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Technology Backlash: Good Old-fashioned Business Success Comes with the Personal Touch

slider-image-JoanneHello? Is anybody there? 

One of the biggest problems sales people face with social media and technology is the lack of real, meaningful contact and communication.  Sure, it’s quick and easy. But when it comes to closing deals, does it really produce the results you need?
Joanne S. Black, author of the new book Pick Up the Damn Phone! , How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal, is on a mission to help people learn the importance of personal contact.  Her manifesto is simple – to make a real connection and achieve true, meaningful communication, you have to make a personal and even in-person contact. Her goal is to get people to tweet less and talk more to the customers and contacts who really matter.

“It’s easy to get sucked into technology,” she says. “But the personal touch is the best deal maker there is.  Relationships matter more than anything else. The digital world—as great as it is—threatens personal connections. Humans need personal contact with others. Email, texting, social networking—these certainly have a place in business today, but none of them replaces the power of a personal connection.”

Based on years of research and experience, her book describes what she sees are the critical elements for success, particularly in business, where the creation of the powerful personal trust with executives and clients is necessary to produce immediate and long-term mutual economic benefits. Here they are:

  1. Stop Typing. Stop Texting. Get Personal Right Now. Pick up the phone and call. Go down the hall, take a walk, get in your car, take a train, get on a plane, hop on a bus, take the metro, and GO AND SEE THE RIGHT PERSON OR PEOPLE RIGHT NOW.  Make arrangements to see the people you work with face-to face. Go and meet your prospects and clients in-person. Thrash your competition. They are still tapping away on the keyboard. Even in our technology-driven world, nothing replaces a handshake and in-person interaction for both building and maintaining business relationships. Face-to-face meetings aren’t luxuries.
  1. Our Smart Phones Are Not So Smart Everyone looks down at their phones–bumping into people on the street, at networking events, on muni, at restaurants, in bed, at home. Our addiction to technology is bleeding into our personal lives. There’s no conversation. Kids are ignored. When you used to go into a public place, you assumed everyone was in that place with you. Now everyone is somewhere else. No one is talking. No one is connecting.
  1. Are You Spammed? Salespeople think that technology can do their job. They are under the mistaken beliefs, that if they do some research, identify specific trigger events and mutual connections that they can now spam away. It’s like digital snake oil. Executives don’t have “Meet with Salesperson” on the top of their list. They will always take a meeting with a personal introduction from someone they know and trust.
  1. We’re Smarter Than Our Buyers The digital buyer, Buyer 2.0 learns all about us with a click of the mouse. Salespeople are armed with the same tools. Even though buyers may know a lot about us, we know just as much or more about them. Clients don’t usually recognize exactly what they need. We do. Because so much information can be found online, the standard is now higher for sales to add value. Information isn’t knowledge. Knowledge comes from wisdom and experience. Just being tech savvy doesn’t mean you’re smarter than your buyer.
  1. Message to Marketing:  Keep Your Hands Off My Clients It’s up to salespeople to nurture their own relationships—not just with marketing automation, but with one-on-one conversations. Marketing should not be qualifying leads. That’s our job. Not only is generating leads our responsibility, it’s a task you don’t want marketing (or anyone else) doing for you. These are your clients, and you must continue to cultivate these relationships. These are the people who can send you the best, hottest referrals. So marketing–keep your hands off my clients.
  1. Bring In Your Team! Don’t be a lone ranger. If you are the manager, bring your technology experts with you. If you are the technology expert, bring your manager with you! Knock people’s socks off by giving them access to the right people that matter to the solution of their problem.. Show clients that you trust your teammates and that they can trust you. When we share data, strategies, best practices and even people, you make the best impression and win loyalty that lasts for a long time.
  1. There’s No Such Thing as a “Warm” Call.  If you don’t have a referral introduction, your lead is freezing cold—even though you mistakenly think you’ve been able to avoid sounding like a pesky telemarketer. Walk straight into meetings with your ideal prospects—without cold calling or trying to figure out how to bypass the gatekeeper. If you’ve been introduced by a trusted source, these gatekeepers will welcome your call. The secret isn’t duping them (trust me, they’re onto you). Make referral selling your primary sales driver and convert more than 50% of prospects to clients.
  1. Shine the Light! Prove that Live and in Person is the Best! Social networking isn’t the next big thing. You are! It’s not technology, but rather the person using the technology, that sets people apart. Social selling is a great way to expedite the first few important steps in prospecting; researching potential clients and identifying referral sources. Beyond that, it’s not social intelligence we need; it’s relationship intelligence that seals the deal.

