The European Central Bank taking Steps to make the Eurozone Crisis Worse

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

To increase the money supply central banks can do a few different things.  To stimulate economic activity.  They can lower reserve requirements to stimulate money creation via fractional reserve banking.  They can print money.  And they can buy bonds with money they create that they inject into the economy with their bond purchases.  These actions will put more money into the economy.  In hopes people will use it to generate economic activity.  Of course there is a tradeoff.  Increasing the money supply can also create inflation.  And often does.  Unless the economy is so far into the toilet that no one spends any money even with all of this new money in the economy (see ECB in ‘panic’, say former chief economist Juergen Stark posted 9/22/2002 on The Telegraph).

“The break came in 2010. Until then everything went well,” Juergen Stark, the German who resigned from the ECB in late 2011 after criticising its earlier round of buying up of sovereign debt, told Austrian daily Die Presse in an interview.

“Then the ECB began to take on a new role, to fall into panic. It gave in to outside pressure … pressure from outside Europe.”

Mr Stark said the ECB’s new plan to buy up unlimited amounts of eurozone states’ bonds, announced on September 6, on the secondary market to bring down their borrowing rates was misguided.

“Together with other central banks, the ECB is flooding the market, posing the question not only about how the ECB will get its money back, but also how the excess liquidity created can be absorbed globally,” Mr Stark said.

“It can’t be solved by pressing a button. If the global economy stabilises, the potential for inflation has grown enormously.”

The European Central Bank (ECB) wasn’t trying to stimulate economic activity with these bond purchases.  What they were trying to do was throw a lifeline to those nations in the Eurozone about to go belly up because no one will buy their bonds.  Because the chances of them ever repaying their enormous debts are slim to none.  Because of this these indebted countries have to offer very high interest rates to entice anyone to take a chance buying their risky bonds.  These high interest rates, though, were hurting these countries.  Increasing their financial woes.  And pushing them ever closer to bankruptcy.  So the ECB caved.  And bought their worthless bonds.  By doing something only a central bank can do.  Create money out of thin air.

These additional Euros thrown into the money supply could very well end up depreciating the Euro.  And sparking off inflation.  Which monetary expansion ultimately does.  Unless an economy is so far into the toilet that no one will spend this additional money.  And it just sits in the bank.  But if the economy does turn around there will be a lot more money available to borrow.  At exceptionally low interest rates.  So low that some will borrow it because of those low interest rates.  Which could spark off inflation.  Helping the Eurozone to settle back into recession.

This is not going to help anyone in the Eurozone.  Especially those staring down bankruptcy.  Because this won’t cut spending.  This won’t reduce any deficits.  And this won’t lower any debt.  All of the old problems that caused their problems will still be there.  Along with a new problem.  Inflation.  Guaranteeing that things will get worse in the Eurozone before they get better.

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‘More Taxes, Regulations, Uncertainty and Spending’ is the Mantra of the Obama Administration

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 21st, 2011

Obama’s Proposed Aviation Fees will Fall Predominantly on the People who can Least Afford It

In Obama‘s deficit reduction plan he plans to tax the rich.  Those who can most afford it.  Rich people.  And by rich people he means anyone who has any money to spend (see Airline groups attack Obama proposals to boost fees for aviation security, air traffic control by Associated Press posted 9/21/2011 on The Washington Post).

The aviation fees are part of Obama’s deficit-cutting plan that was released Tuesday. The plan would:

— raise the passenger security fee — now $5 to $10 per round trip — to $15 by 2017 and give the Homeland Security Department the power to push it higher.

— impose a surcharge of $100 per flight to help pay for air traffic control.

But college students fly.  Middle class families fly on vacation.  Non-rich people everywhere fly to visit family members that have moved away.  A lot of people fly.  And an interesting tidbit about the flying public?  They’re not all rich.

The rich people that Obama wants to tax?  Because they can most afford it?  Those well-to-do folk who fly those private jets?  Well, a lot of them do just that.  Fly private jets.  And, therefore, do NOT fly on commercial planes.  So they won’t be paying these new taxes/fees.  So these taxes/fees will fall predominantly on the people who can least afford it.  Imagine that.

The Air Transport Association, which represents large airlines, said it’s unfair for airlines and passengers to pay for security against terror attacks that target the U.S. and not the airlines themselves. The trade group says a typical $300 round-trip ticket already includes $60 in taxes and fees.

The Regional Airline Association, a group of smaller carriers, said the fees could lead to a loss of flights to smaller cities. The group’s president, Roger Cohen, said the $100 surcharge would cost more than regional airlines earned last year, threatening service to smaller cities.

