The Cardinal Crisis
Mundane Astrology provides us with the tools and insights to prepare for the future.
How we do so says more about our humanity than anything else.
From cold waves devastating the southern hemisphere to heatwaves in the northern hemisphere, the world's climate continues through its transition by force of the celestial bodies.
Will things get better or worse? The cyclic index provides us deeper insights into the mass psychology of the world so we may better navigate the future years just ahead.
The planets Venus and Mars in the early degrees of Libra have recently played their roles in adding to the strength of Cardinal T-Square transits.
The power of the cardinal transits of the major planets relative to the Earth has been the cause of the powerful inclinations and influences affecting numerous regions around the world.
As always, world events correlate to astrological transits.
The effects on the Earth's climate continues along the lines of increased precipitation, which I warned about last year in my El Nino/La Nina forecast.
The weather disruptions are caused by the activity of the Sun, the Moon, and the modulating influences of the planets in our solar system.
The floods are especially noteworthy because of the direct association with Jupiter and Uranus in tropical Pisces, and the position of Neptune/Chiron in tropical Aquarius.
Jupiter and Uranus, now conjoined to the fixed star Scheat in Pegasus in 2010 through to 2011 feature heavy rains, floods, mudslides, accidents, and deaths associated with the powerful influences on the Earth's atmosphere - caused by celestial forces.
Aerial Tour Of Iowa Floods
Russian Heatwaves May Kill 15,000
Argentina Freezes: Is Colder Than Antarctica
This is a year of extremes in the climate and weather as well. I continue to urge people to take special precautions when planning to face the weather conditions of 2010, and into the years ahead.
Very strange and hard times out there. From 20% unemployment to skills shortages, there seems to be no end in sight of the real estate/bank crisis that started it all.
Or is there?
The "doom and gloom" prevalent these days was forecasted to come, but few listened, or even bothered to take the time to consider in the last two decades.
Nonetheless, times are indeed changing. But what's next? That's the question on everyone's lips.
Over the next several months, I expect the climate spurred by the collapse of the residential and commercial real estate market to be grim. I called for price drops as high as 75% and heard from some economists that this could never happen.
Yet, it is happening.
This is deflation - on steroids.
The bubble real estate economy of Wall Street that fostered corruption, greed, and ever-higher prices for over 10 years due to false formulas and pie-in-the-skies forecasts is a thing of the past.
Prices of housing will continue to fall like rocks, as forecasted, while unemployment peaks in the mid-20+ percentile range. In the U.S., that is close to 15 million people out of work, and growing.
In brief, the world is in the midst of strong astronomical inclinations and influences that signal historic times.
The leading economic indicators now show what few voices said it would. I forecast applying the principles of mundane astrology.
click on graphic to enlarge
But, the question is: what is this economic double-dip leading to?
Well, the future is always in motion, and it is my belief as a mundane astrologer that we all have the power to shape our collective and individuals futures, but to do so, we must always with the transits in mind.
And that's often the hard part for most people.
Put simply: The Cardinal Crisis transits are years of great change. These years, at least to the middle of this new decade, will challenge those who are unable to adjust, and overwhelm many who chose not to adapt.
The Cardinal T-Square configurations which affect the entire planet is basically a harbinger of a deflationary economy for many sectors and regions of the world.
It will take time to fully deflate - at least enough to allow for a economic recovery to begin that is desperately needed worldwide.
Cardinal Grand Cross: August, 2010, Athens, Greece
Click Chart To Enlarge
From my mundane calculations, I forecasted a double-dip to strike during the second half of 2010 and into 2011. My forecast has not changed.
The main thing to remember about the years ahead is that it will be a mix of the period 1973-82, and the early 1980s from now to 2015.
However, the next 10 years features a time of major transitions - in all sectors of life, both personal and professional. It is wise for those who hear and know this to make the preparations they are able in advance of the new decade.
There will be long-awaited opportunities and success for those who went many years without during the high-flying bubble years. And there are tragic struggles and radical changes for those who lived high on the hog during the same bubble years.
Times are seriously changing.
I also forecasted that a second stimulus effort in the U.S. will have to be initiated.
We can see this taking shape with the recent news that the Federal Reserve is going for another round of quantitative easing - buying more government bonds to jump-start an economic recovery.
See ~ It is being called "QE-Lite" by economists.
The effect of this will not be fully felt until 2011, so, in the meantime, the coming autumn, and winter months ahead will feature continued challenges directly related to the global economic crisis.
