Tag Archives: monetary implosion

Congress Must Act Now To Save America’s Homes or Seal Our Fate!

INTRODUCTION:

As of December 2011, housing prices have fallen 38% nationally, 7% more than during the Great Depression. While pricing has already dipped below the trend line that housing might have followed had the housing bubble not occurred, the outlook is for prices to continue freefalling another 4% during 2012. Some experts predict prices could drop nationally below 50 % of peak levels or more. Yet others suggest that economic fundamentals should be supporting a leveling of prices, and they wonder if normal economics of supply and demand have abandoned the housing market altogether.

Even though they may not appear so, the rules of economics actually still do apply to the housing market, and unfortunately they point ominously to even more alarming conditions in the years ahead. While many believe that Congress makes things worse every time they fiddle with the economy, Congress really has no choice but to intervene in this housing market if we are to save a cornerstone of America’s economic future. This post describes why housing prices rose and fell, and why they will continue to fall in the absence of intervention. It suggests why half the home mortgages in America could end up underwater and disrupt our economy for decades to come if Congress fails to act.

HOUSING’S RISE:

1995: Total housing units (in millions) 112.6 Renter Occupied 35.2 Vacant 12.7

In the five decades leading up to the 2000s building frenzy, housing prices rose predictably according to the principles of supply and demand. Housing pricing surged and slumped in response to peaks and troughs of business cycles, increases and decreases in interest rates, and growing or obsolescing local market commerce. Yet, nationally, averages followed historical patterns of a gradually rising nominal price market. Adjusted for home square footage that increased with each decade, new home prices tracked inflation nationally. Housing starts followed population growth, and as a major 14 % component of America’s GDP, housing generally has led the nation out of recessions.

Beginning in the mid 1990s however, housing economics began a dramatic divergence from historical trends. For the next decade, a sustained building spree added 6.6 million more housing units than was needed to support the rise in U.S. population, as many as one million units per year. In a rationally functioning market, this excessive addition of new homes would have quickly precipitated a business cycle slump and prices would have dropped to encourage a slowdown of new housing starts. But America got caught up in a housing frenzy and added enough demand to absorb this excessive supply while bidding prices up 225% above their historical trend line, a speculation that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan as early as 1997 called an “irrational exuberance”.

COMPONENTS OF INCREASED DEMAND:

2006: Total housing units (in millions) 126.6 Renter Occupied 34.1 Vacant 16.7

LOW INCOME BUYERS: Some blame the excessive demand that pushed pricing well above its historical trend line on low income buyers who benefited from government regulations that forced lenders to ease requirements for lending. By passing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and substantially revising regulations in 1995, Congress pulled these non-traditional buyers and their higher risk into the housing market. In doing so, Congress did nudge the beginning of the feeding frenzy, but the immediate effect of adding these buyers was not a large component of demand but merely a catalyst of future demand.

More importantly to the housing bubble than the numbers of low income CRA buyers was their impact on creative financing. Being forced into accepting additional risk, banks responded by creating risk spreading financial tools to mitigate high-risk, subprime loans. These tools would later be used to set the housing industry ablaze. Without them, the Housing Ponzi could not have developed.

BABY BOOMERS: Others blame the added demand of the bubble on Baby Boomers whose retirement accounts had been consumed by the bursting of the Dot Com bubble. In need of a quick fix for their fast approaching retirements, some Baby Boomers took advantage of “exotic” loans to buy too much home at too high prices hoping for substantial returns. As more Boomers entered the market, they pushed up home prices and acquired excessive debt in the process. At the beginning of the bubble, the median home price was $120,000 and the median income was $73,000, a ratio of 1.65. At the peak, the median home price had soared to $215,000 but incomes remained the same increasing the loan to income ratio to 2.94, an unsustainable level.

To cover the shortfall of income needed to make their new debt payments, consumers relied on home equity loans and credit card debt. Between 2000 and 2006, home equity debt increased $1.2 trillion and credit card debt rose $900 billion, again to unsustainable levels. By the peak of the Ponzi, home ownership had surged from a historical 65.1 percent to a 69.9 percent of the population and home ownership debt load had increased from 65% of GDP to an unsustainable 110%.

