After the Civil War Men became less Manly and the Federal Government became more Progressive

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2014

History 101

(Originally published February 12th, 2013)

Prior to 1900 the Role of the Federal Government was primarily to Provide for the Common Defense

In 1800 the new federal government didn’t do a lot.  It spent only about $11 million (in nominal dollars).  With 55% going to defense.  About 31% went to pay interest on the war debt.  About 2% went to the postal service.  And about 12% went to other stuff.  Defense spending and interest on the war debt added up to about 86% of all federal outlays (see Government Spending Details).

In 1860, just before the Civil War, spending increased to $78 million (in nominal dollars).  Defense spending fell to 37%.  Interest spending fell to 4%.  And postal service spending rose to 19%.  While spending on other stuff rose to 40%.  Just over 60 years from the founding the federal government had changed.  It was less limited than the Founding Fathers designed it to be.

In 1900 spending increased to $628.6 million (in nominal dollars).  With defense spending coming in at 53%.  The postal service at 17%.  Interest went up to 6.4%.  And other spending fell to 24%.  Again, defense spending consumed over half of all federal spending.  For the role of the federal government was still primarily providing for the common defense.  Running the postal service.  Treating with other nations.  And trading with them.  As well as collecting duties and tariffs at our ports which paid for the federal government.  There was a lot of graft and patronage.  And long lines for government jobs.  Primarily because government was still somewhat limited.  With a limited number of government jobs to reward campaign contributors.  But that was about to change.

The Progressives expanded the Role of the Federal Government in our Lives and made it more Motherly

The American Civil War killed about 625,000 men.  With an 1860 population of 31,443,321 those deaths amounted to about 2% of the prewar population.  To put that into perspective if 2% of the U.S. population died in a war today that would be approximately 6.2 million people.  And to put that into perspective the total population of the state of Missouri is about 6 million people.  So the American Civil War claimed a very large percentage of the population.  Leaving a lot of children to grow up without a father.  Which had a profound impact on the size of the federal government.

Prior to this generation American men were some of the manliest men in the world.  Tough and rugged.  Who could live off of the land.  Completely self-sufficient.  These are the men that made America.  Men who fought and won our independence.  Who explored and settled the frontier.  Farmers who worked all day in the field.  Men who dug canals by hand.  And built our railroads.  Men who endured hardships and never complained.  Then came the Civil War generation.  Sons who lost their fathers.  And wives who lost their husbands, brothers, fathers and uncles.  Who lost all the men in their lives in that horrible war.  These women hated that war.  And manly displays of aggression.  For it was manly displays of aggression that led to fighting.  And war.  Having lost so much already they didn’t want to lose the only men they had left.  Their sons.  So they protected and nurtured them.  Taught them to shun violence.  To be kinder and softer.  To be not so tough or rugged.  To be less manly.  And when these men grew up they went into politics and started the progressive movement.

The federal government was no longer just to provide for the common defense.  To run the postal service.  To treat with other nations.  To trade with other nations.  Run our custom houses.  No.  Now the federal government grew to be kinder, softer and more motherly.  The progressives expanded the role of the federal government in our lives.  Woodrow Wilson wanted to turn the country into a quasi monarchy.  With a very strong executive branch that could rule against the wishes of Congress.  The Federal Reserve (America’s central bank) came into existence during Wilson’s presidency.  Which was going to end recessions forever.  Then came the Great Depression.  A crisis so good that FDR did not let it go to waste.  FDR expanded the size of the federal government.  Putting it on a path of permanent growth.  And it’s been growing ever since.

They decreased Defense Spending and increased Borrowings to increase Non-Defense Spending

The federal government grew beyond its Constitutional limits.  And the intent of the Founding Fathers.  Just as Thomas Jefferson feared.  It consolidated power just as all monarchies did.  And that was Jefferson’s fear.  Consolidation.  Seeing the states absorbed by a leviathan federal government.  Becoming the very thing the American colonists fought for independence from.  So that’s where the federal government changed.  In the early 20th Century.  Before that it spent money mostly for defense and a postal service.  Now it spends money for every social program under the sun.  There is great debate now in Washington about reducing the deficit.  With the Democrats blaming the deficit problems on too much defense spending.  And too little taxation on the rich.  But if you look at the history of federal spending since 1940 the numbers say otherwise (see Table 3.1—OUTLAYS BY SUPERFUNCTION AND FUNCTION: 1940–2017 and A History of Debt In The United States).

Federal Spending and Debt

As defense spending (including Veterans Benefits and Services) rose during World War II non-defense spending (Education, Training, Employment, Social Services, Health, Income Security, Social Security, Energy, Natural Resources, Environment, Commerce, Housing Credit, Transportation, Community and Regional Development, International Affairs, General Science, Space, Technology, Agriculture, Administration of Justice and General Government) fell as a percentage of total federal outlays.  And the federal debt rose (federal debt is in constant 2012 dollars).  After the war defense spending fell to 50% while the percentage of non-defense spending rose.  And the federal debt dropped slightly and remained relatively constant for about 30 years.

This tug of war between defense spending and non-defense spending is also called the guns vs. butter debate.  Where those in favor of spending money on guns at the federal level are more constructionists.  They want to follow the Constitution as the Founding Fathers wrote it.  While those who favor spending money on butter at the federal level want to want to buy more votes by giving away free stuff.

Defense spending ramped back up for the Korean War and the Cold War during the Fifties.  After the armistice ended hostilities in Korea defense spending began a long decline back to about 50% of all federal outlays.  Where it flattened out and rose slightly for the Vietnam War.  After America exited the Vietnam War defense spending entered a long decline where it dropped below 30% of all federal outlays.  Reagan’s defense spending raised defense spending back up to 30%.  After Reagan won the Cold War Clinton enjoyed the peace dividend and cut defense spending down to just below 20%.  After 9/11 Bush increased defense spending just above 20% of all federal outlays where it remains today.

During this time non-defense spending was basically the mirror of defense spending.  Showing that they decreased defense spending over time to increase non-defense spending.  But there wasn’t enough defense spending to cut so borrowing took off during the Reagan administration.  It leveled off during the Clinton administration as he enjoyed the peace dividend after the defeat of the Soviet Union in the Cold War.  Non-defense spending soared over 70% of all federal outlays during the Bush administration.  Requiring additional borrowings.  Then President Obama increased non-defense spending so great it resulted in record deficits.  Taking the federal debt to record highs.

So is defense spending the cause of our deficits?  No.  Defense spending as a percentage of all federal outlays is near a historical low.  While non-defense spending has soared to a record high.  As did our federal debt.  Clearly showing that the driving force behind our deficits and debt is non-defense spending.  Not defense spending.  Nor is it because we’re not taxing people enough.  We’re just spending too much.  In about 50 years non-defense spending rose from around 22% of all federal outlays to 74%.  An increase of 223%.  While defense spending fell from 76% to 22%.  A decline of 245%.  While the federal debt rose 619%.  And interest on the debt soared 24,904%.  The cost of favoring butter in the guns vs. butter debate.  The federal government has been gutting the main responsibility of the federal government, defense, to pay for something that didn’t enter the federal government until the 20th Century.  All that non-defense spending.  Which doesn’t even include the postal service today.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Labor Force Participation Rate from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 10th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published May 21st, 2013)

The DJIA and the Labor Force Participation Rate tell us how both Wall Street and Main Street are Doing

Rich people don’t need jobs.  They can make money with money.  Investing in the stock market.  When you see the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) increasing you know rich people are getting richer.  Whereas the middle class, the working people, aren’t getting rich.  But they may be building a retirement nest egg.  Which is good.  So they benefit, too, from a rising DJIA.  But that’s for later.  What they need now is a job.  Unlike rich people.  The middle class typically lives from paycheck to paycheck.  So more important to them is a growing job market.  Not so much a growing stock market.  For the middle class needs a day job to be able to invest in the stock market.  Whereas rich people don’t.  For a rich person’s money works enough for the both of them.

