Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Good Question ...

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And how would you deal with a repeat of the same partisan
extremism that you're encountering in your first term?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Here's The Thing - We All Built It!

Recent political dialogues (or, perhaps, monologues) have been about who "built" businesses and other entities that are integral to our nation's economic dynamism.  Many conservatives have been challenging President Obama's recent assertions that we're all in this together, that there is an acceptable role for government and that no man is an island (see John Donne for a  pre-Obama perspective).

The extreme conservatives (and libertarians and Ayn Randians) really would have you believe that each individual is fully and only responsible for his/her own success - that there is no reason to give credit (or tax $) to a goverment that has provided an infrastructure and a judicial system and a protection system (think police and fire departments) and an education system so that economic success can be achieved by the hard working/persevering individual.  And, while I would not want to detract from the credit due to hard work and perseverance and the economic success that flows from those efforts, I also believe that such success is a function of individual industriousness combined with the framework that we, as a nation, have built over the past 230+ years.  And yes, "luck" and being at the right place at the right time is important.

It's time to reject the YOYO strategy ("you're on your own") of extreme conservatives and libertarians and Ayn Randians (and, yes, of Romney and Ryan if they want to be embrace a YOYO strategy for this country).  It's time for bi-partisan recognition of what an efficent, effective government can accomplish for the 100% of this nation's citizenry.

The Nicholas Kristof article that follows is an excellent thought-provoking piece on entrepreneurial success...

August 28, 2012
The Secret Weapon: All of Us

The Republican National Convention opened by smacking President Obama with the theme “We Built it.”

To pound that message, Republicans turned to a Delaware businesswoman, Sher Valenzuela, who is also a candidate for lieutenant governor. Valenzuela and her husband built an upholstery business that now employs dozens of workers.

Valenzuela presumably was picked to speak so that she could thunder at Obama for disdaining capitalism.

Oops. It turns out that Valenzuela relied not only on her entrepreneurial skills but also on — yes, government help. Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group, documented $2 million in loans from the Small Business Administration for Valenzuela’s company, plus $15 million in government contracts (mostly noncompetitive ones).

In a presentation earlier this year, Valenzuela described government assistance as an entrepreneur’s “biggest ‘secret weapon.’ ”

Someone has set up a parody Web site, using the name of Valenzuela’s company, First State Manufacturing, to mock the Republican message. The site,, declares, “Thank God government was there for me.”

In short, the Republicans are inadvertently underscoring the point that President Obama was expressing in his “you didn’t build that” comment in July. Obama noted then that “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.” He pointed to public investments in roads and bridges that enable businesses to flourish, and then he inelegantly added, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”

Fox News erupted in outrage, selectively editing the clip to confirm Republican prejudices that Obama doesn’t understand the private sector. This fits into the Republican narrative that business executives are heroic job creators when they aren’t held back by regulations and taxes imposed by quasi-socialist Muslims born in Kenya.

Democrats tried to highlight a flaw in that narrative when they released a new ad pointing to Mitt Romney’s outsourcing of jobs and telling him, “You didn’t build that — you destroyed it.”

Yet to me, that Democratic line of attack on Romney as a serial job destroyer feels unfair. Sometimes the way to save a company is to cut labor costs or outsource jobs, and almost nobody wants to ban trade or overseas production even though they can cost jobs.

What is fair is to observe that the Republicans’ claim that they are the great job creators is a fiction.
Prof. Robert S. McElvaine of Millsaps College examined employment data for the 64 years from the beginning of Harry Truman’s presidency to the end of George W. Bush’s. He found that an average of two million jobs were created per year when a Democrat was president, compared with one million annually when a Republican was president.

More pointedly, and unfortunately for Romney, business executives have only a mediocre record when transferring their skills to government. In the last great economic mess, this country was led by a Republican who had been stunningly successful in business: Herbert Hoover. Hmm. More recently, President George W. Bush staffed his cabinet with C.E.O.’s who had been stellar in the private sector — and that didn’t work out so well, either.