CONGRESS: More blame the actions of Congress for the housing bubble than the addition of non-traditional buyers and overreaching Baby Boomers. Certainly the Community Reinvestment Act and its subsequent regulatory revisions in 1995, including HUD’s direction that Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac set aside 50% of guaranty funds for low income earners, increased subprime loans tenfold and increased demand. But the repeal of Glass-Steagall, through the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 that allowed commercial-banking, Wall Street banks, and the insurance industry to merge, created banking products that swelled demand much more. And the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, that excluded certain financial commodities from oversight by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve, and state insurance regulators, allowed bankers to flood the world with lucrative credit-default swaps and to push exotic retail products into a growing speculative housing market to feed the swap market. Without the collusion of Congress, the irrational exuberance of consumers needed to fuel housing’s excessive demand could not have been enticed by the resulting banking products.

INVESTMENT BANKING: Most place the blame for the Housing Ponzi squarely on the shoulders of investment bankers. To allow non-traditional buyers into the market in the mid 1990s, banks initiated low doc and low down payment introductory loans to the primary market and combined these loans with others to form securities called Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) which were then sold into the secondary market to transfer bank risk off their books. While 52% of low income loans were securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the early years, securitization quickly became a lucrative international commodity product of investment bankers and the market topped $2 trillion at its peak in 2006.

Yet as big a profit maker as CDOs were, an even greater profit was made in the issuance of Credit Default Swaps (CDSs), a form of unregulated insurance that allowed banks to take the risk of loans off their books, to increase their loan-to-collateral values four fold, and to profit from insuring events that they thought could never occur. At the peak of the Ponzi, the CDS outstanding market topped $60 trillion and had made $4 trillion in profits for participants in just three short years, much more than the $2.7 billion paid for lobbying Congress or the $1 billion paid in campaign contributions by the financial industry (peanuts in comparison) to persuade Congress’s votes allowing this free-for-all in the decade prior to the financial crisis.

To feed this frenetic pace of profiteering, international banking required the pace of loan origination to increase even though housing prices were accelerating upward beyond traditional affordability, and thus they began what became their final phase to lure additional demand. To bring the last customers into the Ponzi before its collapse, banks introduced a myriad of “exotic” loan products. After low doc and low down payment loans came no down payment and no doc loans. Later, interest only and negative amortization loans were offered. Banks then created piggy back loans with first and second mortgages that eliminated PMI and even offered to finance closing costs. From 2003 until the peak of the Ponzi, fully 25% of mortgage loans included teaser introductory rates. And in the final two years of the housing spree, banks allowed consumers to acquire pay-option mortgages that gave them the choice each month of paying fully amortized, interest only, or even very small monthly minimum payments. All of these risky products fed the secondary CDO and CDS market with mortgage securities by targeting the U.S. market for excess demand and exuberant prices.

RISING HOME PRICES: By 2003, all semblances of historical housing pricing metrics were gone. Brokers, agents, and bankers all explained that the new measurement of housing value was not bound by either the historical rental rate of housing or the constraint of trailing American incomes, but was instead measured by a new metric, combining these traditional valuations with the rate of return of increasing home prices themselves, thus spurring a real estate bubble with the fallacies of hope and greed. Half of all home buyers responded to this new flawed ideal by purchasing beyond their means, and in the process, pushing up the price of housing.

FEDERAL RESERVE: The Federal Reserve, flush with investment from China and concerned about recession because of the bursting of the Dot Com bubble and the economic shock of 9/11, consciously chose to support the housing surge through lowering of interest rates from 2001 through 2005. As a result, average mortgage rates reduced through the period from 7.9 percent to 5.6 percent, increasing demand and supporting higher home prices.

