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October 17, 2011

DOOM: A low-down dirty shame


The bad news? DOOM. The really bad news? Even more DOOM. The sovereign debt crisis has made bonds a lousy investment choice now and perhaps for many years to come. But equities will be under pressure as well as the Boomers continue their retirement and begin to sell the assets in their 401(k) and IRAs -- they will be selling their stocks into a buyer’s market, driving prices for equities down. And if national growth slows in the way I think it will over the next decade or two, businesses will not be able to make up for weak stock performance with higher earnings or corporate growth. But wait, there’s more! While all this is going on, the healthcare and Social Security bombs will be in the process of going off. But wait, there's more! If Americans become savers again, that puts a huge hurt on our consumption-based economy, with no offsetting export business to make up the loss.

If America has one trait that has stayed with us through good times and bad, it is our habit of thinking that prosperity is our birthright. Almost from the very start, America has been a cornucopia to most of her citizens, and a beacon to the rest of the world. But nothing is forever, and many Americans have forgotten that it is the effort of America’s citizens -- our industry, our creativity, our willingness to work and build -- that has made America what it is. The work-ethic used to be a signature trait of Americans, but that trait has bled away over the decades as the all-smothering State engulfs us. The State murmurs soothingly that it will not allow us to fail; we do not understand that this also means that many of us cannot succeed. (For striving brings with it the possibility of failure, does it not? Better not to strive at all, the State seems to say.) Freedom means choices and alternatives and risk -- freedom, in a very fundamental way, brings the risk of failure along with it. Freedom without risk is not freedom at all; it is a sham, a carnival ride where the State makes sure you are belted and padded and protected...but also prevented from going and doing what you wish. Perfect safety means perfect tyranny, a slavery no less absolute for being of our own making. (I often wonder: if the choice came down to being freer but less prosperous, would Americans make that choice? Or would they continue the Statist march to disaster, all in the name of being “safe”?) Benjamin Franklin’s epigram “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” has never been as trenchant as it is now.

Things are bad; can they get any worse? Of course things can get worse. The fact that we think things are about as bad as they can get only serves to prove that our generation has never lived through really tough times. Ask a dustbowl Okie who lived through the depths of the Depression, or a Jew or Soviet conscript who lived through the worst of World War II, if things can get worse.

The worm at the heart of the Keynesian apple.

But they’re not anti-American! That’s just crazy talk. This is just good honest dissent, right here, and we all know that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Or something.

The army of the unemployed. It took us a long time to create this problem: we’ve spent decades running up unsustainable debt, training young people with the wrong skills, drowning our productive population in an ocean of regulatory red tape, and transforming colleges from institutions of higher learning into leftist propaganda factories. It’s going to take an equally long time to fix this mess. But the rest of the world isn’t going to stand around idle while we try and get our s**t together.

Jesse Jackson, Jr.: threat or menace? He’s a dullard and as innocent of basic economics as a stone, but that’s par for the course among the American left these days.

G20 to Eurozone: You’ve got six days to do the impossible. Eurozone to G20: I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the strikes and riots. Can you repeat that?

Good news, everyone! The Federal government spends $7 for every $4 that it takes in! Hey, wait a minute...that’s not good news at all!

California’s ridiculous revenue projections proven to be ridiculous. California taxpayers and politicians will express gobsmacked amazement and then continue to do the same stupid s**t that got them into this mess in the first place.

"I’d like to answer that question without actually, you know, answering the question. Or without even actually addressing the issue you were interrogating me about. Instead, I will pretend that you asked a question you didn’t actually ask and answer that question instead." [Paraphrase]

The question is not “if” Greece is going to default; the questions are “when” and “how”.

Electric cars have been “the future” for about as long as I’ve been alive, but I’ve never understood either the economics or the ergonomics of them. They make no sense except in a very few specialized areas, and their high costs more than offset whatever marginal savings in energy-costs an owner might realize. They also fail the most basic requirement of an automobile: reliable transport.

A pretty interesting discussion of Boomer demographics and how their retirement will affect the welfare state, particularly Social Security and Medicare.

