Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Economics

Ryan’s Roadmap II

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15:  Chairman Paul R...

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The first time Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) offered his “Roadmap for America’s Future” to the House of Representatives, it failed by 137-293, with 38 Republicans voting against, including Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). With his own district safe in the fall elections, Ryan has been spending his time generating support for Roadmap II with presentations to conservative think tanks and coffee klatches.

And he seems to be gaining some traction along with a lot of fresh attention.

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Temporary Unemployment Benefits—Permanent Welfare?

Horse And Handler Statue,  Department Of Labor

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The White House on July 21 extolled the extension of unemployment insurance by the Senate, claiming it was “not only the decent thing to do but one of the most effective ways to boost our economy.” President Obama signed the extension into law immediately, saying that this was “desperately needed assistance to two and a half million Americans who lost their jobs in the recession…Americans who…will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times.”

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TARP Criticism Misses the Point

PaulsonHenry

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When TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky criticized the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) as being ineffective, he blamed the Treasury Department for not setting clearer goals for that part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Only 390,000 homeowners “have seen their mortgage terms permanently modified since the $50 billion program was announced in March 2009. That is a small fraction of the three to four million borrowers who were supposed to receive assistance under the program.”

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Maine Eyes Social Security for Pension Bailout

Category:U.S._State_Population_Maps Category:M...

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Instead of asking for a federal bailout, Maine is considering shifting part of its underfunded pension plan liabilities to Social Security. Without the proposed fix, the pension liability the state currently faces is “going to rip the guts out of our budget,” according to Peter Mills, the state Senator who initially suggested the plan.

Most states provide their workers with a state pension plan as well as support their participation in Social Security. But several states such as Maine opted out of Social Security based on projections that monies invested in the state-run plan would provide more generous benefits to its beneficiaries. As the economy turned down and revenues declined, states like Maine are finding it increasingly difficult to make the contributions necessary to keep their pension plans solvent.

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Great Depression II: Here We Go Again?

The Causes of The Great Depression / FDR Memor...

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The unremitting flow of negative news about the economy has finally caught the attention of the mainstream media, causing an increasing number of economists to make comparisons between today’s recession and the Great Depression.

David Rosenberg, Gluskin Sheff’s chief market economist, commented to his clients that the monster drop in new home sales in June compared to May was not exactly “a one-month wonder” but instead invited comparison of the current recession’s similarities with those of the Great Depression. He said they include:

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Still Waiting for the Recovery

The emblem of Recovery.gov, the official site ...

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The economy has gained either 2.5 million jobs or 3.6 million jobs since the Recovery Act was signed into law in January, 2009, depending upon which statistical “model” is used, according to Christina Romer, Chair of the White House‘s Council of Economic Advisers. When compared to the report issued earlier this month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, neither number is even close.

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Social Security Benefits Only for Needy?

Social Security Poster: old man

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One way to fix Social Security would be to limit payments only to those who need them, according to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he added that increasing the retirement age to 70 for those age 50 and younger would also be necessary.

“We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we’re broke,” Boehner said. “If you have substantial non-Social Security income while you’re retired, why are we paying you at a time when we’re broke? We just need to be honest with people.”

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Fixing State Budgets will be Painful

Carly Fiorina (MBA 1980), former CEO of Hewlet...

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Pew Research recently polled Americans about ways to bring state budgets into balance and found that respondents did not like any of the options. In its Congressional Connection poll released June 28, Pew Research asked if a federal bailout of financially troubled states should be considered. Barely one in four said yes. Nearly 60 percent said no, that the states should take care of their problems on their own.

Other options offered by Pew included cutting transportation funding, raising taxes, cutting health services, reducing spending for police and fire departments, and slashing the public school budget. Each of those options was also strongly opposed, often by majorities approaching 70 percent.

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From China, With Love

Young women from Spain and Mexico sign Sustain...

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Addison Wiggin asked his readers to imagine an older happily married couple, having their usual morning breakfast together:

They work well together, though maybe the lady of the house has been “the better half” lately…doing a larger burden of the work, paying more bills, keeping the house together and so on. But nevertheless, things are good, so it seems. Times are a little tough, but there’s no imminent reason to suspect the relationship won’t last.

Then one morning, [out of the blue!] she says, “Honey, I [just] want you to know that I’m not planning on divorcing you and taking [the] money with me.”

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The Millennial Generation, Jobs, and Reality

Generation Y

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In a microcosm, Scott Nicholson, at age 24, represents his Millennial Generation well: He graduated from college two years ago and is still looking for work.

But he’s optimistic nevertheless. He moved back into his parents’ home in an upper-middle-class neighborhood outside of Boston, and spends his mornings searching corporate websites for “suitable” job openings. His parents are feeding and clothing him, as well as paying his cell-phone charges and insurance premiums. But they are beginning to get concerned, especially when Scott was finally offered a position at a nearby casualty insurance firm, as a claims adjuster—and he turned it down.

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Fannie and Freddie De-​​listed From NYSE: Now What?

Fannie Mae headquarters

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When ABC News announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be de-listed by the New York Stock Exchange on July 8, writer Rich Blake said that “these once mighty enterprises will trade alongside stocks on the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board, a place where many companies go to die.”