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISION: The SEC inexplicably allowed five of the nation’s largest brokers to waive their capital-to-debt requirements that had historically been held to a 12 to 1 ratio. The brokers responded by leveraging their capital as high as 40 to 1, adding liquidity to debt financing, fueling housing demand, and pushing up pricing. Three of the five qualifying brokers later went bankrupt or were absorbed by other firms.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, when many are demanding prosecutions of what seems to have been criminal actions by some in the financing industry, the SEC has been loath to act. Data suggests that the SEC had significant knowledge of financial firms’ negligence in following regulations for several years prior to the financial crisis and yet the SEC chose not to act on its knowledge. If the SEC were to take action now, the resulting trials would focus as much on the SEC’s foreknowledge and complicity as they would on the potential criminality of bankers and would shine an ugly light on the revolving door between government and industry, two reasons why the SEC might conspicuously choose to continue its inaction.

THE HOUSING BUBBLE POP:

2008: Total housing units (in millions) 130.3 Renter Occupied 35.8 Vacant 18.6

Inwardly, the banking industry knew that it had stretched the bounds of credibility and sustainability as it introduced riskier and riskier loan products to create additional demand. Bankers feared that resulting aggregate loan to income ratios exceeded all historical limits and might eventually collapse. In fact, some industry insiders even began to bet against CDO portfolios of other companies through CDSs, expecting to profit on rising defaults that began as early as 2004.

So when these defaulting subprime loan cracks appeared in the dyke of this elaborate housing Ponzi, a nervous fog settled in over the entire industry and many began to speculate whether highly leveraged firms such as Bear Sterns could cover their liquidity gaps. After some banks refused to cover Bear Stearns with short term loans, confidence waned, Bear’s stock plummeted, and Bear was purchased by J.P. Morgan Chase. By allowing Bear’s leverage to grow to 35 to 1, the SEC allowed just a 1% loss of asset value to increase Bear’s leverage to over 70 to 1. In this maximum consumer debt environment, that extraordinary leverage caused market confidence to collapse. Lehman Brothers followed suit six months later with a delayed total collapse of their 40 to 1 leveraged firm.

In the after shock of Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers, the U.S. Government stepped in to rescue Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae, made loans to AIG, put in place a $700 billion bailout of teetering banks, forced the sale of Washington Mutual to J.P. Morgan Chase, and implemented a stimulus plan to strengthen Wall Street. The two remaining firms that had taken advantage of the SECs allowance of extreme leveraging, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, abandoned their status as investment banks. One effect of such sweeping industry changes was to substantially reduce the demand for higher risk mortgage CDOs in the secondary market, thereby dampening exotic retail products which then diminished housing demand and depressed pricing.

THE UNWINDING OF HOUSING SUPPLY AND DEMAND:

2011: Total housing units (in millions) 131.2 Renter Occupied 38.3 Vacant 18.7

SUPPLY:

EXISTING INVENTORY: At the peak of the housing bubble, housing inventory for sale equaled about 4 months of sales. From that point, listed inventory rose steadily to level off at about 9 months of inventory. Additional shadow inventory being withheld from the market, such as bank REOs, has kept listed supply at about 9 months for the past two years. However, as housing prices continue to decline, more houses will be returned to banks either through walk-aways or foreclosures, adding to bank’s already significant shadow inventory. In addition, job uncertainty and job immobility due to housing illiquidity continues to add to shadow supply. If demand increases, shadow inventory will flow into the market and continue to depress pricing.

NEW INVENTORY: Demand for new construction is now running at about half of the 1.2 million new homes per year required to fill the needs of a growing population. The excess supply of existing housing and the increasing cost of new construction commodity materials have combined to keep existing housing prices well below the cost of new construction. This price differential not only pressures construction labor rates downward and reduces profitability of the new construction industry, but it causes demand to be filled by existing homes rather than new ones. Therefore the vacant inventory of existing homes is being absorbed at a rate of 600,000 units a year. At this rate, the excess 6.6 million homes that were built during the Ponzi will not be fully absorbed until 2020, extending pricing slide and/or excessive gap for years to come.