It’s people, not technology, that seal the deal. It’s the real thing.

About the Author

Joanne Black is an expert on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. She is the author of the book No More Cold Calling, and a popular speaker who teaches people how to build their referral networks so they can quickly attract more business, decrease operating costs, and ace out the competition every time. Her clients include Autodesk, KPMG, Bank of Marin, California State Automobile Association, Colliers International, Sage Software, and many other companies. She is a member of the National Speakers Association.

She has a Bachelors Degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Certificate in Training and Human Resource Development, with Honors, from the University of California Extension.  Joanne lives in San Francisco, California.

 

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What’s The Right Credit Card For My Business?

gty_credit_card_choice_kb_130405_wgA number of credit card providers have been really aiming at including small businesses in their product line. For new, small businesses this can work wonders as it is a lot easier to get a credit card than a loan from a bank.

Of course, there are dozens of choices available and this can often make it quite hard to choose a specific card. The best way to evaluate the sort of card that’s best for your business is to take a look at its spending habits. Different businesses have different spending habits, depending on the sort of business they have.

Balance

Consider if you plan on paying the balance over each month, or whether you will pay it off with time and want to pay the minimum payment. If you do decide to carry the balance then you will need to take a look at the annual percentage rate, as this can end up being quite costly for business if it goes wrong.

For those that wish to carry their balance and also have good credit, take a look to see if you can get a 0% credit card, as this will mean you pay nothing back for a set period. Fixed rates can be very attractive when interest rates are rising; however this is not the case currently.

For businesses that pay all of their balance each month, they should look for cards with rewards or longer periods of grace. These businesses can benefit greatly from paying back and the rewards for being disciplined are good. However, make sure you are disciplined as the costs for not being so are also high.

Charge Cards

A good alternative to the credit card is the charge card. This card differs as it allows businesses to have a short line of credit. The card will always be paid back in the full amount at the end of the month and there are harsh penalties. However, if you do pay back in full your business will receive a number of benefits for doing so. Charge cards often also charge an annual fee and there is a similar process to the credit card application online, when applying for one.

Though, if you do need flexibility, then a credit card is a better option – just be aware of the interest charges and when you need to pay the balance.

Rewards

We’ve mentioned rewards on a number of occasions and both credit card and charge card companies issue these. These often come in the shape of air miles, cash back and discounts at retailers, hotels or for services. Access to airport lounges and hotel upgrades are also part and parcel of these benefits and perks. The main thing here is to pay attention to the fine print if you choose a card with these perks, as the costs of not meeting the criteria are high.

So, in conclusion, the best way to choose a card is to look at your businesses situation and all the financial products out there and then take your ability to pay into account. By then choosing a card around your ability to pay, you can be sure that you will avoid steep charges and gain all the benefits you can.

Cormac Reynolds writes financial articles for a variety of businesses and blogs and has done so for many years.

 

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Driving Up Sales and Improving Customer Loyalty With the Best CRM

what-is-crmAssessing the need for organizational change

Analyzing interactions with customers is the key to ensuring the best CRM is achieved year on year and can lead to organizational changes which improve sales and prevent customers moving across to the competition.

Data collection takes place at a variety of stages of the customer experience and will bring different aspects of the customer profile into one touch point that is accessed by each relevant employee.

Replacing several systems with a single database

This one CRM database may replace several databases containing different aspects of information about the same customers, which were too disparate and without any linking criteria. Being able to see everything that is known about the customer in one place can provide multiple opportunities for improving the user experience. The best CRM is customer focused and having the information is one place ensures this can be achieved more effectively and with significant savings in costs.

