Friday, December 30, 2011

The Dow is up 6% for the year!..Wow, great!...What is "The Dow"?

At the daily close of the US stock market the media reports how the stock market has done overall for the day by announcing how "The Dow", or "Dow Jones" has performed.  I don't think most people know exactly what this means.  The offical name is "Dow Jones Industrrial Average (DJIA)". 

Below are the 30 "Blue Chip" companies that comprise the Dow. Each of these companies are supposed to be representative of the industry they compete in. In theory, how goes the price of the stock of the major company in the sector so goes the entire sector.

Go HERE for a more detailed explanation how DJIA index is created and the math behind it.

The Dow itself is up 6% for the year which means if you invested $1,000 at the begining of the year in the components of the Dow, you would have earned an additional $60.00. Don't spend it all in one place...

My modest proposal to help low income people save 10% today on a necessity for their children...This policy is DOABLE! Why do Dems and Reps hate poor people?

Now that the Spiderman and the X-Men, along with their trade lawyers, have defeated (sort of) tariffs on their action figures (see previous post HERE) they can turn their attention to helping poor/low income people.

Tariffs (taxes) on imported shoes are VERY regressive--the lower the price of the shoe the higher the tariff.

""Footwear tariffs are simply a hidden, regressive tax on a household necessity. Their sole effect is to reduce the amount of income families have to spend on all other goods and services. This expense is most onerous for low-income families with children who spend the largest share of their income on the necessities of life..."

""The consequences for families—especially those with low incomes—are dramatic. Tariffs inflate the cost of the cheapest shoes by about a third. A $2.28 pair of sneakers arriving at the border is assessed a 48 percent excise tax, adding $1.09 to the price, which is passed along to shoppers...." (Source: Cut Shoe Tariffs to Help Low-Income Families)

Asume that the $2.28 shoes retails at a store for $10.00, the tariff represents about 10% of the total price of the shoe.

Tariffs, in general (not exclusively, though), are imposed to protect domestic producers from less expensive foreign competition.  But there are NO domestic producers of inexpensive (ok, cheap) shoes to protect anymore. 

So, WHY are these tariffs left in place by Congress?  Want to do something EASY that will benefit low income/poor people?  Repeal these tariffs!!

How many OTHER tariffs are imposed on basic goods that low income people purchase everyday and are NOT produced in the US anymore, so NO domestic production jobs are threatened?

How about it, Wolverine/Spidey or.... CONGRESS...Are y'all up to banishing these anti-poor policies?
Note: Read he two page summary of the research cited above  HERE.

Also, listen to a short NPR podcast on this topic:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spiderman and the X-Men have met their match: International Trade Lawyers have stripped them of their Humanity...Why is Marvel Inc NOT upset with this development? Two words "$$"

In their quest to be accepted for their humanity in light of their super-natural powers, the likes of Spiderman and the X-men have been foiled by mighty International Trade Lawyers.  In this case, the Marvel brand is VERY happy for this outcome.

Imported "Dolls" have a much higher import tariff than items classified as "Toys".  Marvel action figures imported from China are  classified as "Dolls".  What is the Big Deal??

 Read the following from Matthew Yglesisias at MoneyBox to find out why this is significant:

""Marvel-licensed action figures are generally made abroad and imported into the United States. But "dolls" (which are representations of people) face a higher import duty than "toys" (which are representations of non-humans), so it's in the interests of Marvel to argue that X-Men action figures should be taxed at the low non-tarrif rate. Here's a sample of litigation:
Plaintiff Toy Biz, Inc. ("Toy Biz") brings this action to challenge the tariff classification by the United States Customs Service ("Customs" or "Defendant") of various items imported from China and entered at the ports of Seattle and Los Angeles in 1994. The items are action figures from various Marvel Comics series, including the "X-Men," "Spider-Man," and the "Fantastic Four," and an additional item called "Jumpsie," which is not an action figure. The items are packaged in boxes or blister packs attached to colorful cardboard backing covered with printed illustrations and writing. The packaging of a number of items includes small accessories, such as weapons and other equipment. Customs classified the items as "Dolls representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof: Dolls whether or not dressed: Other: Not over 33 cm in height," under subheading 9502.10.40 of the HTSUS (1994), dutiable at 12% ad valorem. Toy Biz contends that the action figures at issue are properly classifiable as "Toys representing animals or other non-human creatures (for example, robots and monsters) and parts and accessories thereof: Other," under subheading 9503.49.00, HTSUS (1994), dutiable at 6.8% ad valorem. Toy Biz further contends that "Jumpsie" should be classified as a "toy set," under HTSUS (1994) subheading 9503.70.80, dutiable at 6.8% ad valorem.
It's remarkable, incidentally, the extent to which the politics of "trade deals" have gotten away from the fundamental issues of free trade as seen in an economics textbook. What we have here is a federal 12% sales tax on dolls, but only if the dolls are made in foreign countries, and a different -- arbitrarily lower -- 6.8% federal sales tax on toys, but again only if the toys are made in foreign countries. There's no good reason to have special higher sales taxes on toys made in foreign countries, and there's certainly no good reason to tax dolls and non-doll toys at different rates. It's nuts and it could and should be addressed by a unilateral acts of congress. The amount of revenue that would be lost to the federal government by repealing these taxes would be tiny, and it's trivial to think of better ways to raise the money. And yet this core -- and quite simple -- trade policy issue is a world away from the incredible complexity of the trade deals of the past decade.""

