Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Disney Artists Now "On Call"

I'll be out most of today, plunged into the the warm, swirling hot tub of union-management negotiations.

But if you want to know one of the reasons why Disney artists are being asked to go "on call," being low-balled with salary offers and generally squeezed, look no further than this:

Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that earnings skidded 13% for its fiscal fourth quarter, and executives gave what they called a "sobering outlook" for its current year because of slowing television advertising sales and theme park resort bookings.

Net income dropped to $760 million, or 40 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 27, compared with $877 million, or 44 cents, for the same period last year. Revenue increased 6% to $9.4 billion from $8.9 billion.

Excluding one-time charges, the Burbank entertainment giant's earnings were 43 cents a share, well short of analysts' estimates of 49 cents, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

"The quarter was uglier than anyone anticipated," said Janna Sampson, co-chief investment officer at Oakbrook Investments. "Going forward, it becomes a question of how long and how deep this economic recession will last. And that's very, very difficult to predict ..."

This isn't just Disney going through a rough patch and passing the hard times on to its employees. In case you haven't noticed, every entertainment conglomerate is getting hammered in this financial downturn. Fox, Time-Warner, Viacom, News Corp., they are all eating it.

And all of them are going to cut, trim and squeeze wherever they can, because their brighter minds anticipate that the misery we are currently enduring will last a while. Which means that we eat it as well.

Offical unemployment is now at 6.5%. From the articles I read, actual, real-world unemployment is close to twice that ... and rising.

Good times, eh?

45 comments:

Uncounted said...

Steve, in a previous posting some months ago, you wrote that there is a difference between the way we calculate the unemployment rate and the way the statistic is calculated in Europe. Could you be more specific? The justification for our overly optimistic figure, aside from disguising the failures of the current administration's failed economic policies is supposedly the psychological effect of negative statistics on the stock market. Now that we all agree that there is a crisis, there is no longer any point in hiding the truth. I almost threw my shoe at the screen a few weeks ago when I heard a conservative pundit on a news channel say something like, "Ten percent unemployment is not so bad. Look at it this way: That means there is 90% employment!" Talk about spin, that one takes the prize! What's the real truth?

God said...

DHL, Curcuit City, EA laying off 600...the seems to be no end to the bad news.

and while large corporations let go of employees, creating more unemployment, don't they realize they make the problem worse by adding to the number of people who no longer can afford to consume!

G.

Anonymous said...

EA?

Anonymous said...

What will happen when 'Spread the wealth' kicks in.

Hold on, its going to be a bumpy ride.

Anonymous said...

All of this was bound to happen - especially at Disney where the management (from top to bottom) is so laughably inept.
Huge companies are finally going to have to learn that when you have seventeen people with the title 'vice president of writing memos and not really doing anything' and salaries with bonuses that rival Italy's GNP, eventually you are going to discover that the sheer waste of overhead will eventually bite you in the ass.
I had hoped that some of the recent changes at Disney would turn around their long-standing policy of making insanely idiotic decisions, but that does not seem to be the case.

Anonymous said...

When Ronald Reagan was elected, the stock market went through the roof. When Obama got elected, it crashed and burned. Why? Maybe the fact that more of the people responsible for the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae disaster - the Democrats - got put into seats of power. Hell, Obama just appointed one of them as his Secretary of State! Everybody in ANY industry had better stash his money somewhere safe...if anyone can figure out where that is...

And we watched him go senile in office, too said...

That is an easy one. A lot of what the stock market does is based on perception, not reality.Reagan, the ultimate corporate lackey, came on with his "Voo-Doo" supply-side economics and all the pond scum who produce nothing and get rich playing the system against itself celebrated. Of course the market went crazy in anticipation. Ultimately, the screwball in the cowboy hat left us with trillions of dollars in debt. In free market fairyland, all you have to do is "stimulate" the economy and magic happens. Look at the real world. Look at history. The Democrats consistently do a better job running the economy than Republicans. Do you seriously believe the stock market went down BECAUSE Obama got elected, not because companies are still failing as a result of Bush's Reagan-like policies?

Anonymous said...

