Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Bush's fault.

By: Greg Brown
Since Barack Obama was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, stocks have tumbled to record lows — with investors losing an estimated $2.5 trillion in market value.

The trend continued Thursday, with the Dow closing down 281 points, a 4.1 percent drop for the day. Since Inauguration Day, the Dow has fallen 20.4 percent.

All week, negative headlines have competed with the slumping market ticker, including early news Thursday that General Motors might well go bankrupt despite billions in taxpayer loans.

As selling sped up, Citigroup traded at one point under $1 a share, General Electric dipped under $7, and international financial names like Barclays saw declines of nearly 30 percent on the day.

"Everybody is so bearish right now that you would expect to be in the midst of a counter-trend rally," Steven Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co, told CNNMoney.

"But the implosion in the banking and insurance sectors is just overwhelming."

Obama has moved aggressively on economic and fiscal policies. But investors — if the market is any indication — are giving his initiatives a chilly response.

On Feb. 17, Obama signed a stimulus bill worth $787 billion — the largest spending bill in history. But the Congressional Budget Office indicates only 20 percent of the funds will be spent this year, and the nonpartisan group suggests that the package could do more economic harm than good.

Obama also gave the green light to an omnibus $431 billion House Democratic spending bill laden with close to 9,000 pork-barrel spending items.

Plus, Obama revealed that he plans increase marginal tax rates on those earning more than $250,000.

The new taxes will yield more than $1 trillion in government revenues, but some economists believe the news of increased taxation will suck the wind out of any economic recovery.

In the middle of the market meltdown Thursday, Obama spent the day talking about a massive increase in healthcare spending, including a proposal in his budget that sets aside $634 billion in a 10-year reserve fund to pay for expanded care.

The drumbeat of bad news was too much for stocks, including:

• U.S. bankruptcy filings surging 31 percent in 2008.

• More than 600,000 Americans filing claims for jobless benefits for a fifth straight week, the worst performance since 1982.

• U.S. factory orders falling for a sixth straight month in January, official data showed.

• One in every eight U.S. households with mortgages ended 2008 behind on payments or in foreclosure, reported the Mortgage Bankers Association.

"The auto industry is effectively being wiped out or nationalized, however you want to think about it," Rick Campagna, portfolio manager at Provident Investment Council in Pasadena, Calif., told Reuters.

"Now you're talking about a good portion, if not all, of the banking sector being wiped out. It's just getting relatively dire."


vwatt said...

Bush was still trying to figure his new jogging routes and what channel ESPN was on at the six week point:

Published: March 6, 2009

Barack Obama has only been president for six weeks, but there is a surprising amount of ire, anger, even outrage that he hasn’t yet solved the problems of the U.S. economy, that he hasn’t saved us from the increasingly tragic devastation wrought by the clownish ideas of right-wing conservatives and the many long years of radical Republican misrule.
Skip to next paragraph

This intense, impatient, often self-righteous, frequently wrongheaded and at times willfully destructive criticism has come in waves, and not just from the right. Mr. Obama is as legitimate a target for criticism as any president. But there is a weird hysterical quality to some of the recent attacks that suggests an underlying fear or barely suppressed rage. It’s a quality that seems not just unhelpful but unhealthy.

Mr. Obama is being hammered — depending on the point of view of the critics — for the continuing collapse of the stock market, for not moving fast enough to revive the suicidal financial industry, for trying to stem the flood tide of home foreclosures, for trying to bring health insurance coverage to some of the millions of Americans who don’t have any, for running up huge budget deficits as he tries to fend off the worst economic emergency since World War II and for not taking time out from all of the above to deal with — get this — earmarks.


More than 4.4 million jobs have been lost since this monster recession officially got under way in December 2007, and we’ve got people wigging out over earmarks. Folks, get a grip. Some earmarks are good, some are not, but collectively they account for a tiny, tiny portion of the national budget — less than 1 percent.

Freaking out over earmarks is like watching a neighborhood that is being consumed by flames and complaining that there is crabgrass on some of the lawns.

In the midst of the craziness, conservatives are busy trying to blame this epic economic catastrophe — a conflagration of their own making — on the new president. Forget Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and George Herbert Hoover Bush and the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth and Phil Gramm and Newt Gingrich and all the rest. The right-wingers would have you believe this is Obama’s downturn.

The bear market would no doubt have magically turned around by now, and those failing geniuses at the helm of our flat-lined megacorporations would no doubt be busy manufacturing new profits and putting people back to work — if only Mr. Obama had solved the banking crisis, had lowered taxes on the rich, had refused to consider running up those giant deficits (a difficult thing to do at the same time that you are saving banks and lowering taxes), and had abandoned any inclination that he might have had to reform health care and make it a little easier for ordinary American kids to get a better education.

As the columnist Charles Krauthammer was kind enough to inform us: “The markets’ recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions — the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic — for enacting his ‘big-bang’ agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society.”

That’s a more genteel version of the sentiment expressed a couple of weeks ago by the perpetually hysterical Alan Keyes, a Republican who was beaten by Mr. Obama in the Illinois Senate race in 2004. “Obama is a radical communist,” said Mr. Keyes, “and I think it is becoming clear. That is what I told people in Illinois, and now everybody realizes it’s true.”

I don’t know whether President Obama’s ultimate rescue plan for the financial industry will work. He is a thoughtful man running a thoughtful administration and the plan, a staggeringly complex and difficult work in progress, hasn’t been revealed yet.

What I know is that the renegade clowns who ruined this economy, the Republican right in alliance with big business and a fair number of feckless Democrats — all working in opposition to the interests of working families — have no credible basis for waging war against serious efforts to get us out of their mess.

Maybe the markets are down because demand has dried up, because many of the nation’s biggest firms have imploded and because Americans are losing their jobs and their homes by the millions. Maybe a dose of reality is in order, as opposed to the childish desire for yet another stock market bubble.

Maybe the nuns in grammar school were right when they counseled that patience is a virtue. The man has been president for SIX weeks.

Brodad Unkabuddy said...

That's true. In addition to "trying to figure his new jogging routes and what channel ESPN was on at the six week point", the Bush Administration was trying to find the "W" keys on their computers, locate important White House files, and clean up the trashed out offices the Clinton Administration left behind. By the way, how did the transition go for the Obama Administration?

The stock market doesn't react to past events. it reacts to how it anticipates the future economic activity will develop. Thus the precipitous dive in stock values since Obama was elected and announced his "stimulus" program.

Earmarks are an indication of how responsibly Congress acts with OUR hard earned money. Just because we wanted something in the past, doesn't justify spending the money for it in the future. Obama tells the American people we're in the worst financial crisis since the Depression, then goes ahead and signs the Omnibus Spending Bill with thousands of earmarks. I think he's either lying to the American people (again) or, at best, acting irresponsibly.

Mike West said...

The blame game. It's never as simple as we try to make it. Isn't it usually a combination of events that lead to a disaster? This county's financial backbone has been artificially propped up since the dot com days. The lax lending requirements were the straws that broke the camel's break and frankly it needed to be broken. BO certainly didn't help matters when he continued to say "it's only going to get worse" after he took office. I can already tell he cares more about his legacy than he does about providing leadership. He will be bad-mouthing Bush and breaking the unspoken presidential non-critical speak code, just like Clinton and Carter have. It's a sure sign of an individual putting themselves first over the good of the country. I never heard Bush 41 rundown Clinton. We have a bunch of whining cry babies running the country now who think it's all a big academic classroom exercise. Well it's not. It's real life and their mickey-mouse games are going to come back and bite them because they know not what they do. At the same time, this country needed a good financial slap in the face.