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May 25, 2012

America lags behind 175 other nations in paid maternity leave

California, where I live, offers paid leave for mothers and fathers but it's still only a few weeks. It's nothing like Canada's 50 WEEKS of leave. How The Zero Weeks Of Paid Maternity Leave In The U.S. Compare Globally | ThinkProgress
Out of 178 nations, the U.S. is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits, let alone paid leave for fathers, which more than 50 of these nations offer. Here’s how the U.S. stacks up to 14 other countries: In comparison, Canada and Norway offer generous benefits that can be shared between the father and mother, France offers about four months, and even Mexico and Pakistan are among the nations offer 12 weeks paid leave for mothers.

Typical American Worker Would Need 244 Years To Match CEO's Annual Salary

But it's okay because CEOs work 244 times harder than frontline workers. Or something. Typical American Worker Would Need 244 Years To Match CEO's Annual Salary | ThinkProgress
The average CEO made $9.6 million in 2011, even as workers’ wages remained stagnant and unemployment hovered nationally around 8 percent. Chief Executive Officers are being paid at the highest-ever rate since the AP started tracking the figure in 2006, according to a new report from the news organization. But while CEOs may be reaping the rewards of higher profits and a growing stock market, very little of that achievement spreads as far as the average worker — or even the company’s stockholders: Profit at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index rose 16 percent last year, remarkable in an economy that grew more slowly than expected. CEOs managed to sell more, and squeeze more profit from each sale, despite problems ranging from a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating to an economic slowdown in China and Europe’s neverending debt crisis. Still, there wasn’t much immediate benefit for the shareholders. The S&P 500 ended the year unchanged from where it started. Including dividends, the index returned a slender 2 percent. As the AP noted, “the typical American worker would have to labor for 244 years to make what the typical boss of a big public company makes in one.”

May 23, 2012

Matt Taibbi: The Facebook IPO: Shareholders Weren't Invited to the Real Party

The Facebook IPO: Shareholders Weren't Invited to the Real Party | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone
I was on the phone last night with a former hedge fund CEO who was talking about this. "Facebook," he said, "is a colossal example of a complete clusterfuck where everybody wins except the ordinary investor." His point was that virtually every week now we see stories like this that hint at a kind of two-tiered market system – in which most of the real action takes place inside an unregulated black-box network of connected insiders who don’t disclose their relationships or their interests, while everyone else, i.e. the regular suckers, live in the more tightly-policed world of prospectuses and quarterly reporting and so on. All of these stories suggest that Wall Street is increasingly turning into a giant favor-and-front-running factory, where the big banks and broker-dealers that channel vast streams of crucial non-public information (about the markets generally and their clients specifically) are also trading for their own accounts, and sharing information with a select group of "preferred investors," who in turn help the TBTF banks move markets in this or that desired direction by jumping on or off various pigpiles at the right times. Sooner or later, people are going to clue into the fact that one or two big banks, acting in concert with a choice assortment of unscrupulous "preferred investors," can at least temporarily prop up or topple just about anything they want, from Greece to Bear Stearns to Lehman Brothers. And if you can move markets and bet on them at the same time, it's impossible to not make tons of money, which incidentally is made at everyone else's expense. So we should always be on the lookout for any evidence that that sort of coordinated, non-disclosed activity is taking place.

May 22, 2012

Facebook stock value still plummeting

Maybe it's schadenfreude or maybe it's the hope that a sane valuation for Facebook means we're not in dotcom bubble of death territory or maybe it's because I resent having to use Facebook to keep up with my friends and family but for whatever reason I am really enjoying watching their stock fall. Because fuck these guys. Facebook Share Price Plunges Again: Valuation Doubts Rise As Social Network's Stock Takes Big Hit
(Reuters) - Facebook's shares fell again on Tuesday, leaving them down nearly one-third from Friday's highs as questions mounted over the company's financial prospects and its ability to grow fast enough to meet the hype surrounding its stock. After Friday's nearly flat close and Monday's 11 percent plunge, the stock tumbled again Tuesday -- 4.2 percent to $32.60 in the first 90 minutes of trading. That was a decline of 28 percent from Friday's high of $45, but well off its lows of the morning. Volume was again massive, with more than 45 million shares traded as of around 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT). That followed turnover of 168 million shares Monday and 581 million on IPO day. Investors were already shaking their heads over the botched opening trading life of Facebook when they got the news late Monday that the consumer Internet analyst at lead underwriter Morgan Stanley cut his revenue forecasts for Facebook in the days before the offering.