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There was great economic news on Monday – for somebody.
Monday morning the stock market passed another historic milestone, as the S&P 500 composite index briefly passed the 2,000 mark before ending the day on a record-breaking high. That barrier had symbolic value for many investors, although perhaps not as much as the once-unimaginable goal of seeing the Dow Jones Industrial Average reach the 10,000 mark. A money manager in the go-go nineties once described that figure as “Mount Dow’s summit,” and so it was.
Once upon a time, investors could only dream of reaching that lofty Shangri-La.
But reach it they did. The Dow reached the 10,000 mark in 1999. Then it passed the 15,000 peak, in May of last year. That was well above its levels before the financial crisis, thanks to a Wall Street bailout that supercharged the stock market while others were left in the dust. [As of close of business on Tuesday the S&P 500 is 2002.02, while the Dow closed at 17,106.70.]
No wonder the market’s hot. Corporate profits are soaring, and they’re expected to stay that way. “Based on the analysts’ forecasts of S&P 500 companies,” writes Sam Ro in Business Insider, “… profit margins will average 9.3% for (this) year and then jump to 10.0% in 2015.”
There’s no doubt about it: In some corners of the nation, life is sweet. But out beyond Washington and Wall Street and the Hamptons, out in the world where most Americans live, things aren’t quite as rosy. Floyd Norris of the New York Times described the economic landscape rather succinctly last April:
“Corporate profits are at their highest level in at least 85 years. Employee compensation is at the lowest level in 65 years.”
Norris notes that corporate profits reached a record-high 10 percent of GDP last year, while wages fell to a record-low 42.5 percent. By contrast, that figure was 49 percent in 2001. But while recent wealth shifts have been dramatic, these figures reflect much longer-term trends. For 30 years, during this country’s greatest economic boom, wages kept pace with increases in productivity.
That ended in the mid-1970s. (Coincidentally or not, 1975 was also one of the first years in which wages fell to less than 50 percent of the GDP.)
Wage stagnation isn’t our only problem, of course. Unemployment figures remain troublingly high. Labor force participation is at historically low levels, leading even the historically conservative International Monetary Fund to call for policy intervention. Millions of people who want to work full time can only find part-time jobs. Job creation is lagging far behind what is needed to fully recover from the recession and keep pace with population growth. […]
The Bush Administration has ignored calls to build support for the invasion of Iraq at the UN Security Council. The reasons are obvious -- the US would be hard pressed to pick up a couple of votes, much less the full support of the council.
For the same reasons, the administration is now trying to claim it doesn't need Congressional approval to invade Iraq.
If Bush felt confident he had the votes, he wouldn't be trying to shirk his duties. Congress is the only national branch of government currently occupied by elected officials (Bush and the Supremes were all selected). As such, Congress is the only branch with the moral authority to commit our youth to possible death. Yet in another example of Bush's disdain for democracy, he's hiding behind his legal team's vapid opinions.
The gist: the 1991 Gulf War resolution and the 9-11 resolution give the president all the authority he needs.
Many observers believe Congress would likely pass a Gulf War II resolution, but with restrictions unpalatable to Bush. For example, the resolution could prohibit a strategy of "regime change," limiting US forces to eliminating Iraq's WMD. There's something to this theory. [...]
"The US now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world...even surpassing...Russia, China, and Iran." #NewJimCrow — @sarahnmoon
On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Today's morning Twitter chatter: audio surfaces purporting to have captured the sound of the shots that killed Michael Brown. Fox Question Mark asks if it's "misleading" to refer to Brown as an "unarmed teen." And the NRA says a mom who works (against them) from home isn't a stay-at-home mom. Big Time GunFAIL: a 9-year-old girl accidentally shoots her firearms instructor in the head. And a legally blind man shoots his nephew. The "white privilege" of "being afraid for your life." "Suburban ghettos" as "ticking time bombs," and Adam Serwer's "Eighty Years Of Fergusons." How AIPAC got Israel funding passed during a Senate recess.