So the Dow Jones Industrial Average shows how well rich people are doing.   And how well the working class’ retirement nest eggs are growing for their retirement.  But it doesn’t really show how well the middle class is living.  For they need a job to pay their bills.  To put food on their tables.  And to raise their families.  So the DJIA doesn’t necessarily show how well the middle class is doing.  But there is an economic indicator that does.  The labor force participation rate.  Which shows the percentage of people who could be working that are working.  So if the labor force participation rate (LFPR) is increasing it means more people looking for a job can find a job.  Allowing more people to be able to pay their bills, put food on their tables and raise their families.

These two economic indicators (the DJIA and the LFPR) can give us an idea of how both Wall Street and Main Street are doing.  Ideally you’d want to see both increasing.  A rising DJIA shows businesses are growing.  Allowing Wall Street to profit from rising stock prices.  While those growing businesses create jobs for Main Street.   If we look at these economic indicators over time we can even see which ‘street’ an administration’s policies favor.   Interestingly, it’s not the one you would think based on the political rhetoric.

Wall Street grew 75% Richer under Clinton than it did under Reagan while Main Street grew 65% Poorer

Those going through our public schools and universities are taught that capitalism is unfair.  Corporations are evil.  And government is good.  The Democrats favor a growing welfare state.  Funded by a highly progressive tax code.  That taxes rich people at higher tax rates.  While Republicans favor a limited government.  A minimum of government spending and regulation.  And lower tax rates.  Therefore the Republicans are for rich people and evil corporations.  While the Democrats are for the working man.  Our schools and universities teach our kids this.  The mainstream media reinforces this view.  As does Hollywood, television and the music industry.  But one thing doesn’t.  The historical record (see Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate and Recessions 1950-Present and Dow Jones Industrial Average Index: Historical Data).

DJIA vs Labor Force Participation Rate - Reagan

The Democrats hated Ronald Reagan.  Because he believed in classical economics.  Which is what made this country great.  Before Keynesian economics came along in the early 20th Century.  And ushered in the era of Big Government.  Reagan reversed a lot of the damage the Keynesians caused.  He tamed inflation.  Cut taxes.  Reduced regulation.  And made a business-friendly environment.  Where the government intervened little into the private sector economy.  And during his 8 years in office we see that BOTH Wall Street (the Dow Jones Industrial Average) and Main Street (the labor force participation rate) did well.  Contrary to everything the left says.  The DJIA increased about 129%.  And the LFPR increased about 3.4%.  Indicating a huge increase of jobs for the working class.  Showing that it wasn’t only the rich doing well under Reaganomics.  The policies of his successor, though, changed that.  As Wall Street did better under Bill Clinton than Main Street.

DJIA vs Labor Force Participation Rate - Clinton

Despite the Democrats being for the working man and Bill Clinton’s numerous statements about going back to work to help the middle class (especially during his impeachment) Wall Street clearly did better than Main Street under Bill Clinton.  During his 8 years in office the LFPR increased 1.2%.  While the DJIA increased 226%.  Which means Wall Street grew 75% richer under Clinton than it did under Reagan.  While Main Street grew 65% poorer under Clinton than it did under Reagan.  Which means the gap between the rich and the middle class grew greater under Clinton than it did under Reagan.  Clearly showing that Reagan’s policies favored the Middle Class more than Clinton’s policies did.  And that Clinton’s policies favored Wall Street more than Regan’s did.  Which is the complete opposite of the Democrat narrative.  But it gets worse.

The Historical Record shows the Rich do Better under Democrats and the Middle Class does Better under Republicans

The great economy of the Nineties the Democrats love to talk about was nothing more than a bubble.  A bubble of irrational exuberance.  As investors borrowed boatloads of cheap money thanks to artificially low interest rates.  And poured it into dot-com companies that had nothing to sell.  After these dot-coms spent that start-up capital they had no revenue to replace it.  And went belly-up in droves.  Giving George W. Bush a nasty recession at the beginning of his presidency.  Compounded by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

DJIA vs Labor Force Participation Rate - Bush

The LFPR fell throughout Bush’s first term as all those dot-com jobs went away in the dot-com crash.  Made worse by the 9/11 attacks.  As all the malinvestments of the Clinton presidency were wrung out of the economy things started to get better.  The LFPR leveled off and the DJIA began to rise.  But then the specter of Bill Clinton cast another pall over the Bush presidency.  Clinton’s Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending forced lenders to lower their lending standards to qualify more of the unqualified.  Which they did under fear of the full force and fury of the federal government.  Using the subprime mortgage to put the unqualified into homes they couldn’t afford.  This policy also pressured Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy these toxic subprime mortgages from these lenders.  Freeing them up to make more toxic loans.  This house of cards came crashing down at the end of the Bush presidency.  Which is why the DJIA fell 19.4%.  And the LFPR fell 2.1%.  Even though the economy tanked thanks to those artificially low interest rates that brought on the subprime mortgage crisis and Great Recession both Wall Street and Main Street took this rocky ride together.  They fell together in his first term.  Rose then fell together in his second term.  Something that didn’t happen in the Obama presidency.

DJIA vs Labor Force Participation Rate - Obama

During the Obama presidency Wall Street has done better over time.  Just as Main Street has done worse over time.  This despite hearing nothing about how President Obama cares for the middle class.  When it is clear he doesn’t.  As his policies have clearly benefited rich people.  Wall Street.  While Main Street suffers the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  So far during his presidency the LFPR has fallen 3.7%.  While the DJIA has risen by 86%.  Creating one of the largest gaps between the rich and the middle class.  This despite President Obama being the champion of the middle class.  Which he isn’t.  In fact, one should always be suspect about anyone claiming to be the champion of the middle class.  As the middle class always suffers more than the rich when these people come to power.  Just look at Venezuela under Hugo Chaves.  Where the rich got richer.  And the middle class today can’t find any toilet paper to buy.  This is what the historical record tells us.  The rich do better under Democrats.  And the middle class does better under Republicans.  Despite what our schools and universities teach our kids.  Or what they say in movies and television.

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Benghazigate versus Bridgegate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 16th, 2014

Politics 101

Even though Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi the Press is more Interested in Bridgegate

The Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi.  Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, actually more of a stating of the obvious, at least for those without their heads up their backsides in blind adoration of President Obama, those who can find no fault with him or his administration no matter how many scandals and lies we catch them in, as their heads are up their aforementioned backsides, the report does not agree with the Obama administration version of what caused this tragedy (see Senate report: Attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi could have been prevented by Adam Goldman and Anne Gearan posted 1/15/2014 on The Washington Post).

A long-delayed Senate Intelligence Committee report released Wednesday faulted both the State Department and the intelligence community for not preventing attacks on two outposts in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, in 2012.

