Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Man Who Bankrupted America

  • The President who actively undermined every legal definition of torture relevant to 20th Century America and every known law to present (save the tortured logic of the legal documents drafted by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, on behalf of his President -- ever-loyal to the bitter end, that Gonzales), and wielded it against 15-year-old boys,
  • the President who covertly ordered the complete invasion of privacy in the name of security (and now, they're seeking to "redefine privacy," in the War on Words branch of the War on Terror) -- that President has an even greater legacy.

  • (BTW, on that redefinition of privacy news item: note that "Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, a deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguards people's private communications and financial information." Got that? The President and party whose platform is "smaller government" is now placing the safeguarding of our privacy completely in the hands of said government and benevolent businesses -- like, for instance, Verizon and AT&T. Privatizing privacy, that's the absolutey insane endgame, folks.)

    No, that's peanuts. President Bush and his Administration -- the party that claims some illusory grasp of fiscal responsibility -- has now overseen creating a greater deficit than any President in US history. In fact, Bush has now spent and borrowed more money than every previous President in US history, combined.

    This past week, this reckless over-borrowing and spending sent the US dollar into a spiraling plunge. But don't take my word for it.
  • Here's today US dollar exchange rates -- a record low, with the Canadian dollar at $1.06 US (which hasn't happened in 29 years, folks).

  • You won't find much about this in any US mainstream media -- the bubble environment is being fiercely protected.

    Overseas, though, it's front and center:

  • The International Herald Tribune reports that "The world dumped the dollar on Thursday, pushing the greenback to an all-time low of $1.40 against the euro and to parity with the Canadian dollar for the first time in three decades as currency traders around the world digested the full implications of the U.S. Federal Reserve's new course for interest rates. The frenzied selling began early in the day in Europe, never let up, and reached across the Atlantic as traders concluded that the lower borrowing costs the Fed introduced on Tuesday would dampen the appeal of dollar-denominated assets like stocks, bonds and real estate just as other central banks are raising rates to create the opposite effect..."

  • Got that? "The dollar dipped as low as $1.4094 in mid-day trading in New York, having cracked the $1.40 level before trading began in the United States. The dollar also lost ground against the pound, with sterling now worth roughly double the U.S. dollar, and it sank against the Japanese yen."

    The catalyst was in part a single statement from a Chinese official -- and not one in a position of power in economic matters, really -- but that noting of the US Emperor having no clothes prompted swift international reappraisal of the massive debts Bush and his Administration have racked up in their mad borrowing spree to finance two wars which are going badly (as President -- and General -- Dwight D. Eisenhower said on August 11, 1954, "All of us have heard this term 'preventive war' since the earliest days of Hitler... I don't believe there is such a thing; and frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked of such a thing." Bush didn't listen to his Generals, either, firing the one who gave the only public and accurate estimate of what these fucking wars would cost. Heck of a job, Bushie.).

  • This 2002 editorial in the Asia Times, "US dollar hegemony has got to go," speaks volumes, and is now highly relevant.

  • Among the conclusions of its author, Henry C K Liu (then chairman of the New York-based Liu Investment Group):

    "To save the world from the path of impending disaster, we must:

    * promote an awareness among policy makers globally that excessive dependence on exports merely to service dollar debt is self-destructive to any economy;

    * promote a new global finance architecture away from a dollar hegemony that forces the world to export not only goods but also dollar earnings from trade to the US;..."

    ...and now, the world is indeed considering just such a major revision to how money flows, prompted in large part by the irresponsible, reckless and ill-advised actions of President Bush.

    Six+ years has taken a terrible toll, and we're about to find out what damage his remaining year in office can truly manifest.

    Consider the damage the imbalance is already creating. Simple-minded American citizen economic non-logic would assume the higher value of the Canadian dollar -- the 'loonie' -- to be a windfall, but the opposite is true. Let's look to our neighbor north, where
  • "The Canadian dollar's meteoric rise since September is 'expected to slow exports, boost imports, squeeze profits and cut job growth, especially in the manufacturing sector,' J.P Morgan economist Ted Carmichael wrote in a report. 'Based on developments through October, we expect the manufacturing profit squeeze to be brutal, cutting profits in the sector by more than 50 per cent over a year ago by 2008.'..." (and so on; read the article).

