Deciding on whether or not we’re in a recession has almost become a national pastime, but more confusing to me are the proclamations that inflation is low. As a conspicuous consumer, I beg to differ, and that so many people are willing to overlook the detrimental changes going on right under our noses is flabbergasting. See it how you will – we’re in a recession and inflation is very, very high.
First, I’m not an economist. I’m not a CFO, government expert, or someone with extremely in depth knowledge of finance, inflation, or recessions. I am, however, a shopper, and what I’ve seen in recent months is disconcerting:
- pasta – used to be packaged as a pound (16 ounces); now 13.5 ounces
- orange juice – used to be packaged as 64 ounces; now 60 ounces
I talked yesterday about my feelings surrounding the auto-bailout for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, and the more I read about what Congress is doing and the debates that are flying around the more frustrated I get. Now CNN is reporting that Congress wants the automakers to show how they plan on spending their bailout dollars before they’re willing to offer any. Generally speaking this isn’t a bad idea, but what I find most frustrating is that they haven’t publicly asked the same from companies like AIG or banks taking money from the already approved $700 billion bailout. Doesn’t it seem logical that any company coming to Uncle Sam for a loan/bailout would be held to the same standards?
At the same time they’re asking for $25 billion in taxpayer money – these auto company CEOs are idiots. They all came from the same state in their own private luxury jets. The average American will never see first class, let alone the inside of a private luxury jet, and while continuing to pay their taxes will probably end up eating Mac-and-Cheese to get through this depression recession and these beggars can’t even share a ride or fly commercial. That’s saying two things – they are neither green nor frugal, and that should be disconcerting to everyone. These companies need to get both quickly and those changes need to start at the top.
At what point does a bailout become a lifeline? Is there a point anywhere in there that it becomes another bad idea? The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department got together today and unveiled a new plan to pump upwards of $800 billion more into the struggling US economy. Their hope is that this will jumpstart lending by banks and that suddenly consumers and small businesses will want to use that money.
These plans are as optimistic as TARP, with the Federal Reserve Bank offering as much as $200 billion to purchase securities backed by consumer debt (credit cards, auto loans, student loans, etc.). The Treasury will then insure up to $20 billion against losses (is this confusing yet?) and then the Federal Reserve will purchase up to another $500 billion in mortgage backed securities from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae (lets call them the three stooges). As if that’s not enough, the Fed will also buy another $100 billion in direct debt issued by those firms. And that’s it for Tuesday.
Is the current debate over whether or not to provide financial aid to the automakers a white-collar/blue-collar argument, because it’s sure looking that way when the government gives billions to help a single company like AIG and yet it won’t help companies like Chrysler, General Motors and Ford with a nearly insignificant $25 billion. Readers already know that I am against these bailouts on principle with the belief that they are prolonging the problem by smoothing the road and not fixing the problem, which ultimately means a much longer and more painful recession. My mantra remains, let companies fail, even the big ones – it will hurt more, but generally it’s for a shorter period of time The net impact on the economy will most certainly be less.
When did it become okay to go to the government bailout line the minute business got bad? In the past, make a bad business decision, pay the price, which might even mean closing doors. With modern day economics, some would lead us to believe that there are companies out there too big to fail.
Some of you still remember the internet bubble and subsequent popping of that bubble almost a decade ago. My own company closed its doors after some of our “new economy” customers lost their funding, resulting in non-payment on millions of dollars already spent on web development. We paid our employees and vendors the old fashioned way – we sold assets, clients, and took second jobs to make sure that we paid every dime owed. Ultimately, we closed our doors, but not one vendor was left without payment or a guarantee of payment. That’s how business used to be done. It never once occurred to us to ask the government to bail us out of our problems, and I don’t remember any other company getting a bailout either.