Still, a little perspective is in order. Even at the heights of its Monday rally, when it danced around $105 per share, IBM stock is short of the $111 reached just a couple of weeks ago. And it’s far from the 52-week high of $121 per share it achieved last fall.
What, then, to make of the IBM pre-announcement? CEO Sam Palmisano gave some interesting spin: “The broad scope of IBM’s global business — led by strong operational performance in Asia, Europe and emerging countries — drove these outstanding results,” he said in a statement. “IBM is well-positioned as we begin 2008 as a result of our global business reach, solid recurring revenue stream and strong financial position. We are on track to achieve our long-term earnings-per-share roadmap objective in 2010.”
A translation, for those who don’t speak CEO: “U.S. corporate buyers don’t look so hot, but thanks to a weak dollar and overseas customers, we’re making the best of it. Since no one expects the dollar to perk up soon, that overseas income should keep us looking good in 2008. Don’t forget, we have a huge services business, so customers pay us to fix their old stuff even if they don’t buy new stuff! And we have $16 billion in the bank! So don’t panic. Look! Profits!”
A key indicator of tightness in any labor market is wages--more specifically, whether wages are rising much faster than the norm. IT worker wages grew by a modest 2.9% in constant dollar terms from 2003 to 2005, according to Department of Labor data compiled by the Commission on Professionals in Science & Technology (CPST). This increase is indeed greater than the average 0.6% growth for all professional occupations, but the gains for IT workers were hardly robust and don't indicate any significant scarcity. More recently, we've seen some growth in the wages for newly minted bachelor's degree computer scientists, according to the National Association for Colleges & Employers. Salaries for those entry-level jobs rose from $50,744 in 2006 to $53,051 in 2007, an increase of 4.5%. But those gains were almost completely gobbled up by inflation, which ran about 4.3% in 2007.
Another factor in considering the relative health of the IT job market is the level of risk employees face. As any investor will tell you, riskier investments should have the higher potential payoffs. It's no different with careers. While there are no formal measures of the risk and uncertainty of IT careers, it's obvious that they have soared over the past few years. The train wreck of 2002-2004 in the IT labor market derailed the careers of many professionals; some tech pros haven't come back.
Meantime, employer norms have shifted radically. Long gone are the days when IBM never laid off a worker. Nowadays, companies don't think twice about shipping IT work overseas or bringing in lower-cost foreign workers to replace U.S. employees, and even asking American workers to train their replacements. Intel's Barrett writes an op-ed piece about the shortage of U.S. workers even when his own company is in the process of major layoffs, shedding 14% of its workforce over the past two years.
Additionally, to get participants to say "wow" about their DB plans, employers should not shy away from drawing distinctions between DB and defined contribution plans. "Tell your employees, We have a DB plan because we believe loyalty matters, and we have a work environment and agreement where productive members can prosper.' A 401(k) plan says, We know some of you will leave, so we've made it easier,'" he joked.
As many as 35 percent of all workers have less than $10,000 in total savings and investments, excluding the value of their homes and any traditional pension, and 48 percent have less than $25,000 socked away, according to most recent assessment from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The numbers are worse for young workers -- 50 percent of those age 25 to 34 have less than $10,000 put aside. At least they still have time to catch up. That's the good news for my 31-year-old kid.
Early boomers are more likely to have a traditional "defined-benefit" pension from their employer than younger boomers are, notes Ron Gebhardtsbauer, senior pension fellow for the American Academy of Actuaries. Unlike 401(k) plans, traditional pensions require no contributions from the employee; all money comes from their employer. Older boomers qualified for "great pensions at a young age," he says, in addition to 401(k) accounts, which arrived later.
Can they afford to retire? How far will their Social Security checks go? The reality is this: Many of those who retire early will accept reduced benefits — and in doing so will risk falling short of their financial needs. ...
Yet even if retirees are convinced their benefits are safe, most of them, Certner predicts, will continue to file claims before full retirement age. Many who are in poor health or have been pushed into early retirement don't have the option of waiting until 66 to file for benefits, he notes. "For millions, (Social Security) is basically their only source of income," Certner says. "We don't see that changing much." And even though many analysts say boomers could bolster their financial security by working longer, employers don't always comply. Some companies dangle incentives to induce older employees to leave.
Labor unions and employers told the EEOC that if they had to provide equal benefits for both classes of retirees, they would drop health benefits for both groups. AARP, the most powerful advocate for elderly Americans, plans to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the EEOC.
