Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Economy

“Unemployment happens here first”

The technology to automate almost every fast food job is getting cheaper and cheaper. And tech doesn’t come in late. It doesn’t whine about the patriarchy. It doesn’t have body odor. It doesn’t steal from you. It just works. And if the customer gets a good burger with a lower risk of someone having spit in it… all the better.

(Reuters) -Fast-food workers in California will earn a minimum of $20 an hour and have a greater say in setting workplace standards under a new bill signed into law on Thursday by Governor Gavin Newsom.


“The future happens here first,” Newsom said at an event in Los Angeles, with labor officials and fast-food workers flanking him.


The legislation emerged as part of a broader compromise in which fast-food companies agreed to remove a 2024 ballot referendum asking voters to repeal a law aimed at improving wages and working conditions for employees.


Labor unions, meanwhile, dropped their push to hold fast-food corporations liable for violations committed by their franchisees.

The median fast-food worker in the U.S. earned $13.43 an hour in 2022, while those in California made an average of $16.60 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new minimum, which takes effect in April, equates to an annual salary of $41,600.

Wisconsin is shrinking

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a slice:

We are going to return to a topic that this column broached several weeks ago because policymakers in Madison fail to appreciate the severity of what is to come. Wisconsin is losing population. This is happening in a time of national population growth and the negative consequences will be unavoidable. The time to act is now.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States added 1.8 million, or 0.6%, people between 2020 and 2022. Over the same period, Wisconsin lost 3,372 people, or 0.06%, of its population. After counting all of the people who moved out of the state and subtracting all of the people who moved into the state, Wisconsin’s population is declining despite the fact that the nation, as a whole, is gaining population.


A deeper look into the data reveals an even more dire situation. In the prime working years between 25 and 59 years old, Wisconsin lost nearly 39,000, or 1.5%, of its people. This is the age group that fills jobs, pays the most taxes, and spends the most on things like houses, vehicles, groceries, and the rest that fuels the consumer economy. Even worse, men are leaving the state at a rate faster than women. Given that on average more men participate in the labor force than women, that means that the decline in the available labor force is more pronounced than the overall number suggests.


It gets worse. Coming up behind those working adults, Wisconsin’s population is declining even faster. Between the ages of birth and 19 years old, Wisconsin lost almost 41,000, or 2.8%, of its people. That means that there will be fewer people entering the workforce to replace those exiting.


The only age group that is increasing in Wisconsin is at the top of the age groups. Wisconsin gained almost 67,000, or a whopping 4.6%, people above the age of 60. This age group tends to be at the end of their working career and are drawing down their consumption as they enjoy their well-earned silver years.

USA’s Credit Score Declines


Fitch Ratings downgraded the United States’ long-term foreign currency issuer default rating to AA+ from AAA on Tuesday, pointing to “expected fiscal deterioration over the next three years,” an erosion of governance and a growing general debt burden.




“In Fitch’s view, there has been a steady deterioration in standards of governance over the last 20 years, including on fiscal and debt matters, notwithstanding the June bipartisan agreement to suspend the debt limit until January 2025,” the ratings agency said.


Fitch also highlighted the rising general government deficit, which it anticipates will rise to 6.3% of gross domestic product in 2023, from 3.7% in 2022. “Cuts to non-defense discretionary spending (15% of total federal spending) as agreed in the Fiscal Responsibility Act offer only a modest improvement to the medium-term fiscal outlook,” Fitch said.

The agency also noted that a combination of tightening credit conditions, weakening business investment and a slowdown in consumption could lead the economy into a “mild” recession in the fourth quarter of 2023 and first quarter of next year.

All true. The federal government is led by a bipartisan group of big-spending geriatrics with no thought to America’s long-term solvency. It like the broke grandpa running up credit cards in a booze-fueled binge at a casino. At some point, you gotta cut him off.

Milwaukee County Looks at Ways to Get Landlords to Rent to Section 8 Tenants

This is a good example of the power of incentives.

“If Milwaukee County cannot use a metaphorical stick to force landlords to accept tenants with a Section 8 voucher, then we should consider offering a carrot,” Rolland told the Journal Sentinel. “At the end of the day, Milwaukee County is healthier when everybody can find a safe place to live.”


The Section 8 tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher Program was designed to help with rental assistance for low-income residents and families with a family income of no more than 50% of the median income of the county, roughly $27,396, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.




