Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I always intended that this blog be open to comments. I just took the necessary steps to enable comments from registered users, so if anyone has any ideas or constructive criticism, feel free to comment on any of my posts. I'm always open to discussion.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spending Vs. "Borrowing" - Part 2

If you do a Yahoo search on: Hitting the debt limit: What bills would be paid?, you'll find the article from Mon, Jan 14, 2013 on Yahoo News. Again, the article itself is not relevant to this post, and now that it appears congress will uncap the debt ceiling for a few months, it may be not be relevant again unless congress decides to recap the debt ceiling some time in the future. But the article raised concerns about our nation's priorities should the debt ceiling be capped. Since there were several suggestions (such as the trillion dollar coin) being floated at the time on how to circumvent the debt ceiling, I thought that I would throw out one that I hadn't yet seen proposed, so I posted the following comment: "They can always print United States Notes. The debt will never increase." My comment soon received the following reply from someone named Alan: "yup, and the notes will become worthless. Ya think that's a good idea?" to which I responded: "Why aren't federal reserve notes worthless, Alan?" His reply: "Because they are in finite supply. Do some reading about fiat currency." The reason that I bring up this discussion is that I find it incredible that people can understand that printing United States Notes to float deficit spending is indeed inflationary, but that, for some unfathomable reason, they can't see that the fed's creation of federal reserve notes to do the same thing isn't inflationary. Now if our debt was on a much lower scale, the interest was manageable, and if any or all of the debt could be paid off without it being inflationary, then there would be a differnce between printing and borrowing. But if we aren't beyond that point now, we're very close to it. The debt service is only manageable because the interest rate is so low. If the debt gets much larger and/or we have to depend on the market in order to finance it, the problems will appear. And now the debt will be growing again. TBC

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spending Vs. "Borrowing"

"The Fed is Key to Where Stocks are Heading: Ritholtz" is an article posted on Yahoo Finance's "The Daily Ticker" 01/17/2013. The article itself is not relevant to this post, but I bring it up because a fellow named Mike posted this comment to that article: "Every time Ben Bernanke buys government debt with manufactured dollars it is in essence a deferred tax, since it allows the government to spend more money we don't have and it further erodes the buying power of the dollar. These deferred taxes hurt the middle class the worst and of course are destroying our children's future!" What Mike posted was spot on, except that his blame is misguided. I replied: "And you blame it on the fed rather than the politicians because? Suppose the fed didn't do it. If the pols want to spend, they will. Right now, with the fed funding the debt at 1.87%, the yearly price tag is about .0187 x 16,400,000,000,000 or about 306.7 billion dollars per year (of wasted money). Without the fed, can we conservatively put the interest rate that the government would be paying at 5%? Then the cost would be around 820 billion per year and our deficits would be over half a trillion dollars larger. I'm not advocating either scenario, but #2 would be a lot less sustainable." So my question is: Is the federal reserve going to be the United States' financier from now on? Can we really auction T-bills in the open market at even 5%? My guess would be - yes. At least to citizens who are incapable of investing beyond savings accounts and CDs. They would love to get 5%. But I seriously doubt that any sane person would lend money to the U.S. for 10 years @5%. As noted above, if spending on everything else remained constant (ha), we would need to "borrow" over half a trillion dollars more every year just to finance the debt at 5%. As the debt continues to grow, even "borrowing" from the fed at current rates clearly becomes unsustainable at some point. TBC

