Article 43

 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recession Means More Outsourcing

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Recession set to boost outsourcing

Survey of more than 200 outsourcing service suppliers finds 40-plus percent of those polled had seen increased demand levels, despite economic downturn

By Rafi Cooper
Infoworld
October 29, 2008

Demand for outsourcing is set to outpace business investments in hardware and software as the recession hits home, says a new survey.

The outsourcing industry will benefit from end-users needing to cut costs, particularly in the short term, according to a survey from sourcing advisory firm, EquaTerra.

The survey, compiled among more than 200 outsourcing service suppliers, including companies such as Accenture, Atos Origin, Capgemini, IBM, Infosys, and Wipro, and EquaTerra’s own consultants, found that more than 40 percent of those polled had seen increased demand levels, despite the economic downturn.

Demand was stronger in Europe than North America (64 percent of E.U. advisors cited increased demand compared to 25 percent in the Americas). However, 38 percent cited economic conditions as causing buyers to slow or defer outsourcing efforts.

The survey suggests that outsourcing projects are changing, with a strong focus on quick return on investment replacing longer-term initiatives to improve end-to-end business processes.

Martyn Hart, chairman of the National Outsourcing Association, says, “Outsourcing has always been associated with cost savings and now with all companies setting aggressive cost saving targets for next year we may see more and more outsourcing contracts come to fruition.”

There is a also a longer-term trend toward supplier rationalization in order to simplify sourcing and governance efforts. This is because buyers are seeing an increased cost and complexity from employing multiple providers in overlapping functional areas. As Hart explains: “With the focus moving back onto cost as the main deciding factor in outsourcing, having one outsourcing supplier will minimize management, due diligence and supplier selection costs.”

Stan Lepeak, EquaTerra’s managing director of global research, explains that “leveraging software tools to automate and improve governance operations will be central to achieving business case objectives for multi-provider outsourcing efforts.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/30/08 •
Section Job Hunt
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Biggest Con Job Of 2008

The Dirty Little Secret Of The US Bank Bailout

By Barry Grey
World Socialist Web
October 29, 2008

In an unusually frank article published in Saturday’s New York Times, the newspaper’s economic columnist, Joe Nocera, reveals what he calls “the dirty little secret of the banking industry"--namely, that “it has no intention of using the [government bailout] money to make new loans.”

As Nocera explains, the plan announced October 13 by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to hand over $250 billion in taxpayer money to the biggest banks, in exchange for non-voting stock, was never really intended to get them to resume lending to businesses and consumers--the ostensible purpose of the bailout. Its essential aim was to engineer a rapid consolidation of the American banking system by subsidizing a wave of TAKEOVERS of smaller financial firms by the most powerful banks.

Nocera cites an employee-only conference call held October 17 by a top executive of JPMorgan Chase, the beneficiary of $25 billion in public funds. Nocera explains that he obtained the call-in number and was able to listen to a recording of the proceedings, unbeknownst to the executive, whom he declines to name.

Asked by one of the participants whether the $25 billion in federal funding will “change our strategic lending policy,” the executive replies: “What we do think, it will help us to be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling.”

Referring to JPMorgan’s recent government-backed acquisition of two large competitors, the executive continues: “And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way, and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop.”

As Nocera notes: “Read that answer as many times as you want--you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy.”

Later in the conference call the same executive states, “We would think that loan volume will continue to go down as we continue to tighten credit to fully reflect the high cost of pricing on the loan side.”

“It is starting to appear,” the Times columnist writes, “as if one of the Treasury’s key rationales for the recapitalization program--namely, that it will cause banks to start lending again--is a fig leaf.... In fact, Treasury wants banks to acquire each other and is using its power to inject capital to force a new and wrenching round of bank consolidation.”

Early this month, he explains, “in a nearly unnoticed move,” Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, put in place a new tax break worth billions of dollars that is designed to encourage bank mergers. It allows the acquiring bank to immediately deduct any losses on the books of the acquired bank.

Paulson and other Treasury officials have made public statements calling on the banks that receive public funds to use them to increase their lending activities. That, however, is for public consumption. The bailout program imposes no lending requirements on the banks in return for government cash.

Already, the credit crisis has been used to engineer the takeover of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual by JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, Wachovia by Wells Fargo and, last Friday, National City by PNC.

