FT150: “The Left wants to extend tax hikes down to those earning $250,000 because there are just too few rich people to tax.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 29th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

If you Confiscated ALL Income from those Earning a Million+ it would be Less than HALF of the Average Obama Deficit

The fiscal cliff yadda yadda yadda the Democrats want to raise taxes and the Republicans’ mothers are whores.  That about summarizes the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The Democrats want to raise taxes.  The Republicans don’t because there is nothing that will kill off an economic recovery quicker than raising taxes.  And the Democrats are mean.  Calling the Republicans a lot of names.  And saying things about them that aren’t very nice.  So once again let’s look at the numbers to see what they say about federal income taxes.  The following numbers come from the IRS (see Table 3.  Number of Individual Income Tax Returns, Income, Exemptions and Deductions, Tax, and Average Tax, by Size of Adjusted Gross Income, Tax Years 2001-2010).

The Democrats keep saying that the Republicans want tax cuts for the rich paid for by the poor.  But according to these numbers that’s just not happening.  People who earned $15,000 or less paid 0.0% of all federal income taxes.  People who earned $30,000 or less paid less than 1% of all federal income taxes.  It’s the meaty center that paid the taxes.  Those who earned from $75,000 to $1 million submitted approximately 20.5% of all federal tax returns while they paid approximately 62.9% of all federal income taxes.

Now how about those rich people?  Those earning $1 million or more submitted approximately 0.19% of all tax returns.  Less than a quarter of one percent.  And yet they paid approximately 21.9% of all income taxes.  Is that fair?  At these high levels of income people pay basically the top marginal tax rate as only a very small fraction of their earnings falls outside this top rate.  So if we divide the total taxes paid by this 0.18% ($207 billion) by 0.35 (the 2010 top marginal tax rate) you get a total income of $590 billion.  So if you confiscated ALL of their earnings it would be less than HALF of the average Obama deficit ($1.324 trillion).  Meaning that it is IMPOSSIBLE to reduce the deficit with any tax rate on those earning $1 million or more.

The Rich may be paying Lower Tax Rates but they’re paying Far More Tax Dollars than most of Us

All right, so it won’t reduce the deficit.  But the Democrats say we must do this to be fair.  Meaning those earning more should pay more even if it’s only symbolic.  To punish success.  As if they’re not being punished already for their success.  We’ve all heard about Warren Buffet’s secretary paying a larger tax rate than he pays.  But talking percentages isn’t the same as talking dollars.  Because a small percentage on a much larger earnings amount will produce more tax revenue than a higher tax rate on a smaller earnings amount.  So let’s look at dollar amounts to see if the rich are paying their fair share.  Or whether we’re punishing them enough for their success.

The rich paid a smaller percentage of their earnings in taxes but paid far more in actual dollar amounts.  Which is the only thing that allows government to pay for things.  Dollars.  Let’s assume Warren Buffet’s secretary falls into the income range $50,000 to $75,000.  Who paid on average $4,310.92 in federal income taxes.  Now compare this to what rich people paid in income taxes.  Those earning from $1 million to $1.5 million paid on average $306,779 in federal income taxes.  Or more than 71 times what someone earning $50,000 to $75,000 paid.  Those earning $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 paid 102 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 paid 179 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 paid 407 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $10 million or more paid 1,389 times more than that lower income earner.

The rich may be paying lower tax rates but they’re paying far more tax dollars than most of us.  An inordinate amount.  If you look at it in terms of government services people consume (which is what taxes pay for) are those earning $10 million or more consuming 1,389 times the government services those earning $50,000 to $75,000 consume?  No.  If anything, they consume far less government services than most people.  Because they live the good life.  The good life their high earnings provide.  Being that the rich are paying far more than their fair share you can only conclude then that these excessive taxes are punitive.  To punish their success.

The only way to Achieve Real Deficit Reduction is to Increase Taxes on the Middle Class or Cut Spending

So what can we conclude?  The rich are paying more than their fair share of taxes.  The amount of tax dollars they’re paying could even qualify as being punitive.  As they are so great any further increase in rates on the rich is not likely to increase tax revenue.  First of all as they are already paying so much they will take every tax shelter advantage they can to minimize the further confiscation of their earnings.  But more important than that is that there are just so few rich people.  Even though the rich pay on average hundreds of times more in federal income taxes than that meaty center it’s the meaty center where most of the tax revenue comes from.  Because there are so many more people in the meaty center.  And by graphing the number of tax returns from each income bracket and the amount of tax revenue they pay we can understand why the Democrats are so adamant to raise taxes on those earning as little as $250,000.

The blue line (Series 1) is the number of tax returns filed in thousands of people for each income bracket (the left vertical axis).  The red line (Series 2) is the total tax revenue in millions of dollars each income bracket produces (the right vertical axis).  You can see the meaty center of tax revenue (from those earning $75,000 to $1 million).  And you can see the meaty center of those filing tax returns (form those earning $30,000 to $200,000).  As you can see the meaty center of tax filers and tax payers are not the same.  As the tax code shifts the tax burden onto the higher income earners.  And in this chart we can see why the Democrats want to increase tax rates on those earning $250,000 and more.

The drawback to progressive tax rates is that it shifts the tax burden onto fewer people.  Who must pay more in taxes than is their fair share.  And that worked for awhile until government grew so large.  But as our aging population has increased the costs of Medicare and Social Security (and soon Obamacare) there just aren’t enough rich people to tax to pay these soaring costs.  And they will have no choice but to shift the tax revenue graph to lower income people.  So they can capture more people (and incomes) under this graph.  Yes, they want to tax the rich more.  But only for the symbolism.  For once they’ve punished them by forcing them to pay their ‘fair’ share then they can raise tax rates on everyone else.  Which is the only way they have a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving real deficit reduction.  Increasing taxes on the middle class.  Well, that, or cutting spending.  Which could provide serious deficit reduction.  By shrinking the size of government. The very cause of those massive deficits.  And accumulated debt.  But shrinking government is, of course, crazy talk for those on the Left.  Who would rather let the country sink into insolvency before agreeing to that.

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Hope, Fear and Lies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 13th, 2012

Politics 101

The Founding Fathers were Gentlemen of the Enlightenment with Sound Philosophical Beliefs

Politicians have to win elections.  They have to persuade and convince people to vote for them.  Once upon a time that meant vigorous debate where candidates explained why their way was the better way.  Going right back to the Founding.  Where Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson bitterly contested each other’s vision for the country.  And the debate often got dirty.  Such as when Hamilton’s political enemies exposed his extramarital affair with the con-woman Mrs. Reynolds who seduced Hamilton with the purpose of blackmailing him.  Who wanted to use this information to say he was involved in a bigger scheme with Mr. Reynolds in defrauding the federal government.

Treasury Secretary Hamilton met three gentlemen of the political opposition in private.  Admitting to his affair.  And proved beyond a shadow of doubt that all money paid to the blackmailers came from Hamilton’s private funds.  Not a penny came from the Treasury Department.  According to 18th century gentlemanly behavior the matter was closed.  The affair was a personal matter.  It would be imprudent to make it a public issue.  But upon Hamilton’s retirement a bitter political enemy leaked this information to a scandalmonger.  James Callender.  Who wrote a book exposing this private matter.  The History of the United States for the Year 1796.  Jefferson had helped to finance Callender.  And reveled in Hamilton’s scandal.  But when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.  And Jefferson did.  For Callender published articles confirming rumors that Jefferson had fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings.

