Archive for February 2010

Keynesian Economics = Slow Death

February 24, 2010

I caught this on Zero Hedge’s Blog, with many kudos to Bloomberg for putting it together.

 

 

Even with all the bumps and bruises in this recession, America’s economy has had a smooth ride for a long time. Kudos for that goes to the country’s use of counter-cyclical policies. For decades, the U.S. used deficit spending and low interest rates to soften recessions. (During boom times, it did the reverse.) This long-standing approach is now at risk due to the unprecedented amount of leverage built up over the last decade – especially in the public sector.


But it is a different picture in the public sector.


The net result is that the economy as a whole is more leveraged than ever as public sector borrowing more than offsets private sector deleveraging.


Far from being an accident of policy, the increase in government debt is consistent with its decades-long counter-cyclical approach of dampening the extremes of the business cycle, actively bolstering the economy when it’s weak and reducing support when it’s strong. (The government’s policy closely follows the advice of economist John Maynard Keynes.)

Keynesianists will argue that boosting public lending is critical in avoiding sharp moves in the broader economy. Sure enough, Bloomberg’s empirical analysis seems to corroborate this point:


Yet, as noted above, this interventionist approach comes at a price. And currently the price is that 90% of GDP (or almost 150% if one adds GSE liabilities) is encumbered by interest paying debt. As long as the interest is manageable, this works. When interest spirals out of control, as it eventually will, the whole house of card tumbles.


Bloomberg’s politically correct conclusion:

If the reality is that we simply can’t afford more debt and have to pull back from counter-cyclical policies, history suggests that we should expect a rise in economic volatility. The stability of the last few decades may not come again for some time.

The less palatable conclusion is that Keynesianism is on its death bed. And with an entire generation (not to mention an upcoming one) schooled in the precepts of a failed ideology, just who will be able to right the wrongs accumulated over more than 50 years of blind deficit spending? If saying the “stability will not return for some time” is a euphemism for the great unknown that will follow a tide of developed world defaults, so be it.

Obama vs. Markowski

February 23, 2010

You tell me which health care reform package you like best…

For President Obama’s plan CLICK HERE.

For my plan read my column Health Care Logic, from September of last year.

 

There is no reason. There is no logic.

How can we even be contemplating a government takeover of 1/6th of our nation’s economy when every other program they run (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) is going bankrupt to the tune of trillions of dollars? I have repeatedly warned anyone under the age of 50 to plan on NOT receiving Social Security, and in fact nobody has and legal right to it.

The various different healthcare bills are laden with waste, inefficiencies, and ethical bypasses. Nuances of these bills are being exposed and debated at length and I have covered many aspects extensively on the radio show. So, I am not going to reiterate pieces of the albatross here. I would like to discuss the ever exciting concept of insurance without inducing a coma-like state on our readers.

In a 2004 column of ours entitled, Financial Independence Top 20, where we list twenty necessary steps to assure financial security, we address insurance.

“#17—You have the right amount of insurance and not a penny more.”


This rule should encompass not just accompany life insurance, but car, home and HEALTH as well.

I recently heeded the call of the lizard with the English accent and switched my auto policies saving me a significant amount of money. The auto policy covers exactly what I need with a deductible that I feel comfortable with. My auto policy DOES NOT COVER, oil changes, detailing, and tire changes. Another illustration of absurdity…Does your homeowners policy cover light bulb changes, and the cost of mowing the lawn? How much do you think your auto policy or homeowner’s policy premiums would be if they covered everything and anything?

Americans have been brainwashed into believing that they need to have health insurance policies that cover hang-nails to acne, and in the case of California…sex changes and tattoo removal. Employer sponsored health care was born out of wage control rules during World War II. We have created a system laden with bureaucracy, middle-men and waste. Despite that, and many other inefficiencies and problems, we still have the highest quality care in the world.

Ask yourself…

Why do employers get a tax deduction for offering health care, but when an individual purchases it they do not?

During the 2008 campaign Senator John McCain suggested taxing health care benefits as income. He was ridiculed and criticized by the Obama campaign for this idea. The reality is that health insurance is a part of one’s pay. There is cost of hiring each and every worker and health care is certainly a part of that.

Would it not be better for the employer to pay the employee the funds allocated for health care directly so the employee can purchase what is best for his or herself? Why can’t individuals go out and shop for a plan to suit their own needs? Why is it necessary to have a health insurance plan that covers everything from Viagra to mental health, all with a $20 co-pay?

If you have an all-you-can-eat buffet with fillet mignon, lobster and caviar, your customers would be inclined to overeat. The same thing is true with the all-you-can-eat health insurance plans. Individuals are socialized into thinking it is free, and then go to the doctor an inordinate amount of times.

When purchasing car insurance…How would you like it if you had to pay the same rates as the idiot with 2 DWI convictions and 5 speeding tickets? Is that fair? Why shouldn’t people who take the initiative in maintaining their health be rewarded? When I worked on Wall Street many moons ago, many of my co-workers used to indulge with great regularity in Pablo Escobar’s Finest; yet we all paid the same for health insurance. We are constantly being told of the tremendous obesity problem we have in the United States…Is it possible that if people had a financial incentive (lower health insurance costs) to get in shape, might it help with the obesity problem?

