Monday, July 5, 2010

Comment to the Prior Post

Good call Ambrose. This is a depression, it is not a recession of either the "single dip" or "double dip" variety. It didn't start with Obama, but everything he and his Democrat colleagues (and Brown when in power) have done, just like FDR, has made things worse.
Start from the very simple proposition: It is the real private sector, and only the private sector, that creates wealth and sustainable jobs (jobs in the public sector are only sustainable if there is private sector wealth being created to support them). In addition, government debt is only ever repaid with wealth taken from the real private sector (no lenders expect to take delivery of the output of government bureaucrats). The more government debt, the more that will be taken from the real private sector.
And, in this regard, the real private sector does not include those parts dependent on government directly (eg "green" industry) or indirectly (eg much of the accounting and legal professions which exist to interpret and apply government regulations, or to find ways around them, or lobbyists, or most of what is now euphemistically called "banking", which exists to separate wealth from its creators, and in its current form is only sustainable on the implicit guarantee of government bailouts each time it fails.), all of which have had explosive growth, driven by government.
For decades, government has consistently encouraged the growth of both government and its dependents in the faux private sector, all at the expense of the real private sector. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were essential parts of this in the US. Paulson's TARP extended it. The Democrat's confiscation of the property of bondholders as part of the nationalisation of GM and crony capitalist bailout of Chrysler, Obamacare with its massive cost impositions on business (leaving aside its doubtful constitutionality), the "stimulus" which was essentially a payoff to Democrat supporters (public sector unions, ACORN and the like, crony businesses) all to be paid for by the real private sector, the continuous intrusion of Obama's czars with ever more costly, obstructive, regulation, the threat of cap and tax legislation, are all compounding deterrents to private sector investment, without which the economy cannot re-engineer itself for growth.
In addition, the vast trade imbalances which were not just incidental to the growth of government. The offshoring of jobs to China and the borrowing of funds from it to pay for the cheap goods it produced with western technology and know how were actually essential to support the continuous growth of government and its intrusion while still giving the community a sense that its standard of living was OK or even increasing, albeit as we now see just temporarily. Had that temporary subsidy not been available, and the pain made more immediate, the US electorate would have called a halt to the growth of government much earlier.
Central to this policy has been hollowing out the manufacturing and inventive capacity of the west. Note, these two things are linked. For a brilliant, real world, exposition see the article by Andy Grove, ex Intel CEO, at The fundamental issues he raises of scaling and industry dynamics over decades are totally lacking from macro-economists' analysis and advice, and certainly from the appreciation and actions of "bankers", politicians and bureaucrats.
There are a few matters over which national governments have clear and unambiguous responsibility. Defense and border security is one. International trade is another. Western governments, unlike those of China and other Asian countries, have failed to manage international trade in the interests of their own country. In so doing, they have greatly damaged their national productive capacity.
This cannot be reversed quickly. It certainly cannot be reversed until indigenous business in the real private sector has not just lukewarm support, but absolutely enthusiastic support from government, which consists not of handouts, but shrinking the public sector and its costs, and removing most of the restrictions placed on business by government, including the threat of future profit confiscation; as well as managing international trade in the national interest, so foreign competitors are not given unfair advantages.
The British Government is starting to do some of this, but only some. The US Government has not, and it will not as long as Obama and his minions believe that they, not the private sector, magically create wealth in the economy. As they will never change their views, this US depression will certainly last at least as long as they are in power.

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