mm403: Blast from the Past! No. 26

June 7, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

We embark this weekend on a business trip to a conference in Boston. As conferences usually take up a great deal of uptime, without the downtime associated with a normal schedule, we will probably cover many of our daily blogging deadlines with Blasts from the Past!

The conference itself, designed to illuminate the social networking phenomena in the context of business and corporate conduct, may provide the opportunity to blog, as blogging in the corporate environment is one of its key topics. So we may be able to mix business interests and responsibilities with our avocation in this space. Should be interesting!

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

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Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 10, 2007 and originally titled “China – Two interesting aspects”.

MUDGE’S Musings

China is always in the news. Two stories from the past few days illuminate why in some interesting ways.

First, from the LA Times, a look at how we have become victim’s of our unlimited appetite for everyday low prices.

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Analysts expect prices in the U.S. to creep up as safety standards are reevaluated. Buyers and retailers may share the impact.

By Don Lee and Abigail Goldman
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
September 9, 2007

SHANGHAI — Get ready for a new Chinese export: higher prices.

For years, American consumers have enjoyed falling prices for goods made in China thanks to relentless cost cutting by retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target.

But the spate of product recalls in recent months — Mattel announced another last week — has exposed deep fault lines in Chinese manufacturing. Manufacturers and analysts say some of the quality breakdowns are a result of financially strapped factories substituting materials or taking other shortcuts to cover higher operating costs.

Now, retailers that had largely dismissed Chinese suppliers’ complaints about the soaring cost of wages, energy and raw materials are preparing to pay manufacturers more to ensure better quality. By doing so, they hope to prevent recalls that hurt their bottom lines and reputations. But those added costs — on a host of items that include toys and frozen fish — mean either lower profits for retailers or higher prices for consumers.

“For American consumers, this big China sale over the last 20 years is over,” said Andy Xie, former Asia economist for Morgan Stanley, who works independently in Shanghai. “China’s cost is going up. They need to get used to it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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mm381: Crime’s up. Economy’s down. Next question?

May 16, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Driving earlier this evening to pick up take out for dinner, found myself listening to radio news. Never do that, if I can help it. But this story sprang out at me.

It’s a crime story. Not usually a staple of this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©. And it’s our next installment in a ever-lengthening series.

“May you live in interesting times”

mm380: The return of cheap gasoline
mm370: How can you tell our president is lying?
mm347: It’s official, we’re depressed — er, recessed
mm344: Welcome to interesting times
mm337: Dare we trust the guys who got us into this mess?
mm335: Are you prepared for interesting times?
mm334: Rearranging deck chairs
mm333: “Great people shouldn’t have a resume”
mm331: Obama at Cooper Union: Lincoln?
mm328: Today’s economics lesson: Depression 101
mm309: The news Bush really hates you to hear
mm289: Recession: Paying the price for our power
mm285: Mayor Mike tells some hard truths
mm263: This man -so- wants to pull the trigger…
mm257: The R-Word – Not that racy television show
mm256: I don’t hate big corporations, either

“Hold on, Mudge,” I hear faithful reader protesting. “What the devil does crime have to do with our deepening recession.”

Just about everything.

chitrib

City crime statistics show increased violence

Violent crime is up 6% in first four months of the year compared with 2007, police say

By Angela Rozas | Tribune reporter |

4:52 PM CDT, May 16, 2008

Homicides in Chicago rose by almost 9 percent, while violent crime was up more than 6 percent in the first four months of 2008, compared with the same period last year, Police Supt. Jody Weis said Friday.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm347: It’s official, we’re depressed — er, recessed

April 14, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Paul Krugman has appeared in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© quite frequently; he’s an economist, and an insightful writer, and a lot of news lately has been about our economy, and cries out for insight.