Politics then were just as dirty as they are today.  And often crossed the line.  But underneath all the scandals and mudslinging there were philosophical principles.  They did these things for principle.  For they feared the opposition and what their policies would do the fledgling nation.  There was political patronage and political corruption.  But above that was a battle of competing political ideology.  Waged by men well read in history.  Familiar with John Locke.  And Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu.  Icons of the Enlightenment.  Whose philosophies can be found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.  These Founding Fathers were rich propertied men.  Established in their careers.  Who had little left to prove.  These gentlemen of the Enlightenment did what they did not for money or political favor.  So they could live a more comfortable life.   They did these things out of principle.  Based on sound philosophical beliefs.

The Democrats try to Scare the Bejesus out of People to Get and Keep the Republicans out of Office

It’s not like that anymore.  Instead of rich successful people entering politics for selfless reasons people of no accomplishments enter politics to become rich and powerful.  Who have no principles.  Who will buy and sell anyone to remain in power.  Of course they don’t campaign by saying this.  Instead, their campaigns are based on hopes and fears.  And the telling a lot of lies.  With little principle.  Or sound philosophical beliefs.

In 2008 President Obama campaigned on hope and change.  To get away from the partisan politics of the past.  Democrats continue to peddle hope.  Health care for everyone.  College degrees for everyone.  High-paying green jobs and energy independence.  A return of manufacturing jobs.  Spending our way out of recession with Keynesian stimulus spending.  A bigger social safety net.  Talking to our enemies instead of going to war with them.  And making them like us by resolving all of our differences with diplomacy.  That we can have whatever we want.  If only we got the Republicans out of office.

While at the same time the Democrats try to scare the bejesus out of people if we don’t get and keep the Republicans out of office.  For the Republicans want to take away birth control and abortion from women.  And keep them from being independent and having careers.  The poor will remain poor.  The rich will get richer.  And the hungry will die.  Slavery will be reinstituted.  The Republicans will tax the middle class more so they can give tax breaks to rich corporations.  They will burden the nation with massive deficits with their tax cuts for the rich.  Global warming will continue unchecked.  Our drinking water will be polluted.  And our atmosphere will become poisonous to breathe.  All because Republicans put profit before people.

The Left tells a lot of Lies to Win Elections because all they have are Failed Keynesian Economic Policies

Republicans, on the other hand, peddle the hope that we can return to the prosperity of Ronald Reagan.  By cutting tax rates.  For throughout U.S. history whenever the government cut tax rates prosperity followed.  As well as flooded the treasury with tax dollars.  For contrary to the fear peddling of the Democrats cuts in tax rates have historically increased tax revenue.  And can again.  As Ronald Reagan campaigned in 1984, it can be Morning in America again.  We can be prouder, stronger and better.

While at the same time Republicans like to scare people with national security issues.  The Clinton administration handled terrorist attacks against America in the courts.  Which emboldened America’s enemies into an escalation of attacks resulting in 9/11.  The one in 2001.  Not the attack in 2012 on the U.S consulate in Benghazi.  While the Democrats believe our enemies hate us because George W. Bush made them hate us with his cowboy swaggering ways.  And that was the only reason.  Even though Bush had little time to swagger before the attacks on 9/11.  Those in 2001.  Not the ones in 2012.  The Republicans say our enemies hate us for who we are.  As we are too Christian.  And allow our women to have careers and use birth control and abortion.  Something our enemies won’t allow their women to have.

President Obama did not end partisan politics.  He lied about that.  For his administration has been perhaps the most partisan in U.S. history.  With no interest whatsoever in compromise.  He and the Democrats continue to lie about the Reagan tax cuts.  And the Bush tax cuts.  Blaming tax cuts for all our woes.  And our deficits.  Despite those tax cuts increasing tax revenue.  They lied about a war on women.  Having one of their cronies in the mainstream media create it by asking Mitt Romney if he wanted to take away women’s birth control.  And they continuously spread the lie that the rich aren’t paying their fair share in taxes.  When the top 10% of income earners pay about 70% of all federal income taxes.

So the Left tells a lot of lies to win elections.  Because that’s all they have.  They do not have a Morning in America they can talk about.  Just failed Keynesian economic policies.  Like the 4 years of Jimmy Carter.  The 4 years of President Obama.  And what may have been the 4 years of Bill Clinton had it not been for the Republicans taking control of Congress 2 years into his presidency.  Of course the Republicans can tell a lie, too.  The big one being their claim of being conservative like Ronald Reagan.  As they too often fall for the lies coming from the Left.  And appear more interested in living a comfortable life than sound philosophical beliefs.

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President Obama’s Economic Recovery is worse than Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s Combined

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 8th, 2012

Week in Review

President Obama has said time and again that we can’t go back to the failed policies of the past.  Referring to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and their tax cutting ways that stimulated real job creation.  Not the Obama administration Keynesian stimulus spending which has the absolute worst record of job creation in post-war America (see THE SCARIEST JOBS CHART EVER by Joe Weisenthal posted 12/7/2012 on Business Insider).

Despite the strong jobs report, the employment situation in America remains depressing.

Once again, we go back to Calculated Risk, which compares the trajectory of this recovery (red line) with all other post-WWII recoveries.

As you can see, the pace of the downturn was far more severe than anything in previous recessions, and the long march back to pre-recession levels remains incredibly slow.

The chart tells a dismal story.  Ronald Reagan chose tax cuts to pull us out of the 1981 recession.  That recession saw a peak job loss of just over 3%.  And a duration of just over 27 months to recover ALL the jobs that we lost in that recession.

George W. Bush chose tax cuts to pull us out of the 2001 recession following the bursting of Bill Clinton’s dot-com bubble.  That recession saw a peak job loss of just over 2%.  And a duration of about 46 months to recover ALL the jobs lost in that recession.

Bill Clinton’s Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending basically created subprime lending.  As the Clinton administration pressured lenders to find a way to qualify the unqualified for mortgages.  And the real estate market boomed in the 2000s.  But much like the economic boom in the 1990s it was just a bubble.  That inflated to dangerous heights thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buying those toxic subprime mortgages from lenders so they could approve more of them.  Unloading those toxic mortgages on unsuspecting investors.  Sending this toxic contagion throughout the world.  The resulting 2007 recession saw a peak job loss of about 6.5%.  And a duration of about 58 months AND counting to recover all those  jobs lost in the current recession.  We still have another 3% to go.

This postwar recession is the worst by whatever metric you measure it by.  But the singular aspect of it that makes this recession much longer and deeper in job losses is the Obama administration’s choice of using Keynesian stimulus to try to end it.  Instead of tax cuts.  Which is why the Obama recovery is far worse and more long-lasting in misery than both the Reagan and Bush recoveries added together.  Proving the current economic disaster is an Obama disaster.  For his insistence on using the failed policies of Keynesian stimulus spending instead of the time proven policies of tax cuts.

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FT146: “A Democrat promise to cut spending is as good as a promise from Lucy that she’ll let Charlie Brown kick that football.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 30th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

Tax and Spend Democrats have given us the Financial Crisis we call Taxmageddon or the Fiscal Cliff

Democrats like to spend money.  Earning the moniker tax and spend liberals/Democrats.  And what money they can’t tax away from the taxpayers they borrow.  And what they can’t borrow they print.  They beg, borrow, steal, tax and print as much money as they can.  Because they can never raise enough money to spend.

To help them in their insatiable appetite to spend they make spending promises that the state can never fulfill.  Creating one financial crisis after another.  Creating an urgency to raise taxes.  And debt limits.  Or else face bankruptcy.  And the inability for the U.S government to pay their debt obligations.  Lowering the U.S. sovereign debt rating.  Much like Standard and Poor’s did in 2011.  Something that we must avoid at all costs.  That is, something we must avoid from happening again at all costs.  And those costs are typically higher taxes and ever more debt.

