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Old Jan 22, 2013, 11:34 AM   #1
dime21
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Economy 2013

Now that Obama has a second term, how do you feel about his handling of the economy, and his plans for the future of our economy? During his 2008 campaign, he blasted GWB for increasing debt by 5 Trillion in his two terms, but then went on to exceed that himself, in just one term. His inauguration speech mentioned prosperity for all, the "broad shoulders" of the middle class, etc. which contrasts sharply with the reality of today. IMO the economy is the most pressing issue in this nation right now, yet it seems to be ignored by all, swept under the rug, to deal with "later".

The middle class is shrinking due in large part to two decades of manufacturing industry job losses (primarily to China). Federal government spending, debt, and budget deficit are all through the roof, at record high levels. The numbers of people on welfare, unemployment, and food stamps are all at record high levels. All this, and yet the nightly news wants to focus on gun laws, or what dress Michelle Obama wore. Anything but the economy.

Gov't debt is almost 100% of GDP - I.e., we aren't going broke. We ARE broke.

Federal gov't has been raiding every possible source, social security, medicare, anything to make ends meet, at least on paper. Look for 401k's to be nationalized next, and turned into one more cash pile for them to rob. China has been unloading our bonds and buying ever fewer of them.

The debt is at the point where it is no longer practical or even possible to pay it off. It would require a massive cut in federal spending, which you and I know will never happen, not under either of our political parties. The only alternative is to print enough cash to pay it off, which would of course cause massive inflation. It seems that is their interim solution at least, considering the Fed is printing upwards of $40 billion PER MONTH. In fact, this is the sole difference between our economic woes and those of bankrupt Greece - we have the ability to print more money as we see fit, while Greece did not.

The real problem is the govt has taken over such a huge portion of the economy. When govt debt exceeds GDP, that means govt influence in the economy is larger than all commercial activity combined. Add to that the massive regulation that big business loves (even if they say they don't) because it creates entry barriers, and you have a recipe for a govt-run economy that goes beyond anything Marx or Lenin dreamed of.

IMO we have another Great Depression heading our way, and it's coming sooner rather than later. Your thoughts?
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 11:48 AM   #2
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I'm not sure if these numbers are accurate, but if they are then holy carp. (Jesus fish!) Granted the totality of the debt is no one President or even individuals fault but... man. Hopefully it makes me nervous because I don't understand it all. I know the speaker is a motivational speaker so hopefully he's not too sketchy.

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Old Jan 22, 2013, 01:42 PM   #3
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 02:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dime21 View Post
The real problem is the govt has taken over such a huge portion of the economy.
Nope.

The problem is that that portion of the economy is largely backward-oriented and creates near 0 in real value.

There are plenty successfull(er) countries where goverment has a much larger portion of the economy.

Quote:

When govt debt exceeds GDP, that means govt influence in the economy is larger than all commercial activity combined.
Nope.

Debt levels are allmost completly unrelated to the % of economy controlled by goverment.

The debt is so high for 2 factors:
- undertaxation in the past 30 years
- spending borrowed money on projects that have exactly 0 in ROI
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 02:33 PM   #5
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I'm not sure if these numbers are accurate, but if they are then holy carp. (Jesus fish!) Granted the totality of the debt is no one President or even individuals fault but... man. Hopefully it makes me nervous because I don't understand it all. I know the speaker is a motivational speaker so hopefully he's not too sketchy.
I have no idea who this particular Tony Roberts is, but, regardless, there are a couple of things missing. First, yes, a Trillion dollars is a lot of money, even to a multi-billionaire. But, there are approximately 315 million people - almost 1/3 of a billion- that is a lot of people- people living in the U.S. Multiply that by the GDP per person, almost $50K per person, and you also get big numbers, around ~$15 Trillion in round numbers. ~$11.6B of debt gets you to 73%. Too big, IMHO, but, not so big (yet) as to be economically dangerous -- that threshold is widely held, by conservatives, to be around 90% of GDP. A few random sources although it is easy with Google to find your own.





http://www.economist.com/blogs/graph...daily-chart-10

http://search.worldbank.org/data?qte...age=EN&format=

(The worldbank.org site has all the data you need, but, I find it troublesome to get a particular data display to be embedded in one of these posts.)

I think the biggest part of the arithmetic of all this that people have trouble grasping is just how many other people there are out there. Any one individual is one out of ~1/3 of a billion.

As long as you, and they, all pay their taxes, everything is under control. All you have to do is stop believing politicians who tell you that they can keep cutting taxes indefinitely. Taxes will have to be raised. The other thing to keep in mind is that taxes will have to be raised just when you least expect it -- when the economy starts to boom, tax revenue is up, and it is necessary to raise taxes to keep a lid on inflation. People find this irritating, but, it works.

