More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Monday, September 29, 2008

FAILED BAILOUT BILL SHOULD HAVE PASSED

I want to make one thing perfectly clear right here at the start that I am a free market capitalist. A business that makes bad business decisions or that does not effectively compete in the marketplace, will and should be allowed to topple of its own accord, heedless of the sometimes terrible and devastating consequences. Enron would be a good example here. So would be Arthur Anderson that fell apart in the wake of Enron's demise.

That leads me to the current situation we have with the banks and the proposed $700 billion bailout which failed in Congress today. I am fit to be tied with House republicans who cast a "no" vote for this very important bill. Where are their heads at? Their sitting president is calling for it. So is their presidential nominee. I think most Americans, though admittedly there is a hefty opposition, are also calling for it.

But, republicans say. We have to consider free market capitalism here.

Fine. Dandy. Swell, all. But honestly I don't think the idea of free market capitalism really applies here when it's the entire financial system in crisis, which if we don't fix it, could topple the entire US economy and throw us into the worst recession we've ever seen. This is not like Enron or Arthur Anderson at all.

And what about this ridiculous argument that was made by Minority Leader John Boehner (I think that's pronounced boner) that "we could have gotten (the bill) passed today had it not been for...partisan speech that the Speaker gave on the floor of the House?"

So, because Nancy Pelosi happened to have said some things that republicans didn't like about the president's economic policy which, in the democrats opinion, has been a large contributor to the current economic crisis, we just instead prefer to let the economy go into yet more freefall? We all know that socialist democratic urgings in the Congress to sell the American dream to those who, it now appears obvious, could not afford to pay for, was at least one large contributor.

But this is moot. It's an obvious case of he said, she said, and it really doesn't matter right now. Who gives a flying copulation who did what, when, or how? Right now the issue is the shoring up of an economy that is about to implode.

Hey folks. Wise up. We can argue the details later, thank you, and decide after we've gotten this bull by the horns whose heads we may want delivered on plates.

What we need to do now is get a bill passed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

AFTER THE 1ST DEBATE, MY ANALYSIS

After watching the 1st presidential debate last night, I feel that, overall, John McCain did rather well. But sadly he missed his opportunity in the first 30 or so minutes where the main focus was on the economy. I think McCain would have done well to talk more about his decision to suspend his campaign in order to return to Washington to focus on the economic issues facing our country. This was a big move for him, and I think the action he took was something most Americans, including those on board with Obama, could appreciate as the American thing to do considering the current economic condition.

Instead he talked about earmarks, which are indeed an important issue. No one needs to be told that there is a ton of wasteful use of taxpayers money on Capitol Hill that needs to be stopped.

But what I, and I think the majority of American people, were waiting to hear about were job creation, stabilizing the credit markets, and specific plans to stimulate the beleaguered economy, including how we will deal with foreign oil going forward. We also wanted to hear specific plans McCain or Obama would put to use on their first day in office in January 2009 to bring to a head the worst financial crisis our country has faced in nearly 25 years. Jim Lehrer even asked the candidates to lay out their thoughts and ideas regarding the proposed $700 billion bailout plan. Neither candidate really told us much at all, except to say that we would need bipartisan cooperation to get something done.

Don't get me wrong. Not that I think that Barack Obama has the better plan for the economy. In fact, I'm not so sure I agree entirely with either candidate on that issue.

Personally, I think that there is much chaos and shenanigans going on on Wall Street that needs to be looked at, and while I support giving tax breaks to corporations, I feel that they must be conditional. We need to make sure that those tax breaks we offer are conducted in a manner that ensures job creation and encourages higher wages for the average American, and better access to benefits. Not higher CEO salaries. We need to make language like this clear when we offer the tax incentives. You pay your workers more and we'll give you more. You pay more of a worker's health care benefits, we'll give you more. And on and on.

Where McCain did well, and not surprisingly, was on matters of national security and foreign policy. Both areas I feel McCain is best equipped to lead. In this area he blew the socks off Barack Obama, and very clearly so.

As to who won? I'd have to go with John McCain here. But I do think it was close.

