April 13, 2012
By Kurt Nimmo
Earlier this week, Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke again warned that out of control borrowing and spending will eventually destroy the country.
Said Ben to the the Budget Committee:
Sustained high rates of government borrowing would both drain funds away from private investment and increase our debt to foreigners, with adverse long-run effects on U.S. output, incomes, and standards of living. Moreover, diminishing investor confidence that deficits will be brought under control would ultimately lead to sharply rising interest rates on government debt and, potentially, to broader financial turmoil. In a vicious circle, high and rising interest rates would cause debt-service payments on the federal debt to grow even faster, resulting in further increases in the debt-to-GDP ratio and making fiscal adjustment all the more difficult.
But here is something Bernanke didn’t mention – a large chunk of that debt is owed to the Federal Reserve. In February, the corporate media fessed up to this undeniable fact. From CNBC:
That’s right, the biggest single holder of U.S. government debt is inside the United States and includes the Federal Reserve system and other intragovernmental holdings. Of this number, The Fed’s system of banks owns approximately $1.65 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities (as of January 2012), while other U.S. intragovernmental holdings – which include large funds such as the Medicare Trust Fund and the Social Security Trust Fund – hold the rest.
The bankers that own the Federal Reserve love debt and that’s why they continually expand the money supply.
January 27, 2012
By The Blaze
George Soros is no stranger to Blaze readers. The billionaire currency speculator and philanthropist has long been in the news, especially since the fateful day in 1992 when he helped crash England’s economy. In fact, since that day, he has been commonly referred to as “the man who broke the bank of England.”
Soros is shrewd, he has a keen eye for investments, and he knows how to play the markets. Therefore, when he makes a prediction, it might be safe to say it’s worth a listen. After all, his predictions (among other things) have made him the multi-billionaire he is today.
So you might want to pay attention to a recent story from The Daily Beast that claims George Soros is nervous about the future of the global economy and that he warns of dark things to come.
“At times like these, survival is the most important thing,” Soros said.
As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of “evil,” writes the Beasts’ John Arlidge. “Europe is confronting a descent into chaos and conflict. In America [Soros] predicts riots in the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties [emphases added]. The global economic system could even collapse altogether.”
And to add a little color, Aldridge notes Soros says it all while “peering through his owlish glasses and brushing wisps of gray hair off his forehead.”
“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros told Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
As mentioned in the above, and as The Daily Beast points out, Soros’ warning is probably based on his natural market instincts as well as personal experience.
October 25, 2011
Gold and Silver Blog
Ron Paul explains better than anyone else the destructive economic forces unleashed by Federal Reserve monetary policies. According to Paul, loose monetary policies and manipulation of interest rates has caused “every single boom and bust that has occurred in this country since the bank’s creation in 1913.”
In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Ron Paul explains exactly how the Fed has wrecked the economy, why they are clueless for the reasons behind their failures and why further Fed actions will only further exacerbate the problems caused by the Fed in the first place.
Adding new money increases the supply of money, making the price of money over time—the interest rate—lower than the market would make it. These lower interest rates affect the allocation of resources, causing capital to be malinvested throughout the economy. So certain projects and ventures that appear profitable when funded at artificially low interest rates are not in fact the best use of those resources.
Eventually, the economic boom created by the Fed’s actions is found to be unsustainable, and the bust ensues as this malinvested capital manifests itself in a surplus of capital goods, inventory overhangs, etc. Until these misdirected resources are put to a more productive use—the uses the free market actually desires—the economy stagnates.
Yet policy makers at the Federal Reserve still fail to understand the causes of our most recent financial crisis. So they find themselves unable to come up with an adequate solution.
The Fed fails to grasp that an interest rate is a price—the price of time—and that attempting to manipulate that price is as destructive as any other government price control. It fails to see that the price of housing was artificially inflated through the Fed’s monetary pumping during the early 2000s, and that the only way to restore soundness to the housing sector is to allow prices to return to sustainable market levels. Instead, the Fed’s actions have had one aim—to keep prices elevated at bubble levels—thus ensuring that bad debt remains on the books and failing firms remain in business, albatrosses around the market’s neck.
If the Fed would stop intervening and distorting the market, and would allow the functioning of a truly free market that deals with profit and loss, our economy could recover. The continued existence of an organization that can create trillions of dollars out of thin air to purchase financial assets and prop up a fundamentally insolvent banking system is a black mark on an economy that professes to be free.
Fed policies have pushed the U.S. and global economies to the precipice of a full blown depression. What are the odds that they reverse course and follow Ron Paul’s recommendations? Zero, in my opinion. Bernanke still believes in the fantasy illusion that creating more dollars at zero interest rates will somehow ignite economic growth. The Fed blindly ignores the fact that in all of recorded human history, once great powers that incurred massive debt loads have all failed.
