Retirement-savings insecurity keeping older workers from retiring
Some of the surveys suggest that half of people in the upper age ranges of the workforce are putting off retirement. We find ourselves in a complicated spot: Part of the point of Social Security was to ensure that older workers got out of the workforce so that younger workers would have someplace to go. If the older workers don't depart, there's a surplus of labor and wages are pushed down. But here's the rub: Social Security isn't enough for a comfortable retirement, and everybody who honestly looks at it knows that. So we (very sensibly) encourage people to save and invest on their own for retirement. This, in turn, makes us both workers and capitalists. But, ironically, as we pour money into retirement savings (in other words, increase investment capital), our interests as capitalists cause us to demand higher returns on our investments. And right now, the real gains in profits aren't coming from investing in new workers -- they're coming from automation, computerization, and other investments in equipment. Why hire new workers when there's so much uncertainty in doing so and so much greater certainty in the returns to better computers, robots, and machines? That's why we are still talking about a more than five-year-long "jobless recovery", in which the nation's total output is back to normal, without the same number of workers as before. Big companies are letting go of workers while still trying to get the same amount of business done, and that only happens when they're able to employ tools that make their remaining workers more productive. It's complex -- and anyone who tries to break things down into oversimplified matters of things like "corporate greed" just doesn't get that complication. Most people are both workers and capitalists at the same time, and there are important reasons to figure out how to avoid high and persistent unemployment without wasting the resources that help savers and investors enjoy something in retirement.
Justice Department and JPMorgan Chase reach $13 billion civil settlement
The bank's going to have to pay $9 billion in fines and penalties, and essentially rebate $4 billion to customers. Oy. It's been argued that JPMorgan is paying a big penalty for having salvaged the biggest bank failure in US history back in 2008...which the government, of course, wanted somebody to do.
Is it too soon to find out what ads we'll see during the Super Bowl?
Nestle is going to roll out a Butterfinger-based version of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. This development is going to do wonders for American waistlines.