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Archive for June, 2011

Nick Charles, RIP

For a time many years ago, CNN — then CNN/SI — was a worthy, more grounded rival to S-PIN. Nick Charles was a big part of that.

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Jobs: Will Char-Meck Ever Recover?

I really hate to write the same damn thing I’ve written for two years — especially don’t like to subject long-time readers to a rehash — but…

Charlotte is broken. The dipshits who went to Seattle this week to party with the Rent Seekers Guild do not have a clue how to fix it — in fact they don’t see much of problem. Mike “Hot Check” Marciano instead actually boasted about working for “system change” in Charlotte. Mayor Foxx is looking for “transformation” from the DNC next year. County workers got their raises, city workers got theirs, Tim Newman and Michael Smith get whatever the hell they want — taxpayers got the bill.

Meanwhile, let’s walk through the real world, the county job totals for the last four Mays:

  • 2008…..442,335
  • 2009…..414,628
  • 2010…..415,160
  • 2011…..414,241

Yes. We are back below 2009 employment levels. Let that sink in.

Further, May 2010 was the last time the county was above 415K total jobs. The pattern has been for employment to decrease into the summer and fall so the chances we climb above that number this year are not good.

At 415K jobs Mecklenburg is 28,000 jobs short of pre-recession levels. Median annual income for the region is around $36,000. Figure over a billion dollars in purchasing power is gone. And we are subsidizing baseball stadiums? Streetcars to nowhere? Taking on new debt?

It is complete madness.

Pay no attention to the 10.2 percent county unemployment rate — not unless you want to add back 5000 discouraged workers and jack the real jobless rate to more like 11.2 percent.

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Stone: Jobs Dealie

Interesting.

Not exactly what I would flog, but Scott Stone has definitely come up with different vision for Charlotte’s future compared to the status quo approach. The emphasis on lower taxes and more efficient government as a way to cook entrepreneurial activity is a major break with the Uptown crowd’s top-down, Star Chamber approach.

What I would love to hear now is — well, nevermind. I was looking backward to previous GOP standard bearers. Stone is clearly trying to forge a new path, informed by fiscal reality, so that is pretty impressive in and of itself for a community now three years into denial.

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Bait Car Works, Will Judges?

CMPD plants a bait car — complete with laptop — off of Freedom Drive, bingo it gets popped. As do four suspects, charged with felonies.

One of those arrested, Deashay Laquan Walker, 16, was charged with felony theft from a vehicle last summer. The case has disappeared down the Meck judicial memory hole.

Update:

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Tax Hike Secure, County Opens Spending Spigot

Gee. Another surprise.

Having weaseled a $70m. per year tax hike, Mecklenburg County staff have resumed spending like no tomorrow with $156m. in new debt in the wings.

Meanwhile, the county has money to give to the sorry Charlotte Knights too. Remember that when your new property tax bill hits your mailbox in October.

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The Big Cat: Put Up or Shut Up

If — if — the NFL labor unrest is fixed with a new CBA featuring a much shorter restricted period Jerry Richardson better get out his checkbook to save his franchise.

The Panthers are five or six starter-quality players away from being competitive; 10 or 12 from being good. The Big Cat would have to begin by locking up all his starters lest they leave, then add everything except S and RB. (Still cannot believe how poorly the Panthers drafted.)

And judging from the way he spends on slick rides, LB Thomas Davis is certainly counting on a big FA payday.

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Core Functions in Char-Meck?

You tell me. Check out this handy guide to make sure.

Me, I see that the city of Charlotte spent $12m. on a streetcar to no where then had to concoct a synthetic TIF for Smokey Bissell because the city did have the $11m. needed for a bridge across 485 in Ballantyne.

Tangled meet web.

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BAC: Shrink in China Too?

Bloomberg has a very interesting dispatch reporting that Bank of America is looking to unload part of its investment China Construction Bank Corp. in order to raise captial. The nut:

Bank of America has been selling assets including its Balboa insurance unit, First Republic Bank and BlackRock Inc. to boost capital and focus on core clients. The firm can build capital through earnings and doesn’t need to issue stock, Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan, 51, said last week. Capital surcharges on the largest banks may crimp lending and drive off investors from financial firms, he said.

And BAC’s cozy relationship with the Treasury Dept. and Team Obama makes me wonder if selling off the Chinese interest also functions as a warning to Beijing: You stop investing in us, we’ll stop investing in you. Even if Washington does not intend to send such a message, I guarantee it will be interpreted as such among some overseas investors and interests who are very attuned to such shifts in positions among “insider” firms.

Update: On cue, a take on new Russian bank investment in Austrian banks through the lens of geo-political importance.

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Your Continued Housing Recession

The WSJ teams with Zillow to confirm the obvious: without jobs a housing market cannot recover.

…Zillow spotted 25 places that are within single-digit percentage points of their home-value peaks. (Zillow found no communities where values have surpassed their high-water marks.) … Look at North Carolina, where three communities appear on the Zillow list. Although North Carolina’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, all three communities are lower than the state rate. Jacksonville, where values are just 0.1% below their peak, is the home of the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station. Fayetteville has the Army’s Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. And Durham is one of the vertices of the Research Triangle conglomeration of universities, state and federal government offices, and government, nonprofit and corporate research facilities.

Char-Meck, of course, has been at or above the statewide jobless rate for almost three years now. As a result home values are anywhere from 10 to 20 percent off of their peaks, sometimes more in the case of condos and especially hyped developments. Local home values cannot recover without jobs. Private-sector jobs. Where will they come from?

BofA? Under siege. Wells? Laid off another 1000 the other day. Duke? In the middle of a defensive merger and still hounded by Indiana regulatory officials. The construction industry? Ha!

Obviously this is the perfect time for a $70m. property tax increase.

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Stagnant: Little Job Growth Statewide

North Carolina’s jobless rate ticked up to 9.7 percent in May from 9.6 percent in April as 41,000 more workers went looking for jobs. But because only 33,600 jobs were added in May the number of unemployed workers increased slightly.

More importantly, May failed to break the pattern of both 2009 and 2010 as the total number of jobs in the state did not break the 4.10m. jobs barrier. In fact, May has stayed right at a 4.08m. job ceiling with the only variable being the number of workers competing for those jobs. Last year, the labor force was about 44,000 workers bigger — which explains why the official May 2010 unemployment rate was 10.7 percent.

Guess what? It is still at least 10.7 percent. Until the total jobs number climbs above 4.10m. and stays there figure that the real statewide jobless rate is somewhere between 10 and 11 percent.

And if that is true statewide, then Mecklenburg’s jobless rate must be at least as high.

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