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Friday, September 27, 2019

Tim Taylor: Employment Patterns for Older Americans [feedly]

Employment Patterns for Older Americans
http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2019/09/employment-patterns-for-older-americans.html

Americans are living longer, and also are more likely to be working in their 60s and 70s. The Congressional Budget Office provides an overview of some patterns in "Employment of People Ages 55 to 79" (September 2019). CBO writes:

"Between 1970 and the mid-1990s, the share of people ages 55 to 79 who were employed—that is, their employment-to-population ratio—dropped, owing particularly to men's experiences. In contrast, the increase that began in the mid-1990s and continued until the 2007–2009 recession resulted from increases in the employment of both men and women. During that recession, the employment-to-population ratio for the age group overall fell, and the participation rate stabilized—with the gap indicating increased difficulty in finding work. The ensuing gradual convergence of the two measures reflects the slow recovery from the recession. The fall in the employment of men before the mid-1990s, research suggests, resulted partly from an increase in the generosity of Social Security benefits and pension plans, the introduction of Medicare, a decline in the opportunities for less-skilled workers, and the growth of the disability insurance system. Although those factors probably also affected women, the influence was not enough to offset the large increase in the employment of women of the baby-boom generation relative to those of the previous generation, most of whom were not employed."
Here are some underlying factors may help in understanding this pattern. If one breaks down the work of the elderly by male/female and by age groups, then it becomes clear that while men ages 55-61 are not more likely to be working, the other groups are. An underlying reason here is that women who are now ages 55 and older were more likely to be in the (paid) workforce earlier in life than women who were 55 and older back in 1990. Thus, part of the rise in work of older women just reflects more work earlier in life, carried over to later in life.  But
One possible reason for people working older in life can be linked to rising levels of education: that is, people with more education are more likely to have jobs that are better paid and involve less physical stress, and thus more likely to keep working. However, it's interesting that the rise in employment share for males ages 62-79 is about the same in percentage point terms for different levels of education; for females, the increase in employment share for this age group is substantially  higher for those with higher levels of education.

There's an interesting set of questions about whether working longer in life should be viewed a good thing. If the increase is due to those have jobs that they find interesting or rewarding and who want to continue working, then that seems positive. However, it's tempting to feel that if people who had their jobs but work longer primarily just because they need or want the money, and they would otherwise be financially insecure, then working longer in life is potentially more troublesome.

From this perspective, one might argue that it would be more troubling if the rise in employment among the elderly was concentrated in those with lower education levels --who on average may have less desirable jobs. But if the rise in employment among the elderly is either distributed evenly across education groups (males) or happens more among the more-educated (females), then it's harder to make the case that the bulk of this higher work among the elderly is happening because of low-skilled workers taking crappy jobs under financial pressure.

It's also true that the share of older people reporting that their health is "very good/excellent" has been rising in the last two decades, and the share reporting only "good" has been rising too. Conversely, the share reporting that their health is "fair/poor" has been falling for both males and females. Again, this pattern suggests that some of the additional work of the elderly is happening because a greater share of the elderly feel more able to do it.

One other change worth mentioning is that Social Security rules have evolved in a way that allows people to keep working after 65 and still receive at least some benefits. The CBO explains:
"Changes in Social Security policy that relate to the retirement earnings test (RET) have made working in one's 60s more attractive. The RET specifies an age, an earnings threshold, and a withholding rate: If a Social Security claimant is younger than that age and has earnings higher than the specified threshold, some or all of his or her retirement benefits are temporarily withheld. Those withheld benefits are at least partially credited back in later years. Over time, the government has gradually made the RET less stringent by raising earnings thresholds, lowering withholding rates, and exempting certain age groups. For instance, in the early 1980s, the oldest age at which earnings were subject to the RET was reduced from 71 to 69, and in 2000, that age was further lowered to the FRA. (In 2000, the FRA was 65, and it rose to 66 by 2018.) Lowering the oldest age at which earnings are subject to the RET allowed more people to claim their full Social Security benefits while they continued working."
The question of how long in life life someone "should" work seems to me an intensely personal decision, but a decision that will be influenced by health, job options, pay, Social Security rules, rules about accessing retirement accounts and pensions, and more. But broadly speaking, it seems right to me that as Americans live longer and healthier, a larger share of them should be remaining in the workforce. The pattern of more elderly people working is also good news for the financial health of Social Security and the broader health of the US economy.  

 -- via my feedly newsfeed

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The News Media’s Blind Spots Covering the Working Class [feedly]

An interesting take on "working class" mainstream news stories internal bias that feeds the "white workers for Trump" memes and links whenever the "working class" term comes up.  

However, I am not sure this article does commit a comparable error. The export of capital and factory operations was ongoing long before NAFTA. The poverty of Latin America from a century of corruption, exploitation and extraction was reaching revolutionary boiling points in numerous places. Trade agreements replaced raw imperial intervention techniques. US working class interests were never safe from globalization by right wing nationalism in any form. Mexican auto workers have a different view.


