Recently in Business Category

Working retail

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Been a business owner most of my life - I can relate to this one:

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From Bloomberg:

The ‘Mother of All’ Supply Shocks Lurks in China’s Covid Crackdowns
The world economy could be headed for the “mother of all” supply chain stumbles.

That’s the warning from HSBC economists who caution that if the highly infectious omicron variant which is already swamping much of the global economy spreads across Asia, especially China, then disruption to manufacturing will be inevitable. “Temporary, one would hope, but hugely disruptive all the same” in the next few months, they wrote in a research note this week.

China is the world’s biggest trading nation and its ability to keep its factories humming through the pandemic has been crucial for global supply chains.

While the outbreak of omicron in China is small compared with its Western peers, authorities are taking no chances. In recent weeks scattered infections of both the delta and omicron variants have already triggered shutdowns to clothing factories and gas deliveries around one of China’s biggest seaports in Ningbo, disruptions at computer chip manufacturers in the locked-down city of Xi’an, and a second city-wide lockdown in Henan province Tuesday.

And the fun begins.  It would be prudent to maintain a couple months supply of food staples.  Consider gardening - fresh greens are a lot healthier and more appetizing when served along with your beans and rice.  Looking to get any new cheap chinesium?  Get it now before prices skyrocket.

From the Austin Business Journal:

Meta leases up all office space in Austin's tallest tower in historic deal
Months of speculation have come to an end as California-based Meta Platforms Inc. — the parent company of Facebook — recently leased the entire commercial half of Sixth and Guadalupe, the 66-story high-rise under construction that will be Austin's tallest building when finished.

Meta confirmed to Austin Business Journal that it leased 589,000 square feet of office space across 33 floors at Sixth and Guadalupe, located downtown at 400 W. Sixth St. The lease was signed Dec. 31.

“We first came to Austin over 10 years ago with just seven employees, now over 2,000 of us are proud to call Austin home. We’re committed to Austin and look forward to growing here together,” Katherine Shappley, head of Meta's Austin office and vice president for commerce customer success, said in a statement.

California-based Meta also announced it is looking to hire 400 more people in Austin. As of last summer, <a href="https://www.bizjournals.com/austin/subscriber-only/2021/07/30/the-list-austin-area-employers.html" target="_blank" >the company had about 2,000 local employees</a>, which ranked No. 25 among the largest private-sector employers in the region. Given the new lease and other Meta offices in Austin, the company could grow significantly beyond that mark in coming years.

The 589,000 square feet of office space in Sixth and Guadalupe is larger than the entire Frost Bank Tower.

That is not a branch office for every long.  Makes perfect sense for them - get out of the high corporate taxes. California city planners are probably hitting the bottle about now - losing all that sweet sweet tax revenue.

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream is on my No-Go list.  They are welcome to be as woke as their little liberal hearts can be.  I am under no obligation to purchase their product.  Looks like other people are coming to the same decision.  From Reuters:

Illinois bars state pensions from owning Unilever over Israel
An Illinois board overseeing state employee pension funds on Wednesday voted to bar funds from holding Unilever PLC shares due to sales limits by the company's Ben & Jerry's ice cream brand in Israel, joining at least five other U.S. states moving to restrict the stock.

A representative for the Illinois Investment Policy Board said it voted 7-0 at a meeting on Wednesday "to add Unilever to its prohibited entity list," following similar moves by other states including New York and New Jersey.

Good.  Anti-Semitism is not a virtuous corporate value.  Never has been.  Never will.

Heh - not just Florida

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It's ALL Republican-led states - from Breitbart:

Analysis: Republican-led States Lead Democrat-led States in Economic Recovery in November
States with Republican governors and legislatures are leading Americans back to work quicker than those led by Democrats, according to an analysis of the state-by-state unemployment data from the Department of Labor.

The analysis of the Labor Department’s November unemployment data from the Republican National Committee (RNC) research team uncovered that the Republican-led states continued to outperform Democrat-led states in job recovery for 17 of the top 20 states, and the lowest unemployment in 16 of the top 20 states.

“More jobs are being recovered and unemployment is lower in red states,” the RNC research team wrote.

Without interruption from a Democrat-led state, the top 13 states leading in job growth as states across the country continue to end the coronavirus restrictions as Americans get back in the states run by a Republican governor.

This is my surprised face...

Nothing can stop you if you deal with truth instead of narrative.
From Breitbart:

Florida Job Growth Rate 6 Times Faster than the Nation’s
Florida’s job growth rate was six times faster than the country’s as a whole in November, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced on Friday.

“Our job growth rate is six times faster than the rest of the nation because we’ve worked hard to keep Florida open and protect the jobs of individual Floridians,” DeSantis said, attributing the success to pro-freedom policies which have allowed Floridians to continue to work while blue states, many of which existed in extended lockdowns, continue to implement coercive policies, forcing people to choose between their jobs and a shot. DeSantis went on to say:

Because we have protected their livelihoods, Floridians are confident in finding work and operating their own businesses. We will continue to focus on our state’s foundation of freedom to ensure that Florida remains a leader in economic growth and Floridians are able to succeed.

Looks like Florida is a nice place to live these days.

Lisa and I have been thinking about moving...

Moderna - what else do they do?