I have advised clients to take time this year, to take it easy, while reviewing the changes they will need to make in the months ahead before the official start of the 2010s by March 2011.
Eras are shifting, and so is the Earth's psychology.
World Mass Psychology: 2010-2020
The Mundane Cyclic Index
By Theodore White, mundane Astrolog.S
click image to enlarge
Confidence is everything.
The emotions, and mood swings of entire groups, organizations, and populations often determines the success of failure of all levels of business and overall economic growth.
Knowing this means things do not look too bright in the near to medium term.
I'm sure all the bad news as it has related to economics, and society in general, has people not only upset, but fearful of the future.
These fears affect confidence.
It does not help that continued news of corruption, greed and gouging customers by banks run by an establishment fearful of getting older has played its negative roles which then led to the severe economic recession that has overtaken economies of scale.
This is where the mundane cyclic index can help to see how best to navigate the years ahead.
Before I get to the index, it is important to remember that a positive outlook is key to any kind of success.
It does not help that the outgoing establishment of Baby Boomers have allowed their angst over aging to pervade over the times. But this has already happened, and continues to occur; therefore, confidence is poor.
Still, once the "shock" of turning 60 and over (which is relatively young in mundane astrology) has led to acceptance by the generation of Baby Boomers (one cannot stop Mother Nature) they will look up to find a world transformed, mainly through the waste of time and resources of the recent past they once exclusively managed.
I have been highlighting the generational troubles of the Baby Boomers for some time, and for good reason - for it is part of what I've been seeing in my mundane cycle runs into the future.
It continues to be my estimation that if the Baby Boomer generation did not "sell out" over their turn as establishment, the world would not be in the convoluted mess it is now in.
People have related that they find it unbelievable that the most carefree and loud generation of post-modern times, the Baby Boomers, have, as the establishment since 1993, turned into the closed-minded and fearful-angst-authoritarian generation the Boomers themselves demonstrated and railed against in the 1960s and 1970s. Their own parents.
The Cardinal T-Square would have played out naturally, rather than with added weight of the artificial problems created, fueled, and maintained by the delusions and greed of the establishment.
If you are a part of this generation and fail to see the obvious - then shame on you.
The Baby Boomers simply "blew it." Big time.
The mismanagement of nearly every function of society, in private and public institutions, from the executive suite down to the classroom floor, has been an unmitigated and total disaster.
It is a testament to why things are worse than they could have been.
Transits confirm this generation is now fully on their way into retirements many Boomers denied ever was coming.
I still am trying to find the Baby Boomers who came up with the "Me-my-generation-going-to-live-forever-drugs forever-crash-dot.com-and-take quick-profits-to-bubble-up-real estate massive-don't-trust-anyone-over-30-and-wham!-botox-viagra-thank-you-Mame-60-is-now-the-new-20."
Who believes such total and insane crap?
Retirement for the Baby Boomer generation is here. Human beings age. This is a physical and spiritual fact of life.
We all grow up and we do age.
That retirement time is now and you'll have to face it, and yes, deal with it too.
With the global transits ahead, the faster one admits this, the easier it will be to survive in the 2010s. Forewarned is foretold.
It is time to get real.
The party, that long Baby Boomer era, is over, and when the economic fields of Woodstock are emptied of this generation the economy will resemble something along the lines of this:
Woodstock - Trashed
For those who are younger, and look on the world with fear, and angst, I say this:
A change of outlook and a positive spirit will make all the difference in the years ahead.
To determine how one should best proceed in these times, it is essential to construct long-range aspirations first.
Then, after this is done, your short-range goals will be solved.
I strongly recommend this approach knowing the world transits of the next decade. Also, because of the diversity of "opinion," and "economic forecast" it is wise to always remember what the astrological configurations are to confirm anything that is forecasted.
It is my assessment, from mundane calculations, that until mass confidence returns, that the global economy recovery will be choppy at best. This is over a ten-year cycle, from 2010 to 2020.
In mundane astrology, we use astrological data sets to determine how the configurations of the planets over periods of time affect all manner of things in the world - including world psychology over the eras.
The modern cyclic index was founded in the 1940s by mundane French astrologer Henri Joseph-Gouchon.
It was later expanded on by the work of mundane astrologer Andre' Baubault, who says:
The cyclic index focuses on the outer planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto - and adds up the sum of the arc between them.
The rising and declining phases of the arcs of the transpersonal planets show mundane astrologers what the overall emotional, confidence and mass psychological levels will be throughout the world over years.
