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Talk of Economic Recovery Not Rooted in Reality

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Talk of economic recovery is surfacing even in the Rick’s Picks forum, and so it’s probably a good time to consider why the very notion of a sustained recovery is factually unsupportable. It’s not hard to fathom why sightings of supposed economic green shoots have returned like kudzu in recent weeks.  For one, Europe’s slow-motion collapse has been put on hold by an all-out effort by the central banks to suppress sovereign borrowing rates. This is being accomplished through “swaps” that allow the European Central Bank to exchange unlimited quantities of euros for Fed dollars for a nominal charge of 50 basis points.  In effect, U.S.- style monetization is being surreptitiously applied to paper over Europe’s debt problem. For two, with the Fed artificially holding mortgage rates near all-time lows, home sales – although, significantly, not home prices – are staging a dead-cat bounce.  And for three, the endless election campaign has provided comic distraction for a nation terminally fatigued by real news. The news media are undoubtedly relieved to be able to report the meaningless details of an endless campaign because it frees reporters and editors from having to tackle more challenging subjects. (Full disclosure: Your editor was a newspaper editor and reporter for seven years.)

Contrary to the brazen, hopey-changey lies being served up by the bankers, politicians and a news media too lazy, ignorant and conventional in its thinking to report that the emperor is wearing no clothes, here are some reasons why the U.S. economy is not only not recovering, but why it cannot  recover without a wrenching shakeout at least equal in severity to the Great Depression:

  • Europe cannot possibly grow its way out of the hole. Only bankruptcy or hyperinflation can extinguish debts that have grown beyond servicing, let alone repayment.
  • The same goes for the U.S., whose banks in any case are fatally tied to Europe’s.
  • U.S. home prices are not even halfway to a bottom. He who says otherwise would contrive to overlook the fact that millions more foreclosures are being prevented from hitting the market because it’s an election year.
  • Baby Boomers will be scaling back their retirement dreams far more than any of them could have imagined just five years ago. Who will spend to compensate for their forced austerity? Answer: No one.
  • Governments at all levels face drastic cutbacks in spending, and their retired workers are likely to see their health care benefits and even pensions reduced significantly.

Fiscal Asphyxiation

With government spending experiencing asphyxiation, only two of the three hitherto unstoppable engines of inflation remain: health care and education. But prices cannot continue to rise in these areas simply because, in the case of health care, “government” cannot afford to “give” us things that we can no longer afford for ourselves; and, in the case of higher education, the schools’ extortion racket is about to collapse because parents and students can see that degrees outside of science and engineering have become nearly valueless, never mind worth going into six-figure debt to pay for.

Although we’re liable to be reading about economic green shoots for yet a while longer, and to see stocks move higher to make us doubt or even abandon our common sense, few Americans are as stupid or delusional as those who would bring us this supposedly good news. The bankers, politicians and their media lackeys would have us believe that a surge in new mortgages and retail spending is the path back to economic health. This is the boldest and most destructive lie ruling our economic lives; for in fact, the only true road to recovery is via a sustained boost to savings and investment, not to debt and consumption.  To believe otherwise is to deny elemental truth.

***

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  • P. Root January 28, 2012, 6:52 pm

    I think the US is about to launch out on the biggest program in infrastructure repair and building ever seen anywhere and at any time in world history. pr

    • Jake February 11, 2012, 3:43 am

      I am rllaey trying to find some sort of a push that would change the way things are done at Nagatacho and across Japan. Doing the same thing over again (as you well know, britanara) is utterly useless. If the earthquake wasn’t enough of a push, then what exactly would spark reform on a national level?Though that certainly is true, there still has to be some common ground between the long term self interests of all individuals in order to bring effective, positive change to Japan. I doubt that Ozawa’s long term self interest of maintaining political clout falls in line with the long term interests of a regular salaryman simply trying to make ends meet.Cheers,Peter

  • Chris T. January 25, 2012, 1:05 am

    Rick writes:
    “Free markets haven’t functioned in this country in the nearly 100 years since the Fed was created. If capitalism had prevailed instead of cronyism, ”

    Absolutely.
    And while I agree on principle with Ron Paul’s criticism of those unmentionables who played the “beat the rich” attack against Romney, Ron Paul is only talking about the theory, not the facts as Rick states them, and as RP of course knows them.