The News Media's Blind Spots Covering the Working Class
https://workingclassstudies.wordpress.com/2019/09/23/the-news-medias-blind-spots-covering-the-working-class/



At midnight on Sept. 15, 49,000 UAW-GM workers walked out on strike at locations across the country, a day after their 2015 collective bargaining contract with General Motors expired and the union declined to extend the provisions of the agreement.

In a statement, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said "While we are fighting for better wages, affordable quality health care, and job security, GM refuses to put hard-working Americans ahead of their record profits of $35 billion in North America over the last three years. We are united in our efforts to get an agreement our members and their families deserve."

The President promised then punted on saving the GM jobs, and never seemed to imagine that the UAW would later be leading the fight. Given their news coverage from earlier this year, neither did the New York Times imagine the UAW would take on GM.

While the auto industry is increasingly profitable, autoworkers have been suffering. Ground zero of that story is the iconic GM Lordstown plant in northeastern Ohio, which lost the discontinued Chevy Cruze and was shuttered when GM moved production of the revived Chevy Blazer to a Mexican assembly plant.

Beyond its regular reporting, the New York Times committed an amazing level of resources to the story of the Lordstown closing, producing an episode of The Dailypodcast on July 5, an episode of The Weekly (on FX and Hulu) on July 7, and an earlier New York Times Magazine interactive piece with photos and text (May 1, 2019).

I have watched The Weekly episode on Lordstown several times, listened to The Daily podcast many more times, and re-read the multimedia piece. I've also gone back to review the Times' 1992-1993 editorials and opinions on NAFTA, the trade deal that eventually caught up with Lordstown and many other manufacturing plants.

The Times's impressive investment and multiple stories across multiple formats cover the human injury of GM's boardroom decisions and note that the unwritten rules of the "social contract" have changed. These workers are victims of changing times, and the story is told with drama and great empathy.

Still, this is both a story we have heard before, and, as I discuss I my recent book, the kind of narrative that emerges with the built-in blind spots of a news organization focused on stories for upscale readers, listeners, and viewers.

The Times' stories are mostly framed as national political stories, even as they acknowledge that the workers they interview are weary of that angle. The Dailymakes this clear, stating "There's got to be some political fallout from [the Lordstown closing]. What is the consequence for Trump in this scenario?" In framing the issue this way, The Daily and The Weekly focus on white, male workers who voted for Trump.

To understand the politics of this and so many other "working class" stories since Trump's election 2016, imagine that The Daily interviewed a black woman worker from Lordstown who didn't vote for Trump. The political angle would vanish in such a story. But the national media is more interested in politics than in people. They would rather feature a white male worker who voted for Trump and who now (presumably) struggles with the cognitive dissonance of his beloved president not saving his job. This means ignoring the wide range of people who are working class – including those at this plant.

Conversely, the multimedia piece, featuring interviews and photos by an African-American freelancer, takes a different perspective. Not framed as a political story, it is also the only part of New York Times coverage of Lordstown that includes multiple representations of African American workers and women workers.

"The system" that the Times says is broken extends beyond their limited political framing of the story. It includes a blind spot about the paper's complicity with that system. The nation's newspaper of record ran  many editorials in favor of NAFTA in 1992-93, labeling workers and their unions as "protectionist," and stating that there would be only "a few visible losers," with "many in low-paid occupations." The Times' economics columnist wrote pieces with headlines such as "Job Loss in Pact Is Seen as Small" and "Trade-Pact Fears Seem Overstated," which supported its editorial position.

In its recent reports on Lordstown, the New York Times fails to acknowledge how its editorial support of NAFTA contributed to what has happened to America's "losers." In fact, a number of negative outcomes for Lordstown and the Mahoning Valley extend from NAFTA: the pressure for concessions and givebacks to save jobs, the export of jobs to Mexico (where GM assembly plants grew from one to four after NAFTA), the granting of millions in tax breaks and incentives to keep jobs (but draining needed public funds for schools and municipal infrastructure).

The New York Times failed to be a countervailing power (to use John Kenneth Galbraith's term) for working people in 1992-93, precisely at the time when it was most needed, as government (with majorities in both parties lined up in favor of NAFTA) had failed to be a countervailing power for working people. Government and the mainstream news media were in the corner of GM and other corporations. No one was in labor's corner.

Because of this, the Times also failed to recognize the UAW as a solution in their coverage. In the early 1990s, the union was a protectionist loser, and in 2019 it was an institution down for the count, whose members' only remaining power was their individual ballots for Democratic or Republican presidential candidates with whom they could place their faltering hope.

So, in 2019 there is a poetic justice for the UAW-GM workers themselves, all 49,000 of them, who decided to take a stand and be a countervailing power to the auto industry, despite the lack of support from the government or the news media.

