Without extraneous noise from various American factions over the past thirty years, the logic for how America fell into this economic mess is relatively straight forward. The reasons why previously tried and currently proposed solutions will not work are equally as coherent. A solution for digging America quickly out of the circular predicament we are in is relatively straightforward. What is not straight forward is the gerrymandered path through Congress to do what is needed on behalf of the American People. What follows are general truths (although each has exceptions to the rule). See if you agree.
What do we know?
• The Western World’s banks lent to both businesses and consumers beyond historically safe levels for three decades. As a result:
oThe West is now bloated with excess private debt
o The economy is struggling to pay debt loads and default rates are high
o Debt repayment has absorbed discretionary revenues that would otherwise be invested into a growing economy
• America used excessive bank credit to spend beyond its means for the past three decades. As a result:
o Money was available to fund speculative bubbles. Higher bubble values in turn made more money available to spend on consumer needs during the bubble rises
o Investment and housing bubbles propped up 15 million jobs beyond what the underlying economy would have otherwise if America simply spent within our means
o As real economy jobs transferred to the East, America’s underlying weakening economy was hidden by our continued excess spending
• America’s Federal Government borrowed to pay for welfare and warfare for four decades. As a result:
o America’s public debt grew to 100% of GDP, a level that could absorb all public discretionary spending if interest rates rise, spending that would otherwise assist a growing economy
o Further increases in Federal debt could result in America’s credit rating being lowered which in turn could force higher interest rates
• The rubber band of excess spending could only stretch to finite limits. As a result:
o When the limit was finally reached, Banks knew first and moved quickly to protect themselves from what they knew would be a free fall by closing credit lines, charging exorbitant rates on outstanding credit debt, and stopping lending even to credit worthy consumers
o Without access to consumer credit to cover the shortfall between incomes and housing debt, consumer demand stalled
o Without access to credit, the housing bubble popped and housing prices freefell
o To make ends meet, consumers cannibalized financial investments and investment prices fell
o Within a very few years, much of America’s housing and commercial real estate debt far exceeded the value of underlying properties
• With the collapse of housing values and credit, the plug was pulled on the artificial engine of growth. As a result:
o Consumer demand contracted
o Demand for labor then contracted and jobs were lost
o Federal tax revenues contracted as unemployment rose
o Lower housing values reduced state and local tax revenues
• State governments that required balanced budgets and local governments, dependent on housing tax revenues were rescued initially by Federal stimulus dollars. As a result:
o State and local governments failed to react quickly and responsibly to a permanently lowered tax base.
o Many states and municipal governments came perilously close to default
• American multinational businesses were buoyed by Asian GDP growth but our domestic businesses were hammered by a weakened domestic economy. As a result:
o Multinational businesses secured substantial cash balances but withheld investing over concerns of the world’s teetering economy
o Domestic businesses shrank with the contracting economy, lost access to credit, and laid off employees to survive.
How does America wish to respond to the crisis?
Republicans want to:
• Protect military spending
• Recover through less government spending, lower taxes, and less regulations
o Even without cutting taxes, balancing the federal budget will require cutting 43 cents of every dollar the federal government now spends
o Military spending and its hidden ancillary spending cost a third of the federal budget. Without drastic cuts to military expenditures as well as all other federal expenditures, the federal budget cannot be balanced.
o If we do not curb deficit spending to quickly achieve a balanced budget, America’s interest rates will rise and cut off federal discretionary priorities
o Lowering taxes without cuts in government spending that offset not only the tax cuts but the extreme deficits now in place would exacerbate an already dangerous interest rate precipice
o Government spending is steadily increasing. Government spending increases and not just rate reductions in increases must be reversed.
o While lower taxes are one way to provide the private sector additional revenue for growth, it is not the only way. The private sector can acquire investment capital by other means if credit can be accessed.
Democrats want to:
• Increase social programs, secure social agencies, and protect entitlements
• Recover through stimulus spending and supporting state and local budgets
• Increase taxes on the wealthy to pay for social programs
o Even without reducing government spending, federal taxes would have to increase 75 percent across the board to balance the budget
o The United States could not spend enough to stimulate the entire world’s demand in order to recover from a worldwide monetary implosion. Thus far, $2 trillion in stimulus spending and $15 trillion in loans has budged the world’s economy little and has had no multiplicative effect.
o It is evident that the economy will not recover enough to offset stimulus spending with increased tax revenues. Therefore, stimulus will further exacerbate the federal debt and invites a faster debt rating reduction and higher interest rates
o To balance the budget, social welfare spending must be reduced, along with all other budget line items, to much less than America spends today
o To at least maintain America’s middle class standard of living, GDP growth must keep up with population growth. GDP growth must be supported by investment capital. Congress must either redistribute Federal spending to support higher private sector productivity, lower taxes to free up private sector investment capital, or entice business to invest domestically by creating a better business environment
America’s unemployed and underemployed want to:
• Find productive employment
• Gain access to credit
• Reduce their debt payments
• Eliminate their housing bubble debt overhang
• Regain savings for retirement
o Jobs will not become available until businesses begin to rehire
o Businesses will not begin to rehire until the economy improves
o The economy will not improve until consumers increase purchases
o Consumers will not increase purchases unless they can pay existing debts and have enough left to increase discretionary purchases
o Consumers will not have additional funds without increasing incomes, repairing credit ratings, and gaining access to more credit
o Consumers cannot increase incomes unless the 25 million un-or-under employed gain employment, cannot repair credit ratings without increasing income, and cannot gain access to more credit without repairing credit ratings
o Consumers cannot gain employment until businesses begin to rehire
o And thus the circular argument of an imploded monetary economy………….
o In an imploded economy, consumer demand and business supply cannot be corrected in isolation, but must be repaired simultaneously.
o Democrats tried to fix both consumer demand and business supply through artificial government stimulus, but it was not large enough or economically diverse enough to reignite the economy, and it did not attempt to simultaneously correct the underlying debt and credit issues that also must be repaired in tandem for an imploded economy correction to adhere and affect a turnaround.
o To create enough turnaround friction, stimulus must bubble up from the economy wide full employment, improved credit ratings, and access to both consumer and business credit. Government cannot possibly spread stimulus broad enough or create a large enough stimulus through spending programs alone
o Republicans have offered to correct the economy by creating a better business environment through lower taxes, fewer regulations, and multinational businesses incentives. However, the Republican plan for reigniting the economy only addresses methods for attracting capital back to the United States, hoping to make the U.S. a better alternative for multinational corporations to spend capital than elsewhere. Yet multinational businesses are not spending their capital anywhere and will not until the global consumer demand improves. And at this time, Republicans are not offering any solutions to improve the global business environment.
A viable turnaround solution requires that:
• All able Americans immediately return to work
• U.S. consumers are freed from the weight of housing debt overhang and credit ratings that were damaged by the worldwide monetary implosion
• The dollar is uncoupled from attempting to stimulate the entire Western world.
• Multinational Corporations be enticed to bring investment capital into an economy that has already begun its turnaround
• Federal, state, and local governments not be allowed to skim needed growth capital out of a delicately growing economy
One viable solution includes:
• Job voucher plan to employ all able Americans immediately
• Equity for debt swap to remove excess housing debt
• Credit amnesty program to quickly repair business and consumer credit
• Modified Republican multinational incentives that entice domestic investment without giving carte blanche tax holiday and that does not entice further foreign domestic investment
• Republicans and Democrats do the heavy lifting of deciding together which programs will be cut, how to best run the military with a much reduced budget, how to extend the life of entitlements with a much reduced budget, and how to reduce Congress’s incentive to hold to a balanced budget.