Breaking News!

1. Out of Copenhagen comes this report: “Global trade volumes shrink by 11.3 pc in Q1″

“World trade volumes during the first quarter of 2009 shrank by 11.3 percent as compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, according to an independent research institute, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. The institute said the fall amounted to an annualized drop of 38 percent, making it the most severe since the institute began to keep records in 1991.” [One would almost think that people are losing their jobs.]

2. Out of Washington, DC comes this report: “Down weeks continue for US rail freight traffic”

“WASHINGTON, DC — Freight traffic on U.S. railroads continued to reflect a weak economy as traffic remained down in comparison with last year during the week ending May 16, the Association of American Railroads reports. U.S. railroads originated 247,258 cars during the week, down 25.3 percent from the comparison week in 2008, with loading down 21.2 percent in the West and 30.9 percent in the East.” [It’s beginning to look as though a lot of people are losing their jobs.]

3. Out of London comes this report: “533 ships laid up, 533 stillborn, with orders cancelled”

“Contracts for over 533 newbuildings around the world, the most recent ones being dry bulk vessels, have reportedly been annulled from January till the end of May. It has also been reported that the idled container ship capacity in the world, as at the end of the first week in June, stood at 10.3 percent — a notch up from the 10.2 percent recorded two weeks ago.”

They’re fudging the numbers again. In the May 13th issue of The New York Times it was reported that 735 vessels were laid up at Singapore, 150 were laid up around the Straits of Gibralter, another 300 or so around Rotterdam, and hundreds more at Subic Bay, in the Fjords of Norway, and at various anchorages around the world. [Translation? Not many consumers are getting weekly paychecks.]

4. From Port Tracker comes this report: “U.S. Box Imports Plummet 22 Percent”

“Container volumes at U.S. ports edged up in April compared to March, but remained well below the volumes recorded in April 2008, according to the monthly Port Tracker published by the National Retail Federation and IHS Global Insight. The second half of 2009 appears to be trending the same way the first half progressed, with containerized imports creeping up compared to the month before, but down noticeably from the same month last year.

“It therefore looks like the back-to-school shopping season this summer, traditionally the second busiest period on retailers’ calendars, will be disappointing. Prospects for the holiday shopping season that follows look equally bleak.” [But the $ 787 billion stimulus money will bail out Main Street though. Isn’t that what it’s for?]

5. From the AP comes this report: “Ailing factory towns face tougher road to recovery”

“Burlington, NC – According to the Associated Press Economic Stress Index, an exclusive county-by-county measurement of foreclosures, bankruptcies and unemployment that shows the relative impact of the recession, smaller industrial cities that were already reeling from decades of job losses have been among the hardest hit in the current economic crisis …

“Cities like Woonsocket, RI, whose aging population has watched so many plants depart that surrounding Providence County carries one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates despite being home to universities and state government.

“Towns like Elkhart, Ind., on the Michigan line, where recreational vehicle makers have laid off hundreds. Elkhart County forms the western end of a strip of counties stretching into Ohio that includes four of the eight worst Stress Index scores, and in each place, manufacturing makes up close to half the workforce.” [That stimulus money can’t come soon enough for these jobless localities.]

6. From Yahoo! News comes this report – “Rising unemployment is becoming a major cause of foreclosures, which increasingly involve prime borrowers. Job losses have pushed Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Illinois and South Carolina up the list of the highest foreclosure rates, says Realty Trac Senior VP Rick Sharga. Another concern is that the expected reset of thousands of so-called pay-option adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), a particularly frightening loan that was popular in California, Nevada and Florida during the boom, could cause another wave of defaults in coming years.” [But job creation will be the cure-all … especially jobs created by stimulus money. Right?]

7. From WASHINGTON, DC, comes this report – “Senior Obama administration officials on Monday said in a newspaper op-ed piece that a landmark financial regulation reform plan to be released this week will target capital requirements, securitization and other problem areas blamed for the global financial crisis.”

[Nothing could be further from the truth. U.S. unemployment is the cause of today’s worldwide economic woes but bailout money is being directed instead to financial institutions.]

Remember what Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute said the other day? “Joblessness is like a cancer in the society. The last thing in the world that you want is for it to metastasize. And that’s what’s happening now. Don’t tell me about the stock market. Don’t tell me about the banks and their perpetual flimflammery. Tell me whether poor and middle-income families can find work. If they can’t, the country’s in trouble.”

Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report was even more to the point when he asked, “How can the U.S. recover without manufacturing capacity? You can’t put people to work in American factories that don’t exist. The bankster parasites have neither the capacity or the intention to build anything other than mountains of debt for all of us.”

[Correction: American factories still exist. They exist as the remnants of the WW2 Emergency Shipbuilding Programs that provided jobs for millions and brought an end to the Great Depression.]