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Raise gobs of money and promote the hell out of their first and only product - the coof vax.  Never had a product before.  Never passed the litmus test.  Never approved for use in humans - only because of the emergency powers declaration is it being used.

I keep thinking that I am seeing another Theranos - strong-willed person at the top.  A cult of personality.  Gobs of money coming in and no real product going out.  When is Moderna going to blow up and disintegrate.

Modern RNA is where its name comes from - betting on one trick pony years before that pony is able to perform.

About that minimum wage

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Another perfect example of liberals doing something that "sounds" good rather than doing something that "does" good.
From Centralia, WA's The Chronicle:

Study From UW Shows the $15 Minimum Wage Did Not Help Income Inequality
A recent study by the University of Washington has shown that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage “did little to offset widening inequality.” This conclusion matches the research done across the United States and work that the Washington Policy Center has done over the last decade on the effect of artificially high, government set, minimum wage policies.

Increasing the minimum wage, through government regulation, destroys jobs, reduces available work hours and causes inflation. Businesses will often relocate away from areas that have high minimum wages creating longer commutes for workers that chose to stay with the employer or elimination of the jobs completely.

Nowhere is the harm imposed by a high minimum wage demonstrated more clearly than in Seattle, where the city council has aggressively increased the minimum wage over the last few years. The rash of restaurant closures and lost jobs can be attributed, in many cases, directly to the additional fiscal cost the minimum wage increases have caused.

The best minimum wage is $0.00.  Employment is not a "right". If you want to be hired, you have to be able to provide a valuable service for your employer.  If you apply yourself and take on more and more responsibility, take classes and learn additional skills, you will have more value to your employer and you will be able to ask them for more money. If you are content to slide through life doing as little as possible, do not expect to make any appreciable money.

Forcing employers to pay inflated wages to their staff will cause the employers to raise the prices of the goods and services they sell.  This may cause them to lose business. They will then have to lay off their staff - starting with the less productive ones.  Those with the lowest value.  Asking for a higher minimum wage will guarantee that you will price yourself out of a job.

I have covered this problem in thinking before here:

Doing something that "sounds" good is a very liberal thing to do.  There is little or no thought put into the program, all that is needed is for it to sound good.  After the fact, there is no accountability. People do not do the basic research to see if this new program is actually doing what it intended to do.  More often than not, it is not addressing the problem and additionally, adding some new layer of confusion and harm.

The liberal reaction when this is brought to light is to expand the offending program.  They could not have made a mistake - after all, they are the brightest and the best.  It must be that the program was just not given enough money or resources. They need to take the failing program and make it bigger so that it can do even more fail.

Rough way to be let go especially given the season but...
From CNN Business:

Better.com CEO fires 900 employees over Zoom
Better.com CEO Vishal Garg announced the mortgage company is laying off about 9% of its workforce on a Zoom webinar Wednesday abruptly informing the more than 900 employees on the call they were being terminated just before the holidays.

"If you're on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off," Garg said on the call, a recording of which was viewed by CNN Business. "Your employment here is terminated effective immediately."
He then said employees could expect an email from HR detailing benefits and severance.

But this little beacon of light and hope stands out:

Among those fired were the diversity, equity and inclusion recruiting team.

Yay - get rid of the social parasites.  The WOKE serve no function.  If they are allowed to operate, they will corrupt the core competency and damage the business.  They are a feel-good pox and serve no imaginable purpose.

Coming home to roost - Portland

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Tourism is big business.  My store near Mt. Baker lives and dies by it. So do many of the businesses on this island. From the Portland, Oregon FOX News affiliate:

Travel Portland presents telling tourism report to city council
Portland’s reputation isn’t the greatest. That’s the big takeaway from a city council meeting Wednesday morning, when Travel Portland presented a telling tourism report.

In the meeting, Commissioner Mingus Mapps started by bringing up some reputation concerns.

“Here’s the problem,” said Commissioner Mapps. “Around the world, too many people associate Portland with homelessness and homicide.”

“Today, a significant chunk of humanity is afraid of spending time and money in our city,” he continued.

That skepticism surrounding the city is holding back major economic recovery, according to the President and CEO of Travel Portland.

“Continued attacks and breaking glass on buildings throughout the city, but especially downtown, continued to affect this hard to overcome sentiment, “ said Jeff Miller. “Our central city occupancy in September lags every competitive city we tracked.”

A study by Travel Portland shows a major problem affecting the economy right now, a lot of people don’t want to attend conferences in the city.

Conferences are a big money-maker.  Also, a little known fact is that a percentage of what you pay for a hotel room gets taxed and handed to local business associations so that they may promote local attractions to bring in tourists to the area.  Actually a great idea.

There is a conference I visit on the Oregon coast regularly and last couple times, I made it a point to bypass Portland when driving down even though the freeway passes right through downtown. More driving but less hassles.  Spidey senses don't tingle quite as much...

Unintended consequences anyone? 
A good leader will know about these.
A poor leader will be surprised by them.

Traditionally, Unions have voted Democrat. Fait accompli. End of story.
These days? Not so much - from the Sacramento, CA NBC affiliate KCRA:

US hasn't seen worker anger like this in decades
Workers are saying enough is enough.

And many of them are either hitting the picket lines or quitting their jobs as a result.

The changing dynamics of the U.S. labor market, which has put employees rather than employers in the driver's seat in a way not seen for decades, is allowing unions to flex their muscles.

Already on strike are 10,000 workers at John Deere, who hit the picket lines early Thursday after rejecting a tentative deal that would have improved wages and benefits. They joined 1,400 strikers at Kellogg who are upset with seven-day work weeks and a two-tier retirement system. Other unions are preparing for walkouts of their own.

The overwhelming majority of strikers and potential strikers are doing so for the first time in their careers. Many say they are driven not just by wages or benefits. They say they are striking, or planning to strike, in a bid to do their jobs the way they believe they should be done, and to gain basic improvements in the quality of their lives, such as time with their families, which they say they deserve.

One of the main issues running through many of these strikes, or looming strikes, is workers' anger.

A lot more at the site.  A lot of it is general malaise (Carter years all over again), a lot of it is the economic downturn and people wanting to negotiate better terms.  Of course, this will be reflected in higher product prices so we will all be right back where we started from.  A good chunk is vaccine mandates. Interesting times...

Fun times in the Windy City

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From Chicago's CBS affiliate:

Chicago Police Union President Estimates More Than 3,000 Officers Defying City’s Vaccine Reporting Mandate
The back and forth between the mayor and the Chicago police union continues, with the city sending out a flurry of emails and memos as its vaccine mandate enters its first full week in effect.

CBS 2’s Mugo Odigwe obtained the latest threatening memo sent out to officers.

At least two memos have gone out since Friday’s deadline for all city workers to report their vaccination status to the city, but Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said thousands of officers are still refusing to do so.

“The unofficial number we have is about over 3,200; so about of third of the department,” Catanzara said.

Catanzara has said the mandate is illegal, because the city didn’t negotiate terms with the union.

Love to see the unions backing up the workers. Nobody is happy until the Union is happy. How it should be.

I do not like it when unions negotiate unreasonable demands - excessive pay and benefits and/or pensions. The workers should be paid an amount based on the real economy - too many pension funds are in trouble (looking at you Chicago for example) because pensions were over-promised.  Still, protecting the worker is crucial and there, the unions do a great job.

Port of Los Angeles - the back-story

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Now the real reason is coming out - from National File:

L.A. Cargo Terminal Operator Makes Massive Chinese Communist Deal; Union Leader Says ‘Foreign-Owned Shipping Companies’ Are Blocking Supply Chain
A union leader exposed the role that “foreign-owned shipping companies” play in the cargo backup at the Port of Los Angeles, which is causing supply chain shortages in the United States. The union leader said that “foreign-owned shipping companies” that own the terminals at the Port of Los Angeles have not been requesting union labor at a high enough rate for quite some time, thus slowing down the process of hauling and transporting goods off ships. The biggest foreign-owned company running the biggest cargo terminal at the Port of Los Angeles is Maersk, which has many Chinese offices and does massive business in China. Just weeks ago, Maersk sold its refrigerated container business for over $1 billion to a Chinese company that counts multiple Chinese Communist government state-owned enterprises as its major shareholders, giving China more control over our food and pharma supply.

In response to the supply chain crisis, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo recently stated, “the reality is that the only way we get to a place where we work through this transition is if everyone in America and everywhere around the world gets vaccinated.” Clearly, this has led to speculation that the supply chain shortages are being manipulated in order to push the vaccine agenda. The Biden administration has touted a supposed deal it negotiated to help the Port of Los Angeles to operate 24/7 to offload the backed-up cargo. But one union leader said that union workers are already capable of working 24/7. The problem, in his view, is that “foreign-owned shipping companies” are not requesting labor.

The picture starts to get clearer.  They played along until the big push to assume global power and now, they are showing their hand. When this is over and sanity returns, we will remember...

There is hope - System D

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Fascinating article about the real economic powerhouse of this planet.
And no bureaucrats can screw it up.  From Foreign Policy:

The Shadow Superpower
Forget China: the $10 trillion global black market is the world's fastest growing economy -- and its future

With only a mobile phone and a promise of money from his uncle, David Obi did something the Nigerian government has been trying to do for decades: He figured out how to bring electricity to the masses in Africa’s most populous country.

It wasn’t a matter of technology. David is not an inventor or an engineer, and his insights into his country’s electrical problems had nothing to do with fancy photovoltaics or turbines to harness the harmattan or any other alternative sources of energy. Instead, 7,000 miles from home, using a language he could hardly speak, he did what traders have always done: made a deal. He contracted with a Chinese firm near Guangzhou to produce small diesel-powered generators under his uncle’s brand name, Aakoo, and shipped them home to Nigeria, where power is often scarce. David’s deal, struck four years ago, was not massive — but it made a solid profit and put him on a strong footing for success as a transnational merchant. Like almost all the transactions between Nigerian traders and Chinese manufacturers, it was also sub rosa: under the radar, outside of the view or control of government, part of the unheralded alternative economic universe of System D.

You probably have never heard of System D. Neither had I until I started visiting street markets and unlicensed bazaars around the globe.

And System D?

System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call them débrouillards. To say a man is a débrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are doing business on their own, without registering or being regulated by the bureaucracy and, for the most part, without paying taxes, are part of “l’economie de la débrouillardise.” Or, sweetened for street use, “Systeme D.” This essentially translates as the ingenuity economy, the economy of improvisation and self-reliance, the do-it-yourself, or DIY, economy. A number of well-known chefs have also appropriated the term to describe the skill and sheer joy necessary to improvise a gourmet meal using only the mismatched ingredients that happen to be at hand in a kitchen.

Wonderful news - this is where the "gig economy" springs from and if the State is going to "manage" our banking and report transactions over $600 to the Internal Revenue Service (the trigger point is at $10,000 now), I see a lot more of our economy moving over to System D.  It does not seem that we can vote the deep-state out of office but we can certainly starve them to death.

Finally, a System D that I approve of.  Not this systemd  —  here and here for starters...

Glad I did not go - auction

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There was a commercial kitchen auction that ended today - was tempted to go to the preview possibly to bid on stuff but decided against it.  Glad I did.

Here is a vacuum sealer for Sous Vide cooking.  I love Sous Vide cooking and have a small Cabella's vacuum sealer but looking for something a bit better.  These two units from VacMaster sold for over $1,100 each.  Note that they are used.  As is/where is.  Zero warranty.  They were made in 2015.

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Here is the listing at Amazon for the new model (VP220 instead of VP210), brand new in factory box with warranty for $1,099.95.

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Rule #1) in auctions is: Know what you are bidding on.  Rule #2) is: Do your own research first.
Those are the only real rules when buying at auction.

That shipping delay - the reason

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I hinted at the reason last night and this morning, Sundance at Conservative Treehouse lays it out in full technicolor:

The California Version of The Green New Deal and an October 16, 2020, EPA Settlement With Transportation is What’s Creating The Container Shipping Backlog – Working CA Ports 24/7 Will Not Help, Here’s Why
Hundreds of requests for details on the specifics of the container shipping backlog. So, I spent 3 days calling sources, digging for details and gathering information on the substantive issue at hand. The epicenter of the problem is not what is being outlined by financial media, corporate media and politicians who have a specific interest in distracting from the issues at hand. This has nothing to do with COVID-19.

The issues being discussed today relate to events that happened a long time ago. As a matter of fact, it was so predictable that Amazon, Walmart, UPS, FedEx, Samsung, The Home Depot and Target all had taken actions years ago -long before COVID- because they knew this day would come. It was not accidental that those companies showed up at the White House to discuss the issue, because there’s now a full court press to hide it.

There is one very specific regional issue driving the problem. Read on:

The trucking issue with California LA ports, ie the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB), is that all semi tractors have to be current with new California emissions standards.  As a consequence, that mean trucks cannot be older than 3 years if they are to pick up or deliver containers at those ports.  This issue wipes out approximately half of the fleet trucks used to move containers in/out of the port.  Operating the port 24/7 will not cure the issue, because all it does is pile up more containers that sit idle as they await a limited number of trucks to pick them up.  THIS is the central issue.

On October 16, 2020, the EPA reached a settlement agreement [DATA HERE] with California Air Resource Board (CARB) to shut down semi tractor rigs that were non-compliant with new California emission standards:

Much much more at the site with complete links to back up Sundance's research. Over 550+ comments essentially saying the same thing:

So, Crazy CA can now be allowed to bottleneck the ENTIRE NATION’S GOODS, with its nutso regs?!?

Good God!! P. Trump wouldn’t put up with that for a minute.
What a shitshow! There NOTHING that these people do that doesn’t screw up something!…NOTHING!

Absolutely. Yet another perfect example of a politician doing something that SOUNDS good as opposed to something that DOES good.

And meanwhile, our Secretary of Transportation is taking a two-month maternity leave of absence to be with his husband as they settle in with their adopted twin babies.

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Looks like Tesla is moving its Corporate Offices from California to Texas.
From TechCrunch:

Elon Musk announces Tesla to move headquarters to Austin
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company would be moving its headquarters from Palo Alto, California to Austin, Texas, a city that has recently seen a flood of tech companies and remote workers. Musk announced the news at the 2021 Tesla, Inc. Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which took place at the Tesla Austin gigafactory, rather than in the Bay Area as it did in previous years.

Musk also said Tesla would be continuing to expand activities in California, increasing its output at its Fremont gigafactory by 50%, although he didn’t elaborate on how he would achieve such a ramp up in production. The factory is currently able to produce about 500,000 Model 3 and Model Ys per year and another 100,000 Model S and Model X per year.

Yeah - they are keeping their factory in California.  They already have the sunk costs of the building and equipment so why not.  The headquarters is a different beast entirely.  The profits that Tesla makes are taxed by the state where the head office is located.  Boeing did this to Seattle in September, 2001 as they were getting screwed by the city of Seattle.

Wonder when/if California will wake up.  The State made a buttload of money in the dot.com revolution.  Now, they are stifling the very businesses that will be the basis for the next revolution.

Not if.  When.

From Don Surber:

Amazon leaving Seattle
Bloomberg reported, "Amazon CEO, citing ‘rougher’ patch with Seattle, looks to ’burbs."

This is not white flight. Seattle has become coyote ugly crazy and Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wants to leave before he has to gnaw off his leg to get out of the trap.

Shades of Boeing and the Seattle Supersonics.

Bloomberg's story said, "The world’s largest online retailer is by far the biggest private employer in Seattle with more than 50,000 workers. That distinction has proved a headache in recent years, with some residents and government officials blaming the company for exacerbating homelessness and traffic."
Seattle has turned Amazon into its whipping boy, blaming the company for problems the city creates.

Jassy spoke at an event hosted by technology news site GeekWire.

He said, "I’d say the last five years, the city council has become less enamored with business or with Amazon. It’s just been rougher."

The city wanted to burden Amazon heavily with taxes. The company and others fought it back, Then the company backed a slate of city council candidates who lost.

It is time to vamoose.

I am a big believer in cycles and we are getting near the bottom of the current one.
Shades of the Seattle of 50 years ago:

Billboard reading "Will the Last Person Leaving SEATTLE — Turn Out the Lights" appears near Sea-Tac International Airport on April 16, 1971
On April 16, 1971, real-estate agents Bob McDonald and Jim Youngren put the words, "Will the last person leaving SEATTLE -- Turn out the lights" on a billboard at S 167th Street and Pacific Highway S near Sea-Tac International Airport. The two realtors, who work for Henry Broderick, Inc., put up the billboard as a humorous response to pessimism generated by the national aerospace industry's nosedive, known locally as the Boeing Bust.

Seattle is doing this to itself.  They are not listening to their constituents, they are only listening to the more vocal activists who are in a profound minority. There will be a recovery but it is going to be long and painful and things will be getting a lot worse before they get better.

Looks like another win for centralised planning - should have let the utilities plan for themselves as they have skin in the game. From The Beeb:

Power cuts hit homes in north-east China
Residents in north-east China are experiencing unannounced power cuts, as an electricity shortage which initially hit factories spreads to homes.

People living in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces have complained on social media about the lack of heating, and lifts and traffic lights not working.

Local media said the cause was a rise in coal prices leading to short supply.

The country is highly dependent on coal for power.

One power company said it expected the power cuts to last until spring next year, and that unexpected outages would become "the new normal". Its post, however, was later deleted.

The energy shortage at first affected manufacturers across the country, many of whom have had to curb or stop production in recent weeks.

Just wonderful - not only leave the population without heat, they also hamstring the economy.

Is there anything that Communism can't do?

My kinda place...

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Turns out it's a place but I have to travel to Wales to go there.  Dagnabbit... I love their food menu.

...unemployment benefits.  I think that the people who first implemented these could have chosen a better date to end them.   And why all at once? Odd. London Daily Mail:

Biden takes selfies with union workers during Labor Day weekend trip to Delaware as more seven million Americans see their unemployment benefits end TODAY

    • President Biden made a surprise Labor Day visit to a local electrical workers union, lasting roughly 30 minutes
    • He was all smiles socializing with a friendly crowd as millions of Americans lose COVID benefits the same day
    • Four types of special COVID unemployment benefits all end on Monday, 18 months after the pandemic began
    • They include unemployment that 7million people couldn't previously claim but did over the last 18 months
    • They also include a boost of $300-per-week to people who were claiming regular unemployment
    • It comes after a disappointing jobs report in August - only 235,000 new jobs were recorded
    • Some say ending the payments so abruptly is dangerous given how growth is slowing
    • Morgan Stanley now predicts the economy will grow annually by just 2.9% - down from 6.5% earlier this year

President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to an electrical workers' union hall on Labor Day where he was all smiles socializing with blue collar workers there - as millions of Americans lose their federal COVID pandemic unemployment benefits.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 313 in Delaware represents 700 active members.

And those benefits:

Meanwhile, more than 7million Americans will lose federal unemployment benefits today and an additional 3million will stop receiving a $300 weekly boost on checks as emergency COVID payments expire.

Four types of specialized unemployment payments that were created because of COVID end on Monday.

They are; the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation ($300 weekly boost on existing payments), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (for those who already exhausted their state unemployment benefits), Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation ($100-per-week for people who previously worked as a contractor and employee) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (which widened who could apply for unemployment).

Today, 18 months after they were first created, Americans will no longer be able to claim any of them.

Many say the expiry is overdue and that the inflated benefits drove a labor shortage because people could make more money doing nothing than they did in certain jobs.

Which will be good for the real job numbers. Our tax dollars at work.
Again, I have zero problem with a hand-up but it should not become a lifestyle.

Heh - soul food...

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From the London Daily Mail:

Florida diner that posted note refusing service to Biden voters because of his botched Afghan withdrawal is forced to close after it SOLD OUT of food following a boom in customers

    • Angie Ugarte posted the sign in the window of DeBary Diner in DeBary, Volusia County
    • Comes after Thursday's attack by ISIS-K at Kabul airport that killed 13 US troops
    • Now, she says she's seeing an outpouring of support, with patrons inundating the diner on Wednesday offering to buy meals for veterans
    • The support was so overwhelming that the diner ran out of food, forcing the diner to temporarily close due to the amount of donations and diners
    • 'I think that the veterans will be fed for the rest of the year at the rate I'm getting donations' she said of the outpouring of support
    • She intends to keep sign up as long as American's still stranded in Afghanistan

The Florida diner where the owner posted a sign turning away Joe Biden voters after 13 US troops were killed in Afghanistan has had to shut its doors - because so many people called to buy meals for veterans that the small business ran out of food.

'I've gotten so many people calling me from all over the world, from Europe, trying to purchase meals for veterans, which I still haven't been able to organize,' said Angie Ugarte, who posted the sign in the window of the DeBary Diner in the central Florida city of DeBary.

