A Centrally Planned Economy – By Definition There Is No Success Allowed

As you might imagine, a centrally planned economy is one where the government plans everything related to the economy of the nation. In a very loosely centrally planned economy, this will include the government becoming a partner of the key businesses in the country. In a very tightly centralized economy, each individual’s occupation is chosen by the government. The question we will answer in this article is; can a person become successful in a country whose government centrally plans the economy?

The way the Soviet Union operated was it controlled everything and all the people in the country, entirely. Not only did the government control all business activities but it also controlled people to the point where it told them what jobs they would fill. In this system, no one was allowed to have any aspirations. It is easy to see, a tightly controlled centralized economy does not allow ordinary folk freedom of any kind.

Another type of similar government is fascism. In fascism, the government controls all industry. In other words, the government is the corporations and the dictators of the government are the CEOs of these corporations. In a non-fascist, loosely controlled centrally planned economy, businesses do exist but the government oversees them and persuades them to do what it wants them to do by giving them tax breaks and punishing them if they do not follow certain regulations. In a tightly controlled centralized economy the government controls business simply by using brute force.

The most important thing to realize about tightly controlled economies is they leave no room for individual freedom. If individuals were free, they could potentially cause a problem for the government because they may assemble and voice their grievances against the government. This would mean the government would have to shut these people up in one way or another or risk losing control over the entire population.

An economy where individuals are free to invest and strive for success is called a free market economy. Only in a free market economy are all people not only allowed but encouraged to become successful. In such an economy, a person is allowed to succeed or fail without government interference. If a person fails, he or she can try again. In this system, many success stories have been written and usually mainstays of such stories are perseverance and belief, whether this belief is in one’s self or a higher power. Having the right to fail is part of living in a free nation.

Living without freedom and without the right to a say how the government will treat its people is living under tyranny. Tyrannical governments and centrally controlled economies go hand-in-hand. In fact, a problem we all should be aware of is the fact tyranny can spring up in any country. It can start when the government tries to control some of its industry, even if it does so without using threat of force. Another sign would be if the country’s leaders openly voiced objection to any group or faction of law abiding citizens.

It is for this reason, we in the United States of America must insist our government treat all of its citizens the same. We must strive for true equality. Rich and poor should pay the same rate of tax. Everyone’s religious rights should be respected and there should be no corporations receiving special favors.

In a truly free nation, the government would not treat any member of any political party, whether Democrat, Republican, Federalist, Whig or Tea, any differently. If the government of a nation were to try to stifle one particular faction from voicing its grievances, it would be very troubling. Of course, this would never happen in the United States; would it?

The point is, a centrally planned economy is not consistent with a free country. Likewise, freedom and opportunity go hand-in-hand. To the extent one exists, so does the other. It is for this reason all freedom loving people, by nature, reject centralized economies.

Your Place in the New US And World Economy

What is next for the economy? The economy defines the boundaries within which all businesses must operate.

Like the lines on the edges of the road, cross at your own risk. All businesses – and therefore all jobs in the private sector – must operate within (“length” and “width”) of these boundaries. Business failures occur when companies fall behind the times and are too far ahead of consumer demand. Likewise, most business sectors have a relatively narrow range of successful operations. It’s hard to survive if you are either the most expensive or cheapest in your market.

The 2010 book from David Wiedemer, PhD, Robert Wiedemer, and Cindy Spitzer entitled “Aftershock” examines the events that created the financial meltdown. In this book and the previous book, “America’s Bubble Economy” the authors make the case that the U.S. economy was an illusion, only the interaction of “bubbles”.

A bubble is created when an asset temporarily booms. The former (pre-2008) U.S. economy was comprised of bubbles in real estate, personal loans, credit card debt, the stock market, and consumer spending. On their own, each bubble can rise independently. But in combination, the bubbles accelerate and reach unnatural levels!

The financial meltdown felt around the world is the consequence of these bubbles popping, or as the authors describe it, a “Bubblequake”. The first stage of the financial meltdown included the fall of the real estate bubble, private debt bubble, stock market bubble, and discretionary spending bubble. On their own, each would have been significant. Combined, these popping bubbles lead to “The Great Recession”.

Amidst the economic turmoil, the U.S. government tried to intervene. Bailouts of automakers and investment banks were designed to compensate for “toxic assets”. Then the government pumped billions into the economy as “stimulus” to try to offset the funds lost to “money heaven” as bubbles popped and wealth simply evaporated.

Looking back, we now know that such efforts were ineffective. The results were a dramatically inflated money supply and a devalued dollar. The aftereffect was that the government soon reached the “National Debt Limit” as a result of spending nearly twice as much as incoming revenue.

The authors label this current stage as the “Aftershock”, defined as the popping of the dollar bubble and the government debt bubble. Their conclusion is that current economic conditions do not simply represent a down market cycle or a typical recession. The difference is the multi-bubble economy, with these inter-linked bubbles ALL on the descent.

The authors also conclude that inflating these bubbles again is simply not possible.

Instead, they predict what is called the “triple double-digit” economy:

 

  • Double-digit unemployment
  • Double-digit inflation
  • Double-digit interest rates

 

All in all, these make up some dire predictions. So what does this mean for you? How will you earn an income in the new, post-Aftershock economy.

The “Aftershock” authors predict:

1. Decreased demand for capital goods, including cars, construction equipment, and major industrial equipment. Lower demand means fewer viable firms and fewer available jobs.

2. Decreased levels of discretionary spending. This affects fine dining, entertainment, travel, fashion, jewelry, art and so on. Less total spending means fewer stores and fewer employees.

3. A decline (just not as drastic) in the “necessities” sector including health care, education, food, and government services. Even these areas will face some pressures to downsize because they are highly dependent on tax revenues. A smaller economy simply produces lower tax revenues. Some programs will simply need to shrink, regardless of the level of “necessity”. Many jobs will be retained, however the wage growth and benefits will necessarily be constrained.

Conclusion: as many as 50% of businesses in some sectors may simply disappear. This means that job losses will be staggering after the dollar and government debt bubbles pop, and there will be a mad scramble for those jobs that haven’t been destroyed. For most people it will be increasingly difficult to find a job – any job – regardless of your qualifications and experience. And for those lucky enough to be employed, keeping a job will mean putting up with less desirable working conditions, benefits, hours, and pay. In fact, as competition for jobs greatly increases, most wages will surely fall. After all the bubbles pop, people will accept wage cuts in most jobs for one simple reason: if they don’t, somebody else will.

By necessity, the government will be forced to live within tax revenue limits. The world economy will not allow unlimited printing of “funny money” to allow for unlimited deficit spending. The quantity of currencies injected by numerous countries will have already added to inflation on a global scale. Too many dollars, yen, euros, etc. will be chasing a declining quantity of goods and services.

The OLD economy is gone; the NEW economy is here.

In 2011 the federal government is overspending revenue by 40%. Even a 10% decrease in the size and scope of the federal government would add hundreds of thousands of additional people to the unemployment roles (including government positions and supporting private suppliers and contractors.) This does not consider the same cascading effects facing state and local governments that have never had the ability to simply print money.