And so, we move on to the next presidential debate which will be on October 7th. Until then we have the vice presidential debate to look forward to, which will take place October 2nd. We can only hope that debate will stand as yet another defining moment for Gov. Palin of Alaska.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

MCCAIN SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN, PUTS HIS COUNTRY FIRST

I find myself rather depressed to learn that we may have to wait for the 1st in a series of upcoming presidential debates, which was supposed to air on the 26th of September. I have to say, I was really looking forward to watching this.

John McCain announced today that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington to deal with what he calls an "historic" crisis right now in the US economy. He has requested to postpone the upcoming debate as well, and has called on his democratic opponent, Barack Obama, to also suspend his campaign, and of course Obama will. To not do so would clearly be a mistake.

But even if this, the first of the three scheduled debates is postponed, it will eventually take place. As critical as I think the debates are to each other's campaigns, I doubt either candidate would want to cancel any of them. But McCain is exactly right when he says that the country's now faltering economy should be front and center in Washington.

Of course, there are going to be those naysayers who will call upon McCain's decision as "one to sway the voters." It's certainly a bold decision to make. Of that there is no doubt. Especially at a time when just recently Obama was again showing a bit of a lead over McCain in the polls. This could indeed give McCain's campaign a bit of a boost. I'd be naive to believe that there couldn't be the possibility of some truth to that way of thinking. After all, there are still clearly a number of voters out there who are undecided right now. That means that the closer we get to the November election, the more important it becomes for the two candidates to reign them in. Bold moves by candidates like this one are certainly one way to do that, and I can certainly appreciate this dynamic.

Whatever the case, I see this action to be more simply another shining example of John McCain's amazing character. It also speaks to his real love of country. He speaks the truth when he says to the American people that the country comes first. To him it's not just a fancy campaign slogan. It's something to lead the nation by.

Early on in his campaign he stated that he would vote his heart and his conscience before he would vote his party. And I believe him. In his eyes, the needs of the country far outweigh the needs of any partisan politic, and the fact that he understands this speaks volumes for the kind of president John McCain stands to be. It should also help us to see more clearly exactly why he should be our next president.

The debates will come, and I can wait. In the meantime there's work to be done. At least in the short term it's encouraging to know that there is even the faintest smidgen of hope, that there is someone on Capitol Hill who can sideline his own needs, and actually do the work that was promised to be done for the American people.

COME RIDE THE MARKET CARNIVAL RIDE

I think it's becoming more and more clear that the rest of the year for the stock markets is going to be a virtual carnival ride. We are seeing obvious signs of capitulation, and I think the market is going to go lower. Before I said I didn't think we'd see Dow 10,000. Considering that we're only 800 points from there now, and the market has taken some recent huge dumps, dropping at times up to 400 points in a day, 10,000 points doesn't seem that far away anymore.

That said, I still think this market ultimately will provide an amazing and, for many of us unseen before, opportunity to make wild profits once things quiet down a little bit. Historically the best times to buy stocks were after the infamous crash of 1929, the crash in 1987, and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Markets inevitably must go through cycles. Reality has to, at times, hit the fan. Once that's over, though, there's definite money to be made.

Of course, it's anyone's guess exactly when we'll see the bottom, or when things may begin to turn around. I think you can still buy some good stocks in this market if you have a long term investment goal. But considering the market is going to go lower, it may also be a good idea to wait it out a little bit. When the market starts to stabalize and we get a couple of good solid weeks with positive gains in the Dow 30, then we might be able to shop around and take advantage of some good deals.

In the short term it will be interesting to see what impact Paulson's and the Fed's plan with regard to the nearly $1 trillion bank bailout, and its temporary ban on short selling certain stocks, will have on getting the freefalling market supplied with a parachute.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BEN BERNANKE SHOULD RESIGN HIS POST AS FED CHAIRMAN

I want to wring Ben Bernanke's neck. His, and the Fed's belief that in order to restore the economy we have to get the credit markets moving again is absolutely ludicrous, if not downright stupid. I can't help but think that credit was and is the very reason we are in this situation to begin with.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that there was clearly far too much access to credit, and the only criteria for getting it was to have a pulse. We'll not even go into the shenanigans that went on behind the scenes at the world's biggest banks with regard to mortgage backed securities and layers and layers of margining.