    I think of exactly Rick’s point when Romney defends his workings at Bain as his rags to riches free market career.
    Bain is just another of the croneys, and it, and Romney, only possible in this non-free market corporatocracy.
    50+% of the country’s corporate profits from just that one little sector?
    40% of UK GDP from that one sector?

    If only THAT could be explained to all the rubes who keep voting to support these sound-bite talking heads.

    This is not meant to be naked politiking, but as my expression of the disgust that is so extremely well mentioned in the following video, which I encourage all to look at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUXNfk4MMlI&feature=youtu.be

    I plan on reading Rafi’s full article, his words deserve another look.

  • Seawolf January 25, 2012, 12:18 am

    Bertrand Russell’s “Impact of Science on Society” is well worth a read. In a nutshell he is describing in the 1950’s how government and the moneyed elites will be using science for the control of the masses.

  • buck novak January 24, 2012, 9:45 pm

    Why should this be surprising that people are suffering from delusional thinking. There are plenty of people consuming a large amount of drugs. It’s so large that it is supporting a large free enterprise business ventures in Latin America to import it in the country. Let’s the not forget the local police, DEA, DAs, defense lawyers, drug therapists, jail guards, prison construction contractors, health care providers and a host of others living off others people’s work. We have food stamps to prevent hunger and instead we have obesity. Next and most important, most people went to government, public schools. The government, investors, consumers, or somebody must be crazy.

    • Seawolf January 24, 2012, 10:13 pm

      Buck, the people who should inmates are the ones in charge of the asylum.

    • Robert January 24, 2012, 10:53 pm

      Hah, and that’s just the ILLEGAL drugs that Buck is talking about.

      Compound on top of that the Billions worth of perfectly legal prescription narcotics and mood altering substances being pumped on TV; and all the shit people are dumping down their kid’s throats to deal with ADD, ADHD, OCD, and a myriad of other “frontal lobe anomolies” and it is no wonder we are so screwed up as a species…

      🙂

      I’m really not that cynical… or am I?

    • John Jay January 24, 2012, 11:10 pm

      buck novak,
      You aren’t kidding.
      Here is a link to slideshow of all the places they find dope hidden in cars they stop at the Mexican border.
      Hard to believe the demand is that great, but there it is.
      http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Border-Busts–67754217.html

    • Chris T. January 25, 2012, 12:54 am

      This issue though shoudl not be looked at in dollar terms but in volume terms.
      The incredibly large sums of the drug trade are nothing other than monopoly profits, here imposed by government prohibition.
      Been there, done that, but we don’t learn.

      But in physical volume of consumption, this PALES in comparison to all forms of alcohol consumed, yet we wonder not at the demand for that good.

      This is even more so for “legitimate” drugs serving the same purpose, those physician approved coddlers of which oxy is just one example.
      But oxy can be made by a BigPharma vendor, without local competition, unlike that little plant growing out back…

  • Rich January 24, 2012, 8:00 pm

    BR = proof IQ not = EQ:

    http://bit.ly/wtujdA

    • Seawolf January 24, 2012, 8:54 pm

      Russell is not advocating what is in the linked excerpts but rather predicting that that will be a future outcome of government control.

    • Mario cavolo January 26, 2012, 7:50 am

      On BR I’m just impressed by his mastery of writing and vocabulary… I’m at round two with Wiley on a book proposal and so facing the challenges of serious writing. Hey for that matter, let me namedrop Walter Isaacson…his Einstein biography is a masterpiece…

  • Mark Uzick January 24, 2012, 8:15 am

    mario cavolo: “Mark you would enjoy Bertrand Russell,s In Praise of Idleness…”

    Do you mean the essay or the collection of essays?
    I started on the essay and the only way I could enjoy it would be to debunk his fallacies one by one to someone who actually believed them.

    • Mario cavolo January 24, 2012, 6:30 pm

      Both I suppose…. I’m not suggesting agreement on any particular points he makes, I’m reading him for the first time …. Now reading his “The History of Western Philosophy” …. As an author and philosopher, the man has some serious brain power.

