Unrest in the Workplace

Recent reports in the news are highlighting increasing aggression and unrest in the workplace.

There have also been reports of incidents against executives at firms with layoffs – ranging from physical assault to murder.  In France there have been two cases of hostage taking of managers by employees – at Sony and 3M.

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S&P Performance Over Bear Markets

This chart from http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/ provides a very interesting trending perspective of the S&P performance over the last two bear markets versus the current bear market.  The Dow performance is also on the chart but is not apples to apples relative to the S&P lines.

four-bears-large1

Sharp Decline in US Imports and Exports Reported in January

Sharp declines in US trade was reported in January 2009.  The following chart from http://www.calculatedriskblog.com highlights the sharp downward trend (red is imports and blue is exports) -

tradeexportsimportsjan2009

Here is a chart showing inbound and outbound container traffic to the port of Los Angeles – it mirrors the decline -

laporttraffic

High Tech Worker Study Shows Optimistic Disposition Helps Reduce Stress Levels

In 2002, Carleton University ran a survey to look at stress among tech workers – “Coping with Job Uncertainty : A Survey of Employed and Unemployed High Technology Workers”.   The report identified numerous interesting results, however the one that I found particularly noteworthy was the fact they found that people who have an optimistic predisposition have a natural buffer against stress.    In fact, the more optimistic one’s nature, the less stress they reported.

The full report is available here.

Canadian Unemployment in February Hits 7.7%

Stats Canada has reported that Canada’s unemployment rate hit 7.7% in February. 

In February, Ontario unemployment hit 8.7%.  Stats Canada also noted that just over half of all employment losses in Canada since October have happened in Ontario

More details on Canada’s forecast unemployment rates and trends for 2009 is in this blog.

Comparison of Canada’s unemployment rates with the great depression is in this blog.

Depression 2.0 – Hoovervilles/Shantytowns/Tent Cities Have Arrived in the US

There are numerous tent cities starting to appear in the United States as the financial crisis continues to hit hard.

Growing Tent City Outside of Sacramento California

The Daily Mail in the UK reports on the growing number of unemployed in the US moving into tent cities.  The article talks to the growing tent city outside of Sacramento California.  Surprisingly,  Sacramento’s mayor, Kevin Johnson views this as a viable solution to handling the increasing number of unemployed.  The Mayor is quoted as saying:

‘I can’t say tent cities are the answer to the homeless population in Sacramento, but I think it’s one of the many things that should be considered and looked at.’

There are an increasing number of videos that document this disturbing trend -

NBC News March 2009

There are many other videos on You Tube and elsewhere.  Wikipedia also has a list of cities.

Related Articles -

Canada’s Petrochemical Industry in Trouble?

According to a new Stats Canada report, petrochemical feedstock production in Canada in January 2009 was down 54% compared to January 2008.

Petrochemical feedstocks, are used by the petrochemical industry to produce chemicals, synthetic rubber and a variety of plastics.

According to a speech 2005 speech by a key Dow Chemical executive. Dr. Ramesh Ramachandran, President of Dow Chemical Canada Inc. (North American Petrochemicals: Walking a Tight Rope) -

..the petrochemicals industry is Canada’s third largest within the manufacturing sector and Alberta’s second-largest industry. Petrochemicals are a nexus in Canadian industry that bridges the resource sector with manufacturing, retail, transportation and others.

Stats Canada reports that in 2008 the petrochemical industry (which uses petrochemical feedstock) was responsible for shipping product valued at $6.6B, and employing approximately 1,280 people.

A 54% reduction in petrochemical feedstock production is likely to reflect heavily on the health of this industry – anyone seen any news on this?