Posts Tagged Planet Money
Here is Planet Money’s lead on Friday – Six Unemployed People For Every Opening
Do the math: On the last business day of August, the number of job openings in the U.S. was just under 2.4 million. The number of unemployed people hit 14.9 million that month, then climbed to 15.1 million in September. That means there about six unemployed people for every available job.
And it’s been that way for a while. “The job openings rate was little changed in August in all industries and regions,” reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary. Flat, flat, flat.
This job market is just not warming up. Hiring fell in the private sector and in the government one. Hiring fell in every region except for the Midwest, where it rose by 45,000. In the West, hiring fell by 175,000. The quits rate, which includes people who voluntarily leave a job for any reason other than retirement or death, fell back to a record low of 1.3 percent — so low as to be meaningless.
70% of the US GDP is based on the consumer. Yesterday we saw the stats on consumer credit that tell us that the consumer is in full retreat.
Here is how Planet Money sees it:
People pulled back on debt at a yearly pace of 10.4 percent, and that’s after a 7.4 percent annualized drop in June.
All told, Americans borrowed $21.6 billion less in July than they had in June, the biggest one-month drop since records began in 1943. Not even Cash for Clunkers could stop the rapid draining of credit. From AP:
Demand for non-revolving credit used to finance cars, vacations, education and other things fell by $15.4 billion, also a record decline. That 11.7 percent pace was on top of an 8 percent annualized decline in June.This economic crisis has been described as a crisis caused by too much leveraging (or borrowing) followed a painfully rapid deleveraging (in which debtors either pay off what they owe or creditors give up collecting). It’s also a crisis of overconsumption followed by a painfully steep decline in consumer demand. In today’s numbers from the Fed, those twin factors meet.
Total consumer credit now stands at $2.47 trillion.
I think an important question to ask is why so much of our economy has been based on borrowing. I think that I see a possible answer here. That wages have fallen for decades and that the workforce has borrowed to make up the difference.
This graph shows me that there has been a long term and hence systemic disconnect between the workforce and the financial system.
This shows us that around 1980, manufacturing jobs, that usually paid enough to support a family, have declined to the point now that we are back at there the last depression ended in 1940!
I suspect that our first response to these pressures was the two worker family. When not even two employed people could make a go of it, we borrowed the difference.
Now this option is over.
So what now? I don’t know. But what I do know is that the very structure of our economy, with very tight concentration, will not help us get back on our feet. There are simply not the jobs or the wages available.
So I come back to the “can do” and innovative aspects of the American people. Time to go back to the drawing board and start to reinvent our economy – starting where we live – in our own communities. For the other part of the American way – of moving to find opportunity – is closed to us. Like the British in 1941 – people stand alone in their own place with only themselves able to to step up to the challenge.
Public TV and Radio can surely play an immense and historic role in helping people come together and helping new ideas spread?
Planet Money have done a great job today covering the Unemployment situation – Yea Laura!
Here is a post in full from today’s Planet Money that shows the full extent of the work not done – The Administration has a lot more work to do.
By Mathew Katz
The Obama administration released the first official stats on its $75 billion mortgage modification program this morning. According to the report, 235,250 home loans, or about nine percent of delinquent borrowers, have been put into trial modifications by loan servicing firms participating in the program. Those institutions offered extended modifications to 406,540 delinquent borrowers — about 15 percent of the total.
According to the Center for Responsible Lending, there are about 3.5 million mortgages in serious delinquency right now, and that same report warned that new foreclosure starts and delinquencies are outpacing the modification program, which was announced in February.
We linked to that report last week, along with a New York Times story about mortgage servicers not wanting to alter loans so they could profit off of late fees. As you can see from the above chart, a lot of the lag is coming from the banks — most of which haven’t modified even 10 percent of their delinquent mortgages.
But the Obama administration says that they’re going to speed up the program’s implementation and put more pressure on lenders to modify bad loans — the goal is to modify 500,000 loans by November, and up to four million over the next three years.
How do you cover your community with no or little money? At Planet Money they ask for help and they “listen” to Twitter.
Here are a couples of examples that Laura used to show how you can do this
The “Clown” Tweets Us – PM has a deep and keen Twitter fan club – I call it the PM Tribe – So here a PM Twitter Fan Tweets the Show – The Listening part of Twitter.
PM calls her and uses her story in part of their podcast. The Deepening Phase
Morning Edition likes the story and bumps it up and put in on the main show – The harvest phase
People ask all the time – “How do we bring the voice of the citizen into the station” – well this is one way that you can do this.
By the way – for us PM Twitter fans/Tribe the pay off is when our bit goes on the show. Like Golf, the tiny chance that it might is the massive incentive.