More mass layoffs in the pipeline? But hey, OWS dumbasses: it's a bunch of Wall Street types, so that ought to make you happy, right?

Apparently, amongst my many other outrages to Democrat dignity, now I want women to die on the floor. I think Dame Pelosi misunderstood me: I said I want women to lie on the floor, because my sciatica is acting up and I find it difficult to climb into my monstrous King-sized bed to ravish them.

Old and busted: “Saved or created.” New hotness: “Supported”. Kind of like a jockstrap -- if you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!

The GOP offers their own jobs plan. It won’t go anywhere, but...at least they’re showing up at work, right?

It’s true that housing prices are going to have to come to some kind of market equilibrium before we can start clearing the backlog. But it does not follow that government-mandated cramdowns are the way to do it -- in fact, event apart from the dubious legality of such a move, it would be too prone to graft and corruption (as all such government programs are: see Cash for Clunkers, TARP, and the sweetheart loan to now-bankrupt Solyndra). If this story seems like a re-run from 2010, by the way, it is (remember HAMP?). Obama was never one to let utter failure deter him from his ideological goals. Also: imagine my shock that the author Feldstein is another tenured Haaaavahd economist. The Administration must buy these guys in giant economy-packs at Academics-R-Us.

Silicon Valley will not save us.

Hey, I’m not gloating at the Eurozone’s impending collapse. But I did correctly anticipate this unfolding disaster more than a decade ago. Well...okay. Maybe I’m gloating. A little. I’m not proud of it.

High debt and low growth is deadly. Nations have been spending with profligate abandon on the assumption that the highly-atypical growth rates of the postwar era were going to continue indefinitely. Well, growth has slowed all across the developed world and all that debt is coming due at the worst possible time.

Oh, Nouriel, you wound me. You strike at my heart, you Socialist-spouting lout.

Karl Marx oversold socialism, but he was right in claiming that globalization, unfettered financial capitalism, and redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct. As he argued, unregulated capitalism can lead to regular bouts of over-capacity, under-consumption, and the recurrence of destructive financial crises, fueled by credit bubbles and asset-price booms and busts.
You’re dead to me, Dr. Doom. Dead!

Seriously, though -- this obsession about “equality” in an economic sense is wasted mental effort. Equality of opportunity is all around us; equality of outcome is impossible, given the vagaries of fate and the innate differences between human beings of different skills and abilities. If everyone had equal skills and equal opportunity, then no economy would be necessary because we could all just make our own stuff. Bubbles, booms, busts, crises, panics, and downturns are a fact of life on this planet; no economic system will ever get rid of them. The “anglo-saxon” model of market capitalism has proven to be the most successful economic system ever invented. That doesn’t mean it’s without fault -- it just means it’s better than anything else we know of.

Gibson Guitars: We may have to move some of our production overseas. Obama is creating jobs, as it turns out...overseas.

While our youngsters embarass themselves by “occupying” various locales for reasons not even they can clearly explain, young people in China are doing important and cutting-edge stuff. Like creating a ping-pong playing robot. Gentlemen, I will not tolerate a ping-pong playing robot gap!

In China, the loan-sharks are circling.

California’s public employee unions still not quite understanding that the world has changed.

You know your city has become a hellhole when....

Speaking of hellholes.... Camden, NJ: Where even hookers and drug-dealers have trouble turning a profit.

Some chart-fu about our health-care productivity problem.

Four reasons the mortgage mess won’t get fixed. And since a sustained recovery depends on recovery of the housing sector..... DOOM.

Daryl Jones at Fortune advises Europe to embrace the suck.

California may have the distinction of finally killing off Medicaid -- or at least exposing its rotten underpinnings.

It’s almost as if ObamaCare was thrown together by a bunch of people who really didn’t give much of a s**t as to whether the whole thing was actually affordable. It’s almost as if they were ramrodding a ruinous program down America’s throat for crass political gain.

GOP to Democrats: “You are going to eat the CLASS Act s**t-sandwich. In public. With no ketchup.”

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posted by Monty at 08:41 AM

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