Tag: Economy

Trump and his Tariffs

So President Trump wants to put a tariff on cars and good from Europe. Well the E.U. has responded by saying they’d put a tax of 25% on goods from the United States.  Even Speaker Ryan says we shouldn’t do this.

Trump is out of control – neigh, he can’t be controlled. So that’s why we’re hearing about tariffs is simply trying to deflect from the other heinous acts being committed by the Trump Administration.

But here’s something interesting to ponder. Let’s take Volkswagen as an example – they have an auto plant in Chattanooga, TN – what will it do to them when the cars are here and in Mexico and all over the world. Would their corporate leadership suffer from a tariff – sure they would. But the effects in the U.S. would be awful.

Because think for a moment – particularly with the TN plant of Volkswagen – they depend on local suppliers too – hundreds of jobs too. So let’s say the VW plant has 5000 employees. When you extend this out to all the suppliers like tire companies, oil companies, parts like bulbs, wire, etc. All those people. Conservatively I’d say it would impact 20,000 or more just for that one auto plant. Imagine 20,000 pissed off people. It won’t be pretty.

Want to get Rhode Island on the Right Track? Read it here.

So I’ve been sort of taking pot shots at the Rhode Island legislature for essentially giving away the candy store. For years they have granted tax incentives and breaks for the likes of Bank of America, Fidelity, American Power Conversion, Gtech et al.

But all of them have to some degree or another have flown the coop of Rhode Island for greener pastures out there.

Meanwhile we have a burgeoning infosec, I.T. and film and video sector in the state that gets short shrift.

So I propose we flip the script so to speak. Fuck Bank of America, Fidelity and those who betrayed us.

Give some serious tax breaks and help to the sectors I mentioned. And I’m tagging a few people in the legislature here including the Speaker and President. Might the hell as well do it.

NYT’s Krugman “Their Own Private Europe”

You can read the entire column here.

Krugman nicely lays out the economic issues in Greece, Ireland and Britain. And he traces it to the deregulation of banking which resulted in the real estate booms both in those places listed above, and here in the United States.

I may have mentioned before a co-worker who is all for completely deregulating banks. The rest of us looked at him with horror and I exclaimed “How exactly do you think we got into the mess in the first place?” If the Bush Administration hadn’t gone full tilt to cowtow to the banks and peel back more regulatory layers then we wouldn’t have seen the tech bubble, the housing bubble, any of the bubbles at all!

Over the past 40 or so years banks and their lobbyists have fought to be deregulated, to buy up smaller banking concerns, merge with insurance companies and it goes on, all to enhance the bottom line for their shareholders. The banks promised us that they’d self-regulate. Yeah, you’re reading me, it’s right up in the category of “I’m not gonna hurt you, I’m just gonna bash your brains the fuck in!”

And it’s only going to get worse if we do nothing. That horrid US Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case pretty much sealed the ability of corporations to BUY elections.
I can understand why the Supreme Court did what they did. I’ve discussed it here numerous times that over a century ago, Corporations were endowed with the same rights as a flesh and blood human. The prior notion is nothing but absolute bovine effluent, but the notion has carried forward into case law. And law in general is nothing without it’s archival or case law.

So the reality is, it’s we the people who allowed this to happen. If you have a retirement 401(k) take a look at the prospectus. I’d be willing to bet there’s a bank or insurance company in there hiding in plain sight.

I remember in the 1970’s we had a number of banks to choose from. There was Industrial National, Hospital Trust, Citizens, Peoples, Eastland. Now you’ve got a few credit unionish banks and Bank of America, Citizens, and Sovereign.

Not much choice at all and the banks know this so they’ll try so screw you any way they can. Come on, 1.25% on six month CD? How stingy can you get?

The fix to this is for more citizens to become politically involved. And I don’t mean you necessarily have to join the Democratic or Republican (aka Tea Party) parties. Start a new party, we’ve done it here Rhode Island and for the first time in my memory we had not just two or three candidates for Governor but seven. Seven! A good chunk were independents and for the first time in it’s history, Rhode Island now has Governor Lincoln D. Chafee an Independent!

We need to have so many candidates running for office that it becomes economically infeasible for corporations to buy their way through. We need to recruit people who will tell lobbyists to take a hike. And we need to make it so ALL candidates accept public financing of their campaign. That’s the only way we’ll ever fix this mess.

Debunkng Supply Side Economics

This is a very interesting analysis of the both the origins of supply-side or Vodooo economics, it’s effects over the past 30 years and the reason why the Republican party threw their arms around it.

While it is a rather lengthy article I can summarize it in just a few words. Supply-side economics is the looting of the middle class and all it’s institutions.

Think about that for a moment. Remember back when banks paid more than a piddling 1 or 2 percent on a savings account, where fees were $5 for a returned check, or ATM fees didn’t yet exist?

Remember when utility costs were low, even housing prices were reasonable.

I think in the last election we finally saw the great awakening to what the Republican party has been all about for these past 30 years.

