Archive for the ‘depression’ Category

Recession is Official: Could Last Into, Past 2010

December 2, 2008

The economy’s yearlong downturn, officially declared a recession Monday, could last well into next year or even beyond, challenging the government to devise new responses as traditional methods show limited results.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the private body charged with determining the onset of a recession as well as its endpoint, said Monday that the current downturn met its definition of a recession: “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.”

By the Los Angeles Times

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/business
/la-fi-econ2-2008dec02,0,25
87872.story

Vietnam in quandary over inflation, global economic downturn

November 16, 2008

Vietnam, like much of the world, is trying to stimulate its economy amid the global downturn, but it is in a quandary because it must also keep rampant inflation from flaring up again, say experts.

With a small and relatively insulated banking sector, Vietnam was not directly exposed to the subprime crisis that sparked the Wall Street meltdown and the subsequent worldwide credit crunch and financial turmoil.

But the wider economic repercussions of what has been called the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression are already being felt in Vietnam, especially in the crucial export sector.

Containers are seen piling up at Saigon port in Ho Chi Minh ...
Containers are seen piling up at Saigon port in Ho Chi Minh city in June 2008. Vietnam, like much of the world, is trying to stimulate its economy amid the global downturn, but it is in a quandary because it must also keep rampant inflation from flaring up again, say experts.(AFP/File/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Amid slackening overseas demand, Vietnam’s monthly exports have steadily fallen from US$6.5 billion (US$1 = RM3.59) in July, to US$6 billion in August,US$5.1 billion in October.

 

And, although it’s too early to say foreigners are pulling out of financial markets, in the past month they have been net sellers of bonds and stocks.

Inflation has been in double digits all year and stood at 26.7 per cent in October, a slight fall after a drop in global energy and commodity prices. The government’s target is to bring annual inflation down to 23-24 per cent in 2008, and to less than 15 per cent in 2009.

Aiming to reduce liquidity to fight inflation, the government had raised interest rates and bank reserve requirements several times this year. But this has also starved businesses of credit for investment and working capital, forcing the central bank to reverse its monetary policy as both local and international factors have slowed economic growth in Vietnam.

A farmer throws a net to catch fish on a flooded paddy field ... 
A farmer throws a net to catch fish on a flooded paddy field in Phuong My village, 25 km (16 miles) outside Hanoi November 12, 2008. Hanoi reported 22 deaths from the worst inundations in more than three decades, officials said.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Read the rest from AFP:
http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/
BTIMES/articles/vope/Article/

‘Socialism’? It’s Already Here.

November 15, 2008

Conservatism’s current intellectual chaos reverberated in the Republican ticket’s end-of-campaign crescendo of surreal warnings that big government — verily, “socialism” — would impend were Democrats elected.
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John McCain and Sarah Palin experienced this epiphany when Barack Obama told a Toledo plumber that he would “spread the wealth around.”
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America can’t have that, exclaimed the Republican ticket while Republicans — whose prescription drug entitlement is the largest expansion of the welfare state since President Lyndon Johnson‘s Great Society gave birth to Medicare in 1965; and a majority of whom in Congress supported a lavish farm bill at a time of record profits for the less than 2 percent of the American people-cum-corporations who farm — and their administration were partially nationalizing the banking system, putting Detroit on the dole and looking around to see if some bit of what is smilingly called “the private sector” has been inadvertently left off the ever-expanding list of entities eligible for a bailout from the $1 trillion or so that is to be “spread around.”

The seepage of government into everywhere is, we are assured, to be temporary and nonpolitical. Well. 

By George F. Will
The Washington Post
Sunday, November 16, 2008; Page B07

Probably as temporary as New York City’s rent controls, which were born as emergency responses to the Second World War and are still distorting the city’s housing market. The Depression, which FDR failed to end but which Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor did end, was the excuse for agriculture subsidies that have lived past three score years and 10. ….

An employee working as a money changer prepares U.S. dollar ...

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/14
/AR2008111403045.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Mitch McConnell: Washington’s most important Republican and second-most consequential elected official

November 13, 2008

“I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.