Their audacity elicited a rarity from the pages of the Times a few days later: an opinion piece that avoided framing the UAW's actions in the politics of Trump. David Leonhardt's column "Why I'm Rooting for the G.M. Strikers," in a story long overdue for the working class.

Yes, Lordstown and the working class are political stories, but they are stories so much larger than that, too. They are even stories about journalism itself, and the role it has in "the system" that it often fails to see.

Christopher R. Martin

Christopher R. Martin is author of No Longer Newsworthy: How the Mainstream Media Abandoned the Working Class (Cornell University Press). He is professor of Digital Journalism at the University of Northern Iowa.


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Wage Trends: Tell Me How You Want to Measure, and I'll Give You an Answer

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

More than eight million workers will be left behind by the Trump overtime rule: Workers would receive $1.4 billion less than under the 2016 rule [feedly]

First rule of the Higher Wages Party: IF IT CUTS LABOR INCOME, ITS BAD!

More than eight million workers will be left behind by the Trump overtime rule: Workers would receive $1.4 billion less than under the 2016 rule
https://www.epi.org/blog/more-than-eight-million-workers-will-be-left-behind-by-the-trump-overtime-rule-workers-would-receive-1-4-billion-less-than-under-the-2016-rule/

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced its final overtime rule, which will set the salary threshold under which salaried workers are automatically entitled to overtime pay to $35,568 a year. The rule leaves behind millions of workers who would have received overtime protections under the much stronger rule, published in 2016, that Trump administration chose to abandon.

For quick details on the history of this rulemaking, see this statement. The two tables below show just how many workers this administration is turning its back on with this rule, and how much money workers will lose. Using the same methodology used by the Department of Labor in their estimates of the economic impact of the rule, I estimate that 8.2 million workers who would have benefited from the 2016 rule will be left behind by the Trump administration's rule, including 3.2 million workers who would have gotten new overtime protections under the 2016 rule and 5.0 million who would have gotten strengthened overtime protections under the 2016 rule. As the table shows, this administration is turning its back on 4.2 million women, 2.7 million parents of children under the age of 18, 2.9 million people of color, and 4.6 million workers without a college degree.

Table 1

With this rule, the Trump administration is cheating workers out of billions. The annual wage gains from this rule are $1.4 billion dollars less than they would have been under the 2016 rule—and these annual earnings losses balloon over time because the Trump administration neglected to include automatic indexing in their rule. Once again, President Trump has turned his back on the working people of this country.

Table 2


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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Re: Your post about cashiers

Hey guys. Wondering if you had a chance to look over our career resource tool:
https://www.zippia.com/cashier-jobs/#career-paths

And whether or not you thought it was worth adding a link to on your page:
http://economics.enlightenradio.org/2016/09/

Thanks!
Kristy

--
Kristy Crane
Public Relations
Zippia.com

Zippia is a resource site for job seekers who want to empower their career aspirations with knowledgeable data. We've been featured in USA Today, Forbes, Fortune, CNBC and the NY Times, among other leading publications.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

As a union leader, I've learned one big lesson: Workers can't just rely on promises from CEOs [feedly]

As a union leader, I've learned one big lesson: Workers can't just rely on promises from CEOs
https://www.businessinsider.com/workers-unions-fight-benefits-pay-not-rely-on-corporate-ceos-2019-9?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=webfeeds

  • CEOs are promising to take better care of workers with stronger benefits and higher pay.
  • But as a union leader, I know firsthand that workers can't take these promises for granted.
  • I led a strike of 20,000 AT&T workers fighting for better pay and working conditions.
  • Our strike proved that workers must be willing to put up a fight to get better conditions.
  • Richard Honeycutt is the vice president for District 3 of the Communications Workers of America.
  • Read all of Business Insider's WeWork coverage here.

Some say the era of corporate accountability is here, pointing to statements like the one recently put out by the Business Roundtable in which executives from companies like JPMorgan Chase, General Motors, Lockheed Martin, and Walmart affirmed their commitment to doing right by customers, employees, and the communities in which they work.

But with another Labor Day behind us, and now 49,000 General Motors employees represented by the United Automobile Workers on strike around the US, the truth is that trusting corporations to hold themselves accountable is like trusting the fox to guard the henhouse. True accountability comes from workers who join together to fight for fairness, respect, and dignity for themselves and their communities.

That was made clear when more than 20,000 members of my union across nine Southeastern states launched an unfair-labor-practice strike against AT&T — the largest private-sector strike in the South in over a decade. We entered into contract negotiations with AT&T in good faith, but the company sent negotiators to the table who lacked the authority to make a deal.

Among the CEOs who signed the recent Business Roundtable statement was AT&T's Randall Stephenson. In recent years, when it has come to investing in employees by compensating them fairly, providing them important benefits, offering training and education opportunities, and supporting the communities where the company works, AT&T more often than not fails to back its talk with action.