The bipartisan report laid out more than a dozen findings regarding the assaults on a diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in the city. It said the State Department failed to increase security at its mission despite warnings, and blamed intelligence agencies for not sharing information about the existence of the CIA outpost with the U.S. military…

The document contains only one mention of then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton…

President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and UN Ambassador Rice all stated publically that the attack in Benghazi was caused by a spontaneous protest over an obscure YouTube video.  They didn’t say it once.  They said it again and again.  It was the YouTube video.  Period.  Which can’t be true if the State Department could have prevented this attack.  For the only way that could have happened was if there were in fact identified security issues that were promptly ignored by the Obama administration.  Not an unknown and unexpected spontaneous protest out of nowhere one day.  So they all lied.  It was planned and coordinated.  And had nothing to do with that obscure YouTube video.

And yet they only mentioned Secretary Clinton once in their report.  Odd considering she failed to do everything she could to protect her people and then lied about it.  You’d think that would warrant more than one mention.  This is big news.  At least you’d think it would be.  But other than a few newspapers and Fox News the media isn’t talking about how Secretary Clinton lied.  Instead they are more interested if another politician lied.  A governor.  In New Jersey.  Who the polls show is the greatest threat against a Hillary Clinton presidency.  They want to know what Chris Christie knew.  When he knew it.  And if he lied about knowing it.

Hillary Clinton’s Incompetence and Indifference to Americans dying doesn’t Interest the Press

They call it Bridgegate.  A play on Watergate.  Something a young Hillary Clinton went after Richard Nixon like a hyena tearing away at the entrails of a fallen prey.  Because Nixon lied.  He knew about a rank amateur burglary after the fact.  And then used the power of the executive branch to try and cover it up.  Much like the Obama administration has done often.  Only Nixon didn’t have a complicit press that would do whatever they could for their dear leader.  But I digress.

Apparently the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., didn’t endorse Governor Christie in his reelection campaign.  And as payback a couple of Christie’s staffers closed some traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge to cause the mother of all traffic backups in Fort Lee.  No one died like in Benghazi.  But this is what the press and the Democrats (even the Democrats outside of the press) want to know about.  And some are even using the ‘I’ word.  Impeachment (see Subpoenas Expected for Chris Christie Aides Over Bridge Scandal by GILLIAN MOHNEY posted 1/12/2014 on ABC News).

Legislative subpoenas could be served to the aides of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as early as Monday sources told ABC News today.

Christie has been under intense political scrutiny after it was revealed that some of his top political aides shut down key traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge — the busiest bridge in the world — in September for what appear to be politically motivated reasons…

Some Democratic lawmakers are saying that Christie could face impeachment hearings if it turns out he knew about the lane closures and authorized them.

Wow.  Completely different from the approach in getting answers from Secretary Clinton.  Where when she finally appeared before Congress the Democrats spent more time puckering up and kissing her backside.  And when she said “what difference does it make” if it was her incompetence and indifference to Americans dying or if it was some spontaneous protest where average ordinary Muslims pulled rocket propelled grenades and mortars out of their wallets and purses to storm the American mission in a military assault they applauded her moxy.  Saying, “You go, girl.”  Figuratively, of course.

Without an Independent and Free Press you can’t keep Government Honest

It’s not so much a double standard as it is a biased press.  Much of the mainstream media today is more an extension of the Democrat Party than a free press.  Who spend more time writing propaganda for the left.  Democrats.  Elitists who think like they think.  And know as they know that they are better, wiser and more enlightened than the ignorant masses.  This is why they are foaming at the mouth over Bridgegate.  And ignore Secretary Clinton’s incompetence and indifference over the attack in Benghazi.  She who criticized candidate Barack Obama and his lack of experience.  Saying he wouldn’t know what to do if he got that 3 AM call like she would.  “There’s trouble brewing in Benghazi as we approach the anniversary of 9/11?  Well, what do you want me to do about it?”  Or, perhaps, it was something more like this.  “Tell it to someone who gives a damn.”  Of course it should be noted that this trouble did not start with a 3 AM telephone call.  It was a gradual buildup of trouble that she responded to with incompetence and indifference.

It’s sad what the American press has come to.  Even Britain with her socialist tendencies following World War II at least still has a fierce free press.  That will speak truth to power.  Put their country first instead of puckering up and kissing the backsides of those in the political party they favor.  Ignoring their lies, crimes and misdemeanors.  Such as letting Americans die so as not to spoil the campaign narrative.  Al Qaeda was reeling and in retreat.  And they couldn’t allow security concerns in Libya to upset that message.  So they abandoned the Americans in Benghazi.  And hoped the resurgence of al Qaeda in Libya wouldn’t hurt President Obama’s reelection chances.  And counted on their friends in the media not to question and disseminate the lie about the YouTube video causing a spontaneous protest that caused average Muslims to pull out rocket propelled grenades and mortars from their wallets and purses to wage war.  Now contrast the sycophant American press to the British press (see David Cameron says British Press plays ‘vital’ role in democracy by Matthew Holehouse posted 1/17/2014 on The Telegraph).

“At its best, the British Press, the political Press, have a vital role to play in our country.

“Yes: rowdy, tenacious, sceptical, uncontrollable, often uncomfortable for our politicians. But British political reporting is deservedly respected around the world, for the way it probes, it inquires, it scrutinises, and these things are linchpins of our democracy…”

Mr Cameron spoke movingly of a trip he made, accompanied by political reporters including from the Daily Telegraph, to a newspaper office in northern Sri Lanka, where journalists had been murdered after criticising the government.

“It was an incredibly powerful moment. It was a reminder of just how fortunate we are in this country to have a Press that is free, that is open, that is able to stand up to the powerful.”

Without an independent and free press how do you keep government honest?  How do you protect the American people from the lies, crimes and misdemeanors of government?  You can’t.  Instead you get propaganda that helps the powerful grow more powerful.  And it eventually gets to the point that politicians no longer debate in the arena of ideas.  They just look for opportunities to destroy their enemies.  Challengers to their power.  Like Chris Christie.  Who polls better against Hillary Clinton than any other potential Republican candidate.  So they attack Christies over Bridgegate.  To destroy him.  And they circle the wagons around Hillary Clinton to protect her from her incompetence and indifference over Benghazigate.  While never worrying what their helping the powerful to become more powerful could do one day.

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Debt, Jobs and Criticism—Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 19th, 2013

History 101

The Democrats used the Power of the Purse to oppose the Reagan Agenda wherever they Could

The left hated President Reagan.  They called him just a “B” movie actor.  With many references to Bedtime for Bonzo.   With the implication that Reagan was a chimpanzee.  He was called stupid.  Senile.  And they said he hated the poor.  The usual stuff when it comes to Democrats calling the opposition names.  But as about as demeaning as it gets.  For the Democrats hated Ronald Reagan with a passion.  They may have hated him even more than George W. Bush.  Another president they called stupid.  Even making similar chimpanzee references.

They fought Reagan tooth and nail.  The Democrats held the House and they used the power of the purse to oppose the Reagan agenda wherever they could.  So Reagan had to compromise on some things.  Especially tax hikes.  But for the most part he kept his word to the American people.  And maintained high approval ratings.  Making it harder for the Democrats to block all of the Reagan agenda.  Which just made the left hate him more.

It’s funny the short memories Democrats have.  For any criticism of President Obama is met with charges of racism.  And because of that few criticize him.  Because no one wants to be called a racist.  Giving President Obama a free pass for most if his presidency.  Something neither George W. Bush nor Ronald Reagan ever enjoyed.  Yet the left says the right says the most vile things about President Obama.  Unprecedented things.  Like calling him a liar when he lied during the State of the Union Address.  Which must be different from saying ‘Bush lied people died’ over and over again.