Setting targets using the best CRM practise

The best CRM also provides a baseline for setting concise sales targets, and can show team members what new strategies are required to achieve these goals, including the tools and resources they have available at the moment, and what they may need to acquire in future to make the new and more ambitious targets a reality. Having concrete and often surprising facts and figures generated by the data in the CRM system can invigorate and inspire ailing companies, where in the past drops in sales and lack of customer retention may have been a continuing issue, without any real solution or apparent explanation.

Designing a modular CRM integration plan

The planning stage for the best CRM can involve a series of modules, where different aspects of the CRM system are addressed and tackled in stages. Each separate element of the plan would tackle individual aspects of the customer experience, for instance management of:

  • sales leads
  • showrooms and branches
  • ending of leases or guarantees
  • delivery schedules
  • post purchase support
  • employee engagement with customers
  • environments for customers

Involving employees in change

Discussions and forums with employees can help generate new ideas and new purpose for the best CRM, where everyone feels involved and has some degree of ownership over the new ways of providing improved customer experiences.

Employees are far more likely to not just cooperate but actively subscribe to the best CRM practises where they feel they have had input to the solutions and opportunities presenting themselves.  They are more likely to understand the new policies by which the company is to operate and the need for increased use of information technology to ensure the CRM system performs in an outstanding manner.

The concept of customer centric operation is a means of improving the strengths of a company while at the same time identifying any training and technology needs, plus any opportunities for new ways of engaging with customers on an ongoing basis.  By taking each area of the business one at a time and assessing these elements of the best CRM practice, a powerful company infrastructure can be developed for the future.

Daniel Petrov have experience with CRM systems and he is using some of the best CRM (Melhor CRM is the portuguese term) systems on the market, and he is glad that he can share his experience with you.

 

 

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Plastic Card Alternatives

Last time, I wrote something about how wood pulps can be used to make biodegradable plastic cards for retailer and business promos. Of course, we all know that this will definitely require an expensive machine, or an equally huge fund, in order to pull off. This virtually renders smaller businesses unable to make these eco-friendly cards. These cards are very helpful with promoting your business, and you can’t just stop using them for your promos, memberships, and gift cards. If you’re one of those businesses who are looking for a cheap, eco-friendly alternative to plastic cards, then you are in luck. I’ve listed down a couple of alternative media and materials that you can use to market your business the same way as how you use your standard Plastic cards!

PaperPaper is the obvious choice if you’re looking for the cheapest alternative. It’s easier and cheaper to produce paper cards than their plastic counterparts. They are made of resources such as wood or used paper, which are quite renewable. The card itself is biodegradable and easily disposable. This card is the perfect choice for one-time use cards such as discount vouchers or gift cards. The only flaw with paper cards is that it is not practical to use them for data cards with magnetic strips – but you can definitely add QR and Bar codes in it, just as long as customers make sure these paper cards won’t get wet.

E-Mails – E-mails are the fastest and easiest way to get in touch with a potential client or customer. However, using e-mails for marketing will also require you to make a decent-looking webpage. There are also unwritten, ethical rules regarding the use of e-mails for marketing. Rememember that people do not want spam, so don’t send it to just anyone! You’ll want to post a “news feed” subscription in your site so that you’ll be able to have an e-mail list where you can send e-mails without worry. You should also mention that you’ll be randomly giving away discount promos via e-mail to encourage folks to subscribe.

Mobile Gadgets – I was planning to list “alternative” to your typical plastic cards but this one is more of like the plastic card’s “next step in evolution”. The invention of smartphone innovated how common folks gain access to resources that you can’t usually get from outside your home, such as electronic cash and Internet. Your business shouldn’t get left behind by this technology, so start taking advantage of it! Electronic credit is already accessible via smartphones so folks can pay for your products or services on the dot. A lot of freeware sites provide ways for clients and customers to scan QR and Bar codes with their smartphone’s cameras. The image above is a great example for using these scanners: Koreans placed a virtual grocery store for customers to scan. Each item for sale has its own QR code to be added to your shopping cart. With electronic money, customers can pay for the item and have it delivered to their home while they’re still in the train. Of course not every business can afford electronic billboards like that. For a cheaper alternative, use posters, stickers, or tarpaulin banners.

