Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Waste of the Nation

Though "capital spending on bridges, roads and factories" has not been high, the U.S. economy is growing steadily, according to the garbage indicator:
"Volume in the garbage industry absolutely is an indicator of the state of the economy," said Michael Hoffman, senior analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey. "The simple observation is our economy is in fine shape."

For the past 15 months, solid-waste landfill volume has been growing at a high single-digit percentage rate, he added.

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So far, landfill volumes have held firm, Hoffman said, with the top three U.S. waste management companies seeing an average of 6 percent growth this year.

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"We are taking away tons of furniture and renovation material," said Cameron Herold, vice president of operations for 1-800-Got-Junk, a Vancouver, Canada-based company that hauls old appliances, furniture, construction waste and other items garbage workers do not handle.

The company's sales and volumes are on track to more than double this year from 2003.

"Our guys in San Francisco have picked up leather furniture and big-screen TVs because (people) are upgrading," Herold said.

And industrial waste remains strong. Waste Management Inc., for example, saw a jump in its "roll-off" volume beginning in April.

While overall GDP growth has slowed, Friedman Billings Ramsey's Hoffman said, "from the industrial level of activity, measured by disposal occurring in the economy, it hasn't even taken a breath." (Reshma Kapadia/Reuters, "Piles of Garbage Suggest a Strong Economy," November 30, 2004)
The wealth of the nations depends upon the waste of a nation, overindebted Americans functioning as "the world’s consumers of last resort and its borrowers of first resort" (Gary A. Dymski, "Post-Hegemonic U.S. Economic Hegemony: Minskian and Kaleckian Dynamics in the Neoliberal Era," Journal of the Japanese Society for Political Economy, April 2002), which means that capitalism can never become Green.

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