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Tuesday, December 23, 2008



ambrose evans-pritchard recently detailed the growing waves of violent protest stirring in far-flung places like russia, china, greece and iceland. while such places seem comfortably distant, the same is not true of kimberly, wisconsin.

“There’s a pent-up anger wherever I travel,” said Leo Gerard, president of the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers, which represents 1.2 million members, including the Kimberly mill workers. “People feel very much like they’re being screwed. I really think you’ll see tens of thousands of people if not hundreds of thousands taking to the streets and protesting across the country.”

while the widely-reported unemployment figure in the united states is still under 7%, the more realistic measure is nearing 13% with the prospect of scads of january financial, retail and manufacturing defaults and liquidations on the heels of a sorry christmas sales season. where there aren't outright firings, there are increasingly reductions in hours and wage freezes.

under normal preconditions, this would be an angst-filled time. at a time when american middle-classmen are in an unparalleled state of indebtedness and have watched the assets on which their families' well-being is predicated on decimated by a continuing epic financial market collapse, something more incendiary is altogether possible.

As unemployment grows, displaced workers are starting to protest. In Chicago, employees of Republic Windows & Doors occupied a factory earlier this month after Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, North Carolina, forced the company out of business by cutting its credit line. Bank of America and New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co., a part-owner of Republic Windows, agreed Dec. 10 to a $1.75 million loan to cover the severance pay of 240 employees.

“With nothing left to lose, militancy gave them their one hope,” said Harley Shaikin, a labor relations professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “We’ll see more rather than less of this.”

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Good point. I can't think of any significant economic downturn which was not attended by social unrest. This was true in the 1890s, 1930s, and 1970s. It will be true again. In the U.S., it will be manageable, maybe not as deep or violent as the 1930s or 1890s, but what about those new middle classes in Asia who are about to have the rug pulled out from under them? And what about those millions of volatile, young Middle Easterners whose authoritarian regimes won't be able to keep them employed? It's the powerkegs abroad that have me nervous.

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Spot the American; "powerkegs abroad" makes him nervous. People in those places have been rioting for years and the regimes haven't been able to keep them employed..ever..That's why you'll find millions of ME and NA nationals in Europe and US. Besides the economies of those countries are still based on farming and/or basic resources, lower on the scale of economic development but less volatile. I've been caught in riots in 4-5 different countries. Only been afraid once, in a developed western country where the police reacted in an unpredictable way, increasing the danger for everyone involved no doubt due to their lack of experience in handling these things. How will the US authorities react? Send in the National guard perhaps, and what happens once they start shooting? Deaths in riots are common all over the world, not so in the US and Western Europe....

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