Wages Drop While Companies Profit

According to Payscale, wages have risen 12.9 percent overall in the US since 2006.

However, when you factor in inflation, “real wages” have actually fallen 9.3 percent. In other words, the income for a typical worker today buys them less than it did in 2006.

According to CBS News, corporations are on-pace to spend $433 billion worth of buybacks, which is double the previous record set in Q1 2018. Why are they doing this?

One of the ways we were asked to judge the success of the GOP tax cuts were to see how they’ll help everyday people. By that measure, they’ve undoubtedly failed. They’ll also expire in 2025 for most Americans while the lower corporate rate will be permanent.

Toys Were Us

Toys R Us played an important role in two of my past lives.

As a kid I’d go to their store in Union City, Georgia and excitedly make my birthday and Christmas wish lists (mostly Nintendo games and accessories).

As an adult I had them as a client at my last job and managed their digital ads for about a year.

Like a lot of people, I’m sad to see them go because of all the great memories. But the closing is particularly frustrating because Bain Capital, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and Vornado Realty Trust saddled the company with so much debt that it couldn’t succeed against Amazon, Walmart, Target, and its other competitors.

The Geoffrey toys my kids own:

Jenny Lewis featured in a 1980’s Toys R Us commercial:

The final message posted today on the Toys R Us website:

Godspeed, Toys R Us!

You will be missed.

ALICE

From CNN:

The economy may be chugging along, but many Americans are still struggling to afford a basic middle class life.

Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.

The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed “to survive in the modern economy.”

Full article here.

More info from the United Way here.

 

“The Tax Cut Is A Damp Squib”

From The New York Times:

So far, Donald Trump and his allies in Congress have achieved one and only one major legislative victory: passing a large tax cut, mainly aimed at corporations and business owners. The tax cut’s proponents promised that it would lead to a dramatic acceleration of economic growth and produce big gains in wages; they hoped that it would also yield big political dividends for the midterm elections.

So how’s it going? Politically, the tax cut is a damp squib: Most voters say they haven’t seen any boost to their paychecks, and Republicans are barely talking about the law in their political campaigns. But what about the economics?

You might be tempted to say that it’s too early to tell. After all, the law has been in effect for only a few months, and we got our first look at post-tax-cut economic growth only last week. But here’s the thing: To deliver on its backers’ promises, the tax cut would have to produce a huge surge in business investment — not in the long run, not five or 10 years from now, but more or less right away. And there’s no sign that anything like that is happening.

Full article here: “How’s That Tax Cut Working Out?”

Dead Malls

Dead malls fascinate me. It’s incredible to see hubs of so much activity get abandoned and neglected as consumers move on to the next thing.

Here are a couple of photos of Union Station (better known as Shannon Mall) I took in March 2013. The mall was located in Union City, Georgia before being demolished in 2014 to make way for television & film production studios. I wish I’d taken more.


Wikipedia has a surprisingly great write-up of the mall’s history, the challenges it faced, and its ultimate demise.

The Dead Mall Series by YouTuber Dan Bell is great and explores interesting spaces around the country. Here are a few highlights:

More dead malls can be found at deadmalls.com.