The stock market is in freefall once again, evoking specters of 2008. As one fund manager told the Wall Street Journal on Monday, “the sense of déjà vu is almost sickening.” The storied Dow lost more than 600 points Monday following huge declines late last week, appeared to get its footing yesterday, then plunged more than 500 points today. All over the world, markets are taking stock, so to speak, of the burgeoning debt crisis in the United States and Europe, and fearing the worst.
Residents of the Windy City may have to do without their favorite ice cream for a while, and possibly for good; and they have government to thank for it. According to the Chicago Tribune, Kris Swanberg, a laid-off Chicago public school teacher who chased the American Dream by starting her own business making artisanal ice cream, was recently told by the Illinois Department of Public Health that she will have to stop selling her product, Nice Cream, until she obtains a dairy license.
With gold bouncing up from $1,668 an ounce on Friday, August 5 to $1,778 on Tuesday, August 9, it was the biggest three-day rally since the start of the great recession in 2008. At the same time, the equities markets were falling precipitously, losing over 600 points on the Dow on Monday alone. What is the connection?
The communist Chinese dictatorship blasted the U.S. government for endangering its massive dollar holdings, calling for America to rein in its out-of-control debt by slashing military spending and welfare. The regime also demanded international supervision of the dollar and even suggested the creation of a new global reserve currency.
On Friday, Standard & Poor's kept its word and downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history — from AAA to AA+. The action came because the debt bill passed last week is not considered stringent enough to stabilize the debt crisis. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (left) has already railed against the credit agency, saying it has shown “terrible judgment” in its decision, but some are using the rating downgrade to call for Geithner’s resignation, a move that Geithner had already been considering. At the behest of President Obama, however, Geithner has decided to stay for now.
If a $14.3 trillion national debt sounds like a staggering sum, economist Lawrence Kotlikoff's estimate of the nation's real long-term indebtedness might bowl you over. Kotlikoff, who was a senior economist on President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, calculates the debt at $211 trillion.
Former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan (left) came up with a novel way to claim the U.S. government would never default on debt: print the difference. Greenspan told NBC's "Meet the Press" August 7, in response to a question about the recent downgrade in the U.S. bond rating by Standard and Poor's:
George Soros, the hedge fund investor who called gold "the ultimate bubble," has divested his portfolio of nearly its entire investment in the precious metal, inciting many to fear that the price will very soon plummet, devaluing the specie-heavy portfolios of millions of investors.
Investors will be anxiously watching when the New York Stock Exchange market opens Monday morning to see what effect Standard and Poor's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating will have on trading. The stock market fell by 7.1 percent last week, before S&P issued its report of the downgrade at the end of the day on Friday. The market fell despite the bill signed into law last Tuesday that allowed the raising of the debt limit to prevent the government from defaulting on its financial obligations, accompanied by a deficit reduction package aimed at trimming $2.1 trillion of deficit spending over the next 10 years.
Standard and Poor’s was blunt in its assessment of America’s deteriorating financial condition when it announced Friday night that it was cutting its credit rating on United States’ Treasury securities from AAA to the second-tier AA+, with a negative outlook.
Moody’s announcement on Tuesday that it would retain its AAA rating of U.S. government sovereign debt as a result of the debt-limit agreement came with a warning: The government must rein in spending or risk a downgrade anyway. The deal “virtually eliminated the risk of [a] default,” but the agency warned that “Should the new mechanism put in place by the Budget Control Act prove ineffective, this could affect the rating negatively.” Moody’s added that it wanted to see the United States lower its debt-to-GDP ratio, now approaching 100 percent, to around 73 percent by 2015, and then gradually move the ratio lower.