Thursday, January 29, 2009
What will the plan do for a depressed and impotent economy? Compare the metrics today to The Great Depression and it is actually on par much worse. 65,000 jobs cut just this week. There is a lot more coming. I really hate being the bearer of all this bad news over the last year, but it's reality. The government continues to press ahead with big government bailing out big business, as necessary as most of it is.
Now here comes $900 billion more. Will this really stimulate the economy? How long will it take to see these tax cuts work and do we really think passing out economic Prozac in the form of paltry stimulus checks will do anything. The plan will not help companies brace against the problems causing millions to get the ax. 25% of the bill alone is tax cuts. We must be crazy to mint and borrow more and then at the same time cut our revenue. It's simply insane! Plus we all know how many times this longer term money will be stepped on anyway before it ever reaches the ground.
The money in the bill is so convoluted and only about half will actually spur jobs - largely in remodeling and construction, fixing bridges, roads, schools, and investing in renewable energy will create jobs for sure. But this is going to take a few years. These jobs also fall way outside many of the unemployed skill sets and even if millions go to work under these programs, there will be large scale underemployment. Plus, I think we all know how the construction industry works when it comes to big projects. "The Big Dig" in Boston should be a beacon to understand how costly and how dirty hands get into the till. [more...]
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I have been asked by radio talk show hosts across the country to talk about President Obama's possible - if not probable - nationalization of the banking system. But there's more to the story than just banks. This issue ties in with every aspect of the Obama Socialist Agenda - bailouts, handouts, economic stimulus packages, giving too much power to The Federal Reserve... and let's not forget tax cuts to people that don't pay taxes.
This Obama agenda isn't about saving the American economy. Rather it is about putting Big Brother in control of our lives. It's about the Nanny State - big government intrusion into every aspect of our lives, in order to "protect" us. It's about destroying capitalism and tearing down the U.S. economy to build a new economic system based on rewarding the "right kind" of Americans - those who support Obama and his agenda. It's about bribery - Obama is buying votes for a generation - thereby guaranteeing the liberal big government, tax and spend, big union, radical environmental agenda controls every aspect of our lives for decades to come.
It's about Socialism... it's about "group think" - the collective good of society instead of the individual. It's about rewarding the non-productive members of society (Obama's voters), and punishing the taxpayers - the group that creates the jobs, owns the businesses, owns the property, and pays the actual taxes. Just as he told "Joe the Plumber" during the Presidential campaign, Obama wants to punish this group because these Americans tend to vote Conservative. [more...]
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Your audience MUST CALL President Obama and their Congresspeople and say, "Don't spend one more dollar of my income, my children's income, or my grandchildren's future income, until you have made a point by point, dollar for dollar, industry by industry explanation on national television of exactly why we must risk bankrupting our country. And explain why it is better to stimulate a congressional spending spree than it is to stimulate the four trillion dollars that is sitting in money market accounts (real money). [more...]
Monday, January 26, 2009
George Bush let Treasury Secretary Paulson talk him into believing that he had to destroy capitalism in order to save it. The plan was to borrow massively against future American generations' paychecks to solve problems caused by previous massive borrowing. Last fall's $700 billion TARP bailout (assembled secretly in panic by Ted Geithner and others) was sold as crucial to save the economy from a cascade of bank failures and the elimination of credit. The original idea was to back up debt securities that were failing because of the real estate bust - debt securities that were largely owned by foreigners with a big chunk owned by the Chinese. The panic was caused by the thoroughly predictable inability of over-leveraged homeowners to pay "liar loan" mortgages that had been obtained using phony appraisals. [more...]
I'll say it again - If consumers can't consume, our Consumption Economy will fail. That has been America's main economic engine for many years. Consumers and businesses alike are corpses rotting on the battlefield of life and no one is dragging the wounded off the beach. When you see major companies like Microsoft take big hits and start layoffs you know the worse case scenario is upon all of us. For richer or poorer, sickness and health, the American consumers' marriage to business is ending in divorce and a nasty one at that. How many consumers are knocked out of the economy? Tens of millions. Poor credit, bankruptcy, layoffs - more and more just eliminated them from the buying marketplace now and for years to come. Yes, credit addiction by our government and consumers alike has gotten us here. But wherever you go, there you are. Without some consumer changes, our economy and all sectors will perpetually falter. Just think of how many consumers are locked behind the gates in steerage on the Titanic because they are the little guys or poor people. Do we just let them die while executives across the land get the lifeboats? [more...]
