Ben Bernanke’s Summer Reading List

Ben S. Bernanke was an economist at Stanford and Princeton for more than two decades before he moved to Washington to 2002, first as a member of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, then as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush and finally as Fed chairman since 2006.

Read more: Council of Economic Advisers, Princeton University, FCIC Testimony, Books, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Keith Hennessy, Ben Bernanke Federal Reserve, Economists, Federal Reserve, Financial Crisis, Ben Bernanke, Fcic, Stanford University, Business News

Eliseo Medina: Wall Street Is to Blame for Pension Shortfalls

It’s no surprise that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken his attack on public employee pensions to the Wall Street Journal, the paper of record for the big banks and giant corporations whose greed and recklessness put at risk the retirement savings of all Americans. After all, here in California his administration’s tired arguments, misplaced blame, and selective use of statistics have worn thin with a public who knows that hard-working public employees like nurses, college professors, and child protection workers deserve to share in the American dream of a secure retirement.

Everyone who works hard and plays by the rules deserves to retire in dignity. But Wall Street doesn’t see it that way. The same banks and mortgage brokers who are responsible for our economic collapse got rich by gambling with the jobs, home values, and retirement savings of ordinary Americans. Too many Americans lost everything, but Wall Street wealth and banker bonuses are on the rise.

Even as Americans are struggling to recover from an economic catastrophe created on Wall Street, the same set of bankers and brokers are trolling for more victims, and they have their sights set on hard working employees in the public and private sectors.

For generations, Americans have counted on three sources of retirement income: social security, employment pensions, and personal savings. Wall Street is bent on undermining all three by pushing risky social security privatization schemes and pursuing corporate wealth and executive bonuses while stripping workers of jobs that provide for their basic needs, let alone any chance at saving for retirement.

Now these banks and their allies have launched a sustained campaign to spread misinformation and alarm about a public employee pension system that has served California well for 70 years and which remained nearly fully funded until the Wall Street-driven stock market crash that caused our current economic crisis. Their goal is to strip away guaranteed pensions and force more workers into 401k-style plans that put all the risk onto workers while putting more money into the bankers’ own pockets.

Rather than working together with the public sector employees who have the led the drive to make the pension systems models of good management and transparency and to stop a handful of top managers from gaming the system, the Governor has emerged as California’s chief spokesperson for the Wall Street banks who wrecked our economy, plunged the state budget into deficit, and devoured billions in pension earnings.

The Governor has misrepresented pensions as a drain on government when in reality 73 cents of every dollar paid to pensioners comes from employee contributions and investment earnings, not employer contributions. Adding to Schwarzenegger’s hype was a report he commissioned by Stanford graduate students which made use of faulty assumptions to arrive at a conclusion that risky individual accounts are the best approach for retirement saving, even when a large body of research shows these accounts are less efficient, more costly and gravely risky for retirees.

Rather than blaming state employees for mess Wall Street has made of our economy, the Governor must work with us to make sure our economy recovers in a healthy and sustainable way so that pensions and other investments continue to provide the safety net they were intended to do.

Read more: Pensions, Public Employees, California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wall Street, Saving for Retirement, Retirement, Seiu, Politics News

Still No Sign of a Double-Dip Recession, Says Adecco CEO

The U.S. jobless rate rose slightly to 9.6 from 9.5 percent in August, but some experts are saying this may actually be a good sign for the economy.

While the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that unemployment is on the rise, this increase reflects an expanding American workforce, as 550,000 jobless people joined or re-joined the search for employment in August. While economic recovery is still moving at a very slow pace, Tig Gillium, CEO of the largest staffing firm in the world, told HuffPost that the August employment statistics are “slightly better than everyone expected.”

“July raised the big question of deceleration,” Gillium said. “Everyone wanted to talk about a double-dip recession. But even an improving job market is going to see an uptick in unemployment — it’s okay as long as we’re still producing private sector jobs each month, and August saw an addition of 67,000 private sector jobs. This is still a reasonable pace of job growth and consistent with what was happening before.”

Overall, August saw little change in jobs data. The number of long-term unemployed Americans declined by 323,000 in August, but government employment fell slightly too, as 114,000 temporary jobs ended with the completion of the census. Gillium said the one major disappointment in the new data was the lack of improvement in the average number of hours Americans are working each week, which remained steady at 34.2.

“That number indicates to what extent companies are fully using the employees they have. As a recovery takes place, people who are working part-time are brought back for more hours, and companies who were hiring temp workers start to bring in more full-time employees. We still need to see this number rise–something closer to 35 hours would be ideal,” he said.

The U.S. might see a drop in unemployment soon, Gillium said, as employers tend to hire more in September and October than they do in the summer. But ultimately, what’s going to prevent a double-dip recession has little to do with the actual jobs numbers.

“So much of an economic recovery is based on confidence,” he said. “This report shows that the recovery is progressing–maybe not as fast a pace as in the late first quarter, but it is progressing. That should have the effect of creating enough confidence that people don’t panic and create our own double-dip recession.”

Read more: Unemployment, Unemployment Rate, Tig Gillium, Nfp, Economy, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Double Dip Recession, Addecco, Bls, Private Sector Jobs, Business News

U.S. grasp of Russia nukes may weaken warns official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American knowledge of Russia’s nuclear capabilities will dwindle if a new nuclear arms treaty with Moscow is not ratified, the chief U.S. negotiator argued as a Senate panel on Friday scheduled a vote on the document.

Payrolls data offer ray of hope for recovery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Employment fell for a third straight month in August, but the drop was far less than expected and private hiring was a positive surprise, relieving concerns about a stalling economic recovery.

Obama says to address new economic ideas next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will outline new measures next week to boost the U.S. economy after August data on Friday showed again that jobs — the central issue in November elections — were being created too slowly.

Hurricane Earl weakens on its way to New England

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hurricane Earl continued to track up the Eastern Seaboard on Friday as a weak Category One storm on its way toward New England and then Canada.

Cape Cod greets Earl with plywood and grumbling

CHATHAM, Massachusetts (Reuters) – Residents and business owners in the beach communities of Cape Cod and nearby islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard hung plywood over their shop windows on Friday and rued the arrival of Hurricane Earl, which appeared set to spoil their holiday weekend.