Thursday, October 27, 2011

Idiotic American Foreign Policy

Normally this blog deals with the coming Great Depression so foreign policy is a bit of a stretch. We have just helped kill the leader of Libya. Not much of a big deal, but we did it so these people could have Democracy. That country is totally devoid of any social institutions so there will be no Democracy, the guy with the most bullets will be the new President. Of course if your currency becomes suddenly worthless, you are pretty much in the midst of a depression. Life in Libya looks rather brutal for the foreseeable future.

We are getting out of Iraq. Great idea; Christmas comes early for Iran. There is turmoil in Palestine, Jordan and Egypt; Israel could go bananas and nuke Iran or vice versa.

Oil ties the US to the Middle East; water ties the Middle East people to the land. The real key is not oil, but rather water. Iran and Turkey, China and South East Asia, are building dams that could start a war over water; the hell with the people downstream.

Then in Pakistan, we send a woman (Hillary) (where women are considered property) to tell them how to run their government. Great for women’s lib, but who are we kidding, the Pakistanis would like to chain her up in a basement and teach her what the slang term "airtight" means. These people are not going to listen to a woman, more to the point; they feel insulted having to deal with her.

The US press is selling their readers this "goodie two shoes" idealistic policy of spreading Democracy to the world. The reason we lost in Viet Nam, was because the average farmer could point to his family and land, but he could not point to Democracy. Democracy does not come from the masses who have nothing, but rather from those who have a position of wealth that needs to be preserved. Democracy is not an option for the Middle East; they have always taken what they have wanted. Might is right.

U.S foreign policy towards Libya has been very irresponsible; we can't shoot first and then think about it. Getting rid of Qaddafi accomplished nothing. His supply of stinger missiles is now on the auction block. Leaving Iraq without some advisory troops begs Iran to move in. Obama needs to send Hillary home with a box of cigars for Bill. And while he's at it, he mise well paint a bull's eye on Air Force One. The score is Obama 3 Arabs 0. I feel that the game is only pausing for the half time activities. Got Stingers?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This 'Great Depression' Could be Worse

Congress and the Federal Reserve have suggested that the banks ease up on their lending restrictions and loan out more money to get the economy going. It’s a little like lowering the drinking age to increase liquor consumption. In essence, we need to restart the real estate party of a few years back. The “fog a mirror loans” are gone, the banks want full docs. If they had been doing that in the first place, the real estate bubble wouldn’t have happened.

Out here in California lenders are foreclosing quickly on the 300K mansions that originally sold for 100K. They are taking their sweet time on the “million dollar” homes for good reason. The hidden inventory is becoming rather obvious, a lock box on the door handle and a brown lawn.

Many Californians bought their homes and paid them off before the great housing bubble, These people are nearing retirement, and expect a slice of that “Glorious bubble real estate pricing” and its isn’t going to happen. More supply, less demand. Meanwhile, the banks out here, holding real estate, are like chickens sitting on unfertile eggs. Nothing is happening, just a lot of hope that things will improve, if given time.

Realtors drop off lists of homes sold in my area. The lists reflect short sales, regular sales, and REO’s. The short sales and REO’s reflect pretty drastic price drops for the area. The regular sales don’t. What happens here, when a home goes on the foreclosure auction block, auctioneer has an automatic bid from the bank, on money owed. If the bank is the only bidder, the home is theirs. This is counted as a “regular sale.” So if the original owner owed 600k on a first mortgage, with the homes current value at 300k, this would be listed as a sale at 600k to the bank. Hey, that looks great for comps if you are a real estate agent. So when you see the sale price, that the bank paid, that has no real bearing on what the current value is for the home.

What is hurting the banks is a concept labeled “the velocity of money.” When you have a feeding frenzy, you have high velocity. Right now, we have low velocity; no one is begging for a loan, the banks can’t find enough people qualified to loan too. The go-go party years of real estate banking are gone.

Our future looks bleaker than the historical times of the 1930’s and 1940’s. The US was pulled out of the Great Depression by war. When it ended, we were the only supplier of finished goods. The rest of the world had no production capacity to speak of. This time it could be very different, we are not the only global supplier with production capacity in need of buyers to survive.

Once you realize this, the concepts of what are happening in this world leaves doubts as to how a real and acceptable solution is an option. I have questions, but no answers and that is scary. From here you need to tell the wife, the cute student you’ve rented the spare room to will bring in a few dollars. If she calls you a Democrat, you know it isn’t going to float.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Regulation, A Presidential Cure for the Nation? I think NOT!

I guess if we are going to tar and feather Obama over our hard times, we should probably get it right, on what he did wrong. Our present economic mess has nothing to do with him or his birth certificate issued in Hawaii. His major offense, is in thinking that as President, he can write or dictate our laws and have the Congress pass them. If my memory serves me right, Congress writes the laws, and if they don’t have a 2/3’s majority, the President has to sign it in order for it to become law.

Obama is like a very demanding wife; his way or the highway. Whereas a coy subservient wife gets everything her way indirectly, without the husband even suspecting that he has been manipulated. Obama forced the health care issue through Congress, and now the young get to pay for the health care already promised to the old. You can’t raise taxes in a depression and expect increased revenue. Revenues are dropping even at the current rate of taxation; less and less people are working.

Now there is a call to tax the rich. It sounds so easy and simple. Most of them fill out their own W-2 forms; they can easily hide their earnings. A lot of wealthy people donate to charities and get a tax deduction. They have a choice, give it to the government who will waste it (that's a personal opinion), or give it to a charity and appear to be magnanimous. Look for this loophole to disappear.

Let’s step back for a moment and examine where we are. As a country, we saved nothing for a rainy day. Congress spent every dime collected; they even spent our Social Security funds. Our nation has fallen on hard times caused by economic pursuits that were designed to fail because of human greed. We probably can cite Congress for enjoying the party while it lasted; they were asleep at the switch. They couldn’t afford to pay for infrastructure when times were good and now all of a sudden, it seems like a good idea when the country is broke. Its kind of like having no money to feed the kids and wife, but having 50 dollars for the hooker next door.

Obama’s latest way to save the taxpayer is with more government regulation. The neat thing about this is when you create government regulatory agencies, they get to enforce regulations they feel are necessary without the need for further legislative approval.

The latest idiotic piece of government lunacy revolves around debit card charges. Here we have the Consumer Protection Agency telling banks what they can charge merchants accepting the card. All of a sudden it’s against the law to make a profit? The net effect, Bank of America raises debit card fees $5 a month. Everyone thinks this is outrageous and something needs to be done about it. If you read between the lines, B of A doesn’t want to mess with debit cards anymore. It’s unprofitable for the bank, the customers who use them, are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s a little like what Sprint did when it dumped customers who called the help desk too much. 60 percent of the help calls were from 5% of its customers. B of A won’t lose a dime on the customers who walk.

Government regulation is killing this country. Our captain at the helm is going to save us with more Nazi rules and regulations. It's "full speed ahead, damn Congress and the National Debt." It's a little like a hooker offering customers pills to prevent AIDS. Business couldn't be better. The customers like the added "protection." You kind of have to wonder, how dumb is dumb?