Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Economic Recovery / Reboot Complete!

Everything's great at Goldman-Sachs, and you're right back where you started, so I don't know what your whiny problem is all about:
Home price gains since spring 2009 vanish

The home price gains made after the housing market bottomed in spring 2009 have vanished, with 10 cities posting fresh lows in February, according to a closely watched index that tracks home prices in America's biggest metropolitan areas. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index for 20 major U.S. cities, released Tuesday, came within a hair of its previous bottom hit in April 2009. The renewed drop in home prices indicates the nation's housing woes continue despite a recovery in the broader economy. "There is very little, if any, good news about housing. Prices continue to weaken, while trends in sales and construction are disappointing," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jobs & Housing: No Easter Resurrection, Ascension, Redemption, or Return in Sight

Stimulus by Fed Is Disappointing, Economists Say
"[M]ost Americans are not feeling the difference, in part because those benefits have been surprisingly small. The latest estimates from economists, in fact, suggest that the pace of recovery from the global financial crisis has flagged since November, when the Fed started buying $600 billion in Treasury securities to push private dollars into investments that create jobs" (NYT).
Builders of New Homes Seeing No Sign of Recovery
"The recession hurt a lot of industries, but it knocked the residential construction market to the mat and has kept it there, even as the broader economy has started to fitfully recover.

Sales of new single-family homes in February were down more than 80 percent from the 2005 peak, far exceeding the 28 percent drop in existing home sales. New single-family sales are now lower than at any point since the data was first collected in 1963, when the nation had 120 million fewer residents.

Builders and analysts say a long-term shift in behavior seems to be under way. Instead of wanting the biggest and the newest, even if it requires a long commute, buyers now demand something smaller, cheaper and, thanks to $4-a-gallon gas, as close to their jobs as possible. That often means buying a home out of foreclosure from a bank.

Four out of 10 sales of existing homes are foreclosures or otherwise distressed properties. Builders like Mr. Meier who specialize in putting up entire neighborhoods on a city’s outskirts — Richmond is some 50 miles northwest of downtown Chicago — cannot compete despite chopping prices" (NYT).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Taxation Misrepresentation: @WSJ Earns Tufte Tsk-Tsk-Tsk

Edward Tufte would have just three words for the Wall Street Journal: "Where the Tax Money Is." Tsk, tsk, tsk. WSJ carves up IRS data into a False Middle Class:

The chart above is intended to impress and scare seventh grade educated newspaper readers into opposing any and all means of responsibly addressing the astronomical war debts incurred by the bi-partisan military industrial complex, just as Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower promised, 50 years ago.1

What's worth dwelling on for just a moment is the fact that these pictures all depend upon how one stacks the kindergarten blocks. In everyday America, the following is vastly closer to the True Middle Class we experience IRL. Take those blocks conveniently tossed aside to the right, by the right, and stack them up proper and you get a dramatically different picture.

But let's keep this real. We promise long ago that this was eventually going to get uncomfortably personal. My wife and I may not "feel" well off by working two jobs and "barely" grossing $70K annual income for two in the Bay Area; yet the fact of the matter is we are quite well off compared to most Americans; even as we literally live dirt poor on rice and beans living next door to Atherton and Los Altos Hills.  I've been out there in the highways and byways and know first hand how financially fecked average people are in America. Rather than feel offended for "calling us well off," or jumping on the defensive when someone says, "you make $140K? you're rich!" We should get off of our high horses and  respond with some modicum of empathy for others. "Holy crap! Most people are really that poor?! This is totally unacceptable!"

The entire premise of this vital civic conversation must be turned on it's head, because we're completely  upside down in debt thanks to the system that drove us off this debt cliff in the first place.

1. Although Eisenhower is from the same era, the military industrial complex is not to be confused with tinfoil hat Kennedy UFO conspiracy theory fictions. This is just a snippet of plain old boring, factual American history; business as usual. Nothing new here, move along.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Conflicted over Classroom Capitalism

I don't even know where to begin in teasing apart the mishmash of motivations and behavioral acculturations around teaching children what money is all about in this context. Supposedly, money was once about a means of exchange, it had something to do with allocating and managing scarcity; increasingly today, money appears to be more about behavioral compliance. This may not be an entirely bad thing, if the behaviors rewarded and encouraged directly and proportionally benefit the individuals in question. It's complicated.

