Saturday, May 6, 2017

Slow Saturday Special: No Longer Working

"US jobs data show some scars from recession finally healing" by Christopher S. Rugaber Associated press  May 05, 2017

WASHINGTON — Some of the job market’s scars from the Great Recession have yet to heal.

The proportion of Americans who either have jobs or are looking for one dipped in April to 62.9 percent from 63 percent. While that figure has improved over the past 18 months, it remains well below the prerecession level of 66 percent.

The number indicates not only a 37.1 percent true unemployment rate, the level of participation is below that of 1964 -- before Johnson's Great Society programs against poverty. I gue$$ you could say we've come a long way, baby.

Economists don’t expect that figure to get much better. With the vast baby boom generation retiring and younger Americans more likely to stay in high school and attend college, fewer Americans will likely work or seek work in the foreseeable future....

And yet I was told a burst of hiring in April provided reassurance, and that so far, the job market under Trump closely resembles the one Barack Obama presided over. 

Don't forget AI replacing us all.



"A solid pickup in hiring last month helped push the stock market to record highs Friday. The gains were driven by energy, technology and industrial companies. The Labor Department told investors what they had hoped to hear: employers added more workers last month after a sluggish beginning to the year. After a quiet morning, stocks rose in the afternoon...."

Okay, we now who the Department of labor an$wers to.

But what do I know, I'm an old geezer:

"Keezer’s, a Cambridge staple for 122 years, to close" by Katheleen Conti Globe Staff  May 05, 2017

What could very likely be the oldest second-hand clothing store in the country is shutting its doors after 122 years.

Keezer’s, a Cambridge institution that counts generations of Harvard professors, students, and notable alumni, including John F. Kennedy, as customers, is slated to end its long run selling men’s formal wear and dress clothes on the cheap on July 1. Owner Len Goldstein said that after nearly 40 years working six days a week, he is ready to retire.

“This is my 79th semester at Harvard. I’ve been in retail my whole life; my lower back hurts, my neck hurts,” said Goldstein, 64. “I’ve never been to Europe, I missed out on my kids growing up, I’m missing my grandkids growing up. It’s time.”

Goldstein said he sold the single-story red wood frame building on River Street outside Central Square to billionaire businessman Gerald Chan, who has spent millions over the past five years amassing Harvard Square properties. Records show the property was sold to a limited liability company for $2.35 million earlier this year.

There is a chance Keezer’s the store could survive his retirement. Goldstein is trying to sell the business and said he has three interested buyers. And an executive at Chan’s company raised the prospect of a new owner staying in that location.

The store was founded in 1895 by Max Keezer, an immigrant from Holland. Goldstein bought it in 1978 when it was still in Harvard Square. He was three years out of college and working odd jobs when he heard the current owner was planning to retire.

“I had the same amount of money in the bank as I had in college loans, and had to do a scale: I could pay off my college loans, but then what? Or, I could buy a business and maybe fail but I didn’t think I would fail. So I bought it. I was 25,” Goldstein said. “So here I am, almost 40 years later.”

His mother cosigned a $2,000 loan so Goldstein could buy inventory. Goldstein was no stranger to retail, having gotten his start when he was a kid making change and later learning inventory at a liquor store his family owned in Chelsea.

Keezer’s moved to its current location in the mid 1980s. Among the customers dressed by Goldstein were Conan O’Brien when he was at the Harvard Lampoon, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz.

Keezer’s has long had a reputation for bailing out last-minute shoppers in need of formal wear; it’s not uncommon, Goldstein said, for grooms to come in on the day of their wedding looking for a tux.

One well-circulated account contends that while at Harvard, Kennedy would send his valet to Keezer’s to sell his clothing for spending money, Goldstein said. Another old story is that Franklin D. Roosevelt was also a customer while at Harvard, “but I can’t substantiate that one,” Goldstein said.

Ben Levy, a bassist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has shopped at Keezer’s for 13 years....

Honestly, it's sort of reached the point where.... sigh.


Buffett is bailing on IBM?

"IBM falls as Buffett reports reduced stake" by Jing Cao and Noah Buhayar Bloomberg News  May 05, 2017

Warren Buffett is acknowledging what many investors have already realized: IBM’s long-promised reinvention is slow, painful, and nowhere near close to the end.

In an interview with CNBC, the billionaire chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. disclosed that he sold about a third of the firm’s investment in the computer-services giant during the first half of this year. Before the sales, Berkshire held about 81 million shares. The news led IBM to tumble as much as 3.8 percent to $153.00 Friday, its lowest intraday price since November. The stock recovered somewhat to close down 2.5 percent, at $155.05

IBM has been frustrating investors for years, reporting in April its 20th straight quarterly revenue decline. The company once synonymous with mainframe innovations has been slow to adopt cloud-related technologies and has had to play catch-up to the likes of Inc. in offering computing and other software and services over the Internet.

“I don’t value IBM the same way that I did six years ago when I started buying,” Buffett told CNBC. “I’ve revalued it somewhat downward.”

Buffett said that in looking back at how IBM thought its business would develop, “what they’ve run into is some pretty tough competitors.” He may have been thinking about Amazon Web Services, said UBS Group AG analyst Steve Milunovich. Amazon’s cloud computing commands about 45 percent of the market for infrastructure as a service where firms buy basic computing and storage power from the cloud.

Berkshire started building its IBM stake in 2011, and eventually became the company’s largest shareholder.


"Jury awards $110.5M in baby powder lawsuit" Associated Press  May 05, 2017

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis jury has awarded a Virginia woman a record-setting $110.5 million in the latest lawsuit alleging that using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused cancer.

The jury ruling Thursday night for 62-year-old Lois Slemp, of Wise, Va., comes after three previous St. Louis juries awarded a total of $197 million to plaintiffs who made similar claims. Those cases, including the previous highest award of $72 million, are all under appeal. About 2,000 state and federal lawsuits are in courts across the country over concerns about health problems caused by prolonged talcum powder use.

Climate change.

Slemp, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, blames her illness on her use of the company’s talcum-containing products for more than 40 years. Her cancer has spread to her liver. Although she was too ill to attend the trial, an audiotape of her deposition testimony was played. In it she said: ‘‘I trusted Johnson & Johnson. Big mistake.’’

Jim Onder, one of her attorneys, said Friday that Slemp was ‘‘thrilled’’ when the verdict was shared with her in a phone call and that she hoped it would ‘‘send a message.’’ He said she is too sick to talk to reporters.

Johnson & Johnson, based in Brunswick, N.J., said in a statement that it would appeal and disputed the scientific evidence behind the plaintiffs’ allegations. The company also noted that a St. Louis jury found in its favor in March and that two cases in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge who said there wasn’t reliable evidence that talc leads to ovarian cancer.

‘‘We are preparing for additional trials this year and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,’’ the statement said.


Related: Changing Diapers

Also seeApartments planned for site of former hospital in Roxbury