Consumer

A Very Unfinished Recession, For Most Americans

Statistically speaking, the Fed’s heroic actions conquered the Great Recession years ago.The economy has been growing at a measurable clip, statistically speaking, with the unemployment rate inching lower over the years, though again, that’s just statistically speaking. But most Americans, struggling to make ends meet in the real economy far from the hoopla, hype, and buzz of Wall Street or Silicon Valley, have a more accurate answer.

‘Wealth Effect’: Spiffy Hotel Rooms For The 85 Richest Folks Who Own As Much As Poorest Half Of Humanity

Now that we learned that the 85 richest folks own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion, we want to know where they’re staying when they come to town for dinner. We already know where the poorest 3.5 billion are staying: in shacks, hovels, and moldy apartment blocks.

The Magic “Wealth Effect” On Our Hapless Renters

Prices for housing have jumped and rents have jumped too, yet the 38.7 million renters, 34% of all households, watched with dismay as their real wages declined. They’ve got a problem with the “wealth effect” that Bernanke held up as pretext for printing money.

So This Isn’t Exactly A Rosy Outlook For 2014, Or Something

Central banks rule! We’ve seen it in 2013. They’ve accomplished the impossible: separating stock markets from the economies they’re based on. But in 2014, the US and China are trying to unwind these crazy policies – without taking down the entire global economy.

The Multi-Pronged Mortgage Debacle Next Year (So Long, “Housing Recovery”)

Now part three, after soaring home prices and mortgage rates. It was drowned out by the hullaballoo over the Fed’s taper announcement. It came from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It will drive up mortgage payments even more.

Strung-out Consumers, Desperate Retailers, Crummy Sales

Tally: 7 deaths, 90 injuries from shootings, stabbings, tramplings, fights, pepper sprayings…. “Only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have,” a tweet explained. It’s been tough for retailers too.

How Much Is My Private Data Worth? (Google Just Offered Me Money)

The first thing I noticed after I’d removed the glossy brochure from the envelope was the crisp $5 bill. I’m a sucker for free money. After peeling it off the letter, I started reading. It was from Google and involved a lot more money – in return for just about all my private data.

Coming Soon: Corporate Tools To Hollow Out National Sovereignty

Now “trade agreements” are negotiated behind sealed doors, without public oversight, beyond the reach of Congress. The text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is secret, but some sections were leaked. It deals with trade only on the margins. Corporate interests dominate. It mocks democracy, establishes kangaroo courts, and taxpayers are on the hook.

Politicians Are All Jabbering About Creating Jobs (Doing What?)

By James Murray: Computer power has reached the point where almost anything can be automated, and computer pricing has reached the point where it is profitable to do so. The world is undergoing a mega shift, and governments have no clue how to handle the problem.

Last Hope For Holiday Shopping Frenzy: The Few Who Can Splurge

Consumer spending hasn’t exactly been hot. With one big exception: auto sales. At 20% of total retail sales, they’ve been phenomenal and propped up overall retail sales. But in September, there was a downdraft. The calendar got blamed. And in October, there was the government shutdown and debt-ceiling debacle. And now all bets are off.