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It's the Economy!

The presidential campaigns are focusing on the economy and The Post's Neil Irwin writes today that some industries and regions are already in a recession. This comes as no surpise to our Readers Who Comment, who responded strongly to Irwin's article.

There is anger in their comments, anger at the administration, anger at some big businesses, anger about the war and its contractors, anger about the sub-prime mortgage disaster and the lenders who contributed to it and, predictably, a discussion about whether illegal immigration contributed to the situation.

Let's get started with bobmoses, who mirrors the tone of the conversation in writing, "Lot of "ifs" in this piece, although I notice the writer doesn't bother to explore any positive outcomes."

curious606 wrote, "Banker and mortgage lender GREED led to this meltdown. IF you all want to blame someone at least blame the right people. Stop whining!"

jryan758 said, "Basically therefore, the average American is 5% worse off financially last year alone. Meanwhile, the Haliburton executives in their new headquarters in Dubai are laughing all the way to the bank as they trade their dollars for foreign currencies."

FloridaMike proposed, "Hey I have an idea to help our economy lets keep sending Billions to Iraq, Yea thats the ticket Yea!"

Indeendent wrote, "A seemingly implied belief that somehow the housing crisis and the banking crisis might be contained within these industries is preposterous. We are experiencing only very early stages of stagflation. The fed has sadly lost control, while the President has lost his mind spending trillions on the war while lowering taxes on the richest."

ihave4ducks said, "We've spent trillions of dollars since the late 1940s as the "world's policeman." We're currently engaged in an illegal war that's exhausting our military and invoking the world's collective ire. Our actions have helped destabilize oil-producing regions and thus the price of oil has skyrocketed... Is anyone really surprised things are going down the commode?"

WMRG70 wrote, "This is the fault of the mortgage bankers, the developers and those who took sub-prime loans. All done with eyes toward big bucks and not looking at the long term consequences of their greed. And the tax payers are going to bail them out, then watch the CEO's laugh all the way to the bank. Their stock holders need to get them fired without compensation."

graced8669 said, "...If housing suffers, so does everything else, in a domino effect. IE: Applicances, rugs, furniture, etc, then all those people loose jobs so they don't eat out, or have money for medical bills, or go on vacations..."

BlueTwo1 wrote, "...Wall Street demanded that the annointed leaders of financial institutions grab the brass ring while interest rates were low. Selling adjustable rate mortgages to the un- and barely-qualified is a recipe for disaster. They knew it and went ahead anyway... Is it always self-interest or are there some out there who work for the good of the whole nation?"

buzzm1 cited the costs of the Iraq war and then initiated what became a long thread on the immigration issue in writing, "...Over $100 Billion per year, to provide Free Benefits for illegal immigrants... Build the fence!! Secure the border!!... Punish the employers of illegal immigrants..."

To which BethesdaMD replied, "buzzm1: You must be one of those really brilliant people! (as Borat would say...) You figured out a way to blame all the problems with the economy on illegal aliens... All our problems are caused by illegal aliens who work hard, make less than minimum wage in some instances, and still somehow manage to save some of their hard earned money... It's disgusting to see such hatred and racist xenophobia. What we need in this country is fiscal responsibility. The child emperor and his gang of pillagers leaving us next will be a good start."

To which buzzm1responded, "...being brilliant, I was thinking that "Jobs, and the Economy" in addition to "Illegal immigration" were two of the major issues with our country... let's get rid of those 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants, and that will free up some jobs, so that some of our own citizens can go to work. And if they go to work, they would be paying taxes... and we taxpayers wouldn't have to be paying over 100 billion dollars a year for the illegal immigrants Free Healthcare, Education, Welfare, Food Stamps, Court Costs, Housing Subsidies, Incarcerations, and the like..."

BethesdaMD then said, "...These same human beings that you call "Illegal aliens" were present during the largest peace-time expansion of our economy and they contributed to its growth. What I found disgusting is how you blame perhaps the hardest working and least paid segment of our population for the state of our economy..."

Shootingsparks joined in, saying, "Nothing about how our economy has been being driven has passed my smell test... A real estate shell game, pyramid scheme. When people point to the border as the cause of our economic woes i urge everyone to remember that "they" are really part of the big collective "us"..."

blasmaic's suggested that "The challenge is to make the crisis expand into October. Only a recession of biblical proportions will elect a Democrat."