Abraham Lincoln

Which is how discerning conservatives felt while waiting to see if, in Election Day’s second-most important voting, Kentuckians would grant a fifth term to Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate Republicans. They did, making him Washington’s most important Republican and second-most consequential elected official. This apotheosis has happened even though he is handicapped by, as National Review rather cruelly says, “an owlish, tight-lipped public demeanor reminiscent of George Will.”

Mitch McConnell

That disability is, however, a strength because it precludes an occupational hazard of senators — presidential ambition. Besides, McConnell, 66, is completely a man of the Senate. At 22, he was an intern for Sen. John Sherman Cooper and went from law school to the staff of Sen. Marlow Cook. Because McConnell has been so thoroughly marinated in the institution’s subtle mores and complex rules, he will wring maximum leverage from probably 43 Republican votes.

Which is why Democrats spared no expense in attempting to unhorse him, recruiting a rich opponent and supplementing his spending with $6 million from the national party. McConnell, to his great credit, had made himself vulnerable by opposing the “Millionaires’ Amendment” to the McCain-Feingold law restricting political speech. That amendment punished wealthy, self-financing candidates by allowing their opponents to spend much more than the law otherwise allows. Last summer, the Supreme Court struck down the amendment for the reasons McConnell opposed it, including this one: Government has no business fine-tuning electoral competition by equalizing candidates’ abilities to speak.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/1
2/AR2008111202543.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Election: Routine, Historic or Catastrophic?

November 2, 2008

Some elections are routine, some are important and some are historic. If Sen. John McCain wins this election, it will probably go down in history as routine. But if Barack Obama wins, it is more likely to be historic – and catastrophic.

By Thomas Sowell
The Washington Times

Once the election is over, the glittering generalities of rhetoric and style will mean nothing. Everything will depend on performance in facing huge challenges, domestic and foreign. Performance is where Barack Obama has nothing to show for his political career, either in Illinois or in Washington.

US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack ... 

Policies that he proposes under the banner of “change” are almost all policies that have been tried repeatedly in other countries – and failed repeatedly in other countries.

Politicians telling businesses how to operate? That has been tried in countries around the world, especially during the second half of the 20th century. It has failed so often and so badly even socialist and communist governments were freeing up their markets by the end of the century.

The economies of China and India began their take-off into high rates of growth when they got rid of precisely the kinds of policies Mr. Obama is advocating for the United States under the magic mantra of “change.”

Putting restrictions on international trade in order to save jobs at home? That was tried here with the Hawley-Smoot tariff during the Great Depression. Unemployment was 9 percent when that tariff was passed to save jobs, but unemployment went up instead of down, and reached 25 percent before the decade was over.

Higher taxes to “spread the wealth around,” as Mr. Obama puts it? The idea of redistributing wealth has turned into the reality of redistributing poverty, in countries where wealth has fled and the production of new wealth has been stifled by a lack of incentives.

Economic disasters, however, may pale by comparison with the catastrophe of Iran with nuclear weapons. Glib rhetoric about Iran being “a small country,” as Mr. Obama called it, will be a bitter irony for Americans who will have to live in the shadow of a nuclear threat that cannot be deterred, as that of the Soviet Union could be, by the threat of a nuclear counterattack.

Suicidal fanatics cannot be deterred. If they are willing to die and we are not, then we are at their mercy – and they have no mercy. Moreover, once they get nuclear weapons, that is a situation that cannot be reversed, either in this generation or in generations to come.

Is this the legacy we wish to leave our children and grandchildren, by voting on the basis of style and symbolism, rather than substance?

If Barack Obama thinks such a catastrophe can be avoided by sitting down and talking with the leaders of Iran, then he is repeating a fallacy that helped bring on World War II.

In a nuclear age, one country does not have to send troops to occupy another country in order to conquer it. A country is conquered if another country can dictate who rules it, as the Mongols once did with Russia, and as Osama bin Laden tried to do when he threatened retaliation against places in the United States that voted for George W. Bush. But he didn’t have nuclear weapons to back up that threat – yet.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news
/2008/nov/02/a-perfect-storm/

Rehab for recovery: ask an economist

October 28, 2008

By Robert
The Washington Times

COMMENTARY:

Back in early 1981, when I went to Washington to work for President Reagan, one of the architects of supply-side economics, Columbia University’s Robert Mundell,  visited my Office of Management and Budget OMB office inside the White House complex. At the time, we suffered from double-digit inflation, sky-high interest rates, a long economic downturn and a near 15-year bear market in stocks.