The simple truth about credit is that at some point someone has to pay it back. It's a loan. It's not really the borrower's money. It therefore shouldn't be what drives consumerism. That should come from good wages provided from gainful employment. If our economy was as strong as we'd have ourselves believe (I thought it was stronger too as earlier blogs would indicate, but I've now been forced to reconsider), then consumerism would have been more a product of people having real money in their pockets to spend, from real jobs. Not from credit. In addition, they'd have had real savings that could be used to bail themselves out of a problem if something went bad. Unfortunately that is not the case at all, and the proverbial shit has literally hit the fan.

The fact is that wages have been stagnant in this country for a very long time. Companies have been allowed to ship work overseas and good, high paying industrial jobs which were the backbone of the middle class have all but gone. The ones that are still here teeter on the brink of extinction.

I think that's thanks to credit. The whole idea of credit seems to have effectively replaced the greater need for income. And when everyone can get credit, and get things with it, it creates the perception, rather than the reality, that people have money to spend, and therefore everything is going well. Right?

Wrong.

We've been misled to believe that money is available no matter what, and that we can therefore borrow to our heart's content, heedless of whether or not our incomes would ultimately support that. That kind of thinking has led us down a very precarious path, and we're now feeling the harsh reality of that. I don't get why the Fed doesn't get that as well.

Who needed to have a good job? So long as we could have a credit card in our wallets we could rule the world. Even the 40-something working the french fry vat at the local McDonald's restaurant carried a Platinum Visa in his wallet.

And let's not forget the other side of the coin. The CEOs, who continue to rape the average American worker of their wages and benefits while cashing in their own paychecks worth millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses - even while their own companies and finances go down the tubes. To them, job losses were okay and paying people less was okay as well. The money flow was still in a nice groove despite it all.

What the government powers-that-be need to do to in order for this economy to get rolling again, is to take a serious look at jobs. Jobs are, in my opinion, at the heart of it all. In order for people to obtain things to drive consumerism that has any real economic value, people need money. Good paying jobs provide that. Not banks and plastic cards. We need to restore in American's a real sense of security that their families, their lifestyles, and that their futures are safe. We need to foster a sense in American companies and the CEOs who head them, that capitalism only works if everyone, not just a select few, have a real chance to compete and achieve a gain. Jobs are what are important to the economy. We have to create them, and we must protect them.

As it stands right now, I don't think Ben Bernanke gets that. He therefore should resign. As for the rest of the Fed, it should rightly yank it's head from its ass-crack as well, or we are in jeopardy of a severe, and historic economic disaster.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

GM AND FORD MAY GET $50 BILLION TO HELP SHORE THEM UP

If Congress allows an additional $25 billion in low-interest federal loans to ailing General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Company on top of the already authorized, but not yet funded, $25 billion, which was part of last year's energy bill, it is not, as some would like to believe, a federal bailout. These companies will have to pay these monies back, and the funds would provide a great deal of help to an industry caught up in some very tough times of late.

General Motors Corp. stock is down a staggering 47% this year so far. Ford's stock is down 27%.

Part of what these funds would allow the two companies to do would be to retool existing plants, which have primarily been used to build larger SUVs and sport-utility trucks which have fallen out of favor, in order to better compete with new demand for more fuel efficient cars. Right now, Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. dominate this market.

Of course, all kinds of arguments can be made that US automakers made some poor decisions which led, ultimately, to myriad financial problems, and governments should not be involved in helping to buoy companies that get it wrong. For the most part that's true, and certainly the airline industry, notorious for receiving federal help, is a glaring example of abuse of the system. But the US auto industry, perhaps one of the last of the strong wage jobs in America, is important to the economy. And in a time when many thousands of American workers continue to lose jobs as the economy yet wheezes more, someone has to step up and do something to curb the damage.

Right now, both presidential candidates support this. They see the very real potential for major bankruptcies if the top two US automakers cannot fix their problems, and soon. Americans should be on board with this plan as well. It's good for jobs. It's good for the economy. It's good for the markets.