Sunday, September 18, 2011

And the Winner is...

Tonight are the Primetime Emmy’s (definitely not to be confused with Daytime).  The who’s who of TV will be out in force, and Jane Lynch is hosting.  Isn’t she great (maybe even greater than last year’s Jimmy Fallon).  But the real question of the night (aside from who’s going to win) is who are they going to be wearing?  The dress! The shoes! The jewels!  The hair!  Even men are scrutinized, although unknown spouses seem to catch a break.  For those of us who (so sadly) missed the VMAs last month we are hoping to redeem ourselves with this not to be missed TV event.  We can only hope Kayne will be there, or that we somehow get our fill of shock with a Kayne-esque event.  Something has to keep our attention besides shiny dresses and pretty people.  We are committing 3 hours (plus red carpet time) to this and we do not want to be disappointed.

As with life, there are winners and losers.  The Emmy’s have a particularly ugly ratio of 4 losers for every winner, dangerous territory.  Hopefully you are a winner, or at least can count on winning more than once every 5 tries (poor Susan Lucci, it took her 19 tries).  You may have noticed that life has been giving us lemons lately, while the lemonade (or cherries a la Louis Vuitton) seem to be overseas.  Anyone frequenting designer boutiques may have noticed the clientele is more non-Americans than Americans.  Running the numbers, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to learn that people in China are spending more on Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel than we are.  Data released Wednesday showed American’s retail spending was flat in August, lower than expected.  The fact is demand is so high from non-Americans designers are raising prices in America and Europe to keep up with the prices in Asia.  Stores are designing their business development plans around their new clients: non-Americans.  Meanwhile we are worried about where next month’s rent is coming from, and what’s going to happen when our unemployment benefits expire.

What’s going on America?  Are we letting other people get ahead because we’re too busy watching Snooki and Kim K’s every move?  (What about that wedding, huh?)  Of course we can’t also forget the “Real” Housewives, because certainly when you think “winner” they come to mind.  Seriously, though, we need to take stock.  Here’s what’s happened this week:  The Federal Reserve’s New York and Philadelphia surveys for September  reveal large pessimism (coming in at -9 and -17 respectively) from the business community on current sales and future business, which affects hiring levels over the coming months.  Meanwhile, even with the economy in a continued delicate state, consumer prices are on the rise more than we would like.  Data released Thursday shows the prices we pay (“Consumer Price Index”) rose by 0.4% in August, and by 3.8% year over year.  The target rate of inflation in 2%; higher prices eats into our purchasing power and quality of life.  You might think there is no time like the present to focus on being a winner, or not letting our winning status get taken away.  Why watch everyone else wear the jewels instead of working to be able to actually afford them ourselves?

But that will have to wait.  Right now the Emmy’s are on.  Then we need to be on tap tomorrow for more excitement from the Emmy’s – didn’t you know it only gets better?  Tomorrow night Joan Rivers and her Fashion Police crew will break it down in excruciating detail in case you missed it, or just want to re-live the moment.   Even Fashion Police knows how to win by going overseas and is complete with a fantastic import from Britain (Kelly Osborne). 

(Bureau of Economic Analysis, Federal Reserve, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Don't Worry, Be "Unstoppable"

Aren’t you a good friend: your best buddy calls you right in the middle of HBO’s “Unstoppable” back-to-back marathon (right when they put the locomotive in reverse) and you took the call.  Why? They were upset, and apparently airing their troubles on Facebook just wasn’t cutting it (they only got 400 comments).  They needed the prize: you (aren’t you awesome).  Even though you were hoping to get at least three showings of “Unstoppable” in today, you put the final viewing aside for your friend (did you mention it was right when Chris Pine and Denzel go after the 777?).

Your friend seems seriously depressed, when they are usually happy.  Quickly your “unstoppable” mood is in danger of stopping:  they tell you they lost their job and have relationship problems.  All they need is money issues and they’ll have the perfect trifecta (luckily you aren’t the one to bring that thought into the conversation).  They worry money problems will come next and fear they will never find a new job “with things being the way they are.”  

The good (no, awesome) friend you are, you do some quick research online to see “how things are.”  You see that the jobs numbers released on Friday show why your friend is pessimistic – when subtracting loses from gains, the economy added no jobs (that’s zero) in August and the unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9.1%.  The private sector only added 17,000 jobs (much less than what is needed to keep up with population growth let alone reintegrate the unemployed back into the work force) after downward revisions to jobs totals for July and June.  But then you see a bright spot to quickly bring to their attention.  Your friend chose their career wisely by working in healthcare.  You tell them not to despair as they should have an easier time finding employment than other people because, relatively speaking, healthcare jobs have been increasing like gangbusters this year.  Even as most other industries are holding constant or shedding jobs, healthcare added 35,500 jobs in August.  Keep looking and they will find something before they know it.  The numbers are in their favor all around.  Thank goodness for the booming population of old people, it is job security for life.

You then proceed to problem #2: it appears your friend was dumped (a.k.a. “taking a break” that wasn’t their idea).  Relationship problems are not usually fun, unless you enjoy being unhappy.  Your internet research also reveals that, in apparently more great economic news, consumer confidence in August was at a 2-year low.  Last week consumer confidence for August measured in at “44.5”, dropping by almost 15 points from July, meaning we (the public) believe the economy is in another downturn (not good, we need a measure of “50” or above to indicate economic growth).  No wonder your friend is depressed.  You tell them it’s not them, it’s everyone.  We are all feeling a little pessimistic these days and they too can become “unstoppable” if they detach their locomotive from the rest of the train (yes, you like the movie that much).  Take a long weekend somewhere (their schedule just cleared) and hang out with some quality friends (like you).  You assure them they’ll feel better in no time.  Plus, bright side, the expectations component of the measure, while also at a 2-year low, came in at “51.9” which still indicates positive expectations ahead (barely, but you leave that part out).

You tell them there is always a bright side: now your friend can take some time to clear their head and search for a job they actually would like, and maybe even meet someone worth their while (you never liked their significant other anyway).  And, added bonus, they can take the time to enjoy what's important, like the new season of reality delights including "H8rs" where people confront the reality celebrities they "h8" like Snooki and Kim K (what genius).  They can think about such important questions like “I h8 people, how can I get paid to act it out?” or “who will take Maury’s place when he is too old to read DNA results?”   Maybe during a 10 hour back to back Hoarders marathon your friend will come up with the next big thing that all households must buy.  Maybe they could start an (educational but fun) blog!

(Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Conference Board)