The Wall Street securities industry has recovered from the aftermath of the Great Recession. The industry’s 2013 bonus pool amounted $26.7 billion. The average bonus rose to $164,530, up 15% and the highest since the financial collapse of 2008. Although cash is flowing again, employment in the securities industry remains 12.6% below the pre-recession level. It now stands at approximately 165,000.
The U.S. unemployment rate is 6.7%. In Arizona, it is 7.5%. Some analysts believe the continued erratic conduct of the state legislature is a contributing factor to Arizona’s high unemployment rate because reputation counts in attracting business investment. Arizona is known for SB 1070 which moved the state into immigration law enforcement. Much of the highly publicized law was later struck down by the courts. The recent controversial bill that would have permitted businesses to discriminate against gays was vetoed by the governor. It is considered to be another indication that the legislature has not mended its unruly ways.
The delinquency and foreclosure rates for housing in America have fallen to the lowest level in six year. One in every 1,170 houses is in the foreclosure process. The current rate is considerably lower than in 2009 when nearly four million foreclosure notices were sent out. The number of financially stressed homeowners is also declining. In December 2013, there were only 9.3 million homeowners in the country that owed more on their homes than they were worth.
In March 2014, 46.8 million people were receiving food stamps, about 15% of the U.S. population. The number of recipients skyrocketed during the recession. It appears to be slowly leveling off as the economic recovery moves forward.
In India, the world’s largest democracy, a recent poll indicated that 96% of Indians believe corruption is holding down the country’s economic growth. A large majority also thinks that corruption has gotten worse during the last five years. The effects of corruption are seen as part of the reason why GDP growth has declined to 5%, the lowest level in 10 years. In the other big emerging Asian economy, China’s population is now 54% urban. In 2013, China accounted for about half of the world’s economic growth.
The ongoing American love affair with guns has made America the world leader in guns per capita. The Small Arms Survey estimates that there are 89 guns per 100 people in the U.S. Lawless Yemen is in second place with a mere 55 guns per 100 inhabitants.
Income inequality is spreading and has worldwide consequences. The world’s wealthiest 1% have done amazing well during the past 20 years of globalization. In the emerging economies, billionaires have seen their wealth double relative to the size of the economy. Today, they control wealth equal to 4% of GDP, in 2000 their share was only 2%. Although the developing countries produce 42% of world output, they account for a concentration of 65% of crony capitalist wealth.
U.S. spending on infrastructure is at a 20 year low as the nation’s roads, bridges and dams continue to deteriorate. Worldwide, the situation is no better. Spending on infrastructure is estimated at $2.7 trillion a year, $1 trillion below what is needed. Reports indicate that the nations of the world need to spend $57 trillion between now and 2030 to get infrastructure in shape.