Boeing’s Got it Easy

Unhappy workers at a Goodyear tire factory in France decided to take their boss hostage once negotiations for better severance packages broke down earlier this week.  Apparently “Boss-napping” is pretty popular in France (32 incidents between 2008 and 2010), and they don’t mess around (ie. “workers at a haulage hub threatened to pour 8,000 liters of a toxic fuel additive into a Seine tributary, and ball-bearing makers set fire to their machinery”).  “Goodyear’s Amiens employees have retained their radical creativity despite the police interference. They have substituted “Bad” for “Good” in the company name on signs.”  My, my…radical creativity indeed.  Meanwhile, here’s a comparative look at median executive compensation and how it compares to shareholder’s returns broken down by industry.  Also, some chief executives in the UK have already made more money this year than the average British worker will in 2014.

People Like “Tax-Free”

Japan is offering tax-free investment accounts to the people: “part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic reform plan, the tax-free NISA system is designed to coax Japan’s chronic savers to put money into stocks, bonds, and other assets to spur domestic growth instead of just parking cash in regular bank accounts.  Japan boasts more than $16 trillion in household wealth, but only about 8% of that is exposed to stocks – compared with 30% for the United States.”  Meanwhile, a professor at Boston University concludes that “the real wages of American workers would grow by 12 percent if the corporate income tax were fully eliminated.”  The corporate tax rate in the United States is more than 14% higher than the developed world’s average.  By eliminating the corporate tax rate, not only would workers see wage increases, but returns to shareholders should increase, “economic efficiency” would increase (by “economic efficiency” we’re talking about all those direct flights from San Francisco to Ireland), and it “would level the playing field between capital-intensive companies and those with fewer write-offs.”  It should be noted that President Obama looks pretty willing to reduce corporate tax rates, but **spoiler alert** Congress has yet to take any action.

Senate Approves Double Edged Sword: Unemployment Benefits

The Senate approved 60-37 to “restore between 14 weeks and 47 weeks of benefits averaging $256 weekly to an estimated 1.3 million long-term jobless who were affected when the program expired Dec. 28.”  Most Republicans did not attach their names to Obama’s Marxist agenda, however those from states with higher unemployment (Dean Heller, Nevada: 9% Unemployment; Rob Portman, Ohio: 7.4% Unemployment etc.) did.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that reinstating unemployment benefits for a full year “would increase inflation-adjusted GDP by 0.2 percent and increase full-time-equivalent employment by 0.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2014,” mostly because the unemployment rate isn’t going down because people are finding jobs, but because the participation rate is shrinking.  Similarly, “employers are favoring the newly unemployed and leaving behind the Americans who have been out of work for longer periods of time.”  So you can see why this is such a hot debate.  On the one hand, you want to help those who have been hit the hardest by the recession.  On the other, the more you help these folks, the worse off they could be with actually finding a job.  Tricky.  Meanwhile, the ADP reports that “companies added 238,000 jobs in December, up slightly from 229,000 in the previous month…Construction firms hired 48,000 additional workers in December, the most since 2006.  And manufacturers added 19,000 positions.”  Finally, here’s how America’s cities stack up in terms of unemployment.

Apple’s Market Share, A Closer Look

It’s fairly well known that Apple is trailing Android in terms of market share around the world (eg. in China, Android: 78%, Apple: 17%; in the USA: Android 50%, Apple: 43%)  Despite this, “Apple generated over $10 billion in sales through its App Store in 2013, pulling further ahead of second-fiddle mobile computing player Google.  Google Play store has an approximately 35 percent share of the app market compared to Apple’s 65 percent.”  A closer look at mobile app revenues for Apple and Google tells an interesting story: “iOS’s leading source of app revenue was in-app purchases and pay-per-download, while Android made most of its money from both pay-per-download and in-app advertising.  What’s more, developing for iOS yields five times as much revenue per download.”  Furthermore, “IBM came to similar conclusions when it crunched iOS and Android transaction traffic over the Thanksgiving weekend.  It found that iOS users were spending $1.27 for each $1.05 spent by Android users during Black Friday, with iOS traffic being 28.2 percent of all online traffic for that time (Android accounted for 11.4 percent).”

USA: Federal Probe Targets Banks Over Bonds

“So what else is new?” you ask.  This: “Federal investigators are probing whether a number of Wall Street banks cheated clients in the years following the financial crisis by deliberately mispricing a type of mortgage bond that was central to the economic turmoil.  In that postcrisis period, when the economy remained shaky and many markets weren’t yet active again, banks still held on their books billions of dollars in hard-to-price assets.  Regulators are seeking information about whether banks made significant misrepresentations about some of those assets to make deals.”

USA: Train Carrying Oil Derails, Catches Fire in New Brunswick, Canada

Another day, another fireball.

EU: Unemployment in Europe Stays High Amid Signs of Recovery

Eurostat: “The unemployment rate in the euro zone remained at 12.1 percent, a stubbornly high level that has held since April.  For the full European Union, made up of 28 member states, the jobless rate was unchanged at 10.9 percent.”

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