What We Learned This Week
NUMBERS LIE … OR THEY DON’T … We all know what Mark Twain had to say about statistics, how they can rarely be trusted unless, you know, you have the ball at the goal line and the league’s best running back and he’s AVERAGING NEARLY FIVE YARDS A CARRY FOR THE GAME AND … sorry … Anyhoo, a whole bunch of people got very excited Friday on the news that U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew by 257,000 jobs. That’s great, except for all the other numbers: unemployment actually rose in January from 5.6 to 5.7 percent because a lot of Americans, who’d given up for looking for work, are looking for work again. That could actually be construed as a good thing—optimism, don’t you know—except when you consider the jobs they find have a good chance of being below their pay grade. Witness the fact that, according to Gallup, nearly 16 percent of Americans are underemployed, i.e. working at jobs where they are underutilized and undervalued, you know, like Marshawn Lynch.
FOOD(COURT) FOR THOUGHT … RadioShack’s announcement that it filed for bankruptcy Thursday and would sell up to 2,400 of its stores was like finding out an old-time celebrity you assumed had died years ago HAD just passed. And maybe there’s a lesson there for all of us: there’s always another way. Though RadioShack seemed to lose its way years ago when it became far too reliant on selling one-off-brand remote control cars and relying on whatever marketing information can be culled from getting the zip codes of those wanting only to purchase batteries, RadioShack somehow managed to soldier on. Sure, the last time you actually went inside of one of their stores it was just to ask directions to the food court—the lonely RS employee’s eyes seemed to be begging for you to take him with you as he gave you directions—but the Texas-based company lasted 94 years, outliving the likes of Circuit City. So good on you RadioShack! Well done and fair weather. Now, is the Hot Dog On A Stick on the left or right?
EAST AS IN BEAST(MODE … LET IT GO, LET IT GO) … As if “Gangnam Style” recently passing the two billion views mark on YouTube wasn’t proof enough that Asia is where it is happening, man, comes the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development—UNCTAD to its friends—latest report on foreign direct investment showing that China moved past the U.S. into the number one slot. The Chinese attracted $127.6 of FDI while the U.S. dipped to $86 billion—waaaay down from the 230 billion invested in 2013. As alarming as that may be for ‘Muricans, the fact that India’s FDI grew a robust 13 percent to $35 billion while drunk uncle Russia’s FDI freefell 70 percent to $19 billion, shows that smart money is clearly moving east. Of course, as with all things business, this could change in a moment. As our own Michael White pointed out, “the single business deal seen as being largely responsible for the nosedive is that between U.S.-based Verizon Communications and its British partner Vodafone, which included a ‘share buyback’ that caused more than $130 billion in foreign investment to exit the U.S.”
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