The groups also complained that some of the money raised from airlines and passengers would be used to pay down the federal budget deficit and not to improve the air-travel system.

The airlines have a vested interest in protecting their planes.  Because they bought them.  And planes that blow up or crash in terrorist attacks don’t help the bottom line.  There’s the loss of an expensive airplane.  And the future revenue from that airplane.  The cost of replacing that airplane.  And the lost business from passengers who tend to shy away from an airline whose planes are easy pickings for terrorists.

So let them hire a security contractor to secure their planes.  Using the Israeli model.  Ask very pointed questions and observe people’s responses.  It works well for the Israelis.  Couldn’t be any worse than what the TSA is doing.  I mean, what passengers are going to complain about being groped less?

The administration estimated that boosting passenger security fees will raise $24.9 billion over 10 years. It proposed to spend $15 billion of that to reduce federal debt.

This is telling.  The airlines did not run up that federal debt. So there’s something really troubling about this.  Taking $15 billion from the airlines under the auspices of national security.  Just so they can continue their irresponsible spending ways in Washington.  This is no different than an addict stealing from his mother’s purse to support his habit.

This is Washington’s problem.  Not the airlines.  Washington has a spending problem.  And they can’t stop spending.  Or simply choose not to.  Instead they look for other people to steal from.  Like an addict.  While denying that they have a problem.  And always blaming others.  Like the rich who don’t pay their fair share.  And by rich they mean anyone that has any money to spend.

Tax Cuts Stimulate, not Keynesian Stimulus Spending Funded by Taxes

So how bad is this spending?  How much of a debt problem has it given us?  That the president is shaking down the airlines for $15 billion (see Committee Searches for Economic ‘Tipping Point’; Prefer Not to Find It by Jim Angle posted 9/20/2011 on Fox News)?

“We know that the debt is now 100 percent — approximately 100 percent of (gross domestic product),” said Allan Meltzer, a professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “That doesn’t include the unfunded liabilities. It doesn’t include (mortgage lenders)Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It doesn’t include a number of other things.”

By unfunded liabilities, Meltzer means entitlement programs. Social Security and Medicare alone have $46 trillion in unfunded liabilities, meaning that much more is promised in benefits than the government — and taxpayers — have as a plan to pay for them.

Oh.  It’s that bad.  We owe a dollar for every dollar our economy produces.  But it’s even worse than this.  All of those unfunded liabilities that don’t appear in the official budget.  Fannie and Freddie.  And let’s not forget the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.  Which are filled only with IOUs from Uncle Sam.  Because Uncle Sam spent our money.  That money we put aside with each paycheck.  Those FICA and Medicare withholdings.  That money they forced us to save.  Because we were untrustworthy with our own money.  As they apparently are, too.

Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, argues that U.S. debt is so far out of control that it must be contained soon.

“We’ve had five trillion (in) deficit spending since 2008, the most enormous sort of Keynesian stimulus you can imagine, and yet we’ve had slower growth than any time since World War II. So I don’t think spending helps.”

So the government owes more money than taxpayers can fund.  And yet that didn’t stop them from spending $5 trillion more.  For stimulus.  Which is just code for throwing money at political cronies.  I mean, it’s obvious that it didn’t stimulate anything.  Because the economy is still in the toilet.

And there’s a very good reason for that.  Because tax cuts stimulate.  Not Keynesian stimulus spending funded by taxes.

Meltzer pointed to three “fiscal changes that really did enormous good.” One was the tax cuts from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the most effective part of which were business tax cuts.

“They got the biggest bang for the buck,” he said.

The second were the Reagan-era tax cuts which came in two rounds and boosted a flagging economy. Meltzer said a completely different option worked well too.

“(The) third policy that gave people confidence were the Clinton tax increases, which assured people that their future tax rates were not going to go up, that they had seen what they were going to have to take, and there wouldn’t be anymore.”

Meltzer said the increases gave people certainty about what tax rates would be, which reassured businesses they wouldn’t go higher, allowing employers to plan and create jobs with confidence.

The Clinton tax increases?  That’s not why the Nineties were booming.  It was because of greedy capitalists.  Looking to strike it rich in the dot-com boom.  The economy was smoking hot because of irrational exuberance.  Not higher taxes.  And the budget went into surplus when all those dot-com people cashed in their stock options.  And they paid a boatload of capital gains taxes.  Before the dot-com bubble burst.  And threw the economy into recession.

But he’s right on the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts.  Both used good Austrian supply-side economics.  Which exploded economic activity.  And similar policies could do that again.  If we would just stop with the Keynesian nonsense.  And the belief that crippling regulations will spur economic growth.

Business Owners Hate Uncertainty because, Unlike Uncle Sam, they can’t Print Money

And speaking of regulation, remember the Dodd-Frank act?  Have you read it?  Probably not.  For I doubt anyone in Congress has read it in its entirety (see Dodd-Frank and Uncertainty by Veronique de Rugy posted 9/20/2011 on National Review).

Remember how President Obama promised that the Dodd-Frank bill would provide certainty, stability and growth…?

It’s 1,623 pages long. It is very heavy. If it could fit it in my purse, I could use it as a protective weapon. Whatever else this will do, however, it will not make lending cheaper or credit more readily available, and it will not protect us from another financial crisis. And it will not protect consumers or taxpayers.

What it will do, and already does, is continue injecting gigantic uncertainty into the economy, paralyzing entrepreneurship and job creation. Imagine how long it will take for all the rules to be written and for U.S. businesses to figure out how they are supposed to operate from now on. The vagueness of the law as written means that even business owners and consumers who have the courage to pick up this book and try to figure out what’s in their future won’t get the answers they are looking for.

Really, is there any doubt that some of the $2 trillion in cash that companies are sitting on is a direct result of this uncertainty?

That’s right.  If you don’t know what tomorrow may bring you save your money.  You deleverage.  Pay down debt.  And hoard cash.  Because cash is king.  It’s the only thing you can pay your employees with.  The only thing you can pay your suppliers with.  The only thing you can pay for your insurance with.  And it’s the only thing you can pay Uncle Sam with.  So if you don’t have enough of it around during bad times you may not be around for the good times.  When they return.  If they return.

Business owners hate uncertainty.  Because, unlike Uncle Sam, they can’t print money.  So they have to be very careful with what they have.  To survive things like recessions.  Depressions.  And Dodd-Frank.

In these Tough Economic Times, it is the People that are Suffering, not Rich Liberals

‘More taxes, more regulations and more uncertainty’ is the mantra of the Obama administration.  And, of course, more spending.  Always more spending.  Is it any surprise the economy is not responding well to Obama’s policies?

There is no way businesses will grow in this environment.  Or create jobs.  And without new jobs the economy will never recover.  People understand this.  That’s why Democrats are losing elections.  Even in New York.  It’s a repudiation of Obama.  And the liberal Democrat agenda.

For though the mainstream media has been a loyal propaganda outlet for the liberal elite, the people aren’t buying it anymore.  For in these tough economic times, it is the people that are suffering.  Because of Obama’s policies.  While rich liberal elitists are living well everywhere.  And continue to fly on their private jets.  While the common people will be paying Obama’s new aviation fees.

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Obama uses a Joint Session of Congress for a 2012 Campaign Speech on Jobs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 9th, 2011

The Obama Jobs Speech was the Same Old Same Old with the Angry turned up to Eleven

The big speech was last night.  President Obama‘s Jobs speech.  After waiting with bated breath.  For him to come back from vacation.  On Martha’s Vineyard.  Where no one wants for a job.  Or anything.

What you thought of it depends on your party affiliation.  If you’re a Big Government liberal Democrat that wants to stick it to the rich, I’m sure you liked it.  If you were looking for substance, I’m sure you were disappointed.  It was just the same old same old.  With the angry turned up to eleven.

Here are some selections from the transcript with commentary (see Obama jobs speech transcript: Full text (as delivered) posted 9/8/2011 on Politico).

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share — where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in a while. If you did the right thing, you could make it. Anybody could make it in America.

For decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode. They have seen the decks too often stacked against them. And they know that Washington has not always put their interests first.

Yeah, it used to be like that.  Until greed set in.  Government greed.  Their insatiable want of private sector wealth.  And power over our lives.  High taxes.  And punishing regulations.  These have hurt American businesses that once provided those fair shakes.  It’s President Obama and his party that have been making this a business unfriendly nation.  Giving American businesses an unpleasant choice who struggle to compete.  Either close.  Or conduct business in a country that lets them compete.

Just look at the effect of Obamacare.  All hiring is frozen.  And those who can get Obamacare waivers are.  The communist Chinese don’t have these problems.

The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy.

He says as he scolds the American people.  And our Republican representatives.  Yelling at us.  Scowling at us.  Fed up with us.  Because he is not getting his way.

Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers.