The only large economies that I am aware of that have burdensome public debt are Italy and Japan. The other thing to keep in mind is that if there is anything in the debt world to worry about right now, it is the unusually large size of private debt. So much for public debt "crowding out" private debt. Maybe some economist out there can explain why the world loves debt instead of equity?

I can't vouch for the data, so, this is intended to be suggestive than definitive, but, it gives the idea of how much of total debt there is in each sector (government, companies, household):

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Old Jan 22, 2013, 03:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jnpy!$4g3cwk View Post
The only large economies that I am aware of that have burdensome public debt are Italy and Japan. The other thing to keep in mind is that if there is anything in the debt world to worry about right now, it is the unusually large size of private debt. So much for public debt "crowding out" private debt. Maybe some economist out there can explain why the world loves debt instead of equity?

I can't vouch for the data, so, this is intended to be suggestive than definitive, but, it gives the idea of how much of total debt there is in each sector (government, companies, household):

Image
You make a very interesting point here in the Netherlands in the last 25 years it has become normal to have a Interest Only Mortgage.
For the rest the average household has very little debt.

here is published a detailed article, entitled Dutch show how not to run housing policy, which argued that the Netherlands housing system all but guarantees unaffordable housing and a susceptibility to housing bubbles, via:

ridiculously easy credit, with a third of mortgages guaranteed by the government;
mortgage interest tax relief and generous subsidies offered to home buyers;
a dysfunctional rental market that encourages households to strive for owner-occupation; and
severely restricted housing supply, which ensures that changes in demand flow predominantly into homes prices rather than new construction.

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2012...ousing-policy/

In December of 2012 there is a start to wean the average household off Intrest Only Mortages, but it will rtake time. The damage has been done over decades and will take years to put right.

Here is a better article

In a nutshell, the Dutch tax system allows every resident who owns the home he or she lives in to fully deduct the interest paid on their mortgage from their assessed income. A person who earns gross wages of 60,000 euros and spends 15,000 on mortgage-interest, only has to pay income tax on 45,000. The higher the mortgage, the bigger the benefit. In 2001, the period during which the taxpayer could profit from the tax-deduction was capped at 30 years and a second home mortgage was excluded. But that was as far as politicians were willing to go at the time.


It sounded to good to be true, and it was.
http://vorige.nrc.nl/international/article2560488.ece
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 04:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by dime21 View Post
Now that Obama has a second term, how do you feel about his handling of the economy, and his plans for the future of our economy? During his 2008 campaign, he blasted GWB for increasing debt by 5 Trillion in his two terms, but then went on to exceed that himself, in just one term. His inauguration speech mentioned prosperity for all, the "broad shoulders" of the middle class, etc. which contrasts sharply with the reality of today. IMO the economy is the most pressing issue in this nation right now, yet it seems to be ignored by all, swept under the rug, to deal with "later".
Obama's done most of what he can do. If you really want to play the blame game, you should be looking at Congress. This mess we are in falls on their shoulders, both parties included.

If the way the whole fiscal cliff nonsense went is how these clowns are going to deal with the economy, then we are not going to fix this problem any time soon.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 05:05 PM   #8
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I know the speaker is a motivational speaker so hopefully he's not too sketchy.

YouTube: video
Ugh... this is complete BS.

He takes the 'tax the rich' argument to a completely illogical extreme. He's no 'independent thinker'.

Manipulative stuff indeed!
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 07:41 PM   #9
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You make a very interesting point here in the Netherlands in the last 25 years it has become normal to have a Interest Only Mortgage.
For the rest the average household has very little debt.

---

In a nutshell, the Dutch tax system allows every resident who owns the home he or she lives in to fully deduct the interest paid on their mortgage from their assessed income. A person who earns gross wages of 60,000 euros and spends 15,000 on mortgage-interest, only has to pay income tax on 45,000. The higher the mortgage, the bigger the benefit. In 2001, the period during which the taxpayer could profit from the tax-deduction was capped at 30 years and a second home mortgage was excluded. But that was as far as politicians were willing to go at the time.


It sounded to good to be true, and it was.
http://vorige.nrc.nl/international/article2560488.ece

Good points. About the only thing that I can add is that gradual is the key to making a phase-out work, as the article about the UK pointed out. A sudden change would be a huge dislocation to the economy, the result of which would probably be a decade of stagflation. A slow, smooth phase-out over at least a decade with the timetable known in advance would minimize the dislocation.


Also, on the graphs that I posted earlier, there seems to be an inconsistency between the sources. I'm guessing tht there either is something wrong with the Economist data for the UK, or, the Economist is using an unusual definition of private debt. But, it could be that private debt has changed radically in the UK during the last year. Anyone know the right answer?
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 08:42 PM   #10
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There are plenty successfull(er) countries where goverment has a much larger portion of the economy.
Wrong. Those economies are designed as such, and their government involvement is not via massive crushing debt. Ours is not designed to sustain a massive debt load. Hence the endless debt ceiling raises, threat of lowering the US credit rating, etc. It doesn't matter how you spin it - when you're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar you spend, with no end in sight, disaster and ruin will come. It's not "if". It's "when".

The only thing that's kept disaster at bay is our ability to print our own currency. But that only works for so long, before the fail train derails...

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Debt levels are allmost completly unrelated to the % of economy controlled by goverment.
That's flat out false. I don't think you understand this subject matter. The economy does not consist solely of GDP. It's GDP + debt. Just as your own net worth is your assets + liabilities. Not assets alone. The economy of Greece did not collapse because they weren't producing enough - it collapsed because they were so deep into debt, due to out of control spending, they couldn't even afford to pay the interest on their loans.

And guess what - when the US credit rating gets cut in a few short years, nobody will want our bonds, especially not China. We'll have to jack the bond rate way up to entice anyone to buy them - which will result in $Trillions of interest payments on this debt - payments we can't afford to make. Just like Greece.

Massive credit card debt, out of control spending, and the inability to pay it back results in individual bankruptcy. The same thing applies on a larger scale. As I said before, the only thing that is delaying that right now, is our ability to print our own currency.

When the US credit rating gets cut - and it WILL get cut once the debt exceeds GDP - things are going to get ugly fast. You don't have to take my word for it. It's coming sooner than you realize.

----------

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Obama's done most of what he can do. If you really want to play the blame game, you should be looking at Congress. This mess we are in falls on their shoulders, both parties included.

If the way the whole fiscal cliff nonsense went is how these clowns are going to deal with the economy, then we are not going to fix this problem any time soon.
I'm not blaming a single party. Both are at fault here; both have maxed out the credit cards, so to speak, with no plan to pay them off. But I am blaming the current administration for pointing the finger at the previous one, and then doing nothing to fix the problem - in fact, making it a whole lot worse, via endless gov't borrowing, spending, and hand outs.

And asking the rich to "pay a little more" isn't a solution. That's pan handling, like the homeless bum on the corner. Except this bum isn't asking, he's taking by force. Just as the businessman walking down the sidewalk will avoid the corner with the aggressive bum, the wealthy in this country will take their wealth and invest it elsewhere. It's a proven phenomenon. Left leaning Maryland raised their taxes significantly on millionaires just a few years ago, in an effort to raise more revenue. It's no surprise what happened - Maryland lost 1/3 of their millionaires the following year! They up and moved to other states (most to VA), and Maryland experienced a huge drop in tax revenue as a result!

Debt is not a problem you can spend your way out of, and it's not a problem you can solve by taking other people's money. The history books will not be kind to this administration for their total failure in addressing this problem.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 10:28 PM   #11
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Another of about a zillion pies


Something like at least 47% (interesting number) of the debt is within the government itself. So how does it pay itself off? (Less than a third is held outside the US).
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:10 AM   #12
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And so what is the proper solution?

A: Tax cuts and spending cuts
B: Only massive spending cuts (but don't touch defense)
C: Only massive spending cuts, starting with defense
D: Tax increases and spending cuts
E: Only tax increases
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 09:16 AM   #13
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The thing everyone seems to forget is that our economy includes government spending. If a large portion of the wealth is tied up in passive investments held by the uber-wealthy who have no need to use that money to advance the economy, then the economy stagnates.

Taxes are just an effective means of churning the economy. A tiny fraction of the wealth that would otherwise be stagnant is siphoned off, and then inevitably spent on projects and programs that benefit society as a whole. Every dollar taken from a billionaire that would otherwise sit in a Cayman Island's bank account, and then spent on a road project, increases the overall effectiveness of our economy.

Reagan presided over an economic boom, but if you compare the growth of GDP to the growth of debt, you see that the growth was funded almost entirely by debt. Clinton had a boom, but it was due to actual economic growth (some bubble), unrelated to the shrinking debt.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 11:16 AM   #14
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Clinton had a boom, but it was due to actual economic growth (some bubble), unrelated to the shrinking debt.
The debt never got smaller, even when the budget got into the black for a day and a half, it just grew more and more slowly.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 12:38 PM   #15
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The debt never got smaller, even when the budget got into the black for a day and a half, it just grew more and more slowly.
Debt as a percentage of GDP did get smaller, and that is what counts.