President Obama is on Pace to add more Debt than Ronald Reagan

Among the terrible things the left said Ronald Reagan was doing was running up the debt to unsustainable levels.  And he did run up the debt.  About 99.4% during his 8 years.  Or about 12.4% a year.  Much of that spending, though, was to reverse the damage Jimmy Carter did to national defense.  He had gutted defense spending so much (cancelling bombers and missile programs) that the Soviet Union thought for the first time that they could win a nuclear war against the United States.  At least with Jimmy Carter as president.  They actually started drafting nuclear first-strike plans to replace the deterrence of mutually assured destruction (MAD).  Anyway, that spending led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Allowing the U.S. to win the Cold War.  Giving Bill Clinton a huge peace dividend during his presidency.

Bill Clinton wanted to nationalize health care.  And it didn’t go over well.  His big spending liberal agenda got neutered at the midterm elections.  As he angered the people so much the Republicans won both the House and Senate.  Forcing Clinton to the center.  Dropping any thoughts of national health care.  With Republicans even forcing welfare reform on him.  The Republican Revolution kept spending down.  And the debt only grew 13.6% during Clinton’s 8 years.  Or about 1.7% a year.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks George W. Bush ramped up military spending.  For national security.  And two wars.  He also ramped up domestic spending.  Giving us Medicare Part D.  A program to subsidize the prescription drugs for Medicare recipients.  In the 8 years of the Bush presidency he added about 41.4% to the national debt.  About 5.2% a year.  Which sounded like a lot until President Obama came along.  A near trillion dollar stimulus bill that stimulated little.  Investments into failed solar power companies and electric car companies.  Automotive (i.e., union pension fund) bailouts.  In his 5 years in office Obama has raised the debt by 53.8%.  Or 10.8% each of his 5 years.  A little more than twice the rate of George W. Bush.  At this pace he will even add more debt than Ronald Reagan.  Adding up to 18.3% per year (over 8 years) if no one stops his spending.

Under President Obama the Gap between Black and White Unemployment grew Greater

President Obama said those ‘wise’ investments and higher taxes on those who could afford to pay a little more would generate economic activity.  His income redistribution would balance the playing field.  And raise the poor out of poverty.  While people everywhere celebrated the first black president.  For it would bring the races together.  This is why some on the right joked that President Obama was the messiah.  Because he was going to do all of that.  As well as make the ocean levels fall.  Black America especially loved the nation’s first black president.  As 95% of the black vote went to Obama in 2008.  Though the enthusiasm waned a bit in 2012.  As only 93% of the black vote went to Obama.  And how has black American done under the Obama economic policies.  Well, not as good as they did under the Bush economic policies (see archived data from Table A-2. Employment status of the civilian population by race, sex, and age in the Employment Situation Archived News Releases by the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Unemplyment Rates by Race Age Sex 2003-2013 R2

The Great Recession officially ran from December 2007 to June 2009.  Which corresponds to the transition from George W. Bush to Barack Obama.  People often call the Great Recession the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Of course they say that primarily because the current economic recovery is the worst since that following the Great Depression.  And the reason for that is President Obama’s economic policies.

Unemployment was lower for everyone under Bush.  On average the unemployment rate for white/black men, women and 16-19 year olds under Bush was 4.2%/9.3%, 4.0%/8.2% and 14.7%/31.1%, respectively.  Under President Obama these numbers jumped to 7.8%/15.7%, 6.7%/12.2% and 21.8%/40.3%.  Which should give black America cause for concern.  For under President Obama the gap between black and white unemployment grew greater.  The gap between black and white men went from 5.1 to 7.9.  An increase of 55.6%.  The gap between black and white women went from 4.2 to 5.5.  An increase of 32.9%.  And the gap between black and white 16 to 19 year olds went from 16.5 to 18.5.  An increase of 12.7%.  So whatever President Obama is doing it isn’t helping America find work.  Especially black America.

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FT193: “Democrats are more unified than Republicans because they put their hatred of Republicans ahead of their policy differences.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 25th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Democrats believe Republicans should be like a 1950s Housewife and be Pretty but Express no Thoughts of their Own

What did we learn from the government shutdown?  Well, if you listened to the left you learned that there is a civil war going on in the Republican Party.  And perhaps there is.  For there are two factions in the Republican Party.  Those the Democrats like and can push around.  And those who refuse to be their bitch.

The Tea Party would be in that latter category.  And the Democrats really hate them.  Because they won’t play ball.  Like the establishment Republicans.  Who argue with and debate the Democrats.  Put on a little kabuki theater to shut the constituents up back at home.  Then vote with the Democrats.  And thank the Democrats for the occasional spoils hand-me-down.

You see, the Democrats know how to be a good Republican.  You act like a 1950 housewife.  With Democrats, of course, being the 1950s husband.  Republicans are to look pretty and agree with the Democrats.  They’re not supposed to express a thought of their own.  The Democrats promise them all sorts of things.  To honor their agreements.  To be faithful.  Then go out and break their promises and whore around.  Because in their world Republicans are second-class citizens.  Just like the 1950s housewife.  At least as liberal Democrats see the 1950s housewife.

Extorting Everyone via Obamacare has more Political Dividends than Extorting only Seniors

Washington changes people.  Well, it changes Republicans.  Where power corrupts them.  While absolute power seduces Democrats.  Which is their ultimate goal.  Even when they campaigned for their first election.  They want power.  All the power they can get.  So they can become a ruling class.  An aristocracy.  Where they can do whatever they want.  And live the good life.  At the expense of the masses.  Like it used to be in feudal Europe.  Where who you knew was all that matter.  And a good last name set you up for life.

Power.  It’s all that counts.  And with power comes privilege.  The Democrats see themselves as a privileged elite.  Or at least they think they should be.  Which explains why working Americans have to pay high premiums and pay high deductibles for a basic Obamacare health insurance policy with no subsidies while members of Congress get a generous subsidy for their gold-plated policies even though they earn more than $100 grand a year.

In fact the Affordable Care Act is all about power.  Not health care.  Forcing people to turn to government for their health care makes all people dependent on government.  And much more willing to vote for Democrats who want to raise taxes and expand benefits rather than Republicans who want to ‘throw Grandma off the cliff’.  As the left accuses Republicans of wanting to do.  For it’s one thing extorting seniors.  But it’s another extorting everyone.  Which has far more political dividends than extorting only seniors.

Empowering the Ruling Class is the One Priority Democrats put above all Others

So you have the Democrats trying to make all Americans dependent on government so they can extort them whenever they want more.  If they want more money they threatened whatever the people are dependent on.  Saying if we don’t raise taxes the Republicans will prevent the Democrats from giving them these benefits.  With establishment Republicans onboard for the occasional spoils hand-me-down.  While the Tea Party Republicans are trying honor the promises they made to their constituents.

Was the attempt to defund Obamacare a wise move?  When the Republicans only controlled the House of Representatives?  Especially with the Republicans fighting among themselves?  Time will tell.  But what was clear is that the Democrats are more unified than the Republicans.  Why?  Is it because there is no dissension in the Democrats’ ranks?  Like there is with Republicans between establishment (i.e., Democrats in Republican clothes) and the Tea Party?  No.  It’s not that.  For there is dissension in the Democrat ranks.  But unlike the Republicans, they don’t let this interfere with their ultimate aim.  Power.

