Today has a much different aura surrounding these economic times. There are few dramatic economic measures that are negative as compared to this time 10 years ago but we hear constant attacks on the current presidential administration as if all of these negatives started 6 years ago (read between the lines - when Bush got into office).
Many of these ideologues will bring up the "federal budget" as a measure between then and now. They point to the surplus that was had in 1998 and then the deficit that is occurring today. I reject this as a measure of personal economic health for the average individual. Clearly the past surplus was generated by the highly accelerated rise (and later fall) of the financial markets. Last night I ate dinner with yet another set of individuals than before. They talked about how they worked for an equipment manufacturer during the 1990's and the commission checks that they were receiving that blew their minds. Little did they know that only a few short years later when the financial markets crashed that their company would see a dramatic decline in their stock price (in this case from $130 down to $2). I was told of a $240 million equipment sale where the customer paid $40 million in cash up front. A short time later the customer went out of business and had only paid $60 million on the $240 million balance. From a pure economic measure the GDP of the USA was increased by $240 million upon reporting of the sale of the equipment. The customer received benefit of the use of the equipment for the quarters that they were in business and their bottom line was impacted. The untold story, however, is about the economic loss that were registered in the intervening quarters with the company filing bankruptcy as the $180 million write down was recognized by the firm that originally sold the equipment. All of the commission checks were already written to the sales team upon producing a signed contract. The financing of the $240 million over time is a matter for a different group than the one that sold the equipment.
An objective look at the numbers shows that the year 1998 was a RECORD year for corporate layoffs in the past 10 years prior.
Merry Christmas! Now, About the New Year
By FRANK GIBNEY JR.
SUBSCRIBE TO TIMEPRINTE-MAILMORE BY AUTHOR
Posted Monday, Dec. 14, 1998
Will today's giddy economic boom give way to a brutal post holiday hangover? Last week the Dow Jones stock average slipped on confusing news of megamergers by some companies and thousands of layoffs at others. It then recovered slightly after the Department of Labor announced that the November unemployment rate dipped to 4.4%.
But when it comes to jobs, the bad news may outweigh the good. Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm, estimates that 1998 may set the decade's record for layoffs. It reported that U.S. firms eliminated 574,629 jobs this year--32% more than in 1997 and within reach of the 1993 high of 615,185. Some economists argue that job gains will continue to offset job losses. But economic turmoil in Asia and Latin America may make things worse.
"We are on the edge of deflation here," says Edward Yardeni, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities N.A. "Companies are under enormous pressure, and that means more mergers and layoffs." If that's true, the party will be over in 1999.
--By Frank Gibney Jr.
From the Dec. 14, 1998 issue of TIME magazine
Why is our collective memory so short - depending on the ideological point that is attempted to be put forth?
I recently read a post by a Black person which said "the current congress is the worst ever" - a hit upon the current Republican congress. If there was any perspective on hand this person would go back to the 1960's in which her basic rights as a Black person were being "negotiated". The past decades worth of congresses using procedural measures to reject any meaningful civil rights legislation from being put forth. In my book, as a Black person, these congresses and those before who chose to ignore the US Constitution as it applied to my people win this award by far.
My overall point is that Black people too often carry the flag for some national political interest without noting the short shaft that is received in exchange. There are few points of evidence that show that the Black community were prime recipients of the highly accelerated financial market activity of the late 1990's. It is true that those of us who are computer savvy were able to make use of the new access to the stock market that was provided by the World Wide Web. I personally saw several investment clubs that had Black membership being created during this time. This was a response to the overall increase in stock values. There were few duds to be had at this time. Sadly when the market soured many of these groups lost money and disbanded at the sight of these losses. In truth the choppy waters was the time in which collective research was needed most.
The claim today is that the policies of this current president has lead to an increase in the loss of manufacturing jobs. Interestingly enough the data shows that this is a 20+ year trend based mostly on global economic changes. http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/mar1999/jobs-m13.shtml
And CEO pay? This did not start increasing recently either:
Between 1980 and 1995, factory wages rose 70 percent, while consumer prices increased 85 percent. In contrast, during the same period, corporate profits jumped 145 percent and executive pay skyrocketed 499 percent.
Same data over the two periods, same trends - DIFFERENT ANALYSIS by the operatives.
How else do we explain the differences in outlooks?
Let us bring it home for a minute.
Dr Ronald Mincy of Columbia University recently released a book detailing the plight of Black males during the economic expansion of the 1990's.
Why is it that there is an abundance of Black elected officials who will cheerlead about the 1990's yet won't talk about the realities that took placed during this time? I recall this year's Alpha Phi Alpha convention in which Democrat Bobby Scott put up a PowerPoint presentation that detailed the federal surplus and now deficit in a room full of Black men. He seemingly carried the water for his party. He made no mention of the constant flat line of economic and academic achievement for the Black male in particular between both of these time periods.
Ultimately those leaders who represent these individuals being left behind must be held accountable for the strategy that is perpetuating this condition. They typically get a pass because they are "activists" for those without a voice. The policies that they support, however, are rarely put up for inspection on their efficacy in changing this condition. The notion of "good intentions" is enough to redirect any criticism. The notion of ever present "racism" seals the deal in having the policy makers escaping all accountability.