In 2018, the County Board amended the County Code of General Ordinance about fair housing and included “receipt of rental or housing assistance” as a protected class.

“Big picture: the ordinance was well-intentioned, but after five years of it being in place we can see that renters were not getting the help that they needed,” Rolland said. “And today we know that punishments for landlords are unenforceable.”

Milwaukee County tried to force landlords to rent to Section 8 tenants and it failed. In the end, whatever minimal risk a landlord takes to avoid renting to Section 8 tenants is outweighed by the potential risk of renting to them.

What the politicians fail to understand is why many landlords avoid renting to Section 8 tenants. We all know why… you can identify the apartments in town that accept Section 8 tenants. They tend to be the ones that are the most run down and trashy. They are the apartments that we encourage our adult children to avoid.

Why? Because many (not all) Section 8 tenants treat their apartments like crap. They don’t care for it and often leave it damaged when they leave.

Why? Because they aren’t using their own money to pay for it. The tenant lacks the pride of ownership, even if it is rented, that comes with paying for something with money that he or she earned through the sweat of their brow or firing of neurons. There is no incentive for the tenant to care for the apartment because it costs them nothing to treat it like crap. Thus, many landlords avoid them because the landlords do bear the costs of damage and neglect.

So let’s follow the train of thought… if Milwaukee County creates a bundle of financial incentives for landlords to accept Section 8 tenants, it will likely work for some. More landlords will accept Section 8 housing. Why? Because they are no longer bearing the burden and cost of damage and neglect to their properties. That burden will shift to the taxpayers who are funding the incentives.

So in the end, the taxpayer becomes the forgotten man who bears all of the risks and costs and derives none of the benefits. The tenants benefit from subsidized rents. The landlords benefit from both the additional tenants and the additional incentives. The taxpayer is paying both bills plus their own rent.

Thus spins the flywheel of ever-growing government.

The beginning of a long winter

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

One must give credit where credit is due. Democrat Gov. Tony Evers has had as successful a year as any governor in Wisconsin history, and he did it with strong Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature. He has begun his second term in office with a lengthy string of accomplishments.




Evers was just getting started. Taking the big-spending budget bill crafted by legislative Republicans that already increased spending by almost 10%, Evers used his powerful veto to reshape the budget to his liking.


The biggest change was in the income tax. The Republicans had written a tax cut into the budget that would have simplified and lowered the state income tax such that it would have resulted in a $3.5 billion tax decrease. Evers reshaped the tax plan to where it is actually a $603.4 million tax increase. That is a swing of $4.1 net increase in taxes with a strike of his pen according to the estimate by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The governor does not have the power to appropriate that money, so it will be seen in future years as an unallocated budget surplus that will burn holes in the pockets of politicians. We remember that we entered this budget with a $7 billion budget surplus that was completely spent.


In addition, the governor used his veto pen to give local school districts the power to increase the property tax levy by $325 per pupil per year until the year 2425. That is over four centuries of tax increases that, if local school districts tax to the max like usual, will result in an increase in school spending of $130,650 per student, or $111 billion increase in K-12 taxing and spending with the current student population.




All told, the governor delivered on his campaign promises and advanced his ideology. Under his watch, Wisconsin will see record increases in government spending coupled with record increases of property, sales, and income taxes to support that spending. He has reset the baseline of state government spending to the highest level it has ever been. His party has waged successful campaigns to put radical leftists on the Supreme Court to further protect and advance his ideological beliefs. 


Were I a leftist, I would be applauding his success in the face of a Legislature controlled by the oppositions. As a conservative, however, I lament that Evers has pushed Wisconsin into what will be at least a decade of decline.


Pray that it is only a decade.

EVs Aren’t the Savings You Think


However experts are warning that it takes an average of six years to break even on a purchase – and it can take up to a decade for the premium to pay off.


Customers are also taking to social media to express their regret at their EV purchase, with difficulties tracking down charging spots and unexpected costs. So how long does it really take to save money on an electric car – and is it worth the price?




When it comes to fuel, electricity is generally cheaper than gas. On July 7, the average cost of gas in the US was $3.53 a gallon.


According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the cost of charging an EV is equivalent to filling up a gas tank at roughly $1 per gallon.


Gas prices also tend to be more volatile than electricity prices, which have historically been more stable.




The calculator estimates that the electric car owner will save $1,404 a year charging their vehicle rather than filling up on gas.


By dividing the price premium on the EV by the estimated annual savings on fuel, it would take over eight years to break even on the purchase.

The article shares stories from EV buyers who have buyer’s remorse. I say shame on them for not doing more homework before buying their cars. I’ll say the same thing I’ve said for years… EVs can be an excellent option for some people and a terrible option for others.

EV discussions have become common with people I know. I’ll give two examples of people who have Teslas and love them. Both are high-income people where the purchase price was not much of a factor. It’s more about the experience.

The first person lives in the Bay Area. He rarely drives for more than a couple of hours a day and has a charger in his garage. He commented that he can’t remember the last time that he charged in public. When he travels, he will generally fly if it is more than a 3 or 4 hour drive. He loves his Tesla and raves about the lack of maintenance required (oil changes, etc.) The Tesla simply has fewer moving parts to maintain. He did comment that it burns through tires rather quickly, but that’s a minor inconvenience.

The other person lives in Colorado. The person is single and travels a lot. The person likes his Tesla, but is annoyed by a few of the aesthetic features like the gull wing doors and the long windshield. This person works from home and doesn’t drive much, but occasionally goes on a long trip. In a recent example, the person drove from Colorado to Tulsa to Austin and back home. The travel time took twice as long as it would have in a gasoline car because of the time needed to charge. And in one example riding through the panhandle of Texas, the car almost ran out of charge before sliding into a station. To compensate, the person slowed way down. Overall, the person was annoyed with the travel time, but as a single person without a pressing reason to get back home, the extra time of travel was just that – an annoyance.

In both circumstances, the people like their EVs and are willing to put up with the inconveniences, and, more importantly, can afford to put up with the inconveniences.

In my own case, we do not own a garage or driveway in which to charge an EV. We would have to rely on public chargers. Also, we regularly take cross-country road trips (4 to 6 times a year) where we need to make the transit in a day or two to work around my work schedule. Owning an EV would be incompatible with our lifestyle.

This is where I would like the national conversation to progress. EVs are not morally or economically superior to gasoline vehicles (GVs). They are simply a different technology designed to complete the same task of personal transportation. The choice should center around lifestyle and preference instead of being some political or ethical talisman.

Who Pays for Misadventure?

It’s a good question.

“Five people have just lost their lives and to start talking about insurance, all the rescue efforts and the cost can seem pretty heartless — but the thing is, at the end of the day, there are costs,” said Arun Upneja, dean of Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration and a researcher on tourism.

“There are many people who are going to say, ‘Why should the society spend money on the rescue effort if (these people) are wealthy enough to be able to … engage in these risky activities?’”


That question is gaining attention as very wealthy travelers in search of singular adventures spend big to scale peaks, sail across oceans and blast off for space.


The U.S. Coast Guard declined Friday to provide a cost estimate for its efforts to locate the Titan, the submersible investigators say imploded not far from the world’s most famous shipwreck. The five people lost included a billionaire British businessman and a father and son from one of Pakistan’s most prominent families. The operator charged passengers $250,000 each to participate in the voyage.


“We cannot attribute a monetary value to Search and Rescue cases, as the Coast Guard does not associate cost with saving a life,” the agency said.


While the Coast Guard’s cost for the mission is likely to run into the millions of dollars, it is generally prohibited by federal law from collecting reimbursement related to any search or rescue service, said Stephen Koerting, a U.S. attorney in Maine who specializes in maritime law.


But that does not resolve the larger issue of whether wealthy travelers or companies should bear responsibility to the public and governments for exposing themselves to such risk.

I rather agree with the Coast Guard’s stance. The vast majority of their rescues are not for wealthy adventurers, but for normal people who find themselves in distress – perhaps due to some negligence, but often due to unfortunate circumstances. All of their work is supported by tax dollars for the general good. I don’t really want our government to get in the habit of rendering vital services based on the ability of the recipient to reimburse. While some might get frustrated with the expensive rescue of wealthy people who take extraordinary risks, the action of forcing reimbursement would likely have the opposite of the desired effect. If the Coast Guard can get paid for rescuing rich people, who is to say that they won’t allocate more resources to that effort than rescuing less affluent people? Does not a public university (another taxpayer funded institution) lavish more access and resources on their wealthy students than on middle class ones?

Whenever money changes hands, an incentive is created. I don’t think we want our Cast Guard to be incentivized to allocate scare resources based on the recipients’ ability to pay instead of their risk of life.

Demographic destiny

I’m still out, but here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week:

If, as the axiom goes, demography is destiny, then Wisconsin is facing a troubling economic future. A recent study by the WMC Foundation titled, “Wisconsin’s Demographic Dilemma” highlights the troubling trends that threaten Wisconsin’s current and future prosperity.


According to the study, Wisconsin’s population grew by 3.6% between 2010 and 2020. That is less than half the rate of the national average population growth rate of 7.4% over the same period. Even more troubling, Wisconsin actually lost population between 2020 and 2022. It was only a loss of 1,186 people, but that is a trend in the wrong direction when the United States grew by 1.8 million people over the same period according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Further exacerbating Wisconsin’s demographic destiny is that the population is aging. The national median age is 38.8 years old. Wisconsin’s median age is 40.1 years old. That may not sound like much of a difference, but Wisconsin is one of only 14 states with a median age older than 40 and is tied with Michigan with the oldest median age in the Midwest. An aging population means fewer people working and fewer younger people entering the workforce to support the government programs funding the social safety net. To put it in perspective, Wisconsin’s population in the 65-to-85 age bracket grew by a whopping 41.7% since 2010. Over the same period, Wisconsin’s population in the 5-to-17 age bracket declined by 2.2%. If these trends continue, the consequences for the state’s economy are severe. As of April of this year, Wisconsin has a labor participation rate of 64.8% as compared to 75% in the late 1990s. A full 10% of Wisconsin’s working- age people are opting out of work compared to 15 years ago at the same time that Wisconsin’s working-age population declined by almost 18,000 people between 2010 and 2020. Fewer working age people. Fewer working age people actually working. No wonder Wisconsin currently has about 2.4 job openings for every unemployed person in the state according to the latest data from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The reasons for Wisconsin’s shrinking and aging population are twofold. First, there has been a dramatic decline in the birth rate. Wisconsin is not immune from the national collapse of the birth rate being driven by cultural and economic trends that were accelerated by the pandemic. Meanwhile, people continue to die at normal rates. The net result is that people are dying faster than new people are being born, thus resulting in a steadily shrinking natural population.


Second, Wisconsin is on the negative side of domestic migration. For many years, older Wisconsinites have become snowbirds as they entered retirement and shifted their residences to states with warmer climates and lower taxes. With the advent of remote workers — another trend accelerated by the pandemic — many workingage people have taken advantage of remote work to move to warmer states with lower taxes. Meanwhile, fewer people are moving into Wisconsin from other states. The net result is another steady drain on the state’s population.


Offsetting the dual population drains of a natural population decline coupled with a net loss in domestic migration is an increase of international immigration into the state. Almost 12,000 immigrants from other countries found their way to Wisconsin to add to the population. That was not enough to offset the population drains, thus resulting in Wisconsin losing total population since 2020.


The consequences of a declining population are pervasive. As companies fail to find an available workforce, they will continue to look to other states to expand or move. As businesses leave, more people follow them, thus exacerbating the population decline. Fewer people means a decreasing tax base and fewer services or amenities to attract people. It is not quite a death spiral, but it is certainly a problem that will force years of unpleasant choices.


From a public policy perspective, there is not much that government can do to stem or reverse the declining birth rate. There are, however, public policy choices that would attract more working-age people and their families. The WMC Foundation’s report suggests a few policy recommendations, but they do not go far enough. It is a competitive country out there and Wisconsin is an afterthought when people are considering a move.


If state lawmakers are going to be serious about attracting more people to our wonderful state, they need to dramatically decrease the tax burden. Small changes will not be noticed. Nobody notices when another state lowers its income tax rate. They do notice when states eliminate the income tax. Wisconsin should use the budget surplus to mitigate the impact of eliminating Wisconsin’s income tax to attract high-income families to move to the state.


When those high-income families arrive, they will want great schools for their kids. Wisconsin’s reputation for great schools has faded as educational outcomes have eroded. In modern Wisconsin, less than half of kids read or do math at grade level. Wisconsin needs to dramatically reform schools to deliver the outcomes that Wisconsin’s kids deserve. That reform begins with universal school choice to allow the money to flow to the schools that work.


There are many other policies that should be done, but dramatic tax and education reform would put Wisconsin at the top of the list for the smart, mobile, high-income people that Wisconsin needs to secure its economic future.

Let kids work: Power of work yields lessons for lifetime

Yes, I’m still on vacation, but I wrote a couple of columns ahead of time. Check out my most recent colum from the Washington County Daily News.

Wisconsin Republicans have joined a widespread effort to ease child labor laws to allow more kids to work more often in more places. While advertised as a way to help ease the national labor shortage, it is the kids who will benefit most if the laws are relaxed.


Contrary to the squeals of opposition, nobody supports businesses exploiting child labor. Those who wear shoes and carry phones produced by child labor in other countries seem to be the most vocal about relaxing America’s childlabor laws, but no American wants child sweatshops in our nation. The proposals being discussed are targeted efforts to make it easier for more kids to work.


One bill in Wisconsin, for example, would allow servers between the age of 14 and 17 to serve alcohol. The current law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from serving alcohol. We have all seen how this works in the real world. When dining at a supper club, the 17-yearold server brings everything to your table except the old fashioneds. The poor server has to have the bartender or an adult server to bring your drinks. This is a rule that has no purpose unless one thinks that 16-year-old servers would slurp customers’ drinks on the way to the table. This change in law would simply allow the server who is already working to carry alcohol 40 feet from the bar to the table.


Other states like Ohio are asking the federal government to allow students aged 14 and 15 to work until 9 p.m. on school days. Current laws prohibit them working after 7 p.m., which effectively eliminates the ability for these teens to work during the school week if they are involved in after-school activities. Busy, productive teens are often participating in after-school activities.


What we have seen in the past few decades is that people are beginning their working lives later and later. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age of a worker in 2001 was 39.6 years. In 2021, it had risen to 41.7 years. It is projected to be 42.6 years in 2031. What is driving this is that older people are working to later in life while younger people are entering the workforce much later. The number of 16- to 19-year-olds in the workforce dropped from 7.9 million to 5.9 million between 2001 and 2021, and is projected to drop to 4.9 million by 2031. That is a 38% drop in teens working in a single generation.


Over the same period, the rates of mental illness, anxiety, depression, and suicides have all increased for teens. According to the Center for Disease Control, feelings of persistent hopelessness and suicidal behaviors increased by almost 40% among young people between 2010 and 2020. While there are many causes for the rise in troubled teens, it is not coincidental that more kids are feeling worthless and lost as fewer of them are working.


What too often gets lost in this discussion is that there is an intrinsic value in work that goes far beyond the benefit to the employer. Work teaches young people the value of individual effort, how to participate in a team for a common goal, and accountability for actions. Working at an early age teaches people basic work ethics like punctuality, how to follow directions, professional communication, and time management. It teaches kids how to function in an environment where they are not the center of the universe, how to be productive with unreasonable customers and bad bosses, and slacker co-workers.


The value of work is that it provides kids with a sense of selfworth, pride, and dignity that no amount of self-esteem puffery in school and home can produce. These are benefits that kids will carry within themselves for the remainder of their lives.


Ralph Waldo Emerson once opined that, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” One cannot be happy without feeling useful and valued. Relaxing the labor laws to allow more kids to get that feeling through work will lead to happier, more well-balanced, and mentally healthier adultis.




“Rainbow Capitalism”

Can’t win, eh. This is why I prefer companies that just keep their noses out of activism in any form. Sure, sell the merchandise targeted at the LGBTQ community, but just sell it like all of the other products. When you make a point of getting into activism, it cuts both ways.

Heather Hester told Fox Digital that Target’s reaction confirmed that the organization was ‘in this just for the money,’ and that the company’s recent actions are a ‘huge betrayal’ to the LGBTQ community.


‘Rainbow capitalism is essentially, you know, selling Pride products for profit and not necessarily standing behind the community with support,’ said Hester. ‘That’s what happened, right? There are a lot of things that go into that, but that is what happened at the end of the day.’


Target has lost market value since it viral videos showed its LGBTQ clothing – including ‘tuck-friendly’ gear – on sale in stores.

Crime Destroys Home Values


Other notable declines occurred in major metros like Austin, Boise, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Los Angeles – all of which saw their median home price shed at least $60,000 since April of last year.