The Democrats never lose sight of the big picture.  The acquisition of power.  Democrat primary elections can be brutal.  In 2008 when Bill Clinton was trying to get Senator Ted Kennedy to endorse Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama he said, “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”  A racial slur.  But that was all forgotten after the election.  With Hillary Clinton even taking a post in the Obama administration.  Because empowering the ruling class is the one priority they put above all others.  And you do that by destroying the opposition.  The Republicans.  In particular the Tea Party Republicans.  Whatever the cost.  However it hurts the American people.  This is what unifies the Democrats.  Their love of power and their hatred of Republicans.  Which lets Democrats forget things like racial slurs.  While those Republicans who fight for the people get attacked by members of their own party.

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Banks, Keynes, Subprime Mortgage Crisis and Great Recession

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 17th, 2013

History 101

(Originally published June 11th, 2013)

Bringing Borrowers and Lenders Together is a very Important Function of our Banks

Borrowers like low interest rates.  Savers (i.e., lenders) like high interest rates.  People who put money into the bank want to earn a high interest rate.  People who want to buy a house want a low interest rate.  As the interest rate will determine the price of the house they can buy.  Borrowers and lenders meet at banks.  Bankers offer a high enough interest rate to attract lenders (i.e., depositors).  But not too high to discourage borrowers.

This is the essence of the banking system.  And capital formation.  Alexander Hamilton said that money in people’s pockets was just money.  But when the people came together and deposited their money into a bank that money became capital.  Large sums of money a business could borrow to build a factory.  Which creates economic activity.  And jobs.  The United States became the world’s number one economic power with the capital formation of its banking system.  For a sound banking system is required for any advanced economy.  As it allows the rise of a middle class.  By providing investment capital for entrepreneurs.  And middle class jobs in the businesses they build.

So bringing borrowers and lenders together is a very important function of our banks.  And bankers have the heavy burden of determining saving rates.  And lending rates.  As well as determining the credit risk of potential borrowers.  Savers deposit their money to earn one rate.  So the bank can loan it out at another rate.  A rate that will pay depositors interest.  As well as cover the few loans that borrowers can’t pay back.  Which is why bankers have to be very careful to who they loan money to.

Keynesians make Recessions worse by Keeping Interest Rates low, Preventing a Correction from Happening

John Maynard Keynes changed this system of banking that made the United States the world’s number one economic power.  We call his economic theories Keynesian economics.  One of the changes from the classical school of economics we used to make the United States the world’s number one economic power was the manipulation of interest rates.  Instead of leaving this to free market forces in the banking system Keynesians said government should have that power.  And they took it.  Printing money to make more available to lend.  Thus bringing down interest rates.

And why did they want to bring down interest rates?  To stimulate economic activity.  At least, that was their goal.  To stimulate economic activity to pull us out of a recession.  To even eliminate recessions all together.  To eliminate the normal expansion and contraction of the economy.  By manipulating interest rates to continually expand the economy.  To accept a small amount of permanent inflation.  In exchange for a constantly expanding economy.  And permanent job creation.  That was the Keynesian intention.  But did it work?

No.  Since the Keynesians took over the economy we’ve had the Great Depression, the stagflation and misery of the Seventies, the savings and loans crisis of the Eighties, the irrational exuberance and the dot-com bubble crash of the Nineties, the subprime mortgage crisis and the Great Recession.  All of these were caused by the Keynesian manipulation of interest rates.  And the resulting recessions were made worse by trying to keep interest rates low to pull the economy out of recession.  Preventing the correction from happening.  Allowing these artificially low interest rates to cause even more damage.

The Government’s manipulation of Interest Rates gave us the Subprime Mortgage Crisis and the Great Recession

My friend’s father complained about the low interest rates during the Clinton administration.  For the savings rate offered by banks was next to nothing.  With the Federal Reserve printing so much money the banks didn’t need to attract depositors with high savings rates.  Worse for these savers was the inflation caused by printing all of this money eroded the purchasing power of their savings.  So they couldn’t earn anything on their savings.  And what savings they had bought less and less over time.  But mortgages were cheap.  And people were rushing to the banks to get a mortgage before those rates started rising again.

This was an interruption of normal market forces.  It changed people’s behavior.  People who were not even planning to buy a house were moved by those low interest rates to enter the housing market.  Then President Clinton pushed other people into the housing market with his Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending.  Getting people who were not even planning to buy a house AND who could not even afford to buy a house to enter the housing market.  Those artificially low interest rates pulled so many people into the housing market that this increased demand for houses started raising house prices.  A lot.  But it didn’t matter.  Not with those low interest rates.  Subprime lending.  Pressure by the Clinton administration to qualify the unqualified for mortgages.  And Fannie May and Freddie Mac buying those risky subprime mortgages from the banks, freeing them up to make more risky mortgages.  This scorching demand pushed housing prices into the stratosphere.

A correction was long overdue.  But the Federal Reserve kept pushing that correction off by keeping interest rates artificially low.  But eventually inflation started to appear from all that money creation.  And the Federal Reserve had no choice but to raise interest rates to tamp out that inflation.  But when they did it caused a big problem for those with subprime mortgages.  Those who had adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).  For when interest rates went up so did their mortgage payments.  Beyond their ability to pay them.  So they defaulted on their mortgages.  A lot of them.  Which caused an even bigger problem.  All those mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought?  They sold them to Wall Street.  Who chopped them up into collateralized debt obligations.  Financial instruments backed by historically the safest of all investments.  The home mortgage.  Only these weren’t your father’s mortgage.  These were risky subprime mortgages.  But they sold them to unsuspecting investors as high yield and low-risk investments.  And when people started defaulting on their mortgages these investments became worthless.  Which spread the financial crisis around the world.  On top of all of this the housing bubble burst.  And those house prices fell back down from the stratosphere.  Leaving many homeowners with mortgages greater than the corrected value of their house.

It was the government’s manipulation of interest rates that gave us the subprime mortgage crisis.  The Great Recession.  And the worst recovery since that following the Great Depression.  All the result of Keynesian economics.  And the foolhardy belief that you can make recessions a thing of the past.

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The Opportunity Cost of Debt

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 16th, 2013

Economics 101

Housing Sales drive the Economy because almost Everything for Sale is for the Household

Once upon a time the rule of thumb was to buy the most expensive house we could possibly afford.  We saved 20% for a down payment on a conventional mortgage.  We lived on a shoestring budget and paid our mortgage no matter what.  Even if we had to live on meatloaf and macaroni and cheese for the next five years.  Or longer.  We did this because we would be paying that mortgage payment for 30 years.  And though tough at first during those 30 years we advanced in our careers.  And made more money along the way.  Making that mortgage payment easier to pay as time went by.

So that was the way it used to be.  And it was that way for a long time.  Until the Federal Reserve started playing with interest rates to stimulate economic activity.  Altering the banking system forever.  Instead of encouraging people to save their money so banks could loan money to homebuyers they printed money.  Flooded the market with it.  Ignited inflation.  And caused housing bubbles.  Then the government took it up a notch.

Housing sales drive the economy.  Almost everything for sale is for the household.  Furniture and appliances.  Beds and ceiling fans.  Tile and paint.  Cleaning supplies and groceries.  Dishes and cutlery.  Pots and pans.  Towels and linen.  Lawnmowers and weed-whackers.  Decks and patio furniture.  When people buy a house they start buying all of these things.  And more.  Creating a lot of economic activity with every house sold.  So the government did everything they could to encourage home ownership.  And few governments did more than the Clinton administration.  By applying pressure on lenders to qualify the unqualified for mortgages.  Which gave us the subprime mortgage crisis.