Our experience with AT&T and other employers shows that workers can't rely on letters from CEOs to get the treatment they deserve but instead need to raise their voices as one to make sure they are treated and compensated fairly.

We had to fight for a fair shake

When we began bargaining for a new contact this summer, AT&T negotiators came to the table with a list of demands that would dramatically increase healthcare costs, require employees to take on more responsibilities without additional compensation, force employees to be on call at all times, and make it easier for the company to send work to low-wage contractors.

Not only did this multibillion-dollar corporation no longer feel the obligation to share its record-breaking profits with the people who make it all possible, but it wanted to pad those profits by taking even more away from its highly trained, dedicated union workforce.

CWA members at AT&T already put in long hours to support our business and residential customers. Because AT&T has been cutting jobs, they are often forced to work overtime, and night and weekend work requirements force them to be away from their families, missing important milestones. Customer-service representatives at call centers are not only expected to provide assistance to customers, but they must also sell additional services or risk being fired.

We brought our own list to the bargaining table, ready to negotiate fair wage increases, continued access to affordable healthcare, and improvements to job security. But once we got into the tough issues, we discovered that AT&T's negotiators thought we were on a one-way street. They had their list of demands but did not have the authority to make decisions on the issues our members had brought to the table. Once it became clear AT&T was not going to bargain in good faith, it was only a matter of time before workers walked off the job.

I've heard people say that unions are unnecessary, that if you don't like what the boss is offering, you should just find another job. Is that what we really want? Every person for themselves, giving up without a fight?

What I saw on the picket lines was amazing. In just four days, thousands of people from different backgrounds joined together as one family. They were unified, their unity was powerful, and it worked. AT&T came back to the negotiating table ready to make a deal, one that recognized workers had earned the right to share in the success of the company through family-supporting wages and benefits and job security.

Don't just rely on high-minded letters

The Business Roundtable executives want a pat on the back for stating what most Americans already thought was true — companies have a responsibility to customers, employees, and the communities they work in. By negotiating a fair contract, one grounded in the respect and loyalty we deserve, AT&T has taken a first step toward backing up its talk with action. But it took 20,000 workers walking off the job to get us here.

American corporations like AT&T have spent decades putting higher shareholder value above all other goals for their companies. The consequences have been devastating for working families. The Business Roundtable executives say they are reassessing their priorities and considering the well-being of all stakeholders, including workers, not just shareholders.

Well, AT&T now faces another chance to back that talk with action: The corporate raider Elliott Management announced plans this week to extract profits from AT&T by eliminating jobs and sending work to low-wage contractors. If AT&T's board of directors stands by the Business Roundtable letter, it should reject Elliott Management's proposals.

Time will tell whether the Business Roundtable pledge holds up, but for the foreseeable future workers won't expect executives to do us any favors. AT&T employees, like GM workers and working people across the country, know the accountability we see in corporate America is the result of workers' long and hard fights for fair pay and standards in the workplace.

What the AT&T strike made clear is that America's corporations won't be held accountable unless workers are willing to put up a fight.

Richard Honeycutt is the vice president for District 3 of the Communications Workers of America.

NOW WATCH: Nxivm leader Keith Raniere has been convicted. Here's what happened inside his sex-slave ring that recruited actresses and two billionaire heiresses.

See Also:


 -- via my feedly newsfeed

Merkel’s Climate Deal Will Cost Billions And Everyone Hates It [feedly]

Article Illustrates the kind of challenges we confront IF Dems WIN, or worse, if the fascists are not marginalized.

Merkel's Climate Deal Will Cost Billions And Everyone Hates It
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-21/merkel-s-climate-deal-will-cost-billions-but-everyone-hates-it

When it comes to Germany's $60 billion climate plan, environmentalists and polluters are in rare agreement. It's a dud.

Europe's economic engine wanted to regain its place on the frontlines in the battle over global warming. But instead, Chancellor Angela Merkel emerged from tortuous all-night negotiations with a package that failed to live up to the hype. Far from reclaiming her place as a climate champion, it exposed further the weakness of her leadership now in its twilight years.

Activists branded the measures, such as extra taxes on flights and incentives for electric cars, as insufficient for a "climate emergency." Economists criticized carbon price proposals as too shy an approach to spur emissions cuts. Big industry and some union leaders slammed Germany's go-it-alone approach, saying it would harm jobs and businesses.

In short, no one was happy. On Friday, thousands took to the streets in Berlin and around the world to demand action from the political class on what is rapidly becoming a key issue for voters. Among them were kids, inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who within a year has become the face of the climate movement.

Protesters Rally Around the World for Action on Climate Change

Global Climate Strike demonstration in Berlin, Sept. 20.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Merkel's fiercest political enemies were quick to seize the moment. "Merkel is bowing down to Greta's movement of school truants," Alternative for Germany leader Joerg Meuthen quipped on Twitter. "Permanent climate hysteria reigns."

