We now have FEWER people working in AMERICA than we've at any time had SINCE 1981 during the early days of the Reagan administration. We also have more people working for the government than at any time in history outside of war.
Bernanke Sobers Up, Comes Clean, Sort of
Ben Bernanke had a National Press Club audience laughing while doling out some super-serious information yesterday. For example, he reminded them that the country’s projected deficit and debt level are actually not only unsustainable but impossible . . . because the nation’s creditors at some point in the future would wise up and refuse to continue financing our country’s spending.
ALERT: Before going further with the blog itself . . . the nation’s latest jobless numbers came out earlier today: 9.0% unemployment sounds like an improvement over the recent 9.4% . . . unfortunately, the fact is that virtually all of the “drop” in unemployment can be traced to unemployed persons who have stopped reporting in to the nation’s Workforce Centers and therefore “fell off” the statistical data base. True unemployment now stands at just a tad below 20% if all the unemployed; and forcible part-time workers are included . . . not to mention all the grossly under-employed who lost better jobs and are working at stop-gap situations. Only 36,000 jobs were created last month, almost 110,000 short of the projected 145,000. 1.4 million people gave up looking for jobs through official channels last month: 1.4 million! We now have FEWER JOBS in AMERICA than we've seen at any time SINCE 1981 during the early days of the Reagan administration. The situation is getting so hopeless that more than half of the unemployed are no longer using the official Workforce procedures . . . these fictitious unemployment numbers just prove that when it comes to statistics, garbage in = garbage out. Now let’s get back to Ben Bernanke . . . .
“By definition, the unsustainable trajectories of deficits and debt (outlined by the Congressional Budget Office, CBO) cannot actually happen because creditors would never be willing to lend to a government whose debt . . . is rising without limit.” Currently the National Debt is stated at about 60% of the economy or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) officially; but in reality the figure is much closer to 95% than 60%. More on this soon . . . Bernanke said that the 90% threshold is projected by 2020 and debt would be 150% of GDP by 2030. But Bernanke’s citing of $9.5 trillion in national debt was sinfully inaccurate because it omitted the $4.6 trillion owed by the government to trust funds for things such as Social Security and Medicare, which have paid out cash to the Treasury in exchange for promissory notes. The full national debt – when both forms of debt are included is roughly $14.6 trillion.
Mr. Bernanke also failed to acknowledge the 180-ton blue whale splashing about in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the fact that not including all our welfare programs and barring deliberately infecting all our nation’s elders simultaneous with ebola . . . the federal government is already obligated for roughly $113 TRillion in services via Social Security, Medicare and the federal side of Medicaid. He also was less than forthcoming about the fact that Obamacare is now shifting a huge burden in Medicaid from the Feds onto the unwilling states which will presumably bankrupt every single state by 2026 (2023 in some less optimistic projections). To emphasize the point he was semi-obscuring, Bernanke quoted economist Herbert Stein, “If something can’t go on forever, it will stop” to exceedingly nervous Press Club laughter.
The Fed chairman strongly admonished Congress to act soon to cut spending or increase revenues (taxes), or some mix of the two, because otherwise the U.S. economy will suffer a severe correction. “One way or the other, fiscal adjustments sufficient to stabilize the federal budget must occur at some point,” he said. Bernanke avoided predicting when the U.S. might experience a debt crisis similar to what Greece and other European countries have experienced. Bernanke suggested lawmakers should forget politics and not use the debt and debt ceiling as “bargaining chips” or resort to playing political “chicken.” He also seemingly assured Republicans that their understanding was correct, “Under current law, if the debt limit is not extended, for a time, the Treasury has various resources that it can use to make payments on our national debt,” he said, “but beyond a certain point, (our federal government) would not have those resources and the United States could conceivably — I think this is very remote, but it’s not something you want to play around with — the United States would be forced into a position of defaulting on its debt,” he said. “And the implications of that for our financial system, for our fiscal policy, for our economy would be catastrophic.”
The twin drivers of this unsustainable national path toward debt (and he did not mention, but also toward UNfunded liabilities), according to Bernanke is the double barrel impact of rising health care costs and exploding baby boomer retirements on entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. “Our ability to control health care costs, while still providing high-quality care to those who need it, will be critical for bringing the federal budget onto a more sustainable path.” He tempered pessimism with a slightly optimistic look at the overall economy citing “increased evidence that a self-sustaining recovery in consumer and business spending may be taking hold,” but immediately slipped back into pessimism saying the economy “does look to be growing more quickly, but is still in a deep hole, is still very far from where we’d like it to be.”
Coupled with Bernanke’s speech the Senate Budget Committee heard from numerous “experts” about the most serious threats facing the hoped for economic recovery: the housing crisis; state, local and federal budget shortfalls; unrest in Egypt and its possible effects on shipping via the Suez Canal and on the price of oil; and the continuing European debt crisis. Home prices are expected to fall another 5% this year and 14-17 million Americans are currently “underwater” on their homes (owing more than their homes are worth now, not to mention after a further 5% drop in prices). Overall this amounts to an expected total average home price drop of 35% between 2007 and the end of this year possibly igniting another round of the vicious cycle of default, foreclosure and greater downward pressure on home prices.
The pressure is not all at the federal level either. Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governor’s Association said that the Obamacare mandated explosion in Medicaid enrollment (coupled with other demands on the states shifted from the federal government) was the “700 pound gorilla” in the room as it increased costs to the states by 190 million by 2019. If the recession (which has been officially “ended” for over nineteen months now . . . you and I know better, any time home prices are down over 1/3 of their value in four years: that’s a recession!) continues, Rajjpuut concludes that the Obamacare-created meltdown of the states will happen sooner (2023) rather than later (2026). As far as bailouts, several of the witnesses at the senate hearing implied that there was no appetite for state bailouts. Going back to Bernanke, he failed to mention that the Federal Reserve Banks under his command had been busy printing paper money and creating electronic money for the better part of twenty-seven months and there was, believe it or not, some obscure chance that the nation’s major creditors (such as China, Russia, India, Brazil, Japan and others) might not only notice but also object to his willful policy of inflation. Since technically the math says that the current dollar is worth 3.4 pennies worth of the late 2008 dollar . . . this could also be a problem, eh?
In short, Mr. Bernanke seems to be sobering up, but he’s still not admitting his drunken money-creation, so overall the prognosis for the patient is very, very, bad.
Ya’all live long, strong and ornery,
PS remember this: We now have FEWER people working in AMERICA than we've known at any time SINCE 1981 during the early days of the Reagan administration. We also have more people working for the government than at any time in history outside of war. At a projected cost of 2 - 3.5 real jobs lost in the real economy for every government job created, is it any wonder?
Here's a chart of the eleven recessions the country's suffered through since World War II. Notice the "V" shape typical of recession recovery is not present now thanks to government interference . . . .