Guess what?  We have another crisis.  It’s got a couple of names.  Taxmageddon.  And the fiscal cliff.  The expiration of the Bush tax cuts.  And massive spending cuts.  Because Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on a deal to reduce the deficit they agreed to sequestration.  Automatic spending cuts that will gut entitlements and defense spending.  All in a vain attempt to balance the budget.  Like politicians have been saying we must do for the last three decades or so.  But never do.  In fact our politicians have done the exact opposite.  They’ve increased spending.  So much so that we now are at a fiscal cliff.

Republicans are Hapless Sad Sacks when Negotiating a Spending Cut/New Tax Deal with Democrats

A recurring joke on the children’s cartoon Peanuts is how Lucy makes a fool of poor old Charlie Brown.  She continually promises to hold the football for him to kick.  Even though every other time she has promised this she pulled the ball away just before Charlie could kick it.  Sending him flying up into the air and falling flat on his back.  Making a fool of himself.  Bringing a big smile to Lucy’s face.  As it amuses her that Charlie is so foolish to fall for this trick time and again.  But she promises that this time he can trust her.  So she uses lies and manipulation to get Charlie to believe her.  And he goes running at that football.  Determined to finally kick it.  Only to have her pull the ball away again.  Sending him flying up into the air and falling flat on his back.  Again.

Sound familiar?  Kind of sounds like pretty much every spending cuts/tax deal ever brokered by the Democrats.  Who look at the Republicans with that ‘Lucy’ smile on their face.  Incredulous that they can get away by making the same old promises that they never keep.  Getting what they want, modest tax hikes now, in exchange for generous spending cuts later.  And just like that classic song in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music the Republicans keep asking when is later?  Just like poor Henrik.  Who epitomizes the Republicans when it comes to spending cut negotiations with Democrats.  Who are always told those spending cuts will come later.

Later…

When is later?

All you ever hear is “Later, Henrik, Henrik, later.”

Substitute ‘the Republicans’ for the sad sack ‘Henrik’ and this can be a song about Republicans.

How can I wait around for later?

I’ll be ninety on my deathbed

And the late, or, rather, later, Henrik Egerman.

Doesn’t anything begin?

Poor Henrik.  As hapless as Republicans in a spending cuts/new tax deal they negotiate with Democrats.

The Democrats look at the Republicans like they are all Charlie Brown

George Herbert Walker Bush made a deal with Democrats.  Even reneged on his famous ‘read my lips, no new taxes’ pledge.  He agreed to $1 in new taxes for every $2 in later spending cuts.  Those tax hikes were quick to go into law.  While we’re still waiting for those later spending cuts.  Ronald Reagan made even a grander deal with Democrats.  $3 in later spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes.  The Democrats were quick to enact those new taxes.  But we’re still waiting on those later spending cuts.  Reagan went to his deathbed at 93 still waiting for those later spending cuts.  He waited for later to come.  But later never came.  As promised later spending cuts never, ever, begin.

For when it comes to promised spending cuts Democrats are like Lucy.  With that snarky smile.  Making the same promises that they’ve made so many times before.  Promises they never keep.  And have no intention of ever to start keeping them.  Laughing to themselves that they can get Republicans time and again to believe their same empty promises.

They look at the Republicans like they are all Charlie Brown.  They have no respect for them.  They lie to them at will.  Say whatever it takes to get their way.  Making promises they have no intention of keeping.  Promising George H.W. Bush $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes.  Promising Ronald Reagan $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes.  Both lies.  And now President Obama is saying that any deal to avoid Taxmageddon or the fiscal cliff must include both spending cuts and new taxes.  As if they are not Lucy.  But we all know that they are Lucy.  For any deal including later spending cuts for new taxes will see the Republicans on their deathbed at 90 still waiting for the Democrats to deliver on those spending cuts.  And just when they think they will Lucy will pull that football away.  Again.  Making the Republicans look like fools once again.

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Tax Cuts, Roaring Twenties, Farm Prices, Smoot-Hawley Tariff, Stock Market Crash, New Deal, Great Depression and the Great Recession

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 6th, 2012

History 101

(Originally published March 20, 2012)

Tax Cuts and the Small Government Policies of Harding and Coolidge gave us the Roaring Twenties

Keynesians blame the long duration of the Great Depression (1929-1939) on the government clinging to the gold standard.  Even renowned monetarist economist Milton Friedman agrees.  Though that’s about the only agreement between Keynesians and Friedman.   Their arguments are that the US could have reduced the length and severity of the Great Depression if they had only abandoned the gold standard.  And adopted Keynesian policies.  Deficit spending.  Just like they did in the Seventies.  The decade where we had both high unemployment and high inflation.  Stagflation.  Something that’s not supposed to happen under Keynesian economics.  So when it did they blamed the oil shocks of the Seventies.  Not their orgy of spending.  Or their high taxes.  And they feel the same way about the Great Depression.

Funny.  How one price shock (oil) can devastate all businesses in the US economy.  So much so that it stalled job creation.  And caused high unemployment.  Despite the government printing and spending money to create jobs.  And to provide government benefits so recipients could use those benefits to stimulate economic activity.  All of that government spending failed to pull the country out of one bad recession.  Because of that one price shock on the cost of doing business.  Yet no one talks about the all out assault on business starting in the Hoover administration that continued and expanded through the Roosevelt administration.

Herbert Hoover may have been a Republican.  But he was no conservative.  He was a big government progressive.  And believed that the federal government should interfere into the free market.  To make things better.  Unlike Warren Harding.  And Calvin Coolidge.  Who believed in a small government, hands-off policy when it came to the economy.  They passed tax cuts.  Following the advice of their treasury secretary.  Andrew Mellon.  Which gave business confidence of what the future would hold.  So they invested.  Expanded production.  And created jobs.  It was these small government policies that gave us the Roaring Twenties.  An economic boom that electrified and modernized the world.  With real economic growth.

If an Oil Shock can prevent Businesses from Responding to Keynesian Policies then so can FDR’s all out War on Business

The Roaring Twenties was a great time to live if you wanted a job.  And wanted to live in the modern era.  Electric power was spreading across the country.  People had electric appliances in their homes.  Radios.  They went to the movies.  Drove cars.  Flew in airplanes.  The Roaring Twenties was a giant leap forward in the standard of living.  Factories with electric power driving electric motors increased productivity.  And reduced air pollution as they replaced coal-fired steam boilers that up to then powered the Industrial Revolution.  This modernization even made it to the farm.  Farmers borrowed heavily to mechanize their farms.  Allowing them to grow more food than ever.  Bumper crops caused farm prices to fall.  Good for consumers.  But not those farmers who borrowed heavily.

Enter Herbert Hoover.  Who wanted to use the power of government to help the farmers.  By forcing Americans to pay higher food prices.  Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates.  Thinking that a boom in the stock market was from speculation and not the real economic growth of the Twenties.  So they contracted the money supply.  Cooling that real economic growth.  And making it very hard to borrow money.  Causing farmers to default on their loans.  Small rural banks that loaned to these farmers failed.  These bank failures spread to other banks.  Weakening the banking system.  Then came the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.  Passed in 1930.  But it was causing business uncertainty as early as 1928.  As the Smoot-Hawley Tariff was going to increase tariffs on just about everything by 30%.  Basically adding a 30% tax on the cost of doing business.  That the businesses would, of course, pass on to consumers.  By raising prices.  Because consumers weren’t getting a corresponding 30% pay hike they, of course, could not buy as much after the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.  Putting a big cramp in sales revenue.  Perhaps even starting an international trade war.  Further cramping sales.  Something investors no doubt took notice of.  Seeing that real economic growth would soon come to a screeching halt.  And when the bill moved through committees in the autumn of 1929 the die was cast.  Investors began the massive selloff on Wall Street.  The Stock Market Crash of 1929.  The so-called starting point of the Great Depression.  Then the Smoot-Hawley Tariff became law.  And the trade war began.  As anticipated.