The far-right party, a persistent thorn in Merkel's side, doubts the scientific evidence behind climate change and says Merkel's plan is "really expensive."

Polls, however, show an increasing share of Germans place greater weight on the environment than they do on jobs. Record-breaking heat wavesdwindling of the Rhine river and a series of powerful storms have turbocharged the climate debate and lifted the Green party to second place in election polls.

But environmentalists think Merkel's plan is nothing but "hot air and empty promises." Germany will miss its 2020 climate goals due to rising emissions from transport and heating, and the new plan intended to at least chart a path to a 55% cut in emissions by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

"I am bitterly disappointed," Annalena Baerbock, co-leader of the Green party, said of the measures. "The government has failed in the humanitarian task of climate protection."

After threatening to pull out of Merkel's coalition, the Social Democratic Party appeared to back down. In a comment on Saturday, SPD's parliamentary caucus head Matthias Miersch said the agreement lays the groundwork for fighting climate change.

Germany is not alone in struggling to reconcile climate needs with messy politics at a time when recession clouds gather. The task of trying to appease industrial interests, while grappling with a worsening economic situation and restive environmentalists is near impossible.

In Canada, October's election could be decided on Justin Trudeau's introduction of a carbon tax. In France, Yellow Vest activists have taken to the streets to protest Emmanuel Macron's environmental levies on gasoline. In the U.S., Donald Trump is taking the climate fight to California with a plan to revoke its right to regulate vehicle emissions.

Protesters Rally Around the World for Action on Climate Change

Protesters arrive in Pariser Platz square near the Brandenburg Gate during the Global Climate Strike.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

There are a lot of stakeholders in the game and the lesson Merkel is learning is that in trying to please everyone, you please no one.

While upsetting environmentalists, Merkel still didn't soothe the concerns of fossil-fuel industry leaders. For example, would an increase in taxes on flights put German airlines at a disadvantage against international competitors who don't face the same charges?

"This intensification of a unilateral approach in the highly competitive aviation market will not reduce CO2 emissions, but merely shift them, which is ecologically useless and economically harmful to airlines in Germany," said BDL chief executive Matthias von Randow, who runs the powerful airline lobby.

The union representing energy and chemical industry workers said the government avoided tackling the slow expansion of Germany's power grid with new cables needed to get renewable energy from north sea wind parks to the country's manufacturing heartlands further south. Attempts to build power lines have so far gotten snagged by "not in my backyard" protests from locals.

The measures "are exactly the flip-flopping that the chancellor said she wanted to avoid," IGBCE leader Michael Vassiliadis said in a statement.

Merkel may have also misjudged the public mood, with a mid-week ARD poll suggesting voters now place a higher priority on the environment than on economic wellbeing. As she heads to the United Nations climate conference next week, one has to wonder whether she could have done more.


 -- via my feedly newsfeed

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Enlighten Radio:Great Big Sea Festival NOW on Enlighten Radio

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Blog: Enlighten Radio
Post: Great Big Sea Festival NOW on Enlighten Radio
Link: http://www.enlightenradio.org/2019/09/great-big-sea-festival-now-on-enlighten.html

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In Case You Missed It... [feedly]

Updates from CBPP: In Case You Missed It...
https://www.cbpp.org/blog/in-case-you-missed-it-474

This week at CBPP, we focused on the federal budget, health, state budgets and taxes, federal taxes, and the economy.

  • On the federal budget, Richard Kogan explained that the Senate majority plans to cut funding for the two appropriations bills that cover key human services programs.
  • On health, Judith Solomon and Matt Broaddus detailed how new claims by opponents of Medicaid expansion rest on faulty analysis.
  • On state budgets and taxes, Elizabeth McNichol stressed that state taxes on inherited wealth can be a powerful tool for building a more broadly shared prosperity.
  • On federal taxes, we concluded that the expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit in the Working Families Tax Relief Act would benefit millions of Asian American households. We also updated our fact sheets on that legislation's benefits to Black and Latino households.
  • On the economy, we updated our backgrounder on how many weeks of unemployment compensation are available and our chart book tracking the post-Great Recession economy.

Chart of the Week – Senate Majority 2020 Funding Plan Would Cut Key Human Services Programs

Senate Majority 2020 Funding Plan Would Cut Key Human Services Programs

A variety of news outlets featured CBPP's work and experts this week. Here are some of the highlights:

Tennessee Reveals $7.9B Plan To Shift Medicaid Into Controversial Block Grant System
Kaiser Health News
September 18, 2019

Trump is starting to undermine health coverage, but the real danger is on the horizon
Business Insider
September 18, 2019

Trump's California trip marked by pair of clashes
CNN
September 18, 2019

How to Keep Teachers From Leaving the Profession
The Atlantic
September 19, 2019

Don't miss any of our posts, papers, or charts – follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.


