The Week: Most Recent us-economy recent posts.en-usMon, 18 Feb 2013 15:20:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent us-economy from THE WEEKMon, 18 Feb 2013 15:20:00 -0500The most powerful handshake in the world<img src="" /></P><p>We've all been victims of a terrible handshake. Maybe it's a death-grip where you feel like you're shaking hands with a lobster. Maybe it's a limp, lifeless shake, like you're suddenly wagging a fern. Either way, if you're meeting someone for the first time, a bad shake can leave a lasting, negative impression &mdash; especially in the world of business.</p><p>It's almost become a truism, but that's because it's true: A great handshake can go a long way in earning respect from new colleagues or impressing a potential employer. People judge and are judged based on body language and physical social interactions...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/carmel-lobello" ><span class="byline">Carmel Lobello</span></a>Mon, 18 Feb 2013 15:20:00 -0500$9 minimum wage: Poverty reducer or job killer?<img src="" /></P><p>In perhaps the "most controversial proposal" in Tuesday night's State of the Union address, President Obama called for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour. "Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That&rsquo;s wrong," Obama said. "Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty." The White House says that raising the minimum wage would improve the lives of millions of people, from cooks to store clerks to health-care aides...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:00:00 -0500The housing roadblock that could kill the recovery<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>The recently-tightened mortgage lending standards have been widely cited for preventing a faster turnaround in the housing market. But the bigger culprit may be the slowdown in construction loans for builders.</p><p>Real estate industry experts and home builders have been warning for nearly a year that the lack of new home construction could slow the housing recovery. That moment may be here. The supply of existing homes for sale in December fell to its lowest level in more than 7 years:&nbsp; 4.4 months worth of homes are for sale at the current pace, according to data from the National Association...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Steve YoderWed, 06 Feb 2013 07:16:00 -0500Why does Wall Street hate Obama?<img src="" /></P><p>Hey, Wall Street, where's the love for Barack Obama? His presidency has been good for you. Very good.&nbsp;Let me count the ways:</p><p>* Since bottoming out in March 2009, the stock market, as measured by the S&amp;P 500, has gained 125 percent. Investors have more than doubled their money in less than four years. It's the biggest gain under any president since World War II.</p><p>* Since 2009, corporate profits &mdash; even when taxes are factored in &mdash; have surged 171 percent, to their highest levels since World War II.</p><p>* Companies are now more profitable, relative to the size of the economy, than...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Tue, 05 Feb 2013 07:00:00 -0500An austerity program that both Democrats and Republicans can support<img src="" /></P><p>It should be a truth universally acknowledged that America's fiscal deficit requires urgent reduction. It should be, but it isn't. Instead, abetted by the insufferable arrogance of those who claim that the current deficit is a low priority, my generation faces a terrible plight. Like Atlas shouldering the celestial sphere, we will, without action, be left to struggle under an insurmountable burden. Whether to avoid a debt-saddled future or a recession induced by market panic, logic demands that we cut spending now.</p><p>With politics being the art of the possible, we need austerity to win bipartisan...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/tom-rogan" ><span class="byline">Tom Rogan</span></a>Mon, 04 Feb 2013 07:00:00 -0500Working, but still poor<img src="" /></P><p><strong>Who are the working poor</strong>? <br />They're the millions of people who have jobs that leave them mired at the edge of poverty. Their ranks include legions of retail clerks at chains like Walmart, fast-food workers, dishwashers, customer assistance representatives, home health-care aides, factory workers, and farm laborers. Some 46.2 million Americans now live in families where someone is working but earning less than the poverty line: $11,702 a year for an individual or $23,021 for a family of four. Many economists have a broader definition, saying that the working poor are those whose incomes do not cover...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffSat, 02 Feb 2013 12:40:00 -0500Why the stock market boom doesn't signal an economic recovery<img src="" /></P><p>The S&amp;P 500 is coming off one of its strongest runs in years.&nbsp;The index enjoyed an eight-day&nbsp;winning streak&nbsp;earlier this month&nbsp;</span><span>that saw it close above 1,500 for the first time since 2007. And the S&amp;P isn't alone.&nbsp;</span><span>All three major indices have come out swinging in 2013, with each up several percentage points since the start of the year.&nbsp;</p><p>But before you pop the champagne and declare 2013 the Year of the Booming Economy, take a breath. Beyond the stock market, the wider U.S. economy still has a whole bunch of problems.</p><p>Sure, rising earnings at publicly listed...</p></span> <a href="">More</a>By Graham WinfreyWed, 30 Jan 2013 14:55:00 -0500The miserable GDP report: Is the economy in trouble again?<img src="" /></P><p>The U.S. economy stumbled badly in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the Commerce Department, which reported on Wednesday that GDP shrank at an annual rate of 0.1 percent, compared with 3.1 percent growth in the third quarter. It is the first time since the second quarter of 2009 &mdash; when President Obama was just starting his first term, and the labor market was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs per month &mdash; that the economy has contracted. By all accounts, the miserable report came as a shock to economists, with most predicting at least some growth in the fourth quarter.