So I asked Professor Mundell, who later won a Nobel Prize in economics, whether Reagan’s supply-side tax cuts would be sufficient to cure the economy. The professor answered that during periods of crisis, sometimes you have to be a supply-sider (tax rates), sometimes a monetarist (Fed money supply) and sometimes a Keynesian (federal deficits).

I’ve never forgotten that advice. Mr. Mundell was saying: Choose the best policies as put forth by the great economic philosophers without being too rigid.

Of course, John Maynard Keynes was a deficit spender during the Depression. Milton Friedman warned of printing too much or too little money. And Mr. Mundell, along with Art Laffer, Jack Kemp and others….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/
2008/oct/28/rehab-for-recovery/

Pakistan’s Zardari is Cozy With China; But His Fate Is Tied To The White House and Whoever Lives there….

October 17, 2008

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari completed his first state trip to Beijing on Oct. 17, signing a raft of new agreements with a nation he had hailed in Islamabad four days earlier as “the future of the world.” China and Pakistan tied up at least 11 deals on trade and economic cooperation, infrastructure projects, agriculture, mining rights and telecommunications; they now aim to double bilateral trade, which currently stands at around $7 billion, by 2011.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) and his Pakistani counterpart ... 
Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari stand near their respective country’s flags during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 15, 2008. Zardari arrived on Tuesday for his first visit to China as president, and has said he wants his four-day trip “to remind the leadership of the world how close our relationship is”. Pakistan is set to usher in a series of agreements with China during the trip, highlighting Islamabad’s hopes that Beijing will help it through economic and diplomatic troubles.REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA)

By Ishaan Tharoor
Time Magazine
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The two countries have a long-standing, all-weather relationship, forged over decades of mutual animosity toward neighboring India, with whom they separately have fought wars. But Zardari’s visit comes at a pivotal moment. His fledgling democracy is not only threatened by terrorism, but is also teetering toward bankruptcy. Spiraling inflation, now at 25%, has eaten into Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves at a rate of $1 billion a month and the country risks defaulting on debt repayment loans. These fiscal headaches have been compounded by a flare-up in tensions with its most vital ally, the U.S., which recently launched raids against terrorist targets in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas without notifying Islamabad — actions that have triggered a firestorm of protest and clouded relations with Washington.

Enter China. With nearly $2 trillion amassed in foreign currency holdings, China’s government had the largesse this week to grant Zardari an immediate soft loan of upwards of $1 billion, according to a report in the Financial Times. “As a long friend of Pakistan, China understands it is facing some financial difficulties,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang at a briefing with journalists on Oct. 16. Other new measures include the increase of access Pakistani goods will have in China’s markets as well as agreements to launch special economic zones within Pakistan with tax incentives for Chinese companies.

Beyond this, Zardari’s strengthening of ties with Beijing sends a clear signal to the U.S. On Oct. 8, Washington concluded a landmark nuclear energy deal with India — a pact that upset both Beijing and Islamabad, in part because it enabled India to skirt international regulations regarding the purchase of nuclear fuel, something the U.S. has ruled out offering Pakistan. Su Hao, professor of Asia-Pacific studies at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, says China’s foreign policy establishment is “highly concerned about the U.S.-India contract, because it was a unilateral decision by the U.S.”

A burgeoning Sino-Pakistani alliance may check what many in Islamabad and Beijing fear to be a solidifying Indo-U.S. consensus in the region. Though no official statement from either government was made, Pakistan’s ambassador to Beijing, Masood Khan, told The Nation, a Pakistani daily, that obtaining nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian nuclear technology would be the “main item” in talks with Beijing this week. Apart from being Pakistan’s main conventional arms supplier, China has played an integral part in building Pakistan’s nuclear weapons industry. In turn, Islamabad allowed the Chinese to build a deep-sea facility in Gwadar, a $250 million project that, once completed, will give Beijing an immensely strategic listening post on the Persian Gulf.

