Capitalism and Economy http://www.fightbacknews.org/department/antiwar/%22http%3A/www.fightbacknews.org/2011/7/26/bipartisan-senate-proposal-don-t-believe-hype%22%3Ethree%3C/a%3E%2C en UPS record profits mean more exploitation and automation http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/3/5/ups-record-profits-mean-more-exploitation-and-automation <p>Tampa, FL - United Parcel Service released their fourth quarter earnings last month, beating Wall Street’s expectations with almost $5 billion in profit for 2018. Through a combination of opening new automated sorting facilities, purchasing more air cargo planes, and exploiting employees with low pay and long hours, UPS had an extremely profitable holiday season. The company is optimistic for profits in 2019 and moving into the future. For workers, however, the future does not look so bright.</p> <p>In October 2018, UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) successfully pushed an incredibly unpopular contract onto workers. UPS Teamsters overwhelmingly rejected the contract because of its many concessions, however despite historic voter turnout and over 50% voting ‘no’, the IBT ratified the master agreement using the ‘2/3rds’ article in the constitution.</p> <p>The IBT had a number of proposals going into negotiations that would have benefitted UPS workers, including: financial penalties for harassment, $15 per hour starting wage for part-timers with catch up raises for current employees, and limits on excessive overtime. Instead, UPS Teamsters discovered that a number of the contract proposals had been outright rejected and the union itself was proposing a new ‘22.4 Hybrid Driver’ position.</p> <p>Hybrid drivers, when compared with regular full-time drivers, will be paid less, have no overtime protections, and be forced to work weekends, all while performing the same work as other drivers. Commonly known as a two-tier system, this tactic is used by companies looking to lower wages across the board. There is a current limit for the number of 22.4 jobs that can be created by the company, 25%, but it’s not hard to imagine UPS looking to increase that limit in future contract negotiations.</p> <p>Another key issue for UPS Teamsters was part-time wages. The IBT’s proposed starting wage was $15 an hour for all new part-time hires and equal catch up raises for all existing part-timers. Instead, UPS part-time workers got $13 an hour for new hires and unequal raises for existing part-timers. Regardless of seniority, current part-time workers will receive a raise either bringing their wage up to $13 an hour or an extra $0.70, whichever results in a higher amount. UPS was again able to cut wages for a significant section of employees.</p> <p>The contract’s weak language on overtime lets UPS get away with intentionally understaffing operations. By pushing drivers to deliver more packages and stay out later, the company is able to maximize its profit margins. Additionally, when there are not enough drivers to deliver packages the company will force members of management to work. With weak overtime contract language, UPS is able to weasel out of creating more jobs for Teamsters.</p> <p>What will UPS do with the almost $5 billion they made in 2018? As the new contract has made clear, the company has no intention of sharing it with the Teamsters who did the work. Instead the company will continue spending money on developing technological systems like ORION, vehicles like package cars and airplanes, as well as automated sorting facilities like the one recently built in Atlanta. UPS has already spent $7 billion on capital investments, including automation, in 2018 alone, in previous years the company was spending about $1 billion annually. These capital investments will make it easier for the company to further exploit its workforce and eliminate jobs.</p> <p>The Atlanta UPS SMART hub is totally automated. Packages are unloaded from trailers by employees, scanned by a six sided camera and then automatically routed to their destination where an employee then loads the package. The hub processes over 100,000 packages an hour without a human ever touching a box. By replacing Teamsters with automated equipment, UPS is able to make more money on each package delivered. UPS has plans to open similar facilities in Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Indianapolis.</p> <p>Automation in the logistics industry is not just limited to inside the warehouse. UPS is currently developing and testing a new technology, known as platooning, which would allow driverless trucking. Platooning technology creates a link of three or more tractor trailers behind one another, which then follow a lead driver. If platooning was implemented at UPS, feeder driver jobs would be cut drastically. The IBT has released statements against this technology, but the new UPS contract does nothing to prohibit it. In fact, this year UPS attempted to begin testing the technology in Texas, but Local 767 stopped it for now.</p> <p>As UPS continues to make more and more money, aided by a concessionary contract and investments in automation, conditions for UPS workers will only get worse. The only thing that will improve workers’ conditions is a fighting Teamsters union, one only needs to look at the 1997 UPS strike to see the gains that were made for working people.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/3/5/ups-record-profits-mean-more-exploitation-and-automation#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Teamsters UPS UPS contract Vote No On UPS Contract Labor Wed, 06 Mar 2019 00:49:57 +0000 Fight Back 7304 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Stock hammered amidst more signs of a coming recession http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/1/4/stock-hammered-amidst-more-signs-coming-recession <p>San José, CA - The New Year is starting off much the way 2018 ended: with U.S. stocks being hammered again. On Thursday, January 3, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell more than 600 points, the technology heavy NASDAQ fell more than 200, and the broad S&amp;P 500 fell more than 60 points. All the averages fell more than 2% to put the year into the red.