Archive for the ‘Fiscal Cliff Course 101’ Category

Captain Rick: The Dow Jones plummeted 2.4% during the past month, attributed in part by the news of Cisco cutting 4000 jobs and Wal-Mart sales falling short of expectation. This combined with the growing violence in Egypt caused major world markets to follow the Dow’s decline.

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The above chart shows the significant, recent decline of the Down Jones, down 2.4% in the past month. It is the largest dive in values in 2 months and one of the top 5 declines since the market crash of 2008. I break down the issues affecting this loss…

Cisco, the worlds largest network company providing services to most of the largest companies and government entities announced it is cutting 4000 jobs.  Cisco touches all parts of the networking process, and the company’s success is largely tied to sentiment about the world’s economy. Many large businesses and government agencies are Cisco customers, and they’re unlikely to buy up networking equipment when they’re worried about the economic situation. I see this as a major signal that the world economy is in much more dire shape than what we are being led to believe from the typical ‘show business hype’ on the evening news. World markets are echoing the concern.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, reported lower than expected sales for the second quarter. When the world cuts back on purchases at Wal-Mart, it raises a red flag for me.  It makes me wonder how healthy the recovery from the Great Recession really is.

Disturbance in Egypt has caused over 400 deaths and 3500 injured. While most of financial market ‘gurus’ did not mention this as one of the causes of the recent market plummet, I believe it played a role.

The major economies of the world continue to tread on very shaky ground. There has been lots of news about our ‘improving economy’. I suggest that much of this is based on unfounded news ‘hype’. Our world’s economy is like a train riding on fragile rail, heading for the edge of the ‘Global Fiscal Cliff’.

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Captain Rick: The U.S. Legislature has failed to balance America’s budget almost forever. If it compromised by using the economic common sense rule of 20% of GDP for both revenue and spending, its budget crisis would end and a much brighter future would await the children of our world.

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Record Tax Revenue: I am glad to see we have hit a new record of $2.7T in revenues, just a tick above the previous record of $2.6T in 2007. As population grows, we better hope our tax revenue keeps going up every year. Things went far astray during the ‘Bush War and Tax Cut’ era, the Great Recession that followed and ‘Obamas Record Spending Spree’ to try to fix it, including a reckless 2 point payroll tax cut. Thankfully, it and some other irresponsible tax cuts vanished on Jan 1 as a result of the Fiscal Cliff and helped bring us closer to sanity. Unfortunately this new revenue record leaves America with a very anemic tax revenue of only 16.9% of GDP. The 40 year average is 18%. A healthy economy achieves revenue equal to 20% of GDP…so America is still far short of needed revenue…and part of the reason why America’s finances are in such terrible shape.

Record Spending: The other part of the reason America’s finances are in such terrible shape is because America’s spending is too high. America is currently spending $3.55T or 22.2% of GDP. That percentage is higher than almost every year since 1986. A healthy economy limits  spending equal to 20% of GDP…so America is still far over the limit for spending…the other part of the reason why America’s finances are in such terrible shape.

Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals debate: Republicans and conservatives argue that taxes are too high and do not agree to any further increases. They say the entire answer lies in cutting spending. Democrats and liberals argue that spending levels should be held. They say the entire answer lies in tax increases. Its easy for me to see why our legislature is in gridlock. Both sides are stubborn and illogical. Neither side possesses the the solution. The solution resides in compromise. 

Captain Rick’s proposal of compromise: I propose that the U.S. Legislature uses the economical common sense guideline of 20% of GDP as a target for revenue and spending to achieve a balanced budget. 20% has proven to be workable figure for successful governments in the past. The figure can be argued…19 v 21…but 20% is a good starting point. Diminishing America’s national debt is a story for another day. It would require the balance to shift to more revenue and less spending…perhaps 21% of GDP revenue and 19% of GDP spending. Real compromise needs to begin soon … in order to protect the future of our children.  

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Info from previous reports:

Fiscal Cliff: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

GDP: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/gdp/

Captain Rick: Gross domestic product in China grew 7.7% over the previous year during the first quarter. That is great by U.S. standards, which are hovering near 0%, but a significant loss from the 10% annual GDP that China has averaged during the past three decades, which propelled it to become the the world’s second largest economy. Reports on industrial production and retail sales disappointed. Economists are worried about a rapid expansion in credit and a red-hot housing market.

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Fitch ratings agency warned China of excessive debt levels and issued rare local currency downgrade
The ratings agency said it issued the rare downgrade because of three factors: Structural weaknesses in China’s economy, an expansion of easy credit and the rise of an opaque shadow banking system.
Credit in China has expanded quickly in the wake of the global financial crisis, with much of it issued to local governments and used to finance infrastructure projects.
Fitch believes local government debt levels are now so high that Beijing will, at some point, be forced to assume some of the burden.

