Category Archives: Business

June 15, 2017

Iowa IT Firm Caught Posting ‘No Americans’ Job Listing

Company apologizes after placing ‘H-1B only’ ad on recruiting site, blames third-party vendor.

An Iowa information technology staffing company last week posted an ad that essentially told American citizens they need not apply.

The ad by American Technology Consulting, posted to the recruiting website ZipRecruiter, sought a java developer to work in San Diego. Initially, it stated “H1B Only,” a reference to the H-1B guest worker visa program for high-skilled workers. The company changed the ad and deleted reference to the H-1B visas, but critics said it likely violates the Civil Right Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of citizenship and national origin.

“It’s explicitly against the law,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “This isn’t some gray area. But it does tell you what this company is about.”

Krikorian, who retweeted a screen shot of the original ad on Friday, said it should attract the attention of the Department of Justice to see if the company is complying with employment laws.

“It doesn’t matter that the ad doesn’t say that anymore,” he said.

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June 14, 2017

This Is What Globalized Crony Capitalism Looks Like: Immelt Got Fabulously Wealthy While GE Shares Dropped

Jeff Immelt is perhaps the perfect paragon for the failures of the now passing age of globalization.

Immelt is stepping down from his position as chairman and chief executive of General Electric, the massive company he has led since September of 2001. Jack Welch, his legendary predecessor, had overseen the company as its value rose from about $14 billion in when he took the reins in 1981 to nearly $500 billion when he retired 20 years later. Its stock price increased 400 percent. Annual revenue soared from $18 billion to an eye-popping $130 billion.

When he took the top job, Immelt promised that “GE will always outperform any market that we’re in.”

That certainly has not applied to the market for GE shares. During Immelt’s tenure, it share price fell about 30 percent–making it the worst performing comp-any in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Total shareholder return, which assumes the reinvestments of all dividends, has been just 17.0 percent. The company lost $150 billion in market value.

For comparison, the Dow is up 121 percent since Immelt’s first day as GE chief executive. It would have been up even more if not dragged down by the under-performance of GE. Twenty-one of the 29 other companies in the Dow have at least doubled over those years, according to Erik Holm at MoneyBeat. Holm twists the knife a bit further by pointing out that even if you include the dividends paid to shareholders, GE has the worst cumulative return of any company in the Dow.

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June 3, 2017

Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies

“He definitely goes where there is government money,” said Dan Dolev, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research. “That’s a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day.”

Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.

And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.

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May 30, 2017

Venezuela opposition accuses Goldman Sachs of financing dictatorship

“Given the unconstitutional nature of Nicolas Maduro’s administration, its unwillingness to hold democratic elections and its systematic violation of human rights, I am dismayed that Goldman Sachs decided to enter this transaction.”

The president of Venezuela’s opposition-run Congress on Monday accused Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs of “aiding and abetting the country’s dictatorial regime” following a report that it had bought $2.8 billion in bonds from the cash-strapped country.

The Wall Street Journal on Sunday said Goldman paid 31 cents on the dollar for bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA that mature in 2022, or around $865 million, citing five people familiar with the transaction.

That comes as two months of opposition protests against President Nicolas Maduro have killed almost 60 people and the collapse of the country’s socialist economy has left millions of people struggling to eat.

“Goldman Sachs’ financial lifeline to the regime will serve to strengthen the brutal repression unleashed against the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans peacefully protesting for political change in the country,” wrote Julio Borges in a letter to Goldman Sachs President Lloyd Blankfein.

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May 20, 2017

Merkel to change German laws so banks can SACK staff to lure London-based businesses (Video)

Angela Merkel is to try to lure finance companies away from the City by making senior bankers exempt from Germany’s stringent labour laws.

The proposed change to the current regulations is intended as a sweeter for global banks who are considering moving the staff from their London home to the continent but may have reservations over Germany’s the strict laws governing employment.

The move would apply to those earning more than £215,000 (€250,000) in the banking sector and would make it easier for those companies to dismiss staff.

The move is being pushed by Volker Bouffier, vice chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) which is lead by Mrs Merkel, who backs the move.

Mr Bouffier said: We do not need the German protection against redundancy for top earners in banking.

“I see a political prospect of changing this law by the middle of next year or in the Autumn (of 2018), once the new government is in place.”

Importantly, Mr Bouffier is also the premier of the state of Hesse, home to the country’s financial centre, Frankfurt.

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April 30, 2017

Sessions Promises DOJ Crackdown On White Collar Crime

“Companies should succeed because they provide superior products and services, not because they have paid off the right people.”

Jeff Sessions told a room full of attorneys in Washington, DC Monday that just because he and the Department of Justice have promised to crack down on illegal immigration, that doesn’t mean they won’t also prioritize cleaning up white collar crime.

“Focusing on these challenges does not mean we will reduce our efforts in other areas,” the Attorney General told attendees at the Ethics & Compliance Initiative’s annual conference.