San Francisco and Oakland both saw price drops into six figures with the median value decreasing by $220,000 and $174,000 respectively.

I was speaking to a friend who lives in the Minneapolis area. She commented on how home prices in her town were still high with limited supply, but she knew of people moving out of Minneapolis proper who were losing their shorts on their homes. People are sick of the crime and are fleeing. Unfortunately, like what happened in Chicago, there are fewer and fewer people who care about crime living in these cities. What’s left are people who will continue to vote for Marxists who will continue to encourage the carnage with pro-criminal policies. The cities are in a death spiral.

The trap that we must avoid is to bail these cities out. They have made a choice. They should deal with the consequences. There is no rational reason for people who made better choices in other communities to send their hard-earned money to be flushed down the crime sewer.

Uber Diversity Executive Takes Leave Amidst Controversy

For the life of me, I don’t understand why companies think that it is their responsibility to use the workplace to correct society’s ills. They should certainly keep bigotry and hate out of the workplace (we call that “professionalism”), but why does Uber and other companies feel like they need to use their time and resources to address societal or cultural issues? Not only is it not their job, it is fraught with professional and market peril – like we see in this story.

CNN — 

Uber’s diversity chief is on leave from the company after criticism from some employees related to an internal panel called “Don’t Call Me Karen.”

Bo Young Lee, Uber’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, is on a leave of absence, Noah Edwardsen, an Uber spokesperson, confirmed to CNN on Monday.

Lee oversaw a series of sessions called “Moving Forward” at Uber that focused on issues around race, gender identity and class. One of the more recent sessions was titled, “Don’t Call Me Karen,” and focused on the experiences of a handful of women leaders, a person familiar with the matter told CNN. “Karen” is a slang term that usually refers to a middle-aged white woman with a strong sense of entitlement, often at the expense of people of color.


According to the New York Times, which was first to report the news, Black and Hispanic workers at Uber first felt that organizers of the event were focusing more on the harms caused by using the moniker “Karen” than the harms white people can inflict on people of color.

In a follow-up listening session, the Times reported, some employees felt their concerns weren’t being heard and that instead of a chance to provide feedback or have a dialogue, they were lectured by Lee about their response to the initial “Don’t Call Me Karen” event.

Deadbeat Demands More Money To Fuel Spending Spree

Giving the government even more money to spend will not solve the problem.

“With additional information now available, I am writing to note that we still estimate that Treasury will likely no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June, and potentially as early as June 1,” she wrote.


Total consumer debt hit a fresh new high in the first quarter of 2023, pushing past $17 trillion even amid a sharp pullback in home borrowing.


The total for borrowing across all categories hit $17.05 trillion, an increase of nearly $150 billion, or 0.9% during the January-to-March period, the New York Federal Reserve reported Monday. That took total indebtedness up about $2.9 trillion from the pre-Covid period ended in 2019.

That increase came even though new mortgage originations, including refinancings, totaled just $323.5 billion, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2014. The total was 35% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2022 and 62% below the same period a year ago.

Banking Collapse Accelerates


Trading in the shares of two more regional US lenders was temporarily suspended on Thursday amid a widening crisis for the country’s mid-sized banks.


Regulators stepped in to halt trading in the Los Angeles-based PacWest and Arizona’s Western Alliance following dramatic drops in their share prices.


It came after another mid-sized bank, First Republic, was sold to JP Morgan earlier this week. Depositors had pulled $100bn from First Republic, fearing their money was no longer safe.


PacWest had sought to calm markets on Wednesday and said it was in talks with several potential investors after its shares fell by as much as 60%. But the sell-off continued on Thursday and affected other regional banks.

NYPD Pilots Flexible Shifts

While I expect these options to be popular with some, I doubt it will stem the exodus. I don’t think most are leaving (or not joining) because of the way shifts are structured.

The flexible schedule comes amid a mass exodus of veteran officers retiring or taking jobs at other departments for better pay and benefits. The department is experiencing high overtime costs as the rest of the force picks up the slack with extra hours.




Under the 12-hour shift option, officers work three days on and three days off within the NYPD’s scheduling framework.


In the 10-hour option, officers would work 10-hour shifts for four days, followed by two days off.