  • Mark Uzick January 24, 2012, 8:01 am

    mava: See the first comment on Carole’s essay on why she thinks she’s an “anarchist”.

    http://www.rickackerman.com/2011/10/an-anarchist-explains-how-to-be-truly-free/comment-page-1/

  • mava January 24, 2012, 4:47 am

    I was going to just write to thank RA for an exceptionally good article. I know that RA is deflationista, plus that he subscribes to Keynesian definition of inflation/deflation as we had figured out in a previous column. However, we all have our failings, but skipping over that, I have enjoyed RA’s article a lot. I like his short but pretty style, and this time it was combined with a pretty well formed view.

    And then I was all pissed off by Gary’s stuff, nothing unusual. Then, I was pretty much healed by a refreshing rebuttal of fallingman, thank you. Yes Gary, you’re pretty much a commie. Why should I spend my hard earned money to “help” some idiot who did not want to study? F. them. I’d gladly point them to the trash can. We have to pay for everything we do, AND DON’T DO. If you want to help, please, do, by all means. Just make sure you only reach in your own pocket, ok?
    No one ever prevents you from helping. Please, be honest and state it as it is: You want to FORCE others to help. And there you have it. Like fallingman says, but I doubt you’d get the point, yeah, that road to hell. It is all your fault, and other commies like yourself. And, the fault of the poor. I know them all too well.

    Then I wanted to come to rescue of Mark Uzick, (from that dude dennis who thinks he knows something because he is “helping the children”). Dennis, dude, chill out. I don’t care how good you are on your bleeding heart, but it does not make you able to understand economics, at all. Haiti needs NOT government or regulations, and you are a fool to think so. They need an absence of government and violence that it creates.
    I have no doubt that there is no way you’d understand this. Just keep hanging on those medals on your chest, buddy.

    Mark, what did you mean by saying that the mob/gang is a manifestation of anarchy?

  • Chris T. January 24, 2012, 12:54 am

    “…$20 of vitamin D3 per person per year… ”

    While even such a minor amount p.a. may have statistically measurable (group) benefits, why not do it right?
    Even though D3 is really not expensive, $1.60 per month is not enough.
    5000 IUE / day seems to be appropriate to most Americans who get the typical not-much-outdoors-during-the-day sunlight exposure.
    Do the test to know where you are:

    http://www.grassrootshealth.net
    50-70 ng/ml seems to be the newest proper target level (not of course via MSMedical wisdom…)

    • Mark Uzick January 24, 2012, 4:46 am

      Thanks, I was just presenting an example. I actually consume over 7,000 iu per day. I wish all my supplements were so inexpensive; I spend more on them than I do on food.

    • Chris T. January 24, 2012, 9:51 pm

      Amenas to price. Plus it takes a while to assemble and swallow (good thing is the gel-caps, etc can be taken 2 or 3 at once)
      One other article of interest to you might be
      http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller36.1.html

      I don’t take all of those, but it is very instructive, also the links to more detailed articles on the various nutrients provided

  • Mark Uzick January 24, 2012, 12:39 am

    Rick: “then, after the tsunami of hyperinflation subsides, deflation will rule for perhaps 20 or 30 years. RA”

    In the price deflation that’s subsequent to hyperinflation: Is that in terms of fiat dollars? some form of gold dollars? a new fiat dollar? or do you have no opinion as of now?

    &&&&

    Why keep complicating everything I say? Most of the world will be flat-assed broke, the consumer economy will be dead, credit will be non-existent and barter will be used for most transactions. We should be less concerned about fiat money than about what kind of government we’ll have in the hardest of times. RA

  • Mark Uzick January 24, 2012, 12:13 am

    dennis:

    ” . Mark U:

    Here is the official definition of a ‘plutocracy’

    1. Government by the wealthy.
    2. A wealthy class that controls a government.
    3. A government or state in which the wealthy rule.”

    And here is the official definition of a ‘minion’
    “a follower devoted to serving his/her master relentlessly”

    Is your usage of the language just sloppy or do you mean to agree with most ‘left wing’
    analyses of our current situation”

    I agree with your definitions and stand by the use of those words within the context of what I wrote.