“We also have a responsibility to protect American consumers,” he continued. “These laws are in place for a reason. When they are broken, it has real consequences in peoples’ lives.”

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April 24, 2017

Immigrants flooded California construction. Worker pay sank. Here’s why

Construction in Los Angeles has shifted from a heavily unionized labor force that was two-thirds white to a largely non-union one that is 70% Latino and heavily immigrant.

Eddie Ybarra and Francisco Martinez, both in their 40s, work side by side building the walls of two of the newest condo buildings in downtown Los Angeles. They drive pickup trucks to work, park in adjacent lots and both take their lunch break around 10 a.m. That’s about all they share.

Ybarra, born in Los Angeles, has built a solidly middle-class lifestyle on more than two decades in the carpenters’ union, earning $40 an hour on top of a pension, healthcare and unlimited vacation days.

Martinez, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, works for a nonunion contractor, installing metal panels and other parts for $27.50 an hour. He doesn’t have retirement savings, his insurance doesn’t cover his family and he gets five vacation days per year.

The story of these two men illustrates the radical shift that has put construction front and center in the national debate over declining blue-collar jobs and President Trump’s views of immigration.

In the span of a few decades, Los Angeles area construction went from an industry that was two-thirds white, and largely unionized, to one that is overwhelmingly Latino, mostly nonunion and heavily reliant on immigrants, according to a Los Angeles Times review of federal data.

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April 19, 2017

Australia toughens foreign worker visas, says Australian jobs for Australians

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), which represents more than 60,000 businesses, said the changes would improve the integrity of Australia’s visa programme.

Australia will abolish a temporary work visa popular with foreigners and replace it with a new programme requiring better English-language and job skills, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday.

Turnbull, struggling with poor voter approval ratings, rejected suggestions the visa policy change was in response to far-right wing political parties, such as One Nation, demanding more nationalistic policies.

But in a Facebook announcement Turnbull said: “Our reforms will have a simple focus: Australian jobs and Australian values.”

In a similar vein, U.S. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday directing changes to a temporary visa programme used to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill highly skilled jobs. The order is an attempt by Trump to carry out his “America First” election campaign pledges.

Turnbull said the visa change would attract better skilled workers and see Australians employed over cheap foreign workers brought in under the old 457 visa programme.

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Venezuelan Oligarchs Who Robbed Country Bring Cash and Corruption to Miami and Houston

“They come here to enjoy the fruits of their ill-gotten gains.”

More than 1.5 million Venezuelans have fled into the diaspora spurred by the election of Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor, as president in 1998. Many settled in the United States, including in Houston — lured by its oil and gas jobs — and Miami, the American metropolis closest to South America. Some are poor and working-class Venezuelans in search of economic opportunity. Some are professionals who were purged by the Chávez government. And some are the same corrupt businessmen who stole billions from the Venezuelan government and plunged the country into the worst economic crisis Latin America has seen in a generation.

“They go out and they buy the most expensive house, the most exotic cars, the fastest airplanes,” says Otto Reich, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. “They do it here in the United States because they’re afforded the personal security that their fellow citizens are denied in Venezuela… they come here to enjoy the fruits of their ill-gotten gains.”

Venezuelans call them boligarchs, a portmanteau of “bolívar” (Venezuela’s currency) and “oligarch.” Hundreds hide in plain sight in Venezuelan enclaves such as Weston, Florida; and Katy, Texas. These American boligarchs include Roberto Rincón and Abraham Shiera, a pair of Venezuelan businessmen who bilked their country’s state-run oil company, PDVSA (PAY-duh-veh-suh), out of $1 billion before they were caught.

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April 18, 2017

Harvard Research: Minimum Wage Hikes Put Non-Elite Restaurants Out of Business

A recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School concluded that minimum wage laws increase the likelihood that non-elite restaurants will go out of business.

The study, which was conducted by the husband-and-wife team of Dara Lee Luca and Michael Luca, looked at data on “tens of thousands of restaurants in the San Francisco area.” They concluded that lower-rated restaurants are disproportionately more likely than four or five-star restaurants to go out of business as a result of minimum wage laws.

The evidence suggests that higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants. However, lower quality restaurants, which are already closer to the margin of exit, are disproportionately impacted by increases to the minimum wage.

Their data on the San Francisco-area restaurants studied concluded that a $1 increase in the minimum wage increased the likelihood of a restaurant going out of business by four to 10 percent. A 10 percent increase in the minimum wage led to a 24 percent increase in the likelihood that a restaurant would go out of business.

This paper presents several new findings. First, we provide suggestive evidence that higher minimum wage increases overall exit rates among restaurants, where a $1 increase in the minimum wage leads to approximately a 4 to 10 percent increase in the likelihood of exit, although statistical significance falls with the inclusion of time-varying county-level characteristics and city-specific time trends.

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