These 3 tips are both eco-friendly and cheap for small businesses to use. You can even do most of these things on your own! Hopefully, this can help your small business to stay afloat and compete with bigger business rivals.

 

Therese Shaw is an advocate of recycling through turning clutter into art and other practical items. When not doing arts and crafts, she does freelance writing occasionally for companies like Cardprinting.us, a print service that uses environmental friendly plastic cards and offers keytagprinting.

 

VIDEO: Best marriage proposal ever

Isaac Lamb proposed to his girlfriend, Amy, in a very innovative way, and the video has gone viral.
Check out Isaac’s incredible proposal – set to Bruno Mars‘ “Marry You.”

CLICK ON THE PHOTO

 

When Isaac Lamb decided to propose to his girlfriend, Amy, he knew he wanted to do something over-the-top. but not even Amy was prepared for the elaborate proposal he staged with 60 of their closet friends and family members. The video went viral – and has already amassed almost 6 million views on YouTube at last count.

The video even got Bruno Mars’ stamp of approval!

Congrats to Isaac Lamb and the future Mrs.. I don’t think I could’ve made a better music video for this song. Thank youvimeo.com/42828824

 

Keeping Your Office Clean

The workplace is a common breeding ground for illness. Often enough, when one person falls sick, the disease makes its way across the office, making almost everyone else sick, one after the other. It’s important at times like these to remember that the health and safety of employees at work is the responsibility of the employers.

For example, professional cleaning services, provide expert service in office cleaning that not only leave the space visibly clean but also disinfect and provide protection against harmful viruses and bacteria. Services like these are commonly employed for general upkeep of space, be it office or personal. It makes things more convenient as they employ individuals with the required specialisation for the job. They use the right equipment and know how to clean and sanitise without causing the damage that an amateur attempt might.

Your local cleaning service for instance, will have a network of local employees who work in teams. They will come with the expertise of being able to offer advice and guidance about what their clients require. Furthermore, you will find that their services will span the range of cleaning offices, homes, hotels, pubs, clubs and even specialised high pressure cleaning for outdoor areas like car parks, refuse areas, walkways, drives,  gutters and so on. They even offer window cleaning, recycling and waste management services.
Accessing Staff
Most cleaning services staff are trained beforehand at their Health and Safety Department. Before employing one it’s important to check if they have training in basic Health and Safety but also in the more specialised aspects of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), Electric and Manual handling and Risk Assessment, among others.

Eco-friendly Materials
For the eco-friendly, cleaning services also provide services where the products and equipment used are all environmently-friendly.
It pays to invest in employing a cleaning service for work as that’s an investment in a usable, clean office space. Ultimately what matters is a hygienic, bacteria-free office, because that means lower illnesses and better productivity.

Flexibility
The fact that you are able to arrange an appropriate time with the company in question to pay you a visit at a time that suits you best. If you prefer as many companies do now a days, that their grounds are cleaned in the morning before the staff arrive in the morning or in the evening after staff have left the office for the day.

Making use of professional cleaning services means you can relax, knowing that the cleanliness and hygiene in your office is in safe hands, leaving you to take care of the more important things.

Priyanka Zaveri is an online marketer and SEO consultant. Priyanka  writes for many online publications, as well as developing content and articles for a variety of well-established websites. Her latest project is writing informative articles on the subject of business cleaning services for the reputable online agency Q7 Cleaning.

 

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Furnishings and Workings of the Future Office

While we are still working at desks and using the copier, we may often daydream during our daily tasks and wonder to ourselves what the future office will look like. How will furniture and office space change from current layouts and rolling seats next to square desks and will we still be in cubicles in the next decade? Will the future office be run by robots while we all work from remote locations, only coming into the office to pick up important paperwork? Changes are already a foot in the way that office space is managed, and one only needs to look at serviced executive suites La Jolla to know that flexible terms and shared working spaces is already becoming a dominant force in commercial space rental. So how will the office of the future change in regards to personnel, working space and furniture? Let’s take a quick look inside.