VACANCY RATE: At 9.8%, vacancy rates are about 40% higher than the 40 year historical norm. Vacancy rates increased to such historical highs for two reasons. First, housing construction lagged the housing crisis and new units were completed even as the crisis unfolded. Vacancy rates surged as these lagging units came online. Second, as the crisis unfolded, foreclosure rates increased fivefold adding to the rental population. Increased vacancy rates have depressed pricing.

RENTAL RATE: Home ownership unwound from its Ponzi peak rate of 69.9% back toward its historical averages of 65.1% as home owners gave their homes back to the banks and entered the rental market. As a result of increased demand for rentals, the percentage of new construction rental units has increased. In addition the monthly rental rate in many U.S. markets now exceeds monthly mortgage rates. The growing gap in rental versus mortgage costs suggests either that home buyers are unable or reluctant to buy and indicates a lax demand that is depressing pricing.

DEMAND:

PURCHASE RATE: At a rate of 4.9 million purchases annually, housing purchases are occurring at approximately the rate that would be expected had the bubble not occurred and had the trend of purchases extended with population growth from the early 1990s until now. The current rate of housing purchases is slightly below historical standards, but only appears depressed when compared to the excessive standard of the housing bubble. No indicators point to any trends that will materially increase purchase rates for the foreseeable future. Therefore, an extended period of excess housing supply will continue to support a long term downward drift in pricing.

Buyers have left home ownership in droves since the beginning of the housing crisis by either selling, short selling, walking away from mortgages or being forced out through foreclosures and have shifted to either rentals, sharing quarters with others, or becoming homeless. Home ownership has unwound from its Ponzi peak rate of 69.9% back toward its historical averages of 65.1%. Nonetheless, there are no indicators to suggest in this high unemployment and uncertain business environment that home ownership will level off at its historical average of 65.1%. It will likely continue to decrease, depressing demand and pricing further as a result.

REDUCED DEMAND OF SECONDARY MARKET: While the market for credit default swaps still exists and continues to destabilize the world’s economy, demand for CDSs has dropped to half of its peak of $60 trillion at the height of the housing bubble. Demand for underlying CDOs has been hampered by the scandal of claims to title that has rocked the CDO market. During the frenzy of the housing bubble, short cuts were taken that left the chain of title to millions of individual notes in question, threatening legal entanglement for years to come. At the same time, housing value deteriorated, reducing the value of their packaged CDOs and in some cases triggering repayment from their corresponding CDSs. The resulting title debacle collapsed the secondary market for CDOs, squashed the exotic loan supply, lessened demand for housing, and dampened housing pricing.

REDUCED ACCESS TO CREDIT: Banks, that had received bailouts from the Federal Government in its attempt to preserve lending liquidity, instead chose to reserve funds to enhance balance sheets. In addition, without being able to pass risky loans to the secondary market, banks tightened credit criteria and withdrew to more standard loan products, requiring PMI insurance, higher down payments, higher credit ratings, more solid work histories, and historical income to debt ratios. Tighter credit requirements diminished demand for housing and depressed pricing.

Banks also substantially retracted from the credit card market, eliminating 25% of $5 trillion available credit. In addition, banks increased average rates on credit cards from 10.9 percent to 16.2 percent. Buyers had counted on consumer credit to support their short fall between income and housing debt during the bubble, and without it, home buyers lost the ability to carry higher priced homes. Even though the financial crisis eliminated the motive to flip houses for profit and thus removed a primary reason for excessive use of credit card credit, the loss of credit as a cash management tool for existing housing dampened demand and depressed pricing.

SAVING TREND: After the housing bubble burst, consumers prudently used excess funds to pay down loans, eliminating more than a trillion in housing debt, and more than $100 billion of the peak credit card debt. Another $4 trillion is needed to reduce housing debt overhang and close to $800 billion in credit card debt still remains. If the economy and housing prices continue to drift downward, these numbers will grow. The trend toward repayment has subsided somewhat but continues to remove funds from the purchase market and to depress pricing.

INFLATION: While median salaries essentially remained stagnant throughout the housing bubble and beyond, prices for commodities have increased. As food, energy, clothing and other essential commodity prices continue to increase against a back drop of stagnant wages, less income will be available for housing which will dampen demand and depress pricing.