Lenders used Subprime Lending to Qualify the Unqualified to Comply with the Clinton Administration

People in poor neighbors tended to be poor.  And unable to qualify for a mortgage because they couldn’t afford the house payments.  When these poor people happened to be black the Clinton administration said the banks were racist.  They were redlining.  And advised these lenders that if they don’t start qualifying these people who couldn’t afford a house that the full weight of the government will make things difficult for them to remain in the lending business.  So they complied with the Clinton administration.  Using subprime lending to put people into homes they couldn’t afford.

The main reason why people can’t afford to buy a house is the size of the mortgage payment.  Which can be pretty high if they can’t afford much of a down payment.  So these lenders used special mortgages to bring that monthly payment down.  The adjustable rate mortgage (ARM).  Which had a lower interest rate than conventional mortgages.  Because they could raise it later if interest rates rose.  Zero-down mortgages.  Which eliminated the need for a down payment.  Coupled with an ARM when interest rates were low could put a poor person into a good sized house.  No-documentation loans.  Which removed the trouble of having to document your earnings to prove you will be able to make your house payment.  Making it easier to approve applicants when you don’t have to question what they write on their application.  Interest-only loans where you only had to pay the interest for, say, 5 years.  Greatly reducing the size of the monthly payment.  But after those 5 years you had to pay that loan back in full with a new mortgage for the full value of the house.  Which may be more costly in 5 years.

So these lenders were able to meet the Clinton administration directive.  They were putting people into homes they couldn’t afford.  Just barely.  These people had house payments they could just barely afford.  Thanks to the low interest rate of their ARM.  But then interest rates rose.  Making those mortgage payments unaffordable.  With zero-down they had little to lose by walking away.  And a lot of them did.

The Interest on the Debt is so large we have to Borrow Money to Pay for the Cost of Borrowing Money

Buying a house is a huge investment.  One that we finance.  That is, we borrow money.  Sometimes a lot of it.  Because we don’t want to wait and save money for a down payment.  And because we want so much right now we buy as much as we can with those borrowings.  Doing whatever we can to lower the monthly payment.  With little regard to long-term costs.  For example, assume a fixed 30-year interest rate of 4.5%.  And we finance a $150,000 house with zero down.  Because we have saved nothing.  The monthly payment will be $790.03.  But if we waited until we saved enough for a 10% down payment that monthly payment will only be $684.03.  And if we saved enough for 20% down the monthly payment will only be $608.02.  That’s $182.01 less each month.  The total interest paid over the life of this mortgage for zero down, 10% down and 20% down is $123,610.07, $111,249.06 and $98,888.05, respectively.  Adding that to the price of the house brings the total cost for that house to $273,010.07, $246,249.06 and $218,888.05, respectively.  So if we wait until we save a 20% down payment we will be able to buy a $150,000 house and $54,723.02 of other stuff during those 30 years.  This is the opportunity cost of debt.

We are better off the less we finance.  Because long-term debts are with us for a long time.  And they don’t go away if we lose our job.  Or if interest rates go up.  Like with an ARM.  A large driver of the subprime mortgage crisis.  Let’s see what was happening before the housing bubble burst.  Let’s say we could buy that $150,000 house with a zero down mortgage with an adjustable interest rate of 2%.  Giving us a monthly payment of $554.43.  Very affordable.  Which helped get a lot of people into houses they couldn’t afford.  But then the interest rate went up.  And what did that do to someone who could just barely pay their house payment when it was $554.43?  Well, if it reset to 4% that payment increased to $716.12 ($161.69 more per month).  If it reset to 6% that payment increased to $899.33 ($344.90 more per month).  Bringing the total cost of the house to $323,757.28 ($150,000 principle + 173,757.28 interest).  Which is why a lot of these people walked away from these houses.  There was just no way they could afford them at these higher interest rates.

Interest payments on long-term debt at high interest rates can overwhelm a borrower.  Making the Clinton administration’s Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending insidious.  It destroyed people’s lives.  Putting them into houses they couldn’t afford with subprime lending.  But if you think that’s bad consider the national debt.  These are long-term obligations just like mortgages.  And currently we owe $16,738,533,025,135.63 (as of 9/13/2013).  At an interest rate of 3.9% the annual interest we must pay on this debt comes to $652,802,787,980.29.  That’s $652.8 billion.  Which is more than we spend on welfare ($430.4 billion).  Almost what we spend on Social Security ($866.3 billion).  And more than half of the federal deficit ($972.9 billion).  This is the opportunity cost of debt.  It limits what we can spend elsewhere.  On welfare.  Social Security.  Etc.  The interest on the debt has grown so large that we even have to borrow money to pay for the cost of borrowing money.  And there is only one way this can end.  Just like the subprime mortgage crisis.  Only worse.

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FT185: “When it comes to foreign policy the Republicans do what is best for the country while Democrats do what is best for their party.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 30th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Wherever the Soviets pushed the Americans pushed back to Contain the Expansion of Communism

Once upon a time Democrats were practically warmongers.  Woodrow Wilson got us into World War I.  FDR got us into World War II.  Harry Truman got us into the Korean War.  And LBJ got us into the Vietnam War.  While Republicans were nearly pacifists.  Dwight Eisenhower got us out of the Korean War.  And Richard Nixon got us out of the Vietnam War.

Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II.  Saw the carnage of war up close.  And was glad when it was over.  Unlike General Patton.  Who wanted to invade the Soviet Union.  Because he knew we would have to fight them sooner or later.  And rather do it then when they had the most awesome military force in the world still in Europe.  General Patton lost command of Third Army because of talk like that.  And later would die from injuries he got in a freak car accident.

It didn’t take long following the end of World War II for the Soviets to become the new big bad in town.  Just like General Patton foresaw.  Truman stood up to them in Berlin.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iran.  And Korea.  Wherever they pushed the Americans tried to hold the line.  To contain the expansion of communism.  It was the Cold War.  And it first got hot in Korea.  But the UN forces held the line in Korea.  After three years of war.  About as long as America spent fighting in Europe during World War II.

JFK’s refusal to commit American Military Power during the Bay of Pigs Invasion led to the Cuban Missile Crisis

Communism was a thorn in the side of democracy.  The democratic West believed in peace through strength.  With the occasional war breaking the peace.  While the communist East believed in a perpetual state of war with the occasional peace breaking that war.  The communists sought to expand through violent revolution.  If you contained it early (like in the Berlin Airlift) you could avoid a shooting war.  And keep it cold.  But if they got a foothold you could find yourself mired in a hot and prolonged war.  Like in Korea.

When Fidel Castro turned Cuba communist it was not a good thing for the United States.  For all their efforts to contain communism throughout the world here they were.  On Cuba.  Within missile range of the United States.  And Castro was cozying up to the Soviets.  Which is why President Eisenhower gave the green light for the CIA to remove Castro from power.  To remove a threat so close to the United States.  The plan was the Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Which proceeded under the following administration.  JFK’s.