Ron Paul concludes that the Fed will continue its self defeating policies because of the pressure to “just do something”. And right on cue, former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder recommends (in his own concurrent Journal editorial) that the U.S. government needs to incur whatever amount of debt is necessary to cure the housing crisis. Blinder’s idiotic recommendation comes on the heels of previous failed and costly housing programs that cost billions and futher delayed the recovery in housing by keeping unqualified homeowners in homes they can’t afford to be in.
Here’s Blinder’s advice on How to Clean Up The Housing Mess, which is the exact opposite of Ron Paul’s free market solutions.
Given the huge magnitude of the aggregate gap between house values and mortgage balances, a comprehensive anti-foreclosure solution requires hundreds of billions of dollars.
So what can be done now? There is no silver bullet; we need different remedies for different types of (actual or prospective) foreclosures. And to succeed, we must overcome the three barriers. Foreclosure mitigation is expensive. It will encounter political resistance. It probably requires bending some property rights.
Blinder’s new spending plans and previous similar ones have cost the Government trillions, tremendously debased the dollar and accomplished nothing except to make the case for owning gold even more compelling.
October 24, 2011
By Jonathan Benson
Nearly a million and a half American homes are currently in foreclosure, which means many residences in various neighborhoods are now sitting empty and abandoned. And according to a recent report by The New York Times (NYT), criminals of all stripes, from prostitutes and drug addicts to gang members and thieves, are taking over these properties and “squatting” them indefinitely.
Unable to make their mortgage payments due to job losses and other economic factors, many families, particularly in areas where housing prices spiraled most out of control, have been forced out of their homes in recent years. And taking their place are the dregs of society, who really have nothing to lose by invading formerly-occupied properties and doing whatever they please in them.
“They’re becoming a magnet for criminal activity,” said Deputy Inspector Miltiadis Marmara, the commanding police officer of the 133rd Precinct in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, to the NYT concerning the excess of foreclosed properties. “[The criminals] hang out in these abandoned homes that may be foreclosed, or the owners walked away. Every day we respond to something to that effect.”
Criminals looking for places to sell drugs, throw parties, steal copper piping and other valuables, and even host residential “strip clubs” are finding refuge, if you will, in these abandoned properties. And although police continue to arrest these squatters, others often just take their place shortly thereafter.
New York is not the worst state as far as foreclosures go, either. In Michigan, one of every 322 houses is a foreclosure; while in California, it is one of every 259 housing units. And in Nevada, the foreclosure rate is a whopping one of every 118 housing units.
In Detroit, Mich., authorities have recently begun to crack down on squatters that have taken over many abandoned housing units in the largely blighted city. Home values are already dismally low there, but having criminals occupying foreclosed homes only makes things worse.
As the US economy continues to unravel, the squatting by criminals will likely just get even worse. Sacramento, Cal., Miami, Fla., Trenton, NJ., Cleveland, Oh., Nassau County, NY, and many other cities and counties across the US have already had to lay off portions of their police forces due to budgetary shortfalls, and many others are considering having to do the same thing, which means crime will only increase.
October 20, 2011
Real Clear Markets
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth
Yet another resumé arrived in my email box this week, from a young man who graduated with a BA in economics and a minor in math last May, and has yet to find a job. He’s a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, with summer job experience as an engineering technician at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.
Unable to find a job in an economy with persistently high unemployment because of weak job growth, Anthony Lewis is now looking for an unpaid internship. As a new entrant to the labor force he doesn’t get unemployment insurance. He’s just looking for a job.
Anthony is not alone. The unemployment rate in 2010 for newly graduated men and women with bachelor degrees was 9.2 percent, far higher than the 5.1 percent rate such adults experienced in 2005.
This is Generation O: the age cohort that contributed, registered, volunteered and voted for Barack Obama with greater intensity than we have seen since at least the 1960 presidential election. Since then, the effect of President Obama’s failed economic policies has fallen most disproportionately on them.
The unemployment rates among Generation O not only suggest personal disappointment, but also large and lasting implications for them and for society.
A paper forthcoming in the American Economic Journal Applied Economics found that graduating in a recession leads to earnings losses that last for 10 years after graduation.
The authors, University of Toronto economics professor Philip Oreopoulos, Columbia University professor Till von Wachter, and economist Andrew Heisz of Statistics Canada, found that earnings losses are greater for new entrants to the labor force than for existing workers, who might see smaller raises, but who have jobs. In addition, recessions lead workers to accept employment in small firms that pay lower salaries.