Obama’s point about our shared undertaking was made last year, more eloquently, by Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat running for Senate:
     “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody!” she said. “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you all were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. ...
     “You built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

In short, taxes don’t just smother. They can also fuel growth — when they’re invested in highways or the Internet, in colleges or early childhood education. They can create opportunities, as they did for Sher Valenzuela.

Or for Romney himself. He built his Bain empire partly because he was smart and hard-working, but also because of a great education and because of tax breaks for debt financing. Tax loopholes helped him build his fortune, and other loopholes gave him the low tax rates to retain it.
If the Republican convention wishes to highlight and explain Romney’s success, it should have a moment of silence to honor our infernal tax code.

Who built this country? Entrepreneurs, yes. But so did schoolteachers and railway construction workers. Doctors and truckers. Scientists and soldiers. You didn’t build it, Mitt Romney — we all built it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Good Question ...

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WHEN Mitt Romney was governor of liberal Massachusetts, he supported abortion, gun control, tackling climate change and a requirement that everyone should buy health insurance, backed up with generous subsidies for those who could not afford it. Now, as he prepares to fly to Tampa to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president on August 30th, he opposes all those things. A year ago he favoured keeping income taxes at their current levels; now he wants to slash them for everybody, with the rate falling from 35% to 28% for the richest Americans.

Read more ...

One Reason Our Economic Recovery Isn't

Bill Day - Cagle Cartoons - Congress at Play - English - Congress, Anti-Obama, legislation, GOP

Friday, August 17, 2012

Executives Say Obama Better for World Economy: Reuters Poll

From my Twitter post @rgwilliams824 ---
"Executives Say Obama Better for World Economy: Poll Reuters | August 17, 2012 | 05:44 AM EDT"
See article at
And if it's good for the world economy, what's the downside for the US economy?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Infrastructure Redux

Even if Republicans don't want to revive stimulus spending, they could take a smaller step, one that implies no direct fiscal stimulus but could unlock some $20 billion in infrastructure funds for states.
So says Peter Orszag:
     "The unemployment rate remains stuck at more than 8 percent. More investment in roads, water systems, airports and other public infrastructure would bring both short- and long-term benefits. And state and local governments face ongoing deficits. So wouldn’t it be great if we could design an efficient way to channel tax subsidies to state and local governments to invest in infrastructure?
     "Turns out we already have: the Build America Bonds program, which was a huge success in 2009 and 2010, but then expired. If you want an example of how political polarization is impeding sound economic policy, BABs would be hard to beat. Despite no credible argument against it, a divided Congress refuses to reinstate the program."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Unfortunate, But Perhaps True

Maybe it would be different if Congress hadn't continued
sitting on their partisan hands and passed some
meaningful jobs legislation --- like a bill to renew our Country's
aging infrastructure.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wish It Were True ...

As you consider the following article from he Business Insider, don't forget to read the "on the other hand" point of view from Goldman Sachs...

BofA: Our Contrarian Indicator Is Flashing The Biggest Stock Market Buy Signal We've Ever Seen
(The Business Insider, August 1, 2012)
BofA just updated one of their favorite market indicators, and it's looking very bullish for stocks.

Savita Subramanian, who heads the bank's quant and equity strategy, says the indicator is flashing the biggest contrarian buy signal they've seen in 27 years of data:

After triggering a Buy signal in May, our measure of Wall Street bullishness on stocks has continued to decline, marking the tenth time in the past year that the indicator has fallen. This month’s 5.5ppt decline pushed the indicator down to 43.9, the lowest level in the history of our data going back to 1985, suggesting that sell side strategists are now more bearish on equities than they were at any point in the last 27 years. Given the contrarian nature of this indicator, we are encouraged by Wall Street’s lack of optimism and the fact that strategists are recommending that investors significantly underweight equities vs. a traditional long-term average benchmark weighting of 60-65%.

Here's a look at the indicator, which according to Subramanian is "based on the average recommended equity allocation of Wall Street strategists as of the last business day of each month," has plunged in 2012:

Subramanian writes that although it's not their official target for the S&P 500, the indicator implies a 12-month price target of 1808 on the index.

On the other hand, Goldman thinks

Read more: