Diamond Princess Coronavirus Benchmark

Diamond Princess Coronavirus Benchmark — Stocks have fallen more than 4,000 points in eight days as of 11 a.m., Feb. 28 on Coronavirus COVID-19 fears. Is the sell-off rational? Frankly, if this thing is going to be an apocalyptic disaster, we’d be less worried about our investments and more interested in stocking up on alcohol wipes and food supplies.

OK, and alcohol without the wipes.

What good is money going to be at the end of the world?

And if this in not going to be the apocalypse, the market is going to be totally cooking when certainty returns in a few months.

So is it the apocalypse? The Diamond Princess seems a good indicator. The British-registered vessel operated by Princess Cruises packs 3,700 passengers and crew in a space about three football-fields long and and height of a mid-sized skyscraper. It’s more densely populated than any city in the world.

The virus is believed to have crept onto the ship on Jan. 20. It was discovered 16 days later. As of yesterday — 38 days after the virus arrived — 705 cases have been confirmed which is about 19 percent of the population with five deaths, the latest being a British man. That’s a .07 percent fatality rate so far.

Johns Hopkins is providing good data regarding the spread of the disease and that can be found here.

Concern is required but panic is not. The stock market will come back, and food and alcohol will not go to waste.

Diamond Princess Coronavirus Benchmark
Diamond Princess Coronavirus Benchmark

H-2B Visas Hurt American Wages

H-2B Visas Hurt American Wages

By Joe Guzzardi

In what has become an annual display of businesses’ addiction to cheap labor, commerce leaders are lobbying the acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Chad Wolf, to increase the H-2B visa cap. The H-2B is a seasonal, temporary, nonagricultural visa with a current 66,000 cap, and is frequently used in landscaping, hospitality and construction industries – blue-collar jobs where wages have been stagnant for years. Last year, the cap was increased by 30,000 visas.

H-2B Visas Hurt American Wages



Adding foreign-born workers to an economy that President Trump touts as the greatest in America’s history would be counter-productive and hurtful to middle-class U.S. workers who are just starting to benefit from a tight labor market. A record-high 158.8 million Americans are currently employed.

The H-2B visa has a long history of being used by employers to pass over qualified Americans and, under the false labor shortage narrative, hire instead cheap, pliant foreign-born labor. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report confirmed that multiple employers in numerous states violated wage, housing and documentation standards among H-2B workers. And a Buzz Feed News exposé based on Labor Department statistics and titled “All You Americans Are Fired” found that “many businesses go to extraordinary lengths to skirt the law, deliberately denying jobs to American workers so they can hire foreign workers….”

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office reported that mass immigration, which the U.S. has experienced for decades, adversely affects the wages of Americans who compete directly with new immigrants for employment. Expansionists argue that immigration grows the economy, a half-truth. More people mean a bigger economy, but per capita income suffers. From the CBO: “And there are many new immigrant workers to compete with. Immigrants account for about half of all newcomers to the workforce each year.” The CBO concluded that wages are negatively affected in whatever category in which American workers must compete in a labor market artificially inflated by mass immigration.

The degree to which Americans have suffered because of a surfeit of immigrant labor is eye-opening. Census Bureau data from the first quarter of 2019 show that 5 million adult immigrants without a bachelor’s degree have been allowed to settle in the country just since 2010. As a result, wages have stagnated or declined for the less educated. Since 2000, the bottom quarter of earners saw just a 4.3 percent real-wage increase – equivalent to an annual raise of just 0.2 percent. An immigrant labor overage most adversely affects teenagers, U.S.-born blacks and other minorities.

Despite pleas from big business that H-2B visa hikes are necessary to offset an acute labor shortage, and even avoid bankruptcy, numerous nonpartisan studies find no evidence of scarcity. Among other respected bipartisan organizations, the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal, pro-immigration, Washington, D.C.-based research firm found “no evidence at all of labor shortages in the labor market.”

The H-2B visa has been so flawed for so long, and has been so harmful to American workers, that even hard-core pro-immigration Democratic senators have written to Wolf and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia urging them to reject corporate crocodile tears about worker shortages. Calif. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Conn. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Ill. Senator Richard Durbin, all of whom throughout their long congressional careers have consistently voted in favor of more employment-based visas, joined their Republican colleagues Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley and Ark. Sen. Tom Cotton to object to increases in the existing 66,000 cap. In their letter to Wolf and Scalia, the senators asserted that the H-2B visa incentivizes employers to hire foreign nationals and pass over qualified Americans.

President Trump is the wild card in the equation. From time to time, the president has demonstrated an understanding about how excessive immigration hurts American workers. But President Trump’s recent comments about the need for more skilled immigration, talking points taken straight from the Chamber of Commerce’s playbook, have the pro-American labor lobby on edge. As is often said around Capitol Hill, when it comes to President Trump’s thinking, no one ever knows.


Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

H-2B Visas Hurt American Wages

Uber Wants Foreign Labor But Not For Drivers

Uber Wants Foreign Labor But Not For Drivers

By Joe Guzzardi

Uber, the multinational ride-hailing company that burst onto the scene in 2009, and made Yellow Cab passé, has, at least superficially, enjoyed a phenomenal success record. Only a little more than a decade after its formation, Uber operates in more than 60 countries, 785 municipal centers and has an estimated 110 million worldwide users.

Uber Wants Foreign Labor But Not For Drivers


 
The San Francisco-based Uber also, like its Silicon Valley neighbors Facebook, Apple, eBay, Google and Yahoo, among others, has displaced its U.S. software engineers with H-1B visa holders. Like its corporate partners-in-crime, Uber denies the charges that it laid off Americans in favor of employing foreign nationals.
 
But in its investigative journalism storyThe Mercury News reported that Uber’s Sept. 10 filing with California’s employment regulator showed that in August it had laid off 88 workers from its San Francisco offices, and in October would lay off 320 more in its San Francisco and Palo Alto offices. Most were senior software engineers.
 
During 2019’s first three quarters, Uber filed about 1,800 preliminary applications with the Labor Department for H-1B visas for new software engineer jobs and about 1,500 for new senior software engineer jobs, proof that the company hopes to hire visa holders to replace the outgoing U.S. tech workers.
 
More evidence that money motivates the cheap labor-addicted Uber: its applications put nearly half the senior software engineer positions at the Labor Department’s Level 2 wages, the same level it listed for more than half of the non-senior jobs: a minimum of $109,242 for employment in Palo Alto and $121,077 in San Francisco.
 
But Ron Hira, a Howard University associate professor and H-1B expert, told The Mercury News that the Labor Department says that any software engineer’s job description that includes “senior” in its title should command a Level 3 wage, $132,184 in Palo Alto, and $147,597 in San Francisco.
 
Uber is just one more craven employer to terminate qualified Americans and replace them with pliant foreign workers. For example, in 2015, Toys “R” Usand Disney laid off their most experienced employees and, after forcing the outgoing Americans to train their less qualified replacements, filled the jobs with H-1Bs visa holders. Before and after 2015, the pattern of Americans out, visa holders in has been well established.
 
In its November 2019 report, Challenger Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm, stated that the tech sector announced 7,292 cuts in November. Furthermore, through November, tech companies estimated that they would reduce their payrolls by an additional 63,447 jobs. Tech’s annual job slashing total is 380 percent higher than the 13,222 cuts it announced during the same period in 2018 – 380 percent higher!
 
With H-1B visa abuse finally on Americans’ radar, President Trump is on the spot to deliver on the grandiose campaign promises he made to get tough. From candidate Trump’s March 2016 press release: “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”
 
Author, lawyer and long-time H-1B critic John Miano put together a list of seven steps that the president could take that include working with Congress to write legislation that would prevent foreign nationals from displacing Americans. But President Trump’s early promises have proven empty; he’s done little to alleviate the scandalous displacement of U.S. tech workers.
 
The H-1B visa benefits only the foreign nationals who come to the U.S. to take good jobs and the employers that hire them. The big losers are displaced Americans who will struggle to find new jobs. Also, on the stick’s short end are recent university STEM graduates who will be shut out because of employers’ cheap labor addictions. Congress and President Trump have, so far, refused to protect Americans.
 
 
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

Uber Wants Foreign Labor But Not For Drivers

Walmart Beats Amazon, A Sign Of Hope

Walmart Beats Amazon, A Sign Of Hope — Here’s a personal anecdote to give who to those who fear that Jeff Bezos may become king.

We needed peanut oil. We checked Amazon. It was $40.40 and we got a warning if might arrive after Christmas.

Walmart Beats Amazon, A Sign Of Hope
Win for Walmart

Not good. We went to the Walmart site. The same peanut oil was $32.48.

To get the free next-day shipping we needed $35. The site suggested a few items to bring it up to what was needed. We added a bottle of bleach for $2.67.

One can always use bleach.

So for $5 less than Amazon, Walmart gave us our peanut oil and a bottle of bleach.

And most importantly, it came the next day.

Walmart Beats Amazon, A Sign Of Hope

Stock Market More Treats Than Tricks In October

Stock Market More Treats Than Tricks In October

By Bruce Cook

Turning the calendar from October to November brought more than trick-or-treaters, pumpkins, and leaves to rake. It also brought a wave of important economic updates that delivered more treats than tricks and helped the stock markets reach new highs.

Those new highs may be causing you to feel a bit wary, however, wondering if the end is nearing for what is now the longest bull market ever recorded. Should new highs be feared or embraced? Since 1980 the S&P 500 Index historically has generated above-average returns one year after reaching a new high. New highs have been a normal by-product of bull markets, and we should expect to see more.

There are several reasons to expect this bull market may deliver more new highs in the months ahead. Overall, the U.S. economy remains on solid ground with no sign of imminent recession. Gross domestic product for the third quarter came in better than expected despite businesses’ weak capital investment related to the U.S.-China trade conflict. The consumer remains the anchor of the U.S. economy, as shown in recent strong consumer spending data. Job growth in October was solid, even when considering the General Motors strike (which is over), and wages continued to rise. 

Recent trade headlines also reflect encouraging progress. President Trump and China President Xi likely will sign a preliminary trade agreement within the next month or so. The most contentious issues will need to be worked out in future negotiations, but any de-escalation of the current trade tensions will be welcome. Resolving the trade dispute may encourage companies to invest more, which could drive stronger economic growth and corporate profits and help push stocks higher.

Doing its part, the Federal Reserve (Fed) gave investors what they were hoping for and cut interest rates for the third time this year. Stocks historically have responded well one year after cuts that were also characterized as a “gradual mid-cycle rate adjustment.”

We are entering what historically has been the best performing six months of the year for stocks. When we add that positive seasonal factor to the overall good health of the U.S. economy, support from the Fed, and progress on a trade agreement, it appears this bull market may have more left in the tank. At the same time, we cannot dismiss potential risks to markets, most notably the possible unraveling of the U.S.-China trade pact, lackluster economic growth in Europe and Japan, stalled corporate profit growth, and the potentially contentious upcoming U.S. presidential election campaign. After a relatively calm and steady stock market advance this year, a pickup in market volatility would be totally normal.

We should continue to watch for signs of excesses in the economy that could lead to a recession and bring this record bull market to an end. For now, there don’t appear to be any worrisome cracks in a strong economic foundation, and the backdrop for stocks appears to remain favorable. 

Bruce R. Cooke is a Havertown based CFP with LPL Financial.

Stock Market More Treats Than Tricks In October

Lumber Mills Return To USA

Lumber Mills Return To USA
Thank you, Mr. President

Lumber Mills Return To USA — The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 25 that lumber mills are closing in British Columbia and opening in the USA.

Mills with capacity to produce 5.5 billion board feet a year are being built in the South, as well as facilities that turn trees into pulp for paper and cardboard, according to Weyerhaeuser Chief Executive Devin Stockfish.

Yes, that’s winning. Tariffs work.

Lumber Mills Return To USA

GM Installing Google Starting 2021

GM Installing Google Starting 2021 — Motorists will soon be able to count on a Silicon Valley big brother to watch them as they drive. Google is putting its apps into the touch-screen displays of General Motors cars starting in 2021.

Drivers will be able to access Google Maps; the voice-activated assistant; Google Play app store, and a multimedia multimedia app directly from the dashboard.

Hey, did you see where Google got the big brother types, 800,000 more votes in 2018?

Looks like GM is one more thing to avoid. Have you switched to DuckDuckGo yet?

GM Taps Google For Car Apps
GM Installing Google Starting 2021

Media Township T J Maxx Annoys Middletowners

Media Township T J Maxx — The sign has been behind the counter at T. J. Maxx at the Promenade at Granite Run since it opened 11 months ago and thanks customers for “shopping media township t.j’s” much to the annoyance of residents of Middletown Township as that is where store is located.

Media Township T J Maxx Annoys Middletowners

The corporate honchos dismissed complaints about it .

There is no such place as Media Township. There is a Media Borough which is the county seat but that’s two miles from Granite Run which is in Middletown Township

If the sign merely said Media they might have gotten away with it since that is the store’s mailing address and the Media postal area includes many municipalities including much of Middletown.

Adding township, though, was a big no no.

T. J. Maxx bigwigs, change the sign now. Making a mistake is one thing, willful stupidity, however, never helps the bottom line.

Media Township T J Maxx Annoys Middletowners

Inverted Yield Curve Explained

So what is this inverted yield curve everyone keeps talking about? Financial advisor extraordinaire Bruce Cooke, whose office is on Manoa Road in Havertown, provides this educational and easy to understand link.

Yes, an inverted yield curve is not a good thing. Yes, we blame the Democrats. If Nancy Pelosi puts country ahead of partisan posturing and gets the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) passed we suspect the yield curve might start looking a little more normal despite the problems in Europe and China.

You hear that Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa5)? Of course not. You’re OK with suffering as long as you think it helps your side. At least we believe so. Prove us wrong and back this thing.

Yield Curve Explained
Inverted Yield Curve Explained

Craftsmen Production Returning To US

Craftsmen Production Returning To US — The business section of yesterday’s (May 17) The Wall Street Journal had some good news we haven’t seen mentioned in other outlets.

Stanley Black & Decker Inc. is moving its production of Craftsmen wrenches from China to Fort Worth, Texas. It will employ 500 persons to make 10 million wrenches and 50 million sockets annually. Robots and fast forger presses will boost output about 25 percent above the older machines they used in the PRC.

Craftsmen Production Returning To US
Craftsmen Production Returning To US Power And Nuclear Plants