Hey, dope, stocks crashed well before Obama was elected. Have we already started to rewrite history? Is Rush's bid to label the recession that began months ago "the Obama Recession" already working?

Stop drinking the ditto-head Koolade.

Anonymous said...

unfortunate fact - day after Obama election the stock market had the worse post election day hit in post election history.

beyond that, what does this news mean for Disney?

I'm not sure how going on call as a Disney artist is going to help reduce costs?

I thought things were improving internally?

voodoo economics said...

Another unfortunate fact - the US has suffered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression on Bush's watch. And this was after seven unbroken years of the conservatives' greatest economic experiment--deregulated supply side "trickle-down" economics.

We now see the results of that experiment laid bare for all to see. The middle class has shrunk, and in its place are more people living below the poverty line. Those who were already rich have received further windfalls, and everyone else has been soaked. The trickle down theory has been irrevocably revealed as cynical, baseless voodoo.

The facts are plain: conservativism is harmful to America. Thankfully, the grownups are returning to government.

robiscus said...

"The facts are plain: conservativism is harmful to America."

That assessment is beyond glib and delving into the realm of the retarded. There have been plenty of great leadership on both sides of the spectrum. The only certainty is that the pendulum swings back and forth.

Anonymous said...

"What will happen when 'Spread the wealth' kicks in."

bush has done this for 8 years...and look what's happened!

Thank GOD Obama is now going to be President. Smart sanity, with a bright, optimistic outlook and SOLID plans for America to move forward, and work hard to undo all the damage the last 8 years of bush & co. have done to ruin both our reputations AND the economy. Oh, and allowing 9/11 to happen.

i said...

Oh, and allowing 9/11 to happen.

Oh, I'm sure that won't provoke comment.

*grabs popcorn*

Anonymous said...

Uh, meanwhile, back to the original topic...

It would seem that a number of feature animation studios are doing quite well.

Dreamworks is having a banner year, first with Kung Fu Panda, and now topping itself with Madagascar 2. The profits that place is seeing must be astronomical this year.

Pixar did very well with Wall-E.

Blue Sky did extremely well with Horton.

And Bolt is looking to be a big hit.

All I can say is, if Disney can't keep up competitively with salaries, and starts shortchanging their artists, they are going to see some of them leave. With these other studios doing so well, especially Dreamworks, Disney had better not start playing games with pay. There are other (more successful) fish in the sea

Steve Hulett said...

there is a difference between the way we calculate the unemployment rate and the way the statistic is calculated in Europe. Could you be more specific?

Without going into boring detail, the guvmint as different measures of unemployment.

The 6.5% rate tracks the unemployed collecting unemployment benefits.

The 11.6% rate consists of unemployed collecting unemployment; "discouraged workers" who have given up looking for work; the underemployed (those who have some part-time work but would like to be full-time workers.)

A quick sprint through The Google will produce the data.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, and allowing 9/11 to happen."

Just a fact. bush ignored all intelligence (it doesn't help he hasn't GOT any) on the subject. Instead, after being attacked, he trumped up bad intel to occupy a sedated country while the terrorists escaped into the mountains of Afghanistan.

Just the facts.

Steve Hulett said...

When Ronald Reagan was elected, the stock market went through the roof. When Obama got elected, it crashed and burned. Why? Maybe the fact that more of the people responsible for the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae disaster - the Democrats - got put into seats of power.

Anon, with all due respect, you're a tool with blinders on.

Anyone who's studied this fustercluck knows there is plenty of blame to go around. But in order of importance, the guilty parties are Phil Gramm, Chris Coxe, the chairmen of the now-defunct investment banks, Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin (for enabling Gramm) and several others.

You can lay most of the blame at the feet of the de-regulators. The Democrats are far from blameless in all this, but 80% of the responsbility goes to a handful of rabid Republicans, and the big Texas Enchilada is Gramm.

And the stock market plunging on the day Obama is elected is HIS fault? Puhleazze. Maybe you didn't notice the long dive that occured before he got elected.

I think you listen to El Rushbo just a tad too much. It causes you to drift into Rightwing Hackism.

Steve Hulett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Hulett said...

When Ronald Reagan was elected, the stock market went through the roof...

Ah, tooly tool tool.

