Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

January 28, 2009

Congress: We are not the Experts (The Real Truth about the U.S. Economy)

kanjorski-banking-economyIn a CSPAN interview, Democrat Representative Paul Kanjorski, the Capitol Markets Subcommittee Chairman, made some revealing confessions about the expertise of the U.S. House and Senate, the facts behind the scenes during the EESA Stimulus plan last year and the real plight of the U.S. economy.

the actions of the Secretary of Treasury and EESA bailout

“Things were done that were misunderstood. We did not give the $700 million for the purpose of lending money. It was never in the program (TARP, EESA) It was misconstrued initially and put together with the suggestion by the Secretary of Treasury that we would be buying what we called dirty assets, defective mortgages and securities in these banks and that the government would find a way to create a market, buy them in, take them off the balance sheets so that the banks could continue to function normally…I supported that. But another part of the bill, we gave jurisdiction and authority to the Secretary of the Treasury to make investments in banks. He had very wide authority because, quite frankly, we (Congress) are not the experts on the Hill as how to solve this problem and the problem is multifaceted, so we gave great flexibility to Secretary of Treasury to act.”

The near collapse of the economy and U.S. government

“I was there when the Secretary and the Chairman of Federal Reserve came those days and talked with members of Congress about what was going on. It was about September 15th. Here’s the facts: we don’t even talk about these things. On Thursday, at about 11 o’clock in the morning, the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous drawdown of Money Market Accounts in the United States to the tune of $550 billion. It was being drawn within the space of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up it’s window to help. They pumped $105 billion into the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. The decided to close down the operation, close down the money accounts and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so that there wouldn’t be further panic out there. That is what actually happened. What if they had not done that? Their estimation was that by 2 o’clock that afternoon $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States and would have, in 24 hours, the world economy would have collapsed. We talked about, at that time, what would have happened, if that had happened. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.”

“That’s why, when they made the point, we’ve got to act and do things quickly, we did. Now, Secretary Paulson said, Let’s buy out these subprime mortgages. Give us latitude and large authority to do many things as we decide necessary and give us $700 billion to do that. Shortly after we enacted our bill with those very broad powers, the UK came out and said ‘No, we don’t have enough money to buy toxic assets. Instead, we are going to put our money into banks so that their equity grows and they’re not bankrupt. The UK started that process. That’s true, it was much cheaper to put more money in banks as equity investments than to start buying their bad assets. It was early determined that we would have to spend 3 to 4 billion dollars of taxpayer money to buy these bad assets. We didn’t have it. We only had $700 billion.”

“So Paulson made a complete switch, went in and started putting money in and buying securities and investing in banks in the United States. Why? Because if you don’t have a banking system, you don’t have an economy. Although we did that, we didn’t have enough money and as fast as we did that, the economy has been falling. We are really no better off than we were off today than we were three months ago because we have had an decrease in the equity positions of banks. Other assets are going sour by the moment.”

the real truth of the matter according to Paul Kanjorski

“Now, we’ve got to make some decisions. Do we pour more money in to the extent that the money goes in…I, myself, think that we ought to take the time, analyze where we are, have the people (American public) understand…We need to really inform (the public) as to the facts and get input (from them). Perhaps (the public) has better ideas. We aren’t any geniuses in economics or finance. We are representatives of the people. We ought to take our time, but let the people know that this is a very difficult struggle. Somebody threw us out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without a life raft and we are trying to determine the closest shore and whether there is any chance in the world to swim that far. WE…DON’T…KNOW.”

Remember who actually threw the economy into “the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without a life raft.” We can offer that credit to greedy unscrupulous bankers, a corrupt banking community, unattentive government regulators and politicians that gloried in the temporary economic bubble that the moral bankruptcy created. Never forget that America! ~ E. Manning

U.S. stimulus trivia: the latest stimulus provision provides enough spending to give every man, woman, and child in America $2,700.
President Obama has said that his proposed “stimulus legislation” will create or save 3 million jobs. This means that this legislation will spend at least $275,000 per job. The average household income in the U.S. is $42,000 a year. The way that the stimulus is currently written will probably save mostly state and federal government jobs. The current stimulus is not designed principally for economic stimulus for Main Street.