Still, a geopolitical Cold War is not at hand. The fate of Pakistan’s government remains tightly bound to the White House….

Read the rest:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1851332,00.
html?xid=rss-topstories

Infuriated By Possibility of Higher Taxes? So Is Joe The Plummer (See Video)

October 16, 2008

John McCain may have found a blue-collar face to help him argue that no American — not even the richest 5 percent — should pay higher taxes.

“Joe The Plumber” has weighed in on Wednesday’s presidential debate and he says that Barack Obama’s tax plan “infuriates me.”

“To be honest with you, that infuriates me,” plumber Joe Wurzelbacher told Nightline’s Terry Moran. “It’s not right for someone to decide you made too much—that you’ve done too good and now we’re going to take some of it back.”

“That’s just completely wrong,” he added.

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama speaks ...
Joe the Plummer (L) Wurzelbacher talks with a guy that wants to raise his taxes and redistribute his wealth.  John McCain calls it class warfare….Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama spoke to Joe as Obama canvassed a neighbourhood in Holland, Ohio, October 12, 2008.(Jim Young/Reuters)

Read the rest and watch the video from ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Hope Ditto:
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/
2008/10/joe-the-plumber.html

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By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Barack Obama and John McCain may have turned him into the most famous small-business owner in America, but Joe the Plumber isn’t about to return the favor with an endorsement.
The morning after he emerged as the unexpected star of Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, declined to say who he will vote for in the November 4 election.

“It’s a personal decision, and myself and the button I push will know the answer,” the 34-year-old plumber and single father said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.

Later outside his home he told a crowd of reporters “I want the American people to vote for who they want to vote for,” and in an informed way.

He also said he was proud of what the U.S. military has accomplished in Iraq, feels his views are shared by many middle class working people he knows, is tired of people criticizing the United States and feels that the U.S. Social Security program is a “joke.”

Wurzelbacher came to prominence last week when he asked Obama about his tax plan during a campaign stop, which led to an appearance on a Fox News talk show and an invitation to a McCain rally.

Wurzelbacher said the sudden attention hasn’t yet translated into increased business.

“I hope I have a lot of jobs today. Yesterday I worked on a water main break for a gas station and that’s why I didn’t give any interviews. I was muddy and soaking wet,” he said.

Obama and McCain repeatedly invoked Wurzelbacher in their final debate as they sought to appeal to average Americans. McCain, a Republican, said Obama’s plan to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year would hurt small-business owners like Wurzelbacher.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081016/us_nm/us_usa_politics_
plumber;_ylt=Am6aXw2iArr4XUtRD1GD8HGs0NUE

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Joe Doesn’t Have License as Plummer

By By JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press Writer

“That bothered me. I wished that they had talked more about issues that are important to Americans,” he told reporters gathered outside his home.

Wurzelbacher, 34, said he doesn’t have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating in nearby Toledo.

He said the business consists of owner Al Newell and him. Wurzelbacher said he’s worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.

“There’s a lot I’ve got to learn,” he said.

Wurzelbacher said he started his day with an early morning workout and came back to his suburban Toledo home to do live interviews with TV networks.

Reporters camped out by his house overnight and by midmorning there were 21 people on his driveway surrounding him, holding cameras and notebooks.

Wurzelbacher said he’s feeling overwhelmed.

“I’m kind of like Britney Spears having a headache. Everybody wants to know about it,” he joked.

Joe Wurzelbacher, right, or as Republican presidential candidate ...
Above: Joe Wurzelbacher, right, or as Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain dubbed him during Wednesday’s presidential debate, ‘Joe The Pumber’, chats with members of the news media outside of his home in Holland, Ohio, Thursday Oct. 16, 2008. Wurzelbacher was cited by the GOP presidential candidate as an example of someone who wants to buy a plumbing business but would be hurt by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plans. In Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: ‘Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?’ Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.(AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero)

In Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”

Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.

Wurzelbacher said Obama’s tax plan wouldn’t affect him right now, because he doesn’t make $250,000. “But I hope someday I’ll make that,” he said.