What the Wall Street Journal on Saturday called the “strong-arm sale” of National City provides a taste of what is to come. The Treasury Department sealed the fate of the Cleveland-based bank by deciding not to include it among the regional banks that will receive government handouts. It then gave Pittsburgh-based PNC $7.7 billion from the bailout fund to help defray the costs of a takeover of National City. PNC will also benefit greatly from the tax write-off on mergers enacted by Treasury.

All of the claims that were made to justify the bank bailout have been exposed as lies. President Bush, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Paulson were joined by the Democratic congressional leadership and Barack Obama in warning that the bailout had to be passed, and passed immediately, despite massive popular opposition. Those who opposed the plan were denounced for jeopardizing the well being of the American people.

In a nationally televised speech delivered September 24, in advance of the congressional vote on the bailout plan, Bush said it would “help American consumers and businessmen get credit to meet their daily needs and create jobs.” If the bailout was not passed, he warned, “More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account.... More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs ... ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession.”

One month later, the bailout has been enacted, and all of the dire developments--banks and businesses disappearing, the stock market plunging, unemployment skyrocketing--which the American people were told it would prevent are unfolding with accelerating speed.

While Obama talks about the need for all Americans to “come together” in a spirit of “shared sacrifice"--meaning drastic cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social programs--and the cost of the bailout is cited to justify fiscal austerity, the bankers proceed to ruthlessly prosecute their class interests.

As the World Socialist Web Site warned when it was first proposed in mid-September, the “economic rescue” plan has been revealed to be a scheme to plunder society for the benefit of the financial aristocracy. The American ruling elite, utilizing its domination of the state and the two-party political system, is exploiting a crisis of its own making to carry through an economic agenda, long in preparation, that could not be imposed under normal conditions.

The result will be greater economic hardship for ordinary Americans. The big banks will have even greater market power to set interest rates and control access to credit for workers, students and small businesses.

While no serious measures are being proposed, either by the Bush administration, the Republican presidential candidate or his Democratic opponent, to prevent a social catastrophe from overtaking working people, the government is organizing a restructuring of the financial system that will enable a handful of mega-banks to increase their power over society.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/30/08 •
Section Dying America
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Alcatel-Lucent Looking Up And Still Laying Off

Alcatel-Lucent’s third-quarter loss narrowed

New CEO reassures investors on financial stability, affirms guidance

By Aude Lagorce
Market Watch
October 29, 2008

Shares of Alcatel-Lucent rose as much as 17% on Thursday after the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment reported a narrower third-quarter loss, affirmed its outlook for the year and reassured investors that it is financially stable.

The net loss narrowed to 41 million euros ($53.6 million) from 258 million euros in the year-earlier quarter.

Operating profit, which analysts use as the main gauge of the company’s performance, fell 43% to 40 million euros. It fell short of the average 99 million euros forecast by 11 analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Sales declined 6.6% to 4.07 billion euros, just ahead of consensus expectations of 4.05 billion euros. In the carriers’ business, which accounts for roughly 60% of the company’s sales, revenue slumped 13%.

Gross margin came in at 32.5%, down from 34.2% a year earlier, and at the lower end of expectations.

Ben Verwaayen, the former BT boss who took the helm of Alcatel-Lucent less than two months ago, said he will produce a plan to return the company to profitability in December.

He also reassured investors on the financial situation of the company, saying it has 4.46 billion euros in cash and marketable securities and less than 1 billion euros in refinancing in the next 12 months.

Verwaayen replaced Patricia Russo, one of the key architects of the 2006 merger of Lucent and Alcatel, in September after the company posted its SIXTH STRAIGHT QUARTERS OF LOSSES. Philippe Camus was named non-executive chairman to replace Serge Tchuruk.

On Thursday Alcatel-Lucent also affirmed its outlook for the year, when it expects revenue to be down in the low to mid single-digit range. The company continues to expect an adjusted gross margin in the mid thirties and an adjusted operating margin in the low to mid single-digit in percentage of revenue in 2008.

Richard Windsor, of Nomura International, said it was encouraging that the outlook had been maintained, but noted there are still no signs of the savings that investors were promised at the merger.

Alcatel-Lucent is in the process of cutting 16,500 jobs, or about 20% of its global work force.

Alcatel-Lucent shares traded 17% higher in Paris morning trading.

