Quantitative Easing… made easy for at least 1.2 million people!

After watching this cartoon by Omid Malekan, QE2 must be clear – at least conceptually – to the 1.2 million viewers who’ve watched the video on YouTube! If that hasn’t worked for you, try following Felix Salmon on Reuters to see why Quantitative Easing may not quite be the solution to solving America’s ‘burning’ issues/problem/s – job creation, to begin with; the liquidity trap, deflation… Ben Bernanke’s nemesis? Yep, this reference is to QE2 – hot in current news, being touted all around, for more than one reason.

Feel like you’re sailing in uncharted territory aboard the maiden voyage of QE2? Well, breathe easy, you’re not alone! Just twitter about it… no, then how about this? Talking and blogging about a maiden voyage  (hear a lighter note?), here’s some trivia…

Prince Charles was the first “civilian” passenger to board QE2, with her first captain, William Warwick. Now, talking of Bill (no, not from the US Federal Treasury), indeed, Prince William is the first among England’s “royalty” – just engaged – to embark on a life-voyage with Catherine Elizabeth “Kate” Middleton, a “civilian”. 🙂 😉

It appears that QE2 may well be the current hot news… not only around financial round tables, but also in socio-economic circles! 😉

Reasons to reject re-appointment of Mr Bernanke… except for one!

It may be that a Republican has won in Massachusetts. Even so, it may be imperative to reappoint Mr Bernanke as Chairman of the US Fed Reserve because alternative candidates are worse qualified for this position. (This reeks of the old adage, “a known devil is better than an unknown angel”.)

Better stated… ‘Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know’! In the context of the current state of the economy we fear that those ‘other’ candidates may actually end up ‘strengthening the hands of the inflation hawks’, causing more damage over the long run.

Financial reform and unemployment are the two prime concerns for the US economy today. If re-appointed, Mr. Bernanke, along with his team, must focus on obliterating mass unemployment; and together, they will need to objectively review their own failed policy decisions of their first term.  Immediate corrective action is imperative, since it will impact American lives for years to follow.

This, in a nutshell, is how Mr Paul Krugman surmised the present situation.

In the war against Al Qaeda, how will the US cope with rebellious local youth!

Billions of tax dollars are spent by US to wage a war against terrorist groups outside the nation. But then a young man from Long Island, New York, travels all the way to Afghanistan, receives training from Al Qaeda, then plots a terror attack over his home base, then goes on to confess… who and what should the American people fear more?

The anger and terror lies within the common people of the US. The reasons may be varied… frustration about the status quo, ignorance, prejudice, poverty, skewed perceptions, unreasonable expectations of life…

It’s odd though… people from other parts of the world have thus far believed that Americans have it all… with no reason to be frustrated, that they are all rich, beautiful and smart! The irony of it all… and now in the present downturn, we have already heard of how these pent-up emotions of frustration and anger of the unemployed can take shape!

Response to: “The New Frugality: No Passing Fad” in The New York Times

In response to this article, http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/the-new-frugality-no-passing-fad/comment-page-11/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Largely, you could say I’ve lived frugally my entire life; whether or not I held a well-paid job, did a survival job, or when I have no job; only, so that I could save for the rainy days (which are a given for most people, at least at some point in their lives, on an average); yes, and my savings I invested conservatively – not always with great results, but with reasonable success. Despite being watchful, today those investments have dwindled to virtually nothing. In fact in the given situation, I even played the bear market, so as to recover some of my losses. But in a single day the market spiked because of one measly piece of news. For almost two years I’ve been unemployed, despite my best efforts. Yes, I’ve lived off my “savings”… and no, I’ve never ever claimed unemployment insurance (that would be demoralizing for me). Tired of applying for jobs that are commensurate with my skills (with little success) and my profession, I started to apply for jobs – anything that I could handle, and which I was confident would fit my skills. I still don’t get them, perhaps because I’m “overqualified”. I trimmed my resume, but no go. Networked, contacted recruiters, applied for jobs online… no response. I started my own business… after delivering a couple of projects it’s been quiet… there’s no work! Where I live, it costs me a lot to keep going out looking for a job. Oh, and did I mention… I’m not hooked up to cable TV, rarely eat out (perhaps 3-4 times annually), am not a shopaholic (classic styles can go far). The car is 10 years old, I eat once a day… where do I cut back further? Here are a couple of blog posts which may interest some readers:
https://chitralekhan.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/ad-agency-layoffs/
https://chitralekhan.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/is-todays-stock-market-rally-for-real/
Even for those “frugal” folk among us, who are now considered “fashionable”, how far and for how long would our savings “for a rainy day” carry us? I’m busy trying to figure that out. Tax filing deadline isn’t too far now… this year at least that should be easy-peasy, eh? Especially if you haven’t had a job for most of the past year.

Ad Agency layoffs

In Spring 2008, when I referred to layoffs at marketing companies and ad agencies, some smart alecks scoffed at my words, merrily mocking me and my writing. Numerous people holding jobs then dropped pearls of wisdom… “Network, get yet another degree (since my MBA does not seem to cut it), or better still, change your profession“. Some even went as far as suggesting I change my personal [‘Look’ and ‘Feel’]… like I was some website that was long overdue for a total makeover!

Of course, last March, Bear Stearns, believed to have been firmly parked at 383 Mad Ave in NYC, was only just beginning to teeter…  we all are now privy to its change of address… they’ve moved permanently to the annals of financial history. At the time of their big move, the formal announcement of a recession that had already been three months in the making since December 2007 was at least three seasons away! It is highly unlikely then that A&M agencies could have been insulated, impending announcements notwithstanding! However, only those who were laid off, and those who never got  hired — despite job postings that continued to appear (to ostensibly lure fresh, “experienced” talent) — would have gotten a whiff of the hard times to follow; obviously, the rest of the world was happily oblivious to the latent harsh effects it was already beginning to experience!

Long before birds herald the onset of spring, you may have heard (and read) twitters about ad agency layoffs. Think back, the frequency may have been rising since mid-December 2008. Now why is that? It’s because that’s when the US government formally announced that the recession had already set in since December 2007! Looking back now, for 12 months this recession had stealthily taken its toll on jobs, home sales, the fate of companies and on families that depended on these organizations – directly, or indirectly; or even on retirees who lived off their fixed incomes! Wow, so now that it was official, it was okay to openly talk or twitter about how much even the ad agencies were hurting.

You just have to read the compilation of all the twitters (14 pages as I blog just now) to truly gauge the severity of this situation. If that’s too much work, especially considering you may be looking for work, take a look at BNET’s mind-boggling layoff numbers… including ad agency, media and marketing layoffs, ever since the recession started. These will show you why you’re meeting with little success in finding a new job. Or that if you do still have your job while your colleagues have been shown the door, why it’s no time to be smug… the pink slip may likely be well on it’s way to you! Perhaps it’s time to consider another field, go to school and acquire a new skill… and while you’re working on that resume, remember also to go for a makeover on yourself… I’m just sharing those pearls of wisdom I’d received from the mavens on Mad Ave!

The layoff counter keeps ticking.
The layoff counter keeps ticking.
No stopping to this counter's ticking!
No stopping to this counter's ticking!
The Twitter since December is getting louder in Spring '09.
The Twitter since December is getting louder in Spring '09.
When will the Twitters end?
When will these Twitters end?

Of layoffs… something’s not quite right.

Piecemeal layoffs avoid warning laws

Yes, this one sounds much like what I expressed almost a year ago.

Continuing job losses may signal broad economic shift

More on Jobs (Including  a Little Good News)

Thanks for the link, EON.

Ever Closer to 1982.

What to do when you lose your Job (Some advise from various experts)

Searching for work and not giving up

Three unemployed New Yorkers look for work as more than 4.4 million Americans have lost their jobs since the recession started in December 2007.

NJ Governor says he’s prepared to layoff state workers

Well, search and you’ll see more headlines… perhaps news like this best be buried. For the unemployed it may be wiser to focus on the “job search“; like someone said, “Make it your job to get a job.”

Easier said? Well, we don’t know unless we try, right! 😉

Hats off, to all those brave job-seekers in Manhattan!

“Wow!” said the cabbie in Gotham, and “Oh wow!” sez I, sitting at my desk after watching this video of gutsy New Yorkers. But for the video caption, I’d have wondered, “Who are all these people waiting in line outside the Sheraton Hotel on 53rd St in sub-zero temperatures!”

In contrast to the expected turnout of about 2000 job applicants at the Job Fair on 24th February, over 5000  applicants showed up! Including a few men but mostly women, they all waited their turn patiently outside the hotel in a long winding queue, until they could meet one or more of the 40 prospective employers that participated in the event.  With resumes and their portfolios in hand, donning business suits, here they were braving not only the bleak weather, but perhaps steeling themselves against looming possibilities that they may well have to consider even entry level positions, if at all… Most were mid-career applicants with numerous years of solid work experience and talent and these are tough times even for recent graduates! I learned later, there was another job fair at the Radisson Martinique in Midtown Manhattan just days before this one… thousands showed up, but with little luck.

The stock market reflects the goings-on in the job market… today, the scenario was even more alarming than last week. Did all those seeking employment at the Job Fair last week meet with success?  At this point, hard to tell… many of them were requested to apply online! It has the ring of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”? Perhaps it is the 21st century tactic adopted by foot-dragging clerks-posing-as-hiring managers from companies who must at least pretend they’re not going the penny-stock way.

Frankly, at this stage, I fail to understand why companies e.g. AFLAC or even Home Depot would hire more people at this stage; or for that matter Sovereign Bank!

In the past year, AFLAC stock value has dropped by over 78%, and last January the Chairman magnanimously  turned down his $2.8 million bonus for 2008, not to mention even some of his $26 million “golden parachute”. But it seems some folks who have attended AFLAC’s “training” sessions say they’re hiring in every state; apparently, their hiring practices reek of a pyramid scheme! Hey, this is hearsay (I do not know this for a fact since I have absolutely no affiliation to them one way or another.)

Again, less than a month prior to their participation in the aforementioned job fair, Home Depot announced 7000 layoffs, on grounds that dismal sales had hurt them. A month down the line they would set out to hire a new set of people, eh, is that how it works? I find it really hard to digest such information. Likewise, “1000 to be laid off”, indicated the announcement from Sovereign Bank (in their effort to lower costs)… just weeks before Christmas 2008; then they are displayed as prospective employers at a job fair the following February? What in the world is going on? Dangling carrots in front of hopeful (and sometimes desparate) job-seekers… without any qualms whatsoever!

I’m afraid to further research all of the companies who may have been actually present at the Job Fair… to confirm whether or not they recently laid off hundreds or thousands of employees. Only those who waited out in the cold that February morning can really tell their story. Those who are still awaiting responses to their applications, submitted in-person or online, may have another set of tales. Yes, and I’m also thinking of all those who were laid off by these companies and who may now learn that their past employers are hiring again! What has become of them… are they also waiting at other obscure job fairs, or knocking on the doors of some recently laid off employee posing as a hot recruiter?

It’s such a shame, these shams… boy, what a scam!

Sham, or Scam?
Sham, or Scam?

Shifting Careers… they never write, they never call.

Now, they even think my comments are inappropriate (or who knows, may be irrelevant?) and do not publish them… boy, am I amused!

Yesterday, I was reading Michael Melcher’s rather common sense advice on how to handle the silence, which job-seekers are faced with during their job search endeavors. There were about 11 comments from readers, some with web-links to their blogs, or business pages. After reading this piece, I sent the following comment to the blog moderator at The New York Times:

“Eight months back I blogged about this very subject by putting my thoughts in somewhat blank verse (and based on my mood then, a tad tongue-in-cheek). Here’s the link to how I expressed myself https://chitralekhan.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/automated-voice-message-systems/
Michael, thanks for your online advice regarding offline job-pursuits.”

Is it abusive, off-topic, trite? Or holds a grain of truth? 😉

If you’re looking for career advice on job hunting, chances are you’ve already read Melcher’s post. No matter what, don’t lose heart. Hold this torch, continue with your search.

