Sunday, January 31, 2010
Listen to this interview after 34 minutes and shiver.....Be afraid, very afraid.
UPDATE: May 2010: Huffington Post: Get Out of the Stock market right now!
Friday, January 29, 2010
Why Obama's Green Job Plan Might Work
January 04, 2009|Marla Dickerson
HEMLOCK, MICH. — While Detroit's automakers struggle to rebuild their sputtering operations, the key to jump-starting Michigan's economy may lie 80 miles northwest of the Motor City.
This is the home of Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. It makes a material crucial for constructing photovoltaic panels. And that has turned this snow-covered hamlet into an unlikely hotbed for solar energy.
On Dec. 15, the same week that General Motors Corp. and Chrysler begged $17.4 billion from taxpayers to stave off collapse, Hemlock announced a $3-billion expansion that could create hundreds of jobs. It's a rare piece of good news for this battered Rust Belt state, whose 9.6% unemployment rate is the nation's highest.
In contrast to Detroit iron, Hemlock's quartz-based polycrystalline silicon is in such demand that workers in white smocks and protective gear toil around the clock to get it to customers around the globe.
Hemlock has been deluged with applications from idle factory hands such as former autoworker Don Sloboda. The 50-year-old Saginaw resident has been retraining at a local community college for what he hopes is the region's new engine of job growth.
"It looks like the future to me," Sloboda said.
Whether clean energy can pull Michigan out of the ditch remains to be seen. But the push is on to retool America with so-called green-collar industries.
President-elect Barack Obama wants to spend $150 billion over the next decade to promote energy from the sun, wind and other renewable sources as well as energy conservation. Plans include raising vehicle fuel-economy standards and subsidizing consumer purchases of plug-in hybrids. Obama wants to weatherize 1 million homes annually and upgrade the nation's creaky electrical grid. His team has talked of providing tax credits and loan guarantees to clean-energy companies.
His goals: create 5 million new jobs repowering America over 10 years; assert U.S. leadership on global climate change; and wean the U.S. from its dependence on imported petroleum.
"Breaking our oil addiction . . . is going to take nothing less than the complete transformation of our economy," Obama said during a campaign stop in Michigan's capital, Lansing, last year.
Americans have heard it before. Every president since Richard Nixon has touted energy independence, yet the goal remains elusive. The U.S. imported less than a third of its crude around the time of the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Today foreigners feed nearly 60% of the nation's petroleum habit.
Obama Job Plan 2010
Obama Spells Out Jobs Plan
WASHINGTON – Two days after he announced that job creation is his administration’s top priority, President Barack Obama detailed a proposal, which he unveiled Friday in Baltimore, to encourage small businesses to start hiring.
His proposed two-part Small Business Jobs and Wages Tax Cut would offer a $5,000 tax credit for each new employee hired this year and reimburse Social Security taxes for businesses that increase wages or hours for existing workers.
Although all businesses are eligible for the program, a cap at $500,000 per business ensures that smaller firms would get the most bang for the buck. The proposal is slated to cost $33 billion – money siphoned from the bank-bailout program, which used fewer taxpayers’ dollars than expected – and to extend to 1 million employers.
Despite Friday’s news that the economy grew at a better than expected 5.7 percent rate in the final three months of last year, unemployment remains stuck at 10 percent. Small businesses account for 64 percent of net job growth, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, who traveled across the country to speak with small business owners, said, “many of them see the ability to take that next order, to hire that next person, but don’t have the tools they need yet.”
“Many are eagerly awaiting the right moment,” she said.
The White House doesn’t plan to release estimates of how many jobs the proposal will create. According to a press release from the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research on Friday, economist Timothy Bartik calculates it could generate at least 1 million jobs, with a cost-per-job of less than $30,000, far cheaper than most stimulus measures.
“I believe that President Obama’s proposal is a well-thought-out plan that will significantly spur job creation at an affordable price,” Bartik said. “If Congress quickly adopts this proposal, it will not solve the United States’ current employment crisis, but it will make a significant dent in our employment problems.”
The job creation proposal is based on a similar tax credit established in 1977 that studies have shown to be successful. That tax credit, which offered $7,000 in inflation-adjusted terms for newly hired workers, helped the employment rate rise 11 percent over the next two years, while unemployment fell 2 percentage points.
Alan Krueger, the chief economist and assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department, said the latest proposal echoes its precedent, while improving upon some aspects, like applying the credits quarterly instead of yearly. The measure also includes provisions to prevent abuses, such as when companies fire workers and then rehire them to get the tax benefits.
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama said Monday he would unveil proposals next week aimed at spurring job growth in part through infrastructure improvements.
Obama made the comment as he announced he had picked Princeton economist Alan Krueger as the new chief of the Council of Economic Advisers.
He said next week he would lay out a series of steps that the U.S. Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of middle class families and put construction crews to work.
2013: Obama Jobs Council hits 1 year without official meeting
To be continued...........
Monday, January 25, 2010
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Economic Black Hole: 20 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy Is Dying And Is Simply Not Going To Recover
Even though the U.S. financial system nearly experienced a total meltdown in late 2008, the truth is that most Americans simply have no idea what is happening to the U.S. economy. Most people seem to think that the nasty little recession that we have just been through is almost over and that we will be experiencing another time of economic growth and prosperity very shortly. But this time around that is not the case. The reality is that we are being sucked into an economic black hole from which the U.S. economy will never fully recover.
The problem is debt. Collectively, the U.S. government, the state governments, corporate America and American consumers have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world. Our massive debt binge has financed our tremendous growth and prosperity over the last couple of decades, but now the day of reckoning is here.
And it is going to be painful.
The following are 20 reasons why the U.S. economy is dying and is simply not going to recover....
#1) Do you remember that massive wave of subprime mortgages that defaulted in 2007 and 2008 and caused the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression? Well, the "second wave" of mortgage defaults in on the way and there is simply no way that we are going to be able to avoid it. A huge mountain of mortgages is going to reset starting in 2010, and once those mortgage payments go up there are once again going to be millons of people who simply cannot pay their mortgages. The chart below reveals just how bad the second wave of adjustable rate mortgages is likely to be over the next several years....
#2) The Federal Housing Administration has announced plans to increase the amount of up-front cash paid by new borrowers and to require higher down payments from those with the poorest credit. The Federal Housing Administration currently backs about 30 percent of all new home loans and about 20 percent of all new home refinancing loans. Tighter standards are going to mean that less people will qualify for loans. Less qualifiers means that there will be less buyers for homes. Less buyers means that home prices are going to drop even more.
#3) It is getting really hard to find a job in the United States. A total of 6,130,000 U.S. workers had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more in December 2009. That was the most ever since the U.S. government started keeping track of this statistic in 1948. In fact, it is more than double the 2,612,000 U.S. workers who were unemployed for a similar length of time in December 2008. The reality is that once Americans lose their jobs they are increasingly finding it difficult to find new ones. Just check out the chart below....
#4) In December, there were also 929,000 "discouraged" workers who are not counted as part of the labor force because they have "given up" looking for work. That is the most since the U.S. government first started keeping track of discouraged workers in 1949. Many Americans have simply given up and are now chronically unemployed.
#5) Some areas of the U.S. are already virtually in a state of depression. The mayor of Detroit estimates that the real unemployment rate in his city is now somewhere around 50 percent.
#6) For decades, our leaders in Washington pushed us towards "a global economy" and told us it would be so good for us. But there is a flip side. Now workers in the U.S. must compete with workers all over the world, and our greedy corporations are free to pursue the cheapest labor available anywhere on the globe. Millions of jobs have already been shipped out of the United States, and Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder estimates that 22% to 29% of all current U.S. jobs will be offshorable within two decades. The days when blue collar workers could live the American Dream are gone and they are not going to come back.
#7) During the 2001 recession, the U.S. economy lost 2% of its jobs and it took four years to get them back. This time around the U.S. economy has lost more than 5% of its jobs and there is no sign that the bleeding of jobs is going to stop any time soon.
#8) All of this unemployment is putting severe stress on state unemployment funds. At this point, 25 state unemployment insurance funds have gone broke and the Department of Labor estimates that 15 more state unemployment funds will likely go broke within two years and will need massive loans from the federal government just to keep going.
#9) 37 million Americans now receive food stamps, and the program is expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day. The United States of America is very quickly becoming a socialist welfare state.
#10) The number of Americans who are going broke is staggering. 1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 - a 32 percent increase over 2008.
#11) For decades, the fact that the U.S. dollar was the reserve currency of the world gave the U.S. financial system an unusual degree of stability. But all of that is changing. Foreign countries are increasingly turning away from the dollar to other currencies. For example, Russia’s central bank announced on Wednesday that it had started buying Canadian dollars in a bid to diversify its foreign exchange reserves.