  • The one positive impact on the US economy has been a sudden increase in export businesses, even as -- in Canada, noted in the above-linked The Canadian Press article -- "Exports decreased 2.3 per cent during the month to $37.7 billion, on sharp declines in machinery and equipment, and industrial goods and materials despite gains in auto and energy products and other consumer goods. The slippage in exports happened the same month that the Canadian dollar regained parity with the greenback for the first time since 1976. ...the downturn in exports is also due to falling U.S. demand."

    The GOP is utterly culpable in all of this, as are many Democrats (despite their thin majority after the 2006 election, which has added up to nothing in reality -- they remain a non-majority in terms of voting power -- they've done nothing to deter Bush's disastrous war non-budgeting and insane borrowing and spending to finance the wars).

    An immediate reappraisal and ousting of the Republican Party is in order for the 2008 election, but we'll see how long those who continue to support "the responsible Party" (in all meanings of the term) can remain blind to the grim ruin Bush and the GOP hath wrought.

    None of the Presidential candidates are addressing the fiscal ruin of our country, or the hard times ahead -- which many US families are facing now.


    The local economies -- and newspapers, that last bastion of in-print free press -- are aware of the shock waves, which are hitting hard.
  • As noted this week in an editorial in the Brattleboro [VT] Reformer, even affluent GOP-supporting neighborhoods are feeling the consequences:

  • "If the old joke is that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, perhaps the new joke is that a liberal is a conservative who's had his house foreclosed on.

    A story in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times reported on the shifting politics of Loudoun County, Virginia. Once a mostly rural area on the western fringe of Washington, D.C., it's now one of the fastest growing regions in the country. It is also near the top in household median income.

    Or, at least it was. This number says it all. In 2005, there were 12 housing foreclosures in Loudoun County. For the first nine months of 2007, there have been 643..."

    Earlier in the week, the same newspaper's editorial concisely summarized the current reality -- and the depth of our denial:

    "So far, most of the media has ignored the news that the standard of living for many Americans is plummeting. They have their noses pressed against the glass, marveling at how the well-to-do are faring in an economy where the winner takes all and everyone else walks away empty-handed.

    We are rapidly approaching a time of reckoning. What happens when the American people discover that our nation will soon be fighting with Asia and Europe for control of a rapidly dwindling supply of petroleum? When they discover the dollar is becoming an increasingly worthless currency on the world markets? When they discover that other countries are tiring of lending America money to prop up a bankrupt government? When they discover that most of the wealth created over the past decade is based on fraud? When they discover that our current way of life is unsustainable in a world of scarcer resources caused by the double whammy of peak oil and climate change?

    You won't find the candidates running for president from either party talking about these things. They think Americans can't handle the truth. They also have no real ideas and no courage whatsoever. No one wants to face the fact that this nation can't survive on its current path and that there is no magic wand to transform the United States into a nation with an equitable economy and a plan for dealing with a world of diminished resources."

    President George W. Bush, who stole his first election (thanks to a complicit Supreme Court) and claimed his razor-thin 51% of a minority voting population as a mandate to continue his power-and-war-mongering ways and plunge the US into a fiscal nightmare we, our children, and our children's children will be dealing with, is the Man Who Bankrupted America.

    __________________

    PS: Sunday afternoon:
  • Wall Street, dreading Tuesday.
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    10 Comments:

    Blogger Mark Martin said...

    Benny got 10 shirts for $4 yesterday! Good times are just around the corner!

    11/11/2007  
    Blogger SRBissette said...

    We'll all be shopping thrift stores soon. Good thing I always wear my clothes until they're rotting off my bod!

    11/11/2007  
    Blogger HemlockMan said...

    Thank Jove I have a job as a Fed. And that my wife has a job in the health care industry. I can only hope that the American dollar doesn't become as worthless as W. Moron Bush.

