Krauthammer in Another Obama Smackdown!

June 18, 2010 at 10:06 (Cool, Economy, Environmental)

One smart cookie here!

Barack Obama doesn’t do the mundane. He was sent to us to do larger things. You could see that plainly in his Oval Office address on the Gulf oil spill.

He could barely get himself through the pedestrian first half: a bit of BP-bashing, a bit of faux-Clintonian “I feel your pain,” a bit of recovery and economic mitigation accounting.

It wasn’t until the end of the speech — the let-no-crisis-go-to-waste part that tried to leverage the Gulf Coast devastation to advance his cap-and-trade climate-change agenda — that Obama warmed to his task.

Pedestrian is beneath Obama. Mr. Fix-It he is not. He is world-historical, the visionary, come to make the oceans recede and the planet heal.

How? By creating a glorious, new, clean green economy.

And how exactly to do that? From Washington, by presidential command and with tens of billions of dollars thrown around.

With the liberal (and professorial) conceit that scientific breakthroughs can be legislated into existence, Obama proposes to give us a new industrial economy.

But is this not what we’ve been trying to do for decades with ethanol, which remains a monumental boondoggle, economically unviable and environmentally damaging to boot?

As with yesterday’s panacea, synfuels, into which Jimmy Carter poured billions.

Notice that Obama no longer talks about Spain, which until recently he repeatedly cited for its visionary subsidies of a blossoming new clean energy industry.

That’s because Spain, now on the verge of bankruptcy, is pledged to reverse its disastrously bloated public spending, including radical cuts in subsidies to its uneconomical photovoltaic industry.

There’s a reason petroleum is such a durable fuel. It’s not, as Obama fatuously suggested, because of oil company lobbying but because it is very portable, energy dense and easy to use.

But this doesn’t stop Obama from thinking that he can mandate into being a superior substitute. His argument: Well, if we can put a man on the moon, why not this?

Aside from the irony that this most tiresome of cliches comes from a president who is canceling our program to return to the moon, it is utterly meaningless.

The wars on cancer and on poverty have been similarly sold. They remain unwon. Why? Because we knew how to land on the moon. We had the physics to do it.

Cancer cells, on the other hand, are far more complex than the Newtonian equations that govern a moon landing. Equally daunting are the laws of social interaction — even assuming there are any — that sustain a culture of poverty.

Similarly, we don’t know how to make renewables that match the efficiency of fossil fuels. In the interim, it is Obama and his Democratic allies who, as they dream of such scientific leaps, are unwilling to use existing technologies to reduce our dependence on foreign (i.e., imported) and risky (i.e., deep-water) sources of oil — twin dependencies that Obama decried in Tuesday’s speech.

“Part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean,” said Obama, is “because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.”

Running out of places on land? What about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or the less-known National Petroleum Reserve — 23 million acres of Alaska’s North Slope, near the existing pipeline and designated nearly a century ago for petroleum development — that have been shut down by the federal government?

Running out of shallow water sources? How about the Pacific Ocean, a not inconsiderable body of water, and its vast U.S. coastline? That’s been off-limits to new drilling for three decades.

We haven’t run out of safer and more easily accessible sources of oil. We’ve been run off them by environmentalists. They prefer to dream green instead.

Obama is dreamer in chief: He wants to take us to this green future “even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet precisely know how we’re going to get there.”

Here’s the offer: Tax carbon, spend trillions and put government in control of the energy economy — and he will take you he knows not where, by way of a road he knows not which.

That’s why Tuesday’s speech was received with such consternation. It was so untethered from reality.

The Gulf is gushing, and the president is talking mystery roads to unknown destinations.

That passes for vision, and vision is Obama’s thing. It sure beats cleaning up beaches.

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Because We Are Made of Money: 1.2 Billion for Walking Paths?

June 17, 2010 at 08:26 (Economy, News)

The fed has no business doing that, unless they can do it for free somehow. And as we all learned in Econ 101, there is no such thing as free!

