Friday, December 18, 2009

Two months...

This blog has been up now two months. According to data from Google Analytics, my blog has been visited 759 times by 388 visitors from 15 countries in 75 cities. The "top 9" cities by number of visits are:

1. Bellingham 494
2. Seattle 79
3. Burlington 24
4. Ferndale 23
5. (not set) 18
6. Portland 18
7. Washington 5
8. Everett 5
9. Plano 5
10. New York 4

I will admit some lethargy in blogging lately. It is not for lack of material.  It is because I am overwhelmed with economic information and data; so much of it too negative to contemplate. I find the shreds of positive indicators produced lately weak and hard to believe.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Barack Obama's Nobel Acceptance Speech

I have never heard any thoughts so cynical, shallow, self-serving as our President's recent Nobel Prize acceptance speech.  "I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds," commented that the most powerful leader of our Earth, voicing an empty, self-evident, mindless principal that our country has used to justify the slaughter of millions in this century. Whether in blatant colonialism (Philipines, Honduras,Guatemaula), Anti-communism (Koreas, Africa, Balkans), resource-grabs (Middle-East, South Asia), the United States has always justified force on humanitarian grounds.  American President's are at their most honest when they justify wars in "our national interests".  In his Nobel acceptance speech, Barack Obama eschewed a chance for honesty in order to justify genocide and imperialism behind the mask of self-righteousness.

The world has heard such logic before.  It will fool very few. For myself, it confirms the fallacy and failure of our Democracy. Barack Obama was elected as a protest vote to a barbarian regime. Once elected, the President found the temptation to drink from the chalice of the blood of third world too tempting to resist.  His will is weak. It is overcome by a need to forgive the genocidal violence our country has inflicted upon poor people of color across the third world so that it may justify our country's strategic conquest, oil and gas reserves, and economic control of this small sphere we call "Earth".  But perhaps now is the time to accept what has really happened on the stage of world politics for the last ten years.

In the year 2000, a small, realpolitik band of radicals supported by the money of American oil and gas cartels, used deception, terror and fraud to place their thugs in charge of our country.  Those thugs decided to rebuild the military might of America, without consequence to the wealth of our citizens, in order to wreck havoc upon the third world.  Partially thwarted in this effort (they have yet to invade Iran), they destroyed the economic might of the American middle class to prevent any further hampering of their efforts.  Their handmaidens in crime, the American financial elite, then elected a "left-wing" populist to continue their best efforts at "nation building" abroad.  Now they hope for public support and not cynicism for their anointed henchman.  I will not be so cynical as to suggest that Barack Obama's policies may not create wealth for our middle classes. Or at least I will not yet.

"I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely... Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a Democracy...,Neither Americas interest or the world are served by the denial of human aspirations...The promotion of human rights can not be about exhortation alone," said our Nobel Prize winning President.  Such seemingly "nobel" and  innocuous words have been used for decades to justify American intervention in nearly every corner of the globe. Leaders in few countries will  be fooled by such rhetoric. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Keep the Faith!! and Keep your Job!!

James Haggerty at the Wall Street Journal has another great article on housing in today's WSJ: "House Flipping Makes a Comeback".  

[To be honest, I have had deep fears that R. Murdoch's purchase of the WSJ would lead to talent drain.  But that doesn't quite seem to be the case yet, and certainly Mr. Haggerty is proof that not all talent has deserted the WSJ. ]

I don't have the subscriptions to MBAA or RealtyTrac that would allow me to get Bellingham/Whatcom County deliquency/foreclosure statistics on our housing market.  As I log onto the public area of RealtyTrac and search for "Bellingham" home sales from September 2008 onward, I count:
  • Trustee Sale         135 properties
  • Bank Owned         137 properties
  • FSBO                    64 properties
  • REO Home           8 properties
  • Live Auction         1 property  
For Whatcom County as a whole I count:

  • Trustee Sale         130 properties
  • Bank Owned         272 properties
  • FSBO                    170 properties
  • Resale/MLS         107 properties
  • REO Home S        4 properties
  • Live Auction         1 properties
Keep Building Jobs Mr. President!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Repeating 1927...

Ahh!! I have been looking for chart that explains why we are "where we are at"  politically and economically. This would be it:

This chart comes from Berkeley economics professor Emmanuel Saez.   You can see in the fig1 worksheet in the Spreadsheet below.

The next ten years will be critical in the formation of class relations in United States.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Jobs Summit: Part II

The Jobs Summit had lots of interesting discussion:

Green Jobs
Engine of Job Growth

The speakers are fascinating. Tune IN!!! 

 Some highlights from the Forums:

Suggestions from Joseph Stieglitz in the Engine of Job Growth Forum . Tim Geithner and Joseph Stieglitz start an interesting dialog at about the 22 minutes into this forum:

[Credit Freeze]
 "The data is overwhelming ...over 50% of all small business are now saying they are having difficulty getting credit...things could be getting worse in this area rather than better. We've had programs...the increase lending to underserved communities....It seems to me total reasonable to say [to TARP Banks or otherwise], "You have to figure out ways to lend to small business."  "

[On Encouraging appropriate lending behavior]
  "The FED is lending at 0% rate...The intent of FED lending was to create jobs [not create speculation]. It is perfectly reasonable to say....that access to FED window is conditional [on loaning to small businesses]."

