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Current Topic: Economics

The Long, Humbling Quest for a Job in Technology
Topic: Economics 7:46 am EST, Mar 17, 2002

Three years ago, anyone with a computer science degree and a pulse could practically name his price in the job market as companies scrambled to dodge doomsday Y2K possibilities.

That atmosphere was later buoyed by demand from Internet companies, which offered not just high salaries but also stock options, beer bashes on Friday afternoons and a weekly massage.

By now, the end of that era has become an almost forgotten cliché. But what might surprise some people is the bleakness of the job outlook for a sector once thought impervious to the downturn: software programmers, with experience in code names like SQL, Unix, Java and C++.

The Long, Humbling Quest for a Job in Technology

A Spinoff of Williams May Seek Bankruptcy
Topic: Economics 5:33 am EST, Feb 26, 2002

The Williams Communications Group, the troubled provider of broadband network services, said yesterday that it was looking to restructure its debt obligations and that it might seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors.

Several weeks ago, Williams said that it was not considering filing for Chapter 11. But the announcement yesterday did not surprise analysts or investors.

"The market has been expecting this for a while," said Timothy K. Horan, an analyst at CIBC World Markets. ... The Williams Communications statement "suggests that something is going on, but we still don't know what that is." ... SBC Communications Inc., the nation's second-largest telephone company, is its largest customer. SBC also owns about a 4 percent equity stake in Williams Communications. ...

Is this the next step in the telecom collapse? Will WilCom bring SBC and the rest of Williams down with it?

A Spinoff of Williams May Seek Bankruptcy

Others Endure Complications in Telephone Bankruptcy
Topic: Economics 3:57 am EST, Feb 25, 2002

The bankruptcy proceedings of Global Crossing are becoming far more contentious and potentially disruptive for the company's creditors, customers and business partners than previously expected, bankruptcy experts said over the weekend.

The complications, these experts said, could make it more likely that instead of Global Crossing's emerging from bankruptcy as a viable company, or being acquired, the proceedings could lead to perhaps the least desirable outcome for creditors: a liquidation of the company, with its assets auctioned to the highest bidders. ...

(According to interviews in the latest issue of the Cook Report, the entire telecom sector is ready to collapse in on itself, with the next mega-bankruptcies coming from the local telcos. It is a fairly technical argument with lots of data points for support, so it's somewhat difficult to judge its merits quickly. But even cast in the best light, it doesn't look good ...)

Others Endure Complications in Telephone Bankruptcy

Making Unemployment Work (Sort Of)
Topic: Economics 5:50 pm EST, Feb 24, 2002

Being unemployed has brought Todd M. Rosenberg fun, some fame, and a very small fortune. Which is why he is in trouble with the New York State Department of Labor.

Mr. Rosenberg, 32, is the creator of "Laid Off: A Day in the Life," an animated cartoon [web site]. It's a hoot. ...

Prominently displayed on the site is ... the tip jar. ... Dollars have come streaming in. Real dollars. Virtual dollars. Nine thousand dollars. ... Mr. Rosenberg had been unemployed since June, when the where he worked as director of business development shut down ...

At the time, the job market "had a bad but temporarily bad feel," Mr. Rosenberg said. But by the end of the summer, none of his job interviews had panned out, and the help-wanted ads were getting skimpy. ... When he realized that he might not find a job for a while, Mr. Rosenberg said, he felt he had to do something productive. ...

Making Unemployment Work (Sort Of)

The Fiber Optic Fantasy Slips Away
Topic: Economics 4:21 pm EST, Feb 17, 2002

Only a few years ago, the dream of striking it rich by transmitting Internet data and telephone calls across continents and under oceans, through endless ribbons of fiber optic cable, captivated one company after another. But rarely in economic history have so many people with so much money got it so wrong.

... "There is no sector that illustrates creative destruction so effectively." ... [T]elecommunications is no stranger to turmoil after a meltdown at upstart carriers and established equipment makers resulted in the loss of more than 500,000 jobs worldwide in the last two years. ... With the spot price of bandwidth down 90 percent and bound to fall further, it made no economic sense for carriers to make long-term leasing arrangements. ... Global Crossing made it clear that its accounting had been accepted by Arthur Andersen. ... Global Crossing continues to deny that it has done anything wrong. [explanation of IRU sales] ... A spokesman for Flag [Telecom] declined to say whether his company had any dealings with Global Crossing. ... There will it all end? One clue may lie in the history of the nation's railroads ...