</p> <p>Apple Corporation, which just a few months ago was the first company to rise above $1 trillion in stock market value, fell more than 8% after reporting that sales and profits were down for the last three months of the year. Delta Airlines also cut back on their estimated sales in the fourth quarter, dragging down other airlines with it. The Institute for Supply Management released their report on December manufacturing, which fell 8 points from November, the biggest one month drop since the financial crisis in 2008.</p> <p>These reports add to the growing view that the almost ten year economic expansion is coming to an end. These cycles of boom and bust are a regular feature of capitalism. Businesses make a profit by paying workers less than the value of what their labor produces, so they are not able to buy everything they make. At the same time, companies reinvest their profits to be able to produce more and more. This leads to what Marx called a “crisis of overproduction” or what is commonly called a recession.</p> <p>Recessions cut deeply into corporate profits, which are the foundation of stock prices. As more signs of a coming recession are revealed, investors are selling stocks and forcing prices down.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/1/4/stock-hammered-amidst-more-signs-coming-recession#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy recession stock market Fri, 04 Jan 2019 14:21:49 +0000 Fight Back 7169 at http://www.fightbacknews.org U.S. stocks have worst Christmas Eve ever http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/25/us-stocks-have-worst-christmas-eve-ever <p>San José, CA - On Monday, December 24, all three major stock market indices smashed the old records for declines on Christmas Eve. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell more than 650 points or 2.9%, more than twice the 100 year record set back in 1918 when it fell 1.1%. The broader S&amp;P 500 fell 2.7%, to close more than 19% from its record high, and less than 1% away from the 20% drop that would put it in bear market territory and ending an almost ten-year bull market in stocks.</p> <p>While the main problem dragging down the stock market is a world-wide economic slowdown and a looming recession in 2019, the Trump administration managed to make things worse. Over the weekend, Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin called the heads of the six biggest banks in the United States, and then issued a press release about them Sunday, December 23. While this was probably an attempt to show that the administration was engaged, even though Mnuchin was on vacation in Mexico, it ended up unsettling many investors. Then on Monday, Trump fired off another tweet criticizing Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, reigniting fears that Trump would try to fire Powell. Right after Trump’s tweet an attempt to rally from an earlier 300-point loss faded and the Dow ending up dropping even more.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/25/us-stocks-have-worst-christmas-eve-ever#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy stock market Wed, 26 Dec 2018 02:10:59 +0000 Fight Back 7156 at http://www.fightbacknews.org 2019 recession looms on the economic horizon http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/23/2019-recession-looms-economic-horizon <p>San José, CA - Casting a shadow on the stock market are the growing number of economic statistics that point to a recession in 2019. Almost all mainstream economic forecasters expect economic growth to slow down in 2019 as the impact of the 2018 tax cuts wear off; the forecast is for 2.4% growth, about the same as in 2017. But few predict a recession.</p> <p>The most commonly looked at economic statistic is the official unemployment rate. Today the nationwide official unemployment rate stands at 3.7%, the lowest rate in a generation. But while the official definition of when a recession starts depends heavily on a measure of net new job creation, employment and unemployment are not useful to predict the start of another recession. But by the time employment starts to fall and the unemployment rate rises a recession has already begun.</p> <p>The best predictor of a recession is a large and continuing decline in what economists call “fixed investment spending.” This is not the investments that most individuals make (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.), but rather business investment in new plant and equipment, and the construction of new homes. And these sectors are looking very weak right now, despite a boost early in the year from the tax cut.</p> <p>Looking at the latest report on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the third quarter (July to September), fixed investment only increased by one-fifth of one percent (0.2%). More recent monthly reports on business spending on so-called “non-defense capital spending (without transportation)” showed new orders fell 0.6% in November, the third drop in the last four months.</p> <p>Spending on the construction of new homes has also been weak, with the amount dropping in the July to September quarter, for the third in a row. While the declines have been small, no relief is in sight as the market is squeezed by rising mortgage interest rates and more and more unaffordable homes. Completion of new homes in October and November are running about 8% lower than in the third quarter (July to September).