Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Japan in recession after following Paul Krugman’s Keynesnian advice

Here’s the news story as reported by CBC:

Japan’s economy unexpectedly slipped back into recession as housing and business investment dropped following a sales tax hike, hobbling its ability to help drive the global recovery.

The world’s third-largest economy contracted at a 1.6 per cent annual pace in the July-September quarter, the government said Monday, confounding expectations that it would rebound after a big drop the quarter before.

The news cast a pall over financial markets: Japan’s share benchmark fell 3 per cent, and many others in Asia also declined. Shares were lower in early trading in Europe and Dow Jones and S&P futures were off 0.5 per cent, suggesting a dismal start for the week on Wall Street.

This Daily Signal article by respected economist Stephen Moore explains what led to this mess:

The tenets of Lord Keynes and his modern disciples have been put on trial in Japan, and the verdict is not a happy one. The rest of the world, not least of all the U.S., ignores these lessons at its own peril.

The engine of growth that created the Land of the Rising Sun economic miracle in the post-World War II era first began to falter in the early 1990s in large part because of a centrally planned industrial policy model.

The panicked response to the downturn was to flood the economy with a continuing series of Keynesian monetary and spending stimulus injections.

None of it has worked.

The collapse of Japan’s stock market tells the whole story. In December 1989, the Nikkei 225 index stood at a lofty 38,900. Today, almost a quarter-century later, the index stands at just under 16,000.

In 25 years Japan has experienced a nearly 3/5 liquidation of its financial wealth.

Japan has directed tens of billions of dollars into public works projects — “investments,” as President Obama calls them. This was paid for with debt. In the last two decades, Japan’s debt burden catapulted from 19% of GDP, among the lowest in the industrialized world, to over 142%, among the highest.

The government spending coincided with a monetary policy almost unprecedented in its looseness. From the late 1980s through 2000, the central bank’s balance sheet more than doubled — a precursor to the “quantitative easing” carried out by the U.S. Federal Reserve. And since 2000, the balance sheet has doubled once again.

Inflation rates in Japan are bearing down on 4% — a near-high among major competitors.

The result? The expected Keynesian “multiplier effect” from spending and a flood of yen into the market never arrived.

Housing starts in Japan are still lower than the level nearly 25 years ago. Unemployment, still low by international standards, is nearly twice the level of 1990, and wages have been flat.

Labor force participation continues to trend downward as well — falling by around 4 percentage points over the last two decades.

Yet, liberal economists have urged Japan to keep the stimulus coming. Last winter, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman exulted in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s expansionary fiscal and monetary policies.

“So, how is Abenomics working?” he wrote. “The overall verdict on Japan’s effort to turn its economy around is so far, so good. If Abenomics works, it will serve a dual purpose — giving Japan itself a much-needed boost and the rest of us an even more-needed antidote to policy lethargy.”

Japan, Krugman predicted, “may also end up showing the rest of us the way out” of stagnation.

Forbes magazine confirms leftist “economist” Paul Krugman’s detailed advice to Japan:

In the 1990s it was Krugman who most loudly championed Japan’s innumerable and reckless “stimulus” schemes, together with dozens of rounds of “quantitative easing” (fiat money printing). Japan followed his advice and ever since then has suffered a secular stagnation. Since 1990 Japan’s public debt has ballooned from 68% to 233% of GDP; its money supply is up 286%, while its industrial output is lower by 3.4% and its equity index is down by 73%. This is what Keynesians “stimulus” has done for Japan – and Krugman wants the same for the U.S.

Mr. Krugman repeatedly invokes the magic multiplier, the bogus claim that when we spend our own dollar we boost GDP by a dollar, but when the government takes it and spends it, GDP is boosted by $1.40. Wow. Fabulous. Government spending not only “pays for itself,” but more than pays for itself. On this view, were government to take everything we earned and spend it, the economy might well expand to the moon. Is it magic – or voodoo?

I notice that leftists at the BBC are calling the failure a “surprise“.

Where did Abenomics go wrong?

In the spring of 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched an ambitious growth strategy that rapidly became known as Abenomics.

Its aim was to drag Japan’s economy out of 20 years of deflation and put it back on the road to growth. Billions of dollars were pumped into the economy through stimulus spending. The Bank of Japan went on an even bigger spree, printing hundreds of billions of dollars of new money and using it to buy government bonds.

And the leftist New York Times is calling it “unexpected“:

The surprise recession underscores the difficulties faced by Mr. Abe, who won power two years ago on a pledge to reinvigorate the economy and end his country’s long streak of wage and consumer-price declines. His agenda, dubbed Abenomics, has focused largely on stimulus measures, in particular an expanded program of asset purchases by the central bank. Yet its impact, economists say, has been dulled by the tax increase, which was approved under a previous government.

[...]Then, in early 2014, Mr Abe’s government took a calculated gamble. With the economy growing he could risk putting up taxes for the first time in nearly 20 years. Consumption (purchase) tax would rise from 5 to 8%. The tax rise was urgently needed to plug the giant hole in Japan’s public finances.

Why does anyone take economic advice from people on the left like Paul Krugman? Raising taxes, increasing debt and more government spending never helps the economy grow. Certainly not at the rate that pro-growth policies do.

We need to cut our corporate tax, which is the highest in the world. We need to cut spending and cut government duplication and waste. We need to privatize inefficient government programs. We need to reward work instead of dependency. We need to stop borrowing money and raising our national debt. We need to stop printing money, aka – quantitative easing. We need to raise interest rates and encourage saving instead of spending.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

Obama’s debt: federal debt up over 7 TRILLION dollars since January 2009

CNS News has the story.

Excerpt:

The total federal debt of the U.S. government has now increased more than $7 trillion during the slightly more than five and a half years Barack Obama has been president.

That is more than the debt increased under all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton combined, and it is more debt than was accumulated in the first 227 years of this nation’s existence–from 1776 through 2003.

The total federal debt first passed the $7-trillion mark on Jan. 15, 2004, after President George W. Bush had been in office almost three years.

[...]The $7,060,259,674,497.51 in new debt that the federal government has taken on during Obama’s presidency equals $61,341.82 per household.

The median household income in the United States in 2012 (the latest year estimated) was $51,017. Thus, President Obama has increased the federal debt by more than the typical household’s annual income.

I sometimes get annoyed by the fact that the stock market hasn’t tanked under Obama in the last 6 years, but there is a reason why. The reason is that he has borrowed and spent SEVEN TRILLION dollars. This makes the lack of economic growth caused by his anti-business policies, e.g. – Obamacare, look less harmful than they are. If you were in debt 30,000 and borrowed another 20,000 and started buying cars and taking vacations, you’d look pretty good. That’s basically what this President did. We look OK, but only because he borrowed $7 trillion from the next generation of Americans.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

CBO report: Social Security to be bankrupt by 2030

From Investors Business Daily.

Full text, because this matters:

The $2.8 trillion Social Security Trust Fund is on track to be totally spent by 2030, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

That’s one year earlier than projected in 2013 and a decade earlier than the CBO estimated as recently as 2011.

The CBO delivered the warning in a gloomy long-term budget outlook that shows federal debt reaching 106% of GDP in 25 years, up from 74% now.

The rising debt would come despite revenue rising by 1.8 percent as share of GDP (from 17.6% to 19.4%)from 2014 to 2039 and despite spending other than health entitlements, Social Security and debt service shrinking by 2.5% of GDP (9.3% to 6.8%).

The challenge: Health care spending will rise by 3.1 percent of GDP (4.9% to 8%) and Social Security 1.4 points of GDP (4.9% to 6.3%), which will in turn push interest on the debt up to 4.7% of GDP from 1.3%.

Social Security’s cliff, now just 16 years away, is one that Washington would be crazy to approach. At that point, incoming revenue would be enough to pay less than 75% of scheduled benefits for all beneficiaries, whether just reaching retirement or 100 years old.

Up until the point of exhaustion, the trust fund provides legal authority — though no resources — for the government to pay all benefits despite Social Security’s burgeoning cash-flow deficit, which the CBO expects to reach $320 billion in 2024 alone.

The rapid deterioration in Social Security’s finances has a number of contributing factors. The drawn-out recovery from the deep recession and the extended period of low interest rates have sapped revenue and lowered the interest that Treasury pays to the trust fund based on program surpluses from 1984 to 2009.

On top of that, the CBO expects the underinvestment and long-term unemployment associated with the less-than-stellar recovery to have a lasting impact, boosting the natural rate of unemployment.

In February, the CBO significantly reined in its economic optimism, slashing its projection of the total amount of wages and salaries over the 2015-2023 period by about $3.2 trillion, or 3.6%.

Among the factors that the budget scorekeeper cited was ObamaCare’s work-diminishing effect, which the CBO now estimates to be three times as large as it supposed in 2010.

The CBO said that ObamaCare would reduce employment by 2 million full-time-equivalent workers in 2017, rising to 2.5 million in 2014.

This reduction would result in a decline in aggregate employee compensation averaging 1% from 2017 through 2024, or $1.05 trillion.

An IBD analysis pegged the revenue hit to Social Security from ObamaCare work disincentives at about $120 billion through 2024.

The reduced payroll-tax contributions into Social Security would, over time, result in modestly lower benefits for those who choose less work, but the cost savings from reduced benefits would offset only a portion of the lost revenue.

The nature of Affordable Care Act subsidies — they rise as income falls and decline as income rises — will make work “less attractive” by “creating an implicit tax on additional earnings,” the CBO said.

The work disincentive will lead some people to choose to work less, in part because subsidized health care will enable them to get by with less work.

In addition, the CBO expects ObamaCare to depress wages for lower earners when employers, over time, pass along the cost of the law’s employer-insurance mandate by holding back on wage increases. Lower wages, in turn, will provide another reason for some people to opt for less work, the CBO says.

While the CBO expects compensation to be lower “almost entirely” because people will choose to supply less work, the CBO also expects that some employers “will respond to the penalty by hiring fewer people at or just above the minimum wage.”

Another important factor clouding Social Security’s future: A greater share of earnings goes to those with income above the maximum subject to payroll taxes ($117,000 in 2014).

As a result, while rising longevity and the retirement of baby boomers will make benefits grow faster than the economy, Social Security’s tax revenue is expected only to keep pace with economic growth.

Look. I think there’s practical wisdom in this CBO report for Christians. We have to take into account data like this when making our life plans. And it’s not only Social Security we need to be scared of, Medicare is even MORE insolvent than Social Security. If you are under 40, these programs are not going to be there for you. You have to make other plans. You can’t be running your life plan as if these threats do not exist, because they do. Now I want to talk about how a defensive plan can be better than an offensive plan.

The neutral zone trap

Think of ice hockey and the neutral zone trap defense:

The defending team sets up so four players-usually both wings and both defense-remain in the neutral zone, while the center forechecks into the offensive zone. The center’s job is to block the passing lanes from the puck carrier, forcing him to carry the puck forward into the neutral zone. Once the puck carrier reaches the neutral zone, the center stays toward the center of the ice, forcing the puck carrier along the boards. Two of the other defending team’s players collapse in on the puck carrier, forcing him to dump the puck into their zone, forcing a turnover.

This plan allowed the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup against the high-powered Detroit Red Wings in 1995:

The following season, shortened by 34 games because of a lockout ordered by NHL owners, the Devils entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the conference, with only a 22-18-8 record. In the West, the Detroit Red Wings looked invincible, cruising to the Stanley Cup Finals behind a galaxy of offensive stars.

But that’s when Lemaire went to work, putting his Devils through daily lessons in the trap, preaching constantly about being in the right defensive position at all times. It was hard, but it worked. The Devils upset three higher seeded Eastern teams to get to the Stanley Cup Finals, but remained prohibitive underdogs against the Red Wings.

Many predicted a sweep – and that’s what happened. What nobody predicted was that it would be the Devils who did the sweeping, thanks to a stifling trap that limited Detroit to seven goals in four games.

“They frustrated the heck out of us,” former Red Wings defenseman Mike Ramsey told the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. “You weren’t trying to beat one guy. You were trying to beat four. They had enough talent and size where they didn’t have to play that way. But they knew what they were doing. Every player was on the same page.”

When coaches across the NHL saw how Lemaire was able to totally shut down such a great offensive team, the trap began to be copied by almost everyone. Roger Neilson had implemented a form of the trap with the expansion Florida Panthers from 1993-95, and his successor, Doug MacLean, took it even further. The neutral zone became almost impossible to navigate against the Panthers in the 1996 playoffs, and Florida suddenly found itself in the Stanley Cup Finals against the offensive-minded Avalanche. Criticized by the media about the trap, MacLean responded, “I like boring”.

Yes, and he likes winning,too. Sometimes people who appear to be risk-averse seem “scared” to others… but what matters is the scoreboard.

I hate to see young people making life plans while ignoring real life obstacles. The national debt, the demographic crisis, fertility (for women), etc. are real problems. Let’s take these threats into account when we are planning our lives. It’s just unwise to think that we can do whatever we want and then count on God to bail us out. We need to be practical. We live in challenging times, and we need to have prosperity and stability in order to protect our faith from external threats which are so often the root of despair and apostasy. The score on the scoreboard is not related to who took the biggest chances and felt the most excitement, it’s related to who actually scored. I feel excited when I win.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Millenials voted for Obama and now they’ll have to live with less than their parents

Moderate conservative George Will writes about in Investors Business Daily. This is a good review of what’s happening in the economy.

Excerpt:

The reason why unemployment fell by four-tenths of a point (to 6.3%) in April while growth stalled is that 806,000 people left the labor force.

The labor-force participation rate fell by four-tenths of a point to a level reached in 1978, which was during the Carter-era stagflation and early in the surge of women into the workforce.

There are about 14.5 million more Americans than before the recession but nearly 300,000 fewer jobs, and household income remains below the pre-recession peak.

[...]The more than $1.1 trillion of student loan debt — the fastest-growing debt category, larger than credit-card or auto-loan debt — is restraining consumption, as is the retirement of baby boomers. In 2012, more than 70% of college graduates had student loan debts averaging about $30,000.

This commencement season’s diploma recipients enter an economy where more than 40% of recent graduates are either unemployed or in jobs that do not require a college degree. This is understandable, given that 44% of the job growth since the recession ended has been in food services, retail clerking or other low-wage jobs.

In April, the number of persons under 25 in the workforce declined by 484,000. Unsurprisingly, almost one in three (31%) persons 18 to 34 are living with their parents, including 25% who have jobs.

[...]There is, however, something new under the sun. The Pew Research Center reports that Americans 25 to 32 — “millennials” — constitute the first age cohort since World War II with higher unemployment or a greater portion living in poverty than their parents at this age.

Now it’s not just that the young people are having trouble paying off their loans and leaving the nest, it’s that they also are going to inherit a debit that has more than doubled since they elected Obama the first time. This is serious, now. If you are a young person, you’d better have a plan to be borrowing as little as possible, working as much as possible, saving as much as possible, and studying only what can get you a job. Things have changed since the time of your parents. You will have to work harder to achieve less. You voted for it.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law gets $737M of taxpayers’ money to build solar plant

From the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

Nancy Pelosi is facing accusations of cronyism after a solar energy project, which her brother-in-law has a stake in, landed a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, despite the growing Solyndra scandal.

The massive loan agreement is raising new concerns about the use of taxpayers’ money as vast sums are invested in technology similar to that of the doomed energy project.

The investment has intensified the debate over the effectiveness of solar energy as a major power source.

The SolarReserve project is backed by an energy investment fund where the Minority Leader’s brother-in-law Ronald Pelosi is second in command.

PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC is listed as one of the investors in the project that has been given the staggering loan, which even dwarfs that given to failed company Solyndra.

Other investors include one of the major investors in Solyndra, which is run by one of the directors of Solyndra.

Steve Mitchell, who served on the board of directors at the bankrupt energy company, is also managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, which has invested in the latest project.

Since Solyndra has filed for bankruptcy has been asked to testify about the goings on at the firm by two members of the House and ‘asked to provide documents to Congress’.

[...]The project approval came as part of $1 billion in new loans to green energy companies yesterday.

Did they learn anything from Solyndra? No:

‘The administration’s flagship project Solyndra is bankrupt and being investigated by the FBI, the promised jobs never materialised, and now the Department of Energy is preparing to rush out nearly $5 billion in loans in the final 48 hours before stimulus funds expire — that’s nearly $105 million every hour that must be finalised until the deadline,’ said Florida representative Cliff Stearns, who is chairman of the investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Since Nancy Pelosi took over federal spending in January 2007, the national debt has increased from $8.5 trillion to about $17.5 trillion. That’s NINE TRILLION dollars in new spending. And much of it just handed off to the people and groups who got the Democrats elected 2008 and 2012.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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