The Fiber Optic Fantasy Slips Away

The world of the laid-off techie
Topic: Economics 11:11 pm EST, Feb 12, 2002

"A year ago, Jose Carlos Cavazos was enthusiastic about his new career in telecommunications and his position with Nortel Networks. Now he's throwing mail on the night shift at a U.S. Postal Service distribution center for $13 an hour.

Cavazos didn't plan to go from high-tech to blue collar. But after eight months without a job, the 37-year-old Raleigh, N.C., resident had burned through his 401(k) savings and was nearing the end of unemployment insurance. He took the postal job to pay the mortgage--even though it leaves him wanting professionally. ..."

The world of the laid-off techie

Study: Tech job-hoppers more likely to be laid off
Topic: Economics 11:05 pm EST, Feb 12, 2002

"Those who took advantage of the hot economy of the 1990s to job-hop may now find themselves first on the layoff list and with fewer prospects for future employment as long as the current economic downturn lasts." ... Robert Klehm, research director at Cambridge, Mass.-based Giga Information Group: "I agree with the basic statement that the people who have jumped around have a stigma attached to them. What is the risk of laying them off, because they will probably just leave anyway?"

Study: Tech job-hoppers more likely to be laid off

_Measuring and Sustaining the New Economy_ | Nat'l Academy Press
Topic: Economics 10:59 pm EST, Feb  8, 2002

Pre-publication report of a National Academy workshop. Workshop panels include: Defining and Measuring the New Economy; Drivers of the New Economy; Communications and Software; Applications and Policy Issues.

From the Executive Summary: "Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Americans and American businesses regularly invested in ever more powerful and cheaper computers. ... By the mid-1990s, however, new data began to reveal an acceleration of growth accompanying a transformation of economic activity. ... This period also coincides with the widespread adoption of the Internet ... The New Economy addresses changes in the US economy ..."

"Change is often slow to become apparent in ways that can be readily measured ... Innovations in information technologies are believed to be fueling [a] boost in productivity. ... Developments in the semiconductor industry have enabled a swift decline in the price of information technologies. ..."

_Measuring and Sustaining the New Economy_ | Nat'l Academy Press

Moving beyond the Silicon Valley Model |
Topic: Economics 10:24 pm EST, Feb  5, 2002

From the Jan 17 2002 edition of Financial Times.

Names of high-technology clusters around the world taking inspiration from America's Silicon Valley range from the geographically obscure to the truly unlikely. ... "Countries that have any pretence of joining (or for that matter remaining in) the ranks of the world's most advanced economies have no choice but to imitate (the Valley)."

Yet if non-US clusters had been more successful in "cloning" the Valley, they would arguably now be in worse shape than they currently are. For nowhere has the boom and bust been as dramatic as in northern California. ...

Moving beyond the Silicon Valley Model |

The Last Good Job in America: Work and Education in the New Global Technoculture
Topic: Economics 1:55 pm EST, Jan 21, 2002

Publisher's book description: Money, jobs, careers, training -- all are topics often overheard in the conversation of middle-class Americans today. One of the nation's leading critics of education, the world of work, and the labor movement, Stanley Aronowitz has, over three decades, shown how new technologies, labor, and education all are deeply intertwined in our culture and everyday lives. This new book reflects Aronowitz's latest thinking at a time when globalization has brought these connections to broad public attention. Aronowitz argues for the decline of "the job" as the backbone, along with family, of American society. Even at a time of high employment, low wages and job insecurity leave many families at or below the poverty line. The career instability previously experienced mostly by blue-collar workers has now spread to middle managers and high-level executives caught in the rapid movement of capital and technologies. Today's world, he argues, calls for a new social contract between employers and workers. While many writers emphasize the "new social spaces" opened up by communications technologies, Aronowitz looks more deeply to find subtle shifts also taking place in our more familiar and conventional social worlds. The decline of "bohemia" among the intelligentsia of Greenwich Village and other similar urban communities is caused not only by changing financial and urban forces but also by shifting patterns of communication among its inhabitants. Similar changes in everyday uses of time and patterns of work also reflect ways in which individuals today have diminished control over space and time. While these social changes begin in home and community, ultimately they limit the "political space" available to most citizens. Aronowitz shows how and why these changes must be met with a stronger awareness among working Americans of new forms of democratic participation.

The Last Good Job in America: Work and Education in the New Global Technoculture

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