    I also agree that civilized order amounts to government. There are good forms of government (voluntary order) and there are perversions of government (The state, a gang or a mob) that rule by fiat that is actually no government at all, as they are manifestations of anarchy.

    Yes…plutocracy is the result of regulatory capture; whether it’s the plutocrats that promote aggression in the form of regulations or the regulatory environment that promotes the evolution of corrupt enterprises (Much as the pollution of our bodies promotes the corruption of our cells into tumorous form that, in turn, invade and further pollute the body’s internal environment.) is a “chicken or egg” question, but in any case it’s the strength of our nation’s “immune system” – the collective character and degree of enlightened understanding of the individuals that comprise the nation, expressed through democracy, that will determine whether our civilization recovers and advances or consumes itself from within. The cancer of the state won’t cure itself, but if the people have the will, then, like any enterprise, in order to survive it will give the market what it demands, privatizing the useful functions of its monopolistic agencies and eliminating the useless or harmful ones.

  • Rich January 23, 2012, 11:11 pm

    Rick, how did the QQQ Jan Put Spread close out?
    Could not agree more with you re Economic Reality,
    even with Britain, France and US floating their warships through the Strait of Hormuz as an embargo taunt for war.
    XOM targeting 87 to 114…

    &&&&&

    The spread cost us $20 — a total loss — although we stood to make as much as $1,200 if stocks had fallen after we legged into the position at fab prices in mid-December. Those were great odds, and we did everything right, but it is still easier to make money playing the Lotto than buying puts at retail on directional plays. We do so anyway for two reasons: 1) we can all but eliminate premium risk if our timing is good; and, 2) one of these days stocks are going to fall and keep falling. RA

    • Rich January 24, 2012, 7:55 pm

      Like yer option savvy Rick…

  • bc January 23, 2012, 10:36 pm

    The only “power” the government has left resides in the Fed. They can effectively stop the clock by holding interest rates at zero. In finance, as with lots of other physics, time must be rendered dimensionless by a scale factor. In finance, we call this scale factor short term interest rates. Money grows as M0exp(i times t), where the argument of the non-linear transcendental function exp() is of course dimensionless. By holding short rates at zero the Fed is attempting to stop dimensionless financial time from progressing, holding us in limbo so to speak. Eventually, this is going to fail and all hell is going to break loose as financial time catches up with physical calendar time;just another way to look at what RA says.

  • Rich January 23, 2012, 9:27 pm

    Aloha All
    Silver is up 25% in a month and the stock market is looking toppy…

  • ken horn January 23, 2012, 8:53 pm

    It’s a complicated scenario, but the MAJOR reason for the rich/poor gap is not the capitalist system, but the fact that DC insiders are in bed with Wall Street. The straw man argument that we need MORE regs is specious & laughable on its face. We need people in Congress that enforce the regs ALREADY on the books. The gravy train runs thru DC before it ever gets to WS. The problems we face can be attributed to the pols, WS, lobbyists, subsidies & entitlements. Capitalism is not & has never been the problem. It is the corruption & self serving that has done us in. Given what is entrenched in Washington right now, I can’t see any real change coming for a long, long time.

  • Marketace January 23, 2012, 8:51 pm

    There is a simple explanation for why so many Americans believe the recovery myth. The ancient philosophers searched for the honest man and the definition of “truth”. Today we have that definition, because Truth is now simply defined as the “figment of one’s imagination” and there are many dreamers out there fed by a corrupt media and even more corrupt politicians,

  • dennis January 23, 2012, 7:30 pm

    . Mark U:

    Here is the official definition of a ‘plutocracy’

    1. Government by the wealthy.
    2. A wealthy class that controls a government.
    3. A government or state in which the wealthy rule.”