The Fed has signaled that interest rates will be held at essentially zero for the next two years but the Fed may be forced to change its position as external events overtake it. Housing ARM interest rates are threatened not only by creeping inflation but by rating agency threats over continued Congressional inaction, the Fed’s stuffing of long term treasuries with the its Operation Twist, and by potential overflow reaction as the Euro Zone worsens. The mere uncertainty of interest rate increases that would cause more funds to be used to pay interest instead of higher home prices dampens demand and depresses pricing.

POPULATION DEMOGRAPHICS HAVE SHIFTED: The housing bubble was driven in large part by Baby Boomers who controlled 80 percent of America’s wealth. During the bubble, they aggressively added 12 million housing units to the existing inventory of 112 million units, influencing the size and style of new inventory. Boomers reached beyond their means to buy more square footage than they needed or could afford. From the post war 1950s, the average home gradually increased from 258 square feet per person, but during the bubble, size increases swelled to over 960 square feet per person. To fill the square footage void, boomers added immediately obsolescing features such as gargantuan walk in closets, media rooms, sitting areas, and home offices that would not be valued by the following green generations.

The housing bubble burst just as the Baby Boomers began to retire, wanting to shed themselves of large houses. Their 1.7 children were flying from the nest and Boomers now wanted to condo-size. However, the 20 years following the Boomers’ births, 1965 to 1985, produced about one million less babies per year, not enough to absorb Boomer houses. This group of home buyers is now entering their peak earning and peak square footage years at a time of economic slump and increased awareness of energy and space efficiency. Therefore, the demand for large Baby Boomer houses will be diminished as contractors build new houses to meet this group’s desires. Changing demographics will place a downward pressure on Boomer housing pricing that will permeate the entire home market.

PRICE STICKINESS: 28.6 percent of homes with mortgages, or 14.6 million homes, have underwater mortgages. If the cost of selling a home and putting a down payment on a new home is included, then fully 50% of home owners cannot afford to sell their homes now. As pricing drifts downward, this figure will only exacerbate. As a result, would be buyers who cannot take the loss of a sale of their own property are trapped from entering the market, reducing demand, and depressing pricing.

Employers, who used to buy workers’ homes to initiate job transfers have ample local employee choices and can no longer justify the cost, further exacerbating a reduction of demand and thus putting a downward pressure on pricing.

GLOBALIZATION: After WWII, the United States military provided a modicum of economic stability in the world, lessening the risks of businesses transferring operations to overseas locations. As a result, mass transfers of capital and jobs to direct foreign investments increased significantly. With China’s doors opening in 1979, the U.S. flooded China with 40,000 new factories that each took away certainty of America’s future and that accelerated a trend toward wealth disparity and a diminishing middle class. The resulting impact on wage pressures over the past three decades has lowered the expectations of the new generation of home buyers, reducing demand and depressing pricing.

MONETARY IMPLOSION: The artificially stimulated economy of the past two bubble decades hid the underlying sickness of America’s base GDP. When the housing bubble finally popped, our consumer based economy was clogged with both housing and consumer debt that had been diverted from the real economy to feed the housing bubble. After the banks quickly pulled credit to protect themselves from what they knew would be a chaotic implosion, America’s consumer base had no means to continue consuming, the credit engine of small business was stopped even before small business could fulfill its current client requests, and business shortfalls translated to employee layoffs, precipitating a circular implosion of consumers, businesses, and employees wealth and debt capacity.

After the implosion, as the economy lingered without commerce or money creation, debts mounted, credit ratings suffered, and unemployment intensified. The ability of home owners to pay their mortgages decreased which in turn increased mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures and accelerated the deflation of the housing bubble, exposing the housing debt overhang.

The resulting economy now suffers from a trifecta of dilemmas. The greatest bubble America has ever experienced has led to a housing debt overhang that stifles America’s engine of consumption. It has also damaged credit ratings that have pulled American businesses’ and home owners’ access to essential cash management tools and vital growth credit. And it has led to a loss of productive jobs for 25 million Americans who without work cannot help to restore America’s economy. If a simultaneous solution to these dilemmas is not enacted, the economy will spiral lower and will create an environment for a continued downwardly drifting malaise of the housing market.

