Thursday, September 30, 2010

You need a real economy to have an economic recovery

There is something almost amusingly pathetic about watching the Fed trying to restart an economy it did so much to destroy.  When I was studying economics in the 1970s, we actually were taught that while the Fed could do wonders to slow down an "overheated" economy, it could not actually get one going again if they did structural damage during the slowdown.  My professors used the term "pushing on a string."  My grandfather was more to the point when he quoted the old Populist saying, "Any jackass can kick down a barn--but it takes a real carpenter to build one."

Let start with a rehash of what the jackasses have done.
19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind
The United States is rapidly becoming the very first "post-industrial" nation on the globe. All great economic empires eventually become fat and lazy and squander the great wealth that their forefathers have left them, but the pace at which America is accomplishing this is absolutely amazing. It was America that was at the forefront of the industrial revolution. It was America that showed the world how to mass produce everything from automobiles to televisions to airplanes. It was the great American manufacturing base that crushed Germany and Japan in World War II. But now we are witnessing the deindustrialization of America. Tens of thousands of factories have left the United States in the past decade alone. Millions upon millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the same time period. The United States has become a nation that consumes everything in sight and yet produces increasingly little. Do you know what our biggest export is today? Waste paper. Yes, trash is the number one thing that we ship out to the rest of the world as we voraciously blow our money on whatever the rest of the world wants to sell to us. The United States has become bloated and spoiled and our economy is now just a shadow of what it once was. Once upon a time America could literally outproduce the rest of the world combined. Today that is no longer true, but Americans sure do consume more than anyone else in the world. If the deindustrialization of America continues at this current pace, what possible kind of a future are we going to be leaving to our children?
Any great nation throughout history has been great at making things. So if the United States continues to allow its manufacturing base to erode at a staggering pace how in the world can the U.S. continue to consider itself to be a great nation? We have created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world in an effort to maintain a very high standard of living, but the current state of affairs is not anywhere close to sustainable. Every single month America does into more debt and every single month America gets poorer.
So what happens when the debt bubble pops? more
Let's compare this to China which is in the middle of an investment boom in her real economy.
Check Out What China's Doing With Its Taxpayers' Money
Henry Blodget | Sep. 26, 2010
Thomas Friedman provides a helpful snapshot of what China's doing with its taxpayers' money...versus what we're doing with ours.
Here's what China's doing:
China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.
And here's what we're doing:
Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan. more
And if you are a mature economy that was rocked by the global financial crises but never forgot how important your real economy is, things restart almost by themselves once the financial craziness is contained.
Shipping Boom
Hamburg's Port Sees Fruits of German Upturn
By Sven Böll in Hamburg
The economic crisis turned Hamburg's port into a ghost town. Now that things are picking up, the container terminals at Germany's most important shipping hub are buzzing with life again.
In the evening, when the at-times inhospitable northern German weather allows it, Klaus-Dieter Peters swaps his suit and tie for casual clothes and rides his bicycle from his home in the upmarket Hamburg neighborhood of Othmarschen to the beach along the edge of the city's Elbe River. There, the 57-year-old executive, who is the CEO of Hamburg Harbor and Logistics AG (HHLA), sits on the sand and enjoys a beer and a cigar. And he watches the Burchardkai container terminal on the other side of river, one of the three container terminals that HHLA operates in the Port of Hamburg.
For months, the scene resembled a still life with cranes. The container cranes' arms were raised into the sky, as if they had capitulated in the face of the economic downturn. Occasionally, but only occasionally, a ship passed by the bleak silhouette of the terminal. The port, which usually buzzes with life around the clock, was almost silent.
Last year, Hamburg's dream of an eternal boom and its ambitions to become Europe's top logistical hub seemed to have come to an end. The port's container throughput fell by 28 percent in 2009 as a result of the economic crisis. In the competition to be Europe's most important container port, Hamburg lagged in third place behind Rotterdam and Antwerp. And in the global league tables, the German port found itself in the no-man's-land of the middle rankings -- a place which did not correspond to the self-image of the proud Hanseatic city.
After a decade of euphoric growth, the crash hit HHLA, Hamburg's largest terminal operator -- which is also owned by the city -- particularly hard. "For us, 2009 was a bad year of unprecedented proportions," Peters says. But he emphasizes that that unpleasant chapter is now over. "In the last couple of months things have been taking off again," he adds quickly. Indeed, the numbers are looking up. The container throughput in the Port of Hamburg increased by 4 percent in the first half of 2010, while HHLA's terminals even saw throughput rise by nearly 9 percent.
Ever since the low point of the global crisis passed, the economic recovery has been felt with full force in ports all around the world. Containers are the red blood cells of globalization, carrying oxygen around the global economy. Most of the goods being moved in international trade are transported in containers, which are generally 12 meters (40 feet) long and 2.4 meters (8 feet) in width and height. They hold everything from Australian wine to Chinese-made PlayStations to German wind turbines. more
Of course, the politicians in USA that passed the laws that gave tax breaks to the jackasses kicking down the barn see the difference between the growth in the Chinese or German economy while ours continues to crash as a sign that "they" are cheating somehow.
A Short Tour of Junk Economics
America's China Bashing
It is traditional for politicians to blame foreigners for problems that their own policies have caused. And in today’s zero-sum economies, it seems that if America is losing leadership position, other nations must be the beneficiaries. Inasmuch as China has avoided the financial overhead that has painted other economies into a corner, U.S. politicians and journalists are blaming it for America’s declining economic power. I realize that balance-of-payments accounting and international trade theory are arcane topics, but I promise that by the time you finish this article, you will understand more than 99 per cent of U.S. economists and diplomats striking this self-righteous pose. more

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