So one of the defining characteristics of the post-dollar bubble economy will be a shortage of jobs. Unemployment levels will be much higher, and people will remain unemployed for much longer. At the same time, businesses will be forced to reduce wages and benefits to remain competitive. Millions of Americans will accept cuts in pay.

Especially hard hit will be younger workers and older workers. Prospective employees under 30 will find it hard to compete against older, more experienced and proven workers. Likewise, workers over 50 will also face extremely high unemployment levels.

At the same time, loss of tax revenue will force the government to tax more and tax deeper. Remaining businesses and employees will be taxed harder! Most will rationalize that 50% taxation is better than not working at all!

Different people will look at the same facts and draw different conclusions. So what do you think? Do you believe the bubbles will miraculously re-inflate and good times are on the horizon? Or do you believe (as the authors of “Aftershock” have detailed) that the old bubble economy is gone and a newer, leaner economy is what we can expect?

I concur with the conclusion that we are now experiencing the “aftershock”. I always knew that an economy based on 20% appreciation in housing values, pensions exceeding 100% of wages while working, whole shopping centers selling completely unnecessary novelties and decorations, and unbridled government deficit-spending had to “pop” eventually.

And yet I am also believe 100% in the viability of the free enterprise capitalist model. So I going to make some suggestions:

First, if you are under the age of 30 or over the age of 50 you are in danger of becoming a statistic. You either need to make yourself invaluable to your current employer or prepare yourself for the high possibility of a layoff.

Second, identify some necessary service or product that you can get excited about!

You have arrived at a “fork in the road”. You have two choices, plus a combination. You can take the wide road and do whatever it takes (training, cross-training, adult education, apprenticeships, etc.) to become superbly trained for the job you have or would like to have. Remember, there are going to be too many people seeking each job. You are going to need be impressive in every way and probably over-qualified to get noticed.

The second option (the “road less traveled”) is to design your own occupation. Now this can be a retail, service, or skilled occupation. Each has its attractions to certain people. My personal choice is to provide a product or service on a nationwide (or even global) basis. Again, these offerings should fall in the category of “necessities” rather than novelties. Luxuries offer a much smaller but profitable niche if you can cater to the affluent.

Even in tough times, fortunes can be made by satisfying needs. The time-proven formula for success is to identify a problem and provide a solution. In the post-bubble Aftershock economy, providing alternative income opportunities is one legitimate solution!

Now owning your own business includes the hassles of regulations and structure that you completely avoid if you stay in the employee category. But your own business also provides a degree of freedom not possible as an employee. The single biggest benefit is that you have no cap imposed on your income, especially if you are selling a product or service and not your efforts by the hour. Operating a business also allows you to deduct expenses before taxes. A higher potential income and tax advantages results in a win-win.

And then there is the combination of the two options, and this may be a viable option for the majority of Americans. If you have a steady job there is added security in building a part-time business on the side. You gain income and can offset a portion of your expenses that are now cutting into your after-tax personal income (such as a home office deduction, travel expenses for errands, office supplies, etc.) You also gain the security of a income cushion if your regular job evaporates or you face a cut in wages.

Of course, many small businesses eventually grow into large businesses. You then have the choice of making your part-time business a new full-time profession, hiring some employees to manage the extra work, or selling the business outright at a profit. Again, many advantages and few disadvantages (if designed with some forethought.)

The “road less traveled” provides increased potential rewards for assuming personal responsibility. At the same time, millions of Americans have learned that “job security” is a contradiction. We have entered the new age of job insecurity in an increasingly lean and competitive global economy.

So where do you start? Here are my recommendations for the ideal business:

1. Unlimited income potential. This is only possible if you are selling a product or service. If you are selling your time, you are limited by the number of hours you can work each day, week, and month. When you stop working you stop earning, and this is true even if you can bill your time at $200 per hour. Also, you want to have at least some products or services which generate repeat sales – unless what you are providing is incredibly profitable in the initial sale. Likewise, if your business allows you to leverage the efforts of others to provide additional streams of income, so much the better!

2. Time and location freedom. The ideal business will take advantage of current technologies and allow you to be located anywhere, and sell to anyone. These technologies will also allow your sales to recorded 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Some products or services may have limitations which restrict the sales area to one location. But many products and services – especially digital products – allow sales to be made on a worldwide basis instantaneously!

3.Small initial investment. While many downsized employees have bought franchises and other fixed location business opportunities, I can not recommend this option. For one, the start-up costs can be very high, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars with no guarantees. Then you are faced with the reality that you have assumed the job of full-time personnel director and you spend all your time either managing employees or hiring their replacements. Instead, I would recommend an opportunity with a low start-up cost. This allows you to begin

part-time. It also means you won’t have to qualify for financing, which may be next to impossible for a new business in the post-bubble economy.

In my opinion, network marketing fulfills all these criteria. There are literally thousands of products and services that are marketing by networking. Combined with the power of the Internet and social media, networking has entered the mainstream and is a viable option for a full-time or part-time business.

Millions of Americans have used network marketing to produce extra income. The company provides all the support functions, from billing and credit card processing to accounting for commissions. Networking includes the creation of a downline that produces additional income. And consumable products provide residual income, often from several generations of customers that you have never even met.

There are no restrictions based on age, experience, location, or net worth to join a networking company. People from all walks of life – including unemployed – have become successful in network marketing. In fact, many thousands of networkers are literally unemployable after experiencing the freedom and income potential of network marketing.

If you decide that networking is right for you, there are countless resources (both free and low cost) that are available to shorten your learning curve and help you succeed! There are also turnkey marketing systems designed to automate the process of locating customers and claiming your slice of the Internet!

Indian Economy Poised for Growth

The Indian economy, for long, had been in a limbo. While many had termed the Indian economy as a sleeping giant, many others had doubted the country’s capability as an emerging economic power. The reasons were myriad. The economy of India was mired in poverty and various other problems that were detrimental to its growth.

For years, the economic growth of India was much subdued. Most of the big companies of the country were owned by the government. This was mostly because of the fact that the country was ruled by the Congress government for most of the years following independence in 1947. Congress was a party that was known for its socialist tilt. As a result it preferred the state to wrest control over most of the manufacturing and production companies. These companies were known as public sector undertakings (PSUs) and usually a bureaucrat was appointed at the helm of all affairs.

All that changed dramatically in 1991 when the economy of India was thrown open to foreign investors and entrepreneurs. This marked the entry of multi-national companies, popularly known as MNCs in the Indian economy. It was the Congress government that ushered in the change, in a marked deviation from its largely socialist policy.

Today, India is one of the four emerging economies of the world, the other three being China, Russia and Brazil. The GDP of the Indian economy is poised to beat all expectations and predictions for 2013. Experts are of the opinion that the economy of India would exceed all expectations in the next year. There are signs that the policymakers of the Indian economy are about to spring some surprises.

The economy of India is still one of the most intricate of the four emerging economies. The country’s demographics lend it the possibility to garner the best GDP growth rate. The experts, at the same time, have cautioned about the country’s inability or reluctance to introduce effective policy changes. This has remained a persistent source of disappointment. But the experts are upbeat about the prospects of the economy of India. The capital markets are something to be really excited about, they have remarked.