Who’s Working in the Office of the Future?

With the driving force of mobile technology there is little cause for workers to be in a centralised location at all times of the day. With workers already having all the capabilities of being able to function at full potential at a coffee shop or at home in their private space, the offices of the future may very well be completely automated with some Asian firms already offering prototype designs of robots to take care of daily office chores such as filing, delivering mail and pouring coffee. The robot discussed has been designed by Kawada Industries and will be able to recognise the faces of its co-workers and take care of mundane tasks, leaving you free to do whatever you need, wherever you are.

What’s the Optimum Office Setup?

Open plan areas are already becoming the dominant style of offices to generate inclusive operations and also to bring a sense of unison. For corporate offices of the future that still wish to have workers at single premises, we may find that communal desks will be the choice for workers. Collaboration instead of individuality will offer some of the developments in progression utilising the water cooler theory of creativity and it will be that CEO’s and directors are sharing the same work space and integrating their ideas with their staff. Offices will all have numerous facilities as workers are able to perform away from their desks, so coffee shops, gyms and other recreational areas become areas of creativity. When future thinking companies currently conduct an office search for new premises, they are already taking these factors into account.

How you Sit Changes How You Think

Office furniture will change in the future as well. Making use of interactive desks such as those seen in Minority Report may be a touch too futuristic at the moment, but having pod style chairs with integrated multimedia and multiple desk areas for laptops and screens with ergonomic seating is already part of some companies. The Future office will make comfort and creativity a focus, and furniture will follow suit with sleek, practical and innovative designs.

Penny Munroe is a freelance blogger with a keen interest in technology and the way it is chanigng our worlds.

 

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How to Take Advantage of a Short Sale

In the real estate business, there are all sorts of specialized terms that can be confusing to the average layperson. With the condition of the economy like it is, we are seeing many different house sale conditions, including auctions, foreclosures and short sales. These are often the result of people not being able to afford their mortgage payments and being forced to move. Whether you’re in that position and needing to sell, or you’re in the market for purchasing a new home, it’s important to understand all the various terms and options available to you. So let’s go over one of them now. What, exactly, is a short sale?

A short sale, put in the simplest of terms, is when a house is selling for less than the balance owed on the mortgage. A short sale has to be agreed to by the mortgage lender. When a person is unable to make the mortgage payments, the lender agrees to a short sale so they can at least get a portion of their loan back. It is often a way to cut their losses and get something out of it. If they allow the property to go into foreclosure, they will potentially get even less. Some banks can save up to 25 or 30 percent by allowing a short sale rather than going to foreclosure.

Should You Purchase a Short Sale Home?

If you want to buy a new home, a short sale can be an attractive option. With a short sale, you are often able to get a lot more house for your money. The house will be priced well below its value, so it is worth considering, especially for people buying their first home or people who are interested in buying an investment property to rent or flip. You should enlist the help of a realtor who is experienced with short sales. A realtor who is knowledgeable about the process will be a valuable asset to you.

On the downside, most short sale homes are being sold “as is,” meaning the sellers aren’t willing to fix it up for you. Many short sale homes are in less than stellar condition. Some need complete and total rehab, other just a few minor repairs. You should have a building inspector come to the home before you purchase it, and you should get repair estimates from contractors. Consider if you’re really willing to put in the time, effort and money it might take to fix up the home. Short sales also require a lot more paperwork and involve more parties, so they are bound to take longer to complete.

Should You Request a Short Sale for Your Home?

On the other hand, if you’re in financial difficulty and can’t keep up with your mortgage payments, you might want to consider requesting a short sale from your mortgage lender. You will need to begin by writing a letter explaining why you’d like a short sale by detailing your hardships. A short sale is a way to avoid foreclosure, but it will still negatively impact your credit score. Your mortgage lender will need to agree to the short sale, and they will be the one to approve any offers made on the home. If you have any liens against the property, the lien holders will need to agree to the short sale also.

Whether you’re considering purchasing or requesting a short sale, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney.

