Sunday, July 31, 2011

Breaking News: Congress Gets Its Head Out

Good news!  Sorta.  It appears in late news that both the House and the Senate can come to some kind of an agreement on how much the debt limit can be raised, and how much spending will have to be cut in the future, and everyone can agree that we need it and it should be done.

I agree and disagree.

The United States owes a bunch of money.  I'm not thrilled to see that China holds approximately an 8% stake in our economy.  It'd be interesting to know exactly how big a stake in their economy we hold.  If we have any, agree to cancel each other's holdings out with a straight across trade, and if there's any left over, make paying that off a priority.

Any other nations out there that hold stakes in the US economy, pay them off too.  Get rid of them.

I say I disagree because we have a AAA credit rating we don't deserve.  We're underwater on payments, and lots of them.  I wonder whether anything is ever really too big to fail.  Gigantic banks took a bath - and so did the rest of us - during the economic disaster of 2007-8, and yet we've survived that even though we declared that some of them were too big to be permitted to fail.  Well, so what if they do?  The world keeps turning.  Trillions of dollars of value has been "erased" since the recession began, and where did it go?  It never actually existed in the first place, it was just value that was stated to exist.  Economies rumbled and banks folded and value was gone.  Arbitrary value is worth less than the paper it is stated on.  And stated value is no way to do business, not between businesses, not between governments, and it's certainly not collateral against which you should draw a loan.  What if you have to default a payment on the loan?  The collateral turns out to be worthless, so what do the creditors collect on?  That's not a pleasant scenario.  At that point, they own you.

Spending is out of control.  When we're many trillions in debt, that's out of control.  There's got to be some stuff we can stop buying, some tax breaks we can stop giving.  Who's not paying that used to?  Get 'em back on the books.  Who's drawing more than he's earned?  Write him off.  Do it now.  Ask those questions of everybody, every company.  Keep doing it until we're making more money than we spend.

On a related note, Japan's markets opened up sharply higher, probably influenced by what is clearly good news, but I still think it's too early to say whether this is a completely good thing.  We didn't get here over the course of a few years under one president, and it won't be one president that fixes things.  This is a long haul scenario; economies are big, unwieldy, and a bit like cats - they don't always go where you want them to go.  Too many individual viewpoints making things difficult.

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