Monday, February 24, 2003

I was thinking earlier today that I need to occasionally reference the financial material I try to review each day. Here some interesting info
from Rebecca's Pocket:

Read Fortune magazine's long and fascinating account of one of the most influential organizations in the United States.
One Nation Under Wal-Mart: How retailing's superpower--and our biggest Most Admired company--is changing the rules for corporate America. [slithy popup!]
By systematically wresting 'pricing power' from the manufacturer and handing it to the consumer, Wal-Mart has begun to generate an economy-wide Wal-Mart Effect. Economists now credit the company's Everyday Low Prices with contributing to Everyday Low Inflation, meaning that all Americans--even members of Whirl-Mart, a 'ritual resistance' group that silently pushes empty carts through superstores--unknowingly benefit from the retailer's clout. A 2002 McKinsey study, moreover, found that more than one-eighth of U.S. productivity growth between 1995 and 1999 could be explained 'by only two syllables: Wal-Mart.'
'You add it all up,' says Warren Buffett, 'and they have contributed to the financial well-being of the American public more than any institution I can think of.' His own back-of-the-envelope calculation: $10 billion a year.

Compare: How Walmart is remaking our World.
Behind this manufactured cheerfulness, however, is the fact that the average employee makes only $15,000 a year for full-time work. Most are denied even this poverty income, for they’re held to part-time work. While the company brags that 70% of its workers are full-time, at Wal-Mart 'full time' is 28 hours a week, meaning they gross less than $11,000 a year.
Health-care benefits? Only if you've been there two years; then the plan hits you with such huge premiums that few can afford it--only 38% of Wal-Marters are covered.

I'm fascinated with all of this. Clearly, Walmart is re-creating local economic ecologies in the towns where it lands: first, by drawing shoppers with its low, low prices; next, after local businesses--unable to compete--have closed, by creating a need for employment at the local Walmart; and then, since so most of their workers are modestly paid part-timers, creating an even greater need for their discount prices.

And while I'm there, I find The Real Joe Millionaires: Young, Rich, & Single
Meet America's most eligible bachelors. They've got billions, they're available, and they appear on FORTUNE's recent list of America's 40 Richest Under 40. Forget construction worker Evan Marriott: We've got sports, entertainment, tech, and business moguls to choose from.

But not all of them have pictures. :}................

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