Posts Tagged ‘economy’
Paul Krugman is an NYT op-ed columnist, economics professor at Princeton, and everything that is wrong with academic economics. His recent article aimed at blasting Rand Paul about a tweet is a great example of his academic shortsightedness.
His worst quote is the following:
“issuing debt is a way to pay for useful things, and we should do more of that when the price is right. The United States suffers from obvious deficiencies in roads, rails, water systems and more; meanwhile, the federal government can borrow at historically low interest rates. So this is a very good time to be borrowing and investing in the future, and a very bad time for what has actually happened: an unprecedented decline in public construction spending adjusted for population growth and inflation.”
This would have made since back when the National Debt was 1/10 what it is today. Had that borrowed money been spent on infrastructure like Krugman is suggesting, we’d have amazing roads (maybe even paved in gold!), freeways, practically no student loan debt, an abundance of water retention systems in California, and massive alternative energy infrastructure. Instead, our roads are in horrible condition and cost us an average of $515/month (after double taxes – income and excise- mind you).
Sure, Krugman’s statements make sense on paper. I’ve seen this kind of thinking before when I was studying economics in college. It’s the same shortsightedness that had me question whether a degree in economics was worth anything more than the paper it is written on. Spoiler alert: the ink costs more than the paper.
Earlier this year, Krugman wrote another half-witted articles about debt (amongst so many others).
With statements like “Because debt is money we owe to ourselves, it does not directly make the economy poorer (and paying it off doesn’t make us richer)”, Krugman proves that studying economics at Princeton is a waste of money. First, our national debt is not owned entirely by American citizens. Second, owing YOURSELF money is fine (great example is taking a loan against your 401K) ONLY IF you pay it back. At some point, you aren’t going to have income, and if you’ve borrowed your entire 401K, you’re really hurting your retirement as well as what you are leaving behind for your family. The argument that the microeconomics doesn’t apply to the macroeconomics is false.
It’s certainly a reasonable argument to make that America borrowing money from itself and then paying it back is a good thing much like borrowing from a 401K is a good thing for an individual. However, if that money doesn’t get paid back and just piles up instead, you’re left with an accelerated increase in debt:
Even adjusting for inflation, the $4,118 only equals a mere $11,926.11. That’s quite a bit off from the $57K each citizen owns. It gets even worse when you only count taxpayers.
Borrowing and paying back is fine, but that’s not what America is doing. We’re borrowing and then having someone else pay it back (maybe, if they can). That’s called a Ponzi scheme. If America was borrowing from itself (which it isn’t since 35% is foreign owned) and paying back the debt within a generation, we’d see a much smaller national debt than the $18MMM+ we currently have.
At the end of the day, it appears Krugman is too smug with his academia version of national debt that he can’t see the flaws of his logic when applied to the real world as opposed to the fictitious one in which he wants to believe actually exists. He’s played his cards right and gotten to a level of academic prestige, which is great for him and the New York Times; not so good for public perceptions of debt.
It’s going to be 6-9 months before things start moving into recovery, and they are going to get much worse over the next 3 months. And that is a best case scenario. Why is this recession going to be so long and so severe? Simple, we denied it was happening for almost an entire year!
Remember, according to our government our economy was fundamentally strong just 3 months ago. That wasn’t the case then. That wasn’t even the case a year ago.
Recessions are fairly simple to recover from if they are dealt with responsibly. Ignoring it for 12 months just dug us a deeper hole. It would be like ignoring a broken leg for 12 months. Your leg would take longer to heal and would probably heal incorrectly (i.e. via $700 billion government bailout = $15 billion automobile industry bailout).
Here’s an idea for the government bailout program that the vast majority of Americans don’t support. Give us an opt out clause on our taxes for the next 10 years.
Now, I’m not talking about opting out of our taxes. Those of us who don’t support the bailout will still have to pay our taxes as usual. However, we can opt out of our tax dollars being used to fund this ridiculous scam.
If you limit the government’s availability of funds, they can’t be as spendthrift as they have been. If they want to come up with $700 billion to spend on some useless bailout, they will need to get it from some other source than the American taxpayer.
Years ago, this would not have been possible. However, with technology today, this is entirely possible. In fact, we could give taxpayers the ability to opt out of any irresponsible government spending. It would really make it simple for the government to determine how much they can waste on pointless bailouts like the automobile industry bailout. If 60% of Americans don’t support the automobile bailout then they will only have access to 40% of the taxpayer funds.
This would make budgeting for the government much easier! Taxpayers don’t support something, Congress can’t just go spend the money whenever and wherever they want. I suspect that we could balance the budget within 4-5 years and keep it balanced indefinitely with a bailout opt out clause. In fact, I suspect the government would end up with considerable surpluses as government waste would now have a true checks and balance system in place. The total tax dollars collected would be the same, but the ability for Congress to spend would drop considerably.
Now, some might argue that this would create serious problems with because the funding for the bailout is something that is “necessary” to avoid a greater economic downturn or because it is something the public doesn’t understand the importance of. I have two words December 2007.
Just last week, I has started publishing information about energy-based inflation. I had the idea and predicted it in a paper I wrote for an economics class almost 5 years ago. It was the first, and only, B graded paper I had ever written in an economics class. The professor gave it this low grade because he ultimately disagreed with me that energy could cause a ripple of inflation in the American economy.
This morning, I check my email to find further support for my theory of energy-based inflation. The Washington Post published an article about how Coal Can’t Fill the World’s Burning Appetite. To sum up their article, circumstances have shot the price of coal up by 50% or more over the last five month. While this short-term spurt in price may be able to be absorbed by businesses, don’t count on it. The price of coal is not going to be coming down any time soon. Same with oil.
What does this mean for America? Well, if you read the report from our government, guess where we get 49% of our energy from? If there is a sustained increase in the price of the resource that generates 49% of all of our energy, you can bet your house that prices are going to go up everywhere!
The bottom line is that energy is driving inflation in our economy, not interest rates. Watch what happens to all the rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year. They will go to offset the energy costs. It will temporarily stabilize energy inflation, but it is not a permanent solution. Energy costs will rise, and the Fed will be powerless. Changes in the energy market are the only thing that will curb energy-based inflation. I’ll post my solution on Wordscause this evening.
I don’t have all the economic sources nor the historical data that the FED has, but I do have data that is very telling of the economic conditions: data from the company that I work for. One of the systems we use is the National Change Of Address (NCOA). It allows us to keep our addresses fresh in our customer database so that we aren’t wasting our mailing resources. It is offered by the US Postal Service at a nominal cost given the potential savings in direct mail cost.
We ran the NCOA right before the holiday season last year and there was considerable relocation taking place with our consumers. We just recently ran the NCOA again, and there is a significant slowdown in the volume of movers. Interestingly enough, the slowdown started right about the same time that the FED dropped interest rates.
What does all this mean? Well, for us, the NCOA indicates the housing market. More than 90% of our customers own their own home, so a lot of change of addresses means volatility in the housing market. A slowdown in the NCOA means things are starting to stabilize in the housing market. A more stable housing market is good for business.
I’m predicting a slight dip over the next couple of months because of the sensationalistic nature of the media when it comes to reporting economic data. Also, most economic indicators are not real-time, meaning that seeing a bad economic indicator today typically means that it took place 3-6-9 months ago. Look for a mild 3rd quarter and a strong 4th quarter in 2008 provided there is not major political upheaval.
Anyone who says the Bush stimulus package of a $600 tax rebate is not going to stimulate the US Economy hasn’t been watching The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. I’ve seen more millionaires made from $600 or less on that show than I ever thought was possible. The moral of the story: Your wealth is what you make of it.
Every time I watch that show, I’m completely inspired. Regular people making it big because they had a dream that they pursued. My favorite episode was a few days ago. I can’t remember the guy’s name, but there was a venture capitalist on the show who said that the “side job” never becomes the next million dollar idea. Got me thinking about how many “side jobs” I’ve had over the years. None of them took off. Watching the show, I see nearly all of the stories have something in come: they quit their job went after the dream.
What dream is worth dreaming but not pursuing? Time to take the plunge. Grab that $600 tax rebate and do something with it!
Bernanke’s rookie year was a bit rough for the nation. His second year hasn’t had much success either. However, it appears that he is coming out of the textbook world of economics and into the real world. Yes, the world where living, breathing humans with names actually lose their jobs and houses rather than his previous world where there is a % increase in unemployment.
My favorite quote from Bernanke was the following:
To be useful, a fiscal stimulus package should be implemented quickly and structured so that its effects on aggregate spending are felt as much as possible within the next 12 months or so.
Clearly, this is in stark contrast to his molasses monetary policy, which consists of waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. Essentially paralyzed by inflationary fears.
What is interesting about Bernanke’s leadership in the FED is that it puts much more control of the economy into the hands of the Federal government as opposed to our central bank. This is a scary notion. Political winds change, shift, dwindle in a relatively short period. The result is much more sporadic economic conditions and less economic stability. If not offset by consistent Federal Reserve Policy, the US Economy will be severely upset by fiscal policy.
Bernanke has recently indicated that the FED is looking to take aggressive action, indicating to many that a half point cut in interest rates should be expected at the end of this month. Provided that the FED does indeed shift from the monetary drip policy to at least a trickle as indicated, the US economy might be able to shed off some of the damage we can anticipate from the recent change in China’s labor law.