Don't believe me?
Labor Department said employment costs measuring what employers pay in
wages and benefits rose at the slowest pace in seven years during
the first quarter, which should temper concerns about potential wage-induced
Its Employment Cost Index rose 0.6 percent in the first quarter, down from
a 0.8 percent rise in the fourth quarter and well short of the 0.9
percent gain that had been forecast.
* * *
SURPRISE - SURPRISE, the] U.S. economy grew at its fastest rate
in 2-1/2 years during the first quarter on strong spending and investment,
while moderate price rises reinforced hopes for a pause in U.S. interest rate
rises this summer.
Gross domestic product grew at a 4.8 percent annual rate in the January-March
quarter, the Commerce Department said on Friday, more than twice the fourth
quarter's 1.7 percent rate.
It was the best quarterly GDP performance since a 7.2 percent spurt
in the third quarter of 2003.
"This rapid growth is another sign that our economy is on the
fast track," President George ["the putz"] Bush told reporters.
Growth is expected to moderate as the year wears on, giving the Federal Reserve
room to pause in its rate-rise campaign.
The GDP report showed a gauge of personal spending excluding
food and energy -- an inflation measure favored by the Federal Reserve
-- advanced at a 2 percent rate in the first quarter compared with 2.4 percent
in the fourth quarter last year.
Confused? Don't be. There are two simple explanations for this obvious
- and painful - contradiction.
1. 'Free Market,' Baby! (where "free" means "survival of the
rich off the poor")
2. Livin' large when you're bankrupt (a.k.a., "spending money faster
than you can print it")
The first explains the loss of jobs and anemic wage growth despite gains in
productivity. You see, increased productivity does not necessarily mean more
jobs, at least not when industrial or technological progress inures to the benefit
of shareholders in a handful of corporations.
In other words, the minute there's a technological breakthrough, or an increase
in efficiency (e.g., merger) that reduces the man hours needed to get a job
done, corporations immediately reduce their labor force to add that savings
to their bottomline.
[For example,] Verizon
Communications plans to cut 1,661 jobs in four U.S. customer call centers
by June 30 as part of its plan to cut 7,000 jobs after its January purchase
of MCI, a spokesman said on Friday. . . .
Verizon has about 250,000 employees. It said it expects to cut 7,000 jobs
in the three years after the MCI deal as part of its effort to create
more than $8 billion in savings.
But, even this does not explain the extraordinary growth in GDP this quarter.
After all, the money for the increased goods has to come from somewhere, and
you KNOW it ain't coming from working Americans whose wages are stagnant and
whose jobs are on the chopping block.
In other words, the increased GDP can only be explained by uncontrolled
"Consumer spending obviously was affected by higher energy prices which
would eat into discretionary spending," Denison said. "Chicago PMI
was probably affected by the construction slowdown" in new-homebuilding.
First-quarter GDP performance was boosted by government spending on reconstruction
after last year's devastating hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. Federal government
spending shot up at a 10.8 percent rate, a sharp contrast to the 2.6 percent
rate of decline in the fourth quarter. It was the strongest government
spending since a 22.1 percent jump in the second quarter of 2003.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Joint Economic Committee on
Thursday that growth was likely to moderate as the year wears on,
partly because of some softness in housing markets. [Uh, DUH!]
* * *
[Meanwhile,] Businesses robustly boosted their investment during the first
quarter, with spending rising at a 14.3 percent annual rate. That
was three times the 4.5 percent fourth-quarter increase and was the largest
in nearly six years.
Spending on equipment and software alone increased at a 16.4 percent rate
in the first quarter -- the strongest in six years -- after
a 5 percent fourth-quarter rise. The strong spending implies that corporations
remain optimistic about their sales prospects and are willing to make investments
to expand their businesses.
Is it beginning to make sense? Corporations pump cash (and credit) into
their factories to produce the goods the government buys hand-over-fist with DEBT
(while we pay billions in interest to FINANCE it).
Voila! The economy is doing great! But, the population is starving.
What a terribly cruel hoax on the American people.
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