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Job creation would be nice

Bankruptcy attorneys can help immensely, but some things you need to track on your own


Sometimes I think, "Geez, is it just me? Why is no one focused on bringing jobs back?"

Where's the focus?

By that I intend a super-focused program, a Manhattan-project style program, a moon-shot-NASA-grade effort to bring jobs back to the U.S.  and save the country instead of spoonfeading economic pablum to shareholders and more juicy plums to Wall Street.

In case it's not clear, Wall Street per se, in general, as an "institution," is apparently not interested in the fate of the country--as long as it can milk those gorgeous, comely bonuses. My old Daddy used to say about playing poker, "Don't be one of those players who bets on the come." By that, he intended not to rely on hitting inside straights, or improving a full house to four of a kind. But that's exactly what Wall Street does--because it has the financial engineers to rig the game beyond the current rules and regulations.

Listen to your attorney

Even worse, if the game heads too far south? The Street can always retreat--by sacrificing its more exposed players (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers)--to the "too-big-to-fail" position. If you're considering filing for bankruptcy protection, you can't expect even a highly experienced, trained divorce attorney to interpret all these data and economic minutiae for you. But you can expect such counsel to provide specific advice about your particular situation: which Chapter to file under, when to file, where to file, etc.
In the meantime, you can stay abreast of relevant news and informed opinion. For example, this from a viewpoint columnist at Bloomberg Businessweek:

An 'uncertain future'

The risk of economic stagnation should dominate discussions this week among the voting members of the Federal Reserve Board at its two-day meeting. Without dramatic action, the U.S. confronts an uncertain future—one that suggests "Americans on average would experience slower gains in living standards than did their parents and grandparents," according to consultancy McKinsey & Co.

The catastrophic danger is not the federal debt/deficit issue that dominates the current debate in Washington and in hyperventilated news reports on cable TV. It is employment. The once-great American job machine badly needs repair. Even before the Great Recession struck, total employment growth from 2000 to 2007 amounted to less than half the increase reached in preceding decades. That was the worst performance since the Great Depression. Three years after the recession officially ended in June 2009, some 24.6 million people are unemployed, underemployed, and marginally employed, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It will take at least 21 million net new jobs over the coming decade to return to a 5 percent unemployment rate, according to McKinsey.

Now versus then

In our preceding post we talked about housing (sales and prices) being worse than during the Depression. Still, I submit: jobs, jobs, jobs as the answer. If we know nothing else, here in the U.S., we've got a hell of strong work ethic. Apparently the wheel at PIMCO, a giant in bonds and mutual funds, agrees that jobs should be the  government's focus--and not only any job but more important jobs in manufacturing, that long neglected sector:
“What we’ve been able to apply in the last 20 years is a financial based employment structure where the magic of finance and asset appreciation” generated jobs, [Bill] Gross said in a radio interview on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt. “That model no longer applies. We need to go back to the manufacturing roots of this country as opposed to the financial roots.”

The U.S. economy lost more than 8.7 million jobs since January 2008. The jobless rate hit a 26-year high of 10.1 percent in October 2009 and was 9.1 percent last month.

“It’s fiction to assume those people can all move to Silicon Valley and create the next Facebook,” Gross said in the interview. “We need to put them to work doing something and producing a product that the rest of the world wants.”

The way back--manufacturing?

Sure. I believe that. In other words, there most probably will be some version of Google or Facebook that will come along and make the rest of us slap our foreheads--DOH! why didn't I think of that?

The truth, however, is that most of us will not think of that--but we as a people are way more than willing to labor at good, honest manufacturing jobs that not only pay the rent but also pay taxes to keep the economy humming along. Here's another take, from the Chairman, U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation:
Structurally speaking, no economy as large, complex and geographically far-flung as ours can prosper over the long term with less than 20-25% of its workers being in manufacturing and without the sector contributing a similar percentage of GDP. Yet as it is, only around 9% of Americans now work in manufacturing, and as a percent of our GDP, the sector provides just 11% of the total.

The proof of this conclusion is found in history, starting with the forty years leading up to the Second World War, when the percent of U.S. employment in manufacturing was a fairly consistent 30% or so, and followed by the three decades thereafter, when, despite the introduction of new service sector jobs as post-War manufacturing incomes rose, such percent still consistently hovered at around 25%. These seventy years of robust manufacturing were -- it's no coincidence -- generally robust years for the middle class as well, hallmarked by wide-scale new home construction and new car ownership, quality public school education for the nation's youth, and fair salaries with relatively little income inequality.

These are all things we have to consider, especially those of us at the end of the financial rope.

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