Absolutely right.  And the best thing Washington can to is to stop helping.  Their tax and regulatory policies are smothering economic growth.  You want to help?  Then get out of the way.  And let business do what business does best.  Grow.  And create jobs.  To meet demand.  That the market is demanding.  Not building what the government thinks is best.

I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for.

That urgent is it?  Urgent.  But not so urgent to cancel your luxurious vacation on the exclusive Martha’s Vineyard?  Where the rich and famous vacation to get away from people like us.  You know, if it could wait until after Martha’s Vineyard, it can’t be that important.

Democrats and Republicans support everything in this plan?  If so why isn’t this already law?  If not important before, why is it now?  Some two and a half years into your presidency?  And some two and a half years after applying your laser-like focus on job creation?

It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for long-term unemployed.

Jobs for teachers?  There’s nothing stimulative about that.  They don’t hire workers.  And the kids they teach aren’t going to hire any workers for a very long time.  This is just more money for teachers’ unions.  Which will be funneled back to the Democrat Party via union dues.

We pay teachers with tax dollars.  Paid by the taxpayers.  This is money the government transfers from the private sector economy to the public sector teachers.  So before teachers can stimulate with this money the private sector has to lose it first.  They take a large sum of money from the private sector.  And give it to the teachers.  Less administration costs to make this all happen.  To stimulate the private sector economy.  Which means the teachers spend less money than the private sector would have if they were able to keep their money.  This is a net loss of economic activity.  And is not stimulative.

Teachers are like government.  They provide an important service.  But they are taxpayer financed.  And like anything taxpayer financed, they are a drag on the economy.

More shovel-ready construction projects?  You told us yourself there is no such thing as a shovel-ready project.  This won’t be stimulative either.  Construction projects just don’t happen overnight.  Even if you get rid of all the regulatory red tape.  Projects take months to engineer.  If you cut that short there will be cost overruns to correct all the things missed in the engineering process.  Then there’s the asbestos abatement study.  Lead abatement.  Environmental impact studies.  At best these will start hiring in time for the 2012 election campaign.  Which no doubt is the goal.

It will provide — it will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. (Applause.) It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and if they hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away. (Applause.)

If tax breaks are good for businesses then just cut tax rates.  A tax rate cut is more stimulative than a onetime tax credit.  A tax credit does not instill business confidence.  Because hiring a new employee is far more costly than any onetime tax credit.  Especially with Obamacare bearing down on small businesses.  It’s these permanent costs of current tax and regulatory policies.  These are what are keeping business skittish about expanding and hiring.  And a onetime tax credit won’t change that.  A repeal of Obamacare would probably spark some business growth.  But not a targeted tax credit.

Pass this jobs bill — pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or if they raise workers’ wages.

Wishful thinking.  Whoever came up with this is an economic simpleton.  He might as well have asked everyone to voluntary pay more for their groceries.  So the stores will hire more people with all that additional profit.  Employees are another cost of doing business.  Voluntarily increasing these costs above the market cost will only make these businesses less competitive in the market place.  Threatening their business.  And all the jobs they currently provide.

It’s not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that’s in this plan. You should pass it right away. (Applause.)

Yes, payroll tax cuts are good.  They reduce the cost of doing business.  And let employees keep more of their earnings.  So cutting Social Security and Medicare taxes will help.  But this will only set up higher taxes down the road.  Because these programs are going broke.  Businesses understand this.  They know it will only be temporary.  And illusionary.  For they will pay more in the future.  So they aren’t going to hire more now.

Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America? (Applause.)

No.  It didn’t.  We took over the title of economic superpower from the British before the federal highway bill.  And private industry built the railroads.  And robber barons.  Sure, government helped.  But it didn’t lead the way.

China?  Really?  Why is China building so much infrastructure?  Because they have cheap labor.  They couldn’t do what they’re doing if their labor costs were the same as ours.  And that high-speed rail system?  They’re now questioning quality and safety.

And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating.

According to my calendar it’s September.  And I’m pretty sure it’s September throughout the country.  Which means what?  That’s right.  The kids just went back to school.  Which means the next round of school renovation projects will take place starting next June.  When the kids get out of school.  Not very stimulative if you ask me.  Unless you just want a lot of people working on these school renovations during the 2012 election campaign.

And to make sure the money is properly spent, we’re building on reforms we’ve already put in place. No more earmarks. No more boondoggles.

Just like you promised your $800 billion stimulus wouldn’t contain any pork or earmarks?  When it was mostly pork and earmarks?  Fool us once shame on you.  Fool us twice shame on us.

And we’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it will do for the economy. (Applause.)

Great.  Nothing guarantees to speed things up like making it go through a new government bureaucracy.  Which can better send money to friends of the administration.  Just like that $800 billion stimulus.

Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.

Let’s crunch some numbers.  Say you hire someone.  Pay them $30,000.  Your half of Social Security and Medicare taxes come to $2,295 for the year.  Now factor in your other costs.  State and federal unemployment insurance.  Workers’ compensation insurance.  Health care.  Etc.  Not to mention their salary.  It adds up to a lot of money.  Far more than that $4,000 tax credit.  For hiring someone they don’t need to support their current level of business.  And you know what?  A smart business owner isn’t going to do this.

The plan also extends unemployment insurance for another year. (Applause.) If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance, and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a devastating blow to this economy.

The government has to take that money out of the private sector economy first.  Before it can pay unemployment benefits.  Someone is still spending that money.  Just a different someone.  By the time you add in the cost of administering those benefits, there is a net loss in economic activity. 

Unemployment benefits help the unemployed while they look for another job.  They don’t stimulate the economy.

The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I am asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan — a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run. (Applause.)

Standard and Poor’s wanted to see $4 trillion in real spending cuts.  Not cuts in the out-years that will disappear in the next budget deal.  Real cuts.  If not they said they would downgrade the U.S. sovereign debt rating.  They couldn’t do it.  The best they could do was a $1 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years.  And by golly if S&P didn’t downgrade our credit rating.

And the special commission is to find another half trillion in spending cuts?  On top of the $1.5 trillion they were already looking for?  That Congress was unable to find?  And now they have to find $2 trillion?  Yeah, like that’s going to happen.  That’s a plan with but one goal.  Failure. 

With this kind of spending, a deficit reduction plan can only mean one thing.  More taxes.  Just what the economy needs.  Not.

While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix. (Laughter.) We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake and where everybody pays their fair share.

An executive secretary probably earns something north of $60,000 a year.  That puts her in a top marginal tax bracket of 25%.  Crunching the numbers and this executive secretary will pay $11,125 in federal taxes.  Now let’s assume Warren Buffet has a half billion dollars in investments that pay a return of 8%.  That’s a capital gain of about $40 million.  Taxed at a paltry 15% capital gains tax that’s a measly $6 million in federal taxes.  Funny.  His secretary has a higher tax rate.  But Buffet pays approximately 53,833% more in tax dollars.  I don’t know how you can say one person paying $40 million in taxes isn’t paying his fair share.

Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can’t afford to do both. Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? (Applause.) Right now, we can’t afford to do both.

This isn’t political grandstanding. This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. (Laughter.)

This is nothing but political grandstanding and class warfare.  And rather Orwellian.  In Nineteen Eighty Four, they just changed the meaning of words to control the people.  Such as slavery is freedom.  But changing the meaning of words doesn’t change what slavery is.  It’s still slavery.  No matter what you call it.  And political grandstanding and class warfare is political grandstanding and class warfare.  Even if you say it isn’t.

Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama and Colombia and South Korea -– while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.

America can’t compete with China because Chinese labor is cheaper.  So to make American products more competitive the president wants to subsidize our high cost of labor.  With American tax dollars.  Spread the higher cost of U.S. goods throughout the American economy.  Leaving everyone with less money for their own personal needs.  So we can keep Big Union working.  And supporting the Democrat Party.  Which will only increase government spending.  Our deficit.  And our debt.

To subsidize Big Labor they’ll have to pill that money out of the private sector economy first.  So you subtract X from the private sector economy.  And give X to Big Union.  Less an administration fee, of course.  Meaning that there will be a net loss of economic activity.

If we provide the right incentives, the right support — and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules — we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that we sell all around the world.

The free market doesn’t need government incentives and support.  They did fine and dandy in the old days without any government help.  And making our trading partners play by the rules?  If you could do that they would be playing by the rules already.  There’s nothing you can do to make China stop undervaluing the yuan.  Unless you want to throw up protective tariffs on Chinese goods.  Of course they’ll retaliate.  Which will only make everything more expensive for the American consumer.  Besides, we already tried this.  Just before the Great Depression.

You really want to talk about the government picking winners and losers (i.e., incentives and support)?  Really?  After the Solyndra bankruptcy?  And the FBI raid on their executive homes?

Well, I agree that we can’t afford wasteful spending, and I’ll work with you, with Congress, to root it out. And I agree that there are some rules and regulations that do put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it. (Applause.) That’s why I ordered a review of all government regulations.