Apparently just to prove that it was not totally void of holiday humor, the agency stuck this punch line into the regulation's preamble: "The final rule is not intended to encourage employers to eliminate any retiree health benefits they may currently provide."
This ruling will do just that, although the trend is quite clear without it. Only about 21 percent of U.S. companies have health benefits for Medicare-eligible retirees, down from 40 percent in 1993.
There's just one obstacle on the road to Brown's retirement adventure: health insurance. Brown, along with 2.8 million of the oldest boomers, will be eligible for Social Security benefits this year, but he won't be eligible for Medicare until he turns 65. Finding a way to bridge that gap — eligible for Social Security but not for Medicare — will be the hardest and costliest challenge for many of the boomers who want to retire early or are forced out of their jobs. For Brown and his wife, Judy, who's already retired, figuring out how to pay for medical coverage "is absolutely our biggest concern." ...
In the past, retirees could often count on their employers to provide health insurance until Medicare kicked in, or sometimes even after they were eligible for Medicare. But in 2007, only a third of large employers offered retiree health insurance, down from 66% in 1988, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Education Trust. Only 5% of employers with fewer than 200 employees offered retiree health insurance last year. ...
The millions who will retire early without company-provided health insurance may need to buy a health care policy to last them until Medicare kicks in at age 65. Unfortunately, individual policies for people in their 60s can be hugely expensive, with premiums topping $900 a month for family coverage. And those in poor health might be unable to find a policy at any price. ...
Guy Colson, 61, of Hudson, Fla., confronted the health care coverage gap after he took a buyout package from IBM 2½ years ago. Colson, a retired chief petty officer for the Navy Reserves, says his "saving grace" was the Defense Department's Tricare plan, available for active-duty and retired service members. The plan, which provides coverage for Colson and his wife, costs $460 a year. That compares with more than $940 a month if he'd bought IBM's retiree health insurance. Retiring before age 65, he says, "can be a great challenge if you don't have a medical option."
I used the detailed benefit calculator from SSA called ANYPIA to verify that what I wrote was correct. The age you begin your social security benefits has no effect on your spouses benefit.
On the other hand, a widow or widower, full retirement age or older, gets 100 percent of your benefit amount, if it is higher than own benefit. http://www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/onyourown5.htm
The age you begin your social security benefits seems have an effect on the amount of "survivor" benefit.
Silverline Technologies, chairman, Ravi Subramanian said: "We are delighted with these latest developments for multiple reasons (a) we have bagged a multi-million, multi-year contract for providing our core competency services to another world leader; (b) winning this contract strengthens our laim to be an emerging leader in providing service management solutions to technology sector, worldwide; (c) the project will be demonstrate our ITIL expertise leveraging 3rd party tools, and, (d) It further strengthens our long-standing strategic relationship with our business partner, IBM Global Services. The latest achievements will significantly deliver revenue growth in the next quarter. We will strive to not only deliver on this initiative but also grow this practice across new markets. We continue to be committed to deliver value to our clients, employees and our shareholders".
For their taxes, Europeans receive many benefits for which most Americans must pay additional fees and payments out of pocket. Many Americans, if they have health care at all, are paying for escalating premiums and deductibles. Other Americans are saving $100,000 for each of their children’s college education, yet European children attend for free or nearly free.
Millions of Americans are scraping to save the amount they will need for retirement beyond Social Security, but the European retirement system is much more generous. Many Americans pay extra for child care, or self-finance their own sick leave or parental leave after a birth, but Europeans receive all of these (and more) from their taxes.
When all these differences are added up, it turns out that many Americans are paying out as much as Europeans — we just receive a lot less for our money. The “overtaxed European” is another stereotype used to scare Americans away from the European model, so it’s unfortunate that Mr. Krugman reinforced that stereotype.
"The securities industry rewarded employees who performed well in 2007 even though the credit crunch battered profits," Mr. DiNapoli said. The take for 2007 was about 5 percent less than what investment bankers received last year. It still wasn't bad: bonuses for 2006 reached record levels.
The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, IBM and the Treasury Department announced a pilot project to help IBM employees and retirees navigate the federal hiring process and land jobs in the government. The Treasury Department agreed to serve as the test case for the project, in part because many veteran IBM employees have skills in technology, accounting and law that are needed by Treasury.