Friday, January 23, 2009
Has Obama inherited a lose-lose situation? Wall Street is up and down like a yoyo. Obama faces one of the most challenging financial crises since The Great Depression, and Main Street is hobbled. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? The U.S. is bailing water out of the boat but putting debt and newly minted money back into it. I think we all can add that up and come to the conclusion that the boat will still sink anyway regardless of the captain of the ship.
Although big government must bail out big business in order to stabilize the markets and failing banks, what will be done for the "little guy?" Sending out a stimulus check ('economic Viagra,' I call it) and slashing taxes for the middle class is not going to buy us out of trouble. Bankruptcy and bad credit assures that many credit addicts that propped up our Consumption Economy from the 1980s on up to today won't or can't do it anymore. Even for those trying to pay bills and are 30, 60, 90 or 120 days late it assures tens of millions won't be able to buy stuff the traditional way. Add unemployment, under employment, deficit spending, foreclosures and minting money to the equation and there it is - a MORE-than-'Perfect Storm.'
Some blame the Bush Administration and lack of oversight on Wall Street, but frankly this issue dates further back than the last eight years and will project forward for some time. The government couldn't have possibly projected the blowup of the banking industry acutely caused by the lack of confidence in mortgage products, securitizations and the home market bubble bursting. No matter how much is spent bailing out the financial sector, without consumers every industry will be affected - some worse than others. The earthquake deep within the financial sector happened; the resulting tsunami then came roaring ashore and now the water is rushing in and drowning our main economic engine - consumption. [more...]
Thursday, January 22, 2009
President Barack Obama gave a stirring and patriotic inaugural speech on Tuesday. But a welfare/socialism plan gift wrapped in a beautiful inaugural speech is still a welfare/socialism plan.In the past week he has invoked Abraham Lincoln on several occasions. Perhaps it was a tribute to Republicans or perhaps a reminder of the slavery era, or both. Unfortunately, Barack Obama's Democratic Party and Abraham Lincoln have major philosophical differences:
Democrats love class warfare and sneer contemptuously at "the rich."
BUT Abe once said, "That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence, is just encouragement to industry and enterprise."
Democrats vow to "tax the rich."
BUT Abe once said, "I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men's rights." Honest Abe obviously did not embrace the concept of "Let's spread the wealth around."
Democrats are telling Americans that simply running up $trillion$ on our national credit card with a congressional spending spree will painlessly solve our economic problems. However, most Americans know that someday the real underlying problems must be addressed.
BUT Abe once said, "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today."
Monday, January 19, 2009
As we reach the big day of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, it would seem like an ideal time to talk about the greatest challenge facing his new administration - the triple whammy of economic meltdown, credit crisis, and crisis of consumer confidence. All of them have combined to create the "Perfect Storm" - what appears, to a small businessman like me, to be The Great Depression, Part II. Obama believes that the way to get out of an economic toxic disaster caused by too much government spending and debt is to spend more and go further into debt. Interesting logic. Obama's solution for this economic tsunami is more government spending in the form of more bailouts; a massive trillion dollar (or close to it) economic stimulus package, and tax cuts offered to people that never paid taxes in the first place. What is so interesting about this Obama game plan is that it proves that we have once again elected a president that is either ignorant or oblivious to the United States Constitution. Nothing in the Constitution authorizes any of this kind of federal government intervention. Virtually the entire Obama economic game plan is unconstitutional. [more...]
This might come across as glib; however, under some basic analysis, it is far more sound than throwing money into the financial black hole of insolvent banks and attempting to stimulate the reckless consumption that got us in the mess to begin with. Why? America has not invested in new technology for a long time. If we are going to spend like mad, let's get something for it! Let's DO something! Let's develop some stunning new technology and shock the world with our wizardry. Like the development of the Internet and other advances resultant from military and NASA spending, it will pay long term dividends to all Americans. It will lay the foundation for long term American economic growth based on American technological supremacy. For those worried about the environment, I'm sure we'll have to come up some new energy technology to make it out there and back. Regarding our slipping in math and science, I can imagine that the huge number of jobs generated by this initiative will lead to an adjustment of majors away from marketing and philosophy towards the hard sciences. The trickle down from this spending will yield immense long term benefits, and America needs it. [more...]