Didn’t Al Gore already reinvent government?  To root out wasteful spending and regulations?  Yeah, he did.  Or tried.  Turns out that’s a lot easier said than done.  Especially when you don’t really mean it.  I mean, come on, the Left lives and dies for these costly regulations.  They’re not just going to sit idly by and let them get repealed.  Not when they fund Democrat candidates in elections.

But what we can’t do — what I will not do — is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.

Really?  So you’re not going to let anyone do what you did?  Like Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”  When you used the worst recession since the Great Depression to pass your stimulus?

Basic protections are one thing.  But your regulatory zeal has shut down this economy.  Just ask the Gulf oil workers.  If you can find any.  Because they aren’t working on rigs in the Gulf anymore.  Thanks to you.

We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party. But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future — a Republican President who mobilized government to build the Transcontinental Railroad — (applause) — launch the National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges. (Applause.) And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.

The seeds of the first transcontinental railroad were sowed back in the 1830s.  Lincoln became president in 1861.  The NAS was established by an Act of Congress.  Land grant colleges came into being in with the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.  First introduced in 1857.  Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.  But he did not create these other acts of Congress.  Congress did. 

And the transcontinental railroad?  That was Congress, too.  And one of the most corrupt Congresses in history.  The incentives and support Congress gave encouraged them to build track on ice.  Zigzag to cover as much land as possible to claim the mineral rights beneath. And when east and west finally met, they kept building track.  Parallel to each other.  To keep collecting money for track mileage laid.  And the cost overruns made a lot of Congressmen wealthy.  No, this railroad was not America’s finest hour.

How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip?

The government Internet (DARPA) was nothing more than file sharing and email for scientists.  If private enterprise and entrepreneurs didn’t step in that’s what the Internet would still be. 

The computer chip?  Funny. I thought that was Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor.  Which was ultimately based on the transistor.  Invented in 1947 by John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William B. Shockley of Bell Labs.  Who replaced vacuum tubes with semiconductors everywhere.  Except in high-end audio amplifiers.

What kind of country would this be if this chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? (Applause.) How many Americans would have suffered as a result?

Actually they’d probably be a lot better off.  As far as a return on investment, Social Security is one of the worst retirement investments out there.  Why?  Because it’s not an investment.  Your money goes into the Social Security trust fund.  Where it ‘waits’ for your retirement.  But before you do, the government takes that money and spends it.  Leaving an IOU in the trust fund.  This is no IRA.  No 401(k).  No mutual fund.  It’s not even a savings bond.  In fact, if you die before you collect, all that money you paid in is kept by the government.  It doesn’t go to your heirs with the rest of your estate.  Like an IRA, a 401(k) or a mutual fund would.

But Social Security has been a real success.  For the government.  Because it has made generations of people dependent on government in their retirement.  Who live in fear of losing their benefits.  And will do anything to keep those benefits coming.  Even if it means screwing their own children.  And their grandchildren.  They’re so frightened by the Democrats that they will vote Democrat.  No matter how much the Democrats steal from future generations.

I don’t pretend that this plan will solve all our problems. It should not be, nor will it be, the last plan of action we propose.

That’s right.  You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.  And they will milk this for all it’s worth.  Stimulus.  Bailing out the UAW pension funds (i.e., the auto bailout).  Financial reform.  Obamacare.  Everything they’ve always wanted.  But could never get through the normal legislative process.

The Problem with Barack Obama is that he’s a Keynesian who wants to Grow the Government

Once again the professor scolds those who don’t agree with him.  And offers more of the same.  Which has already failed to reverse the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And it’s not going to work this time.  How do we know this?  Because if this stuff worked it would have worked the first time.

And it would be nice to see the plan before our representatives pass the plan.  For as CBO said before, you just can’t score a speech.  We need to see the numbers.  And the leaps of faith.  But I guess it’s hard to quantify soaring rhetoric.  Especially when you’re offering the same thing.  That you’re trying to make sound different this time.

The problem with Barack Obama is that he’s a Keynesian.  With one slight difference.  Keynesian stimulus is supposed to be temporary.  Whereas Obama’s stimulus gets added into the baseline budget.  Making his stimulus spending permanent.  His number one goal isn’t growing the economy.  It’s growing the government.  That’s why his polices don’t help the economy.  But they sure have grown the government.  And in Obama’s book that’s mission accomplished. 