“May you live in interesting times”

mm344: Welcome to interesting times
mm337: Dare we trust the guys who got us into this mess?
mm335: Are you prepared for interesting times?
mm334: Rearranging deck chairs
mm333: “Great people shouldn’t have a resume”
mm331: Obama at Cooper Union: Lincoln?
mm328: Today’s economics lesson: Depression 101
mm309: The news Bush really hates you to hear
mm289: Recession: Paying the price for our power
mm285: Mayor Mike tells some hard truths
mm263: This man -so- wants to pull the trigger…
mm257: The R-Word – Not that racy television show
mm256: I don’t hate big corporations, either

Since so much of the U.S. economy is driven by consumers, and has been, I’m imagining, since the end of World War II, when the bomber factories returned to stamping out annual cosmetic freshenings of shiny Fords, Plymouths and Hudsons to an eager population that couldn’t wait to “See the U.S.A in your Chevrolet,” consumer perceptions are a key indicator of economic health.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm337: Dare we trust those who messed up to fix it?

April 3, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

I can’t help it — our turbulent economic news continues to cause concern.

And, as we’ve pointed out, it’s increasingly top of mind most everywhere.

As a topic, it has appeared here with depressing regularity (depressing topic but lively and insightful commentary, of course!):

“May you live in interesting times”

mm335: Are you prepared for interesting times?
mm334: Rearranging deck chairs
mm333: “Great people shouldn’t have a resume”
mm331: Obama at Cooper Union: Lincoln?
mm328: Today’s economics lesson: Depression 101
mm309: The news Bush really hates you to hear
mm289: Recession: Paying the price for our power
mm285: Mayor Mike tells some hard truths
mm263: This man -so- wants to pull the trigger…
mm257: The R-Word – Not that racy television show
mm256: I don’t hate big corporations, either

Pointed here by American.com here’s a useful analysis that lays out the causes of the financial system’s deep crisis, and you might be surprised at the source: St. Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve that, directed by Greenspan’s successor, Ben Bernanke, now is portraying itself as our white knight.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm335: Are you prepared for interesting times?

April 1, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

I’d always heard it was a Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Wikipedia.org is not so sure.

Notwithstanding the source, I think we’re there.

We’ve written increasingly on the recession that has arrived, and the depression that might be lurking. Perhaps it’s time for a nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© link table.

“May you live in interesting times”

mm334: Rearranging deck chairs
mm333: “Great people shouldn’t have a resume”
mm328: Today’s economics lesson: Depression 101
mm309: The news Bush really hates you to hear
mm289: Recession: Paying the price … power
mm285: Mayor Mike tells some hard truths
mm263: This man -so- wants to pull the trigger…
mm257: The R-Word – Not that racy television show
mm256: I don’t hate big corporations, either

Jon Taplin, who always has interesting, big picture points of view, has a big word to teach us.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm331: Obama at Cooper Union: Lincoln for our times?

March 28, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

He could have spoken anywhere; that’s what the communications age is all about. Perhaps he should have spoken in Pennsylvania; after all, its April 22nd primary represents the next towering challenge to his candidacy.

But, he spoke in New York City, because that’s where beats the economic heart of the country (and not too long ago, the planet). And his speech was about our economic distress, the Wall Street half of the equation, where “pain trickled up.”

An interesting site, new to Left-Handed Complement, “The Reality-Based Community” has been added to our blogroll with alacrity. There, yr (justifiably) humble svt found some incisive analysis, and, usefully, a transcript of this powerful statement.

reality-basedcommunity

Obama on the economy

March 27, 2008 | Posted by Mark Kleiman

Public images, once established, are hard to change, and it isn’t going to be easy for Barack Obama to escape the “pretty words, no substance” label that his opponents and some journalists have tried to pin on him. But if anything could do it, today’s Cooper Union speech ought to.

Those familiar mainly with the Obama of the stump speeches, the election-night speeches, and the Ebeneezer Baptist Church address on MLK Day — the Obama of the “Yes We Can” music video — will find the Cooper Union lecture a significant change of pace. No soaring images, not much poetry, few applause lines, lots of analysis and substantive proposals, only one Obama-esque turn of phrase in describing the current crisis in mortgage-backed paper:

“What was bad for Main Street was bad for Wall Street. Pain trickled up.”

The speech itself: workmanlike, serious, substantive.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm258: It’s the economy, stupid!

