March 01, 2011

US corporate profits return to record levels While millions of Americans confront the daily miseries of unemployment, home foreclosure and poverty as a result of the economic crisis, corporate profits are soaring. Walmart, the world’s largest retail chain, announced last week that its profits grew by 27 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, while sales at US stores have declined for the second year in a row. The company made $6 billion in profits in the fourth quarter, up from $4.8 billion a year before and $3.5 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Home Depot posted a 72 percent increase in profits, after sales increased by 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter. Profits reached $587 million, up from $342 million a year earlier. Hundreds of companies have posted similar figures. The story is the same: sales and revenues have fallen or ticked up slightly, while profits have grown by double digits. The discrepancy between revenues and profits is due to the fact that the “recovery” in corporate balance sheets is built on layoffs and speedups. “A lot of the recent profits are based on the revenue from cost-cutting,” said James L. Butkeiwiz, professor of economics at the University of Delaware, in a telephone interview. Walmart, for instance, cut over 11,000 jobs at its Sam’s Club warehouse stores in January 2010, about 10 percent of the subsidiary’s workforce. Home Depot cut 7,000 jobs in 2009 and shuttered 34 of its Expo home design stores in 2009. Corporate profits reached an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in...
Dispersed and distracted Dispersed, distracted, depressed. Weather? Term? Over-extension? I haven't done much on this blog besides remediate lately because of teaching and lecturing. The good side of teaching is that I'm doing Capital for the first time in years (not the whole thing but more of it than I've done in the past). The challenging side of teaching is my digital networks class. It is completely labor intensive--extra layers of interaction on top of the regular class format, layers that are supposed to help students connect to and comprehend the readings but which don't seem to be having that affect. Together the two classes make me think about how much of a neoliberal subject I am, how I've incorporated the ideology that tells me that the more I am working the better I am, even when this is obviously false. I'm not better--I'm exhausted, disconnected, distracted, and confused. Also, the amount of work I do doesn't influence my pay and I have tenure. So I work out a sense of commitment, professionalism, all those things that bourgeois ideology convinces us are important. My 12-year old daughter said this to me on Sunday, "You are easily confused." I was like, "really, what do you mean?" She's like: "see, like I said, you're confused." When there is time, I want to finish the "What is to be Done?" series, discussion Marx's account of commodities with respect to the contribution in communicative capitalism, and look more closely at the Alliance of Youth Movements material with...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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