Amplify’d from www.firstgradebrain.com

New Behavior Reward in my Classroom

I use a Behavior Ladder (basically a clip chart) in my classroom to manage student behavior. Students earn dollars (Star Bucks) when they move up and lose dollars if they have to move down. They can use their dollars to buy items from the treasure box or pay to eat lunch in the classroom. This system has worked well for me. I've been slacking off on treasure box lately. I'm tired of having to buy things for it, and parents aren't always consistent in sending things in.
The machine takes quarters, and one night in bed I found myself re-thinking my Star Bucks. Money is such a hard concept for first graders to master. Why am I making them count fake money when they could be counting REAL money? I decided that after Spring Break I am getting ride of the Star Bucks. Star Bucks will be replaced with REAL pennies which they will trade in for REAL nickels, dimes, and quarters. I'm so excited about this! Since next year I will be using this system from the beginning of the year I think it will really improve their counting money skills!
Read more at www.firstgradebrain.com

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's Not About Pie - It's About Fostering Sustainable Human Flourishing

Comment Posted By: InCincy(2940) on 4/5/2011 | 3:41 PM ET
"That is one impressive image. This should be on the US Currency replacing the pictures of the Presidents & Statemen who are probably unrecognized by many anyhow. many by using pictures, we could make up for the lack of learning in Civics and Math classes."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Much Cocaine Backs Global Currency?

This is a bit of an editorial diversion from the usual curation algorithm, so if it's your first time visiting the blog, I hope you'll dig a little deeper.

In this video, scroll to the 4:00 mark to skip the meandering segue. Like any television content, the facts presented should be double checked. In this case, the delivery was just too entertaining to withhold, even if it does wax a bit Foxish, hyperbolic.
The Keiser Report may qualify as O'Reilly Report, Left Edition. Because Max also makes fun of Obama and the current administration, it would be funny to insert some of these pieces into the Fox broadcast stream, just to see how soon that audience can be turned on a dime; independent of message or independent thinking, solely attributable to message delivery method. Pay the network enough and you could probably run the experiment. Come on, surely we've got just one billionaire reader out there with nothing better to do this year. Have some fun! Life's too short! How long would it take to invert Fox's message and audience mindset? Five years? One year? 3 months? How vapid are the monkey minds, really? See you on the other side. ;-)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Economic Security Beyond Reach of Many Americans

Source: NYTimes.com
"A separate report being released Friday tries to go beyond traditional measurements like the poverty line and minimum wage to show what people need to earn to achieve a basic standard of living."
The study, commissioned by Wider Opportunities for Women, a nonprofit group, builds on an analysis the group and some state and local partners have been conducting since 1995 on how much income it takes to meet basic needs without relying on public subsidies. The new study aims to set thresholds for economic stability rather than mere survival, and takes into account saving for retirement and emergencies.

“We wanted to recognize that there was a cumulative impact that would affect one’s lifelong economic security,” said Joan A. Kuriansky, executive director of Wider Opportunities, whose report is called “The Basic Economic Security Tables for the United States.” “And we’ve all seen how often we have emergencies that we are unprepared for,” she said, especially during the recession. Layoffs or other health crises “can definitely begin to draw us into poverty.”

According to the report, a single worker needs an income of $30,012 a year — or just above $14 an hour — to cover basic expenses and save for retirement and emergencies. That is close to three times the 2010 national poverty level of $10,830 for a single person, and nearly twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.


"But here’s the crucial element: it looks very likely that we’re in a period where the large patterns we’ve seen before aren’t working right.

Instead, we’re in an environment that will force swift and sometimes frightening evolution.

Businesses, communities, social institutions of all kinds, will find themselves facing a need to simultaneously experiment rapidly and keep hold of a longer-term perspective. You simply can’t expect that the world to which you’ve become adapted will look in any way the same – economically, environmentally, politically – in another decade.

As a result, you simply can’t expect that you will look in any way the same, either.

The asteroid strikes. The era of evolution is upon us. It’s now time to watch the dinosaurs take flight" (IEET).