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    Highlights for week ending July 28, 2001
  • MotleyFool.com: Fool on the Hill: Know Your Earnings. Excerpts: "Still, the list of companies that have benefited from pension income contains some of our most respected and well-established businesses. The world's largest computer company, IBM, realized an $820 million gain to its after-tax bottom-line because of pension gains in 2000, according a Forbes article (free membership required) earlier this year. That 63% improvement in pension profits in part was accomplished because the company increased the expected return on its pension fund from 9.5% to 10%."

    "Investors care about earnings because that's what should ultimately benefit them, either in the form of stock buybacks, dividends, or additional investment in a company's business. Earnings that stem from pension assets, however, won't ever benefit investors because the Employee Retirement Income Security Act prohibits companies from using pension assets for any purpose other than benefiting plan participants. Thus, while excess pension income might make its way to the income statement, you won't see any of it."

    "In addition to the pension fund participants, some of the biggest benefactors of pension income can be company executives." If link is broken, view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF--56 KB].

  • "flatsflyer" reports on layoffs in Research Triangle Park and server manufacturing moving to Mexico.

  • Black Tuesday: Layoffs in Rochester. Excerpt: "7% in our area lost their jobs..."

  • More news about layoffs, reported by Linda Guyer. Excerpt: "Most interestingly, an IBM spokesperson was quoted in the Poughkeepsie Journal as saying 3,000 new college hires will come in between now and September. In Endicott yesterday, new college hires were walking in, just as a department of web developers was told they had 30 days left."

  • Poughkeepsie Journal: IBM layoffs trim local work force. Excerpt: "Across the Server Group within the United States, 338 jobs were cut, according to the company's official notice to affected employees, required under the federal Older Workers Benefit Protection Act." ... "As part of keeping its employees' skills in tune with changing customer needs, Cole said, IBM will keep hiring. 'Between now and September, IBM is going to bring in about 3,000 university hires,' entering various divisions of the company, including the Server Group." If link is broken, view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF--73 KB].
  • "deep6ed" says "rounds of silent layoffs are occuring each month and will continue in order to "save" the bottom line." Read more...

  • "bear_gypsy" accuses IBM of changing the variable pay rules to increase profits at the expense of employee pay. Part 1: IBM's language. Part 2: "bear gyspy" comments. Part 3: Bob Moffat from IBM explains the change. Part 4: "bear_gypsy" comments again.

  • Fortune Magazine: Retirement 2001, We Won't Be Ignored. Excerpt: "Empowered by a decade of do-it-yourself investing, the gray-haired masses are speaking out. As the economic slowdown cracks their nest eggs, these often longtime shareholders are pumping their fists at corporate managers and railing against everything from outrageous executive pay to corporate missteps. In the name of protecting their pensions or investments, they are no longer just scarfing up the shrimp cocktail at shareholders meetings; they are needling CEOs and submitting proxy proposals." If link is broken, view Adobe Acrobat version [PDF 162 KB].

  • Plan Sponsor: More information on scraping scams on 401k plans. Worth a read if you participate in 401k/Defined Contribution investments.

  • In "Goodbye Blue Suiter" comments on IBM's sales model. Excerpt: "...he (Mr. Gerstner) compared the IBM model then to a barbell. Services on one end, product development on the other, sales in the middle. TFL said he was going to squeeze the middle, sales, until it disappeared and that it exactly what has been happening. One crucial fallacy with this strategy and that is the supposition that third party sales will develop and nuture long term relationships with our customers."

  • IBM: Alcatel Announces Acquisition of IBM CallPath Technology. Excerpt: "Under the acquisition agreement, the 54 IBM CallPath employees located in Research Triangle Park, NC, will be offered employment with Genesys. Genesys intends to grow operations in this location and open a development site in Research Triangle Park to work more closely with IBM."
    • "ibmresearch" comments. Excerpt: "I heard unsubstantiated reports that there were several senior key and vital professionals that had 25-29 years with IBM that got screwed with their retirement in the sale. They got even. After they got their severance and residual retirement from IBM, when Genesis walked in to welcome them, they walked out, leaving some pretty mad Genesis executives holding the bag."

  • WashTech: Amazon.com moves U.S. Customer Service Work offshore...

  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Alliance Responds to Alarmist Interim Report of Bush Social Security Commission. Excerpts: "There is no cash-flow crisis at all but a long-expected and planned-for shift in Social Security financing. The 1983 Greenspan Commission plan, of which Senator Moynihan was a principal advocate, prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boom generation by building up Social Security's reserves. Drawing down those reserves was expected when the Baby Boomers start to retire. Every dollar of benefits promised under current law will be paid to current and future beneficiaries for the next third of a century without new taxes. The kinds of 'reform' the Commission is considering would create a Social Security cash-flow crisis by diverting trillions of dollars of tax revenues from the Trust Funds into individual investment accounts."

  • National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO): Social Security Report Biased & Full of Distortions. Excerpts: "The National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO), the oldest and largest umbrella coalition of the nation's major women's groups, rejects many of the assertions included in a draft staff interim report to be discussed today by President Bush's Social Security Commission. The non-partisan organizations cite independent research demonstrating that women will be worse off with private accounts."

  • Molly Ivins editorial: Social Security Is A Disaster Area. Excerpts: "The Bush commission has the singular distinction of being comprised entirely of people who already agreed with George W. Bush that Social Security needs to be privatized. Let me count the ways this is a truly bad idea."

    "One (and this is the leading reason for proposing this daft notion in the first place), it will take a huge amount of money out of Social Security and put it into Wall Street brokerage firms. You know how brokers work: They make money when you buy, and they make money when you sell. A no-lose proposition for them. Literally billions in commissions await them, and that's the lobby that's pushing the privatization scheme."

    "Social Security happens to be run at a miniscule administrative cost (yes, government does do some things right). If we break off some of the money into private accounts, administrative costs and brokerage fees will eat more of our money."

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." — Franklin D. Roosevelt
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