Spending on biking and walking projects rose from less than $600 million (£407 million) in 2008, according to the Federal Highway Administraion. Twenty years ago, the federal government was spending only $6 million a year on such projects.

The spending on biking and walking projects was scheduled to rise last year anyway, but the administration boosted it with $400 million in funds set aside under the economic recovery program.

The new focus on biking and walking represents a turnaround from the administration of President George W Bush. Mary Peters, transportation secretary under Bush, dismissed biking paths and trails as projects that “really are not transportation,” saying they had no place in federal transportation policy.

In March, Mr Obama’s transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, announced a policy “sea change” that gives biking and walking projects the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money.

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Moodys: Greece Is Junk EU: Nuh-uh! Is Not!

June 15, 2010 at 08:22 (Economy, Global Warming, News)

Pathetic.

The European Union’s top economic commissioner Olli Rehn has criticised US-based rating agency Moody’s on Tuesday for slashing its sovereign debt rating for Greece to ‘junk’ status.

Rehn told a debate in the European parliament that the decision to cut Greece’s rating was both surprising and unfortunate at a time when EU and IMF auditors were taking a hard look at the country’s attempts to slash its debt.

The agency said that considerable uncertainty about Greek plans, even with the help of an EU-IMF bailout package, to reduce its huge debt and balance its finances justified the ratings cut by four notches from A3 to Ba1.

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Glenn Beck – The (Not-So) Secret World Crisis

June 14, 2010 at 13:04 (Economy, Video)

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Fannie-Freddie Fix to Cost 1 Trillion

June 14, 2010 at 09:06 (Economy, General Stupidity, News)

This fiasco, which is the direct result of government intervention and regulation, is going to cost us trillions. And to top it all off, reform of this government owned disaster is not even a bullet point on any serious agenda I’ve heard of.

June 14 (Bloomberg) — The cost of fixing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that last year bought or guaranteed three-quarters of all U.S. home loans, will be at least $160 billion and could grow to as much as $1 trillion after the biggest bailout in American history.

Fannie and Freddie, now 80 percent owned by U.S. taxpayers, already have drawn $145 billion from an unlimited line of government credit granted to ensure that home buyers can get loans while the private housing-finance industry is moribund. That surpasses the amount spent on rescues of American International Group Inc., General Motors Co. or Citigroup Inc., which have begun repaying their debts.

“It is the mother of all bailouts,” said Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer at Fannie Mae, who is now a consultant to the mortgage-finance industry.

Fannie, based in Washington, and Freddie in McLean, Virginia, own or guarantee 53 percent of the nation’s $10.7 trillion in residential mortgages, according to a June 10 Federal Reserve report. Millions of bad loans issued during the housing bubble remain on their books, and delinquencies continue to rise. How deep in the hole Fannie and Freddie go depends on unemployment, interest rates and other drivers of home prices, according to the companies and economists who study them.

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Liberals and Dems Fail Econ 101

June 11, 2010 at 09:56 (Economy, News, Politics, Society)

Not surprising really.

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure.

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.

Therefore, we counted as incorrect responses of “somewhat disagree” and “strongly disagree.” This treatment gives leeway for those who think the question is ambiguous or half right and half wrong. They would likely answer “not sure,” which we do not count as incorrect.

In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.

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‘Unexpected’ Decline in Retail Sales – Never Saw it Coming

June 11, 2010 at 08:05 (Economy, General Stupidity, News)

Idiots. Why does every article about declines or financial issues start with ‘unexpected’. If they didn’t know, why the heck should we listen to them to begin with?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sales at retailers unexpectedly fell in May for the first time since September following a record slump in purchases of building materials, adding to fears the economic recovery was losing some steam.

The Commerce Department said total retail sales dropped 1.2 percent, the largest decline since September, after rising by an upwardly revised 0.6 percent in April. Sales in April were previously reported to have increased 0.4 percent.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales rising 0.2 percent last month.

Retail sales, which had risen for seven straight months, were up 6.9 percent compared to May last year.

U.S. stock index futures fell on the report, while Treasury debt prices rose. The U.S. dollar fell broadly.

“There’s no getting around the fact you saw some consumer retrenchment in the month of May. The number is going to call into question the strength of consumer spending for the second quarter,” said Kevin Flanagan, chief fixed income strategist at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Purchase, New York.

The decline in sales follows a report last week showing private businesses unexpectedly held back on hiring in May after expanding payrolls for two months, a trend which could undermine recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s.

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Fuel Efficient Techs Increase Costs 9K Per Vehicle

June 9, 2010 at 10:07 (Economy, Environmental, General Stupidity, News)

And it will take 16 years to start actually getting any return. Not to mention this will be GREAT for any car companies out there that can’t make money as it is. Like GM for example. But those are just details.

Using a 2007 base vehicle, the committee estimated the potential fuel savings and costs to consumers of available technology combinations for three types of engines: spark-ignition gasoline, compression-ignition (CI) diesel, and hybrid. According to its estimates, adopting the full combination of improved technologies in medium and large cars and pickup trucks with spark-ignition engines could reduce fuel consumption by 29 percent at an additional cost of $2,200 to the consumer. Replacing spark-ignition engines with diesel engines and components would yield fuel savings of about 37 percent at an added cost of approximately $5,900 per vehicle, and replacing spark-ignition engines with hybrid engines and components would reduce fuel consumption by 43 percent at an increase of $6,000 per vehicle.

…Hybrid vehicle technologies are one of the most active areas of research and development. The degree of hybridization can vary from minor vehicle stop-start systems to complete vehicle redesign. A fully hybrid vehicle could reduce fuel consumption by about 50 percent at an estimated price increase of up to $9,000 a vehicle depending on vehicle size. …

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Economics 101

June 7, 2010 at 12:13 (Economy, Education, Video)

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Economics Quiz

June 7, 2010 at 10:43 (Economy, Video)

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Debt To Overtake GDP

June 7, 2010 at 09:09 (Economy, News)

Not surprising.

June 4 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama is poised to increase the U.S. debt to a level that exceeds the value of the nation’s annual economic output, a step toward what Bill Gross called a “debt super cycle.”

The CHART OF THE DAY tracks U.S. gross domestic product and the government’s total debt, which rose past $13 trillion for the first time this month. The amount owed will surpass GDP in 2012, based on forecasts by the International Monetary Fund. The lower panel shows U.S. annual GDP growth as tracked by the IMF, which projects the world’s largest economy to expand at a slower pace than the 3.2 percent average during the past five decades.

“Over the long term, interest rates on government debt will likely have to rise to attract investors,” said Hiroki Shimazu, a market economist in Tokyo at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc., a unit of Japan’s third-largest publicly traded bank. “That will be a big burden on the government and the people.”

Gross, who runs the world’s largest mutual fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, said in his June outlook report that “the debt super cycle trend” suggests U.S. economic growth won’t be enough to support the borrowings “if real interest rates were ever to go up instead of down.”

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95% of Job Creation Due to Temp Census Workers

June 4, 2010 at 09:18 (Economy, General Stupidity, News)

And this so-called growth may be a scam all by itself.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Job creation by private companies grew at the slowest pace since the start of the year, as a wave of census hiring lifted payrolls by 431,000 in May. The unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent as people gave up searching for work.

The Labor Department’s new employment snapshot released Friday suggested that outside of the burst of hiring of temporary census workers by the federal government many private employers are wary of bulking up their work forces.

That indicates the economic recovery may not bring relief fast enough for millions of Americans who are unemployed.

Virtually all the job creation in May came from the hiring of 411,000 census workers. Such hiring peaked in May and will begin tailing off in June.

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Harvard Study Confirms Stimulus HARMFUL!

May 27, 2010 at 09:45 (Economy, News)

No kidding. It takes a study to confirm what common sense, history, and experience already know?

Recent research at Harvard Business School began with the premise that as a state’s congressional delegation grew in stature and power in Washington, D.C., local businesses would benefit from the increased federal spending sure to come their way.

