unastronaut*

Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Posts Tagged ‘economy

Three things everyone can do to make the economy stronger

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I go AWOL every now and again, but certain things pull me out of hibernation. This week’s shenanigans on the Hill have been tacky melodrama at best. There are so very few politicians who know anything about economics, but many know something about theatre. 

If I wanted to hear something completely familiar delivered by a bad actor, I’d have watched a Tom Cruise film. Here are three things we can all do to make the economy stronger. These aren’t things we can all read which will simply make the economy stronger, but things anyone and everyone can do.

  1. Mind your wallet. Ask anyone you know if they’re in debt. When everyone has a little debt, it amounts to a lot of debt. Debt, at a certain point, creates friction in our economy. Get out of debt, start spending your money again and you’ll already be helping.
  2. Attempt to understand the economy. Look up terms you are fuzzy about. Get as realistic a vision of a ‘better economy’ that you can. It won’t happen overnight, but it also won’t happen with our heads buried in the sand.
  3. Understand that the economy is not partisan. The economy doesn’t care if you call yourself a Democrat or a Republican. The economy is not waiting for anything. It won’t suddenly ‘do something’. It is simply a machine to circulate money, and it needs lube.

Written by unastronaut

February 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Naked shorts, and other perverse translations

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I’ve had a few friends express their inability to understand the current economic crisis and thought a post was probably due. There are a few things I’d say to set the stage. The situation is intentionally complicated and hard for the layman to understand. People like Senator Phil Gramm, lobbyists Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt, Charles Keating and cohort have, over time, chipped away at the protections for investors and borrowers in favor of lenders and brokers. 

Now for two definitions — for people from my neck of the woods — to better understand this Wall Street/Washington doublespeak. Naked shorts — the practice of selling a stock short without first borrowing the shares or ensuring that the shares can be borrowed as is done in a conventional short sale (Wikipedia) — or selling someone else’s stuff. What might happen if you sold your neighbor’s car and had them pick it up from the neighbor? Should you be bailed out?

Sub-prime lending is basically risky lending. They call it sub-prime when banks do this. Before banks got into loansharking, lenders would wreck their kneecaps — not the economy — if borrowers were unable to pay up. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to buy a home, I’m just saying I shouldn’t be getting offers to buy a home. People in my financial situation shouldn’t need to (at best) throw millions of pounds of paperwork away each year or (at worst) open the ‘loanshark on bank letterhead’ offer to buy a home with no proof of creditworthiness.

The Secretary of the Treasury is the principal economic advisor to the President and plays a critical role in policy-making by bringing an economic and government financial policy perspective to issues facing the government. The Secretary is responsible for formulating and recommending domestic and international financial, economic, and tax policy, participating in the formulation of broad fiscal policies that have general significance for the economy, and managing the public debt. The Secretary oversees the activities of the Department in carrying out its major law enforcement responsibilities; in serving as the financial agent for the United States Government; and in manufacturing coins and currency. US Department of the Treasury

We’ve got Henry Paulson. If you watched his testimony this morning, you saw a mirror image of President Bush. He wants all $700 billion now, with oversight to be determined later. He estimates they will spend approximately $50 billion per month, and he has already stated he’ll not stay in office after President Bush leaves in January. Senator Chuck Schumer from New York asked the ultimate question from a taxpayer’s perspective today, asking if the Treasury could deal with an authorization of $150 billion now with a review in January. The response, no, Paulson needs all of it now. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would be able to ignore the fact that the person asking for complete and total control over $700 billion of taxpayer money plans to quit in the next four months.

Since July 10, 2006 Henry Paulson has had the opportunity to take measures to prevent this situation. He has offered no warning and done nothing. Now he wants a blank check to try “various market-based approaches” to fix his own mess. As the ‘principal economic advisor to the President’ it’s clear that failure in this administration touches all aspects of the government. (See Alberto Gonzales, Michael Chertoff, Michael Brown, Donald Rumsfeld)

Paulson also oversees the “major law enforcement responsibilities”, and therefore was the ‘Sheriff’ when Wall Street got out of control. He let the party get out of control, we cannot give him more money than he expects to lose. Here’s a question for parents: when your child throws a party while you’re away, do you double the money you leave him next time you’re out of town?