Officers based in the Bronx — in the 45th and 47th precincts and in Transit District 11 and Public Service Area 8, which serves city housing projects in the 43rd, 45th and 47th precincts — are participating in the pilot program. If the program works, the city hopes to expand it.

New Zealand Ceases Livestock Exports


WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s last exports of livestock by sea have been completed and live exports have ceased, its agriculture minister said on Friday, as it fully implemented a ban on export shipments of animals on the grounds of their welfare.


The government announced in 2021 that shipping animals offshore, largely for building herds in trading partners like China, would be halted but farmers would be given two years to transition out of the profitable export business.


“Our position on the map means that the journey to northern hemisphere markets will always be a long one and this brings unavoidable animal welfare challenges,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in a statement announcing that live exports had ceased.

Finland Opens New Nuclear Reactor

This is the way.

OL3’s operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), which is owned by Finnish utility Fortum and a consortium of energy and industrial companies, has said the unit is expected to meet around 14% of Finland’s electricity demand, reducing the need for imports from Sweden and Norway.


The new reactor is expected to produce for at least 60 years, TVO said in a statement on Sunday after completing the transition from testing to regular output.


“The production of Olkiluoto 3 stabilises the price of electricity and plays an important role in the Finnish green transition,” TVO Chief Executive Jarmo Tanhua said in the statement.


Construction of the 1.6 gigawatt (GW) reactor, Finland’s first new nuclear plant in more than four decades and Europe’s first in 16 years, began in 2005. The plant was originally due to open four years later, but was plagued by technical issues.

Tech Layoffs “outsized impact on parts of the business that don’t generate revenue”

Ouch. This is the same reason that we see layoffs disproportionately hitting areas like DEI. It’s a good lesson for anyone’s career… work in the part of the business that generates money. It’s not always possible. Every company needs HR, accounting, etc. people, but it’s safest if you are somewhere in the flow of cash.

CNBC spoke with influencers, small businesses and Meta account managers as well as a half-dozen former contractors and former Meta employees about the deterioration in customer service at the company since the job cuts began in November. Taken together, they tell the story of a company whose quick pivot in late 2022 from rapid expansion mode to forced contraction had an outsized impact on parts of the business that don’t generate revenue.


The slashing of customer service has left Meta unable to address user issues ranging from people being locked out of their accounts to software bugs not getting fixed in Facebook Groups. It’s long been a challenge for Meta, given that Facebook and Instagram are used daily by billions of people. In August, Meta’s vice president of governance, Brent Harris, told Bloomberg News the tech giant was looking to improve its support.


A Meta spokesperson declined to comment for this story but sent CNBC examples of various ways the company has invested in customer service in recent years, including a small test of a live chat support feature on Facebook and a support site for some creators.

WWE Merges with UFC

This merger seems somehow appropriate with the Trump indictment.

World Wrestling Entertainment is merging with Endeavor Group, the parent company of competitor UFC, to form a new publicly traded company.


The deal values the newly combined company at over $21 billion: UFC is worth $12.1 billion and WWE is valued at $9.3 billion. Endeavor shareholders will own 51% of the newly combined company, while WWE shareholders are getting 49%.


“This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed,” said Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, in a statement. Emanuel, a Hollywood powerhouse agent, will be the CEO of the new company and retain his chief executive title at the agency.


McDonald’s Closes Offices Ahead of Layoffs

This is an interesting tactic.

Fast food chain McDonald’s is temporarily closing its US offices this week ahead of an expected announcement on corporate job cuts.


The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the move, said McDonald’s had told US and some international staff to work from home so it can deliver decisions on jobs virtually.


The burger chain has declined to comment on how many posts are affected.


The cuts are part of a wider company reorganisation it announced in January.


At the time, McDonald’s boss Chris Kempczinski said the company was being hurt by an “outdated and self-limiting” structure.


The Wall Street Journal said it had seen a message from the company stating that: “During the week of April 3, we will communicate key decisions related to roles and staffing levels across the organization.”


McDonald’s has also asked employees to cancel all in-person meetings at its headquarters, the paper said.

I get it. It’s a good way to avoid workplace violence. I knew a company once who never fired people on Fridays under the theory that people might stew on it over the weekend and come in Monday to blow the place up. I’m not sure I buy that theory, but it’s a thought. Perhaps McDonald’s is on to something here.

It’s going to be a crappy week for a lot of people at McDonald’s, but it’s been tough all over.



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