    And here is the official definition of a ‘minion’
    “a follower devoted to serving his/her master relentlessly”

    Is your usage of the language just sloppy or do you mean to agree with most ‘left wing’
    analyses of our current situation (much in agreement with Liebowitz) that the wealthy rule and therefore the bureaucrats you refer to are simply corruptible stooges who cater to their whims and interests?. I think this important to clarify this, since I think the biggest mistake that ‘conservative’ anti-government, laissez faire proponents make is one of false equivalency – that is, for ideological reasons, the evil doers are identified as bureaucrats (government/government workers; politicians; regulator/regulatory agencies, etc), which are seen as being ‘just as bad’ as the ‘plutocrats’. In most cases, they are portrayed as being even worse, in fact as being THE problem. .Who is the addict and who is the pusher in your world view? Does the notion of ‘regulatory capture’ have any place in it? Or does the problem start with ‘regulators’ and ‘regulation’ itself.?
    Enough, since I think you can see where I am going with this. On a more personal not I will tell you I am involved with a thoroughly bleeding heart liberal effort to support and sustain a refuge for children abondoned and orphaned in Haiti and have been there many times over the last few years. Nowhere is the absence of ‘government’ and ‘regulation’ so obvious. And nowhere at least in this hemisphere is life so miserable and seemingly hopeless. No amount of individual effort, including my own, is doomed to anything but failure without more ‘public’ investment, more regulation, rules, laws, ‘interference’, guidance, support, and ‘social programs’. . If the argument is ‘yes, but the ‘government’ cant be corrupted, who are you arguing with? If you think people there are not working, then you are only looking at the ones who will quickly die off, since survival itself depends on relentless crushingly difficult, everyday work and effort at the individual level. Any notion of ‘get the government off their back and things will somehow get better’, via the invisible hand of some ‘free market’ or abstract idea of ‘free enterprise’, –unshackled from the grip of an evil ‘bureaucracy’– is simply silly.

    • gary leibowitz January 23, 2012, 9:30 pm

      Are all the government data points on the greatest imbalance of wealth wrong? Is it a coincidence that the largest accumulation of wealth by the fewest always happen during debt implosion?

      Do you really think over regulation caused this current real estate debacle? I do recall Greenspan expecting “free markets” to prevent any such calamity. He certainly didn’t argue for more regulations.

      Why have major regulated been enacted after greed, corruption, and pain to the common man hits its apex.

      &&&&&

      Free markets haven’t functioned in this country in the nearly 100 years since the Fed was created. If capitalism had prevailed instead of cronyism, we wouldn’t be in this mess. As for “regulations,” they were written mainly by lobbyists employed by the greedy and the corrupt. Bernie Madoff, securitized mortgages, fractional-reserve banking and weapons-toting farm inspectors are what you get when “regulation” supplants free markets. RA

    • fallingman January 24, 2012, 6:02 pm

      Amen Rick. Perfectly stated.

  • Steve January 23, 2012, 7:21 pm

    Nice job Rick. Everyone should try stepping away from corporate government benefits. Stepping away into non-corporate self sufficiency means persecution to drive the individual back into the means of control. I’ve said it before, but; understanding Nash’s Non Co-operative Game Theory can be very beneficial.

    • mario cavolo January 24, 2012, 4:15 am

      Steve, Im an entrepreneur with no net , no company benefits for 20 plus years,… Think of the famous Erma Bombeck comment… 🙂

  • Daniel January 23, 2012, 6:36 pm

    You hit the nail on the head, Rick! Now if only I can figure out how not to go down the drain with the dirty water. Uh oh, I am getting dizzy as I circle around the drain.

  • John Jay January 23, 2012, 5:52 pm

    I think Detroit in Michigan and El Centro in California are great examples of the future for the poor in this country. Both cities have permanent very high unemployment rates. At least in El Centro the homeless will not freeze into blocks of ice in the winter.
    As for Detroit I saw a slide show on the web comparing present day Hiroshima and Detroit asking who won the war. How quickly it all happened.

    • Rick Ackerman January 23, 2012, 7:05 pm

      Detroit itself is awaiting results from Flint, which has been placed under the control of a state-appointed manager empowered to make the kind of choices that politicians cannot. However, to put the difficulty of his task in perspective, although it is an operating deficit on the order of $14 million with which Flint is urgently concerned, long-term liabilities attributable to overly generous benefits for the city’s retired workers amount to more than $600 million.

  • gary leibowitz January 23, 2012, 4:49 pm

    Take away social security and heatlh programs and you have the largest third world nation ever.

