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April 19, 2009

America's economy built on credit pyramid scheme

POLITICS - We've been saying it for years. America's economy is unsustainable and built too much on credit. See:
  • The American Recession
  • American Economy Collapsing
  • America's Economic Meltdown

    But we are no longer alone. A lot of economists are now saying the same thing we've been saying... The United States economy is built on credit, lacks manufacturing and is dooming itself to collapse unless they create more manufacturing companies and cuts back on the rampant spending on credit.

    Many economists are now predicting how mean things are getting and how this is a wake-up call to credit lenders, manufacturers who have moved overseas and people who buy too many products made in China. Its a perfect storm of too much credit, no jobs and products not even built in North America.

    There are little signs of an economic recovery right now, but that only creates a fragile optimism and real recovery won't be in place until the USA/Canada gets their manufacturing base back to work... starting with the construction and automotive industries.

    The massive credit problems the USA has, more so than Canada, will not be a quick fix however. The first stage is getting people back to work, the second stage will be getting those debts paid off.

    The third stage will be when the debts are paid off, buying things again, but paying cash more often and not being reliant on credit.

    Imagine for example you are 50 years old and have been laid off from work. You have 2 kids now in college or university and they need money to finish school... what do you do? Get a second mortgage? Get a bank loan? What you need is to get back to work so your kids can finish college and start earning money on their own.

    Some economists are hoping for a sharp V-shaped recovery, but this is rather wishful thinking because a lot of Americans are still spending credit like crazy. We are predicting a slower U-shaped recovery because it will take a lot longer for people to change their spending habits... otherwise we could have a rocky W-shaped recovery.

    Especially when you consider the fact America now has a skyrocketing national debt... and that debt has to be paid off. If Barack Obama is prudent he will need to cutback on military spending in an effort to pay off that debt.

    The banking industry has a role to play, starting by taking away the orgy of easy credit and forcing people to pay their debts off first.

    Another problem is the derivatives and futures markets. Futures is a silly prospect, you're basically betting that the stocks will go up or down, trying to make money LITERALLY by gambling that things will go up or down. If anything futures should be eliminated so stock portfolios aren't based so much on dumb luck.

    Its bad enough that our economy has been built up on a Ponzi/Pyramid scheme of credit, but to have stock brokers gambling our money away on futures... well, maybe we deserve to have a recession or depression so we learn our lesson that this is sheer irresponsibility.

    With all the recent scandals of corporate crime you'd think we would wizen up about giving money to people who will just gamble it away.

    "The first loan you make is to the person who is most creditworthy, the second to the one that is second-most creditworthy. As you move down the chain, as we saw in the U.S. subprime debacle, you start to lend to people who really have no capacity to pay," says Australian economist Satyajit Das. "And then it becomes a true Ponzi game because you're assuming that he will then be able to con someone to buy his house for ever-higher amounts to pay back your loan. And that grew across just about everything around the world."

    Its all about instant gratification. People don't want to earn that new car or big flat screen TV, they just want easy access to credit so they can buy now and worry later. We, Americans and Canadians, need to learn the value of saving up to buy something.

    That way when we lose our job and end up unemployed for months at a time, we don't have debts hanging over us.

    The problem however is there's a lot of pension plans and retirement savings plans out there that in the interest of greed invested a lot of money in the stock market and gave money to risky stock brokers. Sure, they have nice offices, desks and a view of the harbour, but that doesn't mean they're not running a Ponzi scheme and just haven't been caught yet.

    Some countries, like Canada and Britain, won't be so bad off because they haven't invested so much in the stock market... but they will still see the pain when a lot of the pensioners lose their savings.

    So... is the U.S. government going to step in and put a stop to this business of too many credit cards? No. Thats personal responsibility, although hopefully credit card companies realize that its not profitable.

    And what about futures markets? We should just scrap that idea as fundamentally stupid.
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