Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

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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