Thursday, August 4, 2011

Markets Down Hard, Debt, and Obamanomics

I haven't written here in my blog in a long time. But I've been watching the economic scene. And as you might imagine I've been quite unhappy with our President, his administration, and the results of their economic policies. Here in California the effect is magnified and made even worse.

I see these factors holding back the U.S. economy:
  • Debt
  • The effects of some misguided corporate rescues
  • Market and corporate uncertainty caused by government actions, discussions and personnel appointments
  • Present and expected future avalanches of regulations
After U.S. markets closed today, after the 512-point Dow drop and 60-point S&P drop, I watched a clip of Obama in 2008 or 2009, in which he said the economy should be much better 3 years out, or his presidency will be a single term. Well, here we are, it seems. I'll soon hoist a martini to his single term.

The pundits' observations I thought most valuable were that the market's fall is not about the U.S. debt deal, but about Euro-zone debt worries, and the growing perception that the U.S. economy is not growing fast and may actually fall into a "double-dip" recession. We'll see what actually happens, but though I've searched and listened to truckloads of commentary, I don't see a catalyst for U.S. growth. Yes, there are some sectors that should grow, and yes, the middle classes may be growing in China and India. But in our present trade environment we can't take proper advantage of it.

Obama said one correct thing, as far as the basic concept. He said Congress should approve the 3 or 4 international trade agreements in its queue. Now the agreements are forgotten and Congress has flown out of town for a month. The trade agreements would be one small catalyst for growth.

Hedge fund manager Phil Falcone was interviewed today on CNBC, mostly about his LightSquared network. In it he said that innovation was the only way for the U.S. economy to get going and grow again. I agree with him.

And what stands in the way of that innovation, or would foster the economic growth we all want (well, everyone except a few Luddites of various stripes)? In short, Obamanomics stands in the way of the innovation Falcone mentioned. Instead, for growth we should be repealing the laws, throwing out, simplifying, and rationalizing the regulations, and basically undoing all we can of the four factors listed above.

As an aside, during the Reagan administration, he said that he would reduce government employees by a significant amount. One evening I was looking up at the federal office building in West Los Angeles and doubted anything would happen. A very few years later the building was 40 or 50% vacant, if I recall correctly. I was very happy to see that Reagan did what he said he would do. Today the size of government employment has grown past any nightmare Reagan ever had. It's time to slim down again. The regulations and other scribblings of the bureaucrats are not needed. In fact, they're harmful.

Again, the bottom line is "back to free markets" to create the growth and jobs we need.