Studies by several research groups on Indian economy have revealed that inflation is already showing a downward trend and is expected to reduce in the fourth quarter of the current fiscal i.e. January-March, 2013. As the government announces the mid-quarter policy for the economy later in December, 2012, the growth-inflation trajectory would be factored in and the monetary policy would be calibrated accordingly.

The GDP of the economy of India was 5.5 per cent in April-June quarter of the 2012-12 fiscal as against 6.7 per cent during the July-September in the 2011-12 fiscal. But that’s expected to be bettered in the next quarter, experts have predicted.

The Economy of India: An Overview

India, traditionally, has been a predominantly agrarian economy and gradually embraced an open market economic policy when it opened up to global competition in 1991. The Indian economy has taken a quantum leap from thereon and is today identified by mostly free market exchange, investment by foreign companies and liberalized foreign trade.

A significant shift in the economy of India has been observed since the 1990s regarding external trade regulations and investment strategies. Of late, India has emerged as an economic power not only in South Asia but over the world as well. Several economists have predicted that the Indian economy would be a major force to reckon with in the coming decades.

Over the last three decades, the agro-based economy of India has made the way for a market-driven economy with enough investment opportunities in retail, finance, telecommunications, insurance, infrastructure, information technology, manufacturing and others. Besides, significant improvement has been noticed in the human capital index of the country with more skilled workers finding employment.

The Indian economy is among the top five countries with regard to purchasing power parity (PPP). In the 2010-11 fiscal, the PPP of the economy of India was $4.06 trillion and $1.54 trillion as per the official exchange rate. The GDP of the Indian economy also grew in double digit with the dominance of the tertiary or the service sector. This is evident from the fact that this sector contributes 55.3 per cent of the GDP in the 2010-11 fiscal as against 28.6 per cent of the manufacturing sector and 16.1 per cent of the agricultural sector. However, of the total workforce of the economy of India, the agricultural sector employs 52 per cent of the total labour.

The Indian economy is one of the leading food grains producers of the world. Wheat and rice are the two most important crops of the country. Millets and maize are also produced in enough numbers and oilseeds and lentils also make a substantial contribution to the economy of India. Tea, jute, cotton and sugarcane are the four most important cash crops for the country. India, again, is the forerunner in the production of all these crops.

Among the industries, chemicals, textiles, ship building, steel and engineering goods are the traditional large-scale industries. Other than these, cement, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and automobiles have emerged as the sunrise sectors of the economy of India. Because of the huge buying power of the people, the Indian economy has grown as a major investment destination for both international and domestic entrepreneurs and investors. The country mostly imports crude oil, chemicals, fertilizers etc. Over the years, the imports have decreased and exports have increased. This is an indicator that the economy of India is pursuing a healthy growth trajectory.

Central Banks and Global Crises – Who Really Controls the Global Economy?

The worldwide credit crisis that began with the collapse of the housing market in the United States in 2008 was just one of many crises that central banks and other financial authorities have had to deal with during the first part of the 21st century.

But the enormity of the 2008 financial collapse required government and central bank intervention never before seen in the global economy. After Lehman Brothers, one of America’s biggest investment banks, was allowed to go bankrupt, the Federal Reserve was required to bail out AIG, the world’s largest insurance company. The $85 billion bailout was, until then, the biggest bailout in American economic history.

When banks began failing across the globe- primarily because of bad investments in U.S. subprime securities, but also because of the freeze in interbank lending- it was clear that a full- blown worldwide crisis had arrived. Stock market declines of more than 50% in some countries presaged a global economic meltdown. The concerted action of the world’s central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan, helped calm things down for a while. But when countries began failing-Iceland and the Ukraine were the first of many national economies that had to be bailed out- it was clear that the fallout of the 2008 crisis would last for years to come.

The key to finding the right solution to economic crises is to somehow solve the immediate problem without making things worse in the future. Some say that the reaction of the Fed to the meltdown of the dot- com sector at the end of the 20th century- increased liquidity and drastically lower interest rates- set the stage for the meltdown of financial markets several years later, with massive defaults of mortgage holders who probably shouldn’t have been given home loans to start with, but were lured in by artificially low interest rates. The result was a recession that was much worse than that which the central bank was trying to avoid.

Just as the speed of an engine is regulated by its fuel supply, a country’s economy is controlled by regulating its money supply- and each country’s monetary policy is the responsibility of its central bank. In Britain, it’s the Bank of England; in Switzerland, it’s The Swiss National Bank; in the United States, it’s the Federal Reserve; in the euro zone countries, it’s the European Central Bank; and in Japan, it’s the Bank of Japan. These quasi- public institutions are set up by governments, but are then given the independence needed to keep an economy under control without undue interference from dabbling politicians. Despite the tendency of the media to concentrate on the latest economic statistic, there is no one single indicator that tells us how fast an economy is growing- or if that growth will lead to inflation down the road. And, unfortunately, there is no way to know how quickly an economy will respond to changes in monetary policy. If a country’s central bank allows the economy to expand too rapidly- by keeping too much money in circulation, for example- it may cause “bubbles” and inflation. If it slows down the economy too much, an economic recession can result, bringing financial turmoil and rampant unemployment.

Central bankers, therefore, need to be prescient- and extremely careful- keeping one eye on inflation, which is the product of an overheating economy, and one eye on unemployment, which is the product of a slowing economy. In the 21st century economy, however, regulating money supply has become a much more difficult task. With the amount of capital flowing around the world dwarfing many countries’ money supplies, it’s almost impossible to know with certainty what the effect of any monetary decision will have on a local economy-let alone on the world.

Inflation and unemployment have become the yin and the yang of the 21st- century economy. When one rises, the other tends to fall. Although neither is perceived as good, in recent years, inflation has become the dominant preoccupation of economic decision makers. It used to be that reports of a surging economy brought euphoria to the markets. If factories and businesses were producing at full capacity and everyone had a job, the markets would greet the news with approval, confident that in a booming economy, everyone would be better off. However, after the severe inflation scares of the past decades, with prices rising out of control in many countries, leaders realized that an economy growing too quickly can be too much of a good thing. Reduced unemployment means that companies are forced to pay higher wages for scarce workers, and prices of goods and services need to be raised to pay for the increased cost.

In a booming economy, inflation can grow quickly as consumers and businesses begin to compete for increasingly scarce goods and services- and scarcity leads to higher prices. The result is usually a vicious circle of wage and price increases that end up hurting almost everyone- especially those on fixed incomes, who see their buying power decline when prices rise.

The international markets watch each country’s inflation rate carefully- always on the lookout for signs that an economy is stalling or overheating. International investors, including gigantic pension funds, hedge funds, and international banks, move billions and sometime trillions of dollars, pounds, euros, and yen around the world on any given day, looking for the best return on their investment. When a country’s economy looks like it is growing too strongly, and inflation is about to rear its ugly head, international investors can move their money out of an economy at a moment’s notice, preferring to invest their funds in countries with more stable economic growth and low inflation.