Carrier division continues to suffer

The situation remained difficult in the quarter, with Alcatel-Lucent seeing a reduction in spending by certain customers in developed markets, especially in fixed and terrestrial optics.

Windsor pointed to a huge miss on operating margin in the carrier group as the most worrying development. The margin came in at -3.3% compared to consensus of 1.5%.

Alcatel this month said it’s reviewing its options regarding the potential sale of its 20.8% stake in French defense electronics group Thales.

Dassault Aviation has already said it would be interested.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/30/08 •
Section General Reading
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Capitalist Crisis

What Will You Do About The Worst Capitalist Crisis Since The 1930s?

Uniting & fighting back is no longer a choice; its a matter of survival

By Larry Holmes
Workers World
October 28, 2008

Most people have heard that the economic nightmare the “greed and profits before society” that the capitalist system is plunging us into - is the worst crisis since the so-called Great Depression of the 1930s.

What you won’t get from the capitalist mass media is how the crisis of the 1930s transformed tens of millions of frightened workers and desperately poor people of all races and nationalities into a fighting force organized on the basis of class solidarity in an epic struggle against the capitalists and their government. By the end of the 1930s, it was not the super-rich, but the organized working class that seemed all powerful and unbeatable.

Working and poor people, devastated by the depression, entered the 1930s destitute, broken and hopeless. Yet by the time the decade was over, the working class had won great battles, first by organizing itself into Unemployment Councils and tenants unions and later into giant labor unions.

Social Security, Medicaid, millions of jobs created by giant public works programs and the right to unionize were among the major achievements of the struggles of the 1930s.

With the help of communist activists dedicated to fighting on behalf of the working class, people organized to stop landlords and banks from evicting families from their apartments or homes.

Workers in the auto, steel and many other industries discovered new tactics in their fight to win the right to belong to a labor union. In addition to going on strike, sometimes the workers decided to stay in the plants and factories where they were striking. They took them over until they won their demands.

A leaflet urging people to attend what became one of the most famous mass protests against unemployment in New York City’s Union Square in March 1930 simply read, “Fight or Starve.”

That was one of the biggest lessons that the working class learned during the 1930s either we push aside all that divides us, and anything that someone can use to divide us like class, and fight like hell or we will not survive.

This lesson is as relevant today as it was 75 years ago. Whether we unite and fight back will be a matter of survival for most of us this time as well. Let there be no doubt: Unless youגre rich, chances are either you will lose your jobsome of you already have too little pay - and find it almost impossible to find a job or you will lose a place to live. Many will lose their student loans. Others will lose their pensions and find themselves burdened with debt and no health insurance. Many more of us will be homeless and hungry.

The cultural ideas and norms of recent timesideas and norms invented and perpetuated by the capitalist system, the billionaires that it serves, their media, their schools, their hierarchy where most of us work and their political system - have not prepared us to act in our own interests in concert with others.

The ideas reinforced every day are that if you fail, its your fault alone. The rich are rich because they’re smart. Human nature is innately bad so don’t trust those like you; you’ve got to compete with them. Along with these lies, there is the big one that things will get better sooner or later because this is the greatest country and capitalism is not only the best system, it’s the only one.

The basic conspiracy afoot here is designed to keep us divided, confined to our own personal worlds, essentially left alone to deal with the crisis and the capitalist class that’s at war with us 24/7.

With the incredible stresses of today, people certainly deserve the right to put their headsets on and zone out to the great music theyve downloaded on their Ipods. Or veg-out on the several thousand cable stations on their TV (if their cable hasn’t been turned off due to lack of payment). Or spend hours online, which is both social yet isolating at the same time. One can, of course, abuse substances of choice, but ultimately that does more harm than help.

Most people probably think, with good reason, that capitalisms most effective social control mechanisms are its racist police, FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, courts, jails and the Pentagon, all now under the umbrella of “homeland security.”

Obviously government repression is a problem. However, in and of itself, itԒs not enough to control the masses or stop us from rebelling.

Equally, if not more effectively, are the ways in which the system works very hard to program us not to unite and fight.

What the system does is a lot like whats depicted in the movie “The Matrix.” In the real capitalist matrix our comatose bodies are not warehoused somewhere, while our drugged minds stumble around in a computer-generated dream world. Still, the function of the real capitalist matrix is more frightening and diabolical because it’s not a movie.

