Economists have long used 1920s Germany as the classic example of what can happen to a nation when monetary inflation gets out of control. So rapid was the inflation of the money supply that the exchange rate went from 60 marks per U.S. dollar during the first half of 1921 to 8,000 marks per dollar by December 1922.
All of the feigned outrage in Washington over the millions that AIG has been doling out in bonus payments, and the tens of billions in bailout monies that it sent directly to major creditors, fails to impress. Beyond the smokescreen of How-dare-they’s, emanating from Republican congressmen and the Obama administration alike, loom larger questions which no one seems willing to ask: how dare our elected leaders give almost $200 billion taxpayers’ dollars to AIG in the first place? And how dare they presume to nationalize a private company like some two-bit cadre of Marxist putschists?
President Barack Obama has just recently released his $3.55 trillion fiscal 2010 budget, and already there's full employment among all the people who matter to officials in Washington, D.C. A front-page story for the March 2 Washington Post began: "President Obama's budget is so ambitious, with vast new spending on health care, energy independence, education and services for veterans, that experts say he probably will need to hire tens of thousands of new federal government workers to realize his goals."
If the talk at the G20 gathering in England is any indication, the hard-beset global economy is stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. From the American perspective, as articulated by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, what the global economy needs is the same sort of placebo the American government has been administering domestically, to the delight of the ruling classes but the muffled dismay of the middle-class tax base: more stimulus spending.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s remark that he was “worried” about the $1 trillion in U.S. debt he was holding caused such a chill down the spine of world financial analysts that even the White House felt forced to respond immediately. “There’s no safer investment in the world than in the United States,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs shot back that same day.
H. Ross Perot used to talk about a “giant sucking sound” in the economy more than a decade ago. Back then, he talked about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) taking American jobs away. But now the “giant sucking sound” is the sound of federal debt issuances draining money out of the private sector, where it's needed to finance the recovery.
Official Washington is an a tizzy over new revelations, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal and dutifully amplified by other news outlets, that as much as $50 billion of bailout money sent to ailing mega-insurer AIG was funneled to at least two dozen U.S. and European banks.
With the passage of the $787 billion Obama-Democratic Congress stimulus bill, the die has been cast for America's economic future. This, the largest appropriations bill ever passed by Congress, is being variously criticized and applauded from all sides.
Down, down, down goes the Dow (and all the other stock indexes), and how much further the markets are likely to fall before the recession bottoms out is becoming an increasingly vexed question. The Dow is now well below 7,000 for the first time in 12 years, and bearish market analysts are now wondering: is Dow 5,000 a reasonable expectation? 4,000? Or lower still?
“The only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world,” said President Barack Obama in his Address to the Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, February 24, 2009.