Just as a prudent driver keeps an eye on the road ahead, a country’s central bank tries to keep the economy on a steady course. Central bankers need to look at all the economic data, such as factory orders, housing starts, consumer credit, retail sales, manufacturing, construction and employment figures-some of which are leading and some of which are lagging indicators-in an ongoing effort to keep the economy from overheating or sliding into recession.

The Basics of Any Economy

In a traditional economy, how the resources are distributed is predicted by the habits and traditions practised by the society. Here, the Basics of Economy is guided by a pre-determined force and everyone automatically knows where they fit in. Occupations are distributed according to heritage and there is little room for growth and innovation as new ideas are usually scorned and perceived as a threat to a way of life.

In the traditional economy, there is stability and predictability and entrepreneurs are rare thus, the standard of living is significantly low. The government plays a lot of role in the command economy. Instead of allowing tradition and habits to dictate the economy, a central government is elected or appointed to dictate the Basics of Economy. Everybody is then obliged to follow the economic decisions made by the government or their interest groups regardless of their differing or preferred stands.

The Market economy on the other hand is controlled by the forces of demand and supply. What to produce, for whom and needed quantity is all left in the hands of the market, the people. This economy permits growth and change based on the various needs of the consumers. The distribution of wealth in a market economy is often not balanced since it is tallied to the wavering needs of the market forces.

Communism captures the command economy. A central unit owns all and attempts to redistribute the wealth equally to all. The advantages and disadvantages of this approach weigh each other out. Capitalism works well with the market economy, the direction and growth is left to the consumers and business owners. By promoting competitive living, it takes the resources of any society and puts it to good use thereby promoting efficiency and flexibility. A major setback however could be the insensitivity of this type of economy to a balanced distribution of needs.

The Basics of Economy is similar in today’s major economies, most practicing socialism attempt to mix the command and market economies. In this arrangement, a central unit controls essential public demands while non-essential demands are left to compete with the harsh forces of demand and supply. Mixed economies takes the best of all the other economies, combines them in order to meet the demands of any society on a much larger scale.

What People Buy in a Bad Economy

As a sales trainer, I understand a salesperson’s quest for low hanging fruit especially in this economy. That’s why they want to know what people buy in a bad economy. I know they are searching for a list of products but my answer is much more useful.

What do people buy in a bad economy? They buy protection from loss. Our first instinct in a down economy is to preserve and maintain what we already possess. The key is knowing how to structure this message in a sales presentation.

During the sales process, products are presented as a solution to a prospect’s problem. It may be that the product allows a prospect to become more productive or to spend less money. During a strong economy, everyone is looking to do more and to do it faster. However, everything changes in a difficult economy and salespeople need to react to those changes if the expect to succeed in their sales careers.

In a strong economy, salespeople sell the positive side of benefits. They justify a purchasing decision with elaborate Return On Investment calculations. When the economy is growing, companies want to grow along with it. What people buy in a bad economy is quite different.

Understanding What People Buy In A Bad Economy

The fear of further loss is a strong motivator and that’s what people buy in a bad economy. To succeed, a sales message must appeal to that motivator. The sales message must expand from “saving money” to include “stop losing your money”. The sales message must expand from “becoming more productive” to “stop wasting your productivity”. In a troubled economy, the salesperson must “sell” both the negative and positive sides of the benefits. The fear of loss is what people buy in a bad economy. Reacting to this economy, I now include this point in my sales training programs.

I know when sales reps ask me what people buy in a bad economy, they are looking for a new product to sell. I remind to always sell what they know and enjoy. Sales success isn’t product dependent. Sales success depends on delivering the proper message. In this difficult economy, that message must appeal to the fear of further loss. That’s why “stop losing your money” and “stop wasting your productivity” are more effective sales message during this economic period.

What People Buy In A Bad Economy Is Not About A Product

When you want to know what people buy in a bad economy, stop thinking about a product or industry. In a difficult economy, people are searching for protection against further losses.

The fear of loss becomes a much stronger motivator than the desire for gain when the economy is down. Appeal to that motivator and you’ll enjoy great sales success selling any product.

Economic Stimulus Package For Your Personal Economy and Mental Mind Set!

Economy, Weak Economy, Recession, Economic Stimulus Plan, Stimulus Package, Obama’s Stimulus Package, Government Stimulus, Government Bail Out, Bank Bailout, and Auto Industry Bailout! Wait! Stop! Enough! My brain is being overwhelmed by these terms… Are any of these words or phrases the focus of your daily conversations? This is just about all I hear from the moment I wake up until I go to bed and it’s still ringing in my head while I sleep… I turn on the TV and what do you think I see and hear? I turn on the radio; chances are they are talking about the economy. Whenever I am engaged in a conversation it seems something about the economy usually comes up. GEEEEEZ already! Well I guess these are the times we are living in. It’s likely that most of you reading this article have been directly or indirectly affected by the Economic Meltdown, some more than others… And yes, there are always Vultures out there taking advantage of other people’s misfortune.

What can you do about this overabundant mind numbing negative information about our economy? Well you can start by training your mind on the positives. First off, you need to stop talking about the economy in your daily conversations. Yes, the issues are real and you do have to deal with the reality of the effects. I will get into more on that later. Second, how is all this really affecting you and your family? Third, what are you doing to stimulate your own Personal Economy because waiting for the Governments helping hand is not the answer?

First let’s deal with the mind set we are in. You can’t help but feel the world you live in is crumbling around you, that is of course if you’re constantly tuned into, listening or reading the national media channels. Basically, most of what is broadcast they talk about is negative any-ways. That’s what they call News, so there is a big problem! You may already be having a difficult time with life’s issues as it stands, without the need to exacerbate your problems by having to hear about how bad the economy is morning, noon, night, and for some of us while we sleep(economic nightmares). For me personally this indication was very troubling until I came across an article: Economic Stimulus Hypnosis? by Wendy N. Lapidus-Saltz. She gives about ten quality practical things you can do today to improve your personal economy and ease your mind.

You can start by: “What to Tell Yourself in a Weak Economy?”

“Start by getting rid of the words “weak economy.” Replace them with: new economy, modern economy, or an economy that’s re-building, re-starting, re-surging, re-growing, refreshing, refocusing, and recharging itself.” Read more on how to make economizing fun! Stimulate your economics by tickling your mind! Create more for your unique life by recharging your economy and mind.

In addition share this practice with your family, friends and people you associate with. They undoubtedly need a recharge of their personal economy and mind set too. Because the reality of the economy is there, that is, the stock market down day after day, foreclosures are mounting driving housing values down more and more each month, more business’s are closing and reports of more job cuts are frequent. Another thing you can do is don’t listen to any news for a few days or try to limit your current exposure dramatically. Give yourself a break from the news and see what this does for your frame of mind.

Once you have your mental state back in order, you can focus clearly on more practical ways to stimulate your Economy in a pure monetary fashion. That’s what you ultimately want to do right? Remember, you are the one in control of your ultimate financial destiny, not the government! So, continue to exercise with these suggestions and you will be ready for the next step in no time.