Friday, January 16, 2009
Don't we all wish we can go home and get out of the nightmare? The problem is there are no ruby slippers and this isn't the American dream. Our children are being born in debt with a plastic spoon in their mouths. I wonder if our founding fathers could have envisioned trillions of dollars of debt and much more coming... and minting trillions of dollars of new money. They are rolling over in their graves for sure! Here is a quote from Thomas Jefferson (quite profound): "I sincerely believe ... that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale." Sound familiar? It is. How can we continue to survive as a capitalist nation if we are gambling everything on the future prosperity? When is enough, enough? History will show that the time the U.S. started its decline was when we shifted away from the Gold Standard. So it appears the solution is to spend, borrow and mint money like there is no tomorrow and frankly there isn't. We are in big trouble; let me tell you right now. Not only has our economy received the one-two-three punches but we bet on ourselves to win. How can we possibly play Russian roulette and not think the bullet is going to hit us? The Wizard of OZ was feared, adored and turned out to be the man behind the curtain and the loss of his identity in that moment was devastating at first but in this case with the American dollar, treasury auctions, debt skyrocketing - we won't be as lucky if the curtain is pulled off. [more...]
Even though the doctor was well intentioned, when he amputated the wrong leg the mistake was irreversible and it was the patient that paid the price - and so it is with well intentioned but misguided economic stimulus plans. Fortunately, there is ample historical evidence that shows the futility of governments simply going on a spending spree as an antidote to an ailing economy. Unfortunately, either the Bush/Obama stimulus express team is unaware of such information or they simply have chosen to ignore it. Six months after the stock market crash of November 1929, unemployment was at 6%. President Hoover (R) then intervened and passed tariffs that would "protect" American jobs. Unemployment quickly grew worse. Three years later, President Roosevelt (D) followed Hoover's lead of "doing something" and added a massive government stimulus plan. Unfortunately the "something" that both presidents chose was the wrong medicine. The patient got much worse. [more...]
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The time for window dressing is over. America needs a real recovery plan to avert long-term economic misery and the rotting of the American Dream. From the federal government down to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the national directive is simple and urgent: Stop borrowing and consuming and start saving and investing! Our national finances are beginning to look like the folks at the Friday night all-you-can eat, midnight buffet special: grossly fat and unfit. It does not take a genius to recognize that debt and consumption lead to dependence and poverty while savings and investment, though much less immediately gratifying, lead to long-term wealth and prosperity. It is true of nations and of individuals. The obviousness of this requires no further explanation. Despite the predictably dire repercussions, our nation is going deeper and deeper still into debt... and soon we will reach the point of no return. All the while, we are told by our national leaders that we had better get used to the era of trillion dollar deficits. It is simply disgusting – like a morbidly obese person super-sizing a value meal – and we should not stand for it! [more...]
The latest reports are out - and there's good news and bad news for California. The good news is that California leads the nation. The bad news is that California leads the nation in deficit, debt and the amount of residents escaping to other states. The Mamas and Papas are rolling over in their graves. The 'California Dreamin'' of the 1960s has morphed into the California Nightmare. California is the perfect test tube baby: the state is arguably the most liberal, big spending, big government state in the entire USA. After decades of spending like there was no limit to taxpayers' money, California is mired in a deep economic crisis - poised to turn into economic Armageddon. The reality is that the state of California is bankrupt. Actually, the state is far beyond bankrupt - what do you call "so bankrupt, there is no amount of money available anywhere in the world to pay off our debts?" California is so bankrupt that bankruptcy attorneys have no words to describe the depths of this disaster. Let's just call it "bankruptcy squared." [more...]