It turned out quite the opposite. In fact, professors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy discovered to their surprise that companies experienced lower sales and retrenched by cutting payroll, R&D, and other expenses. Indeed, in the years that followed a congressman’s ascendancy to the chairmanship of a powerful committee, the average firm in his state cut back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent, according to their working paper, “Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?”

“It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman’s state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending,” Coval reports.

Over a 40-year period, the study looked at increases in local earmarks and other federal spending that flowed to states after the senator or representative rose to the chairmanship of a powerful congressional committee.

We asked Coval about the relationship between the government and the private sector, and how policymakers should critically evaluate federal stimulus plans to help local companies.

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Obama: Oooh, Let’s Make It Worse!

May 27, 2010 at 08:18 (Economy, General Stupidity, News)

Just like the great depression, this is being prolonged and aggravated by government. These socialist fools want to have it drag out for a decade rather than do a repeat of the 1920’s depression, which was altogether worse than the so-called great depression, but only lasted a couple of years because government – wait for it – cut taxes, got out of the way, and let things correct naturally. No bailouts, no regulations, no stimulus, just let it work the way it was designed to work.

US money supply plunges at 1930s pace as Obama eyes fresh stimulus

The M3 money supply in the United States is contracting at an accelerating rate that now matches the average decline seen from 1929 to 1933, despite near zero interest rates and the biggest fiscal blitz in history.

The M3 figures – which include broad range of bank accounts and are tracked by British and European monetarists for warning signals about the direction of the US economy a year or so in advance – began shrinking last summer. The pace has since quickened.

The stock of money fell from $14.2 trillion to $13.9 trillion in the three months to April, amounting to an annual rate of contraction of 9.6pc. The assets of insitutional money market funds fell at a 37pc rate, the sharpest drop ever.

“It’s frightening,” said Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research. “The plunge in M3 has no precedent since the Great Depression. The dominant reason for this is that regulators across the world are pressing banks to raise capital asset ratios and to shrink their risk assets. This is why the US is not recovering properly,” he said.

The US authorities have an entirely different explanation for the failure of stimulus measures to gain full traction. They are opting instead for yet further doses of Keynesian spending, despite warnings from the IMF that the gross public debt of the US will reach 97pc of GDP next year and 110pc by 2015.

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Census Bureau Scam

May 26, 2010 at 08:38 (Economy, General Stupidity, News, Politics)

Not shocking. Have to prop up the leftist lunacy somehow.

You know the old saying: “Everyone loves a charade.” Well, it seems that the Census Bureau may be playing games.

Last week, one of the millions of workers hired by Census 2010 to parade around the country counting Americans blew the whistle on some statistical tricks.

The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department.

Below, I have a couple more readers who worked for Census 2010 and have tales to tell.

But first, this much we know.

Each month Census gives Labor a figure on the number of workers it has hired. That figure goes into the closely followed monthly employment report Labor provides. For the past two months the hiring by Census has made up a good portion of the new jobs.

Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

One hour! A month! So, if a worker is terminated after only one hour and another is hired in her place, then a second new job can apparently be reported to Labor . (I’ve been unable to get Census to explain this to me.)

Here’s a note from a Census worker — this one from Manhattan:

“John: I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census.

“I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.

“I have been paid more to train all four times than I have been paid to actually produce results. These are my tax dollars and your tax dollars at work.

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Private Pay Shrinks, Gov Handouts Soar

May 25, 2010 at 08:17 (Economy, General Stupidity, News)

Yeh, this is great news, if you are an America-destroying leftist.

Key shifts in income this year:

• Private wages. A record-low 41.9% of the nation’s personal income came from private wages and salaries in the first quarter, down from 44.6% when the recession began in December 2007.

•Government benefits. Individuals got 17.9% of their income from government programs in the first quarter, up from 14.2% when the recession started. Programs for the elderly, the poor and the unemployed all grew in cost and importance. An additional 9.8% of personal income was paid as wages to government employees.

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Unable to Accept Reality, Greece Will Implode

May 24, 2010 at 08:45 (Economy, General Stupidity, News)

Either that or surrender their sovereignty to anyone who will keep giving them their stuff.

They don’t seem to understand they have a problem – or at least they understand but want someone else to fix it without inconveniencing them:

About 64 percent of the respondents said that they have “very little or a little” confidence that the socialist PASOK government could lead the country out of the crisis and into a better future, according to the survey conducted for the newspaper Paron.

Some 35 percent of the respondents said they do not trust the government’s ability at all.

Some 55 percent of Greeks said they are not willing to accept any more austerity measures in the future, while 45 percent said if there are no other options, they will make more sacrifices in the end.

And against all logic and common sense these morons want to totally avoid responsibility AND make it worse, all at once!

ATHENS, May 19 (Xinhua)– Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed on Wednesday the need for a new “green” economic development model and closer international cooperation against speculators.

“The focus on green economy is no longer just a case of sensitivity towards the environment, but an issue of creating a sustainable economy also,” Papandreou told the 3rd Climate and Energy Security Summit for Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean.

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Milton Friedman – Socialism is Force

May 21, 2010 at 14:59 (Economy, Philosophy, Politics, Property Rights, Society, Video)

The Dalai Lama should watch this one.

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Jobless Claims Rise…Uh, Unexpectedly.

May 21, 2010 at 08:07 (Economy, General Stupidity, News)

Every time a report comes out it’s unexpected. Really? Do you really not expect it? So either the know-it-alls are fools, or they are trying to carry water for this administration. Either way, it’s a bunch of crap.

WASHINGTON – The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by the largest amount in three months. The surge is evidence of how volatile the job market remains, even as the economy grows.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 471,000 last week, up by 25,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the first increase in five weeks and the biggest jump since a gain of 40,000 in February.

The total was the highest since new claims reached 480,000 on April 10. It also pushed the average for the last four weeks to 453,500.

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German Finance Minister: Dumb as a Rock

May 20, 2010 at 13:02 (Economy, General Stupidity, News)

Obama is dumb as a post already, so I couldn’t use that one.

Hey Mr. Germanfinanceministerguy – the reason things are out of control is because you and your socialist buds have OVER regulated, not under regulated. I love the way big government types create problems with regulations and then swoop in and say that the problems are due to not enough regulations. The problem is that socialists are at heart cowards – they are afraid of failure. Afraid of consequences of their actions, etc. They want to use the so-called power of the government to try and make it all better. But I have news for you. Only ONE man made it better, and he actually said not to expect it here.

The housing crisis here was a direct result of the government forcing financial institutions to lend to high risk borrowers. Borrowers who couldn’t and ultimately didn’t pay back the loans. The banks knew it and tried to invent new ways to use the BS to make money, hence you got credit default swaps and derivatives and all that crap. When you add in the fact that as these stupid governments grow, they also spend like it’s going out of style, then you get into trouble. The ultimate problem is that, while some regulation is probably needed, the majority are useless and tend to make things worse, not better.

The man at the eye of the financial storm that has engulfed the euro has learnt to be patient after 20 years confined to a wheelchair. But Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance minister, is also a man in a hurry.

He wants urgently to rewrite the rulebook of the euro zone to prevent any such crisis happening again, and at the same time to revive the momentum of international negotiations on tougher regulation of financial markets. He has returned to the idea of an international financial transaction tax, to make financial institutions share in the costs of the crisis, even if it can be agreed only inside the European Union.

He admits that the greatest problem affecting the markets is one of trust in the ability of the EU, and especially the 16 members of the common currency area at its heart, to bring their debt and deficits under control as they have promised. “That is the task we must perform,” he tells the Financial Times aboard his Luftwaffe Challenger jet bound for Berlin. “But that doesn’t alter the fact that financial market regulation is also necessary.

“I’m convinced the markets are really out of control. That is why we need really effective regulation, in the sense of creating a properly functioning market mechanism.”

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