But he sure would like a second term to continue the fun.  But I just don’t see that happening.  For I can’t see how he can fool that many people into believing that they’re better off after four years of his policies.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #27: “Yes, it’s the economy, but the economy is not JUST monetary policy, stupid.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 17th, 2010

DURING UNCERTAIN ECONOMIC times, people act differently.  If business is down where you work, your company may start laying off people.  Your friends and co-workers.  Even you.  If there is a round of layoffs and you survive, you should feel good but don’t.  Because it could have been you.  And very well can be you.  Next time.  Within a year.  In the next few months.  Any time.  You just don’t know.  And it isn’t a good feeling.

So, should this be you, what do you do?  Run up those credit cards?  By a new car?  Go on a vacation?  Take out a home equity loan to pay for new windows?  To remodel the kitchen?  Buy a hot tub?  Or do you cut back on your spending and start hoarding cash?  Just in case.  Because those unemployment payments may not be enough to pay for your house payment, your property taxes, your car payment, your insurances, your utilities, your groceries, your cable bill, etc.  And another loan payment won’t help.  So, no.  You don’t run up those credit cards.  Buy that car.  You don’t go on vacation.  And you don’t take that home equity loan.  Instead, you hunker down.  Sacrifice.  Ride it out.  Prepare for the worse.  Hoard your cash.  Enough to carry you through a few months of unemployment.  And shred those pre-approved credit card offers.  Even at those ridiculously low, introductory interest rates.

To help hammer home this point, you think of your friends who lost their jobs.  Who are behind on their mortgages.  Who are in foreclosure.  Whose financial hardships are stressing them out to no ends.  Suffering depression.  Harassed by collection agencies.  Feeling helpless.  Not knowing what to do because their financial problems are just so great.  About to lose everything they’ve worked for.  No.  You will not be in their position.  If you can help it.  If it’s not already too late.

AND SO IT is with businesses.  People who run businesses are, after all, people.  Just like you.  During uncertain economic times, they, too, hunker down.  When sales go down, they have less cash to pay for the cost of those sales.  As well as the overhead.  And their customers are having the same problems.  So they pay their bills slower.  Trying to hoard cash.  Receivables grow from 30 to 45 to 90 days.  So you delay paying as many of your bills as possible.  Trying to hoard cash.  But try as you might, your working capital is rapidly disappearing.  Manufacturers see their inventories swell.  And storing and protecting these inventories costs money.  Soon they must cut back on production.  Lay off people.  Idle machinery.  Most of which was financed by debt.  Which you still have to service.  Or you sell some of those now nonproductive assets.  So you can retire some of that debt.  But cost cutting can only take you so far.  And if you cut too much, what are you going to do when the economy turns around?  If it turns around?

You can borrow money.  But what good is that going to do?  Add debt, for one.  Which won’t help much.  You might be able to pay some bills, but you still have to pay back that borrowed money.  And you need sales revenue for that.  If you think this is only a momentary downturn and sales will return, you could borrow and feel somewhat confidant that you’ll be able to repay your loan.  But you don’t have the sales now.  And the future doesn’t look bright.  Your customers are all going through what you’re going through.  Not a confidence builder.  So you’re reluctant to borrow.  Unless you really, really have to.  And if you really, really have to, it’s probably because you’re in some really, really bad financial trouble.  Just what a banker wants to see in a prospective borrower.

Well, not really.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite.  A banker will want to avoid you as if you had the plague.  Besides, the banks are in the same economy as you are.  They have their finger on the pulse of the economy.  They know how bad things really are.  Some of their customers are paying slowly.  A bad omen of things to come.  Which is making them really, really nervous.  And really, really reluctant to make new loans.  They, too, want to hoard cash.  Because in bad economic times, people default on loans.  Enough of them default and the bank will have to scramble to sell securities, recall loans and/or borrow money themselves to meet the demands of their depositors.  And if their timing is off, if the depositors demand more of their money then they have on hand, the bank will fail.  And all the money they created via fractional reserve banking will disappear.  Making money even scarcer and harder to borrow.  You see, banking people are, after all, just people.  And like you, and the business people they serve, they, too, hunker down during bad economic times.  Hoping to ride out the bad times.  And to survive.  With a minimum of carnage. 

For these reasons, businesses and bankers hoard cash during uncertain economic times.  For if there is one thing that spooks businesses and banks more than too much debt it’s uncertainty.  Uncertainty about when a recession will end.  Uncertainty about the cost of healthcare.  Uncertainty about changes to the tax code.  Uncertainty about new government regulations.  Uncertainty about new government mandates.  Uncertainty about retroactive tax changes.  Uncertainty about previous tax cuts that they may repeal.  Uncertainty about monetary policy.  Uncertainty about fiscal policy.  All these uncertainties can result with large, unexpected cash expenditures at some time in the not so distant future.  Or severely reduce the purchasing power of their customers.  When this uncertainty is high during bad economic times, businesses typically circle the wagons.  Hoard more cash.  Go into survival mode.  Hold the line.  And one thing they do NOT do is add additional debt.