</p> <p>Another sign of near-term economic weakness was the large buildup of unsold goods in the July to September period. The increase in inventories made up 2.33% of the total 3.4% gain in production, or GDP during this period. This meant that the increase in actual sales of American-made goods and services was an anemic 1.1%. The large buildup in inventories could lead to less production in the next three to six months.</p> <p>Part of the reason for this was the big jump in imports and slump in exports. Ironically, the Trump administration tariffs seemed to hurt U.S. exports, because of retaliation from other countries, than it did to slow the growth in purchases of goods and services from other countries. Another factor is weakness in the world economy: the economies of both Japan and Germany both shrank in the third quarter, and many developing countries are having a hard time economically.</p> <p>One of the reasons that mainstream economists do not see a recession coming is that they see a capitalist economy as fundamentally stable. From this point of view, only some kind of ‘shock’ coming from outside the economy, like misguided actions by the Federal Reserve (the U.S. central bank) on interest rates or mistaken policies by the government, such as shutting down or starting a trade war. This is true not only for free-market economists, but also most Keynesian economists who support more activist government economic policies.</p> <p>But Marxist economics sees the boom and bust cycle coming from fundamental features of capitalism. On one hand, the exploitation of workers, that is, paying them less than the value that labor creates, limits their ability to spend and consume. On the other hand, the profits from this exploitation is reinvested in new technology, equipment, and structures that increase the ability to produce. The contradiction being the limited ability to consume and the growing ability to produce lead to what Marx called a “crisis of overproduction,” which is what we call a recession today.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/23/2019-recession-looms-economic-horizon#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy recession Mon, 24 Dec 2018 02:57:53 +0000 Fight Back 7154 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Capitalism, not the Grinch, stole Christmas from Wall Street http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/22/capitalism-not-grinch-stole-christmas-wall-street <p>San José, CA - On Friday, December 21, stock prices fell again, capping the worst week on Wall Street in ten years. Typically, stock prices go up in December, in what many call a “Santa Claus rally.” But not this year. The NASDAQ stock index, which includes many big technology companies, fell 3%, to end 22% below its August high, putting it in bear market territory for only the second time in the last 20 years. The NASDAQ joined the Russell 2000, a stock index of smaller corporations, which went into bear territory earlier in the week. The headline Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) of 30 large companies, and the broader S&amp;P 500 of 500 major corporations also declined to levels just short of a bear market.</p> <p>With the holiday mood spoiled for many investors, the search for the Grinch who spoiled the ten-year party on Wall Street heated up. For President Trump, the Grinch was Jerome Powell, chair of Federal Reserve Bank (or Fed), the U.S. central bank. On Wednesday, December 19, the Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets interest rates, raised the target for short-term interest rates by a quarter of one percent (0.25%). At the same time, he said that the Fed would continue to allow its almost $4 trillion holdings of U.S. government and mortgage-backed bonds to shrink as the bonds mature and are paid off. This puts upward pressure on long-term interest rates.</p> <p>But this is actually the ninth time that the Fed has raised interest rates over the last three years, and none of the increases spooked the stock market. The target range for short-term interest rates is now 2.25 to 2.5%, which is still low by any historical standards. In the last two periods where the Fed was raising interest rates, they peaked at 6.5% and 5.25%, more than twice today’s level. The Fed is only allowing about $30 billion in bonds to mature each month, or less than 1% of their total stash. In contrast, the federal government budget deficit means that the government is selling more than $70 billion in new bonds each month to pay for last year’s corporate tax cuts, among others.</p> <p>For the Democrats, the Grinch is Trump himself. Some of the blame for Friday’s drop in the stock market was the impending partial shutdown of the federal government, caused by Trump’s demand for $5 billion for his border wall. Trump’s trade tariffs have also taken some of the blame. While they have increased profits for a few companies such as steel producers in the United States, they have increased costs for many more as the tariffs have mainly fallen on so-called ‘intermediate goods’ that U.S. businesses use to make goods here. Other businesses have suffered from the retaliatory tariffs that other countries have slapped on U.S. goods to fight back against the Trump tariffs.</p> <p>But this is actually the third partial federal government this year, and the first two didn’t cause the stock market to slump. Trump’s tariffs have also been building for a while, starting in early 2017, almost two years ago. So as much as I dislike President Trump and his policies, especially on immigration, it is not fair to use him as a scapegoat for everything bad that happens.</p> <p>The big problem is that there are more and more signs that the economy is weakening, and another recession is looming. In a recent survey, half of all CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) thought that a recession would start next year. In contrast to stock advisors, whose job it is to sell stocks, the corporate CEO’s, who are often chief of public relations and who job is to increase the price of their company’s stock, which is not going to happen if they go around predicting a recession. Recessions are a regular feature of capitalism. On average, a recession happens about every five years, and the last recession ended a bit more than nine years ago.</p> <p>Not convinced? Check out my next article…</p> <p><em>Masao Suzuki is Professor of Economics at Skyline College</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/22/capitalism-not-grinch-stole-christmas-wall-street#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Wall Street Sat, 22 Dec 2018 23:44:48 +0000 Fight Back 7152 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Stock market continues to fall http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/18/stock-market-continues-fall <p>San José, CA - On Monday, December 17, U.S. stocks continued to drop. The widely quoted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell more than 500 points, or 2%. The broader S&amp;P 500 and the tech-heavy NASDAQ also fell more than 2%. All the major stock indices are now down in double digits from their record highs this year, and the Russell 2000, an index of smaller companies, is now in an official ‘bear market,’ as it fell to a level more than 20% below its all-time high. U.S. stocks are deeper in negative territory for the year and have had their worst December since 1931, during the Great Depression.</p> <p>The stock market decline was very broad, with every major sector in decline. Even so-called ‘defensive’ stocks such as utilities, which benefit from lower interest rates, fell. Oil fell again, along with other commodities, signaling more weakness in the economy to come. Corporate bond prices also fell as investors fear that an economic slowdown will push more heavily indebted corporations to default on their bonds.</p> <p>The National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index (HMI) fell by four points to 56, the lowest level since mid-2015. This index of home builders’ sentiment has fallen 18 points, or almost 25% since its post-recession high one year ago. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey, a monthly read on manufacturing in the state of New York, fell by more than half to 10.9, the weakest reading since mid-2017.</p> <p>President Trump ignored the weak economic readings and the economic disruptions caused by his own policies and tried to pin the blame for the stock market fall on the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank. While the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates very gradually, the Federal Funds rate that it controls is only a bit above 2%. This rate is less than half as high as the last peak in interest rates in 2006 (5.25%), and only about a third of the peak before that (6.5% in 2000). In fact, interest rates are still low by any historical standard.</p> <p>One problem is that when (not if) the next recession comes, the standard tools that the government uses to fight a recession have already largely been used up. One tool is to lower interest rates, a monetary policy. In the last two recessions the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by more than 5%, but now it can only cut by less than half of that. The other main tool is to cut taxes and increase spending, as President Obama and the Democratic congress did in 2009. Their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or ARRA was a combination of tax cuts and spending increases of about $800 billion spread over two years. The recession (which lowered tax revenues) and the ARRA and other economic stimulus boosted the Federal budget deficit by almost $1 trillion (one thousand billion). But with the Trump tax cut and increase in military spending leading to an almost $1 trillion budget deficit this fiscal year (2019), the government’s ability to fight the next recession will be weak.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/18/stock-market-continues-fall#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy stock market Tue, 18 Dec 2018 15:41:59 +0000 Fight Back 7145 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Interview with MLPD Chairwoman Gabi Fechtner on fighting the right in Germany http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/11/interview-mlpd-chairwoman-gabi-fechtner-fighting-right-germany <p><em>Fight Back!</em> interviewed Gabi Fechtner, Chairwoman of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD), on the fight against the ultra-right in Germany and the current political situation.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!</strong></em>: The capitalist media have reported much about the activity of the ultra-right and fascists in Germany. What has happened and how does the MLPD react?</p> <p><strong>Gabi Fechtner</strong>: In Germany we witness a rightward development of the grand coalition under chancellor Merkel, and of the bourgeois parties. This has led to a societal polarization in which, among the masses, there is a progressive change of mood as well as an effect of this trend to the right.</p> <p>Whereas less than 600,000 people participated in people's struggles and mass protests in 2017, through 21 October 2018 there were already 1.15 million participants. We have to count in addition - more than 2 million workers who took part in militant strikes for collective agreements at the beginning of the year. This year more than 3 million people have taken part in protests and demonstrations which were mostly directed politically against this development to the right. The MLPD, its youth league Rebell, and the Internationalist Alliance of progressive and revolutionary forces is actively participating in these activities in all parts of Germany and is growing into a new societal role.