He promised to change George Bush's policies, but now we have more TARP, more bailouts & more socialism! Let me reiterate: the way to fix the American economy is CAPITALISM, NOT MORE GOVERNMENT! The first economic domino to fall was the housing market. Unless people are buying houses and workers are building them, retail sales will decline, auto sales will be stalled, and the rest of the economy will continue to suffer. Housing sales must be reignited! The Wall Street plunge has investors fleeing like rats off of a sinking ship. If there are no investors, no amount of bailouts will help. Employers are laying off workers and not hiring new employees. High unemployment = a poor economy. But I've got a plan - Go here now for the Porter Plan...
Monday, January 12, 2009
The economic crisis has hit our country hard - our banks have fallen, our manufacturing industries have requested billions in bailout money, and more and more Americans are out of work each day. How did this happen and who is to blame? The obvious answer is to blame the sub-prime lending practices but the answers are more complex as many different sectors across the country have suffered. As a practicing attorney for over 20 years, I have been through the ups and downs of the market and have helped consumers and investors, alike, through these difficult times. The weakened economy has taken a toll on every sector across the nation from the bank and mortgage departments to the auto industry. One area which exists in nearly every industry is employee retirement plans or employee pension funds. The average American may not put away $100 every week into his savings account, but he agrees to an automatic withdrawal from his paycheck into his retirement fund. This money is meant to be available for him when he retires. A pension fund may seem like a simple idea; however, many people do not understand how dependant many pension funds are on the stock market. As such, millions of Americans are waking up to bleeding pension funds - and they have no person to turn to. I am that person. It is a pension fund manager's responsibility and duty to protect the fund against market turmoil. [more...]
Trillions invested in high flying hedge funds will get a buzz cut in '09. I bet many didn't see this one coming! Worse, many don't even know what the heck it is. Hedge funds represent over $2 trillion invested in the financial markets. So why do we care? Do you recall Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) that collapsed due to exposure to the Russian market in 1998? It rocked Wall Street to its core and the U.S. had to step in and loan them $3.65 billion to keep them alive long enough to liquidate. The problem is today these funds have huge influence within the stock market and investors are screaming for their money back. That is very bad and, worse, most of the funds are down 30-40-50% or more. The industry is being pushed right off a cliff and managers with billions of dollars invested cannot give investors their money back. Here it comes again - once the investors start screaming to get their money back - and they roared loudly last year - it causes a vicious circle that causes more panicked investors to ask for their money back, too. Like the run on Washington mutual. I will predict now that at least $500 billion will get sucked out in '09 - and the only way to suck it out is to sell it off. What happens if there is a major sell off of stocks and bonds? You know the answer... and it is coming. [more...]
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Let's face it: America is on its back and largely impotent - unable to change our economic woes anytime soon. All the stimulus packages being flaunted around D.C. may have a near term jobs increase which is much needed but at what price? First, the Fed, economists and our leaders all are now predicting the U.S. economy is going to be terrible for the next few years if not more. I hate to be the one to tell you the writing was on the wall a year ago when I started to RANT about this doomsday. Second, the solution being offered is to print money 24-7, borrow huge sums of money from around the world, and spend the borrowed money like crazy to stay afloat. Well wasn't that what got our financial industry into trouble in the first place?
With certainty our politicians are telling us that we will be racking up trillion dollar deficits annually for the coming years. And the U.S. is printing so much money now that I predict inflation will be a huge factor in the perpetual stagnation of the economy. Add in unemployment, underemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosure, bad credit; with that and not going into detail, America on the whole and our states, municipalities and industry after industry are bankrupt. If they haven't declared it yet, they will. How does that look for future bond offering or raising capital or working with the already risk adverse banks? You got it! Very bad! [more...]
Citizens & Companies... Not Henry Paulson!
The first economic domino to fall was the housing market. Unless people are buying houses and workers are building them, retail sales will decline, auto sales will be stalled, and the rest of the economy will continue to suffer. Housing sales must be reignited! The stock market plunge has investors fleeing like rats off of a sinking ship. Unless investors are once again willing to invest in the stock of the companies that make up the American economy and provide those companies with the necessary capital, no amount of bailouts will help.Employers are laying off workers and not hiring new employees because of economic uncertainty. High unemployment = a poor economy. [more...]