Terry Ford has been writing for many years and loves to provide readers with informational material related to trends impacting our economy. Terry uses Grammarly grammar checker to ensure her readers receive the best possible content.

 

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Facebook Friend Count Linked to Brain Density [STUDY]

 

All those hours you spend on Facebook may be adding grey matter, signifying greater density, to the part of your brain linked to social skills. Or, perhaps, people with larger areas of the brain for social skills may just have higher than average Facebook friend counts.

That’s the chicken-and-egg problem researchers at University College London are grappling with after finding a connection between brain structure and Facebook activity. The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was based on MRIs of a group of 165 adults who were asked to report the number of Facebook friends they have. (The study doesn’t delineate what is considered “high,” though it refers to Dunbar’s Number, which postulates 150 friends is the limit of the average person’s social circle.)

The research discovered that those with higher Facebook friend counts had more grey matter density in the amygdala, an area the study says was already known to be linked to real world social network size, as well as in other regions including the right entorhinal cortex, which is associated with memory.

“Taken together, our findings show that the number of social contacts declared publicly on a major web-based social networking site was strongly associated with the structure of focal regions of the human brain,” the researchers conclude.

Professor Geraint Rees, director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, told The Guardian it’s too early to tell how the structure of the brain and online social networking activity are connected. “What we’re attempting to do is get an empirical handle using the types of data we can generate to try and start that process rolling.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Patrick Denker

 

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What the Wall Street Protesters are All About, If You Have the Stomach For It

I had some money, once, and it wasn’t just my two divorces that cleaned me out. Being in a service industry can be just as volatile in a downturn as being in a manufacturing space.  For several years I was in business development for a corporate travel management concern, and as the recession bloomed people found less expensive and less frequent means of getting to point b, including webinars and teleconferencing.  Not to say that a little belt tightening and ending extravagant spending isn’t a good thing, but it didn’t seem to reach across the board.

While the average silicon valley executive had his boarding passes start to read “coach” instead of first class even on international flights, the board members of the auto industries had to be reminded that it would be slightly poor form for them to take their private jets to Washington while begging for bail-out money.

The list of golden parachutes and excesses is truly amazing, and I have attached a story by Henry Blodget of The Business Insider that documents the disparity of our distribution of wealth far better than I could have ever had the time to research.

The bail-outs and lack of accountability were actually the tip of the iceberg. Who in their right mind would give a child a blank check because they had spent their money on drugs and couldn’t afford their rent?  Well that is essentially what we did to the banks.  We took those functioning least responsibly and rewarded them for their incompetence without any direction as to where they had to spend this windfall.

Then came the Obama appointments.  If my memory serves me wasn’t it Geithner and Bernanke who were at the helm when the ship ran on the rocks in the first place? Another reward for failure.  They were appointed because of their “experience.”  Hell, Jeffrey Dahmer was experienced at what he did.

My wife and I went up to the City (and yes, there is only one) for the fleet week celebration last weekend.  There is another great example of the taxpayers money being oh so wisely spent.  It was a grand time though, hanging around the south beach marina with our boating buddies, having drinks at the Yacht club, and retiring to the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero Center.  It might sound opulent, but the Hyatt has seen its hay-day and we had deeply discounted rooms, the drinks at the Yacht club were $3, and we had dinner at Delancy Street (highly recommended) where the entries were around $12 and delicious.

My point?  We, like most Americans have had to learn to make do with less.  After I was laid off from the travel industry I started an internet marketing company specializing in social media and website optimization.  I’m getting by just fine, but like the rest of humanity (except for the 1%) my stocks have taken a beating, my property maxed out 5 years ago and I’m not holding my breath for Social Security.