The invasion, though, did not go well.  And unlike in the Guatemalan coup d’état, JFK did not commit American military power to help the invaders (unlike Eisenhower did in the Guatemalan coup).  Who were soon pushed back.  And defeated.  Which breathed new life in Cuba’s communist revolution.  Brought them more into the Soviet sphere.  And encouraged the Soviets to test this young president.  Which they did.  By sending nuclear missiles to Cuba.  Leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis.  And near nuclear war (Castro’s right hand man, Che Guevara, was angry with the Soviets because they refused to nuke the United States during the crisis).  While the Cuban people suffered under their communist oppressors.  And still do.

Today Iran—and Radical Islam—is the Thorn in the Side of Democracy that Communism once Was

Truman was the last Democrat warrior president.  LBJ got us into Vietnam.  But he also gave us the Great Society.  Turning the nation towards a welfare state.  A very costly welfare state.  Which the great costs of the Vietnam War threatened.  The government, much like they did during the Revolutionary War, began printing money to pay for all of this spending.  Devaluing a dollar pegged to gold.  With nations concerned with this devaluation they traded their dollars for gold.  Which is what is supposed to happen under a gold standard.  So nations don’t devalue their currencies.  But printing money is easier than cutting spending.  So President Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold.  So they could really print it.  Giving us the inflationary Seventies.

Since then Democrat presidents have done two things.  Expanded the welfare state.  And demonized their political opponents.  Which extended to their foreign policy.  President Carter cut back on defense spending.  And tried to make friends with our archenemy.  The Soviet Union.  A president the Soviets had little respect for.  Even considering a nuclear first-strike policy as they didn’t think Carter would ever launch his nuclear weapons.  And then President Carter criticized American ally, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, for his human rights violation.  There was revolutionary fervor in the air.  The Shah implored for help from their long-time friend and ally.  The United States.  Who assured the Shah that the Americans would intervene militarily on his behalf.  But didn’t.  The Iranian Revolution followed.  And Iran became America’s new archenemy.

Iranian oil won World War II.  It fed the Red Army.  Iran served as a portal into the Soviet Union.  War material as well as oil flowed through Iran and into the Soviet Union.  After the war the Soviets didn’t want to leave Iran.  Give up that oil.  Or a warm-weather port on the Indian Ocean.  But the British and the Americans helped the Iranians keep the Soviets at bay.  Their actions included a coup.  And some human rights violations.  To keep what happened in Eastern Europe following World War II from happening in Iran.  Iran prospered.  And Westernized.  It was becoming everything the American left loved.  Secular.  It was becoming more like America.  Where men and women enjoyed doing things they could enjoy in New York City.  Which angered the Islamists.

Today Iran—and radical Islam—is the thorn in the side of democracy that communism once was.  And unlike their Cold War warrior forefathers, today’s Democrats choose party over country.  Basing their foreign policy on expanding the welfare state.  Or demonizing their political opponents.  President Clinton treated al Qaeda’s increasing acts of hostility against Western/American interests as a legal issue.  Which grew bolder until they culminated in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Clinton did this so he wouldn’t waste money on defense by risking war to protect America.  Or anger his liberal base.  After 9/11, George W. Bush fought back.

The Democrats have demonized George W. Bush as a rich oil man who traded blood for oil.  While at the same time they said he was purposely causing oil shortages to raise the price of oil.  When an opportunity came to overthrow America’s new archenemy, Iran, President Obama did nothing to support the Green Revolution in Iran following questionable election results that kept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.  An intervention that would have been in the best interests of both America and the Iranian people.  But when the Arab Spring blew through Egypt he was quick to tell our friend and ally, Hosni Mubarak, that he had to go.  Turning Egypt over to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.  But when civil war came to Syria he chose to do nothing.  Until now (to save face from his ‘red line’ comment about chemical weapons?).  When the opposition has most probably been infiltrated by al Qaeda.

What is the constant in these Democrat foreign policy decisions?  They are the opposite of what the Republicans would have done.  So they couldn’t have done them.  For it would have vindicated George W. Bush.  Angered their liberal base.  And made the world a safer place.

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Is the New York Times ready to blame Bill Clinton for the Subprime Mortgage Crisis?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 18th, 2013

Week in Review

President Obama likes to say that the Republicans only want to try the failed policies of the past.  And he’s both right and wrong.  For the Republicans do want to implement the policies of the past.  Because these policies did NOT fail.  Contrary to President Obama’s recurring bleat.  For the policies of President Reagan were based on classical economics.  Those same policies that made America the world’s number one economic power.  While the policies of the left, Keynesian economic policies, have failed every time they’ve been tried.  And reduced America’s economic prowess.

Before John Maynard Keynes came along during World War I the U.S. economy was steeped in the philosophy of our Founding Fathers.  Thrift.  Frugal.  Rugged individualism.  These are the things that made America great.  For over a hundred years Americans worked hard and saved their money.  Spending as little for the here and now.  Always planning for the future.  They put everything they didn’t have to spend into the bank.  As everyone put away these small amounts of money banks turned the aggregate of these numerous small deposits into capital.  Which investors borrowed at reasonable interest rates because we had a high savings rate.  Providing plenty of capital to grow the American economy.  Thanks to a sound banking system.   That exercised sound lending practices.  With investment capital a high savings rate provided.

This system worked so well because people balanced risk with reward.  Bankers made wise lending decisions based on the likelihood of those loans being repaid.  And investors with a history of wise and responsible borrowing had continued access to that investment capital.  While banks who took too great a risk failed.  And investors who took great risks soon found themselves broke with no further access to investment capital.  This balance of risk and reward complimented with a populace that was thrifty and frugal with their money created Carnegie Steel.  The Standard Oil Company.  And the Ford Motor Company.  Risk takers.  Who balanced risk with reward.  And paid a heavy price when they took too great a risk that had no reward.

But the days of Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) and Henry Ford are gone.  These men probably couldn’t—or wouldn’t— do what they did in today’s regulatory environment the left has created.  The higher taxes.  And the financial instability caused by the left’s destruction of the banking system.  As the left has made high-finance a plaything for their rich friends.  By transferring all risk to the taxpayer.  Allowing bankers to take great risks.  With little downside risk.  Giving us things like the subprime mortgage crisis.  Where President Clinton’s Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending (1994) unleashed 10 federal agencies on banks to pressure them to loan to the unqualified or else.  So they did.  Using the Adjustable Rate Mortgage as the vehicle to get the unqualified into homeownership.  These with no-documentation mortgage applications, zero-down, interest-only, etc., put people into homes by the droves.  Especially those who could not afford them.  Of course, banks just won’t loan to the unqualified without some federal assistance.  Which came in the guise of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Who bought those toxic mortgages from these lenders, repackaged them into collateralized debt obligations and sold them to unsuspecting investors.  And, well, you know the rest.

So Bill Clinton gave us the subprime mortgage crisis.  And the Great Recession.  It’s always the same.  Whenever liberals get into power they do the same thing over and over again.  They destroy the economy with policies that only benefit them and their rich friends.  America’s aristocracy.  Yet they talk the talk so well people believe that THIS time things will be different.  But they never are.  Already President Obama is talking about doing the same things to increase homeownership that got us into the subprime mortgage crisis.  And his disastrous policies didn’t even prevent his reelection.  Because he can talk the talk so well.  Just like Clinton.  So well that few look at the swath of destruction in their wakes.  At least, not on this side of the Atlantic (see The New York Times takes down the Clinton Foundation. This could be devastating for Bill and Hillary by Tim Stanley posted 8/14/2013 on The Telegraph).

Is the New York Times being guest edited by Rush Limbaugh? Today it runs with a fascinating takedown of the Clinton Foundation – that vast vanity project that conservatives are wary of criticising for being seen to attack a body that tries to do good. But the liberal NYT has no such scruples. The killer quote is this:

For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.