The power-hungry in Washington D.C. want a public option in health insurance, stating that it will force insurers to compete. How does one compete with an entity with limitless resources, no marketing costs, never needs to make a profit, and dictates the rules of the industry? President Obama in another kiss his derriere interview with John Harwood from CNBC stated, “You know I can-I sympathize with these insurers and their big profits that they make. I really do, but we need to get these prices down and we need to have a public option.”

Lets extrapolate our fearless leaders logic…Don’t like the high cost of food? Maybe the government should take over the farms and supermarkets because that worked real well in the Soviet Union. Home prices too high? Gosh darn it, that’s just not right…everyone needs a home; the government should take that over too. Last summer, when speculators drove oil prices up, and our fearless leaders decided to take out the torches and pitchforks and go after the CEO’s of the oil companies, one of BHO the Magnificent’s foot soldiers, Maxine Waters D-CA, suggested during a Congressional hearing that we socialize the oil companies.

How are we going to pay for a $3 trillion public health insurance policy?

We are not. It is not mathematically possible. The government will try by raising fees and taxes, but that will just stifle business and growth and make matters worse. We need health insurance reform, but it needs to be free market reform.

Introducing…The Watchdog on Wall Street’s Health Reform Plan.

If you are sick and need medical care in the United States, and you show up at a hospital emergency room, you are getting care. Ever look at an emergency room bill and wonder why you are paying $50 for an aspirin? Technically you are not…you are paying for all the aspirin that was given to people who never paid there bill. We have a serious illegal immigrant problem here in the United States and being the benevolent people that we are, we do not post armed guards at hospital emergency rooms to turn away illegals that will more than likely never pay their bill. This needs to stop. Job one on the Watchdog on Wall Street’s plan, is to bill the illegal’s home country. For example, Mexico is one of our biggest suppliers of oil, and their oil industry is nationalized (Maxine Waters is jealous). We can simply deduct any unpaid medical bills, and while we are at it, education costs and any other social services associated that we provide for their citizens.

Job number two…Tort reform, Tort reform and Tort Reform. I agree that people need to have recourse when wronged, but we need to reign in the John Edwards’s of the world; with their channeling of dead babies in the court room rather than on facts and science.

Job three: Simple cost cutting. Do you really need to see a doctor if you have a sore throat? Can’t a nurse practitioner take care of that throat culture and get you an antibiotic in a much more cost efficient manner?

Job four: Allow for More Insurance Companies. That is competition! There are more private health insurance providers in France than in the United States.

Job five: No More Government Mandates on What Companies Have to Cover by Law. If Johnny wants to become a Sally, I could care less; I just don’t think that I should have to pay for it!

Job six: We Need to Put the Insurance Back into Health Insurance. Let me explain… I have a small business and a family of five. If I was to go out and purchase full-boat health insurance with unlimited visits and a $20 co-pay, it would run me anywhere between $13,000 – $15,000 a year or more. What would happen in that entire year if nobody got sick, nobody went to the doctor? Granted, that probably is not going to happen with three small kids and a wife that reminds me sometimes of Bill Murray’s character in What About Bob, but for arguments sake humor me. The simple answer is I would be out of pocket $13-$15,000.

What I do and what all Americans should do is BUY INSURANCE! Real insurance is something that you purchase in case something bad happens. High deductible insurance, which is affordable, would be there to provide INSURANCE, in case of a health emergency. Got a cold, want to see a doctor? Pay out of pocket!

The deductible in my health insurance is $5,600. The health insurance company does not start paying for any health bill until we reach the $5,600 threshold. Each year I place the amount of my deducible into a Health Savings Account, which basically has the same tax consequences as an IRA, except you can take money out to pay for medical expenses. We have a debit card that we use to pay the doctors which is attached to the account. My insurance premium is a little over $3000, so my total out of pocket costs a year are less than $9,000. In my rosy scenario, where nobody in my family gets sick for an entire year, my total out-of-pocket costs are only my insurance premium of $3000. The money I put in my HAS stays and grows with interest. High-deductible health insurance needs to be expanded and limits increased

What do you think? Certainly much better than a 1000 page plus bill…??

Sorrowland

February 22, 2010

Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway penned a must read piece in Salon.

CLICK HERE

Must Read

February 9, 2010

Another fantastic Mark Steyn column…

CLICK HERE

Ponder This

February 9, 2010

The administration keeps telling us that they focused on jobs creation.

The administration has proposed upwards of $2 trillion in tax hikes for the people that create jobs.

The administration wants to use $30 billion of TARP funds to aid community banks in lending to the people that create jobs.

Could be me…Call me crazy, but tax them and then use TARP funds to lend to them sounds pretty $%#@$ stupid.

You shouldn’t be surprised people; Obama displayed his total ignorance during the campaign.

Remember this…

CLICK HERE and HERE

Buffett’s Take on Stimulus

February 8, 2010

“If you’re going to spend close to 800 billion on a stimulus bill, I think it could have been done in a way that had more immediate impact. But, you know, what we saw with the stimulus bill, was it 8,000 earmarks or something? I mean, that is the sort of thing that is depressing to the American public. It’s depressing to me. That is old-style Washington squared.”

Note: Buffett was an Obama supporter during the campaign.

Update

February 3, 2010

Sorry about the lack of posts over the past couple of days. I am working on several columns, one of which might scare the pants off you.


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