Of course, the Keynesians ignore this lead up to the Great Depression.  This massive government intrusion into the free market.  And the next president would build on this intrusion into the free market.  Ignoring the success of the small-government and tax cuts of Harding and Coolidge.  As well as ignoring the big-government free-market-intrusion failures of Herbert Hoover.  The New Deal programs of FDR were going to explode government spending to heights never before seen in peace time.  Causing uncertainty like never seen before in the business community.  It was an all out assault on business.  Taxes and regulation that increased the cost of business.  And massive government spending for new benefits and make-work programs.  All paid for by the people who normally create jobs.  Which there wasn’t a lot of during the great Depression.  Thanks to programs like Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Federal Emergency Relief Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, Homeowners Loan Corporation, Tennessee Valley Authority, Agricultural Adjustment Act, National Industrial Recovery Act, Public Works Administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Glass–Steagall Act, Securities Act of 1933, Civil Works Administration, Indian Reorganization Act, Social Security Act, Works Progress Administration, National Labor Relations Act, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Surplus Commodities Program, Fair Labor Standards Act, Rural Electrification Administration, Resettlement Administration and Farm Security Administration, etc.  Oil shocks of the Seventies?  If an oil shock can prevent businesses from responding to Keynesian policies then an all out war on business in the Thirties could do the same.  And worse.  Far, far worse.  Which is why the Great Depression lasted 10 years.  Because the government turned what would have been a normal recession into a world-wide calamity.  By trying to interfere with market forces.

Only Real Economic Growth creates Jobs, not Government Programs

The unemployment rate in 1929 was 3.1%.  In 1933 it was 24.9%.  It stayed above 20% until 1936.  Where it fell as low as 14.3% in 1937.  It then went to 19.0%, 17.2% and 14.6% in the next three years.  These numbers stayed horrible throughout the Thirties because the government wouldn’t stop meddling.  Or spending money.  None of the New Deal programs had a significant effect on unemployment.  The New Deal failed to fix the economy the way the New Dealers said it would.  Despite the massive price tag.  So much for super smart government bureaucrats.

What finally pulled us out of the Great Depression?  Adolf Hitler’s conquering of France in 1940.  When American industry received great orders for real economic growth.  From foreign countries.  To build the war material they needed to fight Adolf Hitler.  And the New Deal programs be damned.  There was no time for any more of that nonsense.  So during World War II businesses had a little less uncertainty.  And a backlog of orders.  All the incentive they needed to ramp up American industry.  To make it hum like it once did under Harding and Coolidge.  And they won World War II.  For there was no way Adolf Hitler could match that economic output.  Which made all the difference on the battlefield.

Still there are those who want to blame the gold standard for the Great Depression.  And still support Keynesian policies to tax and spend.  Even today.  Even after 8 years of Ronald Reagan that proved the policies of Harding and Coolidge.  We’re right back to those failed policies of the past.  Massive government spending to stimulate economic activity.  To pull us out of the Great Recession.  And utterly failing.  Where the unemployment rate struggles to get below 9%.  The U-3 unemployment rate, that is.  The rate that doesn’t count everyone who wants full time work.  The rate that counts everyone, the U-6 unemployment rate, currently stands at 14.9%.  Which is above the lowest unemployment rate during the Great Depression.  Proving once again only real economic growth creates jobs.  Not government programs.  No matter how many trillions of dollars the government spends.

So much for super smart government bureaucrats.

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Economic Stimulus

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 5th, 2012

Economics 101

Prices match Supply to Demand letting Suppliers know when to bring more Goods and Services to Market

There is a natural ebb and flow to the economy.  Through good times and bad.  And you can tell which way the economy is heading by prices in the market place.  When prices are rising times are typically good.  As people are gainfully employed with money to spend.  As they compete with each other for the goods and services in the market place demand rises.  Growing greater than the supply of goods and services.  So prices rise.  Because when there are fewer goods and services they are worth more money.  For those who have them to sell.  Because demand is so great people are willing to pay top dollar for them.  To get them while supplies last.  This attracts the attention of other suppliers.  Who want to cash in on those high prices.  So they bring more goods and services to market.

In time supply catches up to demand.  And passes it.  Suddenly the market has more goods and services than people are buying.  As inventories grow retailers stop buying so much from their wholesale suppliers.  Who in turn stop buying so much from their manufacturers.  Who in turn stop buying so much from their raw material suppliers.  And manufacturers and their raw material suppliers begin laying off workers.  So there are fewer people gainfully employed with money to spend.  The fewer gainfully employed buy less than the more gainfully employed.  Causing inventories to grow larger as more goods are going into them than are coming out of them.  So they start cutting prices.  To unload these inventories before people start buying even less.  Because they spent a lot of money to build those inventories.  And it costs to hold these items in warehouses and stockrooms.

And that’s the natural ebb and flow of the economy.  What economists call the business cycle.  That goes from an expanding economy to a contracting economy.  From boom to bust.  From inflation to recession.  Something normal.  And natural.  Though it could be unpleasant for those who lose their jobs.  But it’s something that must happen.  To correct prices.  You see, prices make all of this work automatically.  They match supply to demand.  Letting suppliers know when to bring more goods and services to market.  And when they’ve brought too much.  When the economy goes into recession prices fall.  Which tells suppliers that supply exceeds demand.  And that anything additional they bring to market will not sell.  As they incur costs to bring things to market this is very good information to have.  So they don’t waste money.  Leaving their businesses short of cash.  Possibly causing their businesses to fail.

Whenever we Devalue the Dollar with Inflationary Monetary Policy Prices Rise

No one likes losing their job.  Because they need income to pay their bills.  And the government doesn’t like people losing their jobs.  Because they tax those incomes to pay the government’s bills.  And unemployed people pay no income taxes.  So the government tries to tweak the economy.  At the federal level.  To extend the inflationary periods of the business cycle.  And they do that with inflationary monetary policy.  Using their monetary powers to keep interest rates below the true market interest rate.  Hoping it will encourage suppliers and consumers to keep borrowing and spending money.  Even though supply had already caught up to and passed demand.  Such that everyone that wanted to buy something could.  While every supplier that wanted to sell something couldn’t.

Some people take advantage of these lower interest rates.  Some people will remortgage their homes to lower their monthly payment.  Which will give them a little more disposable cash each month.  Which they may use to buy more stuff.  But other people will take this opportunity to buy a large house just because of the low interest rate.  As some businesses may borrow to expand their business just because of the low interest rate.  Not for unmet demand.  These actions may not help the economy.  In fact they may hurt the economy in the long-term.  When the inevitable recession comes along and they are so overextended they may not be able to pay their bills.  They may lose their house.  Or their business.  For the worst thing to have whenever you suffer a reduction in revenue or income is debt.

But there is an even worse effect of that inflationary monetary policy.  When you increase the money supply you increase the total amount of dollars in the economy.  But they’re chasing the same amount of goods and services.  Which makes each dollar worth less.  Requiring more of them to buy the same things they once did.  Which is why whenever we devalue the dollar with inflationary monetary policy prices rise.  So, yes, there may be an initial expansion of economic activity.  But some people will have inflationary expectations.  That is, they know prices will go up in the very near future.  So they won’t increase production.  Why?  While an initial burst of economic activity may draw down those bloated inventories those coming higher prices will increase business costs.  Which businesses will have to pass on in the prices of their goods.  And how do higher prices affect consumers?  They buy less.  So manufacturers are not going to expand production when price inflation is going to reduce their sales in the long run.