In my next article, I will discuss ways you can start to improve your financial situation no matter how bleak it may seem. And no, I will not be talking about some get rich quick scheme. I am sure you have already come across hundred’s of those that just wasted your time and actually ended up costing you money when they were supposed to make you money. So, until next time you have a Great Day and may your Personal Economy be prosperous for you and your family.

The Effects Of Balance Of Trade Surplus And Deficit On A Country’s Economy

INTRODUCTION

It is in no doubt that balance of trade which is sometimes symbolized as (NX) is described as the Difference between the monetary value of export and import of output in an economy over a certain period. It could also been seen as the relationship between the nation’s import and exports. When the balance has a positive indication, it is termed a trade surplus, i.e. if it consists of exporting more than is imported and a trade deficit or a trade gap if the reverse is the case. The Balance of trade is sometimes divided into a goods and a service balance. It encompasses the activity of exports and imports. It is expected that a country who does more of exports than imports stands a big chance of enjoying a balance of trade surplus in its economy more than its counterpart who does the opposite.

Economists and Government bureaus attempt to track trade deficits and surpluses by recording as many transactions with foreign entities as possible. Economists and Statisticians collect receipts from custom offices and routinely total imports, exports and financial transactions. The full accounting is called the ‘Balance of Payments’- this is used to calculate the balance of trade which almost always result in a trade surplus or deficit.

Pre-Contemporary understanding of the functioning of the balance of trade informed the economic policies of early modern Europe that are grouped under the heading ‘mercantilism’.

Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and military security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Its main purpose was to increase a nation’s wealth by imposing government regulation concerning all of the nation’s commercial interest. It was believed that national strength could be maximized by limiting imports via tariffs and maximizing export. It encouraged more exports and discouraged imports so as to gain trade balance advantage that would eventually culminate into trade surplus for the nation. In fact, this has been the common practice of the western world in which they were able to gain trade superiority over their colonies and third world countries such as Australia, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, and other countries in Africa and some parts of the world. This is still the main reason why they still enjoy a lot of trade surplus benefit with these countries up till date. This has been made constantly predominant due to the lack of technical-know how and capacity to produce sufficient and durable up to standard goods by these countries, a situation where they solely rely on foreign goods to run their economy and most times, their moribund industries are seen relying on foreign import to survive.

What is Trade Surplus?

Trade Surplus can be defined as an Economic measure of a positive balance of trade where a country’s export exceeds its imports. A trade surplus represents a net inflow of domestic currency from foreign markets and is the opposite of a trade deficit, which would represent a net outflow.

Investopedia further explained the concept of trade surplus as when a nation has a trade surplus; it has control over the majority of its currency. This causes a reduction of risk for another nation selling this currency, which causes a drop in its value, when the currency loses value, it makes it more expensive to purchase imports, causing an even a greater imbalance.

A Trade surplus usually creates a situation where the surplus only grows (due to the rise in the value of the nation’s currency making imports cheaper). There are many arguments against Milton Freidman’s belief that trade imbalance will correct themselves naturally.

What is Trade Deficit?

Trade Deficit can be seen as an economic measure of negative balance of trade in which a country’s imports exceeds its export. It is simply the excess of imports over exports. As usual in Economics, there are several different views of trade deficit, depending on who you talk to. They could be perceived as either good or bad or both immaterial depending on the situation. However, few economists argue that trade deficits are always good.

Economists who consider trade deficit to be bad believes that a nation that consistently runs a current account deficit is borrowing from abroad or selling off capital assets -long term assets-to finance current purchases of goods and services. They believe that continual borrowing is not a viable long term strategy, and that selling long term assets to finance current consumption undermines future production.

Economists who consider trade deficit good associates them with positive economic development, specifically, higher levels of income, consumer confidence, and investment. They argue that trade deficit enables the United States to import capital to finance investment in productive capacity. Far from hurting employment as may be earlier perceived. They also hold the view that trade deficit financed by foreign investment in the United States help to boost U.S employment.

Some Economists view the concept of trade deficit as a mere expression of consumer preferences and as immaterial. These economists typically equate economic well being with rising consumption. If consumers want imported food, clothing and cars, why shouldn’t they buy them? That ranging of Choices is seen as them as symptoms of a successful and dynamic economy.

Perhaps the best and most suitable view about Trade deficit is the balanced view. If a trade deficit represents borrowing to finance current consumption rather than long term investment, or results from inflationary pressure, or erodes U.S employment, then it’s bad. If a trade deficit fosters borrowing to finance long term investment or reflects rising incomes, confidence and investment-and doesn’t hurt employment-then it’s good. If trade deficit merely expresses consumer preference rather than these phenomena, then it should be treated as immaterial.

How does a Trade surplus and Deficit Arise?

A trade surplus arises when countries sell more goods than they import. Conversely, trade deficits arise when countries import more than they export. The value of goods and services imported more exported is recorded on the country’s version of a ledger known as the ‘current account’. A positive account balance means the nation carries a surplus. According to the Central Intelligence Agency Work fact book, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, And Iran are net Creditors Nations. Examples of countries with a deficit or ‘net debtor’ nations are United States, Spain, the United Kingdom and India.

Difference between Trade Surplus and Trade Deficit

A country is said to have trade surplus when it exports more than it imports. Conversely, a country has a trade deficit when it imports more than it exports. A country can have an overall trade deficit or surplus. Or simply have with a specific country. Either Situation presents problems at high levels over long periods of time, but a surplus is generally a positive development, while a deficit is seen as negative. Economists recognize that trade imbalances of either sort are common and necessary in international trade.

Competitive Advantage of Trade Surplus and Trade Deficit

From the 16th and 18th Century, Western European Countries believed that the only way to engage in trade were through the exporting of as many goods and services as possible. Using this method, Countries always carried a surplus and maintained large pile of gold. Under this system called the ‘Mercantilism’, the concise encyclopedia of Economics explains that nations had a competitive advantage by having enough money in the event a war broke out so as to be able to Self-sustain its citizenry. The interconnected Economies of the 21st century due to the rise of Globalization means Countries have new priorities and trade concerns than war. Both Surpluses and deficits have their advantages.

Trade Surplus Advantage

Nations with trade surplus have several competitive advantage s by having excess reserves in its Current Account; the nation has the money to buy the assets of other countries. For Instance, China and Japan use their Surpluses to buy U.S bonds. Purchasing the debt of other nations allows the buyer a degree of political influence. An October 2010 New York Times article explains how President Obama must consistently engage in discussions with China about its $28 Billion deficit with the country. Similarly, the United States hinges its ability to consume on China’s continuing purchase of U.S assets and cheap goods. Carrying a surplus also provides a cash flow with which to reinvest in its machinery, labour force and economy. In this regard, carrying a surplus is akin to a business making a profit-the excess reserves create opportunities and choices that nations with debts necessarily have by virtue of debts and obligations to repay considerations.