The stock market BOTTOMED in December 1982. Twenty-five months after Reagan's election.

Try making your talking points more fact-based. It'll do wonders for your credibility. So far you're batting zero.

urban myth said...

I love the blog Steve, but I really hate going into politics because no one is going to change minds here. Facts don't matter, it's all emotion.

That said, as for the Republicans being 80% to blame, I don't know if you saw the video of the House of Representatives Committee that was in charge of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but the ones clamoring to not re-regulate were the Dems (Barney Frank, Maxine Waters and a host of others). Almost all those that were worried about it in those hearings has (R)'s behind their names. Not that they don't deserve some of the blame, but numbers count.

Now, lets get back to arguing about Chris Sanders and how Bolt would have been soooooooo much better had he not been fired(sarcasm ends here).

Keep up the good work on your blog, Steve!

Student of the markets said...

Steve,

I don't want to speak for the other anonymous poster. However, I think he/she was referring to the immediate reaction of the stock market after the election. Like- the day after.

If that is indeed the case, then the original poster is correct. Stock market went up after Reagan won the first time, (but it went down when he was re elected.)

However, the downward hit the day after Barack was elected was pretty huge compared to that.

Barack -5 %
Reagan +1.7 and on relection it was -.73

robiscus said...

"It would seem that a number of feature animation studios are doing quite well.

Dreamworks is having a banner year, first with Kung Fu Panda, and now topping itself with Madagascar 2.

Pixar did very well with Wall-E.

Blue Sky did extremely well with Horton.

And Bolt is looking to be a big hit."




That summation gives me a lot of pause. The reason is that all of those studios are putting out CGI and three of the four studios there are releasing talking animal pictures(Horton is a bit of a hybrid though).

There is a simple rule to all things in life: What goes up, must also come down.

I'm expecting a BIG drop off on returns of CGI talking animal movies. The next big breakthrough in this industry will be the first studio to release a really good 2D film, because people want to see drawings move again. Even at present, a movie like that being released would be a breath of fresh air. Its going to be interesting to see the studios scramble and panic when that happens. The studios all making the same niche picture is not a promising glimpse of the future...

Anonymous said...

Do a little research on the S&L rip-off and the current subprime rip-off and you won't be surprised at how the two are directly related to one another, if not the same thing. Deregulation led to real estate developers to use S&L institutions, a non-regulated sector, as their own private piggy banks. When the Feds came to shut them down, many of the same players ran right into the arms of the mortgage industry and continued to apply their 'knowledge' of finances. Any market that is free of traditional bank regulation, where margins are 'too thin' for their greed, too dull for their egos, they will run. That's the real OC for you. That's the free market for you.

And the taxpayer foots the entire bill. It is sickening. Bring them all in and put them on trial. And please, this time - throw away the key when you lock them up. They need to find out how dull jail is.

Earl said...

I certainly wouldn't classify Wall-E as a "talking animal" flick. But in general, I agree that many of the studios are making very similar movies. In fact, regardless of 2D or 3D, the studios are making very similar movies. "Princess and the Frog" will be 2D, but will still be within the usual "Princess" fairytale genre.

That said, the upcoming slate of animated movies are somewhat different. "Aliens & Monsters," "Up," "Rapunzel," "Cloudy with Meatballs," "King of the Elves," "How to Train Your Dragon" -- to my knowledge, none of them are exactly talking animal movies.

In the end, though, I'm less worried about a given subset like "talking animals" than I am about the quality of the individual story. Usually, if the story is good, people will overlook a tired genre (Bolt hopefully being a case in point).

Anonymous said...

**unfortunate fact - day after Obama election the stock market had the worse post election day hit in post election history.**

Quoted for truth. And let's add to that the truth that the economy was booming - until the Dems took control of Congress two years ago. My 401K was doing great up 'til then.

And I see that yet again, the stock market is plummeting this morning. The stockbrokers know a socialist when they see one - unlike the "baaaaa-rack!" sheeple who frequent this message board.

Anonymous said...