Outside our window at the Hyatt, lies the Federal Reserve building.  It was swarmed with young and old people like with fire in their eyes, and blowhorns in their mouths till all hours of the night. The pace was fever pitched at 2:00 in the morning, and when we walked by on Sunday the tired but determined group was still there.  This morning they stormed downtown and demonstrated in front of the Wells Fargo building. My wife and I were discussing this on Sunday:  God bless these young wild eyed freaks that have the energy and principles to stand up and say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

We lost lots when Steve Jobs passed away.  We stand to lose lots more than that if we ever lose the spirit this country was founded on. Remember what we said to the British Monarchy?  Taxation without representation is tyranny.”  Well, isn’t that really what is happening again now?  Do we really have any say where our hard earned dollars go?  Let’s start another war over weapons of mass destruction.

Below are some facts that should make you ill.  Good luck protestors, I’m with you!

 

CHARTS: Here’s What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About…

BY Henry Blodget |  The Business Insider

 

The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are gaining momentum, having spread from a small park in New York to marches to other cities across the country.

So far, the protests seem fueled by a collective sense that things in our economy are not fair or right.  But the protesters have not done a good job of focusing their complaints—and thus have been skewered as malcontents who don’t know what they stand for or want.

(An early list of “grievances” included some legitimate beefs, but was otherwise just a vague attack on “corporations.” Given that these are the same corporations that employ more than 100 million Americans and make the products we all use every day, this broadside did not resonate with most Americans).

So, what are the protesters so upset about, really?

Do they have legitimate gripes?

To answer the latter question first, yes, they have very legitimate gripes.

And if America cannot figure out a way to address these gripes, the country will likely become increasingly “de-stabilized,” as sociologists might say. And in that scenario, the current protests will likely be only the beginning.

The problem in a nutshell is this: Inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation’s history, and unemployment has reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, corporate profits are at a record high.

In other words, in the never-ending tug-of-war between “labor” and “capital,” there has rarely—if ever—been a time when “capital” was so clearly winning.

 

Let’s start with the obvious: Unemployment. Three years after the financial crisis, the unemployment rate is still at the highest level since the Great Depression (except for a brief blip in the early 1980s)

 

Jobs are scarce, so many adults have given up looking for them. Thus, a sharp decline in the “participation ratio.”

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

And it’s not like unemployment these days is a quick, painful jolt: A record percentage of unemployed people have been unemployed for longer than 6 months.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

And it’s not just construction workers who can’t find jobs. The median duration of all unemployment is also near an all-time high.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

That 9% rate, by the way, equates to 14 million Americans—people who want to work but can’t find a job.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

And that’s just people who meet the strict criteria for “unemployed.” Include people working part-time who want to work full-time, plus some people who haven’t looked for a job in a while, and unemployment’s at 17%

 

Put differently, this is the lowest percentage of Americans with jobs since the early 1980s (And the boom prior to that, by the way, was from women entering the workforce).

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

So that’s the jobs picture. Not pretty.

 

And now we turn to the other side of this issue… the Americans for whom life has never been better. The OWNERS.

 

Corporate profits just hit another all-time high.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

Corporate profits as a percent of the economy are near a record all-time high. With the exception of a brief happy period in 2007 (just before the crash), profits are higher than they’ve been since the 1950s. And they are VASTLY higher than they’ve been for most of the intervening half-century.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

CEO pay is now 350X the average worker’s, up from 50X from 1960-1985.

 

Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

CEO pay has skyrocketed 300% since 1990. Corporate profits have doubled. Average “production worker” pay has increased 4%. The minimum wage has dropped. (All numbers adjusted for inflation).

 

Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

After adjusting for inflation, average hourly earnings haven’t increased in 50 years.

 

In short… while CEOs and shareholders have been cashing in, wages as a percent of the economy have dropped to an all-time low.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

In other words, in the struggle between “labor” and “capital,” capital has basically won. (This man lives in a tent city in Lakewood, New Jersey, about a hundred miles from Wall Street. He would presumably be “labor,” except that he lost his job and can’t find another one.)

 

Image: Robert Johnson

Of course, life is great if you’re in the top 1% of American wage earners. You’re hauling in a bigger percentage of the country’s total pre-tax income than you have at any time since the late 1920s. Your share of the national income, in fact, is almost 2X the long-term average!

 

Image: David Ruccio

And the top 0.1% in America are doing way better than the top 0.1% in other first-world countries.

