Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Morning Quick Hits

Oil prices drive inflation Skyrocketing oil prices are forcing manufacturers to raise prices and aggressively jockey for market position as they attempt to offset the rising cost of merchandise made from petroleum. Manufacturers of end-user goods that are manufactured from petro-chemicals, like tires, toiletries, plastic packaging and computer screens, are watching their costs skyrocket, and they find themselves forced onto the horns of an unpleasant dilemma: Should they raise prices, shift to less costly procedures (possibly compromising quality), cut workers, or all three?

Food banks are seeing a spike in new clients
as Americans struggle to put food on the table. Over the last year, demand is up 15% to 20% and food banks are struggling to cope with the increased need. While the total number of people seeking assistance at food banks is not known, the upward trend is one sign of an economy in a severe downturn that is driven by soaring fuel costs and the rising price of other basic goods. It has all come together in one giant, oppressive economic clusterfuck that has pushed people who were clinging to the margins over the edge and into hardship. Food banks report a trend of more and more people with steady jobs turning up at their centers to wait in line, fill out forms and collect rations of free or reduced-price food. At the same time, the government reports that new applications for food stamps is also on the rise.

$3 Trillion That is how much wealth has been transfered from oil consumers to oil conglomerates between 2001 and 2007, and the pace of transfer is running at $1.8 trillion a year.

Corporate espionage is alive and well The spying scandal that ensnared German telecom giant Deutche Telekom (yes, the problem of snooping telecoms is pretty much global) has now snared national airline Lufthansa, which has admitted to spying on a former board member and a journalist for a financial daily who consistently vexed the company with accurate reporting on the goings on of the board.


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