Company Employees Number
David Wessel has a column in today’s Wall Street Journal laying out three approaches to solving our Too Big Too Fail (TBTF) problem. The first two amount to different ways of “busting them up,” as Wessel puts it.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad like to blame the uprising in Iran on outside influences. They particularly like to point their fingers at the British and the Americans, along with a requisite nod in the direction of the Zionists--a time-honored pretext for avoiding blame for discontent in their country.
The Times' Lou Uchitelle has an interesting piece today about how certain high-skilled workers are enjoying surprisingly good job prospects these days: But unnoticed in the government’s standard employment data, employers are begging for qualified applicants for certain occupations, even in hard times. Most of the jobs involve skills that take years to attain. Welder is one, employers report. Critical care nurse is another. Electrical lineman is yet another, particularly those skilled in stringing high-voltage wires across the landscape. Special education teachers are in demand.
On the evening of January 22, a few hours after his administration's debut news conference, Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the cramped quarters of the White House press corps. It was meant to be a friendly event, and Obama glad-handed his way through reporters and cameramen, exchanging light banter as he went. But Politico reporter Jonathan Martin wasn't there to chat. Martin pressed Obama about the president's decision to nominate William J. Lynn III, a former defense lobbyist, to deputy defense secretary and about Obama's pledge to curtail the influence of lobbyists.
Should we pay people to quit smoking? A new study has shown that significantly more smokers will quit if they're paid by someone else to do so. Researchers tracked over 870 employees from General Electric for a year and a half, giving out payments of up to $750 to smokers who quit. Participants who were paid to quit were nearly three times as likely to quit as those who didn't receive the cash, according to findings published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine. Encouraged by the success of the trial, G.E.
Tyler Cowen has an interesting Times column arguing that the 1998 bailout of Long-Term Capital Management, the once high-flying hedge fund, is an important factor in the recent financial meltdown: At the time, it may have seemed that regulators did the right thing. The bailout did not require upfront money from the government, and the world avoided an even bigger financial crisis. Today, however, that ad hoc intervention by the government no longer looks so wise.
As you've probably heard by now, President Bush announced this morning that he wasn't going to let the domestic auto industry collapse. At least not on his watch. And while it'll probably take a day or two to sort out the details, and what they mean, here's the gist of it: Bush is authorizing the Treasury Department to loan Chrysler and General Motors $17.4 billion. (Ford has said it doesn't need money right now.) The money will come from the Wall Street rescue fund, or what's left of it, and it comes with a number of strings attached.
Now that the economic slump has nudged oil prices back down, people are snatching up trucks and SUVs again. Ford's even adding shifts at its Dearborn plant to meet new orders for its F-150 pickup truck (which gets about 15 miles per gallon). Now, it's definitely a good thing that 1,000 auto workers are getting their jobs back, but everyone does realize that oil prices are eventually going to climb back up… right? Right? --Bradford Plumer
This month's National Geographic has a great piece on the Yellow River in China, that erstwhile cradle of civilization that now sustains more than 150 million people and is in danger of both drying out and being poisoned to death (that photo's no joke; toxic chemical leaks have a habit of painting the river red or white or maroon from time to time). This passage on the uneasy adolescence of China's environmental movement was especially interesting: In the mid-1990s a mere handful of environmental groups existed in China. Today there are several thousand, including Green Camel Bell.
The conservative campaign to convince Americans that the economy is better than they think it is continues with today's Wall Street Journal editorial trumpeting a new Treasury Department study which purports to find a high level of income mobility in the United States. Perhaps by coincidence, the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project also released a less sunny study today on the same subject (key findings here). It's interesting--sometimes even a bit funny--to note the ways in which very similar data can be spun differently.