“If you believed (Obama), I’d be receiving his tax cuts,” Wurzelbacher said. “But I don’t look at it that way. He’d still be hurting others.”

As he leaned against the Dodge Durango SUV parked in his driveway Thursday morning, Wurzelbacher indicated to reporters who crowded around that he was a conservative, a fan of the military and McCain. He said meeting McCain would be an honor but said he hadn’t been contacted by the Republican campaign.

Still, the plumber wouldn’t say who he was voting for and brushed off a question about whether he could influence the election or other voters.

“I don’t have a lot of pull. It’s not like I’m Matt Damon,” Wurzelbacher said.

“I just hope I’m not making too much of a fool of myself,” he added

Who Won Final Presidential Debate?

October 16, 2008

The morning of September 16, 2008, the Rasmussen poll is reporting that likely voters are for Obama 50%; McCain 46%…..

CNN polled people who wathed and said 58% said Obama won last night’s debate.  At Fox News, a “text-in” poll said 87% thought McCain won.  Dick Morris at Fox News said McCain won but Charles Krauthammer said the debate was a draw.  Most others said Obama won.

Who DID win?  Depends upon who you asked….

HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) — A majority of debate watchers think Sen. Barack Obama won the third and final presidential debate, according to a national poll conducted right afterward.
McCain, Obama get tough in final debate

Fifty-eight percent of debate watchers questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll said Democratic candidate Obama did the best job in the debate, with 31 percent saying Republican Sen. John McCain performed best.

The poll also suggests that debate watchers’ favorable opinion of Obama rose slightly during the debate, from 63 percent at the start to 66 percent at the end. The poll indicates that McCain’s favorables dropped slightly, from 51 percent to 49 percent.

The economy was the dominant issue of the debate, and 59 percent of debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job handling the economy, 24 points ahead of McCain.

During the debate, McCain attacked Obama’s stance on taxes, accusing Obama of seeking tax increases that would “spread the wealth around.” But by 15 points, 56 percent to 41 percent, debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job on taxes. By a 2-1 margin, 62 percent to 31 percent, debate watchers said Obama would do a better job on health care.

Sixty-six percent of debate watchers said Obama more clearly expressed his views, with 25 percent saying McCain was more clear about his views.

By 23 points, those polled said Obama was the stronger leader during the debate. By 48 points, they said Obama was more likeable.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/
10/15/debate.poll/index.html

Final Debate: McCain Lands Blows But Obama May Have Escaped

October 16, 2008

Senator John McCain used the final debate of the presidential election on Wednesday night to raise persistent and pointed questions about Senator Barack Obama‘s character, judgment and policy prescriptions in a session that was by far the most spirited and combative of their encounters this fall.

By Jim Rutenberg
The New York Times
OCtober 16, 2008

At times showing anger and at others a methodical determination to make all his points, Mr. McCain pressed his Democratic rival on taxes, spending, the tone of the campaign and his association with the former Weather Underground leader William Ayers, using nearly every argument at his disposal in an effort to alter the course of a contest that has increasingly gone Mr. Obama’s way.

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

But Mr. Obama maintained a placid and at times bemused demeanor — if at times appearing to work at it — as he parried the attacks and pressed his consistent line that Mr. McCain would represent a continuation of President Bush’s unpopular policies, especially on the economy.

That set the backdrop for one of the sharpest exchanges of the evening, when, in response to Mr. Obama’s statement that Mr. McCain had repeatedly supported Mr. Bush’s economic policies, Mr. McCain fairly leaped out of his chair to say: “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Acknowledging Mr. McCain had his differences with Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama replied, “The fact of the matter is that if I occasionally mistake your policies for George Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people — on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities — you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush.”

The debate touched on a wide variety of issues, including abortion, judicial appointments, trade and climate change as well as the economy, with the candidates often making clear the deep differences between them.

But it also put on display the two very different temperaments of the candidates with less than three weeks until Election Day. The lasting image of the night could be the split screen of Mr. Obama, doing his best to maintain his unflappable demeanor under a sometimes withering attack, and Mr. McCain looking coiled, occasionally breathing deeply, apparently in an expression of impatience.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/16/us/
politics/16debate.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin