U.S. Economic/Financial News
Greenspan and Schacht Appear Together in Public
In an op-ed in the New York Times March 10, James Grant, editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, chastised Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan for using low interest rates to create cheap credit that has only pumped up the financial bubbles, which still are "unpopped." The op-ed accuses Greenspan of "overriding the market's judgement with his own," and juxtaposes a quote from Hjalmar Schacht (who later became the Nazi Economics Minister) in 1927: "Don't give me a low rate. Give me a true rate, and then I shall know how to put my house in order." As far as any old timers can remember, this is the first time outside of Lyndon LaRouche's publications that the names Greenspan and Schacht have appeared in the same paragraph.
U.S. Textile Industry Disappearing, Under 'Free Trade' Wrecking Ball
Chinese textile imports to the U.S. have seen a dramatic increase, since China's acceptance into the World Trade Organization in 2002, began the phased lifting of import quotas for textiles. According to customs figures for the January export of textiles and clothing to the U.S., released March 7 by the National Council of Textile Organizations, in 2001, Chinese imports accounted for 10% of the U.S. market. By 2004, the Chinese share was 70%.
At the end of last year, the final phase of removing quotas was completed. In January 2005, as compared to the year before, export of Chinese apparel products to the U.S. increased an average of 546%. Nearly 27 million cotton trousers, for example, were shipped two months ago, as compared to 1.9 million in January 2004. In a few categories, China shipped more than the entire previous year's trade in one month's time.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in January of this year, 12,500 U.S. textile workers lost their jobs. The National Council of Textile Organizations warns that 13,000 U.S. mills are at risk. The industry has petitioned the government to reimpose quotas on China, in specific categories, five of which have been granted. They want the government to initiate these safeguards automatically. They have been supported by Turkey and Peru, which find they are being chased out of the U.S. market by cheaper Chinese goods.
Wal-Mart Forced To Close Store in Quebec
The first of what may become a run of Wal-Mart store closings was announced by the pirate company last month. The Jonquiere, Quebec store will close May 6, because last August the workers had unionized, and Wal-Mart claims they have been making "escalating demands," and that the union "wanted to fundamentally change the store's business model." Now Wal-Mart fears that that victory may be repeated, across all of North America. The chain in Canada employs 70,000 people in 256 stores. In January, the second Wal-Mart store in Canada unionized.
The New York Times reported March 10 that three Wal-Mart stores in Quebec have received bomb threats since the closing was made public, and that a former premier of the province has announced a boycott of the chain. Wal-Mart, workers report, is now using the example of the shut-down of the Jonquiere store as a warning of what could happen to their jobs, should they dare to organize. In addition to threats of job loss, Wal-Mart is trying to intimidate workers at other stores to stop them from joining a union.