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Electric Vehicle Market So Far Belongs to China [feedly]

Electric Vehicle Market So Far Belongs to China

text only -- follow link to get graphs


https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-20/electric-vehicle-market-so-far-belongs-to-china

This week, General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra spoke to the future of her company, the U.S.'s biggest automaker. "Once you start to believe in the science of global warming and look at the regulatory environment around the world, it becomes pretty clear that to win the future, you've got to win" electric and driverless personal transportation, she told Bloomberg Businessweek. If we look at today's data in key markets — and from some of Barra's biggest competitors — it also looks like an observation of the industry right now.

First things first: The global auto market is not only not growing, but it is also shrinking. Sales peaked in 2017 at nearly 86 million on a trailing-12-months basis; right now in 2019, sales are closer to 76 million.

Past the Peak

Global passenger vehicle sales, trailing 12 months

Source: Bloomberg

But electric vehicles are a growth market. Take Germany and the contrast between EV sales and all auto sales:

A Tale of Two Trends

Germany's EV sales vs. all automobile sales, trailing 12 months

Source: Bloomberg

The growth of EV sales combined with the decline in overall auto sales means electric vehicles now make up almost 5% of total sales.

Hard to Ignore

Germany's electric passenger vehicle sales as a percentage of total auto sales, trailing 12 months

Source: Bloomberg

Or take China, the world's largest auto market (and one where, incidentally, GM is a major player). China's sales of "alternative energy vehicles" — mostly electric, with some hybrids and a small number of natural gas combustion engines — are nearly 1.5 million. Meanwhile, sales of all passenger vehicles peaked at close to 25 million in the middle of 2018, and are now below 22 million.

Meanwhile, in China ...

Alternative energy vehicle sales vs. all passenger vehicle sales, trailing 12 months

Source: Bloomberg

That change in buying cars also means a change in fuel consumption. China's gasoline demand, after almost doubling between 2010 and July 2019, is now essentially flat. China diesel demand, meanwhile, peaked several years ago.

One Flattening, the Other Falling

China gasoline and diesel apparent demand, trailing 12 months

Source: Bloomberg

Electric vehicles certainly do look like a significant part of the future in these key markets, given their trajectories. A recent analysis by my BloombergNEF colleagues Nick Albanese and Josh Landess delineates that future by company using a new Automaker EV Exposure Score. For those used to seeing global auto giants at the head of any league table, it's striking.

Related: BloombergNEF's outlook for road transport fuels

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG leads all major automakers in revenue from electric passenger vehicle sales. 1  Its fellow Germans Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG are third and eighth, respectively. Nissan Motor Co. is seventh; GM is ninth. The rest of the top 10 automakers by revenue from electric vehicles are Chinese.

A German and Chinese Game

Estimated 2018 revenue from electric passenger vehicle sales

Source: BloombergNEF

Note: Excludes Tesla. Includes joint venture activity.

Look at the data from the perspective of EV revenue as a percentage of the total, and it's even more of a Chinese game. There is only one company in the top 10 by percent of electric passenger vehicle revenue that isn't Chinese: Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. Two Chinese automakers get more than 40% of revenue from electric vehicle sales; a third gets nearly a quarter of its revenue from EVs.

Chinese Domination

Estimated 2018 revenue from passenger EV sales, percentage of total

Source: BloombergNEF

Note: Excludes Tesla. Includes joint venture activity.

Albanese and Landess conclude their analysis with a score, which weights electric passenger vehicle sales volumes, revenue, and current and future model count, then assigns greater value to pure electric as opposed to plug-in sales. Of the top 10 automakers, nine are Chinese. BMW is the only international automaker in the top 10 today.

China Runs the Table

Top 10 automakers by BloombergNEF electric passenger vehicle exposure score

Source: BloombergNEF

 

But GM isn't the only global auto major with significant plans for electric vehicles. Each one sees not just a future in EVs, but also their company's place in that future. And lots of other major companies see electric vehicles as integral to the future of their businesses, too, even if their business isn't automobiles. It'll be every large automaker's challenge to see which companies can electrify their offerings on a global scale.  