Trade Deficits Advantage

George Alessandria, Senior Economist for the Philadelphia Federal Reserve explains trade deficits also indicate an efficient allocation of Resources: Shifting the production of goods and services to China allows U.S businesses to allocate more money towards its core competences, such as research and development. Debt also allows countries to take on more ambitious undertakings and take greater risks. Though the U.S no longer produces and export as many goods and services, the nations remains one of the most innovative. For Example, Apple can pay its workers more money to develop the Best Selling, Cutting Edge Products because it outsources the production of goods to countries overseas.

LITERATURE REVIEW

In this chapter, efforts were made to explain some of the issues concerning balance of trade and trying to X-ray some of the arguments in favour of trade balances and imbalances with a view to finding answers to some salient questions and making for proper understanding of the concept of trade balances surplus and deficit which is fast becoming a major problem in the world’s economy today which scholars like John Maynard Keynes earlier predicted.

In a bid to finding a solution to this, we shall be discussing from the following sub-headings;

(a). Conditions where trade imbalances may be problematic.
(b). Conditions where trade imbalances may not be problematic.

2.1. Conditions where trade imbalances may be problematic

Those who ignore the effects of long run trade deficits may be confusing David Ricardo’s principle of comparative advantage with Adam Smith’s principle of absolute advantage, specifically ignoring the latter. The economist Paul Craig Roberts notes that the comparative advantage principles developed by David Ricardo do not hold where the factors of production are internationally mobile. Global labor arbitrage, a phenomenon described by economist Stephen S. Roach, where one country exploits the cheap labor of another, would be a case of absolute advantage that is not mutually beneficial. Since the stagflation of the 1970s, the U.S. economy has been characterized by slower GDP growth. In 1985, the U.S. began its growing trade deficit with China. Over the long run, nations with trade surpluses tend also to have a savings surplus. The U.S. generally has lower savings rates than its trading partners, which tend to have trade surpluses. Germany, France, Japan, and Canada have maintained higher savings rates than the U.S. over the long run.

Few economists believe that GDP and employment can be dragged down by an over-large deficit over the long run. Others believe that trade deficits are good for the economy. The opportunity cost of a forgone tax base may outweigh perceived gains, especially where artificial currency pegs and manipulations are present to distort trade.

Wealth-producing primary sector jobs in the U.S. such as those in manufacturing and computer software have often been replaced by much lower paying wealth-consuming jobs such as those in retail and government in the service sector when the economy recovered from recessions. Some economists contend that the U.S. is borrowing to fund consumption of imports while accumulating unsustainable amounts of debt.

In 2006, the primary economic concerns focused on: high national debt ($9 trillion), high non-bank corporate debt ($9 trillion), high mortgage debt ($9 trillion), high financial institution debt ($12 trillion), high unfunded Medicare liability ($30 trillion), high unfunded Social Security liability ($12 trillion), high external debt (amount owed to foreign lenders) and a serious deterioration in the United States net international investment position (NIIP) (-24% of GDP), high trade deficits, and a rise in illegal immigration.

These issues have raised concerns among economists and unfunded liabilities were mentioned as a serious problem facing the United States in the President’s 2006 State of the Union address. On June 26, 2009, Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, called for the U.S. to increase its manufacturing base employment to 20% of the workforce, commenting that the U.S. has outsourced too much in some areas and can no longer rely on the financial sector and consumer spending to drive demand.

2.2. Conditions where trade imbalances may not be problematic

Small trade deficits are generally not considered to be harmful to either the importing or exporting economy. However, when a national trade imbalance expands beyond prudence (generally thought to be several [clarification needed] percent of GDP, for several years), adjustments tend to occur. While unsustainable imbalances may persist for long periods (cf, Singapore and New Zealand’s surpluses and deficits, respectively), the distortions likely to be caused by large flows of wealth out of one economy and into another tend to become intolerable.
In simple terms, trade deficits are paid for out of foreign exchange reserves, and may continue until such reserves are depleted. At such a point, the importer can no longer continue to purchase more than is sold abroad. This is likely to have exchange rate implications: a sharp loss of value in the deficit economy’s exchange rate with the surplus economy’s currency will change the relative price of tradable goods, and facilitate a return to balance or (more likely) an over-shooting into surplus the other direction.

More complexly, an economy may be unable to export enough goods to pay for its imports, but is able to find funds elsewhere. Service exports, for example, are more than sufficient to pay for Hong Kong’s domestic goods export shortfall. In poorer countries, foreign aid may fill the gap while in rapidly developing economies a capital account surplus often off-sets a current-account deficit. There are some economies where transfers from nationals working abroad contribute significantly to paying for imports. The Philippines, Bangladesh and Mexico are examples of transfer-rich economies. Finally, a country may partially rebalance by use of quantitative easing at home. This involves a central bank buying back long term government bonds from other domestic financial institutions without reference to the interest rate (which is typically low when QE is called for), seriously increasing the money supply. This debases the local currency but also reduces the debt owed to foreign creditors – effectively “exporting inflation”

FACTORS AFFECTING BALANCE OF TRADE

Factors that can affect the balance of trade include;

1. The cost of Production, (land, labour, capital, taxes, incentives, etc) in the exporting as well as the importing economy.
2. The cost and availability of raw materials, intermediate goods and inputs.
3. Exchange rate movement.
4. Multi lateral, bi-lateral, and unilateral taxes or restrictions on trade.
5. Non-Tariff barriers such as environmental, Health and safety standards.
6. The availability of adequate foreign exchange with which to pay for imports and prices of goods manufactured at home.

In addition, the trade balance is likely to differ across the business cycle in export led-growth (such as oil and early industrial goods). The balance of trade will improve during an economic expansion.

However, with domestic demand led growth (as in the United States and Australia), the trade balance will worsen at the same stage of the business cycle.

Since the Mid 1980s, the United States has had a growth deficit in tradable goods, especially with Asian nations such as China and Japan which now hold large sums of U.S debts. Interestingly, the U.S has a trade surplus with Australia due to a favourable trade advantage which it has over the latter.

ECONOMIC POLICY WHICH COULD HELP REALISE TRADE SURPLUSES.

(a) Savings

Economies such as Canada, Japan, and Germany which have savings Surplus Typically runs trade surpluses. China, a High Growth economy has tended to run trade surpluses. A higher savings rate generally corresponds to a trade surplus. Correspondingly, the United States with a lower Savings rate has tended to run high trade deficits, especially with Asian Nations.

(b) Reducing import and increasing Export.

Countries such as the U.S and England are the major proponent of this theory. It is also known as the mercantile theory. A Practice where the government regulates strictly the inflow and outflow from the economy in terms of import and export. One major advantage of this theory is that it makes a nation self sufficient and has a multiplier effect on the overall development of the nation’s entire sector.

CRITICISMS AGAINST THE ECONOMIC POLICY OF SAVING AS A MEANS OF REALISING TRADE SURPLUS

Saving as a means of realizing trade surplus is not advisable. For example, If a country who is not saving is trading and multiplying its monetary status, it will in a long run be more beneficial to them and a disadvantage to a country who is solely adopting and relying on the savings policy as the it can appear to be cosmetic in a short term and the effect would be exposed when the activities of the trading nation is yielding profit on investment. This could lead to an Economic Tsunami.