Remember, markets are driven by confidence, or, by mass psychology.
The mundane scale used is from 1,000+ to 1,000 minus. The index is split in half with positive periods above 0+ and negative arc periods below 0-minus.
click to enlarge graphic
The cyclic index during the 2010s is below 0-minus, this is a decade with lower than normal psychological levels due to the configurations of the outer planets.
I know. It totally sucks. A whole decade? Yeah, but, you know, sometimes you've just got to work and push on ahead with what you've got and need to get. This is also one of the keys to future success.
Year 2000 to Year 2100: Rises & Declines of the Mundane Cyclic Index
The positive phase of the mundane index show eras when there are expansive growths of economies. We observe populations that are happy, positive, confident, and generally optimistic about things and the future.
The declining cyclic index shows the opposite: economic recessions along with a lack of confidence, lowered mass psychology featuring pessimistic outlooks, sluggishness and crisis.
We are in a declining world psychological cycle now. It has just started and will extend over the decade of the 2010s.
"Gloom and doomer."
That's what I was called by some people, even those interested in astrology, who, several years back did not want to hear of the coming problems associated with these important world transits.
Now, those very world transits are here.
For more -> see this 10-minute instructional video on the Mundane Cyclic Index.
Knowing this, we can surmise that most of the decade of the 2010s will be a kind of brooding 10 years to say the least in much need of major infusions of optimism.
The losses of lifestyles, the collapses of businesses, the millions of foreclosures, the failed commercial ventures, mostly from the flow of greater numbers of money and corruption throughout the financial system, adds up to a cloudy decade at best.
photo: Visual Impacts
The decade will be filled to the brim with hundreds of millions of people worldwide who have been immersed by the economic crisis of the late 2000s - effectively financially underwater. We also see nations, cities and states struggling with unheard amounts of debt.
The austerity measures announced by many governments in 2010 reflects the contracting cycle apparent from the Mundane Cyclic Index.
A lot of people - including the Middle Class - are out for vengeance and they are going to get what they want because they have lost much.
Leave a bunch of pissed off and laid-off moms and dads with growing kids who need to see dentists in a room with say big-time bankers, hedge fund salesmen, and Goldman Sachs players and you will see something worse than Nightmare on Elm Street going down in that very room.
That's what I call a true "reality" show.
But you won't see that anytime soon while Americans are flooded with images from a wealth of ego-serving reality shows, along with American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, and America's Got Talent to keep their minds off the serious shit going down in the real world.
Therefore, we can also surmise that the angst which has been with the world since 2007 will continue to be a drag on life and business in general during the decade of the 2010s. It is time to make adjustments.
My view is to tell the truth, but to also discover ways of navigation for clients who require personalized astrological reports.
I am of the outlook that no matter the transits, either rising, or in decline, that forecasting, preparation and then proper navigation of such world transits is the stance all people should take.
This means not to give in to the overall angst of others, nor to simply say because the cyclic index is in decline that one simply should stop trying to be positive. It makes things worse, not better.
This is because with human beings, the transits incline, but they do not compel. I cannot stress enough how important this is to remember, and to practice in life.
Knowledge of the transits is power, and through this knowledge one is able to then improve climates, as well as navigate them without stress, nor fear, but with hope, strength and positive-thinking.
So, we do have choices using our free will. We always have the freedom to express a positive outlook, or, a negative one.
Of course, at the collective level this is much more difficult to manage, and this is exactly where the world is now with the spectrum of negative economic, dark psychological angst, along with the feed of tragic social news from around the globe which compete for our attention daily.
My best advice to handle the 2010s is this: Think and act positive.
This is a practical positive behavior, not flighty, nor given to blindness or whims which are not in tune with the realities of the era.
Times are changing. We are in a generational transition with the worse set of economic trends since the years of the Great Depression.
Wishing all this away will not do, and, is not practical. Not in the least.
However, working with the world's transits while awake, and owning up to the realities of the era, one is able to make progress through positive thinking, and alliances with people of good will.
The mundane cyclic index tells us to expect a decade of lower-than-normal expectations, with painstakingly slow progress amid the peaks and valleys of a rushed impetus for change.
The conflicts between revolutionaries, capitalists, and all those in-between is really a diversion away from the truth of the planetary cycles.
Though the politics are real, and the complaints many - the population of the Earth cannot run away from the effects of planetary transits.
We must live with the inclinations, but we do not have to yield to them.
The "yielding" we do witness comes from the failure and behaviors of individuals within collectives, the so-called "ruling classes" who are just as clueless about world transits as most other people like them.
Still, the transits incline all who would deny their existence, and in fact, the planetary influences are much stronger for those who are ignorant of them than for those who are not.
They say knowledge is power. It is true. But that knowledge must be astrological. For to be unknowing of the times and seasons is to be ignorant.
It is in the power of most people not to be ignorant of transits, but that depends on one's free will and ability to learn without interference of uninformed opinions, self-serving philosophies and false judgment.
This new decade will be different from the last. No doubt. The 2010s offers challenges, and life-changes for billions of people. It has already begun.
But the decade also offers good and new opportunities for those who are not only willing to try to make the world a better place, but who are intent on making doing so applying strong positive thoughts and actions - despite barriers, wasted resources, and the challenges of generational transition.
My general advice is to know times are changing fast, but, also to be patient, observant, and keen on the opportunities that may suit your natural gifts and talents. Know your personal astrological placements.
As Saturn begins to transit the constellations Libra and Scorpio over the next five years, it is important to understand that the social climate is undergoing significant changes. A sort of defragmentation, based as much on economics as on generational differences.
Denial of this is to chase rabbits wearing blindfolds while smiling.
There is a better way. Eyes open, of course, and forward-looking, as always, while noting the past, and resolving as much as is possible of the past, without damaging future success.
From all the thousands of mundane cycle runs I've read and studied of the planetary transits of the 2010s, I've determined that the best way to proceed is to build and keep a tight ship among family, close friends, and trusted associates, and avoid any and all behaviors, acts, things, etc., that even resembles being close to bullshit.
There just isn't the time, nor the space to entertain unreliables. Not with the transits of the 2010s.
For those of you who remember the era from say about 1973 to 1982, and those who remember the era of the early-to-mid-1980s, then you may be able to gain a sense of what the "feel" of the coming years of the 2010s will be like in atmosphere and psychological tone.
Along with prudence and patience, also be of good cheer, and bold to the opportunities that fit your gifts and aspirations.
Know also that personal relationships are changing with familiar faces on the way out and new faces on the way in.
The world's mass psychology is undergoing transformation, right now, as you read this. It continues into the next decade according to the mundane cyclic index.
Again, times are changing.
Economically, what can I say that hasn't already been said many times over?
The world economy of the recent past is in the toilet. Word. And the outgoing establishment that did much of the work to get it where the sun don't shine is responsible for the mess.
It will be the responsibility of a new generation to not only clean up the huge mess left behind by the Baby Boomer generation, but to forge a new way into the 21st century.
This means Generation X is going to have to do about the equivalent of 36-years work in about 18 years. Talk about overtime pay.
And this is what this cardinal crisis is really all about.
It's not just the economy stupid, it's also the future of society. That is more important.
So the idea to survival in the 2010s is not only to free-think yourself ahead and be positive, but to form coalitions with people of wisdom, teamwork, and common sense.
And, to do so practically, with one's head no further from the heavens than one's feet are from the ground.
This is the mundane way.
Bloomberg reported August 2010 that:
"Not even China is immune to the turmoil rocking the global economy.
For years, the supercharged Chinese economy seemed insulated from problems elsewhere: GDP growth was in double digits as Western and Asian companies alike poured billions of dollars of investments into the country.
China accumulated the world's largest foreign exchange reserves—more than $1 trillion—and Chinese companies plotted strategies to become world-beaters.
New skyscrapers transformed the skylines of Chinese cities like Shanghai.
Those days of easy growth are long gone, though.
The Chinese economy may have enjoyed a Teflon coating before, but today it is not impervious to the subprime-induced slowdown in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
A slew of recently released statistics point to a sluggish China. Manufacturing is struggling, the property market is tanking, and exports are weak.
The current scandal involving Chinese-made milk tainted with an industrial chemical that causes kidney failure in infants is further adding to the gloom in China."
The Cardinal Crisis
China's Industrial Growth Slows As Inflation Jumps
By Joe McDonald
August 11, 2010 -- Bejing-- China's industrial growth slowed further in July as Beijing clamped down on a credit boom, fueling expectations it will ease monetary policy to shore up its economic expansion.
Inflation spiked to its highest level this year as summer flooding wrecked crops but analysts said the increase will likely prove temporary.
The government data Wednesday added to signs China's boom is cooling and fed expectations Beijing needs to reverse course after imposing lending curbs this year to prevent a bubble in stock and real estate prices.
"This tells us economic growth is continuing to slow," said economist Zhu Jianfang of Citic Securities in Beijing.
"If they don't make changes, the economy will see a danger of further sliding."
Economic growth slowed from a blistering 11.9 percent in the first three months of the year to 10.3 percent in the second quarter as Beijing rolled back its stimulus after China rebounded quickly from the global slump.
Chinese leaders say they want to steer growth to a more sustainable level, but the slowdown was sharper than many analysts expected.
A further fall in Chinese growth could have global repercussions if it hurts demand for U.S. and European factory equipment, industrial components from Asian economies and iron ore and other raw materials from Australia, Brazil and elsewhere.
July growth in factory output slowed for a fifth month to 13.4 percent over a year earlier, its lowest level this year. Retail sales and investment in factories and other fixed assets also slowed.
The consumer price index, or CPI, rose 3.3 percent over a year earlier, its fastest rate this year as summer flooding wrecked crops and disrupted shipping. The jump was driven by a 6.8 percent surge in food costs.
But analysts expect inflation to fade quickly.
"July's CPI reading is likely to mark the high point for the year," said Tom Orlik, an analyst for Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, in a report. "With price pressures set to fade, the government will be free to focus on supporting growth."
A statistics bureau spokesman said the declines in economic indicators for July were "not big" and could be positive for official efforts to improve China's economic efficiency. He gave no sign the government plans to change policy.
"The fall in economic indexes is mainly a result of the government's active macro-controls," said the spokesman, Sheng Laiyun, at a news conference.
"Appropriate declines in economic growth are helpful to prevent overheating, and also are good for accelerating economic structural changes."
Beijing wants to reduce reliance on exports and investment to drive growth by boosting domestic consumer spending and developing technology and service industries.
But millions of jobs still depend on export-driven manufacturing and construction.
Private sector economists have lowered forecasts of China's growth this year due to the credit curbs but say it easily should meet the government's target of 8 percent.
The slowdown could complicate moves by Beijing to allow China's currency, the yuan, to rise in value. China said in June it would allow a more flexible exchange rate after holding the yuan steady against the dollar since late 2008.
But as demand at home weakens, officials will face pressure from exporters and their allies in government to avoid any steps that might make Chinese goods more expensive abroad.
Growth in spending on factories, real estate and other fixed assets in the first seven months of the year fell to 24.9 percent, down from 25.5 percent for the first half, the National Bureau of Statistics reported.
Retail sales rose 17.9 percent, down from 18.2 percent growth for the first half of the year.
Demand for steel, cement and other building materials has faded as Beijing winds down its 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus, which pumped money into the economy through higher spending on building public works.
An array of other indicators from manufacturing orders to auto sales also show growth steadily declining.
July housing prices held steady from June levels in a sign the government's lending curbs were working. But that easing has come at the cost of a slump in sales and construction.
The curbs have sharply cut bank lending. The central bank reported Wednesday that total lending by China's banks fell to 532.8 billion yuan ($78.7 billion), down nearly 12 percent from June's 603.4 billion.
Banks last year lent a record 9.6 billion yuan ($1.4 trillion), or an average of 800 billion yuan per month, under orders to support Beijing's stimulus.
Also in July, growth in exports fell to 38.1 percent from June's 43.9 percent. Australian miners and other companies that have enjoyed a windfall from Chinese demand have warned that their sales growth will slow.
Manufacturing also is under pressure from a government mandate to improve energy efficiency.
The government this week ordered 2,087 steel and cement mills and other factories that are deemed too wasteful to close by the end of September.
The Cardinal Crisis
Fears England Could Fall Into A Protracted Depression
By Julia Kollewe
August 12, 2010 -- London -- Stock markets around the world remained nervous today after yesterday's sharp falls, amid lingering fears about the global economy's recovery from recession.
In London, the FTSE 100 index turned positive after falling 18 points in early trading, trading up 4.25 points at 5249.47.
Yesterday it suffered its biggest drop for six weeks, closing down 131.2 points at 5245.21, a fall of 2.44%.
Marc Ostwald, strategist at Monument Securities, said there had been "a lot of unwinding of positions, a general exit from risk assets" yesterday but noted that trading volumes were thin, with many people on holiday.
"In a thin market, everything tends to get exaggerated. There are concerns out there without any doubt but it's a very reactive market.
"If someone sees something moving against them everyone rushes to the door."
He also observed that "people are still completely fixated with the US as a leader of the world economy and it isn't."
