiers, as part of an effort to stop so-called insider attacks on foreign troops. The attacks come as the U.S. tries to continue its plan to transition out of Afghanistan.

Margaret Warner has the story.

MARGARET WARNER: On a pre-convention swing through Virginia yesterday, President Obama again touted his plans to end the Afghan war.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This November, you get to decide the future of the war in Afghanistan. By the end of this month, I will have brought home 33,000 troops.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have said we will end this war in 2014.

MARGARET WARNER: But a linchpin of that promise, to train Afghan forces to take over the fight, faces a new challenge; 45 NATO troops have been killed this year by Afghan troops, 15 just last month, all this just two years before a planned handover of security to full Afghan control.

U.S. and Afghan officials have vowed to fix the problem. And, in Kabul today, a Defense Ministry spokesman said hundreds of Afghan forces have been fired or detained for showing links with insurgents.

GEN. MOHAMMAD ZAHIR AZIMI, Spokesman, Afghan Defense Ministry (through translator): All the Afghan security forces were ordered to use all of their resources in hand to prevent these kinds of incidents.

MARGARET WARNER: And last weekend, the U.S. military suspended training for 1,000 new recruits in special village-based Afghan local police units being tutored by American special forces.

U.S. Army Lieutenant General James Terry said today about a quarter of the insider attacks can be blamed on insurgent infiltrators or their sympathizers. The rest, he said, stem from personal vendettas and cultural miscommunication.

LT. GEN. JAMES TERRY, Commander, ISAF Joint Command: We also understand that a lot of grievances and dispute resolutions are done, frankly, at the barrel of a gun out there.

MARGARET WARNER: Though the U.S. is re-vetting all 16,000 Afghan local police forces, it’s unclear how many of the total 350,000 Afghan troops will be re-screened.

Unhappy Anniversary: Republicans Have Blocked The American Jobs Act For One Year


Unhappy Anniversary: Republicans Have Blocked The American Jobs Act For One Year.

aldron on Sep 7, 2012 at 11:15 am

On September 8, 2011 — one year ago tomorrow — President Obama laid out a series of policy proposals known collectively as the American Jobs Act. The plan included stimulus spending in the form of immediate infrastructure investments, tax credits for working Americans and employers to encourage consumer spending and job growth, and efforts to shore up state and local budgets to prevent further layoffs of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public safety officials.

The American Jobs Act never became law, however, because Republicans opposed it from the start, blasting it as another form of “failed stimulus” that wouldn’t help the economy. (They ignored the fact that the first “failed stimulus,” the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, wasn’t a failure at all.) One month later, the GOP blocked the bill in the Senate, preventing the creation of more than a million jobs and the added growth that multiple economists predicted would occur if the bill passed:

–Moody’s Analytics estimated the American Jobs Act would create 1.9 million jobs and add two percent to gross domestic product.

–The Economic Policy Institute estimated it would create 2.6 million jobs and

AIG ex-CEO Greenberg eyes reversing NY fraud case | Reuters


 

Times editorial on how his country’s political system wasted years of prosperity and put the euro at risk.   Read more at Counterparties

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AIG ex-CEO Greenberg eyes reversing NY fraud case

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Former American International Group (AIG) CEO Maurice Greenberg testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on “The Collapse and Federal Rescue of A.I.G. and What It Means for the U.S. Economy” on Capitol Hill in Washington April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Former American International Group (AIG) CEO Maurice Greenberg testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on “The Collapse and Federal Rescue of A.I.G. and What It Means for the U.S. Economy” on Capitol Hill in Washington April 2, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

By Jonathan Stempel

Mon May 14, 2012 6:03pm EDT

(Reuters) – Former American International Group Inc Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg said New York’s attorney general should be barred from invoking a 91-year-old state law in a fraud case over two suspect reinsurance transactions.

Greenberg and co-defendant Howard Smith, AIG’s former chief financial officer, sought permission on Monday to appeal to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, a May 8 appellate ruling letting Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pursue civil fraud claims against them under the state’s Martin Act.

That ruling by the Manhattan appeals court cleared the way for the 7-year-old case to go to trial.

Investigators claim a transaction with General Re Corp, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, helped AIG inflate loss reserves by $500 million without transferring risk, while a transaction with Capco Reinsurance Co helped AIG hide more $200 million of losses. Both transactions took place more than a decade ago.

Unlike under federal law, the Martin Act does not require investigators to prove intent in order to prevail on a securities fraud claim.

According to David Boies, a lawyer for Greenberg, a key issue is whether Schneiderman may use the Martin Act "to pursue a de facto securities class action" on behalf of shareholders, despite conflicting federal laws designed to promote "uniformity and certainty" in regulating securities.

In a court filing, Greenberg and Smith said that power would make "every executive of a New York company or a company with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange potentially liable – personally – for substantial damages for misstatements" by their companies, even absent proof of intent or reliance.

Granting such power would have "far-reaching implications for New York’s continuing role as an economic and financial capital," they added.

James Freedland, a spokesman for Schneiderman, said: "We are confident that their latest attempt to reverse decades of settled law to escape responsibility for their misconduct will be rejected."

Greenberg and Smith were first sued in 2005 by Eliot Spitzer, then New York’s attorney general. Spitzer’s successors Andrew Cuomo and Schneiderman have continued to pursue the case.

Greenberg, 87, left New York-based AIG in March 2005 after nearly four decades at the insurer’s helm.

AIG’s transaction with General Re led to five convictions and two guilty pleas of former officials of those companies. A federal appeals court threw out the convictions in August and a new trial has been scheduled for January 2013. Buffett was not accused of wrongdoing.

The U.S. government still owns 61 percent of AIG, following $182.3 billion of taxpayer-funded bailouts.

Greenberg’s company, Starr International Co, once AIG’s largest shareholder, has sued the government for $25 billion over the bailouts, which it has called unconstitutional.

The case is New York v. Greenberg et al, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 1st Department, No. 5297.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andre Grenon)

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AIG ex-CEO Greenberg eyes reversing NY fraud case | Reuters