**Do a little research on the S&L rip-off and the current subprime rip-off and you won't be surprised at how the two are directly related to one another, if not the same thing. Deregulation led to real estate developers to use S&L institutions, a non-regulated sector, as their own private piggy banks. When the Feds came to shut them down, many of the same players ran right into the arms of the mortgage industry and continued to apply their 'knowledge' of finances. Any market that is free of traditional bank regulation, where margins are 'too thin' for their greed, too dull for their egos, they will run. That's the real OC for you. That's the free market for you.**

Yes, socialism is definitely the alternative here. NOT. How about electing officials that will do their jobs? As opposed to Barney Frank, who opposed ANY further regulation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, who in fact wanted them to make MORE bad loans (perhaps because his, um, boyfriend worked for Freddie, ooooh!!!) That's a Democrat for you. Whereas John McCain - one of those bad ol' free-market Republicans - tried to introduce legislation back in 2005 to provide stricter oversight of Freddie and Fannie, and he warned that bad things would happen if action weren't taken - but of course the Dem congress voted it down. Yep, with more of those donkey boys in Congress and the Greatest and Chiefest of Jackasses in the White House, happy days are certainly here again...

Anonymous said...

Who said anything about socialism besides you, John, and Sarah? Speaking of tired old donkeys. Am I safe to assume that you and Ayn Rand will be the first to drag me in as a terrorist, too?

Stand by the Mozilo's and Arnall's of the world all you want. Be my guest. I look forward to seeing you take a walk with Mozilo in his upcoming perp walk.

'Small government' certainly didn't result in lowering my taxes. 'Small government' is simply code for 'It's someone elses problem.' 'Let the experts do what they do best in the free market.' Mozilo turned out to be some expert, didn't he? So did Bear, Lehman, AIG, and all the rest. Wow. Such experts!

'Small government' which has become 'Massive Government' since 9/11, is now raising my taxes to pay for massive losses from reckless over leveraging. And now I get a recession PLUS an inflation to boot! Thanks a lot, you withered and befuddled 1980's Reagan yahoo. If the barrel of this giant American bankruptcy shotgun hasn't forced you into this millennium, you are 100 percent blind, deaf, and dumb.

And what created unsound risk-taking? The government's lack of power over regulating your myopic Ditto-head idealisms. That's your small government for you - downsize government (ie me and you) to the point that we don't have the insight to recognize the fundamental flaws with creative black box international bookkeeping. 'It's all too complicated to regulate.' 'Let the experts do what they do best.' Well, at least until their stocks tank and they spew their Wall Street panic onto the front page. The last 30 years of reducing America to the market of fear and greed has been long sad, and cynical chapter of our history.

Take that back to your WaMu branch that my tax dollars are now insuring.

Anonymous said...

You know it's a really nice day outside...just sayin'.

Card carrying pinko said...

What "Democratic Congress?" A slim majority that can't override a presidential veto or block a filibuster? You've got to be kidding.

Anonymous said...

maybe thats why the congress has had an approval rating of 5%!!!!!

freaking congress. I'm voting differently next time.

Anonymous said...

"And let's add to that the truth that the economy was booming - until the Dems took control of Congress two years ago."

Do me a favor and name for me one economic policy the "dems" rammed through congress with their slim majority that would have contributed to the downturn in the economy...

(sound of crickets chirping)

"Whereas John McCain...tried to introduce legislation back in 2005 to provide stricter oversight of Freddie and Fannie...but of course the Dem congress voted it down."

In your case, the calendar is not your friend. The "dem" congress, with their slim majority and lack of cojones, didn't come in until 2006. And McCain had been the standard-bearer for deregulation for decades before '05, so there's plenty of blame to go around, my friend...

anonymouse said...

Well anonymous,

I happen to know a calendar and I also have eyes. I too have seen the video of the hearings that this person was talking about. I'd suggest you getting a copy before you try and discredit him. And if you notice he too said there was plenty of blame to go around.

Still, if you watch those boring hearings you'll notice that the ones wanting to leave those housing agencies alone were Democrats. Watch the video if you don't believe me. The Republicans were saying we need more supervision. Again, watch the video, don't just listen to me. One of the problems is that they, the Republicans didn't force the matter because they were afraid of having the race and class cards thrown at them. "You don't care about Black people! You don't care about the poor!" So they didn't press the issue. They have blame in this, but the majority of their problem is they didn't have the spine to tell these organizations to not lend money to people who couldn't afford to pay it back. The Democrats problem was that they thought there would be no repercussion to their good intentions. The cruel reality is if you loan money, you'd better make sure the person getting the loan can pay it back.