CONCLUSION:

Since the passage of the National Housing Act of 1949, Home ownership has been heralded as a benefit to American society, supporting stable families and prosperous communities. It has provided the number one source of economic security for the majority of Americans for the past six decades. However, rather than bring hope to millions of Americans that had previously been left out of the American dream, two decades of governmental policies and international banking have led to the gutting of that dream not only for those who could not afford homes previously but for tens of millions more Americans, eroding home ownership benefits in the process.

Rather than the rock of social stability that it could have been, the American home has become the proverbial albatross around the neck of the middle class, draining its limited wealth to keep banks from suffering the consequences of their prior decisions. If Congress is to stop the housing crisis’s deterioration of families and communities across America, and if it is to protect the cornerstone of our economic and national security, Congress must act now to stabilize what, by all indicators, will be another decade of housing pricing decay.

Components of my plan:

Equity for debt swap to remove excess housing debt
http://jobvoucherplan.com/2011/08/04/hawaiians-have-the-hale-housing-solution-to-right-america-housing-bubble/

Job voucher plan to employ all able Americans immediately
http://jobvoucherplan.com/must-reads/

Credit amnesty program to quickly repair business and consumer credit
http://jobvoucherplan.com/2011/09/08/yes-america-can-quickly-turnaround-heres-how/

Modified Republican multinational incentives that entice domestic investment without giving carte blanche tax holiday and that do not entice further foreign domestic investment
https://jobvoucherplan.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/our-economy-can-be-re-ignited-like-a-boy-scout-fire/

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, China, Economic Crisis, European Crisis, Job Voucher Plan, National Security

The Solution is Relatively Simple if The Will is Relatively Strong


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

Yet:

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

Compromise issues:
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

Yet:

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

Compromise issues:
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

Yet:

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………….

Compromise issues:

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

http://jobvoucherplan.com/must-reads/

• Equity for debt swap to remove excess housing debt

http://jobvoucherplan.com/2011/08/04/hawaiians-have-the-hale-housing-solution-to-right-america-housing-bubble/

• Credit amnesty program to quickly repair business and consumer credit

http://jobvoucherplan.com/2011/09/08/yes-america-can-quickly-turnaround-heres-how/

• Modified Republican multinational incentives that entice domestic investment without giving carte blanche tax holiday and that does not entice further foreign domestic investment

https://jobvoucherplan.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/our-economy-can-be-re-ignited-like-a-boy-scout-fire/
http://jobvoucherplan.com/2011/06/18/can-the-coming-world-depression-learn-anything-from-the-great-blackout-of-1965/

• 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.

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Federal Budget, Jobs, Multinational Corporations, National Security, U.S. Monetary Policy, U.S. Tax Policy

Political Catch Phrases Only Deter Real Economic Recovery

When starting my quest last November to determine a way to fix our country’s job problem, I hoped that I could draw on the strengths of the American public to collectively create the beginnings of a viable turnaround plan. I determined early on not to be dissuaded by all the catch phrases that both the Republican and Democratic parties used as spin to stop many of our frustrated electorate in their own quest to find the truth only to become dejected and more frustrated.

These spin phrases have worked in part because they have some “Truthiness” in them that wears down many from attempting to dig through the morass. One of the well worn phrases touts the principle that “It’s not the government’s place to create jobs for the masses. The government should limit itself to creating a confident and stable business environment and should otherwise stay clear of free enterprise.” On its surface, the thought has merit and has thus become a flagship of fiscal conservatives.

During periods of “normal” economic times, the government should in fact minimize its foot print and limit its use of the private sector’s capital to essential services. To do otherwise stymies future economic growth and can lead to job losses. Yet, during the peaks and troughs of normal economic cycles, government can help smooth out the highs and lows of the cycle by accelerating or slowing long term purchases of houses and cars and the like through interest rate manipulation and other monetary policy of the Fed. Government sometimes exacerbates the business cycle but nonetheless it can be a useful tool.