Let’s rewind this situation a bit, to the past year when Americans constantly questioned Washington about a solution to the crisis so they could avoid losing their homes. Washington ignored these calls, and the President went into recluse mode. The Hurricane season has shown us just how much President Bush has learned about the office he holds and the responsibilities it bears. He’s learned that he must make more effort to appear to care, or his party will suffer. He has not learned how to truly look out for the interests ofall Americans, not just his millionaire friends.

Today, Senator Obama spoke in Florida about four key points of the rescue effort. Although he was certainly reading notes, he no doubt sought guidance on these issues and is probably better to get everything right than to attempt to turn economics into prose. The four points, however, were clear and sounded like exactly what Americans (as a lending institution) need in order to hand over that much of the taxpayers’ money. (looking for the full video)

John McCain and Charles Keating

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Remember this really damning picture of McCain celebrating his birthday with Charles Keating, the villain of the last big taxpayer bailout of unrestrained Republican greed? Here’s the article where bmaz got that photo (pdf from The Phoenix Sun Gazette, September 12, 1993).

Everyone should see this picture and know this story. It should be a cautionary tale. Obama needs to point this out and the media needs to get the message across to the American people that the last time we had a crisis even close to this it was at the hands of Charles Keating and the “Keating Five” — including John McCain. His current posse is no better, and his recent buffoonery only validates that he has no real idea what he’s doing with the economy.

read more | digg story

Written by unastronaut

September 19, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Carly Fiorina doesn’t think McCain could run a corporation

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And she would know about not being able to run a corporation.  She would also know about the “problem” that Senator McCain clearly defined on the campaign trail today.  CEOs getting golden parachutes while average Americans lose their jobs.  During her time at Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina lost the company over 20,000 jobs and referred to outsourcing jobs as “rightsourcing”.  I hope you’re enjoying your $46 million severance, Carly.  While average Americans lose their homes your boss returns to one of his seven.  While average Americans hope to hang on to the health insurance they have, John McCain enjoys the benefit of three health insurance programs (VA, Senate, Medicare — he may even have a corporate plan from Cindy’s company).  The facts are being distorted and perverted by the McCain campaign as outright lies are spread with reckless abandon.  

Her original statement:

She’s opposed to golden parachutes?

Her defense of her own golden parachute:

When it comes to the economy, stick to the facts

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Battle of the GI Bills

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According to CNN, the difference in cost of the competing Webb-Hagel and McCain GI Bills is $2 billion. Put into context that is equal to the cost of fighting the war for one week.

John McCain fights to save our tax dollars for the war.

Super-delegates never were going to steal the election, but they are Obama’s insurance after a rough patch

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I have a theory. After seeing Chuck Todd say that another super-delegate has jumped ship from the Clinton to Obama campaign, citing the tone of the campaign. A lot of things are happening, and the candidates are each reacting to literally everything. Partly because they’re asked a ton of questions every day. This is a consequence of making themselves available.

I believe the super-delegates are something the media has never gotten right all along, much like a lot of things (Iraq War/WMDs, the impact of rhetoric). They were never going to stroll out of some closed-door meeting and steal the election from the deserving African-American candidate, as many in the media have speculated. They simply are acting as insurance to what the people want, and many of them (seemingly) have wanted the Obama message to catch on with the people, and are all too eager to jump ship when they see polls staying put through “controversy.” The media is known for spin, the people know this, and the super-delegates know it is the positions on issues (ethics reform, the war, the economy and health care) that matter most to people. When people hear change, we’re not politicos, we think of changing the BS in government that has put us in the current predicament.

Just an idea…