Cutting Taxes and Reducing Costly Regulations have Stimulated Economic Activity every time they’ve been Tried

Perhaps the worst effect of inflation is the false information those higher prices give.  When consumer demand rises so do prices.  And it’s a signal to suppliers to bring more goods and services to market.  But when prices rise because of a depreciated dollar and NOT due to higher consumer demand, some may bring more goods and services to market when there is no demand for it.  So you have rising prices.  And expanding production.  Producing more goods than the market is demanding.  Creating a bubble.  Adding a lot of stuff to the market place at very inflated prices.  That no one is buying.  Then the bubble bursts.  And recession sets in.  As businesses lay off workers to adjust supply to meet actual demand.  And those inflated prices fall back to market values.  The higher inflationary monetary policy pushed those prices up the farther they have to fall.  And the more painful the recession will be.

You see, inflationary monetary policy interferes with the natural ebb and flow of the economy.  And the automatic price mechanism that matches supply to demand.  By trying to expand the inflationary side of the business cycle, and contract the recessionary side, governments make recessions longer.  And more painful.  Which is why Keynesian stimulus policies (lowering interests rates and deficit spending) don’t stimulate long-term economic activity.  Yet it is what most governments turn to whenever the economy slows. While there is another way to stimulate economic activity.  One that is not so popular with most governments.  Across the board tax cuts on business and personal incomes.  And reducing costly regulations on businesses.  These make a more business-friendly environment.  Encouraging businesses to expand and hire people.  Because these actions will have a positive impact on a business’ long-term outlook.  And with consumers having more disposable income (thanks to the cuts in personal income tax rates) businesses know there will be a market of any increase in production.

So there you have two ways to stimulate economic activity.  One way that works (tax cuts and reducing costly business regulations).  And one that doesn’t (lowering interest rates and deficit spending).  So why is the one that doesn’t work chosen by most governments over the one that does?  Because governments like to spend money.  It’s how they build constituencies.  By giving generous benefits to voters.  But to do that they need tax revenue.  Lots of tax revenue.  Produced by increasing tax rates as often as they can.  So they cannot stand the thought of cutting taxes.  Ever.  Which is why they always choose inflationary policies over tax cuts.   Even though those policies fail to stimulate economic activity.  As proven throughout the era of Keynesian economics.  While cutting taxes and reducing costly regulations have stimulated economic activity every time they’ve been tried.

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2012 Endorsements: JFK and Ronald Reagan

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 31st, 2012

2012 Election

JFK did all the Democrat things to Stimulate the Economy out of Recession but none of it Worked

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was a Cold War warrior.  Not to mention a World War II combat veteran.  He warned Nikita Khrushchev that any Soviet interference with U.S. access to West Berlin (located behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany) would be an act of war.  Which meant a nuclear war with the USSR.  The Soviets responded by building the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin.  Blocking free passage between East and West.  JFK authorized the Bay of Pigs Invasion to topple the Soviet-backed Castro government in Cuba.  The invasion failed for the lack of air support.  Castro feared another US invasion.  Shortly thereafter the Soviets installed intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba.  To counter US missiles placed in Turkey.  Once discovered JFK ordered a quarantine of Cuba.  A US naval blockade.  Leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis.  And the closest the US and the USSR ever came to all out nuclear war.  Khrushchev and JFK finally resolved the crisis.  Khrushchev agreed to remove their missiles with a public US guarantee that they would never invade Cuba.  And a private promise to remove those US missiles from Turkey.

JFK sent the Special Forces to South Vietnam to stem the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.  He also initiated the coup that toppled the government of Ngo Dinh Diem (though he did not call for his assassination).  Leading to America’s long involvement in the Vietnam War.  And Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense helped make all of this military action possible.  Robert McNamara.  One of the ‘Whiz Kids’ who helped to rebuild the Ford Motor Company.  And he ran the Department of Defense like he ran Ford.  By the numbers.  He made it more efficient.  Saving a lot of money from the existing budget.  While JFK added an additional $8 billion (about $58 billion in 2011 dollars) of defense spending.  Paying for a lot of the weapons a Cold War warrior needed.  However, he was still concerned about the size of the deficit.  So JFK also included some domestic spending cuts to help offset the increases in defense spending.  But it wasn’t enough.  He had a deficit.  Worse, he had a recession.

JFK did all the Democrat things to stimulate the economy out of recession.  Typical Keynesian economics stuff.  Government spending.  And keeping interest rates artificially low.  But it wasn’t working.  One of the problems was that Keynesian stimulus just doesn’t work.  But another problem was the baby boom following the war.  Who grew up and were looking for jobs in the Sixties.  That just weren’t there.  He needed some really solid economic growth to create those jobs.  And for that he turned to supply-side economics.  What we would later call Reaganomics.  He created a more business-friendly environment.  He offered businesses tax credits for investments in new machinery and equipment.  He accelerated depreciation schedules, allowing businesses to expense their assets more quickly.  Which encouraged investment into new assets.  And he proposed tax cuts on both business AND personal income.  It worked.  Unleashing an economic boom that lasted until 1966.

When Reagan entered Office he did what JFK did and created a Business-Friendly Environment

Ronald Reagan was a Cold War warrior.  While President Carter pursued a policy of detente with the Soviet Union Reagan’s policy was more in keeping with JFK’s policy.  He called the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and pursued a goal of destroying it.  And like Kennedy he built up a strong military.  Reagan invaded Grenada when hard-line communists overthrew a moderate socialist government.  While there were Cuban construction workers and military personnel building a 10,000 foot reinforced runway.  Which would be handy for the Soviets to use in their Central American activities.  Which Reagan also opposed in Nicaragua.  As he helped the Mujahideen resist the Soviets in Afghanistan.  Reagan revived the Carter-canceled B-1 Lancer bomber program.  He introduced the MX intercontinental ballistic missile program.  And when the Soviets deployed SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles Reagan deployed Pershing medium-range ballistic missiles in West Germany.  Then he took it up a notch and introduced a strategic ballistic missiles defense system.  The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).  When Reagan gave a speech at the Berlin Wall’s Brandenburg Gate with Mikhail Gorbachev in attendance he said, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

The Soviets couldn’t keep up with the spending as their command economy was a mess.  It was a different story in America.  In fact, it was Morning in America.  Not only did the Americans spend the Soviets to the brink of collapse they did that in what those on the Left call the Decade of Greed.  Because economic times were so good there was excessive materialistic consumption.  So while the Soviets stood in line for soap and toilet paper the Americans enjoyed Sony Walkmans, CD players, VCRs, new cars, big houses and all the delicious food you could eat.  Americans had a weight problem.  While the Soviets had a malnutrition problem.  The Soviet Union would collapse about 3 years after Reagan left office.  George H. W. Bush, Reagan’s vice president, having the honor to be in office at the end of the Soviet Union.

Like JFK Reagan also had a recession.  As he entered office following the disaster of the Carter presidency.  Carter did all of the Keynesian stuff like JFK.  Using inflation to try to end unemployment.  Which only gave the nation high inflation and high unemployment.  Stagflation.  And malaise.  But unlike JFK Carter refused to try something different when it didn’t work.  When Reagan entered office, though, he did what JFK did.  He created a business-friendly environment.  That included tax cuts.  Tax cuts that stimulated economic activity.  So much economic activity that federal tax receipts went up even though tax rates went down.  So Reagan’s deficits weren’t a revenue problem.  They were a spending problem.  Much like they are today.  Much like they always are.

