Most economists since 2009 have been completely wrong in their forecasts, reminding us that their supposedly data-driven discipline is more an art than a science. After all, a great deal of money is invested and spent — or not — based largely on perceptions, hunches, and emotions rather than a 100 percent certainty of profit or loss. And the message Americans are getting is that the Obama administration is hostile to investment and business, and thus should be waited out.
When will U.S. house prices recover? Likely never. But that’s no reason not to buy
The latest S&P / Case-Shiller numbers, reported last week, show that prices in 20 major markets declined 3.5% over the year through February. They’re now back to 2002 levels. If we subtract for inflation, they’re back to 1998 levels.
In 2004, Pinellas County loaned $3.4 million dollars in state funds to Crest Capital LLC to buy the land for the construction of townhomes, many of which would be used as low-income housing.
Eight years later, nothing has changed. The low-income housing was never built. In fact, the project never even started. But the money is gone. All the taxpayers got for their money are the weeds, trees, and sand on the lot.
Pinellas County’s Division of Inspector General investigated the county’s deal with Crest Capital. The 2011 audit found the county’s Community Development department chose a company with “no assets and little to no experience in construction.” They also found the department had indications the land might have environmental problems, but neglected to do further investigation.
The US dollar is getting perilously close to losing its status as the world’s reserve currency. Should it cross the line, the 2008 financial crisis could look like a summer storm.
Yes, worries about insolvency in Europe dominate the headlines. Last week, Standard & Poor’s cut Spain’s bond rating to BBB+ — a clear sign that Europe’s financial crisis is far from over.
But America’s escalating debt problem is far more likely to precipitate a truly global crisis, because the dollar has for decades played such a central role in the world economy.
How bad is the US problem? Former Treasury official Lawrence Goodman recently pointed out that investors are shunning US bonds and notes; the lack of other buyers forced the Federal Reserve to buy “a stunning . . . 61 percent of the total net issuance of US government debt” last year. Like many others, he warns that ballooning debt puts the US economy at risk for a sharp correction.
Two Federal Reserve officials warned Tuesday that the U.S. could be heading for a “fiscal cliff” at year’s end if mandated tax increases and spending cuts are implemented.
Charles Evans of the Chicago Fed called the cliff a “big uncertainty” while Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said there could be a “financial shock” if markets begin to anticipate that Congress and the White House do little to address this situation.
The expected tax increases and spending cuts were triggered when a congressional “super committee” failed to come up with a way of closing the federal budget deficit.
“It took 30 years of frivolous public spending to bring the country to a debt-to-GDP ratio of 120%. Two years of severe austerity brought debt to 168% of GDP. Obviously the medicine didn’t work.”
What, then, are the alternatives to austerity? Well, first up would be an integration that would help break the diabolical loop now gutting the periphery. Creating a euro-zone-wide safe asset and a euro-zone-wide set of institutions to stand behind damaged banks would help accomplish that. America doesn’t expect Delaware to shoulder the costs of failures of banks headquartered in Delaware. That’s an important contributor to the stability of the American federal system. The euro-zone must recognise that it is the failure to build appropriate euro-zone-wide institutions—equal in scope to the considerations and resources of the central bank—that is contributing to soaring yields around the periphery and creating the illusion of the need for dramatic austerity in places that could do without it.
Greenspan Says U.S. Stocks ‘Very Cheap,’ Likely to Rise – LOL, stocks are cheap? Too bad people don’t have money to buy even food
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said U.S. stocks offer good value and are likely to rise as corporate earnings increase over time.
“Stocks are very cheap,” Greenspan said today at the Bloomberg Washington Summit hosted by Bloomberg Link, citing “a very low price-earnings ratio.”
U.S. Food-Stamp Use Fell to 46.3 Million in February, USDA Say – Yeah it dropped compared to a month earlier, but is still up compared to a year ago
U.S. food-stamp use, which Republicans have cited as evidence of a failing economy, dropped 0.3 percent in February from the previous month, the government said.
About 46.326 million Americans received aid, down from 46.45 million in January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in an e-mail. Participation was 4.8 percent higher than a year earlier. February was the second consecutive monthly drop.
10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You – That’s a hell of a good speech given by CHARLES WHEELAN
Class of 2012,
I became sick of commencement speeches at about your age. My first job out of college was writing speeches for the governor of Maine. Every spring, I would offer extraordinary tidbits of wisdom to 22-year-olds—which was quite a feat given that I was 23 at the time. In the decades since, I’ve spent most of my career teaching economics and public policy. In particular, I’ve studied happiness and well-being, about which we now know a great deal. And I’ve found that the saccharine and over-optimistic words of the typical commencement address hold few of the lessons young people really need to hear about what lies ahead. Here, then, is what I wish someone had told the Class of 1988:
1. Your time in fraternity basements was well spent.
The same goes for the time you spent playing intramural sports, working on the school newspaper or just hanging with friends. Research tells us that one of the most important causal factors associated with happiness and well-being is your meaningful connections with other human beings. Look around today. Certainly one benchmark of your postgraduation success should be how many of these people are still your close friends in 10 or 20 years….
“Today knowledge is ubiquitous, constantly changing, growing exponentially… Today knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water. It’s become a commodity… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”
MF Global stole money from it’s customers. The government is still sorting through the messy details. One of the reasons it’s taking so long is because a lot of the funds went overseas and they have a different regulatory structure. We are only talking about money that commodity customers had on deposit in segregated company accounts. What about the money MF and Corzine stole from shareholders and bondholders? This has been crooked from the very beginning.
It’s rare, but there have been other times futures industry firms have gone bankrupt. Customers were always made whole because their money is kept in segregated funds. There is an orderly process to transfer positions and transfer funds from bankrupt clearing operations to fully funded ones.
In this case, that didn’t happen.
Here is the conspiracy theory that can be spun. See if you agree with it….read more here