    Do you know just how many people are surviving on the edge right now?

    I find it ironic that as the very rich and powerful subvert rules to allow them even greater wealth and plunge us into a world debt crisis where austerity measures for the poor must be enacted. Is this a Mel Brooks movie where Robin Hood takes from the poor to give to the rich?

    If anyone has illusions that the poor and middle class using these social programs caused this problem how do you explain the absolute vertical growth in wealth by the top 5 percent in the last decade. It sure didn’t come out of their pockets. Who in the last decade had the power and will to pass these social programs had the rich not benefited?

    Now the talk is about how our bloated government social programs must be scaled back. Imagine the 30’s all over again but this time around we reduce or get rid of medicare and medicaid, reduce social security payouts, and government payroll. If you think it’s bad now wait till the government decides to resolve out over-spending by reducing the poorest and weakest political voices. In all this no one talks about the sacrifices the very rich make. The reason is simple. They never do. Does anyone know how poorly the rich did during the great depression? The great sacrifices they made?

    Let me end by stating had we diverted a large number of the social spending into job training, health prevention, etc… we would not be so dependent today. I was never an advocate of government dependence, but rather government help. I suppose that still labels me a bleeding heart liberal. So be it.

    &&&&&&

    We wouldn’t be dependent at all if Social Security had never come to exist. RA

    • Mark Uzick January 23, 2012, 5:17 pm

      The state in the name of “protecting” and coddling the “poor” makes plutocrats and their bureaucratic minions rich and monopolistic-ally secure in their wealth and power, while making the productive beg for the right to even exist or to flee the country altogether, while the “poor” are kept ignorant, dependent and often in prison.

      Aren’t we blessed to have “bleeding hearts” like you to demand even more of the same poisonous social medicine.

    • fallingman January 23, 2012, 6:53 pm

      2 quick points if I may.

      Not all the “rich” got that way by virtue of gaming the system. In fact, it’s a relatively small percentage. Please don’t lump everyone in an income/wealth category into one. It’s mindless. The “rich” this and the “rich” that, as if they all think and act alike. It isn’t an alien species.

      For every Al Gore, who got rich from working his insider connections, there are hundreds of small business owners and professionals who made theirs by working their assess off or innovating or both.

      I’d like a clarification. Do you have something against wealth per se or is it the Halliburton, Goldman, Newt Gingrich kind of wealth that’s the result of playing the insider game?

      2) You make a good argument for why debasing the currency and paying off the debt with phunny money is such a compelling option. They can’t and won’t cut the social welfare benefits to any meaningful degree, if at all, in nominal terms. It’s the bread part of bread and circuses. Can’t have the peasants rising up. But cut they must, so they’ll do it through inflation. It fools most of the people most of the time.

      Oh, and one more. “Health prevention”…great idea., but NOT ALLOWED by the Powerz. The FDA has declared walnuts a drug and has sued cherry growers from saying cherries are good for you. Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up.

      Their Orwellian definition of health prevention is detecting disease early.

      “Government help” is an oxymoron. I appreciate your good intentions…and the road to hell has just been paved with them. You bought into a con. Now, we all suffer. All, except the siphoning class at the tippy top, the very people you and I dislike the most.
      Savor the irony.

      Nice article Rick. Thanks.

    • gary leibowitz January 23, 2012, 8:50 pm

      It was enacted in 1935 during the great depression.

      If it wasn’t enacted then who knows what the results would be.

      Most Americans today have no long term savings. I suppose if there never was social security the complacency would be gone and more would be saving. What happens to the ones that can’t affort to save or had hardships that resulted in loss of their savings?

      I stated I do not like the current social program setup but to disband it at this point would be disasterous.

      You certainly can’t blame the poor and middle class for creating the debt implosion. If politicians would follow logic and common sense we would never be in this mess today. If priivate corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure they have enough pension reserves and heatlh benefit reserves why can’t the government? It wasn’t the increase in social programs that created the problem, it was the stealing of these funds for other purposes and the inability to place limits on what is afffordable or not. No accountability.

    • fallingman January 23, 2012, 11:10 pm

      No accountability…this comes as a surprise to you? It isn’t THEIR money. Why would you expect them to handle it responsibly?