Weekend reading

More than 630 companies from 43 countries have pegged their corporate emissions targets to the Science-Based Targets Initiative.
The University of California's $13.4 billion endowment will be "fossil free" by the end of September, according to university officials.
Harvard University's $38 billon endowment is joining Climate Action 100+ in order to directly engage with more than 100 "systematically important emitters" that account for two-thirds of global emissions.  
Tim Harford on why climate change economist Martin Weitzman "rocked my world."
Wealthy families are putting environmental, social and governance charters into the founding principles of their private investment firms.
An explainer on repo, the Federal Reserve repurchase agreements that allow banks to meet their short-term funding needs (and sprung back into action this week).
An examination of another kind of repo — repossession agents — and the private surveillance network they use to track automobile movements across the U.S.
Shira Ovide looks at Big Tech and the hunt for the "magic number."
Andreessen Horowitz general partner Alex Rampell has a fascinating history of the most valuable network of all time: the credit card.
Ford Motor Co. unveils a master plan to transform its Research & Engineering Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
A former Tesla engineer has set out to re-invent the humble home electrical panel.
Vikings probably hunted Iceland's walruses to extinction for their ivory.
YouTube is a revolutionary and hugely effective medium for transferring complex tacit knowledge.
"The Terraforming," an experimental postgraduate program at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design.

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This analysis excludes Tesla Inc., as its 2018 production volume is not sufficient to qualify it as a major automaker. Being a wholly electric automaker, Tesla naturally has the highest revenue from EV sales of any automaker of any size.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Nathaniel Bullard at nbullard@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.net
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Friday, September 20, 2019

Harvest of Discontent: Trump’s trade war and the rural fight for survival [feedly]

Harvest of Discontent: Trump's trade war and the rural fight for survival
https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/harvest-of-discontent-trumps-trade-war-and-the-rural-fight-for-survival/

There is nothing normal about this September for farmers in the U.S. Midwest

Typically, at this midpoint in the month, farmers would be finishing up their small grains harvest and begin taking stock of other crops planted later in the season.

Harvest season this year, though, is well behind schedule.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's September crop report, while slightly higher than the August estimates, shows corn and soybean yields are down from 2018 and lower than the projections shown in the last month's crop production report.

Chinese responses to U.S. tariffs have been substantive, but not proportional, so far. Here, the amounts of tariffs now in place and those threatened are shown. | U.S. Census Bureau and Stats.com

And while yes, excessive spring rains and flooding across the Midwest can be blamed for delayed and prevented plantings, it's only one half of the issue.

For soybean farmers, in particular, their crop's supply and demand all depend on how the "Trump" card is played.

It's a high-stakes economic gambling match between the U.S. and China; a trade war fueled by the president's ego and a desire to contain growing Chinese power in the global economy.

The problems with political gambles like this one are simple and cruel: Human beings and their economic survival are the bargaining chips. And the "success" of such a strategy does not require a workable solution for all—just one side repeating the lie "We're winning!" while whittling away at peoples' livelihoods in pursuit of imperial ambition.

"We're tightening our belt, said farmer and president of the Iowa Farmers Union Aaron Lehman. "We're talking to our lenders, our landlords, and our input suppliers."

The IFU says its members are trying to cut costs any way they can just to make ends meet. The escalating trade war is their biggest concern now.

Instead of negotiating over trade disagreements, the U.S. has chosen "to insult our trade allies, pick all sorts of fights with our trade allies," said Lehman. "And then go to China and make outrageous demands that we knew were not going to be met."

A body blow to farmers and ranchers

For the last two years, the Trump administration has been in a tit-for-tat with the People's Republic of China, an ever-escalating battle of tariffs and import penalties. Trump has long accused China of unfair trading practices and intellectual property theft—actions which China of course disputes.

The fights over trade are episodes in a much bigger and longer-term campaign by the U.S.—no matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in power—to contain the growth of Chinese influence globally and maintain U.S. imperial dominance in East Asia.

Currently, the U.S. has hit China with tariffs on almost $550 billion worth of Chinese products, while China has hit back with tariffs on $185 billion worth of U.S. goods, primarily agricultural ones.

In a recent "gesture of goodwill," signaling the start of another ceasefire, Trump announced through Twitter the delay of a 5% tariff hike on another $250 billion worth of Chinese goods by two weeks—a departure from last month's plan to increase the tariff from 25% to 30%.

The gesture was not initiated by the Trump administration. The decision to delay followed China's decision to exempt more tariffs on 16 American products—fish meal, shrimp, and cancer treatment drugs, but did not spare the major goods subject to tariffs: soybeans and meat.

China did, however, buy $67 million worth of soybeans, but that's pennies compared to their $12.2 billion purchase in 2017.

These peaceful overtures come as the U.S. and China prepare to go back to the negotiation table in Washington in early October. Tensions remain high and substantial progress isn't likely, yet.

The lowering of crop prices, rainfall, and the trade war have created a perfect storm for farmers—leaving many without a roof over their heads.

"It already has driven some farmers off the farm, which not only hurts the farming community, but it hurts rural—small rural communities," said Gary Wertish president of the Minnesota Farmers Union. "It's been very devastating to rural America."

Farmers work to live, not to get rich.

They have high fixed costs, including the land they own, the tools and equipment, and the seed they need to grow crops. And while people can't control the weather, they can control the policies and tactics putting the squeeze on farmers and farm workers—it's a self-inflicted injury courtesy of the Trump administration.