DEBT IS A funny thing.  You can lay off people.  You can cut benefits.  You can sell assets for cash.  You can sell assets and lease them back (to get rid of the debt while keeping the use of the asset).  You can factor your receivables (sell your receivables at a discount to a 3rd party to collect).  You can do a lot of things with your assets and costs.  But that debt is still there.  As are those interest payments.  Until you pay it off.  Or file bankruptcy.  And if you default on that debt, good luck.  Because you’ll need it.  You may be dependent on profitable operations for the indefinite future as few will want to loan to a debt defaulter.

Profitable operations.  Yes, that’s the key to success.  So how do you get it?  Profitable operations?  From sales revenue.  Sales are everything.  Have enough of them and there’s no problem you can’t solve.  Cash may be king, but sales are the life blood pumping through the king’s body.  Sales give business life.  Cash is important but it is finite.  You spend it and it’s gone.  If you don’t replenish it, you can’t spend anymore.  And that’s what sales do.  It gets you profitable operations.  Which replenishes your cash.  Which lets you pay your bills.  And service your debt.

And this is what government doesn’t understand.  When it comes to business and the economy, they think it’s all about the cash.  That it doesn’t have anything to do with the horrible things they’re doing with fiscal policy.  The tax and spend stuff.  When they kill an economy with their oppressive tax and regulatory policies, they think “Hmmm.  Interest rates must be too high.”  Because their tax and spending sure couldn’t have crashed the economy.  That stuff is stimulative.  Because their god said so.  And that god is, of course, John Maynard Keynes.  And his demand-side Keynesian economic policies.  If it were possible, those in government would have sex with these economic policies.  Why?   Because they empower government.  It gives government control over the economy.  And us.

And that control extends to monetary policy.  Control of the money supply and interest rates.  The theory goes that you stimulate economic activity by making money easier to borrow.  So businesses borrow more.  Create more jobs.  Which creates more tax receipts.  Which the government can spend.  It’s like a magical elixir.  Interest rates.  Cheap money.  Just keep interest rates low and money cheap and plentiful and business will do what it is that they do.  They don’t understand that part.  And they don’t care.  They just know that it brings in more tax money for them to spend.  And they really like that part.  The spending.  Sure, it can be inflationary, but what’s a little inflation in the quest for ‘full employment’?  Especially when it gives you money and power?  And a permanent underclass who is now dependent on your spending.  Whose vote you can always count on.  And when the economy tanks a little, all you need is a little more of that magical elixir.  And it will make everything all better.  So you can spend some more.

But it doesn’t work in practice.  At least, it hasn’t yet.  Because the economy is more than monetary policy.  Yes, cash is important.  But making money cheaper to borrow doesn’t mean people will borrow money.  Homeowners may borrow ‘cheap’ money to refinance higher-interest mortgages, but they aren’t going to take on additional debt to spend more.  Not until they feel secure in their jobs.  Likewise, businesses may borrow ‘cheap’ money to refinance higher-interest debt.  But they are not going to add additional debt to expand production.  Not until they see some stability in the market and stronger sales.  A more favorable tax and regulatory environment.  That is, a favorable business climate.  And until they do, they won’t create new jobs.  No matter how cheap money is to borrow.  They’ll dig in.  Hold the line.  And try to survive until better times.

NOT ONLY WILL people and businesses be reluctant to borrow, so will banks be reluctant to lend.  Especially with a lot of businesses out there looking a little ‘iffy’ who may still default on their loans.  Instead, they’ll beef up their reserves.  Instead of lending, they’ll buy liquid financial assets.  Sit on cash.  Earn less.  Just in case.  Dig in.  Hold the line.  And try to survive until better times.

Of course, the Keynesians don’t factor these things into their little formulae and models.  They just stamp their feet and pout.  They’ve done their part.  Now it’s up to the greedy bankers and businessmen to do theirs.  To engage in lending.  To create jobs.  To build things.  That no one is buying.  Because no one is confident in keeping their job.  Because the business climate is still poor.  Despite there being cheap money to borrow.

The problem with Keynesians, of course, is that they don’t understand business.  They’re macroeconomists.  They trade in theory.  Not reality.  When their theory fails, it’s not the theory.  It’s the application of the theory.  Or a greedy businessman.  Or banker.  It’s never their own stupidity.  No matter how many times they get it wrong.

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