Welcome to the Great Depression 2.0: this century’s climactic reaction to the “irrational exuberance” of the last half century and the mindless credit system of the United States and indeed, the world.
Our trip today will take us where few financial experts would ever wish to go: downhill, fast.
While Washington’s leadership bickered amongst themselves over partisan platforms and free market vs. socialized doctrines, the house of cards we call our financial system caught fire and is nearly all ashes. Sounds a bit like the old expression “Rome burned while Nero fiddled”.
World markets are not taking the news that our “rescue” plan is almost done. The reason for this is that they realize the problem did not start on Wall Street, but on Main Street. While the bill is intended to help Main Street by assuring liquidity for banks, the investment and financial experts of the globe see that such help is a bit late.
Global commerce is grinding rapidly to a halt as banks decline credit normally extended to companies with excellent credentials and histories. The banks simply lack capital and in the recent weeks, deposits have been fleeing in record numbers to safer investments like T-Bills and Gilts.
Every decade or two, we experience a financial crisis, but only once a century do we see a massive economic crisis that extends beyond our own borders. The last one started in 1930 and didn’t end until 1945.
While many financial “experts” and Congressional leaders worry about the national debt, in fact, deficit spending helps nations recover, surprisingly, from financial crisis. This is why most economic depressions resolve only through war. It is not the battles or deaths of soldiers that cause repair to an economy, it’s the massive spending by governments that is needed to bolster the economic base.
Franklin Roosevelt knew this when he embarked on massive spending programs and national projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority and other huge programs that cost taxpayers billions. Even with that spending, it took our involvement in World War II for our economy to fully recover. Post war economics calmed down and the revenues to Treasury manifestly increased, wiping out a large portion of the debt.
The same will happen now, however, bailing out Wall Street and the banking industries are insufficient to resolve our depressed economy. We need additional spending by Washington to create badly needed jobs.
Part of this economic crisis, which we at Epicurus Institute have been decrying for more than two years now, has been the loss of jobs through business failures. Bad lending was not limited to sub-prime mortgages, but extended to business loans as well. When these loans, particularly the high-risk ones failed, they brought down the available credit for qualified borrowers and in doing so, crippled our banks ability to lend.
As businesses failed, or couldn’t borrow to get through tough times, massive numbers of jobs were lost, not necessarily in the huge layoffs one hears about in the media, but small town jobs, where the one or two factories employed a few hundred hard working people. With the closure of those factories, no new jobs were available. The trickle down economics worked to prevent those people from paying credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and any other debts. Foreclosures and seizures throughout the nation are rampant and bankruptcy filings going through the roof.
The time is now, in the next few days, for Congress to establish new laws that would create jobs. One project we’ve endorsed is building a national MAG-LEV train network. Another would be setting up substantial prizes for hydrogen based fuel programs for the automotive, rail and marine industries, as well as consumer power generation.
Socialization doesn’t have to be the law of the land, but in response to those free-market conservatives, it is sometimes a necessary pill a nation must take to protect itself. Our nation was conceived on socialistic sentiments, with government reserved to protect and defend the common man.
This depression, which this organization has been warning about since January 4th, 2008, will last a decade or more. Get accustomed to it, as this one will not go away quickly.
Politically speaking, the leadership of President Bush in this whole matter will go down in the history of the nation in such a manner as to make Herbert Hoover look like a fiscal genius. This has been, without a single doubt, the worst presidency this country has faced in nearly 100 years. Congress, in both parties is equally complicit in the unacceptable manner in which our national economics have been bungled. The time is coming soon when it becomes necessary to replace most of Congress with a new team, particularly some of the long-seated leaders in both parties who simply don’t get it.
The time to do much more than bailout Wall Street is today We urge expediency.