Monday, April 9, 2012

S&P 500 profits soar. Life is good for the 1%

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, now mayor of Chicago told  corporate CEO's after Obama's election victory in November 2008. The taxpayers bailed out their system and the 1% laid off thousands upon thousands of workers. Capitalist production seized up as credit, which allows capitalism to go beyond its limits had reached limits of its own. 

The crash was all the excuse the 1% needed to do what would have taken them many years under more normal circumstances. Savage attacks on living standards, social services, jobs, etc. under the "shared sacrifice" mantra have followed and the economy in not yet out of the quagmire.  The few thousand people that own big global multinationals are in a good mood. The Wall Street Journal, the journal of the 1%, reports that the S&P's top 500 have emerged from the Great Recession "more productive, more profitable and flush with cash."

These big companies laid of thousands of workers and are not hiring them back.  Agilent the California based tech company laid off 20% of its workforce in 2009 as a result of the crisis.  By 2011, the company's revenue was 22% higher than 2007 with less workers, even after acquiring another company. After analyzing the S&P companies' financial reports the WSJ found that cumulative sales and profits of these companies were greater in 2011 than in 2007 prior to the crash.  They generated $378,000 in revenue for every employee in 2007 and $420,000 in 2011.

BY last year, these same companies added $1.2 trillion to their treasuries and had added 1.1 million jobs.  The problem is that many of the jobs were overseas, where Labor power is cheaper and the cash is there too.  Two thirds of Apple's $82 billion in cash and market securities is in the hands of its foreign subsidiaries the Journal reports. Capital doesn't like borders. It is this global footprint that gives the multinational the advantage over the smaller companies, many of whom are still struggling or going under.

As they place the burden of their financial crisis on the backs of workers and the poor through cuts in social spending, wages,benefits and jobs on the one hand, they "squeeze" more out of those still on the job, in other words, the pace of exploitation of the worker intensifies as fewer workers produce more. Economic terrorism increases.

This is progress;  producing more with less and for greater profits.  It is what they mean by efficiency.  But there is a problem.  Surely if they are producing more with fewer workers who will buy the stuff?  They are paving the road to the next crisis for sure.  Maybe 2014? It's hard to say when but these crises are an inherent part of an economic system where the means of producing society's needs is in private hands and production set in to motion not for social need but private gain so we know there's another crisis around the corner.

But the immediate is what matters.   The market waits for no man.

No comments: