Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Political Spin 2012 Elections


It's interesting how both political parties blame each other for economic troubles.  For over 3 years it has been Bush's fault.  Now with oil and gasoline prices riding high, it is the Democrats and Republicans blaming each other.

The Democrats are protesting the so-called "cheering" by the Republicans over the rapid increase in prices of almost everything consumable, but particularly gasoline.  From The Huffington Post:

Who is really to blame for higher gas prices?
  • The big oil companies that are doing everything they can to keep oil scarce and the price high;
  • Speculators that drive up the price in the short run;
  • Foreign conflicts, dictators and cartels -- that have been important in driving up prices particularly in the last two months;
  •  The Republicans who prevent the development of the clean, domestic sources of energy that are necessary to allow America to free itself from the stranglehold of foreign oil -- all in order to benefit speculators and oil companies.
There is not much truth to point one: oil production on state and private lands have increased by 14% since Obama came into office... but have declined by 11% on Federal lands due to Obama's anti-fossil fuel administration.

There is partial truth to point two: speculators do buy and sell based on anticipated market conditions.  When they perceive an improvement in demand, they will buy more contracts and the prices will rise.  But they can't rise forever and speculators can get burned in panic selling that allows the price of oil to drop precipitously.

Point three: Iran certainly has been a source of concern in the world's oil markets.  But that's another reason to question why Obama has allowed oil production on Federal lands to decline by 11%.

Point four: Obama has shown great willingness to "invest" taxpayer money into unproven and noncompetitive "alternative energy" companies that simply drain money from the government before they go belly up.  To succeed as alternatives to oil without significantly damaging the economy, alternatives should produce energy at the same cost or less than fossil fuel sources.  Right now that can't be done... even at current oil prices.  Until then, "alternative energy" will be the plaything of the wealthy or fanatical... just as large, flat-screen TVs were when 42" models ran about $8,000-10,000.  It isn't the stuff of mass consumption by any stretch now... it's the stuff of mass depletion of wealth.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2012Energy - Obstructionism As PolicyTHURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2012Energy Shortages Are Not RealTHURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2012Home Grown Energy

2012 IS HERE


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)