The result is that you not only deepen the engagement that you have with your community, but you get ahead of the story. You get the story before it is a story. You have an intelligence system like no other.
Here is another of these Pyramids or ladders:
Terri Weiss tweets her employer’s demise – First, they stop the coffee:
Terri Weiss tells her story on podcast
Terri Weiss, with a little more production, on Morning Edition
Most of our effort is rightly placed in helping people save their home. As unemployment rises and the the jobs that were lost are truly lost, should we start to look at helping people find work? I don’t mean find jobs that will never return but to find a new local economy? Are efforts to set up urban farms a start?
Here is Planet Money on the latest unemployment figures (Thanks Laura)
The jobless rate was higher this June than the year before in every American metropolitan area, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In a report released today, the BLS finds that 18 of those 372 mets have unemployment of at least 15 percent. Eight of those were in California and five in Michigan.
Elkhart County, Ind., with its devastated RV industry, posted one of the biggest year-over-year increases — a 10 percent jump to 16.8.
For the lowest rates, head to the Dakotas. Bismark, N.D., rings in at 3.8 percent (up from 3.2) and Rapid City, S.D., at 4.6 (up from 2.6).
Bonus: Find the rate where you’re from.
Here is the full post (Thanks to @littof) by Laura Conaway at Planet Money
This chart shows two things, really. First, we can see the scale on which struggling homeowners have managed to keep their homes by getting lenders to rework the mortgages. Second, we can see the scale on which the sheer number of struggling homeowners has risen. The strugglers are outpacing the rescued by a factor of seven.
The Center for Responsible Lending, which produced the chart, is calling on Congress to protect families. The advocacy wants the goverment to the most of the federal Making Home Affordable program, which launched with a goal of reaching 4 million families and has so far gotten only 200,000. Mortgage servicers met with the Obama administration today and promised to speed things up.
The Center is also asking Congress for legal changes that would allow bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortages on principal residences. It’s lobbying for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency proposed by the Obama administration. The new agency has faced criticism from Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and FDIC chair Sheila Bair, some of whose current power would be subsumed by the new regulator.
Planet Money pal Felix Salmon notes an idea from the Center for Responsible Lending’s director, Keith Ernst, for a mediation program to work out deals between mortgage services and lenders. Salmon writes:
I fear that Congress is beginning to get reform fatigue, after so many attempted solutions have failed. But that’s no reason to stop trying new things — in fact, it’s a good reason to try even harder.
We had a webinar on the 28th July where 4 guests showed how we can use our FTMC sites to become a centre-piece of support for both the mission and also a locus of information and engagement for our “audience”. Here are the highlights:
- It is often necessary to define the scope of your site more narrowly and to tighten the content you include in it. This should be done with your audience and its feedback in mind.
- There are two major components to The Mediavore:
-The site seeks to connect the stories people have heard (from national public media sources, for instance) with stories and content they have not yet heard. This additional content is meant to be interesting/entertaining and to augment what readers have already heard and seen.
-The Mediavore seeks to express this in a way that makes the site interesting.
- Your site should have a distinctive “voice”. Experiment with this to get a feel for what feels right. This voice should align with what you want to accomplish and what your audience responds best to.
- Twitter has been an invaluable tool in the success of the Planet Money website.
- Twitter allows the site to be more interactive and enables discussion.
- Planet Money often calls for certain things (photos, stories, etc.) from its audience using Twitter.
- The audience can see the results of their efforts, which builds a stronger following.
- Sometimes, a simple tweet can expand to a blog post, to a podcast, and finally to an appearance on Morning Edition. (Mandy the Clown)
- The best way to build an audience is to be constantly talking to that audience.
- The goal of the Making Sen$e website: To create a place where NewsHour viewers, students, and educators could go to make sense of the economic world.
- The site has gone through three editions, and is targeted towards 1) The layperson seeking to better understand the economy, 2) Educators looking for classroom tools, 2) Students seeking to augment their knowledge of the economy.
- The materials created by the Making Sen$e team, as well as the content aggregated on the site, is meant to have a long “shelf life”. It is material that is relevant and can be referenced again and again.
- Paul Solman’s economics blog is the 2nd most trafficked NewsHour site.
- Essentially, viewers write questions to Paul and he answers them (about 2 per day).
- There has also been some experimentation with the blog (ex: guest bloggers).
- The Patchwork Nation project could be an important tool for Facing the Mortgage Crisis websites. You can use the data compiled by the project as a jumping off point (ex: how do we compare to other similar locations?).
IV. Bobbi English (Sesame Workshop)
- The primetime special “Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times” will air September 9, 2009.
- Project goals:
- To protect children’s wellbeing and emotional development
- To foster hope for kids and families experiencing the mortgage crisis first-hand.
- To raise national awareness of these families.
- To model behavior—How to react to questions, explain what your family is experiencing, etc.
- To help communities better understand families who are going through foreclosure.
- Community screenings will be an important way to bring your community together and to reach out to families in your area.
- In addition, Sesame Workshop is also releasing promos, interstitials, My Source promos, tips for families, and other tools.
- 200,000 free outreach kits will be available for Facing the Mortgage Crisis stations (about 500 per station).
What happens when a station gives voice to a member of the public? When Planet Money told us about the Littof’s – who were blogging about losing their home and everything – PM gave the Littofs a National voice.
So what happened? Wondering what they would do now they were truly free – with nothing – they got this email as a direct consequence of their blog being promoted by Planet Money:
The morning we finally drove away from our house, I received an e-mail from a LITTOF reader that could not have arrived at a more perfect time. We were minutes away from saying goodbye to our house, our home and setting out into the great UNKNOWN when I opened my e-mail and found this:
Forgive this rather long shot e-mail from out of the blue. Would you possibly be interested in a caretaking job?
I came across your blog a few weeks ago, just as we were closing on the purchase of our future home-an old farm house in the San Juan Islands, Washington state. However, we currently live overseas and won’t be moving there until August/September 2011. We are about to place an ad in Caretaker Gazette, to look for someone to live there rent –free for two years and take care of routine maintenance like keeping the lawn mowed and the gutters cleaned. Also to organize and oversee any professional repairs, that we would pay for. The house is unfurnished so you would need some basics.
I understand from your blog that you already have plan to move back to the Midwest with family, but if you are still fairly open about what’s next, perhaps that could be a visit home and then move forward as caretakers. If you are at all interested let me know and I can provide more information and details.
The San Juan Islands? Holy crap.
It really is true. As soon as you let go of one thing another possibility opens up. We had finally let go of this house and not a moment later, this amazing opportunity presented itself. Right away we were excited about it. As you know, we’ve been exploring all kinds of rent-free living situations. From being a lighthouse keeper to working on an organic farm. I recently joined the Caretaker’s Gazette and have been perusing caretaking opportunites around the world. And here this one just fell into our lap! As we drove cross-country we started talking more and more about it. And more seriously.
From Lincoln, Nebraska to Humboldt, Iowa Bob read anything he could find on his iPhone about the island while I drove. We discovered that it has 50% less rain than Seattle and apparently more sunny days than Tucson, Arizona. The more we learned, the more appealing it became. I wrote back and said we were interested in learning more and they replied with pictures. Gorgeous. Quaint. Perfect.
Morning Edition, May 15, 2009 · New figures out this week show that foreclosure filings are up 32 percent from a year ago. Our Planet Money team found that some people in the mortgage industry are saying something remarkable: As many as half of these foreclosures don’t need to happen. (NPR)
At the heart of the matter is therefore the bureaucracy of the lenders. Many just cannot be bothered. Even though the losses are greater through foreclosure – it is bureaucratically easier for them to foreclose and so they do.
How do you cope with this? I think we have to use the power of story to make this a national issue.
As an individual, this is very hard – Here is a blog of the Littof family that I found on Planet Money. They had a short sale that would have given the bank a much better return. But as you will see in this story, they found it very hard to prevent the bank from just pushing the button. Why? Because I think for the people at the bank, there was less to do by foreclosing – Foreclosing is very easy from a paperwork point of view. So you get stalled.
So that was our goal. Avoid Foreclosure. And we did. It got close there for a minute or two. But we did it. Thanks to our Realtors and our persistence. It takes a lot of persistence. If you’re facing foreclosure, fight it. How? Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Ask questions. Call your Governor, your Representative, write letters. Anything you can think of. Just stay in action. And stay committed. That’s our advice.
As local specialists it is also hard. In Cleveland there is a group of lawyers who specialize in this type of case – where the house is able to be saved but where the bank doesn’t care. Here is a remarkable piece of evidence of this bureaucratic push back as we listen in to the lawyers at work (Ideastream)
I think that we have found a leverage point here. A fix will be to make foreclosure harder bureaucratically for the lender.
How to do that?
Maybe to introduce a major penalty if it can be proved that the lender did not exercise its best efforts to do the best for its shareholders and the borrower?
Whatever – Before anything gets done – a lot more people in power have to know that this is a problem and a problem that can be solved by regulators. To do that, we need more stories like this – if we get a national range of stories like this – we will be able to influence what is going on.