      And it wasn’t just the shifting of the assets to the general fund that causes the problem today. The ponzi nature of the system doomed it to failure. It has always been just a matter of timing. My father vigorously questioned Paul Douglas, the architect of the system, when both were at the University of Chicago, but Douglas had a scheme. He didn’t want to have to defend the flaws in it. He mouthed some inanities, shrugged his shoulders at the pointed criticisms and left it at that. Sound familiar?

      Now, I have to ask. Do you find my question to you in the post above annoying? Hard to answer? I will repeat it.

      “Do you have something against wealth per se or is it the Halliburton, Goldman, Newt Gingrich kind of wealth that’s the result of playing the insider game?”

      I’m respectfully requesting you clarify your comments about “the rich.” To suggest they’re all the same in any meaningful way other than the fact that they have assets that can be plundered, is reflective of sloppy thinking at best and an unholy us vs them agenda at worst.

      The stereotyping thing where we treat people not as individual human beings but as group members to whom we ascribe characteristics is a dangerous and unseemly bit of business Gary.

      Black people are ______

      Women are ______

      Jews are _____.

      Gays are _____.

      How is that any different from…

      Rich people are ___.?

    • Larry D January 23, 2012, 11:24 pm

      ” If priivate corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure they have enough pension reserves and heatlh benefit reserves why can’t the government?”

      …They do?

      Most of the small firms I have ever worked for offer neither. What the lumpen fail to recognize is that compensation is compensation; if a firm offers one kind of benefit, it is a compromise on another. Nice full no-out-of-pocket health bennies, great pension … well, your salary is adjusted by those things.

      But, as you say, if those things didn’t exist who knows what the results would be.

    • mario cavolo January 24, 2012, 4:07 am

      Mark you would enjoy Bertrand Russell,s In Praise of Idleness…

    • Rich January 24, 2012, 7:54 pm

      SS = Silver handcuffs for the unemployed middle class…

    • Katie February 9, 2012, 5:55 am

      January 26, 2009 Ang mean naman nun. Ano saabsnii niyo sa kanila? Murahin niyo nang Tagalog. LOL

    • lmkvkgeklkw February 9, 2012, 3:49 pm

      FDgAtk ovrwutggmtbm

  • Rod Newman January 23, 2012, 4:23 pm

    Amen

  • John Jay January 23, 2012, 3:48 pm

    It is a doomed system, both here in the USA and in Europe. It is now just a question of the timing of the return to reality. The US has gone from 52% of world GDP to about 18% now. I will say that about a third of that current GDP is government spending at some level, from food stamps to aircraft carriers, from municipal employees to Congressmen, everyone is on some sort of dole. At the Federal level those at the top know it can’t go on forever. Hence, the buildup of the Police State to insure whatever resources are left after the crash will be used for COG. NDAA sailing through the Senate with a ten to one margin shows what they think of you and I and the Bill of Rights. One thing for sure, the meek will not be inheriting the earth anytime soon.

    • Mark Uzick January 23, 2012, 4:16 pm

      John Jay: “I will say that about a third of that current GDP is government spending at some level”

      Add to that medical care, which, like federal and state spending, is mostly either waste or harm at over 17% of “GDP”. How much of “GDP” is productivity and how much is bloated waste and evil?

    • Bam_Man January 23, 2012, 7:53 pm

      And being that it’s almost that time of year, how about the “tax preparation industry” for an example of worthless GDP?

      It would not be difficult to come up with a long list of economically worthless activities that contribute to our GDP.

  • Mark Uzick January 23, 2012, 7:39 am

    Rick: “Governments at all levels face drastic cutbacks in spending, and their retired workers are likely to see their health care benefits and even pensions reduced significantly.”

    This may be so; I certainly hope so, but it’s based on the assumption that the Fed won’t be used to gin up an endless supply of its magic, buying treasury debt; and why not state and local debt as well?

    Rick: “U.S. home prices are not even halfway to a bottom. He who says otherwise would contrive to overlook the fact that millions more foreclosures are being prevented from hitting the market because it’s an election year.”

