More than a year has elapsed since the U.S. economy went into a tailspin with the panic that shook the world’s financial markets in the fall of 2008. Two presidential administrations have attempted to solve the crisis by political means, using taxpayer dollars to bail out certain corporations deemed too large or too critical to be allowed to fail.
When he appeared on ABC News's This Week on February 7, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was quizzed about the risk of the United States losing its triple-A credit rating, the chances that foreign investors might start shunning US debt, and whether the economy would suffer a double dip recession.
Sam Dillon of the New York Times reports that the depletion of federal stimulus money will result in schools approaching "a funding cliff." Dillon claims that the federal stimulus has managed to stave off drastic cuts at public schools in most parts of the nation thus far, but that the period of sustenance will soon end.
January’s unemployment numbers were released late last week. According to the official report, unemployment fell from 10.0 to 9.7 percent last month. Employment fell in such areas as construction and transportation, while we saw the now-familiar gains in such areas as services and retail.
Claims that cabals of “banksters” control much of the world’s economy from behind closed doors have, for years now, been mainstays of those usually dismissed as “conspiracy theorists.” But since Fall 2008, which saw billions funneled into banking and other institutions deemed “too big to fail,” and since hundreds of billions remain unaccounted for; and especially since the Federal Reserve has successfully resisted efforts to make its activities more transparent — especially its dealings with foreign banks — such claims have gained both visibility and at least some credibility.
When the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that “the output of goods and services…increased at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009,” the usual suspects in the kept media could hardly restrain themselves. ABC News’ headline trumpeted, “Economy Grows…Fastest Since 2003” which was “fueled by companies boosting output to keep stockpiles up.” Their announcement explained that “Growth exceeded expectations mainly because business spending on equipment and software jumped much more than [was] forecast.”
Although the likelihood that President Obama will embrace a free-market solution to fixing the economy anytime soon must be reckoned similar to the probability of an asteroid strike on the White House, the President's upcoming State of the Union address will allegedly throw at least a sop in the direction of greater economic freedom — soaked in the usual Big Government broth.
“The debt level of the United States is unsustainable, something has to give,” said the co-author of a new joint report released last week by the National Research Council and the National Academy of Public Administration. The committee that prepared the 268-page study, entitled Choosing the Nation's Fiscal Future, included three former heads of the Congressional Budget Office.
According to Newsweek, the dollar isn’t weakening, and even if it is, it isn’t Obama’s fault. On Tuesday, Daniel Gross iterated all the reasons that, according to conservatives, the American dollar should weaken. Conservatives, he said, blame the actions of the Federal Reserve with the lowering of interest rates to zero, printing money, and expanding the monetary base. They also blame the Obama administration for running up huge deficits in its efforts to restart the faltering economy.
The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to impose higher taxes on banks as a way of cutting the deficit. Proposals that have been mentioned but rejected include a tax on financial trades and a special tax on bonuses paid to bank executives. Proposals now being actively considered by the administration include taxes based upon the size of a financial institution, a tax on the riskiness of the financial institution's loans, or a tax on the bank's profits.