And we'll close with claudedunger, who wrote, "...Actually, people just trying to make it have a good feel for the real economy. Forget the consumer price index. Go check the number of people who have their basic utilities cut off for non-payment. Follow that trend for the last couple of years. The direction of the economy will become apparent. That's about as basic as it gets and it ain't pretty"

All comments on the economy article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  January 17, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Economy Watch  
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Comments

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Posted by: xzdjmgsdvv | April 21, 2008 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't anyone realize that the whole problem with the war and the economy are media induced. No question! For 6 years we have had to listen and read the national media tell us how bad the economy is, that a recession is right around the corner, that the war is not winnable, the Bush is sa liar and a fraud, et.c, etc. Housing: here in Wisconsin it is pretty much normal. Only 9 million are really without insurance as 1/3 who are without can afford it but don't take it, another 1/3 are qualified for government insurance but fail to sign up and another 10 million are illegals. Everyone is still buying hdtvs, computers, i-pods, cell-phones, suvs, boats, snowmobiles, etc., etc. And the market will be fine as long as you don't listen to the pundents and the national media. God Bless. We are a great nation. The greatest in the world. And don't you forget it!

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Let's see.
145 billion on the American people, (and
American corporations).
1000 billion on Iraq, (most of which went to American corporations).
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Pay your taxes.

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Posted by: sesvzpogrz | January 23, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

We sure could use that $1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion dollars), Bush sent to Iraq right about now. I'll bet his corporate bosses in Iraq are doing just fine. The Iraqi people are not. For that matter, neither are we! What a pity the laws of this country don't apply to people like Bush and Cheney. Remember this when Bank of America becomes Bank of China and your property winds up owned by foreign
countries.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 22, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Smart but devious people in American banking (and post
Glass-Steagall quasi-banking corporations) 'created' a new form of
negative externality scam which dumped and hid a new type of social costs on
broader society in order to create private faux-profits.

Mirroring the 'creative' industrial corporations which used the well known
market failure of negative externality cost displacement to dump pollutants
like cigarette smoke in their customers' lungs, these new smart American
financial engineers created and expanded the negative externality dumping
scam to include the more ethereal financial negative externalities of CDOs,
SIVs, credit swaps, and other 'debt bombs' which they dumped in our country's
financial lungs.

"Who could have ever predicted (as the Bush administration said of their
Iraq invasion) that these problems would occure."

One might say, "I'm shocked, SHOCKED that we have chaos and panic in our financial system's back-room at Rick's Cafe" (and the broader
real economy).

Yes, well, that's what comes of polluting the system with 'debt bombs' for
private (and short-term) gain. A longer term case of pneumonia, and maybe
cancer.

The country had learned the right legal and regulatory lesson of the
industrial age by countering intentional negative externality scams with the
rule of 'polluter pays' ---- as in the massive tobacco corporatoration
settlement for knowingly causing lung cancer.

Now we need to extend the proper medicine of 'polluter pays' (for negative
externality dumping) by making those not-so-smart, but very devious
financial engineers (and their corrupt bosses and investor elites) take
their 'polluter pays' medicine for the negative externality 'debt bombs'
that they knowingly planted in America's economic lungs.

After all, doing anything less than enforcing 'polluter pays', would only
create the 'moral hazard' of incenting investors to participate in negative
externality Ponzi scams. And as Nixon famously said, "We could do that, but
it would be wrong".

Posted by: Alan MacDonald | January 21, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I came up with a save all plan for the markets.

Instead of cash handouts- The Fed Gov (remember when Fed. Gov was considering federalizing the airlines ?) buys E-trade.

Why ? it's functional, in place, and would allow my idea to work out.

My idea is this, whatever 'cash' is going to be kicked back to US citizens...

I propose, every person with a Social Security Number gets an account at the new, call it F-Trade (F for Federal ? ).

Within a COUPLE weeks, money that would otherwise take MONTHS to reach people, could electronically be deposited by the Fed into each account, say - $600 ? $800? $1000 ? $1200 ? do NOT make marriage an issue, ANYONE with a SSN.