How bad is it? 

report in July by the American Farm Bureau Federation revealed farm bankruptcy filings had risen by 13%. The report also found "the delinquency rates for commercial agricultural loans in both the real estate and non-real estate lending sectors are at a six-year high" and "above the historical average of 2.1 percent."

The Midwest and Southeast had the highest number of Chapter 12 farm bankruptcy filings. The Midwest is up from 215 filings in all of 2018 to 240 so far this year, a 12% increase. The biggest increase in bankruptcies, about 50%, happened in the Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

"The deteriorating financial conditions for farmers and ranchers are a direct result of several years of low farm income, a low return on farm assets, mounting debt, more natural disasters, and the second year of retaliatory tariffs on many U.S. agricultural products," said Farm Bureau chief economist John Newton.

Newton also found that farm income should increase by 10% in 2019 from 2018, but those results would still be in the bottom quarter of annual results for the past 90 years. And the number includes direct payments from Trump's bailout package.

All roads, it seems, lead to a farm crisis not seen since the 1980s.

What about government aid?

Well, a cotton farmer in Texas gets $145 an acre for financial distress caused by the president. But a Minnesota farmer only gets $35 an acre for the hardest-hit crop.

"It makes no sense," said Betsy Jensen, the soybean farmer, in an interview with Reuters.

The payment discrepancies can be traced to the system set up to allocate the funds.

During the first round of bailouts, $12 billion total in 2018, farmers received money based on estimated lost sales by crop. Soybean farmers benefitted much more than others less impacted by the tariffs.

For the second round, payments are distributed based on the overall impact on agriculture in a particular county, and even with a rule preventing corporate farms from disproportionally benefiting from the plan, "the USDA's $16 billion bailout would still make rich farmers richer, thereby hurting small farmers," says the Environmental Working Group.

The National Farmers Union sees only one solution to this current crisis: "The president's erratic and destructive actions must end. All countries must be treated with respect and dignity and America's reputation as a reliable trading partner must be restored. Further, actions that have undermined the RFS must be rectified.

"Until these actions are corrected, and the markets rebound, we urge the administration to work with Congress to fundamentally reform and significantly strengthen the existing farm safety net."

Elections 2020: Candidates come courting

It's no secret rural voters helped elect Donald Trump in 2016.

Democratic presidential candidates are all pitching their solutions to the rural Midwest. Here, Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Des Moines Register Soapbox during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 11, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. | Charlie Neibergall / AP

His campaign rhetoric of "being an outsider," focused on "draining the swamp and running the country like a business" resonated with a lot of rural voters.

They feel their communities are dying while their needs continue to be ignored.

Exit poll breakdowns from 2016 showed Trump winning between 65-70% of the vote in rural areas with populations less than 20,000, not near metro areas.

And despite the pain and further looming threats of financial and personal ruination caused by Trump's trade war, his presidential approval rating in rural areas is better than his nationwide standing.

Currently, Trump's favorable rating in rural areas is 55%, with 40% unfavorable in the nine states polled by a Change Research survey sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers and One Country Project, a rural voter outreach group.

The survey also found a plurality of rural voters, 39%, who said the trade war with China is hurting small towns in the short term, but it's necessary to restore a global trade balance. On the other side, 36% said the trade war is harmful in the short and long term, and it should be ended immediately.

"I am hearing from farmers in communities in North Dakota, and rural Americans across the United States, that the president's trade war is devastating their family farms and manufacturing communities—closing markets and leaving harvests to rot," said former North Dakota Senator and One Country Project founding board member Heidi Heitkamp. "Farmers are fed up, and I believe it is clear that rural Americans are looking for an alternative to Trump's failed leadership."

Democratic presidential hopefuls will need to learn from the mistakes of 2016 and do a better job addressing rural communities' common concerns and be able to talk to rural voters directly.

And as Democratic candidates begin flocking to Iowa to present their plans, there are signs that the large number of competing hopefuls in the primary may force them to pay attention to forging new connections to rural America. Candidates are eager to show they understand rural communities' economic pain; they're offering solutions and trying to show they are far removed from the preconceived notions rural voters have regarding the Democratic Party—and Republican Party for that matter, as distrust in both institutions was also seen in the Change Research survey.

"We cannot create an economy that works for all Americans if we continue to neglect the needs of rural America," Sen. Bernie Sanders said back in May during a visit to Osage, Iowa, going furthest in pointing out who some of the real enemies of small farmers are.

"In rural America, we are seeing giant agribusiness conglomerates extract as much wealth out of small communities as they can, while family farmers are going bankrupt and, in many cases, treated like modern-day indentured servants."

Meanwhile, it was just reported that fifteen members of Trump's 2016 campaign Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee have collectively received over $2 million in trade war bailout payments. These payouts are among the billions of dollars that have flowed to owners of mega-farms rather than family farmers.


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