Daily Archives: February 6, 2012

Australian unemployment expected to rise

Ops. There goes the Australian economy (down hill) if you read this article. Let’s hope the mining booming will still save us. Still, lower interest rates isn’t bad.

From  Start Up Smart.com

We are heading into worrying territory for jobs: Gottliebsen

Monday, 06 February 2012 08:14
Robert Gottliebsen

Fasten your seat belts. Unemployment is set to skyrocket and that will cause the Reserve Bank to slash interest rates, weaken the dwelling market in many areas and change the debate between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.

 

Alan Kohler last month forecast that the official unemployment statistics would show unemployment rising to 6%. At the weekend, Roy Morgan Research reported a big jump in unemployment during January.

Almost certainly that will be reflected in the official figures when they are released later this month. Morgan uses a different method to calculate unemployment to the statisticians and Morgan’s December unemployment was 8.6%, compared with the statisticians’ 5.2%.

But now Morgan estimates that January unemployment has skyrocketed from 8.6 to 10.3% – the highest level since Morgan began calculating unemployment.

There is no doubt there are seasonal issues as those leaving tertiary education try to join the labour force. They are usually not employed until February or later months. A rise of the proportion shown by Morgan reflects much greater forces than seasonal influences and in 2012 it will be much harder for students to gain employment than in 2011.
The Morgan trend will be picked up by the statistician either in January or February. Employers have been hanging onto staff, hoping for a miracle, but they are now shedding staff and many of those who are not are frightened to hire because of the rising dollar and the greater risks in employment created by the industrial relations laws.
Of course, the higher unemployment has not stopped a vigorous push for higher wages in industries where unions either have great power or believe their power can be restored. Accordingly, the unions with bargaining power are focusing on government employment and the mining industry.
The other higher wages push comes from Fair Work Australia, which has not yet understood what is happening in the real world. There is no doubt the higher unemployment trends will cause the Reserve Bank to lower interest rates by half a per cent in the next few moths. They will probably make their first move this week but it is always possible they will wait a month until the official unemployment figures come out.
In theory, higher unemployment should be a disaster for Julia Gillard. But she has had long talks with US President Barack Obama on this matter. Obama is fostering US manufacturing and Julia Gillard is looking at similar strategies in Australia, as we saw with the motor industry. Tony Abbott will be seen to be putting at risk tens of thousands of auto industry jobs.
Our problem in Australia is that in fostering US manufacturing, Obama is dealing with industries that have became very efficient. That is not always the case in Australia. And Julia Gillard will have to cope with the unemployment consequences of the carbon tax.

This article first appeared on Business Spectator.

The principle of Comparative Advantage

Reading this article makes me think goods (and services) made in the country you reside in benefits the community where local jobs are created. However, in a global economy where goods can be done cheaper in other countries,  there is an opportunity to benefit from having these cheaper goods even though it may result in the loss of some local jobs. The challenge is finding a middle ground where locals can produce goods which do not compete on price and have cheaper imported goods available for those who can only afford them. In the end, isn’t this the concept of comparative advantage?

From TIME Magazine

Is ‘Made in America’ Back In Style?

By KATHERINE TARBOX | February 3, 2012
Simon Willms / Getty Images

SIMON WILLMS / GETTY IMAGES

My grandparents had two criteria for buying a car: It had to be blue, and it had to be American. The last time they purchased a car was in the ’90s, when American car companies didn’t have the best reputations for quality or reliability. When a few members of the family’s younger generation brought up the possibility of my grandparents considering Asian and European makers, it was as if we were suggesting that they commit treason. “We have to buy American,” they said. End of conversation.

 

Living through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War ingrained upon my grandparents and their generation that buying American was just a way of life. You brush your teeth in the morning, and you buy American. That sentiment has slipped in succeeding generations, but there appear to be signs that, to some extent, it is returning.

(LIST: The 11 Largest IPOs on U.S. Soil)

A study released last week by J.D. Power and Associates shows a rise in Americans who are loyal to U.S. car manufacturers. According to the report:

“The percentage of buyers who avoided import models because of their origin has increased to 14% in 2012—the highest level since the inception of the study in 2003. Conversely, the percentage of buyers who avoided domestic models due to their origin has declined to 6%, a historically low level.”

Recent figures for car sales seem to indicate that drivers aren’t simply talking “buy American,” but are actually buying American. Chrysler reported a $225 million profit for the four quarter of 2011, capping a year in which the American automaker posted $183 million in net income, versus a $652 million loss for 2010. This was the first profitable year for Chrysler in more than a decade.

The trend isn’t limited to automobiles. Last year, the Harrison Group and American Express released a study indicating that 65% of high-end shoppers now prefer to buy American. It’s unclear whether shoppers are showing a preference for American products because they believe they are of superior quality, or because they feel it’s important to support American manufacturing, or some mix of the two. But most evidence points to the fact that the enormous loss of U.S. jobs during the recession—manufacturing jobs in particular—has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in the compulsion to support American workers by buying American products.

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Or at least companies that still manufacture products in the U.S. want to make it look that way. Tiffany & Co. goes out of its way to advertise that all of its jewelry is made in the U.S. Brooks Brothers is also playing up that “large percentage” of its goods come from American factories. Claudio Del Vecchio, Brooks Brothers’ CEO, told Bloomberg News, “There is a customer that appreciates that the product is made in the United States and is willing to pay for the difference.”

No matter how you feel about buying American, it’s a complicated matter. The vast majority of an “American” car can actually be built in Mexico, or some other country. Many goods we think of as American aren’t actually produced in any capacity in this country. Take the much-coveted American Girl dolls, from Mattel. Well, those are manufactured in China. So the “all-American” favorite sneakers, Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Levi’s are produced in countries such as Cambodia, Turkmenistan, the Philippines, and basically anywhere but the U.S., according to a Main Street article listing products that most people assume are made in the U.S., but actually aren’t.

Buying foreign-made products isn’t entirely bad for the U.S., though. Last summer, the Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco released a study indicating that 55¢ of every dollar spent in the U.S. on Chinese-made products actually goes to the U.S. economy.

For some, that’s just not enough. According to ABC News, almost 10,000 new jobs would be created if each American spent an extra $3.33 a week on “Made in the U.S.A.” products. If Chrysler’s rising profits are any indication, it looks like many Americans are already doing their part.

Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/02/03/just-how-much-does-made-in-america-mean-to-american-consumers-today/?xid=newsletter-daily#ixzz1lYkh5Mk9

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