Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

July 31, 2011

Realities Behind the U.S. Debt Crisis

While incompetent and corrupt politics continues to announce a huge divide between sides, the real truth is that Americans have been deceived. The last election proved how little difference exists between moderates on either side, and that is what politics in the United States plays to. Despite the rhetoric in debt crisis debate, there are few meaningful differences in the plans that are being voted on.

Both bills have been estimated to reduce the national budget deficit by around $900 billion over the next 10 years, which is small change in a nation that is overspending by 50%. $750 billion is linked to actual decisions to cut spending. The remaining savings are another accounting gimmick, a projected reduction in interest payments on the national debt because of the proposed budget cuts. $70 billion of the “huge savings” will be applied to 2012 and 2013. As usual, deciding to do anything meaningful always points off somewhere in the distant future. $70 billion is small potatoes for a large economy that continually overspends by increasing margins.

The real issue resides in the fact that the nation has an unstable fiat currency that has been losing its purchasing power for decades. Today, the well is virtually dry, which could easily result in the collapse of the dollar as international currency. This makes the reality of planning ahead a mere mental exercise instead of meaningful in any way. What is worse is that all this fancy accounting is dependent on an unrealistic gross national product of 4.86%. As a result, this budgeting is an exercise in smoke and mirrors.

If you live in the United States, you’ve probably heard the grim news. National GDP growth for the first quarter of 2011 was just revised down yesterday by 81% from 1.91% to 0.36%. Never mind that 1.91% is paltry growth anyway. Second quarter estimates for the nation look even worse as the Federal Reserve prints more fiat dollars than ever before. Printing greenbacks doesn’t create economic growth or employment.

As the Federal Government wriggles in credit agony, the Treasury had $51.6 billion available for discretionary spending. The U.S. Treasury expects to bring in $172.4 billion from August 3rd through August 31st in tax receipts, while being scheduled to pay out $306.7 billion. This means a projected deficit of $134.3 billion. The Federal Government is scheduled to make its interest payment of $30 billion on the national debt on August 15th. They are now on track to spend a record $514.5 billion this year on interest payments alone. The nation faces an increase of the interest rate because of a likelihood of a credit downgrade, which would destroy any deficit reductions proposed by national politicians.

The Treasury has been able to pay bills in recent weeks by using accounting gimmicks, but that has come to an end in a few days. The Federal Government is in a real pickle without more fiat money printed by the Federal Reserve. Prioritizing incoming tax receipts of an expected $174.2 billion is essential, which will include the $30 billion interest payment on August 15th to avoid default.

The immediate obligations to the populace in August are $49.2 billion in Social Security, $50 billion in Medicare and Medicaid, topped by $12.8 billion in unemployment benefits. $23 billion of $49.2 billion in Social Security payments are due to be paid on August 3rd. $59 billion in treasury bills are due on August 4th to pay back investors. This says nothing of $31.7 billion in defense payments to pay soldiers and the like.

As a U.S. debt default and credit shortage looms, investors continue (so far) to invest in Treasury Bonds as a safe haven, which would be worthless in the event of a national default. All of this assumes, of course, that they don’t rewrite all the rules because of the need to save the international economy. I’m surprised that they haven’t already taken over the ‘renegade’ credit agencies in the name of national security so that the world can continue to ride the dollar bubble.

After all the politics, interest rates are likely to be propelled rapidly upward, resulting in obvious hyperinflation that cannot be quietly manipulated or explained away. The world is flooded with American greenbacks, thanks in no small part to the uninspired management of Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. As a result, the Federal Reserve is likely to be the only buyer for U.S. debt. How long will that last as it is?

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October 12, 2010

U.S. on the Way to the Third World?

Everyone is talking about unemployment, but nobody is talking about the long-term reality of the U.S. economy. Wall Street is playing investment games with agricultural commodities to make money, which is now impacting prices apart from traditional supply and demand. This translates to higher prices despite a poverty-stricken economy. Food processors and manufacturers are cutting products sizes and raising prices, which means that Americans continue to get the short shrift on all sides.

Then there are the jobs. This month the U-6 category from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (a measure of unemployment that includes those who have stopped looking for work)  jumped to 17.1%, yet another red flag.

Also, consider the U.S. trade deficit that sends billions of dollars overseas to foreign countries, never to return, evaporating into the global economy. The deficit means that the Fed will print more money to add to an already robust global dollar supply.

The nation has another banking crisis, where it has been revealed that fraudulent foreclosure documents were signed without evaluation. This could plunge both the the mortgage industry and the banking industry into another “too big to fail” bailout. Who are we kidding? Messy lawsuits could be the order of the day as buyers and investors seek redress for damages, either real or imaginary. All this financial pressure will undoubtedly influence exporting more jobs outside of America to cut corporate costs. That is why you are hearing all the media hype about Americans not being trained enough for sophisticated jobs that they no longer qualify for. They are preparing you for the ugly truth, even if the reasons are really fiction.

Many Americans struggle to pay for necessities now as those prices continue to rise. Food basics are once again on the rise. Food processors are likely to pass that on American consumers. To counter all the bad news, the Fed is considering creating inflation with the hope of boosting the economy. Printing more dollars to send overseas is hardly a solution. Printing dollars to keep those dollars here is the only viable solution, but hardly an option since most corporate shareholders only care about the bottom line as they send the bulk of their work to cheaper labor markets. Whether that bottom line rests on foreign factories or in American ones doesn’t matter to them.

This short-sided thinking is unsustainable at best, even as corporations seek government funding because they are unwilling to take risks in the U.S. marketplace. They seek that money only because the U.S. government is stupid enough to offer incentives to those that don’t really need the cash. It just pads the bottom line for larger corporations, as that money evaporates forever with little reward for Americans. Meanwhile, the media continues to boast that small business is responsible for a robust economy, even as the U.S. government penalizes small business. Enjoy the new American third world and the decline of the nation in favor of funding multinational corporations.

May 14, 2010

Big Business & Consequence of Economic Recovery

Because of the way that the United States economy is structured, every article of good news is almost always balanced by an equally troubling fact of economic life. Despite the prospects of a growing recovery in the eyes of many, we are now confronted with the latest trade deficit statistics.

As the economy improves, established business and some people are spending more money. The unhappy news is that the nation is spending more on imported goods than the rest of the world is spending on U.S. goods.

The latest statistics show that U.S. exports rose 3.2 percent during the month. Authorities equate this to a seasonally adjusted $147.9 billion. Imports increased by almost the same percentage, rising to $188.3 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $40.4 billion for the month of March. This an increase of 2.5 percent compared to the prior month, the highest trade imbalance in dollars in 15 months.

Much of the trade imbalance is due to the cost of  addictive imported oil, which points to the need for more effective national energy policy. The recent gulf oil spill has put a bit of a monkey wrench into what government says are short-term plans.

The largest winners in this trade process are the Middle East, followed by China. While consumers ultimately decide what they will buy, the big decision makers in all this hocus-pocus is Big Business, either through Corporate America, Multinational Corporations and large retailers like Wal-Mart. Responsibility doesn’t stop there. Even small mall shops bear a burden in supporting cheap foreign goods. In fact, no business is free from supporting cheap foreign goods over American goods. That die was cast in the 1990s. Even now, corporations are constantly trying to lower their bottom line and increase profits exponentially. Most of the time, they don’t care how they do it.  As a result the nation spends more than ever on foreign goods to support the desire for cheap stuff. Unhappily, because of corporations, much of that cheap stuff isn’t really cheap. It is being marked up by Big Business, made more desirable through glitzy advertising. As a result, quality of goods is often being reduced as well.

Corporations are not being encouraged to use goods produced in the United States. In fact, there is little incentive to produce goods in the U.S. when insanely cheap manufacturing sources can be found overseas. Politics is often involved with the notion of “saving America.” Any economic sustainability for this nation must involve corporations and businesses that do business in America.

It has been posited by many that consumers must demonstrate more discipline. While consumers do vote with their dollars, they often have little choice in the matter, especially in this decade. It isn’t simply about tightening spending and buying American goods. Corporations that do business in America must comply as well for the nation to succeed in putting down a continued national trade imbalance. Any other approach is simply magical thinking.

March 1, 2009

U.S. Budget Goes Bust

obama-camp-lejeuneThe economy is in a tailspin, contracting at a 6.2 percent pace in the last three months of 2008: the worst performance in decades. The White House announced that it will take a 36-percent stake in Citigroup in the hope of keeping it afloat amid huge toxic debt and a continuing crisis of confidence. These are ominous reminders that the nation has critical decisions to make in order to turn things around. President Obama appears to have ditched the Bush administration’s Washington-style budget sleight-of-hand with the attempt to honestly portray what the government will actually spend. In the mind of President Obama, his truth in budgeting approach is designed to help Americans make informed choices. That is exactly what Americans have been doing without government so far. We react to the failures of government, business and even ourselves. Even so, President Obama reveals that $3.6 trillion is to be spent in 2010, with almost $1.2 trillion of it borrowed.

What is President Obama’s message to taxpayers and Capitol Hill? We need to quit magical thinking. All the thing the nation’s needs will not pay for themselves. Laying the groundwork for a strong economy in the future isn’t without cost. Does America want to kick fossil fuels out for a greener future? How will America reform how we pay for health care, so that the nation can get more for our dollars and reduce the ranks of the uninsured? How do we keep Medicare solvent with the swelling rank of the disabled and a steadily growing retirement community? The nation needs a larger federal contribution for our schools. How will the nation repair and maintain roads, bridges, airports and mass transit? Now there is talk of building a modern energy grid. The president is counting on the economy to be growing by 2011. He plans on halving the deficit by 2013 through taxation of the upper class and perhaps through restricting corporate taxes loopholes and offshore banking. Keeping a deficit in the same place is difficult enough with the proposed spending required to save the nation and its’ current power and financial structure. That deficit reduction remains to be seen. Along the way, the nation must discontinue the practice of borrowing, spending and passing the bill to our kids to deal with. We just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

You can argue that money isn’t everything, but you can’t argue that fact when you are in government and money is everything. ~ E. Manning

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