Sadly we now have the arsonist that caused this fire telling us they know how to put it out.

Anonymous said...

Um, anonymouse, neither of the quotes mentioned a video, so who knows what you're talking about? Further, you said nothing that addressed either of the two points being made, so I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish other than to take a conservie swipe at a candidate you didn't support.

I couldn't agree more that loaning money to people who can't pay it back is a stupid idea, but - again - both sides of the aisle have to take the blame for that. Your argument about not pressing the point for fear of being called racist is silly on it's face.

Anonymous said...

It is such utter nonsense to focus on wanting to loan to poor people and on the people who took on bad loans. Yes they shouldn't have, and will get hurt when they can't pay it back, but the real culprits are the people who bet an entire economy on a housing bubble. The problem wasn't the bad loans or government wanting to lend to poor people; it was the fact that financial companies actively leveraged an entire economy on a bubble. You're blaming the dice and the house when the fault lies with the gambling addicts. I.E. mostly republicans

Steve Hulett said...

Anon.

Yes, I've seen the edited video with Maxine, Barney, et al.

The hearings occurred in 2005, when the Republicans controlled all branches of government.

Again, when you're in control, you get credit and blame. And like I said above, any objective analysis would take you to the fact that

A) There is plenty of blame to go around ...

B) Most of the blame falls on the big deregulators (named above, most but not all of them Repubs)

C) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were on facet of a complex problem, but hardly the major cause of the meltdown. THAT was caused by 1) loan brokers pushing people into subprime loans, 2) the rating agencies rating Z bonds as AAA, and 3) investment banks being allowed to leverage at 40x when Chris Coxe waived the 14x regulations.

But you go right on believing it's all the Democrats fault. Absolutely fine by me. Everybody is entitled to his (or her) hallucinations.

Anonymous said...

Obamanomics is on its way. I get it, hide your money ... but good luck with all that because its coming.

As for the main topic I hope this Disney stock news doesn't affect the current process of rebuilding their animation division.

Liberal Victory said...

Wail, you loser conservatives, wail.

You lost, ha ha. I laugh with glee at your wailings and gnashing of teeth. I savor the lamentations of your women.

Delicious, delicious victory.

Anonymous said...

>>One of the problems is that they, the Republicans didn't force the matter because they were afraid of having the race and class cards thrown at them. "You don't care about Black people! You don't care about the poor!" So they didn't press the issue.

Now that you’ve betrayed your personal bias against African Americans and the poor, let’s get to the real issues here. The recent problems with mortgage lending have so little to do with race or income. They have everything to do with a fevered race toward higher margins in unregulated markets. ’Entrepreneurs’ took a niche once called subprime and blew it up to a giant market that swallowed up prime and subprime borrowers alike. The perfect red state scapegoat is to pin this absolute failure of sound lending practices on a handful of high risk borrowers.

The HUGE balance of these failed loans resides right smack in the middle of the average middle and upper class American household, loans lodged like stuck chicken bones in the choking esophagus of Lehman Brothers, Fannie and Freddie, and all of Wall Street. Mozilo and Arnall turned a high risk niche into low risk WalMart volume overnight. That’s the real American Dream, not home ownership. It's what DC and NY have been doing to poor, sad, delinquent-on-his-Option-ARM Joe Plumber since McDonalds discovered the hamburger. Reagan, George Sr, Clinton, and George Jr. have all continued this franchise love affair with volume for what feels like an eternity now.

Washington’s been Frankensteining together these public/private partnerships in the name of consumer confidence since Ron Reagan flipped the switch on this weird and empty vision of a society called The Service Economy. The Quicky-Mart One-Stop Mortgage and HELOC Service was simply the latest fast food franchise that we all walked right into like complete morons.

Halliburton Hamburgers, Blackwater Fries, and Enron Energy Drinks. George W. has made the absolute shittiest burgers the world has ever tasted.

blank stare said...