</p>... <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Wed, 30 Jan 2013 10:25:00 -0500How investing in infrastructure could reduce our long-term debt<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Suppose we could enhance our long-run growth prospects, reduce our long-term unemployment problem, and reduce our expected future debt at the same time. Would that be a policy worth pursuing?&nbsp;</p><p>Infrastructure spending in an economy such as ours, one with high and persistent unemployment and considerable infrastructure needs, has these features. It puts people to work on projects that promote economic growth &mdash; economic growth is one of the best ways to reduce the long-run debt burden &mdash; and money spent on infrastructure maintenance and repair saves us money in the long-run.</p><p>How...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Mark ThomaTue, 29 Jan 2013 15:50:00 -0500Breaking up the big banks<img src="" /></P><p>Too-big-to-fail banks have failed us, said Gretchen Morgenson in <em>The New York Times</em>, and now a "long-standing truth-teller" on their excesses is suggesting they be "chopped into pieces." Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, argued last week that despite the Dodd-Frank Act, the nation's megabanks still have taxpayers on the hook for future bailouts, and are also gumming up the Fed's recovery efforts by sitting on funds instead of lending them out. The 12 largest of the nation's 5,600 commercial banks hold 69 percent of assets, Fisher points out, but they make little of...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 25 Jan 2013 07:41:00 -0500Is the culture of Wall Street bonuses changing for good?<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Once upon a time, Wall Street investment bankers and traders spent all year looking forward to December and January; for most of them, these were the months when they learned the details of their bonus payments, which in some cases accounted for 90 percent of their total compensation for the year. The rest of the New York City economy also waited with bated breath, as Wall Streeters used their annual windfalls to put down payments on new homes, buy the latest cars and generally spend lavishly.</p><p>Even in the tough times that followed the financial crisis, a lot of those on Wall Street eyed the...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Suzanne McGeeTue, 22 Jan 2013 15:15:00 -0500Wall Street: The anatomy of the 'best cover letter ever'<img src="" /></P><p>It's every wannabe intern's dilemma: How to write a cover letter that impresses employers who need you a lot less than you need them. Here's a bit of a "shocker," says Maseena Ziegler at <em>Forbes</em>:&nbsp;On Wall Street, being absurdly, aggressively humble can be just the way to get the attention of hard-nosed financial executives. At least, it certainly appears to have done the trick for one "brutally honest and hilariously self-deprecating" college student who applied for a low-paying and, if necessary, demeaning job at a boutique investment bank. Here's the part that made the recipient promptly forward...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Wed, 16 Jan 2013 14:15:00 -0500AIG, greed, and legislative stupidity<img src="" /></P><p>On Tuesday, Washington was abuzz with murmurs that AIG &mdash; the catastrophically managed insurer of untold amounts of Wall Street mortgage debt that required a $182 billion bailout in 2008 &mdash; may join a $25 billion lawsuit against the United States government (i.e., the taxpayer) over the terms of that bailout. Outrage &mdash; manufactured and genuine &mdash; ensued.</p><p>The Tea Party crowd will undoubtedly go insane if the AIG board does in fact join Hank Greenberg and Co.'s lawsuit against the government. But a group of congressional Democrats &mdash; including Wall Street's least favorite...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jeb-golinkin" ><span class="byline">Jeb Golinkin</span></a>Wed, 09 Jan 2013 10:20:00 -0500Welfare states are unfair states<img src="" /></P><p>Many liberals make welfare states sound like a dream. It's a style of government that rests upon a simple, perhaps even unassailable moral narrative&nbsp;&mdash; the balancing of self-interest with connected social interest. It's a system that allows for personal gain, but alleviates personal suffering. So what's the problem with welfare states?</p><p>Unfortunately, they are almost too many to count.</p><p>Ultimately, welfare states actually don't help people in need. Instead, they perpetuate empty, short-term remedies for social problems that require far deeper attention. In establishing a governing premise...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/tom-rogan" ><span class="byline">Tom Rogan</span></a>Mon, 07 Jan 2013 06:20:00 -0500December jobs report: 155,000 new jobs, unemployment stays at 7.8 percent<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">The Labor Department reported on Friday morning that the economy added a solid 155,000 jobs in December, and that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8 percent &mdash; tied for its lowest level in four years. The report is the latest evidence that the labor market &mdash; after years of periodic setbacks &mdash; is now on a steady, if slow, climb out of the deep hole caused by the Great Recession.&nbsp;</p><p class="p1">In further good news, the Labor Department said that the economy created 161,000&nbsp; jobs in November, up from its initial projection of 146,000.</p><p class="p1"><strong>In December, the private sector added...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Fri, 04 Jan 2013 09:15:00 -0500The sale of the NYSE and the death of stocks<img src="" /></P><p>To the general public, it's quite a "shocker," says David Weidner at <em>MarketWatch</em>. IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), an upstart derivatives exchange,&nbsp;<em>based in Atlanta</em>, is buying NYSE Euronext, the company that owns the iconic, 220-year-old New York Stock Exchange, in a deal worth more than $8 billion. To long-time market professionals, however, this merger merely confirms something they've known for quite some time. They've been witnessing the slow death of stocks &mdash; as the lord of the marketplace &mdash; for years, as new regulations and decimalization of trades once done using rounder...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Thu, 20 Dec 2012 13:45:00 -0500