CRITICISMS AGAINST THE ECONOMIC POLICY OF REDUCING IMPORTS AND INCREASING EXPORTS

A situation where the export is having more value on the economy of the receiving country just as Frederic Bastiat posited in its example, the principle of reducing imports and increasing export would be an exercise in futility. He cited an example of where a Frenchman, exported French wine and imported British coal, turning a profit. He supposed he was in France, and sent a cask of wine which was worth 50 francs to England. The customhouse would record an export of 50 francs. If, in England, the wine sold for 70 francs (or the pound equivalent), which he then used to buy coal, which he imported into France, and was found to be worth 90 francs in France, he would have made a profit of 40 francs. But the customhouse would say that the value of imports exceeded that of exports and was trade deficit against the ledger of France.

A proper understanding of a topic as this can not be achieved if views from Notable Scholars who have dwelt on it in the past are not examined.

In the light of the foregoing, it will be proper to analyze the views of various scholars who have posited on this topic in a bid to draw a deductive conclusion from their argument to serve a template for drawing a conclusion. This would be explained sequentially as follow;

(a) Frédéric Bastiat on the fallacy of trade deficits.
(b) Adam Smith on trade deficits.
(c) John Maynard Keynes on balance of trade.
(d) Milton Freidman on trade deficit.
(e) Warren Buffet on trade deficit.

3.1. Frédéric Bastiat on the fallacy of trade deficits

The 19th century economist and philosopher Frédéric Bastiat expressed the idea that trade deficits actually were a manifestation of profit, rather than a loss. He proposed as an example to suppose that he, a Frenchman, exported French wine and imported British coal, turning a profit. He supposed he was in France, and sent a cask of wine which was worth 50 francs to England. The customhouse would record an export of 50 francs. If, in England, the wine sold for 70 francs (or the pound equivalent), which he then used to buy coal, which he imported into France, and was found to be worth 90 francs in France, he would have made a profit of 40 francs. But the customhouse would say that the value of imports exceeded that of exports and was trade deficit against the ledger of France. looking at his arguments properly, one would say that it is most adequate to have a trade deficit over a trade surplus. In this Vain, it is glaringly obvious that domestic trade or internal trade could turn a supposed trade surplus into a trade deficit if the cited example of Fredric Bastiat is applied. This was later, in the 20th century, affirmed by economist Milton Friedman.

Internal trade could render an Export value of a nation valueless if not properly handled. A situation where a goods that was initially imported from country 1 into a country 2 has more value in country 2 than its initial export value from country 1, could lead to a situation where the purchasing power would be used to buy more goods in quantity from country 2 who ordinarily would have had a trade surplus by virtue of exporting more in the value of the sum of the initially imported goods from country 1 thereby making the latter to suffer more in export by adding more value to the economy of country 1 that exported ab-initio. The customhouse would say that the value of imports exceeded that of exports and was trade deficit against the ledger of Country 1. But in the real sense of it, Country 1 has benefited trade-wise which is a profit to the economy. In the light of this, a fundamental question arises, ‘would the concept of Profit now be smeared or undermined on the Alter of the concept of Trade surplus or loss? This brings to Mind why Milton Friedman stated ‘that some of the concerns of trade deficit are unfair criticisms in an attempt to push macro- economic policies favourable to exporting industries’. i.e. to give an undue favour or Advantage to the exporting nations to make it seem that it is more viable than the less exporting country in the international Business books of accounts. This could be seen as a cosmetic disclosure as it does not actually state the proper position of things and this could be misleading in nature.

By reduction and absurdum, Bastiat argued that the national trade deficit was an indicator of a successful economy, rather than a failing one. Bastiat predicted that a successful, growing economy would result in greater trade deficits, and an unsuccessful, shrinking economy would result in lower trade deficits. This was later, in the 20th century, affirmed by economist Milton Friedman.

3.2. Adam Smith on trade deficits

Adam Smith who was the sole propounder of the theory of absolute advantage was of the opinion that trade deficit was nothing to worry about and that nothing is more absurd than the Doctrine of ‘Balance of Trade’ and this has been demonstrated by several Economists today. It was argued that If for Example, Japan happens to become the 51st state of the U.S, we would not hear about any trade deficit or imbalance between America and Japan. They further argued that trade imbalance was necessitated by Geographical boundaries amongst nations which make them see themselves as competitors amongst each other in other to gain trade superiority among each other which was not necessary. They further posited that if the boundaries between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, made any difference to the residents of those cities except for those obstacles created by the Government. They posited that if it was necessary to worry about the trade deficit between the United States and Japan, then maybe it was necessary to worry about the deficits that exist among states. It further that stated that if the balance of trade doesn’t matter at the personal, Neighbourhood, or city level, then it does matter at the National level. Then Adams Smith was Right!.

They observed that it was as a result of the economic viability of the U.S that made their purchasing power higher than that its Asian counterpart who was Exporting more and importing less than the U.S and that it wouldn’t be better if the U.S got poorer and less ability to buy products from abroad, further stating that it was the economic problem in Asia that made people buy fewer imports.

“In the foregoing, even upon the principles of the commercial system, it was very unnecessary to lay extraordinary restraints upon the importation of goods from those countries with which the balance of trade is supposed to be disadvantageous. It obvious depicts a picture that nothing, however, can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade, upon which, not only these restraints, but almost all the other regulations of commerce are founded. When two places trade with one another, this [absurd] doctrine supposes that, if the balance be even, neither of them either loses or gains; but if it leans in any degree to one side, that one of them loses and the other gains in proportion to its declension from the exact equilibrium.” (Smith, 1776, book IV, ch. iii, part ii).

3.3. John Maynard Keynes on balance of trade

John Maynard Keynes was the principal author of the ‘KEYNES PLAN’. His view, supported by many Economists and Commentators at the time was that Creditor Nations should be treated as responsible as debtor Nations for Disequilibrium in Exchanges and that both should be under an obligation to bring trade back into a state of balance. Failure for them to do so could have serious economic consequences. In the words of Geoffrey Crowther, ‘if the Economic relationship that exist between two nations are not harmonized fairly close to balance, then there is no set of financial arrangement that Can rescue the world from the impoverishing result of chaos. This view could be seen by some Economists and scholars as very unfair to Creditors as it does not have respect for their status as Creditors based on the fact that there is no clear cut difference between them and the debtors. This idea was perceived by many as an attempt to unclassify Creditors from debtors.

3.4. Milton Freidman on trade deficit

In the 1980s, Milton Friedman who was a Nobel Prize winning Economist, a Professor and the Father of Monetarism contended that some of the concerns of trade deficit are unfair criticisms in an attempt to push macro- economic policies favourable to exporting industries.

He further argued that trade deficit are not necessarily as important as high exports raise the value of currency, reducing aforementioned exports, and vice versa in imports, thus naturally removing trade deficits not due to investment.

This position is a more refined version of the theorem first discovered by David Hume, where he argued that England could not permanently gain from exports, because hoarding gold would make gold more plentiful in England; therefore the price of English goods will soar, making them less attractive exports and making foreign goods more attractive imports. In this way, countries trade balance would balance out.

