Interview with Professor of Economics Masao Suzuki
In 2023, there have been many announcements of layoffs by technology firms. This is a result of what the media calls post-COVID normalization. But this “normalization” has also shown that many technology companies that boomed during the pandemic were in fact overproducing and building new capacity too quickly, forcing them now to scale back.In the past ten days this slowdown in the technology industry spilled over into the banking system, triggered by the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, based in Santa Clara, California. Soon after the failure of SVB on Friday, March 10, regulators shut Signature Bank in New York. First Republic bank, headquartered in San Francisco, had to borrow $30 billion from other banks, under the direction of the Federal Reserve. The crisis even spilled overseas, as the troubled Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse was forced to sell itself to the even larger Swiss bank UBS.Fight Back! News sat down with Professor Suzuki to ask him about this crisis.Fight Back!: How is the failure of Silicon Valley Bank related the crisis unfolding in the technology industry?
Cracks appear in economy as government regulators shut down Silicon Valley bank
San José, CA – Cracks in economy began to show up as Silicon Valley Bank, based in Santa Clara, California, just north of San José, was shut down on Friday, March 10. The bank was the 18th largest bank in the United States, and mainly served high-tech startups, venture capitalists and wealthy individuals.
San José, CA – On Friday, November 4, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate in October rose from 3.7% from 3.5% in September. The increase was even larger for Asian Americans and Latinos, who saw their unemployment rates rise by 0.4%, twice the overall rise.
San José, CA – Inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers or CPI-W has been rising this year at the fastest rate in 40 years. This high inflation continued in September, with prices measured by CPI-W up 8.5% over a year ago. Higher prices combined with fewer hours means that the purchasing power of average weekly earnings for workers fell 3.5% from a year earlier.
San José, CA – On Friday, October 7 the U.S. Department of Labor released their report on new jobs and the unemployment rate in September. According to the Department of Labor, there were 263,000 more jobs in September than in August. This is the weakest job report since December of 2020.
San José, CA – On July 29, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released their report on Gross Domestic Product for the second quarter of the year, April to June. GDP went down at a 0.9% annual rate. This followed a decline of 1.6% in GDP in the first three months of the year.
Working households struggle as wages don’t keep up
San José, CA – On Friday, June 10, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that prices for workers’ families, the so-called Consumer Price Index-Wage or CPI-W rose by 9.3% as compared to prices a year ago. This rate of inflation is near a 40-year high, only exceeded by the 9.4% increase in March. The last time that prices rose so quickly was in November of 1981.
San José, CA – On Monday, May 9, U.S. stock prices continued to fall, with the broadest index, the S&P 500, losing more than 3%. This is the biggest one-day drop in stock prices since the onset of COVID in the United States in early 2020. The S&P 500 has fallen 17% since hitting an all-time record high in late March. This is approaching the 20% drop that is labeled a “bear market.” Stock prices of high-tech companies have fallen even more, with the technology-heavy NASDAQ index already in bear market territory.
San José, CA – Fifty years ago, on August 15, 1971, then-President Nixon ended the U.S. dollar’s link with gold. This marked a retreat from the economic supremacy of the United States after World War II. Less than four years later, the fall of Saigon marked a defeat for the United States and a turning point in U.S. domination of the developing world.
San José, CA – On Friday June 4, the U.S. Department of Labor monthly report on the job market for May 2021 showed that 559,000 new jobs were created, bouncing back from the poor showing the month before. But the economy remained down 7.6 million jobs from February 2020, when the recession began. If job creation continues at the same rate as in May, it would still take until summer of 2022 to reach the pre-pandemic level.