'I think that the veterans will be fed for the rest of the year at the rate I'm getting donations.'

The sign told customers: 'If you voted for and continue to support and stand behind the worthless, inept and corrupt administration currently inhabiting the White House that is complicit in the death of our servicemen and women in Afghanistan, please take your business elsewhere,' the sign read.

I would go in for dinner if they were in the area.  Great idea and great response.  Shows what: "We The People" are thinking (and voting).

A shortage of the stuff - CO2

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Wonder what the environmentalists will say or do with this - from Quartz:

US carbon dioxide supply is a bottleneck for Covid-19 vaccine distribution
Over the last few months, industries in the US have had to contend with a troublesome carbon dioxide shortage. From May to July, beer brewers and soda makers across the country were at a loss to source the fizzy stuff.

But as summer turns to fall, a lack of CO2 could cause an even more problematic shortage: one of dry ice.

In early September, the New York Times reported that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects that at least two Covid-19 vaccine candidates will require dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide, for transportation. In order to ship those vaccines, distributors will need to make sure industrial chemical plants can supply enough CO2 gas.

More at the article - couple of different reasons.

Why some people are so up against CO2 never fails to amuse me.  They think that by choosing this gas as the "boogeyman",  they can hamstring our industry and slow down our development.  They fail to realize that #1) - CO2 is plant food and #2) - they are causing grievous harm to 3rd-world citizens and little or no harm to Western civilization. Unintended consequences.

Abject stupidity in full view.

Tip of the hat to Eaton Rapids Joe for the link.  His is a daily read for me.

Finally - arrival

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Took four months longer than anticipated.  From American Shipper:

Ever Given containers finally being offloaded at Port of Rotterdam
Despite the early-morning hour, 5:15 a.m. Thursday in the Netherlands, the Ever Given “arrived amid great interest,” according to a Port of Rotterdam statement. 

Normally a container ship’s arrival in port does not warrant a press release. But the case of the Ever Given, which will be forever infamous for getting stuck in the Suez Canal, is anything but normal and prompted Port of Rotterdam officials to post a brief statement and two photos of the Ever Given’s arrival Thursday.  

The statement said the berthing of the Ever Given in Rotterdam went according to plan — well, a revised plan. The Evergreen Marine-operated container ship had been due in Rotterdam some four months earlier. The vessel was waylaid, of course, when it was lodged between the banks of the Suez Canal for six days in March.  

The Port of Rotterdam said containers will be offloaded at its ECT Delta terminal. Boxes bound for Hamburg, Germany, will be loaded onto the Ever Utile over the weekend to finally continue their journey. 

Like they say: Better late than never but better never late. Wonder what the total overall cost will be.

Quite the payroll - Amazon

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Big but how big?  Bigger than you can imagine.  From NBC News:

Amazon now employs almost 1 million people in the U.S. — or 1 in every 169 workers
Amazon has revealed for the first time the number of people it employs in the U.S., putting the figure at 950,000, according to the e-commerce giant's quarterly earnings call on Thursday.

While the headcount was boosted by an additional 64,000 people hired in the second quarter, it does not include the thousands of contractors such as drivers whom Amazon depends on to run its Amazon Prime delivery operations.

The company's total employee count was shared in a lengthy press release, in a section titled “Investing in Employee Safety and Providing Good Jobs,” where Amazon revealed it has “introduced a new mental health benefit for all of its 950,000 U.S. employees, their families, and household members.”

Globally, the company employs 1.3 million people. It is the second largest employer in the U.S., behind Walmart, which currently employees nearly 1.6 million people in the U.S.

It is interesting that Walmart is even bigger.  I shopped at both places yesterday - some groceries at Walmart and the sign at Amazon.  Pure capitalism at work - what I want, where I want for a fair price.  Done deal.

Turns out some states are putting restrictions on the power consumed by some computers.
From Zero Hedge:

59 Million Americans Prohibited From Buying High-End Dell Gaming PCs
Approximately 59 million Americans spanning five states can't buy Dell's high-end Alienware brand desktop PCs "due to power consumption regulations."

When one goes to the Dell Alienware online configurator to buy an Aurora R12 gaming desktop, a special notice appears which reads:

This product cannot be shipped to the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont or Washington due to power consumption regulations adopted by those states. Any orders placed that are bound for those states will be canceled.

Among other state policies, the prohibition puts Dell in compliance with California's Energy Commission regulations which took effect on July 1. Under the new guidelines, annual energy consumption cannot consume more than 75 kWh/year, and cannot exceed an "expandability score" (ES) of 690, which includes idle power consumption.

This is especially egregious as it is not targeting gaming systems specifically, it is targeting all high-end computer systems. Excuse me - I buy gaming systems every couple of years.   I do not play computer games - never had any interest in them - but the requirements for a good gaming system meet my needs for photographic and video editing as well as the music recording and editing. Gaming systems are usually a lot cheaper than any custom-built system.  Economy of scale and all that good stuff.

And why is WA State kowtowing to California's unrealistic diktats.

Tip of the hat to Don Surber for the link.