    The rest of the Earth's nations realized that we had become a third-world country when they saw how we weren't able to react to the devastation of Hurrican Katrina. The USA has become a very bad joke.

    11/11/2007  
    Blogger SRBissette said...

    You're dead on the money, Bob -- it was indeed Katrina and the complete incompetence/lack of response that shocked the world and revealed how badly we'd sunk as a nation. I had more than a dozen friends in Europe and in Canada say that very thing to me at the time (some in response to my blog posting of that week) -- and it's only gotten worse.

    Last week, I heard two stories on the radio (one on NPR, one on another station) about the unprecedented psychological fallout from Katrina -- therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists are noting something worse than PTS in survivors, and in all classes.

    As my wife is a school psychologist, we had a conversation about it -- and she said extreme cases of ABANDONMENT creates similar imbalances in children and young adults. The stress and trauma of the storm, the harrowing days following, and NO RELIEF since -- utter abandonment -- pater Bush has quite a legacy, indeed.

    11/11/2007  
    Blogger Roger Green said...

    First of all, I agree with virtually everything that was said (though I have heard a little about the the declining dollar on the MSM (ABC News).

    Second, and I've said this before, who ARE those 33% who still support the GWB policies?

    Finally, and maybe it's just me, but I find it to be an easier read when the piece is of a single theme, such as this one, rather than some of your more "wide net" articles. Maybe, even there were three short pieces rather than one long, disparate one.

    11/11/2007  
    Blogger SRBissette said...

    Thanks, Roger. Well, I write 'em as they come, really -- this blog is my morning writing exercise almost every day of the week, and sometimes I can accomodate a singular focus. Other days -- well, bear with me, Roger. I've never been known for my brevity as a writer!

    11/12/2007  
    Blogger SRBissette said...

    FYI, I'm getting a surprising amount of email from this post -- folks choosing not to comment here, but wanting to follow up with me personally -- including a number from Canada, confirming the impact on our neighbor to the north.

    11/12/2007  
    Blogger HemlockMan said...

    Apparently the loonie is doing quite well. (Isn't it worth more than our dollar, now?) And I know a number of USA citizens looking to move permanently to Canada and give up their USA citizenship.

    I've also heard well-heeled Canadians are coming down here and buying up second homes.

    11/12/2007  
    Blogger SRBissette said...

    Ah, Bob, did you READ my post? You're demonstrating "simple-minded American citizen economic non-logic," to quote my own post (and my careful framing of the Canadian currency info).

    Yes, the Canadian dollar is now worth MORE than the US dollar, for the first time since the mid-'70s. Yes, it's resulted in some generous spending south of their border (the CCS booth at Quechee benefited from that this September and October). Yes, I have friends thinking about moving north, too, though this imbalance of the US dollar will complicate that process -- read on. I can tell you're not getting the point.

    To clarify, here's one of the emails I received from a friend (and TABOO fan, so he's read some of your work, Bob) in Canada; since he chose not to comment publicly here, I'll not affix his name:

    "Steve,

    I must commend you on a very thought-provoking opinion piece. You have voiced the concerns of many up here in Canada , who are astonished not so much by the loonie’s meteoric rise, as by the rapid collapse of the greenback... even though we could see it coming, what with Bush’s insane tax and spend policies... and putting China in a position to exert so much leverage on the U.S. economy is a most frightening development.

    Canada relies far too heavily on exports to the U.S. for its economic health and now we’re pricing ourselves right out of that market. Yes, our manufacturing capability is being decimated. It seems the North American Free Trade Agreement we entered into only worked if Canada had a low dollar vis-à-vis the once mighty greenback. We’re in trouble for sure."

    In the coming months and years, we're ALL going to learning some hard economic lessons, and have to engage with a more sophisticated understanding of money and our financial system -- if we're to survive all Bush and his cronies have ravaged.

    11/12/2007  
    Blogger Bridgett said...

    Roger, I believe it's down to 21% now. But yeah, I'd love to know who those people are and where they're living too.

    There is a stunningly sharp, knowledgable and insightful takedown of Bush's fiscal policies at Vanity Fair now-- here's the link.

    11/12/2007  

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