Feel like wiping the smiles off their faces? Like they’ve wiped off millions of jobs!

Is it important to ask a web (2.0) site owner, “What’s your business model?”

We know, time will tell, and a method will evolve, later, rather than sooner!

When any new product (read “social networking or, web 2.0 website”) is ‘soft-launched’, it’s very fashionable for tech trend followers to question right away, “So, what’s their business model?”. These people soon try to determine whether they’re the next ‘Google’ (or Bill Gates) around the block; are immediately curious about how the two-week-old site is going to be “monetized” and be profitable; or how the bunch of kids conceiving this site while fooling around in their ‘garage’, will now leapfrog directly from “Pop & Mom paying for their Tall Starbucks Lattes” to becoming “Grande millionaires in any Californian city”!

I have often wondered whether the timing of such a question is appropriate. On the one hand, these people are deemed as ‘kids’, who were ‘just pottering around in their basement’. What, and how much should we expect them to know about business models especially given that they are the tech types, probably just out of school or killing time before they head to MIT, Caltech, Harvard or Stanford (not to Wharton, please note). Furthermore, will it not be a long time before their site actually has enough ‘measurable stats’ on traffic to determine the success or failure of their site. Why is there a pressure-of-sorts right away to make money, even before these guys have found their feet? (Even in a brick-and-mortar operation the ROI expectations are rarely immediate, despite a relatively better knowledge of business and market environment and clear product, revenue, sales, cost of production, overheads & profits and a clear business plan.) Besides, for every ‘breakthrough’, ‘killer application’, or ‘new concept’, there are (or will be) at least a dozen copycats. After all, that not being difficult, next item to worry about is how does one build one’s user base? The quickest way to acquire new users is to allow them free login at the end of a simple, two-minute, three-step registration process. (To begin, get on to the affiliate marketing bandwagon.) These sites are geared towards teens, tweens, young adults or singles seeking mates, hence WOMM (i.e. word-of-mouth marketing, or any form of referral or viral marketing) is the fastest method of bringing in new users – that is sooooo obvious.

With new websites (along with each one’s alpha, beta versions) brought to the WWW every day, it’s rather difficult to keep track of all the sites. Unless, these whiz kids find angel investors and venture capitalists to fund them at least for the first few years, visibility of these sites certainly diminishes over time. Out of sight, out of mind… Likewise, it follows, as a user you better be on the same site as your buddy, or else, out of site, you’re out of their minds (and out of the social scene, buddy)! But, how many sites can you be active on, how many sites will you register on? Which sites will be around for a long time, or then of course, why even bother about brand loyalty? (Who pauses to dwell on these issues, anyway!) The target groups have short attention spans, fewer loyalties (at least perhaps in these matters, without me sounding presumptuous), so they’re bound to go hopping around on whichever site holds their fancy at least for a while. Of the hundreds of Web 2.0 sites that have been launched, why is it that one hears only about a handful… Facebook, mySpace, youTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, Shutterbug and some others? Until such time that the investor funding lasts, they’ll keep advertising hence the high visibility. Besides, the frenzy of new registrants (active or otherwise) appears good on the books. The stats look good too. Well, they’re the sort who devise the mathematical models to track user stats as well, right. But somewhere along the line, they also have to “monetize”, right, and make it a profitable business model. Once they’ve been around for 4-5 years, their funding either has dried up, or now, the investors want to see the profits roll in. Well, do the users care whether or not you – the site developer, founder, management or owner – makes money? Of course not, they’re not on your site to click on the ads that are going to bring you revenues. They are smart, remember, and they’re not loyal. They’re inundated with advertising through all their gadgetry. They have this great knack of ignoring what they don’t wish to see or hear. Remember, you and I were in our teens, tweens and are now young adults. Should we pause for a moment to think about this?

Top 1000 List – Everything Web2.0

How many of us have heard of them all, leave alone signed up on 100s of them?

What do you think is the business model for each one of the 1000 and at least a 1000 others like them?

And today, we read about this