If JFK and Ronald Reagan were Alive Today they would likely Endorse the Republican Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

The attacks on 9/11 didn’t just happen.  It was the last in a chain of events.  There was the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing.  The New York City Landmark Bomb Plot (1993).  The Khobar Towers Bombing (1996).  The United States Embassy Bombings (1998).  The Millennium Attack Plots (2000).  The USS Cole Bombing (2000).  Then 9/11.  Until 9/11 we treated all of these events as criminal offences.  Not acts of war.  While Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda acted from the start as if they were fighting a war.  Not breaking the law.  President Obama is also reluctant to call these radical Islamist attacks war.  When a radical Muslim in the US Army killed fellow soldiers on an Army base because of America’s ‘crimes against Islam’ the president called that workplace violence.  And when an American ambassador asked for additional security in Benghazi someone in the Obama administration denied the request because President Obama had killed Osama bin Laden.  And defeated al Qaeda.  Having to beef up security to defend against a growing al Qaeda presence, though, would have gone against that narrative of defeating al Qaeda.

The current so-called economic recovery is about the weakest on record.  Despite doing the normal Keynesian things to revive the economy.  Including an almost trillion dollar stimulus package.  Leading to record deficits.  Money the government had to borrow.  Borrowing which required an increase in the official debt ceiling.  This excessive debt and government spending cause the first downgrade of US sovereign debt.  All of this to fix the economy.  Only the economy is not fixed.  And the people who can’t find a full time job holds steady at 14.7% (U-6 unemployment rate).

So if JFK and Ronald Reagan were alive today who would they support in the 2012 election?  Who would a couple of Cold War warriors who risked nuclear war to protect the United States support?  These practitioners of supply-side economics who brought their economies out of recession to record economic growth?  Probably not the candidates foolishly hanging on to failed Keynesian policies despite a real unemployment rate of 14.7%.  Or the ones refusing to accept that we are still being targeted and killed by al Qaeda and other radical Islamist elements in the ongoing War on Terror.  No.  If JFK and Ronald Reagan were alive today they would likely endorse the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

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The Left Hate Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan because they Restored their Countries to Greatness

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 16th, 2012

Week in Review

The British Left hates Margaret Thatcher.  So much that they are already selling t-shirts celebrating her death.  Though she is still alive.  For she is the Ronald Reagan of Great Britain.  A singularly remarkable person who came along just in time to save a nation in decline.  And restore it to greatness (see The Left hates Margaret Thatcher because she reminds them they are wrong about everything by Daniel Hannan posted 9/12/2012 on the Daily Mail).

Now and again, we are reminded of the sheer nastiness of a certain kind of Leftie. Not, let me stress, all Lefties: I have Labour friends who are motivated by a more or less uncomplicated desire to help the disadvantaged.

But they march alongside some committed haters who define their politics not by what they like, but by what they loathe. They also define opponents not as human beings with whom they disagree, but as legitimate targets.

A lack of empathy, bordering almost on sociopathy sits behind their talk of caring and sharing.

Not much different from the American Left.  Who hate their political opponents.  And attack them personally.  With no understanding of the underlying policy in question.  For they never say they prefer tax, borrow and print (money) Keynesian economics over a more Austrian approach of sound money and low taxation.  The kind of policies that have made great economies great.  Instead they say their opponents hate women, hate poor people, hate children, hate seniors, etc.  And yet they are the tolerant people.  Who tolerate everyone that agrees with them.  And hates all those who disagree with them.  Making these tolerant some of the most intolerant of people.  Which is why they hate Ronald Reagan in America.  And they hate Margaret Thatcher in Britain.  Even though they both returned their countries to prosperity after a decade of decline and despair.

I am just old enough to remember the end of the Seventies: power cuts, three-day weeks, constant strikes, price and income controls, inflation.

Worst of all, I remember the sense of despair, the conviction that Britain was finished.

I don’t believe you can grasp Margaret Thatcher’s achievement without the context of what she displaced.

Throughout the Sixties and Seventies, this country had been outperformed by every European economy. ‘Britain is a tragedy — it has sunk to borrowing, begging, stealing until North Sea oil comes in,’ said Henry Kissinger.

The Wall Street Journal in 1975 was blunter: ‘Goodbye, Great Britain: it was nice knowing you.’

Margaret Thatcher’s victory in 1979 was like a thaw after the cruellest of winters. Inflation fell, strikes stopped, the latent enterprise of a free people was awakened.

Having lagged behind for a generation, we outgrew every European country in the Eighties except Spain (which was bouncing back from an even lower place). As revenues flowed in, taxes were cut and debt was repaid, while public spending — contrary to almost universal belief — rose.

In America we were mired in stagflation and a record high misery index of the Carter Seventies.  Much of which he inherited from LBJ’s Great Society and Richard Milhous Nixon’s abandoning of the quasi gold standard.  The Nixon Shock.  Because he refused to cut Great Society spending.  As did Gerald Ford.  As did Jimmy Carter.  No one wanted to cut back spending and continued to print money to pay for the Great Society spending causing the record high inflation during the Seventies.  Which added to the high unemployment that gave Jimmy Carter that horrible misery index.  And malaise.  Like Daniel Hannan I’m just old enough to remember how bad it was in the Seventies.  And how great Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America was.  We were better off after 4 years of Ronald Reagan than we were after 4 years of Jimmy Carter.  And the numbers proved it.  Lower tax rates increased tax revenue.  Allowing even greater government spending.  Which was the source of the Reagan deficits.  Not the tax cuts.

In the Falklands, Margaret Thatcher showed the world that a great country doesn’t retreat forever.

And by ending the wretched policy of one-sided detente that had allowed the Soviets to march into Europe, Korea and Afghanistan, she set in train the events that would free hundreds of millions of people from what, in crude mathematical terms, must be reckoned the most murderous ideology humanity has known.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan stood together against communism.  While Jimmy Carter eroded America’s military power so much that the Soviets actually put together a nuclear first-strike doctrine.  For unlike the policy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) of previous administrations the Soviets believed they could launch and win a nuclear war against Jimmy Carter.  Reagan and Thatcher rebuilt and deployed nuclear and regular military forces to reduce the threat of a Soviet first-strike.  And made the enemies of Great Britain and the United States fear and respect our military might.  It was peace through strength.  For all free and democratic countries.  Not the detente of Jimmy Carter that encouraged the Soviets to add a nuclear first-strike doctrine.  The beginning of the end of the Cold War began under Thatcher’s and Reagan’s watch.

Why, then, do Lefties loathe her so much..?

No, what Lefties (with honourable exceptions) find hard to forgive is the lady’s very success: the fact that she rescued a country that they had dishonoured and impoverished; that she inherited a Britain that was sclerotic, indebted and declining and left it proud, wealthy and free; that she never lost an election to them.

Their rage, in truth, can never be assuaged, for she reminds them of their own failure.

The same reasons the American Left hates Ronald Reagan.  Because he, too, returned his country to greatness.

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Microeconomics and Macroeconomics

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 10th, 2012

Economics 101

Keynesians cannot connect their Macroeconomic Policies to the Microeconomic World

Economics can be confusing.  As there are actually two genres of economics.  There’s microeconomics.  The kind of stuff most people are familiar with.  And is more common sense.  This is more of the family budget variety.  And small business budget.  Where if costs go up (gasoline, commodities, food, insurance, etc.) families and businesses make cuts elsewhere in their budget.  When revenue falls (a decline in sales revenue or a husband/wife loses their job) people cut back on expenses.  They cancel the family vacation.  Or cancel Christmas bonuses.  Straight forward stuff of living within your means.

Then there’s macroeconomics.  The big economic picture.  This is the stuff about the national economy.  GDP, inflation, recession, taxes, etc.  Things that are more abstract.  Unfamiliar.  And often defy common sense.  Where living beyond your means is not only accepted.  But it’s national policy.  And when some policies fail repeatedly those in government keep trying those same policies expecting a different outcome eventually.  Such as using Keynesian economic policies (stimulus packages, deficit spending, printing money, etc.) to get an economy out of recession that never quite works.  And then the supporters of those policies always say the same thing.  Their policies only failed because they didn’t spend enough money to make them work.

Keynesian economics focuses on macroeconomics.  And cannot connect their macro policies to the micro world.  There is a large gap between the two.  Which is why Keynesians fail.  Because they look at the macro picture to try and effect change in the micro world.  To get businesses to create jobs.  To hire people.  And to reduce unemployment.  But the politicians executing Keynesian policy don’t understand things in the micro world.  Or anything about running a business.  All they understand, or all they care to try to understand, are the Keynesian basics.  That focus on the demand side of economics.  While ignoring everything on the supply side.

When the Economy goes into Recession the Fed Expands the Money Supply to Lower Interest Rates

Keynesians have a few fundamental beliefs.  And one of the big ones is the relationship between interest rates and GDP.  In fact, it’s the center of their world.  High interest rates discourage people from borrowing money.  When people don’t borrow money they don’t build things (like factories).  And if they don’t build things they won’t create jobs and hire people.  So the higher the interest rates the lower the economic output of the nation (GDP).

Low interest rates, on the other hand, encourage people to borrow money.  So they can build things and create jobs.  The lower the interest rates the more people will borrow.  And the greater the economic output of the nation will be.  This was the driving factor that caused the Great Recession.  The central bank (the Fed) kept interest rates so low for so long that people bought a lot of houses.  A lot of expensive houses.  The demand for housing was so great that buyers bid up prices.  Because at low interest rates there was no limit to how much house you could buy.  All this building and buying of houses, though, oversupplied the market with houses.  As home builders rushed in to fill that demand.  They built so many houses that there were just so many houses available to buy that buyers had a lot of choice.  Making it a buyers’ market.  So much so that people had to slash their asking price to sell their house.  Which popped the great housing bubble.

The Fed lowers interest rates by increasing the money supply.  They create new money and inject it into the economy.  By giving it to bankers.  Banks have more money to lend.  So more people can borrow money.  This is what lowers interest rates.  Things that are less scarce cost less.  More money to borrow means it’s less scarce.  And the price to borrow it (i.e., the interest rate) falls.  If the Fed wants to increase interest rates they pull money out of the economy.  Which makes it a little harder to borrow money.  Because more people are trying to borrow the limited amount of funds available to borrow.  And this is the basics of monetary policy.  Whenever the country enters a recession and unemployment rises the Fed expands the money supply to encourage businesses to borrow money to expand their businesses and create jobs that will lower unemployment.

Keynesian Economic Policies hurt the Higher Stages of Production where we Create Real Economic Activity

If low interest rates create greater economic activity why in the world would the Fed ever want to raise interest rates?  Because of the dark side of printing money.  Inflation.  Increasing the money supply gives people more money.  And when they have more money they try to buy what everyone else is buying.  As the money supply grows greater than the amount of economic output there is more money trying to buy fewer goods and services.  Which raises prices.  Just like those low interest rates did in the housing market.  The fear is that if this goes on too long there will be an economic crash.  Just like after the housing bubble burst.  From boom to bust.  Higher prices reduce consumer spending.  Because people can’t buy as much when prices are high.  As consumers stop spending businesses stop selling.  Faced with overcapacity in a period of falling demand they start cutting costs.  Laying off people.  People without jobs can buy even less at high prices.  And so on as the economy settles into recession.  This is why central bankers raise interest rates.  Because those good times are temporary.  And the longer they let it go on the more painful the economic correction will be.

This is why Keynesian stimulus spending fails to pull economies out of recession.  Because Keynesians focus only on the demand curve.  Consumption.  Consumer spending.  Not supply.  They ignore all that economic activity in the higher stages of productions.  That activity that precedes retail consumer sales.  The wholesale stage (the stage above retail).  The manufacturing stage (above the wholesale stage).  And the furthest out in time, the raw commodities stage (above the manufacturing stage).  As economic activity slows inventories build up.  Creating a bulge in the middle of the stages of production.  So manufacturing cuts back.  And because they do raw commodities cut back.  These are the first to suffer in an economic downturn.  And they are the last to recover.  Because of all that inventory in the pipeline.  When Keynesians get more money into consumers’ pockets they will increase their consumer spending.  For awhile.  Until that extra money is gone.  Which provided an economic boost at the retail level.  And a little at the wholesale level as they drew down those inventories.  But it did little at the higher stages of production.  Above inventories.  Manufacturing and raw material extraction.  Who don’t expand their production or hire new workers.  Because they know this economic activity is temporary.  And because they know all that new money will eventually create inflation.  Which will increase prices.  Throughout the stages of production.

The Keynesian approach focuses on the macro.  By playing with monetary policy.  Policies that ultimately hurt the higher stages of production.  At the micro level.  Where we create real economic activity.  If they’re not hiring then no amount of stimulus spending at the retail level will get them to hire.  Because giving the same amount of workers (i.e., consumers) more money to chase the same amount of goods and services only causes higher prices in the long run.  And it’s the long run that raw commodities and manufacturing look at.  They are not going to invest to expand their businesses unless they expect improving economic conditions in the long run.  All the way up the stages of production to where they are.  When new economic activity reaches them then they will expand and hire people.  And when they do they will add a lot of new consumers with real wages to go out and spend at the retail level.

One of the most efficient ways to achieve this is with tax cuts.  Because cuts in tax rates shape economic activity in the long run.  Across the board.  Unlike stimulus spending.  Which is short term.  And very selective.  Some benefit.  Typically political cronies.  But most see no benefit.  Just higher prices.  And continued unemployment.  Which is why Keynesian policies fail to pull economies out of recessions.  Because politicians use them for political purposes.  Not economic purposes.

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Jimmy Carter, Malaise, Ronald Reagan, Austrian Economics, Morning in America, Barack Obama, Keynesian Economics and Great Recession

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 4th, 2012

History 101

It was Morning in America again because Ronald Reagan reduced the Misery Index by 42.7%

Ronald Reagan was a supply-sider when it came to economics.  Of the Austrian school variety.  In fact, one of his campaign promises was to bring back the gold standard.  A very Austrian thing.  The Austrian school predates the Keynesian school.  When the focus was on the stages of production.  Not on consumer spending.  These policies served the nation well.  They (and the gold standard) exploded American ingenuity and economic activity in the 19th century.  Making the U.S. the number one economy in the world.  Surpassing the nation that held the top spot for a century or more.  Perhaps the last great empire.  Great Britain.