That, in turn, may help to explain why there is in our country a creeping fear of downward mobility, a prospect that Generation O will not do as well as their parents.
Young male graduates have been particularly adversely affected, with an unemployment rate of 11 percent, compared to 7.9 percent for women. Five years ago male graduates had an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, and the rate for females was 4.5 percent.
This divergence in male and female unemployment rates was a product of the last decade. In 2000 young men and women graduates had similar unemployment rates.
October 18, 2011
By Suzy Khimm
Ever wonder what Ron Paul’s America would look like? Then read the budget outline that Paul released as part of his 2012 presidential bid. It promises to cut $1 trillion during his first year in office, balance the budget by 2015, withdraw us from all foreign wars and eliminate five Cabinet-level agencies in the process. Economists across the political spectrum say the impact of such drastic government spending cuts would be majorly disruptive and harmful to the economy in the short term.
“At the scale he’s talking about, it’s unlikely you could have an immediate reduction in government without hurtling the economy into recession,” says Kevin Hassett, economic policy director for the American Enterprise Institute and chief economic adviser to John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign. Hassett maintains that Paul’s plan for a limited government “would be really positive” in the long run. But he also believes that there would be better means to achieving that end. “I think that you could achieve his long-run objectives with less short-run disruptions,” he concludes.
By reducing the deficit from more than $1 trillion to $300 billion in just a year, Paul’s plan would upend the economy at a time when it’s already fragile, says Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics for Moody’s Analytics. “That much deficit reduction in one year is going to be a huge drag on the economy . . . the reduction in spending is much greater than cuts in taxes,” says Faucher. “We’re seeing that impact in Europe right now, where severe fiscal austerity has caused big problems for the European economy.” While long-term deficit reduction is important, legislators need to make sure that the economy is strong before major cuts take effect, he adds, calling Paul’s plan “much more ambitious” than other Republican proposals to date. By comparison, the Congressional supercommittee is required to cut $1.5 trillion over a ten-year period—a feat Paul wants to accomplish in a little more than one year.
Liberal economists were even more dire in their assessments of the Paul budget. “This is almost having the economy fall off a cliff,” says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, estimating that cutting $1 trillion in 2013 would prompt the unemployment rate to jump by 3 percentage points. Even if the $1 trillion in cuts were done over two or three years’ time, there would still be double-digit employment, Baker concludes. “This will make it extremely hard to balance the budget, since if the unemployment rate goes to 11 or 12 percent, then the budget picture will look much worse. If his response is still more cuts, then who knows how high he can get the unemployment rate.”
Michael Ettlinger, vice president for economic policy at the Center for American Progress, said Paul’s cuts would destroy the social safety net, as the plan would turn Medicaid and other low-income entitlement programs into block-granted programs that would depend on discretionary appropriations. “Your kids would be out of school, working or begging,” he concludes.
The Paul campaign rejected such claims as “exactly the opposite” of what would come to pass—“an example of the old Keynesian thinking that got us into our current mess,” according to Jesse Benton, a campaign spokesman. “Deficit spending and debt that are crushing our economy and will destroy our country if we do not take bold action.” Benton added that block-granting entitlement programs would actually save them, not shred them. “We face a bankruptcy and a major financial crisis that will destroy the entire social safety net unless we take action.”
The program would also turn Social Security, veterans’ benefits and Medicare into voluntary programs that would allow younger workers to opt out of the entitlements, while fulfilling promises to present-day seniors and veterans. Both liberals and conservatives such as Baker say such changes could destabilize Social Security. “We will likely see a substantial number of young people take that option, especially if he scares them enough that it won’t be there,” says Baker. What’s more, “you will have high-income earners who opt out, and the people you have left are going to be low-income, which could cause problems” in terms of financing, explains Faucher, of Moody’s. All this could complicate Social Security’s long-term fiscal health, as it could end up losing a lot of revenue.
An opt-out option for Medicare would present similar problems, AEI’s Hassett says. He agrees that Medicare reform is critical to achieving long-term deficit reduction but thinks that an opt-out would destabilize the program. “The system taxes young people to pay for benefits for old people. If young people opt out, who will pay for the benefits?” Hassett says. The Paul campaign insists, however, that the plan provides Medicare with a secure future without harming present-day beneficiaries. “This budget is about priorities, and we have to honor our promises to our seniors. Our goal is to fix our debt crisis to preserve our system and make Medicare work better in the future,” Benton says.
On the whole, though, economists say they aren’t surprised to see the Texas congressman come out with such a plan. “Ron Paul’s role in the campaign so far has been the ideologically pure libertarian, and his proposal meets expectations, I would say,” Hassett says.