January 18, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Can’t escape it.

Oil at $100 per barrel. And planted well over $3 per gallon at the pump.

Stock market with more bad news than good.

Another bank lost $billions last quarter, due to the mortgage fiasco that is shortening breath and whose ripples are washing ashore around the world. A bank in England with the oh so modern name of Northern Rock caused the first run on a British bank in 200 years last fall and had to be bailed out by Her Majesty’s government; U.S. subprime mortgages the cause. How unseemly!

How do you feel about your job? More and more entry level positions in MUDGE’s IT field have “right sourced” (love those euphemisms) themselves to Bengaluru and environs; where do they (the suited euphemizers in the corner offices) think that their own successors will come from? What, me worry?

A presidential election that for more than a year seemed so much a referendum on the Republican party’s mishandling of Iraq has, as elections often do, and as this preposterously lengthy election season guaranteed, morphed into another arena altogether.

It’s the economy, stupid!

Fred Siegel points this out in the latest City Journal.

cityjournal-new

Fred Siegel

The Globalization Election

Voters are showing their anxiety about the economy and immigration.

10 January 2008

The common thread that ties Mike Huckabee’s come-from-almost-nowhere victory in Iowa to Hillary Clinton’s unexpected resurgence in New Hampshire is a shared ability to speak to widespread middle- and lower-middle-class economic anxiety. In Iowa, Huckabee effectively disparaged Mitt Romney—who made a fortune at Bain Capital and outspent him 20 to 1—as someone who couldn’t possibly understand “people at the lower ends of the economic scale,” who fear that they’re losing ground in the increasingly globalized economy. And in New Hampshire, while Barack Obama’s rhetorical flourishes spoke most effectively to the young and to the “creative class” that has flourished in the global economy, Clinton—like her husband before her—felt the middle class’s pain, devoting most of her campaign events to highlighting economic issues and offering narrowly tailored programs to address everything from the rising cost of tuition to mortgage defaults. And it paid off: she defeated Obama by ten points among those who felt they were falling behind financially.

Clinton’s comeback aside, the most surprising fact to emerge from New Hampshire was that voters in both parties named the economy as the Number One issue. New Hampshire, where more than 81 percent of the voters have at least some college education, is prosperous by any standard. It enjoys the lowest poverty rate in the country, one of the lowest unemployment and taxation rates, and is in the top echelon of income. Yet only 14 percent of its Democrats and half of its Republicans believe that the economy is doing well, while a stunning 98 percent of voters in the Democratic primary and 80 percent in the Republican primary were “worried” or “very worried” about the economy.

Siegel has very perceptively connected our economic (skyrocketing oil, plummeting home values) shpilkes with the issue of illegal immigration, tosses in terrorism, and calls it the globalization election.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Globalization Election by Fred Siegel, City Journal 10 January 2008

In the end (290 days and a couple of hours from now) it will come down to which of the smooth (or not) talkers convince the voters that s/he understands the gravity of the issue Siegel calls “globalization” and has a plan to make all of our troubles vanish.

For all the talking we’ve heard, I don’t think any one of the candidates has convinced enough of us.

It will be an interesting 290 days…

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Faithful reader might be interested in how MUDGE came up with that 290 day number.

Got to the second page of Google results before the answer popped up – a site I’ve depended on for years.

Global as yr (justifiably) humble svt is, accurately knowing what time it will be in Sydney when it’s 7:00pmCST next week is part of the job. Long years ago, I came to depend on a terrific website, timeanddate.com to accurately deliver that information. On its Personalized World Clock page, one can specify up to 25 cities around the world, and you get a page that displays them. As I write this, it’s 5:58pm Friday in Honolulu, 1:58am Saturday in Sao Paulo, 11:58am Saturday in Beijing, and 2:58pm Saturday in aforementioned Sydney. Very cool.

Well, the site also has many other useful calculators. And, doh!, a days between two dates calculator. Also very cool.

And, a theme we’ve used here before, it’s only 31,795,200 seconds, give or take a few thousand, until a new president is inaugurated.

Can’t come soon enough.

Really, now, it’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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