In response to the global financial crisis in 2008, China moved to stimulate its economy by increasing the amount of available credit.
Banks and other lenders responded, with credit in China growing since 2009 at a quicker pace than gross domestic product. Only one country — Qatar — was issuing credit at a faster rate.
By the end of 2012, credit issued by Chinese banks to the private sector reached 136% of GDP, the third-highest level of any emerging market country rated by Fitch.
Much of the credit was issued to local governments, and used to finance infrastructure projects that helped China sustain rapid economic growth in the wake of the financial crisis.

Beijing has tried to get a handle on credit issuance in recent years, moving to cool the housing market and cut back on local government debt.
But when combined with low wages, Fitch said the persistent nature of the trends has created growing risks for China’s financial stability.

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Real Estate Bubble heating up and ripe for explosion

The housing market is heating up, leading some analysts to worry about the development — and possible deflation — of a housing bubble.
China’s central government is already stepping up efforts to cool prices, and Beijing has directed local governments to institute control measures of their own.
Several cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have responded by announcing higher taxes and fresh restrictions on property purchases.
20% capitol gains tax has been added on home sales as well as higher interest rates and down payments for anyone buying a second home in cities where real estate prices are sharply on the rise.

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China is the second largest holder of U.S. debt (Japan is the largest)
China held about $1.15 trillion in U.S. bonds through August, the most recent reading available from the Treasury Department.
China had been buying U.S. Treasuries as a way to keep its currency, the yuan, pegged to the U.S. dollar. That helped lower the value of the yuan and made China’s exports more competitive in markets such as the United States.

Captain Rick’s Words of Caution: Notice I said China ‘had been buying U.S. Treasuries.’ Latest indication is that that has stopped. This could have grave consequences on Americas gigantic thirst for deficit spending. Japan remains the only major purchaser of American debt and those days could be numbered as well due to economic conditions in Japan not being anything to ‘write home about’. Our world is skating on very thin ‘fiscal ice’. Countries of our world, including China, depend on America to be a leader of fiscal responsibility. America has not been setting a very good example with its legislative gridlock on solving its monumental thirst for deficit spending. The world can only hope that America will wake up from its deep sleep and do what is necessary, before its speeding train goes over the ultimate ‘fiscal cliff’ and takes the world with it.

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Info from previous reports:

China: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/china/

Fiscal Cliff: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

GDP: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/gdp/

Captain Rick: The object of this game is to try and save American capitalism before the government takes over everything. To date, there is no known player who has won. The government wins every time. 

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The game board looks interesting. It reminds me of the fun times I had as a kid playing Monopoly for hours and even days before finally taking over everything…or loosing everything.

I don’t think Bamopoly would be very much fun to play…because no one likes to loose all of the time. It also reminds me very much of real life in America. Its people play this game every day to try and get ahead and promote capitalism… but it seems like big government is always there to take over everything.

I have a strong feeling that one of these days, the government is going to loose this game…because of the way it has been cheating its players…the citizens of America. Unfortunately when it looses the game, there will be no winners.

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Previous reports:

Fiscal Cliff: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

Captain Rick: The U.S. managed to crawl out of the GDP recession zone in its ‘final’ report for Q4 2012 to post a dismal 0.4% GDP, second worst since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The first estimate in January reported –0.1% GDP, in the recession zone. 

GDP (Gross National Product) is the broadest means of quantifying the health of an economy.

In my previous GDP report, I stated: “If Congress gets tough and addresses the debt crisis head on, I suspect it will present a deeper, temporary plunge into negative growth territory. If Congress continues to ‘kick the can down the road’, I suspect we will see less of a dive in GDP early on…but will set the stage for a much deeper dive in a year or two…possibly as deep or deeper than the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008-2009”.

The U.S. Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation to “kick the debt can down the road” AGAIN as reported in my previous post. While these actions have no effect on GDP for Q4 2012, they will effect GDP for Q1 2013 and beyond.

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The red line in the chart above indicates the 3% level that the U.S. GDP must maintain to keep up with population growth. GDP has been far short of that for many years. In spite of the positive hype we are hearing in the mainstream news media, America is traversing extremely dangerous economic waters. Hype does not fix problems… credible action does. Unfortunately the world is seeing ‘zero’ credible action out of the politicians who represent the citizens of the United States of America.

Prognosis for the future…where are we headed?

I see several troubling economic factors that parallel the times leading up to the ‘Great Recession’. The world stock markets have reached a new high, passing those reached just prior to the stock market crash of 2008. Like then, I see no justifiable reason for the market rise. Today’s market reminds me of a bunch of gamblers in Vegas looking for a place to throw all of their dollars to bet it all. The market is again inflating into a balloon ripe for explosion. Real estate prices have been climbing at a fast pace, as is real estate speculation…similar to that witnessed prior to the bursting of the real estate bubble, prior to the Great Recession. I can not predict how much farther things can go before a repeat of 2008 occurs…or perhaps worse, but I feel that a down slide is coming soon. Much will have to do with congress’s handling of the debt crisis (very dismal at this point). It will be further complicated by the multi-trillion dollar cost of Obamacare (the worlds greatest socialized, welfare medical program). In addition, we must remember that multi millions of baby boomers are beginning to collect Social Security from a trust fund that has been totally robbed of funds to finance the U.S. Government and its politician’s thirst for deficit spending. It will all play out in a very ugly scene before the world’s eyes during the next few years.