</p> <p>At the same time, the rightward development of the government prepared the ground for the so-called Alternative for Germany (AfD). Since 2015 the proto-fascist AfD has entered the German parliament and all regional parliaments and has established itself there. On 27 August in Chemnitz, several thousand fascists from all over Germany, supporters of the proto-fascist AfD, and hooligans bawled fascist slogans, hunted foreign-looking people and attacked anti-fascists.</p> <p>Against this, anti-fascist mass protest has developed in the whole country. There the slogan put up by us, “Ban all fascist organizations.” is meanwhile very popular.</p> <p>It is important not to underestimate the struggle over the mode of thinking on a mass scale against the social demagogy of the AfD. The AfD is paving the way for fascism, but is being presented in the media as a ‘protest party’ against those in power. Not every AfD voter is a right-wing person, but AfD’s reactionary propaganda against refugees definitely has an effect. We have distributed an extra brochure on this question, with a circulation of 50,000 copies.</p> <p>The progressive change of mood has to assert itself against rightist tendencies among the masses. For this we consolidate and develop our system of patient and systematic work among the masses.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!</strong></em>: Do the ultra-rightists have influence on the trade union movement? If yes, how does the MLPD struggle against this?</p> <p><strong>Fechtner</strong>: The AfD has influence on backward workers with a low class consciousness. It even tries to extend its positions in particular there, but succeeds at this only among a minority. A new phenomenon is the growing protest against the AfD in the trade unions. Thus, in the last few weeks there have been protests against the AfD by union-organized industrial workers, among other things at Opel in Eisenach, Daimler in Sindelfingen or Volkswagen in Kassel. In most cases our comrades play a decisive role in this.</p> <p><em><strong> </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!</strong></em>: Which role does the question of migrants in Germany play, and what happens with the movement for the protection of the rights of migrants and refugees?</p> <p><strong>Fechtner</strong>: One has to stress that there is a broad movement of solidarity with the refugees among the masses. An official study from the beginning of the year established that since 2015, 55% of the population have shown practical solidarity with refugees. In the “Seebrücke” (Sea Bridge) movement alone – against the death of thousands of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea – more than 150,000 people have participated in demonstrations and protests since June 2018.</p> <p>For a brief period in 2015 the Merkel government allowed 890,000 refugees into the country; now it pursues an ultra-reactionary policy towards refugees. Thus, in July 2018 only 13,000 refugees managed to come here. Ugly propaganda is being spread against refugees. Allegedly, the crime rate in Germany has exploded since 2015. However, according to the official criminal statistics it is at its lowest level in 25 years!</p> <p>In our work the proletarian policy towards refugees has become a trademark. We take the basic line that as communists we absolutely do not accept that there are first-class and second-class people.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!</strong></em>: What do you think of the resignation of Angela Merkel, and what does this mean regarding the direction of German policy?</p> <p><strong><em>Fechtner</em></strong>: The parties of the grand coalition are in a deep crisis of confidence. According to the latest opinion poll, SPD and CDU/CSU would get only 41% of the votes; in 2005 they still got almost 70% of the votes in the federal elections. The masses increasingly are searching for a societal alternative.</p> <p>Angela Merkel has up till now stepped down only as chairwoman of the CDU, not as chancellor. This serves the dampening of the contradictions after various CDU defeats in the elections. The dispute about the successor to Merkel is a test for the future course of the government. All three candidates (Merz/Kramp-Karrenbauer/Spahn) seeking to succeed her as chairperson of the CDU represent a reactionary direction and a deepening of the development to the right. However, there definitely are different views as to how this is to be sold to the masses. Merz especially, until recently a boss at BlackRock, is a demagogic hard-liner who stands for more open internal and external reaction.</p> <p>The MLPD and the Internationalist Alliance have long been demanding the resignation of the government and new elections. We fight to stop the rampant rightward development through the struggle of the masses, while building up the Internationalist Alliance and strengthening the socialist alternative.