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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is America Destined To Decline?

Former President Bush in his fully delusional way, tried to reassure us that the “fundamentals are good” when speaking about the crash and burn of his economic policies. Now, Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke has said the same thing, but in a more nuanced fashion. On 2-24-08, he said that we could see the economy turning around, and the recession will end sometime this year, if the financial markets would get lending underway. But, if the markets don’t thaw, then we will continue on our downward spiral. Is he delusional, as well? Does anyone actually believe that our markets, by mid-year, could resume their business-as-usual operations and rescue our economy from collapsing even further? Does he actually see our financial sector, and himself as a deputized sheriff’s posse armed and ready to do battle with the ole’ Black Bart gang in hopes to eradicate the hovering and quaking town’s people from the bad guys, which had spent months terrorizing the town-folk robbing their bank deposits, tool sheds, and precious household items? We will watch to see if he’s blowin’ smoke in the wind.

Friday (2-20-09) was a bad day for Wall Street, as well as the trading days that followed. It hit a 12 year low on 2-23-09. The DOW continued to show that individuals, and large investors are getting out of equities. This would have happened no matter who became president. The market is destined to significantly lose more of its value. One market prognosticator was predicting a drop to 6000 on the DOW for Friday (2-20-09), but it would not have been that far from reality to guess a 7000 weekly finish. And now, as of March 1, 2009, the DOW found a new resting place below 7000. (During this pull from equities, the savings rate has climbed to 5%, the highest since 1995.)

There is no more faith in the system. President Obama is not helping America’s perceptions, either. In only 4 plus weeks, he has not helped me feel better about our future, although I want him to. President Obama is playing politics and not acting in the best interest of the nation’s future. He comes out insisting that he has belief in the private banking system. Now, if we were to take a poll asking if we had faith in the country’s biggest financial banking system, my guess is that he would be very outnumbered. But I may be wrong, since so many really are ill- informed on the facts. No one has faith in these thieves, who continue to look for ways to steal as their ships submerge themselves, and us too, under water even as the taxpayers try bailing out them out.

I want to be optimist about President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in hopes that it might lift the country from this economic forest fire, but unfortunately, those firefighters he armed with the tools to begin squelching it appear to have a “pyro-maniacal” history.

Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner learned the ropes as a protégé at Kissinger and Associates, and Kissinger has been affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations, which has the world’s most powerful multi-national corporations and financial institutions as corporate members, such as AIG, JPMorgan, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Nasdaq, American Express, Mastercard, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, and a host of “Too-Big-To-Fail” future bailout recipients.

Tim Geithner also worked with Robert Rubin, who was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, and had spent 26 years at Goldman Sachs, plus was temporary chairman for Citigroup, as well as serving as senior counselor, and as a current advisor to President Obama. Tim has had his hands deep in the IMF, which serves the elite investor class in third world nations leaving the people of those countries indebted to the IMF for compounded interest payments, and, the Council on Foreign Relations, with an agenda to protect world trading markets, in addition to solidify the free flow of international central banking lender/borrower capital, and was chairman for the New York Federal Reserve Bank as the economy melted down under Bush. He and Ben Bernanke sit on the board of directors of the International Bank of Settlements, in Switzerland.

Now, is there any question who Tim Geithner represents when it comes to the economic stimulus? It appears he has been deeply embedded in the elite banker’s camp. Mike Whitney (2-18-09, Counterpunch.org) wrote that Geithner is a “Trojan Horse for the banking oligarchs. He has already admitted that his main goal is to, “keep the banks in private hands”.”

There are several people surrounding President Obama who come from Goldman Sachs, or other financial zombie (insolvent) banks. Where do their historical loyalties lie?

The mega-bailout-banks are further declining in value, yet the administration continues to allow them to function as private institutions. They need to be nationalized immediately. Taken over not by private committee members chosen by the financial community, but by government, and government regulators. Let the FDIC take them over.

Without Americans working, there is no economy! Labor, and industry add real value to the economy, and generate tax revenues. This cannot be said for the financial sector, which has added nothing of real value to the economy, nor has it generated a product that can be held in one’s hand. Would you rather hold a paper saying you own some (virtual) silver, or the actual silver coins?