Although relatively small in number, people covered by private policies purchased in the nongroup market were much more likely than those in any other insurance group to bear high financial burdens during 2001-2004. This was because people with private nongroup insurance must pay the entire premium, and benefits in such plans are often less generous than those in employer-sponsored plans. Moreover, the percentage of people with nongroup plans experiencing high out-of-pocket burdens rose dramatically, from 39 percent in 2001 to 52.7 percent in 2004. ...
Comment: By Don McCanne, MD The policy lesson? One-fifth of privately insured, middle-income people are already classified as “high-burden individuals” because they live in families that spend more than ten percent of their family income on health care, “and this number is likely to increase in future years as health care costs continue to outpace growth in family incomes.”
The failure of private insurance to provide affordable health care has already become a crisis for middle-income America. Current proposals to provide us with even more deteriorating private insurance plans amount to no more than a cruel joke by the policy/political community. But who’s laughing? Listen carefully. It sounds like sobbing to me.
But health-care ethicists and economists say it is not that simple. Nataline Sarkisyan's case raises complex questions about how we ration resources - money and, in this case, transplantable livers - and how we make medical decisions in what one ethicist called "last-chance" situations. While doctors are the experts on medical care, ethicists said, insurance companies have a responsibility to steward subscribers' money.
Just before Thanksgiving, Nataline's brother donated bone marrow for a transplant that was at first successful in putting her cancer back into remission. Unfortunately, Nataline's liver failed from a blood-clotting complication and she was put on life support.
Four members of the organ-transplant department and the University of California - Los Angeles recommended a liver transplant and clearly indicate that she would die without such a transplant. These doctors urged CIGNA, the administrator of her family's health benefit plan, to pay for the liver transplant.
Her family said that a liver had become available that day. However, a CIGNA employed physician, who is nothing more than a lackey of the huge insurance company, decreed that CIGNA would not pay for the transplant procedure and claimed that the young cancer victim was too sick for the surgery to work.
Even though four imminently qualified specialists at the University of California - Los Angeles strongly recommended the surgery, CIGNA continued to say no. These four doctors immediately appealed CIGNA's decision and strongly argued that the chances of success warranted the procedure.
CIGNA then hired another lackey, an oncologist and transplant surgeon to review the appeal but its decision to refuse to pay for the procedure did not change.
The California Nurse's Association got involved and began picketing on behalf of the family. This activity created a huge outcry all across the nation and strong criticism of CIGNA. Based upon this huge outpouring of public opinion, CIGNA reversed its decision and said that the company now would pay for the transplant. CIGNA's reaction to strong public opinion was too little and too late. Sadly, Nataline died the very day that CIGNA tried to put on the white hat by agreeing to pay for the transplant.
Although the facts in Nataline's case are absolutely horrible, they are just one of thousands of examples of how insurance companies can evade their responsibility to their insureds. This is just one example of the grisly fact that insurance companies will always put their profits ahead of the health, life and welfare of their insureds. This is especially true when the law of the land and the judges who are supposed to enforce that law let the insurance companies get away with these shenanigans.
All of the above gives us reason to believe that an individual mandate such as the one proposed by ABX1 1 will no more protect individuals from financial ruin due to medical expenses than bare bones drivers’ insurance protects anybody from the the costs of a car accident. We do not count on those policies to get our cars back in shape, but we need them to comply with the law and protect ourselves against the claims of others. So for now, no reason to raise our glasses. And yet, some Californians are surely celebrating: among them are high level executives and shareholders in the private health insurance sector, which, if ABX1 1 becomes law, will count on a captive pool of clients for years to come. Indeed, Blue Shield California and colleagues must be following closely the smashing success of the Massachusetts plan. They must be particularly excited about the surplus of $1 million a day that Blue Cross Massachusetts is collecting. Or about the $16.4 million retirement bonus recently awarded its chairman, even as he continues to draw a $3 million dollar salary.
Which is why we do not need to think too hard to understand why this marriage of Republicans and Democrats must already be celebrated in so many places. We can only speculate, however, why health care reporters insist on calling ABX1 1 and similarly ill-conceived legislation “near-universal” or “universal” health coverage. Or why they are dismissing single payer, the only viable option for controlling costs and securing health care, as having “limited political support”, as editors in the New York Times recently did, despite evidence to the contrary among the public and even among physicians. Or why the same editors refer to single payer as “no panacea” as “indicated” by the “problems” of Medicare, clearly confusing the symptom — Medicare’s financial struggles — with the disease — the irrationalities forced upon Medicare by business-friendly legislation, which include, yet are not limited to, the generous subsidies Medicare has to pay to private insurers to “encourage” them to “compete”, at the same time that this legislation forbids Medicare itself to bargain for best prices of drugs for seniors.