Tariffs on imported goods are levied for a variety of reasons, but the main one is to protect domestic producers from low-price foreign competition.  I am not aware of a significant domestic producer of action figure toys/dolls that needs protecting. Perhaps there was one in the past, but not now.
 Listen to a very interesting Podcast about this issue (starts at 3:00 minute mark).

So...Why is the tariff still in place to protect a non-existent industry? Just askin'...

Why young women are better than young men during these economic hard times...

Here is what (some/many) young men are doing during economic hard times...

This from the WSJ regarding Nike's release of the new Jordan sneaker:

"Sneakerheads," as they are referred to in the industry, tend to be young, male and live from paycheck to paycheck, Mr. Hicks said. As a result, he said, many launches are scheduled for the second Friday of the month or the end of the month, when they tend to have the most cash..."

Here is what (many, not some) young women are doing during economic hard times (NYTIMES):

"Workers are dropping out of the labor force in droves, and they are mostly women. In fact, many are young women. But they are not dropping out forever; instead, these young women seem to be postponing their working lives to get more education. There are now — for the first time in three decades — more young women in school than in the work force....

"Now, as was the case then, one sex is the primary beneficiary. Though young women in their late teens and early 20’s view today’s economic lull as an opportunity to upgrade their skills, their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find. The longer-term consequences, economists say, are that the next generation of women may have a significant advantage over their male counterparts, whose career options are already becoming constrained....""    

Interested in a programming or computer/ software engineering as a career? Want to work for a Start-Up firm? Nice Infographic and links here that might be helpful to you...

Go HERE for the Source and perhaps a better view...For those of you already aware of this type of info, does it provide good advice?  Are the suggested links legit? Thanks!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Who's on First?"---See why Big Sugar is Suing Big Corn over naming rights to Corn Syrup. How much do we subsidize these 2 industries EVERY year??

I hope in the opening arguement one of the lawyers uses is a modified "Who's on First" routine...The Sugar industry is suing the Corn industry because the Corn industry wants to change the name of corn syrup to "Corn Sugar" which the Sugar s industry believes will confuse consumers into thinking Corn Sugar is comparable to "real" sugar.  Got that??? Sweet....

Big Corn, Big Sugar in bitter US row on sweetener

Big Corn and Big Sugar are locked in a legal and public relations fight in the US over a plan to change the name of a corn-based sweetener that has gotten a bad name.

The fight began last year when Corn Refiners Association, a trade association, proposed changing the name of high-fructose corn syrup to merely "corn sugar."

The group said the new name "more accurately describes this sweetener and helps clarify food products labeling for manufacturers and consumers alike."

But the sugar industry argued this change would be a bitter pill for US consumers and would only add to the confusion about a sweetener that has drawn criticism by some health advocates.

Sugar producers have filed suit alleging the corn industry has spent $50 million in "a mass media rebranding campaign that misleads the consuming public by asserting falsely that HFCS is natural and is indistinguishable from the sugar extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets."

Nice (scary) Infographic on the 2011 Federal Budget. Increasing/Decreasing taxes and/or Decreasing/Increasing spending is NOT going to get us out of this hole. Only one thing will...

Click HERE (The CBO) to go to original source and a better view...Massive net job creation is the ONLY thing that is going to get us out of this mess.  Increasing/decreasing taxes and/or increasng/decreasing govt spending are all political distractions undertaken by political ideologues who have no idea what else to do.  Losers of the high ground always look for others to blame: "Blame the Rich!!" "Blame the lazy unemployed!! This political season is going to be the worst ever....Bleh...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is that a Flash Drive in your pocket...or the First IBM super computer? Nice photo showing the change over time of computer storage capability...

(Via Carpe Diem)  For those of us of a certain age and novice users of computers, this is a reminder of how far technology has evolved in our lifetimes.  Still dont know how those little pin drives work, but I am happy they do...
‘In September 1956 IBM launched the 305 RAMAC, the first ‘SUPER’ computer with a hard disk drive (HDD). The HDD weighed over a ton and stored 5 MB of data.’
- Texomatube
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