During larger recessions, government has sometimes attempted to “fix” the cycle through fiscal policy of Keynesian, government stimulus, big projects like road construction that by their nature add some jobs in certain industries as a “bonus”. In most of these government attempts through our history, the length of time required to enact and to implement such policies has invariably missed the trough of the business cycle and has actually harmed the economy through exacerbation of the already improving business cycle and through increasing our federal debt.

The 1930s of course were an exception in that the Great Depression was not the result of a normal business cycle but was the result of a monetary implosion much like we are experiencing today. While the works programs of the thirties did help feed a hungry nation, they did not heal the economy for several reasons. First, they created government jobs working on public infrastructure like parks that have been a blessing to future generations but that did not aid the economy, or they created government jobs that actually helped the future economy but did not help their current economy significantly. These jobs created business improving infrastructure like electric dams that created inexpensive power and flood control dams that aided future crop stability. Second, because these government jobs did not actually increase GDP, the Great Depression’s extended contraction was exacerbated by an increasing debt load. Third, even though some people now had government jobs, not enough jobs could be created by government and unemployment still remained exceedingly high throughout the Depression. Forth, even though some people now had jobs, these same people could not afford to stimulate the economy because their new pay barely covered debt loads that were incurred as they fell into the Great Depression. As a result, no pay was left over to create additional consumer demand for private sector companies to create more jobs. Fifth, even though some people had new government jobs, their credit ratings had been destroyed as the nation fell into the depression. Even though some new workers could now afford new loans that could increase consumer demand, it would take years for their credit to be restored in order for banks to make new loans to them. Finally sixth, even though some people had new jobs, the banks would not lend into a shaky economy where overall demand was low and unemployment was high.

The monetary implosion that began in 2008 is somewhat different than in the 1930s because many American businesses are multinational corporations that have been buoyed by the double digit growth of the East. As a result, America’s technical definition of a “depression” has not occurred. However, the 2008 monetary implosion has had a very similar impact on America’s middle class as did the 1930s. It has created excessive housing and consumer debt, destroyed credit and collapsed the demand for jobs. America’s free enterprise will not pull American families from this monetary implosion for another 15 years without fundamental restoration of our capitalist system. That necessarily requires government intervention to repair our international banking excesses.

The recent government programs that applied Keynesian stimulus and Fed monetary policies failed to right our economy because they attempted to fix the wrong problem. America is not in a recession. It is suffering from a monetary implosion and debt explosion. The government programs of the 1930s failed to quickly restore America because Government did not attempt to repair all of the failings of capitalism. My plan recognizes that we are not in a normal or even exaggerated business cycle that could be fixed by stimulus or monetary manipulation. It also recognizes that government make work will not fix the economy either. Instead it provides a holistic healing of our capitalistic economy.

My turnaround plan requires the banks to accept shared equity in housing in return for removing excess housing debt from homeowner’s notes. It requires the credit rating agencies to speed restoration of credit ratings for those caught by the 2008 depression so that additional credit is available to restore consumer and business demand. And it provides for simultaneous hiring of 10 million people into the private sector that otherwise would be collecting long term unemployment compensation. The compensation that they would have received for sitting out our economy instead passes through the hands of small domestic businesses, reducing their risk of hiring, lowering their costs of supply, improving their international competitiveness, and making their goods and services more affordable to the American public.

Rather than government make work or stimulus jobs targeted to a very few select industries, this turnaround plan allows people to be hired throughout the domestic, private, small business economy. All citizens have the opportunity to return to the workforce immediately. All have the opportunity to restore their credit. All have the opportunity to stay in their houses and to make affordable payments on their own property. All have the wherewithal to incrementally add to the nation’s consumer demand and to create worldwide demand for America’s products. All will help America return to prosperity.
All will become part of a holistic plan, endorsed and enforced by government, that will turnaround our country.

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Filed under American Politics, Job Voucher Plan, Jobs, U.S. Monetary Policy