To the anonymous moron above me, if you could read properly you'd notice that he said they were afraid of having the race card thrown against them. That doesn't mean he has a "bias" against African-Americans, it means he was saying they didn't act because they didn't want to be accused of something they weren't doing. Get your head out of your own butt and quit accusing someone of being a racist because he's describing a political situation you don't like. I know this is a website about animation, but your cartoonish view of someone's statement is goofy. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

The only ones who used the race card in this election WERE the Republicans. Far from seeing a color-blind society, like the 98% white party claims, they obsessed on race nearly continuously throughout the campaign. Frankly, they were practically the only ones doing so.

The number of YouTube videos of McCain supporters standing in line waiting to get into a rally, spewing forth some of the most racist, disgusting comments is overwhelming. Caricatures of Obama as a monkey abounded, no shortages of Americans admitting on camera that they wouldn't vote for a black man. And there were many others who simply used code words and hints to reveal their under-the-surface racism.

No, certainly not all conservatives are racist. But this election brought to the surface many, many white people who have latent racism. The obvious ones are on display at YouTube for all to see. The less obvious ones are our many family members who told us either explicitly or implicitly that they were not ready to vote for a black man. Very sad.

Liberal Victory said...

Don't forget Mr. Colorblind himself, the goodhearted and not-racist-at-all Rush Limbaugh, who brought up race virtually every day once Obama got the nomination.

From predicting race riots if Obama lost, to playing the song "Barak the Magic Negro" endlessly, Rush Limbaugh symbolizes conservative Republicans' inability to deal, in a mature fashion,l with the fact that a black man was running for president.

I can hear the usual screams "B-b-but he's just an entertainer, a comedian!"

Keep telling yourselves that. Self-delusion is your usual friend, apparently.

In stark contrast, Obama almost never mentioned race at all, never made it a central theme of his campaign, and only ever addressed the issue in his speech responding to the Jeremiah Wright issue--a speech that is notable for its maturity, thoughfulness, and lack of divisiveness.

Face it, conservatives, you are the losers of history. At every step of the way, you have attempted, and ultimately failed, to block the progress of society. Who were the opposers of Civil Rights in the 60's? The conservatives! (and yes, Dixiecrats were CONSERVATIVE Democrats, not liberals at all)

Who opposed the abolitionists of slavery? Who opposed the suffragettes seeking the rights of women to vote? Who opposed the ending of segregation and Jim Crow laws? Who opposed allowing people of any race to vote? Who opposed interracial marriage?

The conservatives of those various eras.

More recently, who has consistently opposed the equal rights of gay people? The conservatives! First they tried to stop domestic partnerships. They then tried to stop civil unions.

It's a given now that gays should have the right to domestic partnerships. But conservatives like to gloss over the fact that just 10 years ago, they were fighting tooth-and-nail against that. And lost.

Now they're fighting to prevent gay people from marrying. They will eventually lose that fight, too. And one day, they will be as embarrassed about this opposition as they are today about their opposition toward the Civil Rights Acts of the 60's.

Conservatives are the losers of history.

Anonymous said...

And again, certain people on the hill, D and R alike, believed that the ballooning portfolios of Fannie and Freddie and Lehman and Goldman and other financial institutions holding mortgage-backed securities were dangerous because of poor lending practices. They failed to do something simply because it wasn't their priority to get it done amid the backdrop of two wars and a hurricane, not because they were afraid big bad ol' Barney would pull a Johnny Cochran. Please, pull your own goofy head out.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does Paulson appear, ummm, 'overwhelmed' at this hour?

Steve Hulett said...

The economy is going to get way worse before it gets better.

I think a BIG infrastructure bill is in order because jobs need to be created and money has to circulate.

You will note what China is spending on infrastructure. We should be doing more.

Anonymous said...

Agreed that the above is needed, but now more than ever, we need to recognize that this is not FDR's America nor is it China. We must resist the temptation to rely upon these nostalgic allusions of history to guide the future course. The neocons have made a science out of drawing comparisons to the myths of our past. It has got us nowhere fast. Pragmatism is the order of the day, and putting the politics of fear behind us. A ground up rehabilitation of energy policy could definitely lead the charge.

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