#12) The recent economic downturn has left some localities totally bankrupt. For instance, Jefferson County, Alabama is on the brink of what would be the largest government bankruptcy in the history of the United States - surpassing the 1994 filing by Southern California's Orange County.
#13) The U.S. is facing a pension crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Virtually all pension funds in the United States, both private and public, are massively underfunded. With millions of Baby Boomers getting ready to retire, there is simply no way on earth that all of these obligations can be met. Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the collective unfunded pension liability for all 50 U.S. states for Forbes magazine. So what was the total? 3.2 trillion dollars.
#14) Social Security and Medicare expenses are wildly out of control. Once again, with millions of Baby Boomers now at retirement age there is simply going to be no way to pay all of these retirees what they are owed.
#15) So will the U.S. government come to the rescue? The U.S. has allowed the total federal debt to balloon by 50% since 2006 to $12.3 trillion. The chart below is a bit outdated, but it does show the reckless expansion of U.S. government debt over the past several decades. To get an idea of where we are now, just add at least 3 trillion dollars on to the top of the chart....
#16) So has the U.S. government learned anything from these mistakes? No. In fact, Senate Democrats on Wednesday proposed allowing the federal government to borrow an additional $2 trillion to pay its bills, a record increase that would allow the U.S. national debt to reach approximately $14.3 trillion.
#17) It is going to become even harder for the U.S. government to pay the bills now that tax receipts are falling through the floor. U.S. corporate income tax receipts were down 55% in the year that ended on September 30th, 2009.
#18) So where will the U.S. government get the money? From the Federal Reserve of course. The Federal Reserve bought approximately 80 percent of all U.S. Treasury securities issued in 2009. In other words, the U.S. government is now being financed by a massive Ponzi scheme.
#19) The reckless expansion of the money supply by the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve is going to end up destroying the U.S. dollar and the value of the remaining collective net worth of all Americans. The more dollars there are, the less each individual dollar is worth. In essence, inflation is like a hidden tax on each dollar that you own. When they flood the economy with money, the value of the money you have in your bank accounts goes down. The chart below shows the growth of the U.S. money supply. Pay particular attention to the very end of the chart which shows what has been happening lately. What do you think this is going to do to the value of the U.S. dollar?....
#20) When a nation practices evil, there is no way that it is going to be blessed in the long run. The truth is that we have become a nation that is dripping with corruption and wickedness from the top to the bottom. Unless this fundamentally changes, not even the most perfect economic policies in the world are going to do us any good. In the end, you always reap what you sow. The day of reckoning for the U.S. economy is here and it is not going to be pleasant.
Friday, January 22, 2010
By Ron Paul
Last week, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission kicked off their first round of hearings on the causes of the economic meltdown on Wall Street. The commission is being compared to the the Pecora Commission launched in 1932 to investigate the causes of the Great Depression. The Pecora commission is beloved by those who believe the solution to every problem is more laws because it was used to justify a number of new laws, including Glass-Steagall. Of course, none of those laws addressed the real causes of the Great Depression. It was the introduction of unsound monetary policy and central economic planning pursued by the Federal Reserve that really threw everything off balance. The Fed was founded in 1913 to stabilize the economy and prevent a recurrence of the short-lived Panic of 1907, but instead it promptly produced the Great Depression which lasted more than 15 years.
The Pecora Commission was stacked with big government sympathizers who blamed the free market and the gold standard without question, and without any consideration of government interference in the economy. This panel is no different. Never will they contemplate how government steered us into this crisis, and what perverse incentives can be removed or repealed so that the market will function more smoothly. Never will they discuss how investment should come from savings, not debt. Never will it occur to them that fiat money, artificially low interest rates and the whole Federal Reserve System might be unwise and unstable, not to mention unconstitutional. The answer will always be more government regulation and oversight. It is predictable that this government panel will eventually come to the firm conclusion that government needs to be bigger, and that the market is just too free.
How sad is this when exactly the opposite is true?
It is big government that gives out tax breaks to engineer behavior, often creating large pockets of malinvestments. It is government that created the FDIC and the Fed as lender of last resort which all encourages moral hazard. It is big government that gives bureaucrats the ability to bail out cronies with taxpayer dollars while screaming that the economic sky is falling if they don't. It is big government that every year adds new layers to the already labyrinthine regulatory code that smaller businesses can't keep up with while simultaneously preventing new businesses from emerging. It is big government that misdirects economic productivity into bankrupt businesses that they consider to be too big to fail.
If this panel was serious about understanding the root of the problem, as they claim to be, they would have people testify who understand the crisis and saw it coming. To my knowledge, none of them have received a phone call. The problem is those people would say too many things the government panel would find inconvenient. They would point fingers at too many of the state's anointed. They would recommend getting government out of the way of the free market and getting back to simply protecting contracts and punishing fraud. But the biggest fraud is perpetrated by the Federal Reserve. No one on this panel takes that viewpoint seriously. Instead, they will be asking people who are still scratching their heads at how they could have missed the housing bubble what new regulations they can put in place to prevent future bubbles. Thus, I don't expect much real wisdom to come out of this current investigation.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Ron Paul: "Prepare for Revolutionary Changes in the Not-too-distant Future.”
Scary words of wisdom from the only man in US Congress with a solution to the financial mess. (h/t: Jesse)
“Could it all be a bad dream, or a nightmare? Is it my imagination, or have we lost our minds? It's surreal; it's just not believable. A grand absurdity; a great deception, a delusion of momentous proportions; based on preposterous notions; and on ideas whose time should never have come; simplicity grossly distorted and complicated; insanity passed off as logic; grandiose schemes built on falsehoods with the morality of Ponzi and Madoff; evil described as virtue; ignorance pawned off as wisdom; destruction and impoverishment in the name of humanitarianism; violence, the tool of change; preventive wars used as the road to peace; tolerance delivered by government guns; reactionary views in the guise of progress; an empire replacing the Republic; slavery sold as liberty; excellence and virtue traded for mediocracy; socialism to save capitalism; a government out of control, unrestrained by the Constitution, the rule of law, or morality; bickering over petty politics as we collapse into chaos; the philosophy that destroys us is not even defined.
We have broken from reality--a psychotic Nation. Ignorance with a pretense of knowledge replacing wisdom. Money does not grow on trees, nor does prosperity come from a government printing press or escalating deficits.
We're now in the midst of unlimited spending of the people's money, exorbitant taxation, deficits of trillions of dollars--spent on a failed welfare/warfare state; an epidemic of cronyism; unlimited supplies of paper money equated with wealth.
A central bank that deliberately destroys the value of the currency in secrecy, without restraint, without nary a whimper. Yet, cheered on by the pseudo-capitalists of Wall Street, the military industrial complex, and Detroit.
We police our world empire with troops on 700 bases and in 130 countries around the world. A dangerous war now spreads throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Thousands of innocent people being killed, as we become known as the torturers of the 21st century.
We assume that by keeping the already-known torture pictures from the public's eye, we will be remembered only as a generous and good people. If our enemies want to attack us only because we are free and rich, proof of torture would be irrelevant.
The sad part of all this is that we have forgotten what made America great, good, and prosperous. We need to quickly refresh our memories and once again reinvigorate our love, understanding, and confidence in liberty. The status quo cannot be maintained, considering the current conditions. Violence and lost liberty will result without some revolutionary thinking.
We must escape from the madness of crowds now gathering. The good news is the reversal is achievable through peaceful and intellectual means and, fortunately, the number of those who care are growing exponentially.
Of course, it could all be a bad dream, a nightmare, and that I'm seriously mistaken, overreacting, and that my worries are unfounded. I hope so. But just in case, we ought to prepare ourselves for revolutionary changes in the not-too-distant future.”
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
With US residential property prices theoretically to go downward another 22% and government throwing this debt they will never be able to pay back on the middle class, Americans are slowly coming to their senses. "We have all been in a long state of delusion", writes the author. The US government, as lackey of the financial industry, will punish the saver and save the spender (and get away with it). Unless people start massively defaulting on their debt. Makes sense. Let there be a new system. Let the US default as a consequence. Let the banks become boring institutions with grey people, grey trousers and grey faces. Let hedge funds bet, but with their own money. The judicial system will come to a standstill if this becomes a movement. "Move Your Money" is a push in the right direction, but unfortunately these people still believe that ethics is an American word. Keynes is dead, buried and the author yearns to go back to normality through default, bankruptcy and then start over again with a clean slate.
I read a mysterious statement the other day.
“My data show that between 1890 and 1990 real home prices actually didn’t increase,” said Robert Shiller, in Newsweek (Dec 30, 2009), Why We’ll Always Have More Money Than Sense.
We have all been in a long state of delusion. Our psychosis is simple. We are married to real estate which increases in value. I can get rich. You can too.
The belief in increasing values of real estate is the president of our financial crisis. Now we know he didn’t deserve the office. The price will be paid. We can all confirm the high stupidity of the crowd which we are in. Of course I’m a member, but I’ve decided I’m done, and you have too.
Now we are cured. Or some are. Or a few maybe.
If real estate is a “flat” asset, with price changes created only by inflation, and not true increases in value, than you know we still have quite a big fall to go ahead of us. And if we don’t fall, that’s almost certainly worse. The graph above shows Case Shiller through the third quarter of 2009. The numbers are adjusted for inflation.
Take a minute and pick out the most striking feature of the graph. Study it a minute. What do you think it is? Do we agree?
The striking feature is that the current breaking bubble is a bubble which was a King Kong bubble. Any predecessor bubble in the last 120 years was a hiccup. Now we have gangrene. At least one limb must go.
The best numbers, which are Case Shiller, predict a fall of 22% from current levels. And that’s if we don’t overshoot.
Over the last three or four months I have been looking closely at the data on pricing from Case Shiller, Freddie Mac, The Federal Housing Finance Agency, and First American Core Logic. I have been surprised by how negative the forecast is based upon long-term price trends.
While there are variations, all of the different data sets point to patterns very much like what you see above from Case Shiller. If history has a pattern, and the most educated voice on the matter says it does, then a fall is written in stone. The critical question: Should we respect what the stone says? Or should we try to break the tablet?
Who can imagine the perverse effects of a policy which successfully circumvents something as towering as the pricing of all of our 129 million residential housing units?
If successful, the most obvious perversion of our current policies on housing is that we will continue to pay too much for the most expensive cost which each of us shell out for every day and every month and every lifetime. We are fighting an ocean’s tide retreating. How will we hold the water on the shore? We are forcing a more expensive lifestyle across our entire economy. Rich and poor. Young and old. All are scheduled to pay more if the bubble doesn’t pop completely.
We live in a world of radical price competition. The obvious competition we are losing is the competition based upon the price of labor. Expensive housing exacerbates our competitive disadvantage.
Our focus should be on providing our services for a lower cost. Does anybody think it makes sense for us to increase the cost of housing when the price of labor is too high? If housing costs are high, will that help our competitiveness?
Those new to this argument about the price of housing should consider that the government effort to artificially inflate prices includes radical intervention. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA, all government banks, are the entire mortgage market today. Private investment in mortgages is gone. No sane banker is going to make a loan on an asset that has fallen 30% in value.
The federal government is also literally giving money to buyers through a tax credit. And the federal government is buying a huge percentage of mortgages to artificially keep interest rates low (see above). And the federal government has issued an unlimited credit line to Fannie and Freddie so they can write as many mortgages as they want.
If you don’t understand all of these names and programs, trust me when I say that nuclear bombs have been used on the housing market.
Think about that for a minute, and look at the pathetic unit sales above. The government is dropping nuclear bombs on the mortgage market and nobody is dying. They can’t move the product.
What has been taking off are foreclosures. They are soaring. The general feeling is that foreclosures are terrible and should be stopped because of the distress they bring both to a family and a neighborhood. The more important truth, widely ignored, is that foreclosures promise to bring back cheap prices. We know from the first chart in this story that lower prices are natural.
In our post-bubble world, foreclosures are the surest mechanism for creating affordable housing. Consumer advocates should now welcome this method of price correction. Those true to their mission will embrace a mass-foreclosure remedy.
In a credit bubble, the smart economist makes the highest goal a true reckoning with phony debt. The common man now has a chance to play the smart economist.
Let the house go back to the lenders. The bank will throw the mortgage in the garbage. Reality will return. Prices will fall – perhaps dramatically. Systemic mortgage debt in the United States will be reduced.
Default is now a patriotic duty. It is a courageous intelligent act. Take the right steps so we can beat the Chinese. We need the jobs. We need to get back to work. We don’t need the phony debt issued to buy a bubble.
The government has screwed up management of the financial crisis by granting debt assets special status. What the owners of debt assets deserve are losses. It’s time for the people to fix the financial crisis.
About the Author
Michael White blogs at New Observations.net and is the CEO of The New Mortgage Company. He has purchased over 250 properties and advised hundreds of borrowers on both their mortgage and real estate investments.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The US$ is doing well becasue the demand from investors is strong. Only to find out that the "investor" is the FED itself.
Same story, nobody cares, but if the shit hits the fan (and it will, we just do not know when), trust will evaporate in our leaders and with that anything written on paper.