Earlier today the sell-off that began yesterday spread to Asia, with the Nikkei in Tokyo closing 0.9% lower, having been down 2% early on.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell by 1.4% while stocks in Seoul dropped more than 2%.
US stocks dropped sharply last night.
The Dow Jones industrial average in New York lost 1.49%, the S&P 500 2.82% and the Nasdaq 3.01%.
"The basic problems the US economy is facing - no jobs, no new business formation, no savings, under-investment, massive and growing debt - can't be solved by monetary policy," said Uwe Parpart, chief economist at Cantor Fitzgerald.
Fears that Britain could slide into a protracted depression intensified last night after the Bank of England warned of a long and "choppy recovery," a day after the US Federal Reserve issued a wary economic outlook and amid a slew of gloomy figures on both sides of the Atlantic.
China also released weaker-than-expected economic data. This saw investors flee from equities and into perceived safe havens such as US Treasuries, gold and the yen.
Gary Jenkins at Evolution Securities said: "Some weaker than expected economic data, combined with the lower growth predictions from both the US and UK and the realization that maybe the market had got a little ahead of itself in thinking that Mr Bernanke had some kind of magic wand that was going to make all the problems disappear led to a weak day for risk assets yesterday. "
The Bank of England's outlook intensified the debate over whether the economy is heading for a double-dip recession, or at least a period of depression.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research think tank defines depression as a period when output is below its previous peak, and predicts that in the UK's case this will last until 2012.
This reflects problem management instead of a fix of the root problem, said the company, which expects more than 1 million homes to be repossessed this year.
"What's driving most of the foreclosure activity is unemployment and other types of economic displacement," RealtyTrac senior vice president Rick Sharga said in an interview.
Banks took over 92,858 properties in July, up 9 percent in the month and 6 percent in the year. This was a shade below the peak of 93,777 homes in May, the largest since RealtyTrac began tracking repossessions in April 2005.
In 2005, before the housing bust, banks took over just about 100,000 houses, according to the Irvine, California-based company.
Overall foreclosure activity, including notice of default, scheduled auction and repossession, rose 4 percent in July from June.
Actions were taken on 325,229 properties, with one in every 397 housing units getting a foreclosure filing.
"Repossessions coupled with the fact that we're still looking at 5 million seriously delinquent loans, many of which would normally already be in foreclosure, really suggests that what the banks are doing is managing inventory levels," said Sharga.
The Obama administration on Friday acknowledged it had underestimated the number of homeowners who fell seriously behind on mortgages even after getting government aid.
On Wednesday the Treasury Department expanded a program to help unemployed homeowners avoid foreclosure.
A measured flow of foreclosure sales keeps home prices from falling much more after plunging nearly 30 percent, on average, in four years, economists agree.
Relatively tame single-digit price declines are now seen, with a flood of foreclosure sales at any one time seen unlikely.
One in four home sellers last month had cut prices at least once to entice buyers, real estate Website Trulia.com said on Wednesday.
"We not only need unemployment to settle down, but we need job creation and consumer confidence improving, so that people that can buy will get back on market and start buying up the inventory of these assets," said Sharga.
Unemployment held at 9.5 percent in July but would have been higher if discouraged people had not left the workforce.
Overall foreclosure activity in July did drop about 10 percent from a year ago, but that was from the second highest level on record, RealtyTrac noted.
July was still the 17th straight month of foreclosure actions on more than 300,000 properties, the company said.
"Declines in new default notices, which were down on a year-over-year basis for the sixth straight month in July, have been offset by near-record levels of bank repossessions, which increased on a year-over-year basis for the eighth straight month," RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio said in a statement.
More than 97,100 houses got a default notice in July, 1 percent more than in June but 28 percent less than July 2009 and 32 percent below the record in April 2009.
Lenders worked on their existing problem mortgages. Along with repossessions, lenders set foreclosure auctions for the first time on 135,248 properties in July.
That was up 2 percent from June, but down from a peak of 158,105 in March.
Five states had more than half of all foreclosure actions in July: California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Arizona.
Nevada, Ohio, Georgia, Texas and Maryland were the other states with the 10 highest total foreclosure actions last month.
Nevada, Arizona and Florida and California had the highest state foreclosure rates. Nevada, hurt by overbuilding and speculation during the boom, had the highest foreclosure rate for the 43rd straight month.
The other six states with the highest foreclosure rates were Idaho, Michigan, Utah, Illinois, Georgia and Maryland.
I have been keen on the impending "skills shortage" talked of in recent years.
The failure of the Baby Boomer generation to train, while cutting apprenticeship programs the generation itself benefited from, has led to a severe shortage of skilled workers who actually produce the valuable goods and services the economy and society needs to function.
With all the unemployed MBAs, financial services agents, brokers, and realtors, etc., out there, it is not amazing to observe how the essential vocational professions are showing a disturbing trend.
photograph: Daniel Shea
By Mark Whitehouse
Wall Street Journal
August 9, 2010 -- In Bloomington, Ill., machine shop Mechanical Devices can't find the workers it needs to handle a sharp jump in business.
Job fairs run by airline Emirates attract fewer applicants in the U.S. than in other countries. Truck-stop operator Pilot Flying J says job postings don't elicit many more applicants than they did when the unemployment rate was below 5%.
With a 9.5% jobless rate and some 15 million Americans looking for work, many employers are inundated with applicants.
But a surprising number say they are getting an underwhelming response, and many are having trouble filling open positions.
"This is as bad now as at the height of business back in the 1990s," says Dan Cunningham, chief executive of the Long-Stanton Manufacturing Co., a maker of stamped-metal parts in West Chester, Ohio, that has been struggling to hire a few toolmakers.
"It's bizarre. We are just not getting applicants."
Employers and economists point to several explanations. Extending jobless benefits to 99 weeks gives the unemployed less incentive to search out new work.
Millions of homeowners are unable to move for a job because the real-estate collapse leaves them owing more on their homes than they are worth.
The job market itself also has changed. During the crisis, companies slashed millions of middle-skill, middle-wage jobs.
That has created a glut of people who can't qualify for highly skilled jobs but have a hard time adjusting to low-pay, unskilled work like the food servers that Pilot Flying J seeks for its truck stops.
The difficulty finding workers limits the economy's ability to grow.
It is particularly troubling at a time when 4.3% of the labor force has been out of work for more than six months—a level much higher than after any other recession since 1948.
Some economists fear the U.S. could end up with a permanent caste of long-term unemployed, like those that weigh on government budgets in some European countries.
"It is a very worrisome development," says Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.
"It leads over a long period of time to social alienation as well as economic hardship."
Matching people with available jobs is always difficult after a recession as the economy remakes itself.
But Labor Department data suggest the disconnect is particularly acute this time around.
Since the economy bottomed out in mid-2009, the number of job openings has risen more than twice as fast as actual hires, a gap that didn't appear until much later in the last recovery.
The disparity is most notable in manufacturing, which has had among the biggest increases in openings. But it is also appearing in other areas, such as business services, education and health care.
If the job market were working normally—that is, if openings were getting filled as they usually do—the U.S. should have about five million more gainfully employed people than it does, estimates David Altig, research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. That would correspond to an unemployment rate of 6.8%, instead of 9.5%.
Of course, many jobs remain easy to fill. Companies offering middle-skilled jobs can be flooded with applicants.
Laquita Stribling, a senior area vice president in Nashville for staffing firm Randstad, says she received several hundred applications for a branch manager job that might have attracted a few dozen candidates before the recession.
"The talent pool has swollen to the point where it's almost overwhelming," says Ms. Stribling.
But other employers with lots of applicants say the pool of qualified workers is small for specialized jobs.
Carolyn Henn, head of hiring at environmental consultancy Apex Companies, says she recently received about 150 applications for an industrial hygienist job paying as much as $47,000 a year, which requires special certifications and expertise to oversee projects such as asbestos cleanups.
That is about three times the amount she received for similar jobs before the recession. But she says the number of qualified applicants—about five—is less than she got before.
"We've always been looking for a needle in a haystack," she says. "There's still only one needle, but the haystack has gotten a lot bigger than it was before."
Longer-term trends are at play.
For one, the U.S. education system hasn't been producing enough people with the highly specialized skills that many companies, particularly in manufacturing, require to keep driving productivity gains.
"There are a lot of people who are unemployed, but those aren't necessarily the people employers are looking for," says David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Manufacturers of high-precision products such as automobile and aircraft parts are in a particularly tough spot.
Global competition keeps them from raising wages much. But they need workers with the combination of math skills, intuition and stamina required to operate the computer-controlled metalworking machines that now dominate the factory floor.
At Mechanical Devices, which supplies parts for earth-movers and other heavy equipment to manufacturers such as Caterpillar Inc., part owner Mark Sperry says he has been looking for $13-an-hour machinists since early this year.
