• NEW YEAR, NEW PRESIDENT, NEW DIRECTION – BUT DO NOT BE MISLED by headlines of rosy ‘Recovery’ or imagine that the new Administration will be able to reset today’s economic malaise. To begin with, the 4.6% claimed Unemployment rate, like so much government data, is “arrantly fake… a compound lie, in that it ignores the 95 million people ‘out of’ the workforce – most of whom are able-bodied but have simply run through their unemployment benefits and given up looking for work. Nor does it figure in the fact that roughly 90% of the ‘new jobs created’ are part-time, with many held by people working several jobs (because they have to, to pay their bills).” Nor does it address the quality in those jobs, that they are minimum wage, or the absence of virtually any security for continuity. For a comprehensive and legitimate (albeit distressing) reality-check on the “big ugly bubble” which confronts 2017, and the multitude of areas on the cusp of implosion, see http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/forecast-2017-wheels-finally-come-off/
  • MEANWHILE, HOWEVER, THE U.S. DOLLAR IS AT A 14-YEAR HIGH in trade-weighted terms, adversely impacting U.S. businesses which compete with foreign companies, but strongly favoring American tourists. The ‘Big Mac Index’ is an annual measure of purchasing-price parity for a globally-recognized and consistently purchased burger product, which roughly measures Currency Valuation differential. The 2017 Index compares the average $5.06 currently paid for a Big Mac in the United States with prices paid in other countries – ranging from $2.15 in Russia to $2.83 in China and $3.73 in Britain (reflecting undervalued currencies) to $5.12 in Brazil, $5.67 in Norway, and $6.35 in Switzerland (evidently overvalued). [THE ECONOMIST – Jan 7, 17]
  • DATA-MINING TECHNOLOGY CREEP: Call-Center software now evaluates callers based on “particular caller characteristics, develops a Personality Score,” then assigns the call to agents “who’ve had success in closing deals for customers with similar patterns.” The programs instantly search up to a hundred databases linked to the caller’s phone number – including Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Experian, zipcode census archives, and contact frequency before assignment.  [WALL STREET JRNL – Jan 6, 17]
  • MICRO-DRONES ARE THE NEWEST WEAPONS IN OUR MILITARY ARSENAL. A ‘swarm’ of over a hundred one-pound drones can now be released from the bottom of a fighter jet, for surveillance and ultimately bombing missions. The drones are “not pre-programmed for synchronization but are a collective organism sharing one distributed brain for decision-making, and can adapt to each other like swarms in nature – including gracefully adapting to drones entering or exiting the team… The Pentagon is working with its own Silicon Valley-style organization to build fleets of the micro-drones.” [MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW – Jan 10, 17]
  • EMERGING RESEARCH WARNS MORE DANGERS OF SMOKING AROUND KIDS. “Anything you can burn creates smoke, which then contains tar and other toxic chemicals… Whether tobacco or marijuana smoke, effects on children are significant, especially for a child who has allergies or asthma since a sensitive airway is more prone to inflammation.” According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control, secondhand smoke causes ear infections, sneezing, respiratory coughing & shortness of breath, bronchitis, pneumonia and higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome. Moreover, “long after traditional cigarettes are extinguished, they leave thirdhand smoke in their wake – toxic contaminants that coats surfaces such as curtains, furniture and car interiors, which research suggests might also be harmful to children.”  [US NEWS & WORLD REPORT – Jan 6, 17]
  • “PROCRASTINATION CAN INCREASE STRESS LEVELS and lead you to adopt maladjusted coping strategies… Many blame procrastination on time management issues, but this is typically just an excuse. You can’t manage time; you manage yourself and how you deal with time… People procrastinate not because they’re overwhelmed with work, but because they harbor negative feelings toward whatever task is in front of them.” DCG Time Management coaching (even one session) can dramatically help.  [AICPA EDGE NWSLTR – Jan 17, 17]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: The plight of America’s manufacturing workforce is indeed attributable to production being employed in foreign countries with dramatically lower labor rates, but even more so by the impact of technology. 

       Take a look at how FEW workers it now takes to build the largest Boeing aircraft: https://www.youtube.com/embed/SE71NJl-naY?autoplay=1

       A European Parliament committee has approved a resolution granting legal status to advanced robots – as ‘electric persons’ with specific rights & obligations including “making good any damage they may cause.” 

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:  If moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”  – Ronald Reagan