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Current Topic: Economics

As Post-Boom Dust Settles, the South Grimly Downsizes
Topic: Economics 12:11 pm EST, Dec 16, 2002

If the nation boomed in the 1990's, Atlanta exploded.

But what fueled Atlanta's eye-popping growth in the 1990's has proved the city's economic undoing in the last year and a half.

The most poignant illustrations of the downturn are the roughly 20,000 highly skilled but suddenly unemployed workers who were laid off from telecom and technology companies with headquarters or major operations in Atlanta. The companies include ... Internet Security Systems ...

"What does the future hold when every garage has got a new car in it?"

As Post-Boom Dust Settles, the South Grimly Downsizes

How Will America Work in the 21st Century? (LARGE PDF)
Topic: Economics 3:16 pm EST, Dec  7, 2002

A very interesting set of challenges facing our economy over the next 25 years and some strategy for addressing those challenges.

I like most of the recommendations being made here, but I find the predictions to be ominous. Our productivity growth for the last 20 years has been based on having more people with higher education levels. Eventually you reach a point where you max that out, and then growth slows.

One of the more interesting conclusions here: The powers that be are strongly incented to create as much upward social mobility as possible.

How Will America Work in the 21st Century? (LARGE PDF)

International Wage Determination and Globalization
Topic: Economics 1:32 am EDT, Aug 29, 2002

This is an interesting report on global wages. Lots of good data and interesting conclusions. Its easy to decide on a course of action based on the data here. Please try to look critically at the conclusions YOU come to from this data.

For example, the author seems to conclude that wage equity in poor countries would improve if professionals and executives were prevented from working in or for countries other then their country of origin. This conclusion presents a classic example of an issue traditional left and right wing perspectives could never agree on.

A traditional left perspective would advocate the importance of equality and would put little stock in the rights of wealthy upper classes.

A traditional right wing perspective would advocate individual liberty, claiming that it is simply immoral for governments to restrict the free travel or free association of their people, no matter what the cost may be.

This is just an example. There are lots of juicy fault lines like this in this information.

International Wage Determination and Globalization

Double dip alert
Topic: Economics 12:57 pm EDT, Aug  7, 2002

Courtesy of the so-called benchmark revision of the national income and product accounts, the recent performance of the U.S. economy has been cast in a very different light. The direction of this annual revision was hardly a shocker. The incoming monthly flow data had tipped us off to expect a weaker picture than the previous data had painted.

But there is more to this revision than statistical noise. In my opinion, the new data now place the U.S. economy right on the brink of another recessionary relapse -- the dreaded double dip.

Double dips happen because demand relapses invariably occur at just the time when businesses are lifting production in order to rebuild inventories. With the current production upswing well advanced -- industrial production has risen for six consecutive months -- a demand relapse would come at a most inopportune time.

Yet with the U.S. economy now back to its stall speed, that's precisely the risk. Courtesy of the government's newly revised depiction of the U.S. economy, the odds of a double dip have risen, in my view. I would now place a 60 percent to 65 percent chance on such a possibility in the second half of this year.

Double dip alert

More on Level 3 politics
Topic: Economics 3:26 am EDT, Jul 11, 2002

"It's a saga that brings together Bill Gates, Bernie Ebbers, Bill Miller--and even Warren Buffett. It travels from the Flaming Gorge Dam to the very backbone of the Internet, but mostly to downtown Omaha. And it may just be the most unexpected survival tale of the telecom era. "

More on Level 3 politics

Buffett part of Level 3 funding. - Jul. 8, 2002
Topic: Economics 1:48 pm EDT, Jul  8, 2002

In a statement, Buffet said Level 3, whose chairman, Walter Scott, also sits on Berkshire's board, meets his investment criteria.

"Liquid resources and strong financial backing are scarce and valuable assets in today's telecommunications world," Buffett said. "Level 3 has both."

Buffet likes telecoms? Or is there more to the story here?

Buffett part of Level 3 funding. - Jul. 8, 2002

Knowledge@Wharton - Debate over scarcity of IT workers
Topic: Economics 1:41 pm EDT, Jul  8, 2002

"The ITAA's study itself ought to be retooled, suggests Peter Cappelli, director of Wharton's Center for Human Resources. To Cappelli, the study's projected shortage stems from managers who set overly high expectations for job candidates and who are unwilling to cough up higher salaries for so-called qualified workers. "It's very misleading," says Cappelli, who analyzed the IT labor market in a paper published in 2000. "If I can't find a chef at the wage I like, it doesn't mean there's a shortage of chefs.""

Knowledge@Wharton - Debate over scarcity of IT workers

Ten Lessons from the Dot Com Meltdown
Topic: Economics 1:32 pm EDT, Jul  8, 2002

"The past boom and bust of the Internet sector is one of the biggest business events of the past several decades. In the interest of finding lessons that help us avoid similar debacles in the future, here are ten observations about the dot com shakeout."

Ten Lessons from the Dot Com Meltdown

Merck recorded revenue it never collected - Jul. 8, 2002
Topic: Economics 12:21 pm EDT, Jul  8, 2002

"NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Merck & Co. shares tumbled Monday after a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company revealed that more than $14 billion, or 10 percent, of revenue reported since 1999 was never actually collected by the company. "

More, More, More! (What I find most amazing about this is how LITTLE the stock has dropped. Investors are far more interested in punishing tech and telecoms then pharms, even when the fraud is many times greater.)

Merck recorded revenue it never collected - Jul. 8, 2002

Telecom Sector May Find Past Is Its Future
Topic: Economics 2:07 am EDT, Jul  8, 2002

About 500,000 people have lost their jobs. Dozens of companies have gone bankrupt. As much as half a trillion dollars in investments have evaporated. An accounting scandal threatens to bring down WorldCom Inc. and federal authorities are investigating the books of other former highfliers.

There is another casualty of the implosion of the telecommunications industry: a grand vision of the future.

At least 63 telecommunications companies have landed in bankruptcy since 2000, ... [but] the most expensive failures may still be ahead.

Former FDIC chairman: "... the largest single meltdown ... I've ever seen."

This article is generally a good summary of the events to date. It references 19th century railroad construction and contains the obligatory Reed Hundt quote, of course. But they get some things wrong, IMO. It's suggested that the big legacy telcos (the baby Bells, in the US) are safe investments, out of harm's reach. I'm skeptical. And then, they pose this question:

Who needs Internet video when HBO and Showtime seem to add more channels by the minute?

It's as if the author has never even used the Internet. And trying to sell broadband on the basis of multimedia content distribution only magnifies such misconceptions.

A huge amount of very expensive wiring and electronics is going to rust, waiting for new ideas that can harness it. Maybe waiting forever.

Telecom Sector May Find Past Is Its Future

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