Get them while you can - I have been looking at a few capital purchases for the blacksmithing business and it seems that now is the time to buy. From Charles Hugh Smith:

America Has Lost the Trade War with China, and the Real Pain Has Yet to Begin
Corporate America sacrificed national interests in service of greed, and so did the U.S. government

As we all know, the source of Corporate America's unprecedented explosion in profits in the 21st century is the offshoring of manufacturing to China. If you doubt this, please study the chart below of corporate profits. Apologists claim many excuses in an attempt to evade the central role of offshoring production to China, but they all ring hollow: no, it wasn't increasing productivity or automation or Federal Reserve magic, it was shipping production to China and other low-labor-cost nations.

And now that China has grown to a point where it can start to dictate the rules?
C.H.S. is quoting from an associate:

China is laying siege to the USA by slowing down production and delivery of goods. It doesn't take much to hang up US production, just one missing item can do it. So much stuff is sourced through China they can affect all supply chains. Semiconductors are just the canary--because the chains are so long and complex, and specialized materials are required, etc. But it is happening everywhere.

I have a little manufacturing company and I am seeing this in supply lines. I sent an order to China for printed circuit boards (US prices are astronomical because of various factors). They don't get back for a week, then they quote, then I send money, then they sit on it, then I call and they say they are having problems with some process... etc. But all the suppliers are like this, it is not an isolated incident. They are sandbagging.

So just as in laying siege, the attackers have the food outside the castle and wait for the people inside to starve.

As prices rise the Chinese manufacturers take bigger profits so the slowdown effects on that end are mitigated. For products they do not have a monopoly on, like PC boards, they slow down. for things like LCD displays and NFeB magnets, the items become unavailable (try buying magnets on Amazon).

I have to say this is a brilliant idea on China's part, and no one on this side has realized the situation yet. This plan is straight out of Sun-Tzu. implications? inflation and shortages will continue for a long time... maybe forever. The only long-term solution is repatriation of manufacturing to the US. But it is going to cause some serious hurt, vastly more than the sanctioning of Chinese tech companies.

And it will get worse before it gets better.  I am seriously looking at a largish laser cutter and a hydraulic press.  I will be buying replacement parts as well. If you are budgeting for something, get it now and buy spares.  Lots and lots of spares. Much more at the site.

And back down to normal price

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I was at Costco yesterday and had been noticing a sharp price increase in my favorite cut of meat - Tri Tip. It started at $9.99/pound and went up sharply from there.  Several weeks it was a buck more each week.  Took a long time to come down too.

Yesterday, it was back to $9.99:

20210725-tt06.jpg

The whole sordid story can be found here, here, here, and here complete with photos.
Again, I had asked several times (both the butcher and the member services window) and nobody had any information - nothing from corporate.  It was just an odd bubble in the price of beef.

And again, these are all the same SKU #33708 and the same store #662 - only variation is the price.

Was looking online at some machine tools and happened on this from Ali Baba:

20210724-jw-blue.jpg

The 500 unit minimum is going to be a deal-breaker as I sincerely doubt that this is filled with anything better than fuesel oils and rotgut.  Still...  Makes you wonder how many bars are out there serving this stuff - the same vendor has a lot of other alcoholic beverages for sale as well.  Patron, Jack, various rums.

Oh. Yeah.  A 750ml bottle of Blue is about $200.  Let us not forget the wonderful commercial from 2014 featuring Robert Carlyle:

Oh no. Oh HELL NO! - housing

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Are the people running *Resident Biden this stupid? The banks will not care, they will get bailed out. It's the investors, the homebuyers, and later the homeowners who are going to get screwed over. AGAIN. We did this already in 2006 and it fscked up housing prices through 2012. We are only now just recovering. From Politico:

Biden’s new dilemma: How to slash housing costs for low-income borrowers
President Joe Biden’s move to fire the top U.S. mortgage regulator is triggering calls from fellow Democrats to use the agency to expand access to loans for lower-income people, who have struggled to buy homes since the financial crisis.

That’s setting up a clash with Republicans over how far the government should go in shaping an industry that makes up one-fifth of the U.S. economy.

A long-awaited Supreme Court decision last month gave Biden the ability to remove the Trump-era leader of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and he wasted no time. The president installed as interim director an agency veteran who says she’ll make affordable housing and combating discrimination a top priority, but who has underwhelmed those on the left, who say she is a mere caretaker.

Progressives are concerned that Biden will be too timid in changing course at the powerful agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two companies that stand behind half of the $11 trillion U.S. mortgage market. Top Democrats are calling on Biden to quickly name a permanent leader — a position that Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown's spokesperson said is “vital to the administration’s goals of building an equitable economy and must be filled quickly.”

Of course Brown wants this.  He is salivating at the prospect. The Obama administration bailed out the banks in 2008 (Remember, Brown is the Senate Banking Chair - he just wants to take care of his friends.  The ones that get him all the sweet hookers and blow). Brown is operating under the impression that this will happen again.

Again, we have seen this all before twelve years ago and a lot of the same players are lining up to run the scam again.

Don't you want to guarantee affordable housing to the poor? If they can not afford it? No.
This is leading up to a very large bubble and will burst. Not if. When.

Everything was going great guns until *Resident Biden pulled the plug.
Now? The company behind the pipeline is pointing out a few violations and asking for compensation.
From TC Energy:

TC Energy commences NAFTA claim following revocation of Keystone XL Presidential Permit
TC Energy Corporation announced today it has filed a Notice of Intent to initiate a legacy North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) claim under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to recover economic damages resulting from the revocation of the Keystone XL Project’s Presidential Permit.