A lot of people are scratching their heads as to why the New York Times would run this story.  For it is very out of character for a liberal paper to attack a liberal icon.  Could it be to air out this dirty laundry long before Hillary is a candidate for president?  What, that?!?  That’s old news.  We’ve talked about it already.  Talked it to death.  Nothing to see there.  So let’s focus on what’s important for the American people.

Or could it be that the left has grown tired of the Clintons?  After all, Barack Obama was the first black man elected president.  Something the young people can get excited about.  But will today’s young even know who the Clintons are?  Could be a problem for a party that historically gets the youth vote.  So is this the first sign that Hillary won’t be the anointed one in 2016?  And is this an opening broadside against Hillary?  A harbinger of what is yet to come?  Perhaps.  Or it could mean people are just not falling for the Clinton charm anymore.  Something our friends in the British media have no problem seeing through.

The cynical might infer from the NYT piece that the Clintons are willing to sell themselves, their image, and even their Foundation’s reputation in exchange for money to finance their personal projects. In Bill’s case, saving the world. In Hillary’s case, maybe, running for president.

It’s nothing new to report that there’s an unhealthy relationship in America between money and politics, but it’s there all the same. While the little people are getting hit with Obamacare, high taxes and joblessness, a class of businessmen enjoys ready access to politicians of both Left and Right that poses troubling questions for how the republic can continue to call itself a democracy so long as it functions as an aristocracy of the monied. Part of the reason why America’s elites get away with it is becuase they employ such fantastic salesmen. For too long now, Bill Clinton has pitched himself, almost without question, as a homespun populist: the Boy from Hope. The reality is that this is a man who – in May 1993 – prevented other planes from landing at LAX for 90 minues while he got a haircut from a Beverley Hills hairdresser aboard Air Force One. The Clintons are populists in the same way that Barack Obama is a Nobel prize winner. Oh, wait…

Wish America could see Clinton and Obama as plainly as this.  And not get lost in the gaze of their eyes.

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Banks, Keynes, Subprime Mortgage Crisis and Great Recession

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 11th, 2013

History 101

Bringing Borrowers and Lenders Together is a very Important Function of our Banks

Borrowers like low interest rates.  Savers (i.e., lenders) like high interest rates.  People who put money into the bank want to earn a high interest rate.  People who want to buy a house want a low interest rate.  As the interest rate will determine the price of the house they can buy.  Borrowers and lenders meet at banks.  Bankers offer a high enough interest rate to attract lenders (i.e., depositors).  But not too high to discourage borrowers.

This is the essence of the banking system.  And capital formation.  Alexander Hamilton said that money in people’s pockets was just money.  But when the people came together and deposited their money into a bank that money became capital.  Large sums of money a business could borrow to build a factory.  Which creates economic activity.  And jobs.  The United States became the world’s number one economic power with the capital formation of its banking system.  For a sound banking system is required for any advanced economy.  As it allows the rise of a middle class.  By providing investment capital for entrepreneurs.  And middle class jobs in the businesses they build.

So bringing borrowers and lenders together is a very important function of our banks.  And bankers have the heavy burden of determining saving rates.  And lending rates.  As well as determining the credit risk of potential borrowers.  Savers deposit their money to earn one rate.  So the bank can loan it out at another rate.  A rate that will pay depositors interest.  As well as cover the few loans that borrowers can’t pay back.  Which is why bankers have to be very careful to who they loan money to.

Keynesians make Recessions worse by Keeping Interest Rates low, Preventing a Correction from Happening

John Maynard Keynes changed this system of banking that made the United States the world’s number one economic power.  We call his economic theories Keynesian economics.  One of the changes from the classical school of economics we used to make the United States the world’s number one economic power was the manipulation of interest rates.  Instead of leaving this to free market forces in the banking system Keynesians said government should have that power.  And they took it.  Printing money to make more available to lend.  Thus bringing down interest rates.

And why did they want to bring down interest rates?  To stimulate economic activity.  At least, that was their goal.  To stimulate economic activity to pull us out of a recession.  To even eliminate recessions all together.  To eliminate the normal expansion and contraction of the economy.  By manipulating interest rates to continually expand the economy.  To accept a small amount of permanent inflation.  In exchange for a constantly expanding economy.  And permanent job creation.  That was the Keynesian intention.  But did it work?

No.  Since the Keynesians took over the economy we’ve had the Great Depression, the stagflation and misery of the Seventies, the savings and loans crisis of the Eighties, the irrational exuberance and the dot-com bubble crash of the Nineties, the subprime mortgage crisis and the Great Recession.  All of these were caused by the Keynesian manipulation of interest rates.  And the resulting recessions were made worse by trying to keep interest rates low to pull the economy out of recession.  Preventing the correction from happening.  Allowing these artificially low interest rates to cause even more damage.

The Government’s manipulation of Interest Rates gave us the Subprime Mortgage Crisis and the Great Recession

My friend’s father complained about the low interest rates during the Clinton administration.  For the savings rate offered by banks was next to nothing.  With the Federal Reserve printing so much money the banks didn’t need to attract depositors with high savings rates.  Worse for these savers was the inflation caused by printing all of this money eroded the purchasing power of their savings.  So they couldn’t earn anything on their savings.  And what savings they had bought less and less over time.  But mortgages were cheap.  And people were rushing to the banks to get a mortgage before those rates started rising again.

This was an interruption of normal market forces.  It changed people’s behavior.  People who were not even planning to buy a house were moved by those low interest rates to enter the housing market.  Then President Clinton pushed other people into the housing market with his Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending.  Getting people who were not even planning to buy a house AND who could not even afford to buy a house to enter the housing market.  Those artificially low interest rates pulled so many people into the housing market that this increased demand for houses started raising house prices.  A lot.  But it didn’t matter.  Not with those low interest rates.  Subprime lending.  Pressure by the Clinton administration to qualify the unqualified for mortgages.  And Fannie May and Freddie Mac buying those risky subprime mortgages from the banks, freeing them up to make more risky mortgages.  This scorching demand pushed housing prices into the stratosphere.

A correction was long overdue.  But the Federal Reserve kept pushing that correction off by keeping interest rates artificially low.  But eventually inflation started to appear from all that money creation.  And the Federal Reserve had no choice but to raise interest rates to tamp out that inflation.  But when they did it caused a big problem for those with subprime mortgages.  Those who had adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).  For when interest rates went up so did their mortgage payments.  Beyond their ability to pay them.  So they defaulted on their mortgages.  A lot of them.  Which caused an even bigger problem.  All those mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought?  They sold them to Wall Street.  Who chopped them up into collateralized debt obligations.  Financial instruments backed by historically the safest of all investments.  The home mortgage.  Only these weren’t your father’s mortgage.  These were risky subprime mortgages.  But they sold them to unsuspecting investors as high yield and low-risk investments.  And when people started defaulting on their mortgages these investments became worthless.  Which spread the financial crisis around the world.  On top of all of this the housing bubble burst.  And those house prices fell back down from the stratosphere.  Leaving many homeowners with mortgages greater than the corrected value of their house.

It was the government’s manipulation of interest rates that gave us the subprime mortgage crisis.  The Great Recession.  And the worst recovery since that following the Great Depression.  All the result of Keynesian economics.  And the foolhardy belief that you can make recessions a thing of the past.

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