I welcome your comments, likes and shares!

Info from previous reports:

Fiscal Cliff: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

GDP: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/gdp/

Captain Rick: The March 27 deadline for the U.S. government shutdown has been averted by yet another stunt by U.S. lawmakers to kick the U.S ‘debt can’ down the road AGAIN until the end of the fiscal year in September … when it will all come back to haunt us AGAIN.

U.S lawmakers finally brought the 2013 budget fight to an end on March 21 by approving a bill that ended the threat of a U.S. government shutdown on March 27. It funds the government through the end of the current fiscal year in September. The measure now set to become law reduces the impact of the $85 billion in forced cuts — called sequestration — to only $59 billion.

It establishes stop-gap budgets for targeted departments and programs. It resets priorities and helps better manage the draconian formula as set forth by the sequestration spending cuts. Overall, the legislation locks in $984 billion in non-entitlement program spending — a tiny drop from the $1.043 trillion initially approved before the forced sequestration cuts took effect.

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I believe I speak for most Americans and many people around the world when I say … we have had enough of the “U.S. Capital Circus”. Its time for America’s president and lawmakers to unite and figure out a real solution to get America off of the deficit spending binge and balance the budget, followed by a way to pay back America’s monumental national debt of $1.7 trillion, which now exceeds America’s GDP. This is an extremely serious world economic issue … the world’s largest! Nothing else comes close in magnitude. Time is running short. Without real, credible action soon, America will fall over the real ‘Fiscal Cliff’ … a point of ‘no return’. It will take much of the world along for the fall.

I welcome your comments, likes and shares!

Info from previous reports:

Fiscal Cliff: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

Captain Rick: That “debt can” that President Obama kicked down the road on January 1 by signing of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, in an effort to avoid the Fiscal Cliff, revisits on March 27, 2013 when the federal government again faces a shutdown because it has again reached the debt ceiling, now set at $16.4 trillion.

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Funding for the U.S. government expires on March 27, 2013 unless Congress acts. If they fail, the federal government will shut down on March 28. All government operations would cease, except for essential services.

Since lawmakers will not agree to a real budget by this date, they will have to agree on temporarily funding the government for a few weeks or a few months … again. The Republicans are presenting a plan on Thursday to extending funding to the end of the fiscal years which ends is September, but it includes a $7 billion restoration of defense funds in exchange for cuts elsewhere. A big question remains…will Democrats go along with this? It will all unfold in coming days.

Boehner’s comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press”

It is evident that the Republicans will allow no more tax increases…made very clear by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) who said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he discussed the need to avoid a shutdown with President Obama at a meeting Friday between the president and congressional leaders.

Boehner said the House will vote this week to keep the federal government operating through September, when the fiscal year ends, and avoid a potentially politically damaging shutdown.

The move would be the second time since the election that Boehner has avoided a fight, desired by some House conservatives, in order to keep the GOP from possible blame. He led House Republicans to raise the debt ceiling in January to fend off a repeat of the 2011 conflict that led to the sequester.

“The president this morning agreed that we should not have any talk of a government shutdown,” Boehner said. “So I’m hopeful that the House and Senate will be able to work through this.”

“I’m going to say it one more time,” Boehner said. “The president got his tax hikes on January the first. The issue here is spending. Spending is out of control. There are smarter ways to cut spending than this silly sequester that the president demanded. And so, we need to address the long-term spending problem. But we can’t cut our way to prosperity.”

“We had a very pleasant meeting, but it was also a very frank meeting,” Boehner said. “I made it clear to the president that again, a trillion dollars worth of tax hikes in Obamacare. And you have another $650 billion worth of tax hikes on January the first. You can’t tax our way out of this problem. We’ve got to deal with the spending side, just like every American family has to.”

Listen, every American knows Washington has a spending problem. Every American, in these tough economic times, has to find a way to balance their budget.”

Boehner said Republicans were done raising taxes after agreeing to the “fiscal cliff” deal in January that raised more than $600 billion in revenue. Any new revenue gained from closing tax loopholes, he said, should be put into lowering tax rates.

“The president got $650 billion of higher taxes on the American people on January the 1st,” Boehner said. “How much more does he want? When is the president going to address the spending side of this?”

Captain Rick’s closing thoughts …  will Washington avert shutdown again”?

I think most Americans are with me in expecting that Washington will pull off a circus act just prior to the closing curtain as it always manages to do. However, this showdown is not a done deal…especially concerning the defense appropriations. I think the Defense Department should endure the same cuts as as all others. I don’t think it needs special treatment. I believe many Americans believe the U.S. Defense Department could easily be cut without sacrificing America’s safety. I think many will agree that it is time for America to stop playing “Police of the World” …at American taxpayer expense.

I welcome your comments, likes and shares!

Info from previous reports:

Fiscal Cliff: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/