In the infamous transcript of the Federal Reserve’s first meeting in 2006, the word “[Laughter]” appeared at least 45 times. In once case, Fed Chair Alan Greenspan mocked his fellow economists’ ability to predict the future, and the board laughed. Two years later, the global economy fell apart due to a housing meltdown that many Fed economists noted, but discounted. I counted the top ten most ironic laugh lines of the meeting here.
How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work [New York Times]
An eight-hour drive from that glass factory is a complex, known informally as Foxconn City, where the iPhone is assembled. To Apple executives, Foxconn City was further evidence that China could deliver workers — and diligence — that outpaced their American counterparts. That’s because nothing like Foxconn City exists in the United States. The facility has 230,000 employees, many working six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant. Over a quarter of Foxconn’s work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day. When one Apple executive arrived during a shift change, his car was stuck in a river of employees streaming past. “The scale is unimaginable,” he said. Foxconn employs nearly 300 guards to direct foot traffic so workers are not crushed in doorway bottlenecks. The facility’s central kitchen cooks an average of three tons of pork and 13 tons of rice a day. While factories are spotless, the air inside nearby teahouses is hazy with the smoke and stench of cigarettes.
Who exactly are the 1%? [The Economist]
The richest 1% earn roughly half their income from wages and salaries, a quarter from self-employment and business income, and the remainder from interest, dividends, capital gains and rent. According to an analysis of tax returns by Jon Bakija of Williams College and two others, 16% of the top 1% were in medical professions and 8% were lawyers: shares that have changed little between 1979 and 2005, the latest year the authors examined (see chart). The most striking shift has been the growth of financial occupations, from just under 8% of the wealthy in 1979 to 13.9% in 2005. Their representation within the top 0.1% is even more pronounced: 18%, up from 11% in 1979.
Now Reporting: Earnings [The Wall Street Journal]
In Praise of Cheap Labor [Slate]
Such moral outrage is common among the opponents of globalization–of the transfer of technology and capital from high-wage to low-wage countries and the resulting growth of labor-intensive Third World exports. These critics take it as a given that anyone with a good word for this process is naive or corrupt and, in either case, a de facto agent of global capital in its oppression of workers here and abroad. But matters are not that simple, and the moral lines are not that clear. In fact, let me make a counter-accusation: The lofty moral tone of the opponents of globalization is possible only because they have chosen not to think their position through. While fat-cat capitalists might benefit from globalization, the biggest beneficiaries are, yes, Third World workers.
It’s a growing trend: More and more adults are living with their parents. According to the Census Bureau, the number of 25- to 34-year-old adults in the U.S. living at home rose from 14 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2011. The trend is present in other developed countries across the globe too: In Italy, 37 percent of men 30 years of age and older have never left home; in Japan, men living under their parents’ care are pushing their 40s. Such individuals are easily disparaged as lazy, overgrown babies, content to mooch off their aging parents rather than strike it out on their own. (Remember all those biting jokes Archie Bunker would throw to his “meathead” of a son-in-law.) But are they really?
The Graduates [The Atlantic]
Crowded Out [New York Times]