October 12, 2011
By: Justin Sink
Herman Cain defended the economic team behind his 9-9-9 tax plan but still refused to name his economic advisers.
“My advisers come from the American people,” Cain said Tuesday night at a debate sponsored by Bloomberg News and the Washington Post. “I also have a number of other economists who helped me with this 9-9-9 plan. It didn’t come off a pizza box.”
The pizza box reference was a nod to Jon Huntsman, who earlier dismissed the plan by saying that he “thought it was a catchy phrase, in fact thought it was the price of a pizza.”
Cain also specifically mentioned Rich Lowrie, the wealth management consultant he had previously cited when defending his economic team. But, as he has on previous occassions, Cain declined to name the remainder of his economic team.
Underscoring his new standing in the polls, Cain got the first question of the debate and managed to promote his 9-9-9 plan twice in the first minute. His plan would place a 9 percent tax on income and corporations and a 9 percent sales tax.
Cain’s plan has come under fire from some tax analysts, who claim it would cause lower-income and middle class citizens to pay more taxes. The moderators promised they would come back to Cain’s plan later in the debate, which is focusing on economic issues.
Huntsman, for his part, named his father as the type of economic adviser he would seek.
“I like the profile of my father who was a great entrepreneur. He started with nothing and built a great business,” Huntsman said.
Huntsman Sr. was an entrepreneur whose company grew after creating the “clamshell” packaging for McDonald’s Big Mac in the 1970s.
October 12, 2010
The Obama administration gave corporate giant General Electric—the parent company of NBC–$24.9 million in grants from the $787-billion economic “stimulus” law President Barack Obama signed in February 2009, according to records posted by the administration at Recovery.gov.
Despite getting $24.9 million from U.S. taxpayers, GE decreased its U.S.-based employees by 18,000 in 2009, according to the company’s 2009 annual report.
According to Standard & Poor’s, GE took in $156 billion in revenue in 2009.
GE was the primary recipient of 14 stimulus grants, a spokeswoman for Recovery.gov confirmed to CNSNews.com. These 14 grants provided GE with $24.9 million in tax dollars. On four additional stimulus grants, the primary recipient of the federal money hired GE as a contractor. Recovery.gov is the administration’s website that tracks stimulus expenditures.
At the end of 2008, GE employed 152,000 U.S. workers, according to its 2009 annual report. But at the end of 2009, according to the report, it employed only 134,000 U.S. workers, a decline of 18,000 workers.
The Energy Department provided GE with 9 stimulus grants, the Department of Health and Human Services provided the company with 3, and the Justice Department and the Commerce Department each gave the company 1 stimulus grant.
All of these federal stimulus grants went to GE’s Global Research Center.
The earliest of the stimulus grants went to GE in July 2009 and the latest in April 2010.
CNSNews.com asked a GE spokesperson if the company contested Recovery.gov’s representation that GE had received 14 stimulus grants worth $24.9 million, and also whether the company now employed more or fewer workers as a result of receiving the grants.
In an e-mail response, GE spokeswoman Anne Eisele said, “I’m afraid I must politely decline to comment.”
What did all the money to GE go for? Recovery.gov posts brief explanations of each grant. For example, the Department of Justice gave GE $999,955 in stimulus money. “The goal of this program,” said Recovery.gov, “is to develop a comprehensive reasoning system for event and scenario recognition for an intelligent video system.”
In addition to the $24.9 million it received in stimulus grants, GE was also awarded $5 million in federal contracts under the economic stimulus law. These contracts were payment for services provided by the company.
September 3rd, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
The world will run out of oil surpluses by 2012, with severe shortages following as little as three years later, a U.S. military report has warned.
“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” reads the report from the U.S. Joint forces command.
“One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest.”
The point at which oil consumption exceeds production is known as “peak oil,” and is predicted to lead to widespread turmoil in the world’s oil-dependent economies.
“Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions [and] push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse,” the report reads.
Although new warnings continue to emerge that peak oil is imminent, the U.S. Department of Energy continues to insist that there is no need to fear oil shortage.
“It’s surprising to see that the U.S. Army, unlike the U.S. Department of Energy, publicly warns of major oil shortages in the near-term,” said post-graduate peak oil researcher Lionel Badal of Kings College London.
“The Energy Information Administration [EIA] has been saying for years that Peak Oil was ‘decades away.’ In light of the report from the US Joint Forces Command, is the EIA still confident of its previous highly optimistic conclusions?”
Recently, the Obama administration’s top oil adviser admitted in an interview with a French paper that “a chance exists” of a liquid fuels production decline between 2011 and 2015.
The U.S. army is believed to be the world’s single largest consumer of petroleum fuel. Recently Tony Hayward, CEO of petroleum giant BP, suggested that the military’s reliance on oil is a major reason that there will be no ban on extraction and burning of petroleum from Canada’s tar sands, one of the dirtiest fossil fuel sources on earth.
July 22, 2010
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Wednesday the economic outlook remains “unusually uncertain,” and the central bank is ready to take new steps to keep the recovery alive if the economy worsens.
Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke also said record low interest rates are still needed to bolster the economy. He repeated a pledge to keep them there for an “extended period.” Bernanke downplayed the odds that the economy will slide back into a “double-dip” recession. But he acknowledged the economy is fragile.
Given that, the Fed is “prepared to take further policy actions as needed” to keep the recovery on track, he said. Bernanke said Fed policymakers haven’t settled on “leading options” but they are being explored. Those options include lowering the rate the Fed pays banks to keep money parked at the Fed, strengthening the pledge to hold rates at record lows and reviving some crisis-era programs, Bernanke said.
“If the recovery seems to be faltering, we have to at least review our options,” Bernanke told lawmakers. However, he added later: “We are not prepared to take any specific steps in the near term” because the Fed is still evaluating the strength of the recovery.
Bernanke is trying to send Congress, Wall Street and Main Street a positive message that the recovery will last in the face of growing threats. At the same time, he wants to assure Americans that the Fed will take new stimulative actions if necessary.
Wall Street wasn’t convinced. Shortly before Bernanke spoke, the Dow Jones industrial average was up about 20 points. Within minutes, stocks began falling and the Dow was down more than 145 points.
The recovery, which had been flashing signs of strengthening earlier this year, is losing momentum. And fears are growing that it could stall.
Consumers have cut spending. Businesses, uncertain about the strength of their own sales or the economic recovery, are sitting on cash, reluctant to beef up hiring and expand operations. A stalled housing market, near double-digit unemployment and an edgy Wall Street shaken by Europe’s debt crisis are other factors playing into the economic slowdown.
“In short, it look likes our economy is in need of additional help,” said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. And, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the highest-ranking Republican on the panel, said the economic outlook has become a “bit more cloudy.”
With little appetite in Congress to provide a major new stimulus package, more pressure falls on Bernanke to keep the recovery going. Bernanke and his Fed colleagues have cut their forecasts for growth this year.
If the recovery were to flash serious signs of backsliding, the Fed could revive programs to buy mortgage securities or government debt. It could cut to zero the interest rate paid to banks on money left at the Fed or lower the rate banks pay for emergency Fed loans. The Fed also could create a new program to spark more lending to businesses and consumers in a bid to lure them to ratchet up spending and grow the economy.
Bernanke said the debt crisis in Europe, which has rattled Wall Street, played a role in the Fed’s “somewhat weaker outlook.” Although financial markets have improved considerably since the depth of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008, conditions have become “less supportive of economic growth in recent months,” he explained.
As a result, Bernanke said progress in reducing the nation’s unemployment rate, now at 9.5 percent, is now expected to be “somewhat slower” than thought. Unemployment is expect to stay high, in the 9 percent range, through the end of this year, under the Fed’s forecast.
High unemployment is a drag on household spending, Bernanke said, although he believed both consumers and businesses would spend enough to keep the recovery intact.
Bernanke also said it would take a “significant amount of time” to restore the nearly 8.5 million jobs wiped out over 2008 and 2009.
And, Bernanke said the housing market remains “weak” and noted that the overhang of vacant or foreclosed houses are weighing on home prices and home construction.
Given the weak recovery, inflation is not a problem, Bernanke said. However, Bernanke didn’t talk about deflation, a prolonged and destabilizing drop in prices for goods, the values of stocks and homes and in wages. Although most economists think the prospects of deflation are remote, some Fed officials have expressed concern about it.
To strengthen the economy, many economists predict the Fed will hold a key bank lending rate at a record low near zero well into 2011, or possibly into 2012. Doing so, would help nip any deflationary forces.
And keeping that bank rate at super low levels also would mean rates on certain credit cards, home equity loans, some adjustable-rate mortgages and other consumer loans would stay at their lowest point in decades.
Ultra-low lending rates, however, haven’t done much lately to rev up the economy. Consumers and businesses are cautious and aren’t showing an appetite to spend as lavishly as they usually do in the early stages of economic recoveries.
Bernanke, meanwhile, welcomed Congress’ new revamp of financial regulations signed into law by President Barack Obama on Wednesday. The new law, he said, “will place our financial system on a sounder foundation and minimize the risk of a repetition of the devastating events of the past three years.”