 

Image: David Ruccio

In fact, income inequality has gotten so extreme here that the US now ranks 93rd in the world in “income equality.” China’s ahead of us. So is India. So is Iran.

 

Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

And, by the way, few people would have a problem with inequality if the American Dream were still fully intact—if it were easy to work your way into that top 1%. But, unfortunately, social mobility in this country is also near an all-time low.

 

So what does all this mean in terms of net worth? Well, for starters, it means that the top 1% of Americans own 42% of the financial wealth in this country. The top 5%, meanwhile, own nearly 70%.

 

Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

That’s about 60% of the net worth of the country held by the top 5% (left chart).

 

Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

And remember that huge debt problem we have—with hundreds of millions of Americans indebted up to their eyeballs? Well, the top 1% doesn’t have that problem. They only own 5% of the country’s debt.

 

Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

And then there are taxes… It’s a great time to make a boatload of money in America, because taxes on the nation’s highest-earners are close to the lowest they’ve ever been.

 

Image: National Taxpayers Union

The aggregate tax rate for the top 1% is lower than for the next 9%—and not much higher than it is for pretty much everyone else.

 

Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

As the nation’s richest people often point out, they do pay the lion’s share of taxes in the country: The richest 20% pay 64% of the total taxes. (Lower bar). Of course, that’s because they also make most of the money. (Top bar).

 

Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

And now we come to the type of American corporation that gets—and deserves—a big share of the blame: The banks. Willie Sutton once explained that the reason he robbed banks was because “that’s where the money is.” The man knew what he was talking about.

 

Image: AP

Remember when we bailed out the banks? Yes, and remember the REASON we were told we had to bail out the banks? We had to bail out the banks, we were told, so that the banks could keep lending to American businesses. Without that lending, we were told, society would collapse…

 

So, did the banks keep lending? Um, no. Bank lending dropped sharply, and it has yet to recover.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

So, what have banks been doing since 2007 if not lending money to American companies? Lending money to America’s government! By buying risk-free Treasury bonds and other government-guaranteed securities.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

And, remarkably, they’ve also been collecting interest on money they are NOT lending—the “excess reserves” they have at the Fed. Back in the financial crisis, the Fed decided to help bail out the banks by paying them interest on this money that they’re not lending. And they’re happily still collecting it. (It’s AWESOME to be a bank.)

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

Meanwhile, of course, the banks are able to borrow money FOR FREE. Because the Fed has slashed rates to basically zero. And the banks have slashed the rates they pay on deposits to basically zero. So they can have all the money they want—for nearly free!

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

When you can borrow money for nothing, and lend it back to the government risk-free for a few percentage points, you can COIN MONEY. And the banks are doing that. According to IRA, the “net interest margin” made by US banks in the first six months of this year is $211 Billion. Nice!

 

Image: Institutional Risk Analytics

And that has helped produce $58 billion of profit in the first six months of the year.

 

Image: Institutional Risk Analytics

And it has helped generate near-record financial sector profits—while the rest of the country struggles with its 9% unemployment rate.

 

Image: Reuters (Felix Salmon)

And these profits are getting back toward a record as a percentage of all corporate profits.

 

Image: The Big Picture

And those profits, of course, are AFTER the banks have paid their bankers. And it’s still great to be a banker. The average banker in New York City made $361,330 in 2010. Not bad!

 

Image: New York Times, New York State Comptroller

This average Wall Street salary was 6X the average private-sector salary (which, in turn, is actually lower than the average government salary, but that’s a different issue).

 

Image: New York Times, New York State Comptroller

So it REALLY doesn’t suck to be a banker.

 

And so, in conclusion, we’ll end with another look at the “money shot”—the one overarching reason the Wall Street protesters are so upset: Wages as a percent of the economy. Again, it’s basically the lowest it has ever been.

 

Image: St. Louis Fed

So now you know!

 

Image: Julia La Roche for Business Insider

Now check out…

15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Inequality In America

Tags: EconomyOccupy Wall StreetInequalityTaxesPoliticsFeatures | Get Alerts for these topics »

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10?op=1#ixzz1abgi2Jwr

 

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