As a eulogy Blake expressed the usual statist paean: “It’s difficult to contemplate how the U.S. mortgage market could function without the nearly $6 trillion in funding they provide to this market and the institutions that comprise it…The housing sector would be in even worse shape if not for those twin…enterprises.”

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The Invisible Recovery

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On Friday Reuters reported that non-government payrolls rose only slightly in June and overall employment fell “for the first time this year…indicating the economic recovery is failing to pick up steam.” This report followed several others last week indicating weakness in consumer spending, housing, and manufacturing which “have heightened fears [that] the economy could slip back into a recession.”

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Financial Reform: Expanding Hubris, Limiting Freedom

Chris Dodd

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When the House passed the 2,319-page Dodd-Frank financial reform bill by a vote of 237-192, all it did was confirm for many the extraordinary hubris of legislators believing they could in fact “fix” the problems they themselves created which resulted in the Great Recession of 2008.

John B. Taylor,  professor of economics at Stanford University says, “The main problem with the bill is that is based on a misdiagnosis of the causes of the financial crisis…the presumption that the government did not [already] have enough power to avoid the crisis.”

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Double Dip Evidence Piling Up

Double Dipped Cones

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When John Hussman, in his Weekly Market Comment, noted that the Economic Cycle Research Institute’s (ECRI) Index “has slumped to the lowest level in 44 weeks and has now gone to a negative reading,” he was confirming other recent signals that the economy was giving off, notably here and here, that the possibility of a double dip recession continues to increase.

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New York’s Plan: Kick the Can

An empty tin can.

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New York Governor David Paterson said in a radio interview on June 10 that his state might have to issue IOUs to pay its bills, or else face “anarchy in the streets.” The state faces a $9.2 billion deficit, and the legislature is two months late in voting on the budget.  An actual shutdown of state services has been avoided, temporarily, by enacting temporary emergency spending bills.  Even if the government shuts down, there is serious question about whether police, firefighters, prison guards and emergency and healthcare workers could continue to work without pay. “You could have anarchy literally in the streets if the government shuts down,” Paterson said.

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50-year-old Book is Amazon Bestseller

Cover of "The Road to Serfdom: Text and D...

Cover via Amazon

When Glenn Beck urged his listeners, “Please, pick it up. The Road to Serfdom. Make it part of your essential library,” sales of Austrian Economist Frederick von Hayek’s book at Amazon.com pushed it to Number 1 the next day. Prior to the election of President Obama, “The book sold respectably at a clip of about 600 copies a month,” according to Bruce Caldwell, editor at the University of Chicago Press. “But then, in November 2008, sales more than quadrupled, and they haven’t slowed down since.”

When John Stossel, host of Fox Business, featured the book on his show on February 21, sales jumped again.

Opinions as to the remarkable interest in a book published in 1944 by an obscure economist vary, but most center on the book’s uncanny prediction that is now being fulfilled in the United States:

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National Debt at Tipping Point?

Tea Party

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The Wall Street Journal took another look at the $13 trillion national debt written about here last week and announced that, according to a study by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, the economy has now reached the tipping point, the Reinhart-Rogoff Line, better known as the point of no return.

“Once a developed nation’s debt crosses it, its annual growth [tends to be much] lower.” The best estimate is that, once that point is reached, the GDP will be reduced by one-third, with little chance of regaining normal economic output for the foreseeable future.

In their book, This Time Is Different, Reinhart and Rogoff state:

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Mortgage Defaults Increasing

Luigi Zingales

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According to the New York Times, “A growing number of the people whose homes are in foreclosure are refusing to slink away in shame.” They are just refusing to make their mortgage payments but continue to live in their home until the bank evicts them. LPS Applied Analytics says the average borrower in foreclosure “has been delinquent for 438 days before actually being evicted.” This means that the homeowner essentially lives rent-free for nearly 15 months, and can use his mortgage payment to make other payments such as car loans and credit cards.

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Jobs? What Jobs?

Henry Hazlitt

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When CNBC announced that the number of workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week while private employers added new jobs in May, this was “further evidence [that] the labor market was improving.” In more muted fashion, the Associated Press called it a “slow-motion recovery,” but a recovery nevertheless.

This was in line with Vice President Joe Biden’s prediction back in April that the economy would be adding between 250,000 and 500,000 jobs “in the next couple of months.” Similar sentiments were echoed by President Obama on Wednesday in a speech at Carnegie Mellon University:

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Economic Forecast: Summer of Discontent

Frowny

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After six straight months of gains in consumer spending the April numbers showed no change from March, according to the Commerce Department. This was a surprise to some who have been tracking such things as the University of Michigan’s index of consumer confidence (higher), consumers’ expectations on the economy over the next 12 months (higher), moderate real job creation (higher), savings rate (higher) and manufacturing activity (higher).

Others remained sanguine, holding that “We do not expect household spending to flatline in the coming months,” according to Michelle Girard, senior economist at RBS in Stamford, Connecticut.

Consumers themselves, however, are not a happy lot. According to Rasmussen Reports, only 35 percent of Americans are planning to take a summer vacation this year, and those who are, aren’t planning on spending as much as they have in the past.

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.