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Old Jan 24, 2013, 12:49 PM   #16
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Debt as a percentage of GDP did get smaller, and that is what counts.

Image

Actually this is part of Quantitative easing, printing money out of thin air to close that gap.

Side effects include, but not limited to:

Inflation: making money you have saved or pensions worth less. We may see weimar like hyperinflation, hurting a lot of lower middle class families.

Increased debt: which will make government push for more tax increases.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 12:53 PM   #17
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Also, on the graphs that I posted earlier, there seems to be an inconsistency between the sources. I'm guessing tht there either is something wrong with the Economist data for the UK, or, the Economist is using an unusual definition of private debt. But, it could be that private debt has changed radically in the UK during the last year. Anyone know the right answer?
I think the UK's private debt is particularly high because it includes debts the banks have.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 01:00 PM   #18
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I think the UK's private debt is particularly high because it includes debts the banks have.
I assume that is debts the banks owe to other banks? I can see excluding most of that from the statistics, which are intended to reflect debts that other corporations, and, households, owe to the financial sector. Debts internal to the financial sector are a little odd, and I could see that it would be easy to let inconsistency creep in.

Actually, I see now that there is a notation on the final graph regarding exclusion of the financial sector, so, that makes sense. I wonder why the UK financial sector internal debts are so much greater than most other countries? Perhaps something about the relative size of the financial services industry.

Last edited by jnpy!$4g3cwk; Jan 24, 2013 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Added text.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 01:13 PM   #19
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Wait a minute. Dime21, if debt as a percentage of GDP was over 100% before, did that mean we were broke then? If it's a hole that's impossible to get out of, how did we reduce that to below 40% by the Nixon era?
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 01:23 PM   #20
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I assume that is debts the banks owe to other banks?
Banks account deposits as liabilities (money they have to give you if you ask for it) and outstanding loans as assets (money that is accruing interest for the bank and its depositors and that the borrower has to give back to the bank). Hence, if a bank has high debt, it could mean that too much of its capital is resting (cf. Father Ted) in the vault, or whatever. High bank debt could be an indicator of a struggling economy, I suspect, as the bank is not able to satisfactorily leverage its liabilities (capital on hand) into working assets.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 01:27 PM   #21
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The economy is pretty screwed up right now. One of the reasons why the debt was so high in the GWB years was of all the TARP funds distributed. I don't necessarily agree with the moves Obama has made, but give him credit for at least trying something. Granted his Obamacare and taxing on businesses isn't going to really help anything..........
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 01:42 PM   #22
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The economy is pretty screwed up right now. One of the reasons why the debt was so high in the GWB years was of all the TARP funds distributed. I don't necessarily agree with the moves Obama has made, but give him credit for at least trying something. Granted his Obamacare and taxing on businesses isn't going to really help anything..........

Where did you pull this from?
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 02:26 PM   #23
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Reagan and Bush I lowered taxes... Clinton raised them... Bush Jr. lowered them... coincidence?
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 02:28 PM   #24
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Wait a minute. Dime21, if debt as a percentage of GDP was over 100% before, did that mean we were broke then? If it's a hole that's impossible to get out of, how did we reduce that to below 40% by the Nixon era?
A Debt-to-GDP ratio greater than 100% doesn't mean you are broke. When a family buys a house that costs 3X their income, they aren't 3X broke. They just have to pay it back over time. Japan is not broke, but, the Japanese national debt is a definite drag on the economy. (And, consider also Japanese corporate debt, even though it is private debt.)

It has been found, historically, statistically, that if the government public Debt-to-GDP ratio is greater than 90%, it starts to hurt economic growth, so, that is something to be avoided. Given how this ratio can easily jump 10% in a crisis or downturn, and, it is better that it stay under 80% in normal times. There is an argument that says that the debt shouldn't be zero, though -- it is good to have an established government bond market with the machinery already in place.

The "90%" figure comes from Reinhart and Rogoff. For developing countries, the number is more like 60%.

Here is an online reference of the analysis:

http://www.economics.harvard.edu/fil..._Time_Debt.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmen_Reinhart

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Rogoff

I disagree with some of their other policy recommendations in other publications, but, I think their analysis is generally very good.

Oh, and the way the Debt was paid down from Truman to Carter? People (generally) paid their taxes. It works.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 03:30 PM   #25
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Where did you pull this from?
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesgla...ts-truly-rank/

I just pulled that off a quick Google search, I'm not saying Bush wasn't without faults, but the thread was just how do you think the economy is doing and I made it more of just a side comment. I'm probably biased as I have been in the finance industry for awhile, so I probably view things differently
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