The lack of workers is "the key limitation to the growth of our business and to meeting our customers' expectations," says Mr. Sperry.
He estimates the company could immediately boost sales by as much as 20% if it could find the 40 workers it needs.
Trips to several job fairs yielded almost nothing, so the company set up a 10-week training program to create its own machinists. Out of the first group of 24 trainees, 16 made it to graduation.
Mr. Sperry sees extended jobless benefits as one of the main culprits behind his company's hiring difficulties. Many of the applicants he saw at job fairs, he says, were just going through the motions so they could collect their unemployment checks.
Some workers agree that unemployment benefits make them less likely to take whatever job comes along, particularly when those jobs don't pay much.
Michael Hatchell, a 52-year-old mechanic in Lumberton, N.C., says he turned down more than a dozen offers during the 59 weeks he was unemployed, because they didn't pay more than the $450 a week he was collecting in benefits. One auto-parts store, he says, offered him $7.75 an hour, which amounts to only $310 a week for 40 hours.
"I was not going to put myself in a situation where I was making that small of a wage," says Mr. Hatchell. He has since found a better-paying job at a different auto-parts dealer.
Unemployment benefits, though, can't explain the whole problem. Researchers at the Federal Reserve have estimated that the benefits could account for between 0.4 and 1.7 percentage points of the unemployment rate.
That doesn't cover the 2.7-percentage-point gap between the current jobless rate and what Mr. Altig's analysis of job openings suggests the rate should be.
Former truck driver Troy Arnett says the prospect of standing in front of a machine all day was just too restricting after a career spent making about $60,000 a year on the open road.
"I figured in these economic times you've just got to bite the bullet, and I couldn't do it," says the 42-year-old Mr. Arnett.
He considers himself among the lucky ones: He has since found a job installing railroad crossings that he expects will pay about $50,000 a year.
Employers say getting people to move for work has been especially difficult this time. Often, that is a function of the mortgage and credit problems many potential employees face.
In a recent study, Fernando Ferreira and Joseph Gyourko of the University of Pennsylvania, together with Joseph Tracy of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, found that people who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth are about a third less mobile.
At Emirates, four cabin-crew job fairs the airline held in Miami, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle attracted an average of about 50 people each, compared to a global average of about 150 and as many as 1,000 at some events in Europe and Asia.
"I would have liked to have seen more and would have expected to see more," says Rick Helliwell, vice president of recruitment.
The jobs require little more than a high-school diploma and fluency in English. They include free accommodation and medical care, and starting pay of about $30,000 a year.
Mr. Helliwell speculates that Americans might be hesitant to move to Dubai, where the jobs are based. "Maybe they have less of an adventurous spirit" given the uncertainties they face at home, he said.
The obstacles to moving are aggravated because many employers no longer provide the same job security they have in the past.
Temporary jobs, for example, have increased 21% since September 2009 as more employers—including Mechanical Devices—hire through staffing agencies to help control health-care costs and maintain flexibility.
David Denton, a 63-year-old quality-control expert, recently quit a temporary job at Mechanical Devices.
He says the terms of employment simply weren't attractive enough to make him pick up stakes and move. The one-hour commute from his hometown of Mt. Zion, Ill., proved to be too burdensome, he says, as the cost of gasoline cut into his $15-an-hour wage.
Like a number of older workers, Mr. Denton has decided to leave the work force rather than accept a lower-paying job.
Mr. Denton says he plans to live on savings until he can collect full Social Security benefits at age 66. "I'm trying to hang on the best I can," he says.
The disconnect between workers and jobs could constrain the economy for some time. It makes it hard for even small firms, which as a group typically account for an outsize share of job growth in a rebound.
Paul McNarney, owner of The Mower Shop in Fishers, Ind., says he has been looking for a good lawnmower mechanic so he can guarantee a one-week turnaround on repairs.
He received only two responses to an Internet ad he placed a couple of months ago, even though the job can generate income of more than $40,000 a year, depending how many mowers the mechanic repairs. Similar ads he placed before the recession attracted more than a dozen candidates, he says.
"My thought was that in a [crappy] economy I could probably find somebody good because a lot of people were looking," says Mr. McNarney, who has been in business for 13 years selling everything from simple lawnmowers to big riding models for large properties.
"I didn't find anybody."
Positive thinking goes a long way when combined with good use of free will, strength, courage and foreknowledge.
Here's my outlook and advice for anyone who would care to listen and heed my messages:
See ~ things are going to get better.