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Few Pre-election Thoughts

For starters, President Obama was on The Tonight Show on Oct. 24. You can still see the episode by going to the Tonight Show website. The interview is broken up into five segments, and I'll quote from the end of segment 2 and the start of segment 3: Obama: "The biggest thing that we can do right now for the housing market though is to help more people refinance their homes." Leno: "Right." Obama: "And it actually could save the average family about 3,000 bucks, but a lot of homes are still under water. If congress passes legislation that we've already put before them, then we could actually see millions of families essentially get a $3,000 tax cut ..." Leno: "Right." Obama: "... and that means that the've got more money in their pockets. They're spending it, uh, at stores or they're putting it back in to equity in their own home. The whole economy could be stronger, so, uh, everybody who's listening, uh, regardless of party, tell congress when they get back to work, uh, to go ahead and get this thing done. It would be a great Christmas present for the U.S. economy." Has the president been peeking at my blog? How long has he been sitting on this? Why has he never brought it up before? When he says "3,000 bucks", it might have been better if he'd said '3,000 bucks per year'. But my real issue is: if he knows how effective this would be, and obviously he does, why doesn't he show a little leadership? Why leave it up to congress? By the time they get done with it, who knows how bad it will be (if it isn't already screwed up). If it involves spending, it's just plain WRONG. If it doesn't, just pull the trigger on an executive order. If we don't change the LENDING, it's not going to solve the problem with housing. In my opinion, neither Obama nor Romney deserve to win this election. If I saw this solution four years ago, the presidential candidates should have also. Obama should have been ready to run with this the day he took office. If he had, we would be much better off today and no opposing candidate would have stood a chance in the upcoming election. Since he didn't, he left the door wide open for a challenger, even one with as much baggage as Romney. How could the Republicans have selected such a terrible candidate? The democrats have had a field day with their attack ads, which is why I expect Obama to be re-elected. Even for all of his baggage, Romney could have ensured a victory if he'd simply selected this (fixing the housing problem) as a platform and shown how effective that it would be in creating jobs and turning the economy around. After the election, I'll change the focus of this blog from the housing solution to why this country is, without a doubt, facing an economic day of reckoning.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Two More Articles and an Added Solution

It's been a while, but there are two articles on Yahoo Finance this morning worth reading. The first is "We Are Living in a Modern Day Depression" by David Rosenberg. To access this article, go to the Yahoo finance home page and click on 'THE DAILY TICKER' and page down until you reach the 6/25/2012 article. The second is "Don't Count on Consumers to Save the Struggling Recovery: Economist" by Matt Nesto. To access, again, go to the Yahoo Finance home page and click on BREAKOUT (right above THE DAILY TICKER. Again, page down until you reach the 6/25 article. Excellent article summed up by "You could call it a vicious cycle, or a high stakes version of chicken or egg, but the fact remains that unless and until we are able to create new paychecks, this recovery is going nowhere fast." I would also like to publish a comment to another Yahoo - CNBC article titled "A Global Recession? The Warning Signs Are Everywhere" dated 6/16/2012. Rich from New York, New York posted: "The FRB and the government are letting the banks pay near zero interests to bank depositors, but they are not forcing the banks to pass on the low interest rates to the consumers on Main Street. The oil-pump is hogging the lubricant, and the engine grinds to stop for the lack of plentiful lubricant. Like in the movie On the Waterfront and Rocky, the folks being ripped-off by the loan sharks, and the usury of the banks have a hard time getting out of their monetary fixes. Forgotten are the zillions of students and consumers of Main Street, who are the 99%. The Federal Reserve Bank lowered depositor interest rates, and T-Bill interest rates to near zero to benefit the banks, to benefit the government, and to benefit the 1%. Students and the consumers did not get that near zero percent interest rates, and the students and the consumers are forgotten. That's 99% of the people being ignored and forgotten. The banks, and the Government are not passing through this near zero interest rate reduction to the borrowers like student loans borrowers, mortgage borrowers, credit cards borrowers, and consumer loans. The banks and the Government are keeping the reductions all to themselves to further fatten excessively their selfish profits. The banks and the Government are screwing both the bank depositors, and the bank borrowers. The banks and the Government are ripping-off Main Street to enrich the greedy on Wall Street. Is it a wonder Main Street is hurting, when the banks, and the Government are shafting them from both ends of the street? It should not be any mystery what is happening. Right now, banks and the Government are paying bank depositors, and T-Bill buyers less than a quarter percent, while charging credit card borrowers from more than 10% to 25% or more. This is over 40 to 100 times over what the banks pay the depositors (ie. 4,000% to 10,000% markup.) If that is not usury, what is? If that is not usury, why banks have to move their credit card operations to the Dakota? Mortgage rates were traditionally less than 2 times depositor rates, and now they are over 10 times. Student loan rates are more than 10 times the depositor and T-Bill rates, and now the banks and the Government want to increase that to more than 25 times the quarter percent depositor and T-Bill rates. Mortgage rates should be limited to no more than 2 to 3 times depositor rates of half to three-quarter percent. Student loan rates should be less than 4 times depositor rates of less than 1%. Credit card rates should be less than 20 times depositor rates of less than 5 percent. And so forth. Pumping the same super low interest rates which the banks are receiving from the FRB to the consumers will get the other 99% of the economic sector on Main Street moving, in addition to the 1% of the financiers on Wall Street. It does not take 10 minutes to sign a law requiring the banks to automatically reducing borrower interest rates to much lower levels in line with reduced depositor-rates. The 99% will get a lot more money back to spend and stimulate the economy. Why continue to "bail out" and fatten the less than 1% banksters at the expense of the 99% on Main Street? Stop the loan sharking." While the issue with student loans and credit cards is considerably different than what I have proposed regarding mortgages, at least Rich sees that lower interest rates get people out of debt quicker, and that is the the key to a quicker recovery. If something could be done along those lines, it would certainly be beneficial.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Relevant Articles

I've been derelict in referencing articles relevant to my blog, but here are three I perused over the weekend. (A quick aside - most of these articles come from Yahoo Finance. I like to use yahoo as a browser for several reasons, and their articles are esay to access and comment on.)

#1: "Debt Will Haunt the Market for Years to Come" by Howard Gold. Title pretty much says it all, altough I would assume that to mean that we 'stay the course' and do nothing. The article quotes Raghuram Rajan (google him up). Relevant quotes: "Recoveries from crises that result in overleveraged balance sheets are slow and are typically resistant to traditional macroeconomic stimulus."
"Overleveraged households cannot spend, banks cannot lend and governments cannot stimulate." Another quote attributed to Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff:
"...Large public debt overhangs do not unwind quickly, and seldom painlessly... The debt-reduction process goes on for an average of about seven years."

#2: "Beranke Offers No New Steps But Leans On Congress" by AP Economics writers Martin Crutsinger & Paul Wiseman. Relevant quotes: "The economy is still hobbled by a depressed housing market ..." and "They say the main problem is that consumer spending remains too weak. So businesses feel little incentive to hire, expand and invest."

#3: "Recovering From a Balance-Sheet Recession" by Laura D'Andrea Tyson. While I have issues with some of the article, she does point out: "To develop cures to ease the jobs crisis, its causes must be diagnosed correctly. The fundamental cause is the drastic breakdown in private-sector demand ...". "In the United States, where mortgages account for most of the private debt overhang, the federal government should enact stronger measures to reduce principal balances on troubled mortgages and to make refinancing easier. These measures would help stabalize the housing market, would prevent future defaults and would free money for borrowers to use to pay down their debt or increase their spending." Although she definitely grasps the big picture, I disagree with 'reducing principal balances' for two reasons. 1) I don't think that it's necessary. If you reduce the cost of home ownership by lowering interest rates, the market turns around and home values increase, so the principal comes back. 2) Reducing principal hurts the holders of the all the toxic paper out there, and it is substantial. Since home values will come back once the market turns around, just lower the interest rates as I propose and pay off as many of the bad loans as possible at face value.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Different Direction

I've pretty much spelled out my plan for reducing people's debt so that they can become consumers again, thus creating jobs and reviving our economy. Short of any outside comments or disagreements which can be addressed, there's not much more that I can add at this time.

However, I run across articles concerning our economy almost daily. When I feel that they are relevent to my posts, I will reference them in a new post here, post comments, and provide the link to the article so that all concerned citizens can stay informed.