The White House bugle call is to fire up credit, and get the middle class borrowing again. I say, for what? To be put us personally further into debt? What for? It looks like the administration wants to re-enflame the personal debt firestorm by ushering in a new bubble. All they wish to do is to ignite the idle bank lending departments within the offices of the zombie banking institutions for the purpose of issuing credit to those willing to buy those depreciating new homes that are backlogged 14 months, sell the hundreds of thousands of cars that are parked on the manufacturer’s storage lots, help parents and their kids with their tuition bills piling upon the balance sheets of those unfortunate students who will likely not be able to find relevant jobs in their field’s of study, even while those with jobs wait in silence and with trepidation not knowing if they will be the next in line to get Pink Slipped. Those tuition bills, with compounding interest, will be sitting in their mailboxes on the first day of their graduation awaiting the first of many payments more than likely putting major stressors on that former student’s budget. These will be difficult times for the nation’s best and brightest people so willing to make a difference with the knowledge they have worked so hard to obtain. It is sad that so many Baby Boomers cannot retire allowing spaces for new graduates to fill. But the banksters want to get bailed out. They want to preserve their wealth, even though they are the ones who have destroyed this economy, and the job prospects of the nation’s children and grandchildren.

We have reached 19,000 unemployed per day and this is likely to remain consistent. A shocking unadulterated, nor manipulated unemployment statistic of 17.5% when factoring in the underemployed, as well as those who are no longer looking for work and not included in the factoring process, may very well increase. Many are predicting as high as 20-25%. Those were the figures during the Great Depression!

The White House needs to realize that Americans have begun to stop buying stuff and that is why demand has fallen off, and supply is piling up. Those businesses with an over-supply are dropping prices, creating deflation, to liquidate their stock, and that has kept prices down for the many items unsold. Oh, how the corporate elite wish to see inflation take over so price asset values can climb forcing working Americans to borrow, once again, because of their stagnant wages, allowing the banksters to take those fresh loans and securitize them through private, unregulated “shadow banks” again inflating a new asset bubble to replace the last broken one. We don’t need more personal debt, as I have stated before. Yet, they have not woken up to the realization that the previous purchasers of structured investment (debt) securitized vehicles don’t trust them and won’t buy their new ones. It appears that the only way they would consider buying our risky securities would be if the taxpayer guaranteed them from default!!!! It will likely remain all frozen up unless TimmyG writes those guarantees adding to our national debt, while not contributing to the actual economic recovery of the nation. President Obama has not given us a strong reason to believe in many of his decisions over the last few weeks. Most of us want to. He is smart enough to begin fixing it. We want him to fix it. We need him to fix it. As Keenan Thompson, a cast member of Saturday Night Live has said in a skit, “JUST FIX IT!”

What might actually thaw it out is if Americans had good paying jobs and our manufacturing and industrial sector was rejuvenated through a fully focused manufacturing stimulus and revitalization plan.

What if all the “too-big-to-fail” banks and multi-nationals, which have already failed in spite of massive cash infusions, such as, car companies, insurance companies, and the rest were all to be broken up into smaller, manageable, and more flexible “not-too-big-to-fail” companies by the Justice department inside the Obama administration? This idea was purported by Dave Lindorff, in his latest article (thiscantbehappening.net). He suggested that the anti-trust laws be dusted off and used across all sectors.

If this were to happen, many small and midsized companies, which have difficulty competing against the mega-corporations for market share may end up gaining new market positioning. These companies would have a much better chance of exporting their products, as well as competing domestically, if we no longer had multi-national, mega-corporations that wielded international power resulting from their global muscle and brawn being flexed inside such organizations as the Council of Foreign Relations, as well as our own Congress.

Consumer confidence will not be coming back soon as long as President Obama clings to the financial elites, who surround and strong-arm him into preserving their power over worldwide financial markets, the issuance of credit, and their stranglehold over our legislative bodies. These predators thrive on compounding interest rates, and inflated rent pricing. As Americans learn just where his economic team comes from, they shake their heads in disbelief realizing that nothing really has changed.

A real progressive and populist agenda is what would rescue the nation from freefall. The conservatives fear labor and the strength of an economically healthy working middle class society, as well as real competition in the market place. They fear that they would not be able to sell their ideology to a gullible and broken society. If President Obama used the funds issued in his stimulus and recovery plan in a bottom up manner, the nation would get back to work remaking itself in a new and better image. This would add to the real economy, and begin to expand and reproduce building a more productive and healthy economy. An image the rest of the world would follow, and have faith in once again.

