Friday, September 19, 2008

Three photos of the day: Economy

Model: Miss V., Films: Ilford 400 and Kodal 400

As a person who leads a rather gypsy like life, moving from town to town, living day by day, I shouldn't care much about politics and economy, however I do care about the well being of people and it hurts me to see how major corporations and federal government take advantage of the very core of this society which we call USA.

I am not going to try to analyze the financial situation of this country (who could really? even if I was fully capable of doing it, since we always need the actual facts and not the fictional or half true data, which we are being fed by media and in various speeches.)

However I can post few clips from different sources as a reminder for future. (... and to be clear I do not belong to any political party or groups. )

New York Times, September 19

"...The unemployment rates for New York City and the state shot up in August to 5.8 percent, from 5 percent in July...... Statewide, the jobless rate also rose to 5.8 percent, from 5.2 percent in July. That was the largest monthly increase in the state’s rate since January 1991, according to Peter A. Neenan, director of the department’s division of research ....... The city is still better off than the country as a whole. The unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent in August ...."

"PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual Governance poll finds a continued deterioration in public confidence in U.S. government institutions. Just 26% of Americans say they are satisfied with the way the nation is being governed, the lowest in the eight-year history of the Governance poll and tying a 1973 Gallup reading as the lowest ever.

The percentage of Americans satisfied with the way the nation is being governed has declined each year since 2002, when a high of 59% were satisfied. "

"WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. government is moving to enact a sweeping rescue package for the battered financial system that the White House says will sustain U.S. markets and the economy but also put hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on the line.

A week ago Monday, the federal government was compelled to seize control of lending giants Fannie and Freddie. The government agreed to invest up to $100 billion in each firm to keep them solvent, and to run them indefinitely.

Lehman Brothers , the huge Wall Street brokerage, then went into bankruptcy proceedings over the weekend, and on Monday, fellow troubled Wall Street giant Merrill Lynch & Co. hastily agreed to be sold off to Bank of America in a deal worth $50 billion.

Continuing the week's string of market-jarring developments, the government seized control of floundering insurance giant American International Group with an $85 billion loan that granted it a roughly 80% ownership stake. "

"At the end of July, Exxon-Mobil reported the largest quarterly profit of any business in U.S. history, posting a net income of $11.68 billion on revenue of $138 billion in the second quarter. That profit works out to $1,485.55 a second. "

"Ohio health insurance premiums grow 9 times faster than wages, study finds."

"Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- A tidal wave of anxiety is washing over America, from Wall Street's concrete canyons to the lettuce fields of California, propelled by the mortgage industry collapse, costly gasoline, tight credit and rising unemployment.

Operators of telephone help lines, insurers, hospital administrators and therapists, interviewed over the last month, say the financial services crisis, which has caused an explosion of foreclosures, is sending everyday people to mental-health services at levels not seen since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

``It's shattering people's dreams of having a piece of the pie,'' said Victoria Tabios, 52, who works at a mental-health agency in Stockton, California, a city at the epicenter of the worst U.S. housing crisis since the Great Depression. ``There's a sense of hopelessness, irritability and anger.''

``We're reached a tipping point where anxiety about the economy is pervasive,'' said Dan Abrahamson, assistant executive director of the association's practice directorate. The worries ``are there all the time; you can't get them out of your mind.''
In Stockton, one in 25 households received a foreclosure notice from April to June, the highest rate in the U.S. At the same time, the number of people seeking counseling from Tabios's agency grew almost 10 percent.

Marielena Leon, a mother of three, felt such despair after getting a foreclosure notice she could scarcely leave her bed; Tabios's own father, facing the loss of his home after he borrowed against it to open a failed restaurant, is being treated for depression, Tabios said in an interview.

ValueOptions Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. provider of behavioral health and wellness services, said calls for assistance with home foreclosures, bankruptcy and other financial hardships have grown 89 percent this year over 2007. The closely held company, based in Norfolk, Virginia, provides counseling and referrals to 5 million workers.

Worrying about finances and housing ``causes marital conflict, extreme stress, anxiety, depression'' and can disrupt workers' productivity ``because their mind is on the financial crisis they're dealing with instead of their job,'' said ValueOptions Vice President Rich Paul.

``We've really not had such a combination of loss of jobs, income and housing in some time,'' said Brenner, who has studied the relationship between recessions and mental health for more than 30 years, most of it at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. ``We'd have to go back to the Great Depression'' to find a time when so many negative trends coincided.
Liz Stevens, a 22-year real estate veteran who rose to be a regional manager for Prudential California Realty, invested $500,000 to open her own franchise in Berkeley in 2006 and hired 23 agents. On August 1, she let the remaining 10 agents go and closed the doors.
Stevens still wonders how things went bad so quickly. ``I'm educated, I'm intelligent,'' Stevens said in an interview. ``I have a business plan. These things aren't supposed to happen to people like me. It's very easy for me to feel ashamed.'' "

Cheers (!?)

Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, New York City

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