TC Energy will be seeking to recover more than US$15 billion in damages that it has suffered as a result of the U.S. Government’s breach of its NAFTA obligations.

$15 Billion is not chump change - this is about $50 for every taxpaying man woman and child in the United States. Waste and mismanagement like that adds up quickly. Good on them - I hope that this becomes a very public persuit.  Not only the lost jobs, the lost revenue, the lost tax money.  Not to mention that the oil is going to flow anyway and without a pipeline, it will be carried in Warren Buffet's rail cars.  How much is he paying *Resident Biden to make this happen?

Today's auction - too damned high

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Great for the auctioneer and for the client but not so good for us poor schlubs trying to find a deal.

Example - from the auction:

20210630-auct-01.jpg

5" Angle grinder - final bid was for $125.00 - on top of this is sales tax plus another 13% auctioneer's premium ($16.25).
The model # 6123-30 is discontinued.  The replacement is # 6124-30 - from Northern Tool:

20210630-auct-02.jpg

So, you can get a brand new version of the same tool with full manufacturer's warranty and Free Shipping for $149.00.  You do have to pay sales tax (as before) but there is no additional 13% Auctioneer's Premium and you get the full manufacturer's warranty. It is brand new in the box.  All of a sudden, that great deal does not look too good. You are literally saving less than eight bucks for an older, discontinued, out-of-warranty tool.

The chain fall hoists went for around $80-$150 which is about half new price.  For something like this, I would need to examine them carefully as they can crack or fail under load.  Not good.  I am inclined to buy new.

Not to mention, the site is about 120 miles and two ferry rides away - they do not ship.
You have to go there and pick up in person.

Everything else was like that - bidding up to the point of absurd.

Couple more auctions in the pipeline but nothing with anything I am interested in...  Oh well...

Warren Buffet?  One of the richest people in the world and owner of a number of railroad companies.
From Just The News:

Feds could send billions in tax dollars to Amtrak for Northeast Corridor
The federal government could allocate nearly $6.6 billion in grants to Amtrak over the next five years for "activities associated with the Northeast Corridor."

The money is included in the $78 billion Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021. The bill, which the Senate Committee on Commerce advanced this week, allocates $36 billion for rail projects, including $25 billion over five years for intercity passenger rail.

"This bill protects Amtrak's treasured long-distance routes, provides funding to address the Northeast Corridor project backlog, and encourages expansion of passenger rail corridors with State support," according to a fact sheet on the bill.

Buffet does not own Amtrack but he should.  It has lost money since day one.  It needs to be broken up and privatized.

What Warren is smiling about is that his railroad cars will be rolling over some nicely maintained track, switched in some upgraded yards, all on the taxpayer dime.

Time to do a bit of hoarding

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So true - retail

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20210515-retail.jpg

As good a reason as any

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High gasoline prices are in our future.  Nice that the Biden administration has such a convenient "crisis" to shift the blame.  From The Epoch Times:

Gas Prices Expected to Keep Rising in Wake of Colonial Pipeline Attack
Gas prices, already close to $3 a gallon after a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline, are expected to keep rising through the week, especially in the eastern United States.

“We’re expecting to see price increases to continue through the week, and in particular in the southeast region and in the northeast, because we are seeing directly impacted areas along the terminals of the pipeline that remain out,” Devin Gladden with the American Automobile Association (AAA) told The Epoch Times.

“And so as we see imports, deliveries from trucks, fill that gap, that may mean that higher costs will be associated with those deliveries and that is certainly causing prices to increase at the pump for consumers,” he added.

I went to Gas Buddy to check prices but they were having some issues - I'll try again later today and see how things are in New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle.

Dropped my membership with AAA about five years ago.  My insurance company offers exactly what I want - basic roadside rescue and towing - for about 1/3rd the cost. AAA used to be focused on car+driver+travel and now, they are trying to diversify by marketing all sorts of other crap.  I get it, they are a business and their core function is to make money for their shareholders. Still - when you dilute the core competency, you dilute the whole business. Not good.

From America's Newspaper of Record:

Bounty On Groot Skyrockets Due To Spike In Lumber Prices
The bounty on notorious criminal Groot's head has skyrocketed following a sharp increase in lumber prices across the galaxy, sources confirmed Monday.

The member of the outlaw group known as the "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- wanted for violent assaults, escaping prison, more nefarious mercenary acts -- previously had a bounty issued in the amount of $100,000 in Terran dollars, but that number has shot way up, with bounty hunters now seeking him out for the sum of $10,000,000.

"It's just supply and demand," said one member of a Ravager clan. "Builders are seeking lumber right now, which is in short supply. And Groot is a highly sought-after Flora colossus, desirable for its application in building homes and businesses. While he was previously wanted for his criminal acts, he's now wanted more for his potential as a building material."

Groot strongly condemned the increased bounty on his head, saying, "I am Groot. I am Groot? I am Groot." When pressed, he added, "I am Groot," leaving little doubt as to where he stands.

Reporters also sought comment from Treebeard. He has promised a statement but only got out the word "hello" by publishing time.

Feel kind of sorry for the little guy but I do need some 2X4s...

Quite the dinner date

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20210505-dinner.jpg

A simple question

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and a simple answer:

20210503-jobs.jpg

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