Quantum Pranx

ECONOMICS AND ESOTERICA FOR A NEW PARADIGM

Posts Tagged ‘Social Security

Can’t blame economic policy on Osama

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by Nomi Prins
Originally posted May 5, 2011

When William Shakespeare penned the words, “All the world’s a stage” in As You Like It, it was centuries before tense photos of tense leaders would show tense concern over tense military operations.

What transpired around the killing, or killing announcement, of Osama bin Laden has been astounding. Whether you believe that bin Laden was “taken out” by this NAVY Seal operation, after nearly a decade, two wars, an over 81% increase in the military budget, and thousands of deaths, following the tragic loss of life on 9/11, or whether you believe he was dead and iced years ago and strategically used as a sign of unflappable leadership, is irrelevant. The surrounding uproar was theatre of the extravagant, no matter how you slice it.

But, theatre was invented for distraction, in culture and in politics. So while all the Osama drama was unfolding, the Treasury Department issued another plea for raising the debt ceiling, aka supporting its pro-bank policy. It went something like this:  We need to borrow more to pay social security obligations and not default on our debt, so other countries won’t question our ability to manage an economy  (as if that hasn’t already happened) and we won’t have to pay more to borrow more. If we don’t – you know what’ll happen – yep, another financial crisis.

The actual quote was: “The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments.”

Though technically correct, omitting the fact that our leaders chose to float the financial system on such an unprecedented scale with no obvious Main Street benefits – hence the massive and quick debt increase – continues to show an aversion to reality.

Flashback five years. George W. Bush’s second Treasury Secretary, John Snow, plead the same thing. (He wasn’t unique, of course, Congress has acted at Treasury Secretary request to raise the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960, 49 times under Republican presidents, 29 times under Democrats.) Snow threatened he was being forced to cut payments to civil servants, among other things, but didn’t mention the real reason for the debt hike requirement, like the Iraq war or the tax cuts that stifled revenue collection. He had used similar arguments at the end of 2004, at time when the debt ceiling was about half what it is today.

Raising debt ceilings is a bi-partisan institution. The show is always the same. The Treasury Secretary begs Congress. Congress debates than agrees. No one questions the real reasons we pursued the excess borrowing.

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Long shadows cast over U.S. Economy

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by Jim Willie
Originally posted Wed, 12 Jan 2011

Another important and superbly perceptive article from the Jackass himself.  –Aurick

NUMEROUS ARE THE THREATS TO THE US ECONOMY AND US FINANCIAL STRUCTURES. Many are hidden threats, subtle challenges to undermine increasingly fragile support systems, planks, and cables that hold the system together. The year 2011 will be when the system breaks in open visible fashion, when the explanations that justify it sound silly and baseless, when the entire bond world endures major crashes. All things financial are inter-related.

Recall that in summer 2007, the professor occupying the US Federal Reserve claimed the subprime mortgage crisis was isolated. The Jackass countered with a claim that the bond market was suffering a crisis in absolute terms, where all bond markets were on the verge of fracture, perhaps globally. In year 2008 the banking system in the Western world broke, fatally and irreparably in my view. In 2009, the solutions, the treatment, the official programs were all exaggerated for their effectiveness while banker welfare became a fixture. Neglect of the people on Main Street became policy. In 2010, the system revealed it is still broken. The global monetary system after all rests atop the sovereign bond market. This year, it must fight off a collapse. Many are the hidden points of vulnerability. Gold and Silver will continue to be the great beneficiaries.

BOND OUTFLOWS

Huge outflows have struck from US-based bond funds, while the outflows continue for stock funds since may 2010. Even the flagship Pimco bond fund saw net redemptions. The public is stepping aside as the US Fed does its destructive work. No end is in sight for the stock fund outflows. A public boycott seems firmly in place. The new event is the largest bond fund outflow in almost 30 months. The Investment Company Institute reported that in the week ended December 15th, another massive outflow took place from domestic stock funds. It was the 33rd week in a row, amounting to an exit of $2.4 billion. Worse, taxable and municipal bonds saw a nasty shocker of $8.62 billion in outflows, which included another record $4.9 billion in muni bond outflows.

Bond mutual funds had the biggest client withdrawals in more than two years, as a flight from fixed income investments has accelerated. The withdrawals were the largest since mid-October 2008, when investors pulled out $17.6 billion from bond funds. The US bond fund retreat showed acceleration signs, since the rise was from $1.66 billion the week before, according to the ICI report. So outflows are in progress for both US stocks and US bonds!! Year to date, investors have yanked $100 billion in funds from US-focused equity mutual funds, offset by a smaller $16 billion in comparable inflows into equity strategies via ETFunds. The $250 billion PIMCO Total Return Fund, managed by Bill Gross, had its first net withdrawals in two years in November as investors pulled $1.9 billion, according to Morningstar.

The public has grown jaded by stories of flash trading smears of the stock market, insider trading scandals, and incessant internal reports of stock support from the Working Group for Financial Markets. They sense stock prices are heavily manipulated and not a reflection of true value. They might on a wider basis believe that most US financial markets are either in ruins or corrupted. The vast record outflows accompany a rise in the S&P500 stock index, which is a clear signal of USGovt prop programs in a corrupt market.

Ridiculous illogical and ludicrous interpretations continue to be disseminated about the US Economy in recovery. The false story has become a billboard message of deception. We are told that investors are retreating from bond funds after signs of an economic recovery and a stock market rally, which have lifted interest rates broadly. The reality is something quite different. The selloff in USTreasurys happened exactly after the US Federal Reserve in November offered specific details on its pledge to purchase $600 billion in bond assets to revive the sluggish US Economy. The 10-year USTreasury yields lie in the 3.2% to 3.4% range, much higher than the 2.49% in the first week of November. The bond market contradiction to the USFed monetization plan is without precedent in US bond market history, a grandiose insult.

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Reject the Welfare/Warfare State

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by Ron Paul
Posted November 8, 2010

http://paul.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1794:reject-the-welfarewarfare-state&catid=31:texas-straight-talk

LAST WEEK’S MIDTERM ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN CHARACTERIZED as a victory for grassroots Americans who are fed up with Washington and the political status quo. In particular, the elections are being touted as a clear indicator that voters demand reductions in federal spending, deficits, and debt.

If the new Congress hopes to live up to the expectations of Tea Party voters, however, it faces some daunting choices. For all the talk about pork and waste, the truth is that Congress cannot fix the budget and get our national debt under control by trimming fat and eliminating earmarks for “Bridges to Nowhere.”

Real reductions in federal spending can be achieved only by getting to the meat of the federal budget, meaning expenditures in all areas. The annual budget soon will be $5 trillion unless Congress takes serious steps to reduce spending for entitlements, military, and debt service. Yet how many Tea Party candidates who campaigned on a platform of spending cuts talked about Social Security, Medicare, foreign wars, or bond debt?

With regard to entitlements, the 2010 Social Security and Medicare Trustees report tells it all. It paints a stark picture of two entitlement programs that cannot be sustained under even the rosiest scenarios of economic growth. No one, regardless of political stripe, can deny the fundamental problem of unfunded future liabilities in both programs.

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