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FORTUNE — Of all the highlights of Allan Meltzer’s half-century as a distinguished monetarist — advising Presidents Kennedy and Reagan, producing celebrated books on John Maynard Keynes and the history of the Federal Reserve — none proved more memorable than a crisis session at 10 Downing Street in mid-1980.
A group of 346 noted economists had just written a scathing open letter to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, predicting that her tough fiscal policies would “deepen the depression, erode the industrial base, and threaten social stability.” Thatcher wanted to make absolutely certain her unpopular attack on huge deficits and rampant spending, in the face of high unemployment and a weak economy, was the right one.
“There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers”
by Robert P. Murphy
hat tip: Mises Daily
Monday, March 22, 2010
At his popular New York Times blog, Paul Krugman is at it again, offering a very misleading analysis of deficit spending. Without technically lying, Krugman perpetuates the myth that Herbert Hoover insisted on budget austerity in the midst of the Great Depression. Then Krugman interprets a chart with adjectives that show his eyes can only see what his Keynesian theory will allow.
Bad Hoover History
More than a year ago I coined a phrase that seems to have made its way into the econolexicon; writing about how cutbacks at the state and local level would tend to undermine fiscal stimulus at the federal level, I said that we had fifty Herbert Hoovers.
But I was wrong. Via Mark Thoma, we have at least fifty-one — because we have to add David Broder to the list.
Before I get there, let’s note that fears about fiscal drag at the state and local level have, in fact, proved justified. Aizenman and Pasricha have a fairly definitive analysis; you can get the quick and dirty version just by looking at government purchases of goods and services…
Krugman then produces a chart (which we’ll get to in a moment) showing that federal spending has risen while state and local government spending has fallen. He concludes,
And David Broder thinks this is a good thing, that Washington should be more like the states.
by Prof. James Petras
Hat tip: Global Research, March 8, 2010
The Obama Administration has heightened tensions with China through a series of measures which can only be characterized as major provocations designed to undermine relations between the two countries. These provocations include political support for separatist movements, such as the US-funded theocratic-monk led Tibetan secessionists and the Washington-based Uyghur secessionists, as well as through the $6.4 billion-dollar advanced arms sales to Taiwan, a virtual protectorate of the US Navy. President Obama has publicly met with and openly backed these separatist and secessionists groups, flaunting Washington’s refusal to recognize China’s existing borders. This is part of the US strategy of encouraging the physical break-up of independent nations, which are viewed as ‘obstacles’ to its program of global military empire building.
In addition to continuing and escalating the hostile policies of his predecessor, the Obama Administration has exploited several other issues in order to rally American public opinion and mobilize overseas allies behind its confrontational posture. First, the Obama Administration claims that China’s currency (the Renminbi) is artificially undervalued to give Chinese exports an unfair price advantage, thus undercutting US manufacturing exports and costing “millions of American jobs”. And secondly, the Administration claims that, after the US had opened its domestic manufacturing market to Chinese firms, the Chinese would not ‘reciprocate’ and open their financial sectors to Wall Street investment banks.
In retaliation for growing Chinese exports, Washington has raised protective tariffs on steel pipes and automobile tires, and issued Congressional threats of further protectionist measures.
Yes, It Really is a Capitalist Plot
by Diana Johnstone
Hat tip: Global Research, March 4, 2010
For Europe’s poorest countries, European Union membership has long held out the promise of tranquil prosperity. The current Greek financial crisis ought to dispel some of their illusions.
There are two strikingly significant levels to the current crisis. While primarily economic, the European Economic Community also claims to be a community, based on solidarity — the sisterhood of nations and brotherhood of peoples. However, the economic deficit is nothing compared to the human deficit it exposes.
To put it simply, the Greek crisis shows what happens when a weak member of this Union is in trouble. It is the same as what happens on the world scale, where there is no such morally pretentious union perpetually congratulating itself on its devotion to human rights. The economically strong protect their own interests at the expense of the economically weak.
The crisis broke last autumn after George Papandreou’s PASOK party won elections, took office and discovered that the cupboard was bare. The Greek government had cheated to get into the EU’s euro zone in 2001 by cooking the books to cover deficits that would have disqualified it from membership in the common currency. The European Treaties capped the acceptable budget deficit at 3 per cent and public debt at 60 per cent of GDP respectively. In fact, this limit is being widely transgressed, quite openly by France. But major scandal arrived with revelations that Greece’s budget deficit reached 12.7 per cent in 2009, with a gross debt forecast for 2010 amounting to 125 per cent of GDP.
Hat tip: The New American
by Thomas R. Eddlem
February 26, 2010
An alternative budget proposal submitted by Congressman Paul Ryan (Wis.), the House Budget Committee’s Republican ranking member, would increase the federal budget deficit even more than President Obama’s bloated budget — nearly $1 trillion more — according to a February 24 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Ryan’s “alternative policy scenario” would make no serious spending cuts, but it would institute three new tax cuts. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf explained to Ryan that “the three changes to the tax policy assumptions are estimated to increase deficits relative to the baseline projections by $9 billion in 2010 and $3.4 trillion over the 2011-2020 period, mostly from lower revenues but also from increased outlays for refundable tax credits.”
“CBO estimates that, under the alternative scenario you specified, the deficit would amount to $1.2 trillion in 2020, about $500 billion more than the shortfall projected under baseline assumptions.”
Overall, the Republican budget alternative would increase the federal budget deficit by $9.4 trillion over the next 10 years, while President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget would increase the deficit by $8.5 trillion over the same period of time.
Obama’s Gamble – The Ultimate And Final Bet By Obama’s Financial Handlers
By Matthias Chang
from Global Research, December 13, 2008
FutureFastForward.com – 2008-12-12
A few weeks ago, I warned in my website that the Dow would dive below 7,000 at the earliest by end of December 2008 and at the latest by the end of the first quarter 2009.
Any responsible central banker would want to control a downturn, preferably by a gradual slide of the market as opposed to a sharp hard landing.
But events and data have revealed that these financial handlers are not responsible and are hard core gamblers in their very soul.
Their mindset is that of the ultimate gambler and nothing in this world will change their behavior not even the thought that millions will starve and die and that national economies will be shattered. They are totally unconcerned as the devastating consequences of their actions. And anyone still having illusions about their altruistic aims will be disappointed.
The stock market and the derivative market is their ultimate casino. Fix this in your mind in the months to come. Then you will understand and agree with me and my conclusions in the next few paragraphs.