A New World Order We Can Live With

The story in the Sydney Morning Herald begins as follows: KEVIN RUDD has denounced the unfettered capitalism of the past three decades and called for a new era of "social capitalism" in which government intervention and regulation feature heavily. In an essay to be published next week, the Prime Minister is scathing of the neo-liberals who began refashioning the market system in the 1970s, and ultimately brought about the global financial crisis. I have to agree, at least in part. The economic experiments of the past 39 years have, indeed, brought us to this current crisis. There is no question of that. With currency tied to nothing more than the promise that the government won’t print too much of it, there are few, if any real limits on things. Rudd’s answer for that: Regulate! His notion is that heavy government regulation can curb the extremes while allowing a robust free market to exist. My question is this: How? The Main Ingredi... [Read Full Article]

Will the Backbone of the Economy be the Backbone of the Recovery?

The headline was clear and to the point: Economy Shrinks at 3.8% Pace in 4Q. Now the good news was that this wasn’t as bad as all the economists were predicting. The bad news is that all of them see that pace increasing to as much as 5% shrinkage by summer. According to  Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, “The downturn is intensifying. The fourth quarter is worse than it looks.” Sounds ominous. Throw in growing unemployment, tighter credit, states and even whole countries on the verge of bankruptcy and you can see why things are predicted to get worse before they get any better. Small Banks and Small Business On the other hand, we have this headline as well: [Read Full Article]

Would a Population Boom Help or Hurt Us?

In the middle of the worst recession in decades, Japan has asked its corporations to help with another societal problem, low birthrates. How will they do that? By cutting at least some of the usual 12-hour days people spend at work so they can go home and spend time with their families. All of this has one goal: to encourage more babies. More Babies = A Stronger Economy Yep, you read it right. The Japanese, the folks who gave us amazing technology, square watermelons, fully-equipped coffin-like hotel cubicles, bullet trains, samurai flicks and 54 years of Godzilla, have looked at their economic issues and have tied them to their social problems, one of which is low birthrates. True, there are other issues identified as having a problematic effect on Japan, but the Japanese birthrate is far below that necessary to replenish its rapidly aging population. The math works like this: The more stable your population, the better that is for your economy since you are literally... [Read Full Article]

More Economic Stimulus On The Way and Hiring in a Recession

Government and Economy Pelosi: House Stimlus Bill to be Ready SoonSpeaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will have an economic stimulus bill ready by early January. Pelosi said Tuesday that members of the House are "working on that right now." Promises Promises: Obama Budget Cuts Face Hurdles Barack Obama promises to cut out wasteful programs. But with entire chapters of the $3 trillion federal budget essentially off limits and congressional Democrats ready to defend farm subsidies, weapons systems and home-state pork barrel projects, can he do it? [Read Full Article]

$350 Billion in the Hole and Record Unemployment: Time for Something Different

Did I miss something? I mean, wasn’t all this money supposed to help the economy, protect jobs, ease foreclosures and clean up the sub-prime mortgage mess? Wasn’t all this spending supposed to build confidence in the financial system and break the logjam in credit? Yet here we are, $350 billion into the bailout—and that is not counting the billions that had already been spent to bailout, stimulate, rescue (or whatever other verb you wish to insert)—the economy and so far, here is what we have to show for it: The highest unemployment in 34 years and more to come A whipsawing stock market in a downward spiral The credit logjam is still entrenched The threat of deflation Problems finding venture capital for start-ups The auto industry begging for a piece of the pie Companies changing their businesses to qualify for a bailout Little consumer or investor confidence Really ticked-off taxpaye... [Read Full Article]