This week: American Airlines restructuring, job numbers

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Dec 2, 2011

Tess Vigeland: So I don’t know about your roof, but mine, thankfully, is intact. And the great big Chinese elm in my front yard is still standing, despite the efforts of a mighty Santa Ana wind that blew through our town this week. It was, quite frankly, a reminder that I should double-check and possibly update our homeowners’ insurance! Another item for the to-do list.

Top of the list today, a chat with my colleague Nancy Marshall-Genzer. She joins us from our Washington bureau for a look back at the week’s news. Hi Nancy!

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Hey Tess.

Vigeland: So let’s get to a piece of news that appeared right off the bat this week, which is the pending retirement of Barney Frank. And of course, the reason we’re talking about that here is that he has been very involved in the banking industry throughout his career. What does this mean for the financial reform law that bears his name, Dodd-Frank?

Marshall-Genzer: Basically, that law is essentially going to lose one of its biggest defenders now that he’s retiring and not seeking re-election next year. I’ve talked about this with a lot of people. One of them, a guy named Ed Mills, who’s a policy analyst at FBR Capital Markets. Listen to what he had to say Tess:

Ed Mills: When your name is on a bill, you’re going to do everything it takes to make sure that you get it implemented and you want to make sure it does not get walked back. So when your name is attached to something, you fight for it.

Marshall-Genzer: And Tess, I know this is hard to believe, but Frank says he’s going to be even more outspoken…

Vigeland: How is that possible?

Marshall-Genzer: I know, that’s going to be really entertaining. Now that he’s actually seeking re-election and he doesn’t have to worry about being nice to people he doesn’t like.

Vigeland: That really truly is hard to imagine. But let’s change gears now and talk about the bankruptcy of American Airlines, which was announced earlier this week. I think you and I are old enough that we’ve been through plenty of airline bankruptcies in our lifetimes.

Marshall-Genzer: Oh maybe a few. Just a few.

Vigeland: You know, I don’t know that consumers see a whole lot of different except maybe a few of the routes could close, maybe cancelled service to some of the cities.

Marshall-Genzer: Yeah. And we should make it very clear that this is a Chapter 11 restructuring. So, they’re not declaring bankruptcy and shutting up shop. They’re really not supposed to be many short-term effects if you booked a flight on American over the holidays. You’re gonna be fine.

Vigeland: All right and if you’re an investor, you’re probably gonna have a few effects there. But for customers themselves, you really don’t have much to worry about.

Marshall-Genzer: Right, right.

Vigeland: All right, well, I saved what hopefully is a bit of good news for last. Let’s talk about jobs now and we got the unemployment picture yesterday and a bit of a silver lining, I suppose, to the overall cloud.

Marshall-Genzer: Yeah. The unemployment rate was down about a half percent, down to 8.6 percent. About 120,000 jobs were added last month.

Vigeland: Always better than losing ’em.

Marshall-Genzer: Always better than losing them, absolutely. The consensus among economists is it’s good news. It’s not great news, Tess. One key reason for that is because a lot of people — more than 300,000 people– actually stopped looking for work. So they’re not counted as unemployed. Another thing to remember is that more than half of those 120,000 new jobs, that hiring was done by retailers, restaurants and bars.

Vigeland: Ah… That sounds like seasonal employment.

Marshall-Genzer: Absolutely. These are seasonal workers. So it’s really hard to suss out what the actual unemployment situation is. I talked to a number of analysts about this. One of them was especially gloomy. His name is Mark Grant. He’s managing director of Southwest Securities. Tess, at one point during the interview, I actually called him a Grinch.

Vigeland: Oh, don’t go around calling people grinches Nancy.

Marshall-Genzer: But it’s true! I mean, if you’re listening to this program and you’re unemployed, you’re thinking, “Well, when are things going to get better?” And at this point, people like Mark Grant are saying, you’re just going to have to wait until the beginning of next year to see what the economy’s gonna do and if other jobs are gonna b created that are not seasonal, that are permanent.

Vigeland: OK. Well, we’ve got a couple of stories coming up here in the broadcast that hopefully will give some folks a little bit of sunshine in terms of the unemployment picture. That’s coming up. Nancy Marshall-Genzer, thank you so much for joining us from the Washington bureau.

Marshall-Genzer: You’re welcome.

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