[Our Credit Card System]
 "Our credit card system is broken in many ways....Anti-competitive practices could be fixed over night....A lot of countries have done this. It is a 2% percent tax on the whole industry....Legislation that would be bring down credit card charges is essential."

[On creating new banks that lend to small businesses]
 "Encourage the creation of new banks....We've destroyed 124 banks...If we created new banks that were focused on lending..."


[Carryback Losses]
Effectively a loan back...
Tim Geithner: "We're for that. Congress is extending that"
 Joseph Stiglietz: "Should be linked to incremental hiring. A conditional tax benefit. [Otherwise] it could be a big gift to the banks.]"

[Domestic vs. Foreign Investing]

The current tax law allows people to keep their funds abroad without taxation.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Jobs Summit: Part I

Tomorrow, President Barack Obama opens the job summit. He will be bombarded with ideas. Here are some of mine. Beware, given the gravity of this problem, I am not holding back.

Unemployment is not primarily an economic problem. It is a social problem.  Growing unemployment leads to unrest, unrest leads to social destruction, social destruction leads to chaos and so forth.  Therefore, solving unemployment (directly) is the most important goal of an economic agenda.  

(1) Stimulus $$$ given to banks and Wall Street are not enough to create employment or wealth.

(2) Without increasing gainful employment our economy and society will suffer continued destruction of wealth and the social fabric.
(3) Unemployment and underemployment are accelerating in growth.
(4) Economic depression are the result of the stagnation of the transfer of wealth.
(5) Communities and States will continue to disintegrate without increasing revenues from job growth.

(1) Create FDR style WAR ("Working Asset Recovery") Boards in every census-measured MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). The purpose of the boards will be to drive employment in their regions with federal assistance and guidance. They should be staffed by local community members, however majority voting power should be reserved for Federal officials.  Communities must be told they need to create jobs or else (see item 3).

(2) Tax or Bond the "plutonomy" to fund job growth in their local areas.  Any area with high net deposits/assets and high poverty/unemployment needs redistribution of wealth.

(3) Withhold federal stimulus monies, from any state or MSA that does not increase employment and effect economic justice. Withhold industry tax credits, allowances, deductions from any industry over $50 million that does not continue to grow employment at some mandated rate.

(4) Create strong guidelines for community employment that administrate economic justice, equality of opportunity for all workers and  put environmental concern  on the top of the list for any employer that accepts federal monies or tax credits. 

Here are a few more proposals: 
(1) Put a moratorium on all foreclosures. Starting now. How does anyone gain from another foreclosure?
(2) Create debt-relief for the middle class besides bankruptcy.  Force Visa/MasterCard to accept low interest treasury bills in lieu for up to  $20K of credit card debt relief for each household. How does anyone gain from another personal bankruptcy?
(3) Emphasize employment and revenue for families with children above other groups.  Let's face it: an economy that caters to the young or  retired and aging more than families does little to strengthen our country. 
(4) Limit HI Visas. Retrain american Cctizens instead.
(5) The cost of energy is destroying economies in America.  Nationalized wage and price controls should be used  to control the retail price of energy.  A "producer tax" on energy companies should be used to pump excess profits back into the economic system.
(6) Nationalization of banks, oil companies, other energy companies, knowledge economies should be considered if these industries don't help enough with the "employment agenda".

To avoid unnecessary delay, the President should consider unilateral action in regards to solving unemployment. He has a lot of leverage before the direct threats of nationalization and socialization need to be issued. And he should use those threats liberally before U-3 heads north of 11%.  Once U-3 starts to rest between 14% - 18%, the battle will have been lost.  Economic chaos and wealth destruction  have series multiplier effects. 

Final comments 
The libertarian right wing will scream "Socialism". Many of them make good off America's vast resources, military power, tax credits and federal infrastructure.  Time for a reality check. It is now irrelevant to fear "Socialism".  We need stronger federal intervention to save capitalism (if it can be saved), our families and our country. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Barack Obama extends the war economy...

Attempting to tread a some reassuring line between his (ex) supporters, the military, our economic health and imperial reach, Barack Obama authorized substantial additional troops and resources to Afghanistan. He called  "the Taliban, a ruthless, repressive and radical movement"  neglecting to mention, of course, that we supported and developed  the Taliban for a number of years in opposition to the then Soviet sponsored Northern Alliance.

There is nothing about any of our country's  military actions of the last eight years that has had anything to do with "stopping the spread of terrorism".  These are imperial wars for control of significant natural resources and military leverage.  We have sacrificed our national economy and our national  well being to deficit finance these expensive foreign wars. Wars that have cost us thousands of lives, our nation's economic health, and our spiritual health.

The more we involve ourself in these wars, the more the Russian and Chinese intelligence networks that actively support such nationalist movements will bleed our country's economic health dry. "We must keep the pressure on Al Qaeda...." said the President. He should have added "so as to keep our feeble oil and gas drenched economy afloat."  Our slow economic death as a nation will continue until we realize how futile  and draining foreign wars inside the Russian/Chinese axis really are.  By then we will be flat broke.

The question now should not be  whether the "war economy" of the past eight years should be continued or not. What we have lost in economic health is far more than any advantages we have gained or will gain through "the war on terrorism". (Unless of course, you are $$$ drenched American oil company!)   The question now is whether our "leaders" are continuing the "war against terrorism" so as to permanently destroy the American middle class and its families.  Or perhaps, whether our leaders care about our economic health as a nation in any significant fashion whatsoever.