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6/1/2012 7:59 AM
Calling All Young Men…Get off the Sofa and Into the Game
By Charles Payne, CEO & Principal Analyst
A piece this week on the portion of Americans working in their prime received a lot of attention, but the fact of the matter is that this is a trend that has gone turbo over the last few years. The author noted that the participation has declined to 75.7% for 25-54 year olds down from pre-recession level of 80%. These are people that have simply dropped out of the job market. While it skews the unemployment rate to a more flattering number, it has a truly devastating impact on the economy and on the individuals that find the sofa more appealing than hitting the bricks in vain.
This is really a male-oriented phenomenon even though participation among prime-age women is at its lowest point since 1988.
One of the myths about the overall decline in worker participation is that it's simply baby boomers checking out for The Villages. That's not the case at all, and in fact, Americans over 55 years old have seen millions in net job gains since the Great Recession began. This is all about young men losing faith in the promise of the greatest country in the world. What was once an exciting rite of passage, going from teenager to young man, is now a right of passive going from sofa-bound teen to sofa-bound adult.
This didn't get the attention that news out of Spain and polls out of Greece did, but make no mistake, yesterday's vote in Ireland to continue accepting EU treaty austerity conditions could have completely derailed a very fragile situation had it been rejected.
Voters in Ireland voted 60% in favor of ratifying the EU treaty after they rejected EU treaties in 2001 and 2008.
Still, austerity is tough, and people in Ireland are pissed. Poverty has grown, although I don't blame that on austerity. Political parties and unions are fanning those flames and pointing that finger. Keep in mind that Ireland is similar to Greece in the sense that its long battles with Britain made it long to be a part of greater Europe. For Greece, its battles with Turkey also added to the need to have greater Europe get its back. That said, however, these countries got to their economic crisis in different ways.
While Greece embraced the welfare state, Ireland became a shining example of how a nation could turn it around.
When Ireland joined the EU, its average wage was only 63% of the EU, and at one point after, it zoomed to 125%. It's been especially painful and humiliating for Ireland, which fought so hard to create a vibrant economy. I'm sure they will get back there sooner than another of the other names in the PIIGS acronym. In the meantime, they are toughing it out under a plan that aims to take the deficit to GDP from 32% in 2010 to under 3% by 2015 (it finished last year at 13%).
Here's the price Ireland had to pay for an €85.0 billion bailout (€67.5 in loans from EU, IMF, UK, Denmark and Sweden and €17.5 billion from its own reserves and pensions).
> -€2.8 billion in welfare
> Cut 25,000 public sector jobs
> Payroll savings €1.2 billion
> Minimum wage cut by 1 Euro to €7.65
> Increased tax collection of €1.9 billion
> VAT 23% from 21%
> Student tuition hike
> Water tax by 2014
> Pension related tax by 2014
Congratulations to Snigdha Nandipati for winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee with the most appropriate word of the day: guetapens. This is a French-derived word that means ambush, snare or trap, which is where the western world finds itself these days. Those that are trapped are the ones that work while being pressured by those that don't work and their political allies working for reelection instead of national greatness.
In France the guy promising the easy life won, and now global markets are trapped by the prospect of Greece holding onto its welfare state and reneging on obligations to those that lent them money. Markets are also trapped by frozen decision-makers whose hand wringing exudes ineptness. It's like that slow motion train wreck that makes us all feel helpless. Yes we are trapped now after being snared, and each day our fading hopes are ambushed even more.
My tweet when the jobs number was released:
"Disaster," today's jobs report probably the epitaph for the Obama administration- flaccid jobs growth for the most amazing economy in world.
The jobs report is in, and it's an unmitigated disaster. The number brings back concerns of another recession and has sucked all hope out of the room. Of course hope was slipping before this morning, hence the dropout nation theme I've highlighted, but this administration has done the work of a major terrorist attack or massive cyber assault.
It's bringing the greatest engine of growth to a grinding halt.
Business leaders with no political agenda have been promising this could happen with pleas to take the handcuffs off and let their businesses flourish.
There will be a massive influx of cash into the system. In America the Fed will do something, and in Europe there will be a combination of money printing and stimulus programs. These things provide short term relief, but without true policy changes we will end back to where we began.
I will send a special update on every single position, but many are already oversold and the last thing I want to do is panic and regret it in three, six or even twelve months from now. I share everyone's frustration. There is a silver lining that this number could actually be a wakeup call for the nation, its policy makers and voters.
Every day I get great replies from readers on the question of the day and market commentary (please spread the word about the market commentary), and I got one yesterday that is especially refreshing:
"It was an interesting cartoon in today's column. It spurred some thought about what we as a nation have become in our thinking, much along the lines of what you have been writing.
So we stick a great leader (maestro) in a room of hick banjo players as eternal punishment. But was he really a great leader or just a guy put in front of a bunch of great players? (Most of the CEOs today are not great leaders, but mediocre guys who inherited a great organization that will flourish as long as they don't screw it up). If in the cartoon, the maestro is really a great leader, what would we see the next time the door is opened to his room? Would we see him rolling on the floor with hands over ears in agony? Or would we see him smiling with baton in hand as he transformed dueling banjos into a symphony of multi-part harmony, utilizing the strengths of each artist to the fullest. Would he be in hell or would he be in the heaven of creating his greatest work in showing others the light within him?
If you have no gold presence or have a cost above $1,700 now is the time to be very aggressive. I love the psychical stuff most but ABX is also attractive here as well.
|ASK Dimon. He will tell you just let the sucker work and we collect..|
Josef on 6/1/2012 10:18:19 AM
|Lead, follow, or get the Hell out of the way! There is a new breed of cat loose in the woods, and the non-producers (of the whole world) are about to see its stripes.|
z on 6/1/2012 11:17:22 AM
|If Bob wrote the maestros story is is correct about leadership, unfortunately we have none in the USA, what we have is leadership by sound bytes and opinion polls. A great leader provides a great vision and outlines a path and shows by example, we currently have none of these in the running for president, Mitt is okay, but lacks the vision and plays the opinion polls. Obama's vision is misguided and appeals to those that want something for nothing. We have the technology to change the world for the better, we lack the leadership. Cheap hydrogen is just around the corner from wastewater, synfuels from natural gas and carbon dioxode, medical breakthroughs in the testing that appear to be working. What happened to Jack Kennedy, Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country! What a wonderful country and time to be alive. Get a vision for the future and then go after it, work can be very fun and rewarding.|
David Huber on 6/1/2012 11:57:17 AM
|There are leaders ... however, except for Obama, they have fogotten the art of compromise and STATESMANSHIP. The all-or-nothing...my-way-or-the-highway methods are bothpious and unproductive. True leadership is NOT -I'm Right and you are wrong...it is finding the best possible path and moving forward.|
ken White on 6/1/2012 12:55:26 PM
|I don't understand what Ken wrote. "Except for Obama, they have forgotten the art of compromise and STATESMANSHIP"?|
Ken, are you really trying to tell us that the poster child for extreme radical liberalism has any inkling of what compromise is? He thinks that compromise is where you call a press conference and tell them that you tried to compromise but the other side just would not agree to give up all they wanted and adopt all that he wanted. Not only has Obama failed to compromise on anything significant, he has subverted the constitution by using czars to illegally do whatever he wants without due legislative process. His formula for compromise is to call both sides into a room where the only agenda is to agree completely with him and then SAY that we all share in the process and mean he spends as he wants and everyone else contributes the funds.
Bob G on 6/1/2012 4:22:41 PM
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