Friday, October 29, 2010

Roubini : A presidency heading for a fiscal train wreck

Roubini : A presidency heading for a fiscal train wreck

By Nouriel Roubini

Published: October 28 2010 20:48
Last updated: October 28 2010 20:48

What has been the fiscal performance of President Barack Obama? He inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, as well as a budget deficit that – after much needed bail-outs and a series of reckless tax cuts – was already close to $1,000bn. His stimulus package, together with a backstop of the financial system, low rates and quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve, prevented another depression. Mr Obama also deserves credit that the US, alone among advanced economies, currently supports a “growth now”, rather than an “austerity now” path.

But this is but one half of the picture; we must also judge his first two years on his ability to anticipate what the economy will need tomorrow. Here the picture is much less positive. Given the likely path of fiscal policy after next Tuesday’s election – with the expiration of existing stimulus and transfer payments, and even with most of the 2001-03 tax cuts being kept – the US economy will soon experience serious fiscal drag just when it needs a further boost. Problematically, the administration’s failures leave it relying on the Fed, which is bent on further QE, likely to be announced next Wednesday. But studies show this will have little effect on US growth in 2011, so fiscal policy should be doing some of the lifting to prevent a double dip recession.

 In an ideal world Mr Obama would also have been able to move towards reforming and reducing entitlement spending, with commitments to measures that could be phased in over the next few years, therefore avoiding short-term fiscal pain. He would also have committed to increase, gradually over the next few years, less distortionary taxes such as a VAT and a carbon tax. This would have reduced the fiscal deficit, and created a climate in which no investor would worry about additional stimulus.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

George Soros warns China of global 'currency war'

George Soros warns China of global 'currency war'

George Soros has warned that a global “currency war” pitting China versus the rest of the world could lead to the collapse of the world economy.

Mr Soros, the hedge fund manager best known as the man who broke the Bank of England” after he made a billion betting against the value of Sterling on Black Wednesday in 1992, said the China had created a “lopsided currency” system.

He criticised China for deliberately keeping the yuan - its currency - low in order to keep exports cheap, which is hurting US competitors.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Nancy Pelosi says that food stamps and unemployment insurance will grow the US economy

Nancy Pelosi says food stamps and unemployment insurance will grow US economy

Nancy Pelosi says that food stamps and unemployment insurance will grow the US economy and lift it from the recession that Barack Obama has helped to worsen. Pelosi, that genius and all-around brilliant analyst of the US economy and everything financial, spoke Wednesday in an overly defensive response to Newt Gingrich’s right-on-the-mark salvo against Pelosi and her Democrat Party. In recent comments, Gingrich correctly advised Republicans to make a contrast between Democrats who promote food stamps as their economic policy, and Republicans who actually promote the useful concept called paychecks to grow the prosperity of Americans. Confusingly, Pelosi reacted to Gingrich’s assertion by actually admitting that, yes, Democrats are indeed the party of food stamps (okay, and unemployment for everyone, too)!

Pat Buchanan: Food Stamp Nation

Pat Buchanan: Food Stamp Nation

Posted: October 07, 2010
8:50 pm Eastern © 2010

"The lessons of history ... show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

These searing words about Depression-era welfare are from Franklin Roosevelt's 1935 State of the Union Address. FDR feared this self-reliant people might come to depend permanently upon government for the necessities of their daily lives. Like narcotics, such a dependency would destroy the fiber and spirit of the nation.

What brings his words to mind is news that 41.8 million Americans are on food stamps, and the White House estimates 43 million will soon be getting food stamps every month.

A seventh of the nation cannot even feed itself.

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Goldman Sachs Says U.S. Economy May Be `Fairly Bad'

Goldman Sachs Says U.S. Economy May Be `Fairly Bad'

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the U.S. economy is likely to be “fairly bad” or “very bad” over the next six to nine months.

“We see two main scenarios,” analysts led by Jan Hatzius, the New York-based chief U.S. economist at the company, wrote in an e-mail to clients. “A fairly bad one in which the economy grows at a 1 1/2 percent to 2 percent rate through the middle of next year and the unemployment rate rises moderately to 10 percent, and a very bad one in which the economy returns to an outright recession.”

Food Stamp Recipients at Record 41.8 Million Americans in July, U.S. Says

Food Stamp Recipients at Record 41.8 Million Americans in July, U.S. Says

The number of Americans receiving food stamps rose to a record 41.8 million in July as the jobless rate hovered near a 27-year high, the government said.

Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program subsidies for food purchases jumped 18 percent from a year earlier and increased 1.4 percent from June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a statement on its website. Participation has set records for 20 straight months.

Unemployment in September may have reached 9.7 percent, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts in advance of the release of last month’s rate on Oct. 8. Unemployment was 9.6 percent in July, near levels last seen in 1983.

New York state residents first full-year decline in income in more than 70 years

New York state residents first full-year decline in income in more than 70 years

The recession put a 3.1 percent dent in the personal incomes of New York state residents, who endured their first full-year decline in more than 70 years, according to a report released Tuesday.

Paychecks or net earnings tumbled 5.4 percent, while dividends, interest and rent slid 8.4 percent, to a grand total of nearly $908 billion, the state comptroller's report said.

Not only did New Yorkers' personal incomes fall "almost twice" as much as they did in the nation as a whole, but they have yet to recover to pre-recession levels, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

The drop occurred even though the job-destroying recession was milder in New York than in the rest of the country.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Super-rich investors buy gold by ton

GENEVA | Mon Oct 4, 2010 1:13pm EDT
GENEVA (Reuters) - The world's wealthiest people have responded to economic worries by buying gold by the bar -- and sometimes by the ton -- and by moving assets out of the financial system, bankers catering to the very rich said on Monday.
Fears of a double-dip downturn have boosted the appetite for physical bullion as well as for mining company shares and exchange-traded funds, UBS executive Josef Stadler told the Reuters Global Private Banking Summit.

"They don't only buy ETFs or futures; they buy physical gold," said Stadler, who runs the Swiss bank's services for clients with assets of at least $50 million to invest.

UBS is recommending top-tier clients hold 7-10 percent of their assets in precious metals like gold, which is on course for its tenth consecutive yearly gain and traded at around $1,314.50 an ounce on Monday, near the record level reached last week.

full story: