Saturday, April 23, 2011

What Do You See In Your Wallet?

The American economy is coming back. At least according to most of the news reports that you hear. Wall Street is again climbing to within a thousand or two of its peak in October of 2007 and the corporate bigwigs are getting their outrageous bonuses, despite the so-called limitations that were enacted. It seems like these guys are winning the lottery every year. But I have not seen this recovery in my wallet.

In this recently completed first fiscal quarter, many of the railroad companies that I follow are now reporting that they have done very well. Over at CSX, the reported revenue climbed 13% to a record $2.8 billion, operating income at an all-time high of $773 million(up 22%) and an operating ratio at 72.5 compared with last year and also a record. Not bad for having many severe winter storms to deal with and a steep rise in diesel fuel prices.

Union Pacific also had problems with the weather and fuel prices but that didn't prevent them from chalking up some equally impressive record gains in revenue, operating income and ratio. Overall U.S. Rail volumes have remained above the typical carload growth rates for the first quarter. Shipments are up, revenues are up and profits are up, but I have not seen it in my wallet.

The workforce headcount for all 7 of the Class I railroads increased by 4.4% over last March's count and the majority of that came in the maintenance of way and structures group. Our railroads are beginning to upgrade and expand their infrastructure for the anticipated uptick in demand for freight. Remember that these guys are not interested in passenger rail, high speed or not. Rail travel of every kind is growing all across the U.S. But I don't see the benefits of that growth showing up in my wallet.

I read someplace the other day that the large multi-national corporations based in America have roughly $1.3 trillion in liquid assets which they are holding on to. That is trillion with a T, and yet they are not actively working on creating jobs or investing in America's growth. They are just sitting on it.

Are they waiting on the government to create to jobs? I don't think so. If the government began creating service jobs then the TEA Party would claim that they are expanding government. If the government began creating construction jobs then the taxes would have to help fund the building projects. Private industry will not create these service or construction jobs because the general public is unwilling to pay the full and unsubsidized cost of such a venture nor can the return on investment be fully realized in the now standard depreciation timetable. We have let the Wall St economy call the shots for so long that they can no longer help the little people while failing to maintain a reasonable, or sustainable growth rate. They have taken us to the brink in the past and we seem willing to let them continue an their merry way again.

Wall St has led an effort to subtly bring about a stealth redistribution of wealth and we have willingly bought into the apple. Mass production and automation have consistently brought lower production costs and cheaper prices but have also resulted in fewer jobs and social benefits are the first to be affected. We want the former and complain about the latter. And we go along with it. The Wall St CEOs eat from the big table and we wait for the trickle-down to reach us. I haven't seen it in my wallet.

I saw on the news this morning that John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, was in Libya to meet with the rebel coalition and discuss some sort of aid. There was also some comment about using the frozen assets of Gadhafi and supplying weapons and medical aid. Is this not a redistribution of wealth in the country of Libya? From the rich and powerful to the working masses? I guess it is good enough for them but not for America. And what about the comments from The Donald the other day? That the Libyans PAY us for the moral support(and a few specially aimed Cruise missiles) so that when we win the war for them, we would take( not pay for) all the oil that we need. Don't you just love where Trump's heart is at? I'll bet that I never see that show up in my wallet either.

What I DO see in my wallet is a pending 10% (Mrs Sweeper says probable) pay cut in an effort to balance the budget.


danny said...

It's interesting to me how all this works on the local level, where Wall Street, Main Street and government mean slightly different things.

peyt.v said...

Sounds like you're going insane (isn't that the definition of insanity? Expecting a different result when nothing has changed.)! Maybe if you want something in your wallet... a proffesion change is in order.