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/11/interview-mlpd-chairwoman-gabi-fechtner-fighting-right-germany#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Socialism Anti-fascism Anti-racism Europe Gabi Fechtner Germany International Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany Merkel Tue, 11 Dec 2018 21:58:21 +0000 Fight Back 7136 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Weak jobs report feeds recession fears, stock market falls again http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/8/weak-jobs-report-feeds-recession-fears-stock-market-falls-again <p>San José, CA - On Friday, December 7, the Department of Labor released its report on the job market in November. There was a net gain of 155,000 jobs, less than the predicted 200,000 and less than the average gains for the first ten months of the year. While the official unemployment rate stayed the same at 3.7%, the broadest measure of unemployment, which includes part-time workers who can’t find full-time work, ticked up to 7.6%, more than twice the official rate.</p> <p>The weakness in the job market followed other economic reports that showed signs of a weaker economy. In particular, housing construction and business spending on buildings and equipment have weakened of late. These are the two sectors that lead the economy into a recession. Even before the stock market tumble of the last month, two-thirds of economists predicted a recession by the end of 2020.</p> <p>The weak economy, combined with more tensions with China, pounded the stock market again. A broad measure of stock prices, the S&amp;P 500, which includes 500 of the largest U.S. corporations, fell another 2.3%, and is now down for the entire year. Other indices, such as the popular Dow Jones Industrial Average and the technology-heavy NASDAQ also fell.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/12/8/weak-jobs-report-feeds-recession-fears-stock-market-falls-again#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy stock market Sat, 08 Dec 2018 17:00:35 +0000 Fight Back 7131 at http://www.fightbacknews.org General Motors announces 15,000 job cuts http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/11/27/general-motors-announces-15000-job-cuts <p>San José, CA - On Monday, November 26, General Motors announced that it was cutting 15,000 jobs. Their plans include closing five auto and auto parts plants in the United States and Canada. Wall Street liked the news, and GM’s stock rose almost 5%, three times as much as the broader stock market. But for thousands of GM workers, the holidays suddenly became much bleaker.</p> <p>General Motors is not losing money as it was ten years ago, when it was bailed out by the U.S. government. The GM bailout cost U.S. taxpayers about $9 billion. In the last quarter (July to September), GM’s North American operations made more than $2.8 billion, 37% more than a year ago. But these profits are not enough, and the job cuts will save GM billions of dollars in the future.</p> <p>GM said that the reason was slow car sales for three brands that is phasing out: Cruze, Volt and Impala. Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, and now General Motors are all phasing out their production of cars to focus on more profitable SUVs and pick-up trucks. The so-called Detroit “Big Three” are leaving the car market to imports and to foreign auto-makers that have set up plants in the United States.</p> <p>These automotive job cuts are another sign of a slowing economy. The housing market is struggling with higher interest rates. Falling oil prices point towards fewer jobs and less investment in the growing production of U.S. oil. Economic growth is slowing in much of the world, with the economies of Germany and Japan actually shrinking in the July to September quarter. Last but not least, recent jitters in the U.S. stock market a showing growing doubts about the future of the economy.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/11/27/general-motors-announces-15000-job-cuts#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy General Motors Layoffs Wall Street Labor Tue, 27 Nov 2018 22:34:23 +0000 Fight Back 7113 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Stock market falls again, pulled down by falling oil prices http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/11/24/stock-market-falls-again-pulled-down-falling-oil-prices <p>San José, CA - Stocks fell again on Friday, November 23, pulled down by the falling price of oil. The broadest major stock market index, the Standard &amp; Poor’s 500, which measures the prices of 500 large U.S. corporations, officially entered correction territory, by closing more than 10% below its all-time high. This has been the worst week for the stocks in the S&amp;P 500 in 80 years.</p> <p>Pulling down the stock market was an almost 8% fall in the price of oil, which closed just above $50 a barrel. Oil prices have fallen by nearly one-third since their last high in October. The falling price of oil has been led by the surging production of U.S. oil, fed by the boom in fracking (hydraulic fracturing). </p> <p>The United States just regained the status of being the world’s largest producer of oil, passing both Saudi Arabia and Russia. Just last month, the United States became a net energy exporter with small net imports of oil more than offset by exports of gasoline and other oil products as well as growing amounts of natural gas. In the past, when the United States was a large oil importer, a fall in the price of oil was an overall boost to the economy. But today, the benefits of cheaper oil and gasoline are largely offset by a slowdown in the domestic oil industry affecting employment and business investment.</p> <p>Technology stocks were also weak, with the stock of Apple off 25%. Technology companies dominate the NASDAQ index, which is off almost 15%, about three-quarters the way to a bear market, when the stock market is down 20%.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/11/24/stock-market-falls-again-pulled-down-falling-oil-prices#comments Capitalism and Economy fracking (hydraulic fracturing) NASDAQ index Oil prices Standard & Poor’s 500 Workers and Globalization Sat, 24 Nov 2018 17:30:05 +0000 Fight Back 7106 at http://www.fightbacknews.org