Now, what happens is - disallow the initial balance to be transferred to a bank account, and therefore every single person has to invest into the markets.

Dow Jones tumbles 200 pts almost DAILY now.

Foreign investors are all that is left to save it.

So, this plan gets people involved in the global market they live in, gives them some hope - remember, money is NOT capital.

Capital is the right of anyone who lives under capitalism.

MOST people that have no money and more or less have NOTHING - would benefit, this would make them players.

They'd start to take MORE of their paychecks and put it into their investment portfolios.

This would open up jobs in a new investment education sector, online or in office.

This would put money immediately into the markets.

This is the only solution "I" see that can move this nation forward before it's markets go dry - not from fear of terror, but fear that their money will be worth anything in stocks dropping like flies.

Ideas ?

Posted by: DrDetroit | January 20, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Coming down the pike--Go to BBC and check out the sub prime mortgage article for 01-20-2008. Millions more to lose their homes--another trillion dollar drop in the stock market. Housing prices will drop 10% since the downfall started--maybe more.

Posted by: ghostcommander | January 20, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Folks, you "ain't seen nothing yet."

There is certainly plenty of blame to go around, but all off this could have been anticipated. When you have the loosest monetary policy EVER, non-sensical fiscal policy combined with profligate spending on the part of the government (and consumers), virtual elimination of regulation and oversight, and laissez faire approach to the value of our money, you end up with a massive economic recession/depression. Eventually the house of cards falls, and those that work the hardest for the least suffer the most.

Every time I hear the President say the "fundamentals" are good when he talks about the economy, I wonder exactly which universe he lives in. In the past 3 months the Markets have fallen 14% and is barely above where it was the administration took office in 200. Prices, especially fuel which drives up everything else) have risen nearly 200%, and wages have stagnated. The national debt exceeds $9T and by the time the next President is inaugurated will likely approach $10T and the interest on the debt is nearly as high as the military budget. The trade deficit is running at about $60B a month, double its rate in 2000, and the dollar may be buying more overseas, but at home it is buying much less.

The biggest crisis looming is not being addressed -- the mortgage insurance industry. When these companies collapse, which they will, the Market will go into a free fall. There will only be two possible outcomes -- Countries will buy up the banks or the US Banking system will fall. Can you say "Great Depression."

Congress needs to act immediately to take control of these companies. If the government takes control of the mortgage insurance issue and the Fed drops interest rates 100 basis points, which will loosen the money supply and spur business investment, we can avert this crisis.

Comments about immigration with regard to the US economy are inane and demonstrate a total lack of knowledge of economics. Do you honestly believe the illegal immigration issue has a major impact on the fundamentals of the US economy?

Posted by: vmi98mom | January 19, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

There seems to be an endless fault-finding process in this discussion about the economy that indicates a great deal of frustration but not too much problem solving. It also looks like there isn't anybody in either political party that is actually interested in solving a problem like an economic downturn. Republicans say they want another stimulus rebate for everybody, carefully overlooking the fact the last rebates and tax cuts were immediately followed by consumer price hikes that absorbed them and contributed to inflation. The Democrats want to create unemployment subsidies and health cost cushions that absorb a hundred or so billion tax dollars as a 'stimulus' that adds to a deficit. Both party programs are designed to spend money for the sake of spending it. These are solutions to what? A perpetual transfer of middle class tax dollars to this or that overseas interest?
Why not try for a stimulus that actually returns a material benefit to The American people as a national society, not its components? It is possible that a stimulus could be designed to have no other purpose than to rebuild America's rapidly disintegrating physical infrastructure of bridges (standardized and modular), rail systems (cargo monorails?), hydro-electric dams (green generators with modern efficiency), electric power systems (including nuclear) and medical facilities (including advanced ER's nationwide). How many jobs would be created by 300 billion dollars carefully, note 'carefully', invested in America's infrastructure?
Such a project would be an excellent bench mark for determining in the next election the good guys who want a taxpayer ROI from the bad guys who are economic carpetbaggers. Again, the objective would be to create an on-going physical structure ONLY rebuild process that tested anyone in politics for their ability to be earmark-proof while in the government.

Posted by: arjay1 | January 17, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

There seems to be an endless fault-finding process in this discussion about the economy that indicates a great deal of frustration but not too much problem solving. It also looks like there isn't anybody in either political party that is actually interested in solving a problem like an economic downturn. Republicans say they want another stimulus rebate for everybody, carefully overlooking the fact the last rebates and tax cuts were immediately followed by consumer price hikes that absorbed them and contributed to inflation. The Democrats want to create unemployment subsidies and health cost cushions that absorb a hundred or so billion tax dollars as a 'stimulus' that adds to a deficit. Both party programs are designed to spend money for the sake of spending it. These are solutions to what? A perpetual transfer of middle class tax dollars to this or that overseas interest?
Why not try for a stimulus that actually returns a material benefit to The American people as a national society, not its components? It is possible that a stimulus could be designed to have no other purpose than to rebuild America's rapidly disintegrating physical infrastructure of bridges (standardized and modular), rail systems (cargo monorails?), hydro-electric dams (green generators with modern efficiency), electric power systems (including nuclear) and medical facilities (including advanced ER's nationwide). How many jobs would be created by 300 billion dollars carefully, note 'carefully', invested in America's infrastructure?
Such a project would be an excellent bench mark for determining in the next election the good guys who want a taxpayer ROI from the bad guys who are economic carpetbaggers. Again, the objective would be to create an on-going physical structure ONLY rebuild process that tested anyone in politics for their ability to be earmark-proof while in the government.

Posted by: arjay1 | January 17, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

It's an aristocracy, NOT a democracy. When are you people going to realize that you're nothing more than possessions of the wealthy? How many times do you have to be shown? You work, you pay, they collect. It has been that way in this country for a long time. You're vote is meaningless and you have no say in your government. How many times have the people of this country indicated the direction they wanted the country to go, only to see it go in the opposite direction? No input. What YOU want, doesn't matter. There are ways to change an aristocracy into a democracy. Here's one. Change the tax code so that the more you earn the higher PERCENTAGE of your income goes to taxes. If you make $40K a year, you pay 1% of your income to taxes. If you make 40 million a year, you pay 40% of your income to taxes. And if your making 4 billion a year, you should pay 80% of your income to taxes. Freedom of religion, speech, etc. are not worth a thing if we're owned by someone. Of course, there will be the little problem of getting "our" congress to consider it. Don't hold your breath.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

President proudly announces record levels of home ownership in America!

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/10/20041002-7.html

Deficits don't matter, national nor personal... right Dick?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Ask The "Disabled Worker" about Economics!!?? - What a joke to take longer than 9 months to go thru the SSDI - Social Security Disability Insurance process!? Of the majority whom apply and need to go to an ALJ Hearing,- 9 months should be plenty of time! We Disabled workers and our past employers paid into Insurance!! If my car, medical, or home insurance played games and it took more than 3 months, we would All explode! But when it comes to Disabled Citizen Workers, whom PAID into SSD Insurance, we are often made to wait 2-3 Years!!?? This is No Joke,- this Is Our deserved Disability Insurance Income and Our Lives! - No games when it takes food off of the table, and Necessary bills go unpaid. Congress, Get Real. - Get rid of the goof-offs with the SSA, and hire some of us knowlegable Disability Advocates, whom will Not play games with Disabled Citizens Lives!! -- and by the way: do away with the laughable Ticket-To-Work, and most of the State BVR's whom only care about their' pay, benefits, and bureaucratic policy!. Get the Money and federal legislated aid to the Disabled People. It sure did not take long to extend $support for the unConstitutional Iraq War; or pass anti-America NAFTA! Kick Congress out and start over would be Real Change!!?? "Of the, for the, and by the PEOPLE" is what the Constitution intended. "The Grassroots are Burning"! --and by the way,- a 2.3% increase for 2008 is nothing but Terrorism! God Bless CONGRESS...

Posted by: Joe Ward | January 17, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I got a good chuckle out of "bobmoses'" comment -- What WOULD the upside of a recession be, Bob?

I laughed out loud at "blasmaic," too, but that really needs no explanation...

Posted by: mobedda | January 17, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Well said BethesdaMD.

Posted by: OD | January 17, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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