    In real terms, no doubt, but in nominal terms the bottom will depend on how quickly price inflation accelerates from its currently very high level. (I know…accelerating inflation is my assumption – not yours.)

    I envy your optimism as is implied by your deflation-ism. (Yes, it’s the most optimistic of the realistic possibilities.) I hope that you’re right, but I’m far from certain.

    &&&&&

    Buying up state and local debt too? That’s tantamount to hyperinflating and therefore no solution for the (overcompensated) workers. Regarding home prices, there’s no need to split hairs over real vs. nominal declines. All I’m saying is that the collapse is a long, long way from the bottom. RA

    • Mario cavolo January 23, 2012, 9:50 am

      Hi Mark, well I’m truly a third party observer living overseas since ’99 and for the life of me I xanthate see any reason why US housing market could possibly rise again in the next decade. At least in part, it’s a long flat economic japan scenario at best. Mortgage Rates are already at lows, but demand isn’t there and nowhere for it to come from. Overseas cash rich Asians are buying them up but that’s still not much of a factor to broadly goose prices.

      Boosting exports (they finally are) and overseas incoming tourism are 2 meaningful ways to create some economic growth and jobs.

      Don’t anyone talk to me about the US healthcare inflation nightmare as Rick noted. My wife was billed $1000 for a ten minute consultation w a doctor, because it happened to be a Sunday afternoon, and on it was billed through the emergency dept. How did “someone” decide this was an ok amount to charge for such service?….ludicrous and a cold day in hell before they see more than our generous offer of $150 to settle the
      bill.

    • Mark Uzick January 23, 2012, 12:13 pm

      mario:

      I prefaced my housing comment with “In real terms”; surely you’d acknowledge that no matter how dismally housing performs, if the buying power of the dollar preforms even more dismally, then housing may go up in terms of dollars.

      As far as medical care goes: Consumer “protecting” regulations have turned it into a criminal racket.

      To keep it from killing more people than it already has, I’m hoping that, like other industries that have found salvation by leaving the poisonous regulatory environment of this land, that some method more affordable than medical tourism is found via the Internet for diagnosis and treatment for cases that don’t require surgery or hospitalization. (even if it has to be black market) Drugs can already be purchased at their real market price this way on a “buyer beware” basis that requires only a modest amount of screening for fraud. Better yet, as most prescription drugs are little more than health destroying frauds, people are increasingly turning to dietary, herbal and lifestyle remedies for serious disease. To give just one example: $20 of vitamin D3 per person per year is estimated to cut the average cost of medical care by $4,000 per year for a family of three.

    • Bam_Man January 23, 2012, 7:49 pm

      Rick,

      I’m afraid Mark is right. Before it’s over, the Fed will be buying every kind of paper asset imaginable. Just look at the Bank of Japan for an example of where the Fed is headed. They are openly buying REIT’s and ETF’s at this point. And God only knows what they are buying secretly. And it won’t stop until a massive inflation is unleashed. Yes, there will be bouts of deflation in the meantime, but the end result is currency destruction.

      &&&&&&

      The inflationists have been mighty quiet lately — and for good reason, since the bazillion dollars worth of stimulus attempted so far has inflated nothing except stocks and U.S bonds. However, I do agree with you that, before it’s over, the Fed will buy every kind of paper asset imaginable. As to how this will lead to hyperinflation, I’m with Peter Schiff in believing that hyperinflation will come in a fleeting, destructive moment. Until that moment, however, I expect the U.S. dollar to grow paradoxically stronger; then, after the tsunami of hyperinflation subsides, deflation will rule for perhaps 20 or 30 years. RA

    • Rich January 23, 2012, 11:17 pm

      http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/categories/32261

      Take yer pick of Case Shillers.

      Down in nominal and real terms to new lows after QE I, II and III…

    • Mark Uzick January 24, 2012, 12:26 am

      1. What makes you think the Fed’s main concern is a long term solution to benefit workers?

      2. It’s not splitting hairs; I would think it matters very much to your readers whether there’s housing deflation in dollar terms or only in real terms.

      &&&&

      The question of real or nominal is irrelevant. All that matters is how much the value of your home falls relative to what you owe on it. RA


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