And we’re seeing this play out in the stimulus bill working its way through congress right now. The Republicans of course are still trying to do the supply-side thing with tax cuts. But time and again it has been shown that the economic benefit of tax cuts only generates $1 or less for each dollar in tax cuts. Meanwhile stimulus like Unemployment Insurance, or Welfare returns $1.50 to $1.73 per dollar spent. Imagine that.

John Maynard Keynes wasn’t wrong as the Republicans would have you believe. He was absolutely correct, you must spend to dig out of a recession or depression. And right now this is looking increasingly like a depression.

Here are the current economic numbers:

Current Economic Indicators
February 06, 2009 (Close of Day)

    Indicator Value

Inflation % -0.09
GDP Growth % -3.86
Unemployment % 7.60
Gold $/oz 913.00
Oil $/bbl 40.17
Prime % 3.25

See that bolded number, we’re in negative growth. A depression is defined as negative growth for more than. There has been a bit of an uptick but nowhere near the levels when the housing bubble burst.

Here’s a graph of GDP growth from 1947 to the present. I wish I could find one that ran 1920’s through present because that would be more telling.

GDP Growth 1947 to Present
GDP Growth 1947 to Present

This graph appears a bit dated since we haven’t sunken below the zero line. Indeed, it only covers to 2007 before the housing bubble started to burst in earnest.

A nice analysis of the Bush Economic Prowess

This is a very interesting analysis of how things have gone very badly under George W. Bush & Company.

When they started talking about bailing out what I refer to as the shadow banks, and now increasingly the regular consumer banks I was in WTF land. I mean, really, these banks made bad decisions and now we’re going to bail them out to the tune of $700 Billion?

Their CEO’s and board members should be locked up for the rest of their natural lives instead. Along with those CEO’s, I’d say Bush, Cheney & Company should be in that bunch too. Let them serve out the rest of their lives and think about how badly they’ve screwed we the people.

I insert the “& Company” to illustrate who really runs the show. It’s Halliburton, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon-Mobil, et al. It’s General Dynamics, and AM General, and Boeing, MD, et al that are making absolutely obscene profits because they manipulate the government so well.

Knowing this, I think the Obama camp should do the following when they get into office. I cannot even fathom a McCain presidency, knowing that a ‘soccer mom’ is a literal heartbeat from the big chair. So this advice is to the Obama campaign.

So far Obama is saying the right things but he needs to do more. Tax the ever loving hell out of the big corporations, I mean New Deal type taxation here because it’s what we need. Those corporations, through their lobbyists got us into this, they can get us out of it.

Increase the taxes on that 1% who holds most of the wealth too, while at the same time decreasing the taxes for anyone who makes less than a quarter million a year. I like those numbers. And even if I made over that quarter million I’d still be willing to pay more if only to know that:

1) Our children and young adults and even our adults are well educated. That includes nearly free or totally free college educations. Maybe put a stipulation that after college everyone does a year of national service in some form or another.
2) That every single one of us has affordable health care. This includes the drugs too.
3) We invest in research and development of technologies to limit and eventually eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels.
4) Repair the crumbling infrastructure in this country from highways to power distribution grids.
5) Get us to Mars in a decade, not three decades.
6) And within three decades get us outside out solar system, preferably to Canis Major, only 42,000 light years away.

Parts 5 and 6 would obviously be last but mankind needs to keep on building on knowledge.

The thing is we could have most of what is in that last had George W. Bush not been given the presidency by the USSC the first time around and some major tampering with the election systems in the U.S. the second time around.

The Republican party commit suicide en mass. This sign pretty much sums up my feelings on the whole thing.

No Bank Bailouts!
No Bank Bailouts!

What I’m really hoping is that they get pushed back into the fringe for another 30 years, or at least until the day I die because after that I’m not going to care too much about it.

But here’s what I want everyone to think about.

Do you remember the concept of flash mobs? Imagine if we flash mobbed congress. Seriously, imagine how scared they’d be. That’s how I want out government to operate. I want them afraid of us and they should be.

Why do I say that? Because if there is one thing that is particular to the U.S it is the fact that we are the most well armed nation on the planet and it isn’t just our military.

But we needn’t bring out the guns too soon. I think just sending a clear message should be enough. The only exception I have to this is lobbyists. They should be shot on sight.

The Coming Economic Collapse Part II

I’ve been posting about the signs that we’re heading for a massive economic collapse that will make the Great Depression look like childs play. I’ve read quite a bit about that time period as well as spoken with people who lived through that time and it wasn’t pretty. Talking to those who lived through the first Great Depression say that they see many of the same signs today. It’s going to be interesting.

What we’re looking at will be much worse. A complete collapse of the currency and the complete insolvency of the government. If I were a rich person (Some 6% of the population owns 85% of everything.) I’d be very afraid right now.

Why? Because if there’s one thing that the citizenry of the U.S. takes to heart it’s gun ownership. We have the most well armed citizenry in the WORLD.

There’s a very good course which right now comprises fifteen lessons. It’s called Crash Course and some of the information in there may startle you but much of it I’ve known for a while.

Some of the signs, flat wage growth, rising unemployment, increasing debt and crumbling infrastructure. Those are just a few. The Crash Course goes even further explaining retirement program obligations and deficits, etc. Long story short, the debt obligations of the country and we citizens currently stands at $80 Trillion dollars. In order to settle that debt it means we’ll have to convert assets to cash. But in this economy there are far too many sellers which drives down the price of the assets. In addition it drives down the value of the dollar resulting in massive inflation.

If you hadn’t noticed, we’re paying more and more for food and fuel. An example is that National Grid just asked for and received permission to raise electricity rates by 21.7%.

And there’s worry that small and mid-size banks will fail. Sovereign is a mid-sizer btw, so too is Citizens and they’re two of the bigger banks in RI, with BofA having the largest footprint. In the case of Citizens they’re a Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary so I think they’ll be safe. However, I think BofA might be the first big bank to fail based upon stock prices and reports that don’t leave me very optimistic.

The main site is Chris Martenson, he lectures on the coming depression and the site has some very good documentation and resources to learn more about what is going on.

Anatomy of the Mortgage Crisis

Or perhaps I should have called that economic collapse, because that is precisely what is happening these days.

Got this link to a Mother Jones timeline dating back to 1913 and moving forward to 2008.

Particular points of interest are 1913, 1933, and 1970. First was formation of the Federal Reserve system. A promise of that system was to eliminate the financial panics that supposedly plagued the U.S. prior to the existence of the Fed. However we suffered our worst economic depression under its watch starting in the late 20’s.

Next up is 1933 when legislators tried to reign in the banks, only to have that effort overturned in 1970.

The next special year is 1978 when most banks went national, meaning state regulatory law didn’t cover the banks any longer.

But the granddaddy of them all is December 14, 2000. That is when they snuck the Enron amendment into the omnibus appropriations bill. That allowed commodities like energy, including oil and it’s derivative electricity to be traded outside the bounds of the Securities and Exchange Commissions watch. This gave us the rolling blackouts in California and much more. The reason we now pay $4 and more for a gallon of fuel and our electric prices are going bonkers is because those energy futures are traded outside SEC rules, by order of that appropriations bill.

That little gift came to us in the arms of Sen. Phil Gramm (R Texas) who btw, is deep in the pocket of lobbyists. He’s the same Gramm that left in 2002 to work for UBS. Interesting isn’t it?

Our elected representatives are no longer serving our best interests. The best part of it is that most of those responsible for the financial mess we’re in now are Republicans.

In essence this has been the looting of the American public. But here’s the rub, you can only wring a stone so far to get blood. Once we’re tapped out the businesses who backed the Republicans will suffer too but by then they’ll have won, they’ll have all the money. But that won’t last forever. Eventually they’ll need us peasants again.

President Bush, the Cluster Fuck

It appears that Vanity Fair has done a rather nice dice up of the Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

There is still a lot of chatter reverberating regarding the outright theft of the elections in 2000, and now the evidence for that happening in 2004 is ever greater. Just check out this site.

I for one cannot believe that we re-elected someone that was so beholden to corporate interests for a second term. All you have to do is ask the question, who benefits most from the current debacle in Iraq? If the answer to that was big corporations congratulations, identifying the problem is the first step.

The next step is making damned sure we don’t elect a repeat of Bush. And by that I mean Romney, Huckabee, McCain, et al. on the Republican side. And on the Democrat side I distrust Clinton immensely. She’s definitely playing it to win but I cannot read her true motivation.

Want to know who I’d love to see get the nod for President? Dennis Kucinich. Here’s a guy who’s been through it all. Mayor of Cleveland, a U.S. Rep and most importantly a gorgeous wife. If a guy that looks like that can score like that, he’s got to be good for this country. Plus he’s ultra-left liberal which in my book makes him a pretty ideal candidate.

Once we’ve accomplished that step I think we really need to make a grass roots push to take the money influence out of congress. It will mean sponsoring a third party, and sponsoring it well enough that it can capture a majority in congress. And make damned sure we elect people who will hold to one rule:

The will of the people, excluding corporations, is their highest mission. If one is caught taking finance money from a corporate entity, all bets are off and at most they serve one term.

Of course people need to break away from the television and the other diversion that keep most of us from noticing what is really happening. Try it sometime, block out an hour or so after dinner to sit and read, be it books, be it foreign newspapers, just read. Be sure to do so in a well lit area, and turn off any distractions like the television or radio, unless of course you can listen to music while reading without it distracting you.

Anyhow on to the third phase, codifying discrimination against corporate abuse and power. It will only take one little change to the Constitution to do so, make the 14th Amendment explicitly state that corporate entities are excluded from rights enumerated by the Constitution.

Then we can start taking out country back from the greedy arms of corporations. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think corporations should be abolished, I just want them to be accountable.

For too long now (Just over a hundred years.) they’ve hidden behind the same protections offered to you and I. It’s time we strip away the hiding places and make them answer for their crimes.