The capitalist system works hard to keep our political consciousness paralyzed and in a coma in order to make us passive, regimented, disconnected from each other and thereby easier to exploit, which is what the parasitic capitalist system is really all about.

In order to unite and fight for our right to a job and a place to live, to healthcare and education, to all that we need and deserve, were going to have to break out of the capitalist matrix. Some will break out before others, but most of us will make it out.

In the movie, Neo is given the choice between the blue pill which equals blissful ignorance, and the red pill which is the path to the truth and to revolutionary action. With every passing day, more and more workers will take the red pill. Which one will you take?

Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Posted by Elvis on 10/28/08 •
Section American Solidarity • Section Dying America
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Another 400 Billion

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What will any saver in the world do?

First of all, your currencies, retirements, bonds and annuities will be severely devalued. Your savings will be severely downgraded in purchasing power. The world governments clearly will not act until they are forced to, as they are weakened. They are going to debase your money to try to delay the inevitable economic retrenchment in a post USD centered world.

Your primary objective might be to save any wealth you have. You will have to try to keep enough liquid wealth, cash, various currencies to be able to pay bills. You will have to reduce your financial expenses.

You will have to try to keep wealth in paid off assets, such as non bubble real estate (yes that still exists in most parts of the world) and also maybe in gold or other precious metals. You will have to plan on currency restrictions if things get bad, and limited monthly withdrawals on your accounts, regardless of how much they have in them. You are going to experience your financial accounts being restricted and or frozen in some institutions.

You are going to have to plan on some place you can live in if you lose your income, or that income is drastically reduced in purchasing power preferably some modest property that is paid off.

People will have to deal with fuel and food shortages and high costs.

People are going to have to give up the idea of getting investment returns since risk is out of sight, and merely keeping what money/wealth they have is most important.

You must toughen yourselves, regardless of your age or position in life.
- Christopher Laird

---

The impending credit crisis cant be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for Americans highest earners so that the upper 1%-- who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity---will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.

Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous subsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.

The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nations infrastructure.
- Mike Whitney

U.S. Should Enact $400 Billion Stimulus, Roubini Says

By John Brinsley
Bloomberg
October 28, 2008

The U.S. government SHOULD ENACT an economic stimulus package of between $400 billion and $500 billion before the end of the Bush administration in January, New York University professor Nouriel Roubini said.

Roubini, who predicted the current financial crisis in 2006, said the economy risks falling into a self-fulfilling animal spirit recession that is more severe than otherwiseӔ because of the collapse of credit markets and weak consumer and corporate spending.

The only way to increase aggregate demand is going to be throughӔ government spending on roads, bridges and other infrastructure, Roubini said at a Bloomberg conference in New York. We need a huge plan, $300 billion is not going to be enough. I think weӒre going to need a plan of $400 billion to $500 billion.

U.S. Treasury officials and other policy makers are grappling with financial turmoil that has pushed down the Standard & PoorԒs 500 Index by 42 percent this year, its worst annual retreat since 1931.

If we don’t do that fiscal stimulus today, three months from now, six months from now the collapse of the real economy is GOING TO BE SO SEVERE that anything were doing today to recapitalize the financial system is going to be undone,Ҕ Roubini said.

Tax Rebates

President George W. Bush in February signed into law a $168 billion measure that sent tax rebates of as much as $600 to individuals and $1,200 to couples. Checks went to 111 million households beginning in May.

Government efforts to revive lending have made central banks around the world the lender of first resortӔ while credit and other markets remain extremely dysfunctional,Ӕ Roubini said.

Financial markets are becoming totally unhinged,Ӕ he said. Fundamentals donӒt matter, valuation doesnt matter the only thing that matters right now is flows, and the flows out there are sellers, and no buyers.Ҕ

Investors withdrew a record $43 billion from hedge funds last month, according to TrimTabs Investment Research in Sausalito, California. The Goldman Sachs VIP Basket of stocks with the most hedge fund ownership has lost 47 percent this year, more than eight of 10 industries in the S&P 500.

WeӒre entering literally a vicious circle where economies are spinning down, financial markets are spinning lower, and the policy makers in my view—and thats my biggest fear—have lost control of whatҒs going on in financial markets, Roubini said.

SOURCE

THE NEXT RECESSION PART 4
THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION
CONSPIRACy THEOREY
WAKE UP AMERICA

Posted by Elvis on 10/28/08 •
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