January 10, 2009

Unemployment: Jiggering with Accounting

abc-news-job-loss1102008There is no question that American job losses over the last year have been stunning. Whether Americans like to admit the truth or not, over time the Federal Government has demonstrated that they feel compelled to dicker with statistics, often simply to make a single administration look better, if that is possible. As a result, most of the statistics and measures that are commonly published do not use the same standards as measures used consistently for decades. Instead, dickering with statistics has become a legendary propaganda tool, usually to make whatever the statistics are supposed to prove appear much better. This “dumbing down” of statistics is legendary with the Federal Reserve, notably in changing from M-3 statistics and is prevalent in Unemployment Statistics. You will find similar cheats when comparing state economies across the United States. It is all about the perception of the public and the attempt to more evenly distribute data.

At this posting, the “government darling” unemployment rate is 7.2%. By the end of 2009, this economist expects the unemployment rate to approximately double to just at 15%, although a proliferation of additional and unknown failures  could easily bring that number higher. Meanwhile, the real statistics that Americans are actually living with are higher as demonstrated in the chart below.

Chart of U.S. Unemployment
The passion of John Williams is to keep up with older and usually more accurate measures of economic statistics. The details at shadowstats.com, if you care to examine them, demonstrates the manipulation of data by government officials to their own ends. The average  and often clueless American citizen often wonders why he or she is having such a hard time treading economic water.  John Williams sheds a lot of light on this situation and has been doing so for years. This chart shows an unemployment rate approaching 18%. It all depends whom you choose to believe. ~ E. Manning

November 9, 2008

American Job Crisis Solution

cash needed, not corporate bailoutsEver since job losses followed by consumer consumption hit the red zone 10 months ago, the American job crisis has worsened. What gets the most attention is still retail sales, the prospect of Big Business and consumer consumption. Every measure of economic growth is measured on that consumption. In that light, there is little hope for quick results beyond drawing unemployment unless you are willing to look for small business opportunities.

Big Business is awash in crisis amid sagging numbers. Instead of focusing on lazy investors with big pocketbooks looking for investments, consider the small businessman rising to the challenge to spark innovation and a stronger economy. Investors should look at investing in themselves for their growth.

Look to spend what hard-earned dollars you have with small business, even on the internet to support the small business that builds your economy and families like yours. Vote your confidence with your wallet. Big Business is or will be sucking down huge volumes dollars in the hopes of bailing out millions of jobs in the next few months, mostly in the auto industry for cars that nobody wants. What will done with all those cars? Hopefully, they will either sell them at fire sale prices for impoverished Americans that need them, but can’t afford them or they will resell them as next year’s model. American automakers can’t afford to be choosy with taxpayer dollars. Big business needs to be giving back in spades for taxpayer bailout money received. Forget the meager interest payments Americans will never see. The American citizens need a real boost, especially among the harder hit elderly and lower to middle income. Americans need solutions, not corporate bailouts for stupid decision-making. ~ E. Manning

October 17, 2008

Krugman Bearish on U.S. Economy and Jobs

Filed under: economy, money — Tags: , , , — digitaleconomy @ 1:07 am

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman sees a nasty recession with plenty of suffering to come, even if frozen credit markets thaw. Krugman said a rise in the unemployment rate to 7 percent seems almost certain and sees an increase of unemployment to 8 percent at better than even. The generally reported jobless rate in September stood at a five-year high of 6.1 percent. To find out a closer estimate of the real unemployment at 11% in September, check out Unemployment: Media Short on Truth.

Krugman pointed out the fact that there simply isn’t enough money in circulation to thaw the markets and that the bailout plan approved by Congress isn’t enough.