Following the stagflation and misery (misery index = inflation rate + unemployment rate) of the Seventies Reagan promised to cut taxes and governmental regulations.  To make it easier for businesses to create economic activity.  Easier to create jobs.  And he did.  Among other things.  Such as rebuilding the military that the Carter administration severely weakened during the Seventies (it was so bad that the Soviet Union put together a first-strike nuclear option.  Because they thought they could win a nuclear war with Jimmy Carter as president).  During the 1980 campaign Reagan asked the people if they were better off after 4 years of Jimmy Carter.  The answer was no.  Four years later, though, they were.  Here’s why.  (Note:  We used so many sources that we didn’t source them here to save space.  The inflation rate and unemployment rates are for August of the respective years.  The dollar amounts are annual totals with some estimates added to take them to the end of 2012.  The debt and GDP are not adjusted for inflation as they are only 4 years apart.  Gas prices and median income are adjusted for inflation.  There may be some error in these numbers.  But overall we believe the information they provide fairly states the economic results of the presidents’ policies.  (This note applies to both tables.))

Reagan entered office with some horrendous numbers.  The Carter administration was printing so much money that inflation was at 12.9% in 1980.  Added to the unemployment rate that brought the misery index to 20.6%.  A huge number.  To be fair Carter tapped Paul Volcker to be Fed Chairman and he began the policy of reigning in inflation.  But Carter did this far too late.  The only way to cure high inflation is with a nasty recession.  Which Volcker gave Ronald Reagan.  But it worked.  By 1984 inflation fell 8.8 points or 66.7%.  Even with this nasty recession the unemployment rate fell 0.2 points or 2.6%.  Which shaved 8.8 points off of the miserable index.  Or reducing it by 42.7%.  This is why it was morning in America again.  The Left to this day say “yeah, but at what cost?” and point to the record deficits of the Reagan administration.  Saying this is the price of tax cuts.  But they’re wrong.  Yes, the debt went up.  But it wasn’t because of the tax cuts.  Because those tax cuts stimulated economic activity.  GDP rose 12.6% by 1984.  And tax receipts even increased with those lower tax rates.  Because of the higher GDP.  By 1984 Reagan’s policies increased tax revenue by 28.9%.  And on a personal level the median income even increased 0.4%.  And this following a very bad recession a few years earlier.  Finally, gas prices fell 22.2%.  And the way Americans feel about rising gas prices this was truly morning in America again.

To Top off the General Malaise of the Obama Economy Gas Prices Soared while Median Income Fell

Barack Obama is a Keynesian through and through.  A believer in pure demand-side economics.  To that end his administration focused everything on increasing consumer spending.  Tax and spend policies.  Income redistribution.  Deficit spending.  Anything to make America ‘more fair.’  Raising taxes on the rich so the poor can spend more money.  With the Keynesian multiplier they believe this is the path to economic prosperity.  Just doing everything within their power to put more spending money into the hands of poorer people.  Increasing government regulation, fees and fines as well as taxes to bring more money in Washington so they can redistribute it.  Or spend it directly on things like roads and bridges.  Or solar power companies.  Even paying people to dig a hole and fill it back in.  Because these people will take their wages and spend them.  Creating economic activity.

So President Obama put Keynesian economics to work.  Beginning with a $787 billion stimulus bill.  Investments into green energy and the jobs of the future.  Like a Department of Energy loan of $528 million to the now bankrupt Solyndra.  Which was only one of many loans.  The bailout of the UAW pension fund (aka the auto bailout).  The government poured $528 million into GM.  And President Obama touted the Chevy Volt, boasting that GM would sell a million each year bringing his green goals to fruition (GM is struggling to sell 10,000 Volts a year).  A lot of malinvestment as the Austrians would say.  But a Keynesian sees any government expenditure as a good investment.  Because if all the people who receive this government money spends at least 80% of it (while saving only 20%) the Keynesian multiplier will be five.  Meaning that the net gain in GDP will be five times whatever the government spends.  So how has that worked for the president?  Well, here are his numbers:

The government spent so much money that the federal debt increased by $5.4 trillion.  Trillion with a ‘T’.  That’s over a trillion dollar deficit each of the president’s 4 years in office.  And his last year isn’t even a whole year.  Unprecedented until President Obama.  And what did all of that federal spending get us after about 4 years?  An unemployment rate 2.1 points higher.  Or 33.9% higher than when he took office.  Inflation fell but it did nothing to spur GDP growth which grew at an anemic 3.1%.  Which is less than a percentage point a year.  Which is why the Great Recession lingers still.  Meanwhile the Chinese are having a bad year with a GDP growth of 7.8%.  So all of that spending didn’t help at all.  In fact, it made things worse.  The economic activity is so bad that even tax receipts fell 2.2% after four years of President Obama.  Which has many in his party saying that we need to raise tax rates.  Contrary to what Ronald Reagan did.  And to top off the general malaise of the Obama economy gas prices soared 107.6% under his presidency.  While the median income fell 7.3%.  One has to look hard to find any positive news from the Obama economy.  And there is one.  Inflation did fall.  But even that really isn’t good.  As it may be an indicator of a looming deflationary spiral.  Giving America a lost decade.  Like Japan’s Lost Decade.

The Flaw in Keynesian Thinking is that it Ignores the Layers of Economic Activity above the Consumer Level

So there you have an Austrian and a Keynesian.  Both entered office during bad economic times.  Although things were much worse when President Reagan took office than when President Obama took office.  The misery index was 20.6% in 1980.  It was only 11.6% in 2008.  About half as bad for President Obama than it was for President Reagan.  It came down 16.4% under Obama.  But it came down 42.7% under Reagan.  Which is why it isn’t morning in America under President Obama.  Reagan increased tax receipts by 28.9 % by the end of his first term.  They fell 2.2% under Obama.  Adjusted for inflation Reagan averaged annual deficits of $348 billion.  That’s billion with a ‘B’.  Obama averaged $1.324 trillion.  That’s trillion with a ‘T’.  Or 280% higher than Ronald Reagan.  Gas prices fell 22.2% under Reagan.  They rose 107.6% under Obama.  Median income barely rose 0.4% under Reagan.  But it fell 7.3% under Obama.  In short there is nothing in the Obama economic record that is better than the Reagan economic record.

And why is this?  Because Obama’s policies are Keynesian.  While Reagan’s policies were Austrian.  Reagan focused on the stages of production to improve economic activity.  Cutting taxes.  Reducing regulatory compliance costs.  Creating a business-friendly environment.  A system that rewarded success.  Whereas Obama focused on consumer spending.  Tax, borrow and print (i.e., quantitative easing).  So the government could spend.  Putting more money into the pockets of consumers.  Which stimulated only the last stage in the stages of production.  So while some consumers had more money it was still a business-unfriendly environment.  Where tax, regulatory and environmental policies (as well as the uncertainty of Obamacare) hindered business growth everywhere upstream from retail sales.  From raw material extraction to industrial processing to construction to manufactured goods.  Where these Obama’s policies punish success.  For the bigger you get the more you pay in taxes and regulatory compliance costs.

The greatest flaw with Keynesian economics is that it looks at aggregate supply and demand.  With a focus on consumer spending.  And ignores the layers of economic activity that happens before the consumer level.  The Austrian school understands this.  As did the British when she became one of the greatest empires of all times.  As did America during the 19th century.  No nation became an economic superpower using Keynesian economics.  Japan grew to be a great economic power during the Fifties and Sixties.  Then went Keynesian in the Eighties and suffered their Lost Decade in the Nineties.  Some Keynesians like to point to China as an example of the success of Keynesian economics.  But they still have a fairly restrictive police state.  And their economic policies are hauntingly similar to Japan’s.  Some have even posited that it is very possible that China could suffer the same fate as Japan.  And suffer a deflationary spiral.  Resulting in a lost decade for China.  Which is very plausible considering the Chinese practice state-capitalism where the state partners closely with businesses.  Which is what the Japanese did in the Eighties.  And it hasn’t been great for them since.  As it hasn’t been great in America economically since the current administration.

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