Thanks for reading, jerry

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

America's future is in its own hands. Despite the notion that China can unduly influence it economic health due to its large holding of US treasuries.

The world economy is out of balance. There is to much supply and to little demand. The US, even in the current condition, is still the big man on campus when it comes to the demand side.

What the US has, within its powers to do, is influence where, or in what way, that precious demand is fulfilled.

The easiest way to do this is to address the way in which current trade is conducted between the US and other nations.

As a society we applaud rules and regulations that allow for cleaner production methods and enhanced worker safety. Yet these cost are not inextricably linked to production but to geography. This because they can be circumvented by moving production to areas where such rules, regulations and enforcement do not exist.


American producers should adopt a slogan similar to President Obama's "Yes We Can", I suggest "Yes We Could".

"Yes We Could", produce steel cheaper if we could buy coking coal at half price.

"Yes We Could", make shoes 20% cheaper if we could house our workers in dormitories and charge them rent for the privilege.

"Yes We Could" reduce the cost of electricity by restricting coal exports and allowing for unsafe mining practices.

"Yes We Could", make pharmaceuticals cheaper if we ignore quality control (Heparin)

"Yes We Could", make building materials cheaper if we don't care what goes in them (sulphur and lead).

"Yes We Could", increase exports dramatically if our government intervened to lower the value of the US dollar by 40%.

etc.

I agree with your premise;

"What might actually thaw it out is if Americans had good paying jobs and our manufacturing and industrial sector was rejuvenated through a fully focused manufacturing stimulus and revitalization plan. "

What is needed though is not a stimulus but a level playing field.

....
Glen

carlandjerry said...

Glen, you made excellent points. Thanks. on the website mpettis.com, he writes about China and how they have funneled their stimulus into industrial production. He wrote in his latest posting that the Chinese are making tons of finished goods. I am just wondering just who will buy them when the US is in a deflationary economy, with lots of items on shelves still unsold.

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of Michael's blog. I think he is one of the few economist that understand the point that it is demand, not supply, that is the most important factor. As such, the US, and Canada (where I am from), and most of the west for that matter, have tools available that can steer demand towards domestic suppliers.

Doing so, is not an issue of protectionism or favoritism as has been portrayed. It is a matter of honesty and true fairness.

We say that things like minimum wage and environmental standards are important, yet by outsourcing we make them optional.

I am sure that if we allowed for the same conveince in circumvention to services, bankers, lawyers, doctor's would have a sympathy. They would certainly be cheaper, or as current trade advocates would say "be more efficient".


Take for example my sister in-law. She need some extensive dental work. The average estimate she received was $12,000. All quotes were with $1,000 of each other. She ended up having the work done in Russia (while on a family visit) for $1,500. The Russian dentist is cheaper, not more efficient. It could be for a whole host of reasons, cost or quality of education, cheaper equipment, lower taxes, lower cost of living due to a price controlled society, etc.

Why I bring this up, is that Russian dentist cannot travel here and freely set up shop. Same for all other professions. Yet it is encouraged for products. That is a double standard.

Any measure above anarchy that imposes an expense on a product or service produced at home should apply equally to imports.


....
Glen

carlandjerry said...

Hi Glen,

One reason that doctor's costs are so high, as described by Professor Dean Baker, is because of the Nanny State. The Nanny State has protected those professionals, who had been mostly white men, holding licenses, certifications and documents of privilege from foreigners with the same skills from entering the country and undercutting these high wage brackets.

Traveling to other countries for medical services will continue to for years to come.

jerry

carl cimini said...

Great discussion guys, all fantastic points and observations you just can't get anywhere else.

Junior said...

Jerry,

Glad I found you or you found me, who cares it doesn't matter. Yes, we are obviously on the same team :)

Looking forward to what you've got in store for the future, will definitely be keeping an eye on you. Not in the Nanny State way either!

Jr

carlandjerry said...

Junior, thanks for coming to the blog, reading it and making your comments. I am happy that you want to return and keep an eye on us! :) jerry

Junior said...

My honor, Jerry!

p.s. it IS supposed to be "all your emails are belong to us" - it's a nerd reference you might not get ;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_your_base_are_belong_to_us

Putting you on the blog roll now - keep up the good fight! Someone's got to!

Jr

jessica said...

Thanks for sharing information with us...

___________________
Jessica
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