September 4, 2008

Inflation: Sick of the “I” Word

Yes. Every American knows what the Fed is reluctant to admit. The economy is struggling. Prices remain high. Booyah. It’s a revelation.

It took the Fed and the federal government almost 9 months to admit the truth about the mortgage, banking and finance debacle. They had all the facts and saw it coming. They looked the other way in the hope that you might not notice or in the vain hope that a pied piper might come along and enchant all the rats. Shortly after that mortgage and finance truth was reinforced by reality, Bear Stearns collapsed, threatening the fall of U.S. investment bankers. Now the Federal Reserve has effectively nationalized every important sector of the banking community within the United States in the effort to keep the show running in the spirit of confidence. The federal government a/k/a the American taxpayer is theoretically on the hook for the entire expense, enslaving the nation to an uncertain future unless we wise up.

We’ve heard about the “R” word, but never has another word meant more to a nation or a global economy in consternation than the infamous “I” word that economists, writers and politicians cannot fail to utter in quiet undertones of fear. What make the “I” word so dangerous is the lack of power against it. Inflation isn’t just a cycle. Inflation is a symptom of unbridled lack of discipline and theft by the Federal Reserve and central bankers themselves. The fact is that authorities have decided that if we mention inflation enough, the public will actually stop taking it seriously.

Inflation has been described as “creeping.” Inflation may well be creepy and may well be advancing, but inflation has showed its ugliness rather dramatically. The nation faces higher inflation than in more than 20 years. Even worse, the nation flutters on the brink of truly nasty stagflation.

The officials in charge won’t readily admit such a thing. First, we have invented hard and fast rules about such topics. Economics is a science say many experts. We have strict definitions for these kinds of things say leaders. That depends on what school of thought you choose to believe. Still, you may be right if you consider economics to be on the same level of science as evolution. The best and the brightest are still unresolved about both except where it fits an agenda for power as they constantly update the facts in an effort to make their case.

In the meantime, prognosticaters are expecting a “rough patch” to come up soon. This patch could happen at any time. Christmas is going to be very bad, business pundits say in prophecy. Bad depends on the level of expectations. If consumers continue to retrench by only buying what they need, the economy is doomed in the eyes business retailers and tax collectors.

American consumers may be in a “slump”, but business and government is in the midst of a crisis. Government has grown to depend on more consumption and rosy projections to raise operating funds by taxation. Business has grown to depend on cheap foreign labor to slash expenses while raising prices. Inflation comes as much from greed and usury of the little guy on both sides as it does from devaluation of American currency and weakness in the dollar.

Food and fuel prices have knocked inflationary values out of the park recently. The Fed says that fuel prices have moderated somewhat, but are still elevated. Considering that the average barrel of oil averaged about $37.00 in 2004, the word elevated is an understatement.

Then the Fed blithely states that wage gains are modest. This is an obscene statement considering that wages have been flat for years, even when adjusted continually for “nominal 3 percent inflation.” No danger for inflationary pressure here because employers are laying off workers in droves in an effort to save the bottom line of business. Employers haven’t been known to be “overly generous” in at least 3 decades.

Manufacturing is weak or declining as corporations close down facilities and offshore jobs to foreign nations with significantly lower wage rates and taxation. The things that America still manufactures like steel, heavy machinery and aircraft are cheaper for foreign buyers because of the weakness of the devalued dollar. This possibility combined with stimulus payments are being given credit for growth figures in the second quarter of 2008.

The largest problem with concepts like recession and inflation is that like every other economic idea, there isn’t much agreement on much of anything. Now that is science. ~ E. Manning

August 21, 2008

Wages in America: Faking Lifestyle

web of deception

wages: web of deception

The concept of wage stagnation is in the news once again even though the economic blight is a mere 35 to 40 years old. The media and economic bean counters are curiously worried about the “standard of living bubble.” Imagine the idea that this news at all. Most Americans, except during times of heady expansion in certain markets, have been fully aware of the concept as jobs head out of the American economy in droves because of corporate multinationals and careless politics. For years, the idea was that you could beat wage stagnation with a well-heeled education, but reality has proved that this idea is no longer true if it ever really was.

Americans and other high-faluting nations have been loading up on credit for years to bolster the appearance of bettering the Joneses next door. The contracting market cut into that fantasy for many credit afficianados. Now the contracting job market, which in reality has been imploding in the United States for some time is hampering the ability of Americans to cope with lifestyle choices.

If that prospect wasn’t enough, now Americans risk losing the ability to use their precious credit cards because contracting credit markets threaten to limit access of credit cards to many participants. The entire economy of the United States seems to be facing a reality check where fiscal relevance is concerned.

credit is good for America

credit is good for America

The media has suddenly cooked up the idea that inflation has been increasing more rapidly than pay increases, which goes against what the U.S. government has preached for decades. A modest 3 percent raise in pay was supposed to cover the national inflation rate. The reality from the 80’s to 2006 shows a ten percent yearly-averaged inflation rate. Using these humble and easily accessible figures, no fool would admit that wages have kept pace, even if those wages were not stagnant. The term stagnant is relative, depending on how you want to justify the term.

The cold reality that we all know is that we have supported our lifestyle dreams on credit. We lost the incentive to save, which we have lost anyway due to the monster of inflation. Saving a few dollars now with a regular inflation loss means a dollar saved is a dollar lost, just a little slower over time. The endless printing of American greenbacks combined with a burgeoning national debt has ensured that a dollar saved ten years ago is worth zero today. Any interest gained on that dollar is worth very little unless you were able to invest that dollar to somehow create more. When viewed in reality, inflation is really a hungry bear. The working man has been royally and cruelly worked over, even though the government has denied the reality all along.

semantics in wealth perception

semantics in wealth perception

Since the mortgage debacle and the contracting real estate market has hit the economy (not pointing fingers today), Americans have embraced the last source of easy money to keep up their lifestyle or to avoid the reality of bankruptcy from relentless spending.

Americans aren’t ones to be told no when it comes to lifestyle. According to bean counters, credit card debt is growing much faster than the economy as Americans use credit cards with interest rates as high as 30% as a substitute for income. Last year, use of credit card increased around 7% each quarter. That is a 28% increase in an attempt to sustain economic lifestyle. Last May reported an increase of credit card use of 7%. If that were to continue for 12 months, the humble increase is a mere 84%. Obviously, this economic miracle is not sustainable.

A big crush is coming, but not just because you can’t pay your credit card bill. Banks are “securitizing” everything including your beautiful credit card debt to be sold off to eager desperate investors, at least bankers hope. Citigroup alone lost $176 million through securitized bonds for credit cards in the last quarter. Sweet. Delinquency rates devalue the securitized bonds, forcing a writedown in value.

Since banks can’t sell of all that glorious credit card debt, banks are going to make customers pay more for the privilege of easy money resulting in less easy money and a contracting credit market over time because creative money creation is not working to the advantage of wiley bankers.

Where America will turn next is anyone’s guess. Barring black market prices for selling off children as collateral, Americans may be faced with the joys of living within their means. The good news behind all of this drama is not the perceived pain. Contraction of any marketplace is a mixed blessing. Billions will be lost and millions of Americans will see hard times, but in the end everyone is a winner because, at least in theory, the marketplace achieves a value balance. America has needed a long-awaited correction that politicians are deathly afraid of. Market contraction means that prices and everything that is assigned a dollar value decreases in relative cost. The exception to that blessing is the specter of devaluation or the possibility of hyperinflation due to stagflation. That however, is another story. ~ E. Manning

August 3, 2008

False Confidence and Tough Times

You’ve probably heard the bad news and are likely to hear more based on underground information that isn’t public yet. Public information isn’t rosy either as otherwise tough line economists are finally admitting a “shallow recession”.

You’ve probably heard that the federal government admitted that 51,000 jobs vanished last month, with just over 1/2 million this year according to statistics. Growth has been reported as slow, but numbers have just been revised for an economic contraction in the last three months of 2007. The popular line is growing that data suggests a recession began late last year. That is really old news. The good news behind the bad news is that once you admit you have a problem, you stop trying to cover up for the problem that you don’t have. In fact, by simply admitting the truth collectively or individually, it is possible to look upward or at least past your situation. That is exactly what the economy really needs, a release from national credit addiction. Business and government need it more than consumers do.

Investment bankers like Goldman Sachs say the entire global economy is slowing, which makes any trade improvement opportunities unsustainable at best for the U.S. economy. Because of that many new opportunities in the U.S. economy are being cut off. Business is also worrying about Christmas sales and is reacting by importing less goods. Looking at the bright side, even if many Americans don’t have a traditional Christmas, we still have each other. The world isn’t over because of a disappointing holiday season except for unwise speculators.

For those businesses that must have an increase in sales, new ways to entice consumers must be discovered to garner what business there is. Otherwise, many businesses will be cutting back and closing stores. This move is expected before Christmas as business continues to contract, but many retailers will try to weather the storm. Panic may ensue, but rest assured that many businesses have simply reaped what they have sown. Let’s face the facts that Americans cannot continue to live on credits cards to finance cheap imported goods to make the business world ever larger profit margins. Inflation also continues to cut into margins on both sides for business. The beast of inflation is no longer reigned in.

Many Americans have decided to get down to brass tacks and quit fooling themselves. Even so, at the end of the year, the likes of Old Navy will still have tons of practically worthless stuff to sell at bargain basement prices in the new year that they paid pennies on the dollar for to manufacture overseas.

Tens of millions of Americans have for years borrowed aggressively against the value of their homes to finance trips to the mall, dinners out, vacations, medical bills and new cars. As housing values continue to fall and artificial financing possibilities wither, the cold reality of real life will finally begin to settle in. Expectations will have to be lowered, at least for now. Wages will have to increase to sustain the economy or prices will have to fall. Since most wages come from the halls of big business, you know that prices will fall.

Confidence is down and for good reason. But confidence is a short-term animal that economists and analysts put too much stock into. Business owners that have some common sense are not stockpiling goods like in days of old. Less stock and less sales mean less tax revenue, which will further hurt the cash that government craves. Confidence will continue to erode for a time and deficit will reign. In six months or more, we may actually know if the stimulus checks were effective in any way or not. Until then, speculation rules. Still, tough times don’t last forever, although getting through is no less difficult. Tough times is also what makes humans grow.

Aside from all the heavy spending, why is America in trouble? Never forget that our friends, the bankers and financiers have dumped the economic cart. Fraud and speculation has worn down the system where a little restraint and sense would have carried the economy a long way. Of course, government guarantees on virtually every financial measure and market don’t work and ultimately create more harm than good by further burdening the economy. We have nationalized banking, mortgage, finance and in some cases, business in general. You can’t take the risk out of business. Human nature mandates abusive practices where there is no risk or reason for accountability.

Happily, we have something to gain from the situation if we are collectively willing to learn from our mistakes and forbid the same behavior in the future. That would be incredible progress that has been slow in coming. Yes, this is a dismal science when times are tough. To some, times are never good enough as we race onward at breakneck speed to meet the rush of bills that are always coming due. That is the life of plenty that America has been sold.

If we are smart, we have other things that we can manage to do during the recovery besides continue to hurt others and the already ailing economy. Sitting still and taking stock may be the wisest move imaginable. We can trim back spending and expectations while looking for a new approach to life in America. Remembering who you really are is more important than false confidence.

While all of this is happening, the digital economy is really ready to take off in a big way with the next upturn. The powers behind the scenes, including the central bankers aren’t hurting. They continue to make it big during good times and bad. ~ E. Manning

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