Friday, March 26, 2010

SAR #10085

We fear inflation because we are unable to imagine deflation.

Golden Oldie:  The IMF is concerned that most of the G7 countries will have debt/GDP ratios over 100% by 2014.  The real concern is that rising debt along with rising costs for pensions and healthcare will make it impossible for the governments to reduce their budget deficits (and thus the stimulus effect of government spending) in a weakened economy. Raising taxes to reduce the debt would draw even more resources out of weakened economies.  “Reform” of pension and health entitlements – and in the US, cutting back on defense spending – are the one true path, according to the IMF.  Same old same old.

You Can Be Too Thin:  Because a higher proportion of ice in the Arctic is “first year” ice – ice that is thinner and more susceptible to warming – 2009's volume of Arctic Ice was the lowest in over 8,000 years.

Plot Summary:  Americans are clueless about retirement.  Workers expect to be able to retire... somehow, and have no concept of how unfunded their pension systems are and how unrealistic their expectations are.

Scary Words: The right is decrying the “15 New Taxes The Democrats Just Foisted On The American People.”  Foisted?  Assumes facts not in evidence.  Passing a tax bill by public vote is not 'foisted'.  Some people (not Republicans) think that raising money via taxes to pay for social goods like healthcare, defense etc. is a good idea.  It seems like a good idea to tax those who try to disguise income as heath care premiums, or those who use Health Savings Accounts to fund vacations.  Taxing substandard for-profit hospitals is a good way to get their attention.  Even taxing the rich a tiny bit more than the poor is more popular at my house than bailing out Wall Street.

Asked & Answered:  Does GDP understate the depth of the recession? Are there bears in the woods?

Bigger Fools:  The only way to justify a non-dividend paying stock at a $225 a share – which equates to a market capitalization of over $200 billion - is a deeply held religious conviction that next week and next month and next year someone else will think that while it does not pay dividends it is somehow worth a lot more than $225 a share, because they're pretty sure there's a bigger fool around the corner.

Quoted: “The choice will be clear: families or banks.”  Elizabeth Warren, on financial reform.

Porn O'Graph:  Nothing for something.


Anonymous said...

"We fear inflation because we are unable to imagine deflation."

And because I can imagine it, I don't fear it and, in fact, much desire it.

BadTux said...

So says an Anonymous who has not read Irving Fisher's paper. Anonymous, Google the term "Irving Fisher Debt Deflation" why doncha? It explains perfectly why the deflationary event of a stock market crash set off the Great Depression -- 100% correspondence between what it says, and what actually happened, no theorizing required.

Regarding retirement, what is a pension? I came of age after pensions went the way of dodo birds. I have never worked for a company that offered a pension plan in my whole entire working life. And like most Americans, I have negligible retirement savings. What that means is that Social Security better be around, or everybody of my generation is going to be dying in the streets. If our children and grandchildren want to throw granny and granpa under the wheels by refusing to fund Social Security, there isn't going to be anything else for my generation to fall back on, because every other retirement safety net that ever existed has been systematically destroyed over the past thirty years by greedy corporations and Wall Street goons eager to funnel that money into the hands of individuals who could be fleeced, rather than leave it in the hands of expert investors who could spot fraud and corporate malfeasance. So it goes...

fajensen said...

Social Security may not be around. The Russian government just stopped paying pensions, millions of people without family to support them just died.

The life-expectancy of the Russians dropped by ten years as a consequence. The US is on the exact same path at Russia, IMO!

BadTux said...

The biggest similarity between the U.S. and post-Soviet Yeltsen-era Russia (the Russia which quit paying pensions) is that the U.S. government has become increasingly dysfunctional over the past thirty years of Reaganomics, where Republican ideas of "torch the government" have held sway.

The biggest difference is that the U.S., despite that, still does have a functioning political system that is to a great extent democratic. Russia has never had real democracy -- their current government is an oligarchic strongman rule with some democratic sprinkles on top for PR purposes. A functional democracy has a hard time with condemning millions of its own people to death. That has never been a problem in Russia, all the way back to the time of the Tsars condemning millions to death was a "eh, no big deal" thing to the strongmen who've ruled the country.

Republicans have been trying to destroy Social Security ever since Alf Landon ran on a platform of eliminating Social Security in 1936... and was roundly trounced. It's still around, in case you haven't noticed. I expect Social Security to still be around twenty years from now when I retire too, although I suspect it will not be paying the full promised benefits.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

BadTux/fajensen, et al. I think BadTux is partly correct, that Social Security will still be here 20 years hence. I differ in that I suspect that long before then the people will get rid of their cowering fear of the very, very rich and the very rich and tax their way to Social Security solvency. It doesn't take much - just treat all income as income (interest, dividends,cap gains, theft from the government)and tax it all both as income tax and as social security taxes - and maybe push the rate of ss taxes up progressively just as the income taxes should be. Once we get our voices back... You want means testing? Fine, max payout based on 3Xaverage income or some such, or even negatively progressive with asset increase.


fajensen said...

Hehe - their current government is an oligarchic strongman rule with some democratic sprinkles on top for PR purposes

Now replace "strongman" with "bankers cartel" ... you see?

The Republican/Democrat issue is just noise and circus: they both serve the same oligarch masters!

BadTux said...

That's what "they" want you to think, Fajenson. It's the conspiracy theory conspiracy! And now that we're into recursive conspiracies, I must go off and adjust my tin foil hat. Bet you didn't know a penguin could wear a tin foil hat, didjya?

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin