Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A bit of a worry...

Graph from The Atlantic, showing duration of unemployment in the USA.

I loved Portland, Oregon. But I couldn't help noticing that all was not well. There were far too many "To Let" signs, and far too few signs of new construction.

Oh there were signs up for new buildings to be built on vacant lots.... signs over a year old, with no hint of any work being conducted any time soon.

Meanwhile, here in Canberra... money's flooding in, new buildings going up hither, thither and yon. Where's the money coming from? I can only conjecture. I think it's coming from those seeking a perceived safe haven, security from the gathering storm.

The USA has got massive reserves of wealth, real wealth, productive capacity and human and other resources. But the problem is not so much that people are losing jobs - which they are - it's that they're unable to find new ones, as the graph shows. The perception is that bad as things are now, they're going to get a lot worse.


Anonymous said...

Socialisum and dumbing down education has made people gravitate to the Government dole.


Anonymous said...

I dunno, surely it costs quite a bit of money to emigrate to a foreign country, especially one as far away as Canada.

Not all Americans have upper middle class professional jobs with that option.


Anonymous said...

Eek, excuse me, Australia.

Vene said...

The dole? You mean welfare? Welfare here sucks ass. Yes, let's live like kings on $200 of food stamps a month, woohoo! Or, better yet, SSDI (which is for people who are physically or mentally incapable of working) who get about $600-800 a month. Wonderful, you'd make more money working minimum wage.

SarasNavel said...

A large part of what you saw was the result of overbuilding. Even at the peak many areas had 40%-60% vacancy rates for commercial property and yet more was being built on credit. Obviously, the builders did not care if the property would eventually be leased, nor did the many municipalities that waived all manner of requirements for construction projects short of safety codes. Too much money was changing hands to slow down. Likewise, many corporations expanded on credit and then over-expanded, so that they were continuously running the company on borrowed funds. It was insanity, really, but what could they do? If your competitor is expanding on credit but you don't, you end up a footnote. Of course in an interesting application of gaming theory here, everyone lost once the credit dried up. Well, almost everyone.

Biggest problem I can see at this point is that during the boom almost nothing was spent on infrastructure and now no government official at any level wants to take money away from repaying favors to friends in order to fix things and create jobs. Soon, that money too will be gone.

It's bizarre, living in a culture where corporations seem to have more political and social power and freedom and wealth than almost all of the human citizens. Those at the top have found the perfect proxy to insulate themselves from accountability while reaping the rewards of a flawed system.

By the way, the crash in the Portland area really hit perhaps a year after the dust had already settled in it possible that Canberra is just a bit, well, slow? Seems like the same model at work...

My question is: what will the breaking point look like?

WSR Photography said...

In the US consider the possible reality there won't be a break for several years, in part due to the low global demand for US goods and services (minus a few bright spots) and the global competition now as other nations build newer technology manufactoring plants and employ cheaper labor, eg. China, similar to post WW-II Europe and Japan which started with the latest available technology and lower wages.

As for the "public dole", don't knock it until you've been there and felt the hardships and faced the decisions of living with a severely limiting income, and the rules to earn that meager check you've paid for with your employer. It's not a government handout when you've paid into the system, similar to social security, medicare, etc. It's what governments do for the people.

As for anonymous posts, shouting on a blog only shows me you don't have the character and courage to stand behind your words and face the criticism. That's cowardly as your words are meaningless.

Zoe Brain said...

All of the posts on this thread are signed, so are not truly anonymous.

Apart from that, I agree with you.

I've been unemployed for long periods before now. I know what it's like to be without income for 6 months or more. I've never claimed any unemployment benefit though, as I didn't absolutely need it, and others did. I would not be ashamed to do so if I had that need too, but I didn't.

Over one two-year period, my total income was $2,000, due to not being paid for work I'd done. But I'd made provisions for that, as I'd been in a position to do so.

My income has never been high, but we live frugally, in good times and in bad. Frugally - but not meanly.

WSR Photography said...

While I agree with your response about names, I wasn't referring to "signed" but identified. Putting a name on an anonymous reponse isn't the same, as I was thinking, as someone who has a Web page/site. There are many ways for individuals to stand up for their words by showing who they are which is different than those who don't prove who they are other than a name, which can't be proven.

Justine Valinotti said...

SarasNavel: Builders continued to build for a while after the market crashed because they had already invested a lot of money in land costs, permits and other things even before they began to build. They didn't want to walk away from that money, so they built with the hope that the market would turn around.

The fact that in cities like Portland lots have signs for new buildings to be built but work hasn't started means that the builder can't get the credit needed to start construction. That's a sign of how things have gotten worse.