Thus, he is now telling state officials in Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and elsewhere that they cannot expand their Medicaid programs to reach millions of uninsured folks. Technically, these families are not poor, yet their limited paychecks are eaten up by the basics of rent, utilities, food, clothing, and gasoline – so they don't have private insurance. Tough luck, George declares, piously insisting that any expansion of Medicaid to meet the needs of these people would "crowd out" private insurance corporations, and we can't have that. In his mind, market ideology trumps human need.
Astonishingly, the Bushites insist that this ban on state action "demonstrates the president's compassion." Say what? Well, declares a White House PR flack, Bush "wants to direct scarce tax dollars to those with the greatest needs."
How touching. However, there are several flaws in the president's ideological stand. First, helping the near-poor would not take any dollars from the poor – it's an expansion of the program. Second, how ironic that the Bushites would mention "scarce" tax dollars, since they're the ones who've made them scarce with their misbegotten Iraq occupation and their tax giveaways to the super-rich. Third, leaving people without health coverage is a proven tax drain, since they must resort to expensive emergency rooms when their families fall ill.
Besides, Bush's ideological purity is nothing but bovine excrement. Notice that while he is denying government-financed health care to hard-hit working families, he finds no sin in using scarce tax dollars to provide-platinum level health care for his own family, even though he's a multi-millionaire with no need for government support.
Many of the Republicans and Democrats running for president are sitting members of the U.S. House or Senate - and are thus eligible for taxpayer-subsidized coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan. Marilyn Moon, director of the health program for the American Institutes for Research, says the plan is OK, but not "gold-plated."
Sponsors of the study, which include the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the Pacific Business Group on Health, say hospital consolidation - or a lack of competition within a region - appears to be a major factor in determining how much a hospital will charge for its services.
We encourage Alliance members/supporters in North Carolina to attend this forum and engage the panel in the Q and A section and tell the stories of the real impact on the jobs of workers and the loss of jobs in the USA. The Alliance@IBM team.
The IBM email note: Succeeding in the Global Economy Forum with Marc Lautenbach, GM IBM America and Wachovia CEO Ken Thompson.
On January 28, 2008, 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. at Central Piedmont Community College, a town hall discussion will take place on: Succeeding in the Global Economy. The forum will be hosted by Wachovia CEO , Ken Thompson and co-hosted by Congressman Mel Watt. Also, Marc Lautenbach, GM, IBM America and a host of others, will discuss the effects of globalization, and how communities, governments, and firms can help more Americans adapt to the 21st century workforce.
Background: The Washington, D.C. business and lobbying community that deals with free trade issues has been tasked with developing positive stories of the benefits of free trade and globalization to use in our messaging to the Congress. The anti-trade/globalization community has been very active and successful in showcasing the negative aspects of trade, such as pictures of abandoned factories, laid off workers, etc. Their messages tug at the heart strings. When the pro-trade community lobbies for free trade and open markets, we have had a tendency to speak about the benefits in generic, economic terms, which fall on deaf ears. Thus, we are now trying to personalize our messaging.
Action: Governmental Programs is trying to find examples of jobs at IBM that are U.S. based and support our international operations ? i.e.. jobs that support globalization and free trade ? where the IBMer would be able to say something along the lines of: My job at IBM depends upon the company having access to foreign markets. If you meet the above criteria, Government Programs would like for you to attend the Forum and be recognized by Marc Lautenbach as part of his panel discussion. We would also like to identify IBMers that came into their current job at IBM due to the shifting North Carolina economy - someone that was in the industrial/manufacturing sector, saw that the job landscape was changing, and decided to get re-trained in order to be able to join the high tech sector.
Keep in mind that the push towards remote management will continue since its much cheaper to manage 100 servers to 1 in BRIC than in the USA. Its forced attrition time again. Its cheaper to put the screws to us and have us leave then it is to have us wait around till the final sale to ? (wipro - tata - ?) Once the 24A family has been squeezed.. look to the other families.
Remember sam's promise to the street about increasing revenue and profits over the next 5 plus years.. the easiest place management can go to is the workers. It's over folks.. its just a matter of time. The board doesn't want services.. the profits are not there for their investment. Sorry to be blunt, but folks need to know what is going on. Big changes (not positive) beginning of 2nd quarter continue -Sam screwed us yet again-
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