Friedman believed that deficits would be corrected by free markets as floating currency rates rise or fall with time to discourage imports in favour of the exports. Revising again in the favour of imports as the currency gains strength.

But again there were short comings on the view of Friedman as many economists argued that his arguments were feasible in a short run and not in a long run. The theory says that the trade deficit, as good as debt, is not a problem at all as the debt has to be paid back. They further argued that In the long run as per this theory, the consistent accumulation of a major debt could pose a problem as it may be quite difficult to pay offset the debt easily.

Economists in support for Friedman suggested that when the money drawn out returns to the trade deficit country

3.5. Warren Buffet on trade deficit

The Successful American Business Mogul and Investor Warren Buffet was quoted in the Associated Press (January 20th 2006) as saying that ‘The U.S trade deficit is a bigger threat to the domestic economy than either the federal budget deficit or consumer debt and could lead to political turmoil… Right now, the rest of the world owns $3 trillion more of us than we own of them’. He was further quoted as saying that ‘in effect, our economy has been behaving like an extraordinary rich family that possesses an immense farm. In order to consume 4% more than we produce-that is the trade deficit- we have day by day been both selling pieces of the farm and increasing the mortgage on what we still own.

Buffet proposed a tool called ‘IMPORT CERTIFICATES’ as a solution to the United States problem and ensure balanced trade. He was further quoted as saying; ‘The Rest of the world owns a staggering $2.5 trillion more of the U.S than we own of the other countries. Some of this $2.5 trillion is invested in claim checks- U.S bonds, both governmental and private- and some in such assets as property and equity securities.

Import Certificate is a proposed mechanism to implement ‘balanced Trade’, and eliminate a country’s trade deficit. The idea was to create a market for transferable import certificate (ICs) that would represent the right to import a certain dollar amount of goods into the United States. The plan was that the Transferable ICs would be issued to US exporters in an amount equal to the dollar amount of the goods they export and they could only be utilized once. They could be sold or traded to importers who must purchase them in order to legally import goods to the U.S. The price of ICs are set by free market forces, and therefore dependent on the balance between entrepreneurs’ willingness to pay the ICs market price for importing goods into the USA and the global volume of goods exported from the US (Supply and Demand).

The Economy’s Greatest Depression Downturn Ever Is Now Just A Few Years Away

What really controls the economy? Forget interest rates, forget deficits, forget the Fed, forget IRAQ, forget which party is in office. In fact, forget just about everything that permeates the news. The greatest force that has controlled the long-term trend of the economy for at least the last century doesn’t give a fig about any of these side-shows. And just what is this “greatest force” now telling us in 2005? The same thing that it has been telling us for at least the last twenty years – that the onset of a catastrophic depression, unprecedented in history, has been marching silently and steadily towards us, and that it is now just a few years away.

It has long been suggested (and feared) that the 77 million or so US Baby Boomers will tank the economy big-time as they begin to pull their savings out of Wall Street when they start retiring around 2011. Well, first of all there are not 77 million. There are really over 100 million American Baby Boomers because the birth upswing actually began in the late thirties not the, “traditionally” chosen, erroneous, post war year of 1946. This means that whatever problems they might created just got 30% worse, and true earliest Baby Boomer retirement began around 2001. Secondly, the hard evidence of nearly a century shows that people retiring has never been a force in the overall trend of the economy. Let’s get back to basics to see why.

It is a well established economic fact that around 60-70% of the GDP (gross domestic product) is simply consumers spending just about all of their hard-earned income. What many people don’t know, or at least don’t think about, is that it’s more than 90% when national and local government expenditures, first taken in from consumers’ incomes as taxes of all kinds, are included. The bottom line is that the consumer is always the greatest force in the economy – and it is overwhelming! It’s just a simple, hard economic fact. It is therefore only common-sense that the long-term trend of the economy must be controlled somehow by this absolutely massive consumer spending component. In the short-term (1 to 3 years) many factors, such as war, terrorism, oil and corporate scandal can seriously affect the economy, but they are always side-shows to the much bigger “hidden” picture.

To figure out what is happening in this hidden picture we must look at who we the consumers are with regard to our ability to spend. Obviously, a thousand middle-aged men or women earning and spending $40,000 a year are going to have a vastly different effect on the economy (GDP) than a thousand 15 year-old teenagers spending an allowance of $1000 a year. According to data published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the group with the biggest spending by far is the 45-54 year-olds. This makes total sense of course. They are at their peak earnings with huge matching expenditures to support teenage and college kids, their biggest mortgage, their best cars etc. If five year groupings (45-49 in 1920, progressing for logical reasons to 50-54 by 2000) within the 45 to 54 year-olds in the US population is plotted against the Dow Jones Industrial Average (the economy), adjusted for inflation using the CPI (Consumer Price Index) issued by the US government, a breathtaking, near glove-fit correlation covering the best part of a century is revealed. (See the chart within the referenced website). This isn’t conjecture. It’s a hard economic fact.

The greatest force in the economy can be indisputably demonstrated to be consumer demographics, and within that the 45 to 54 year-olds demographic is just as clearly all-powerful. Things like interest rates, deficits, who is elected, and inflation are followers or consequences of the economy, not the makers of it. The Fed raises or lowers rates because the economy tells it to. Stock market crashes don’t cause recessions or depressions. It is the other way around. The DJIA is simply following the 45 to 54 year-olds demographic down to reflecting the new lower value of stocks as the economy declines. For easy to understand, fundamental reasons the economy has followed the big-spending 45-54 year-olds demographic for nearly a century. History shows that the economy always declines when the number of big-spending 45 to 54 year-olds in the population declines, a full 11 to 20 years before they retire. This happened rapidly in the early 1930s, slowly thank goodness in the 1970s, and will happen again from 2013 to 2025, rapidly, relentlessly and catastrophically. This must not be confused with Baby Boomers retiring. They retire 11-20 years after their peak spending years end. While their retirement independently creates major unprecedented problems with social security and Medicare, the inevitable depression they cause by stopping their big-spending, happens first. If you accept their inevitable, later demographic impact on social security and Medicare, you must, for the same underlying reasons, accept their earlier bigger impact on the economy, even though tragically virtually no one is talking about it – yet.

Picture this: The great American economy is an ocean whose total depth is made up overwhelmingly of the combined spending of all the various age groups. The heaving waves on the surface of this deep ocean are always the big-spending of the 45 to 54 year-olds group. These waves produce the peaks and troughs of the economy – the long-term booms and busts. They can and have both raised and sunk ships. We will soon have to man the lifeboats as the greatest demographic wave in history crashes down with a thunderous roar! Like the great Titanic, there will not be enough time or enough lifeboats onboard, and only very limited rescue available.
The USA has just a few more years left of solid economic growth with an accompanying rise in the DJIA. After that, starting no later than 2012-13, and perhaps as early as 2009-10, an economic decline of terrible proportions begins and lasts until about 2025. Unlike their parents, Baby Boomers everywhere are truly not going to have a pleasant retirement. Starting in 2003-2004, the economy resumed its march upwards right in line with the 45-54 demographic, accompanied by the matching rise in the DJIA. The next several years up until 2012 latest represent the last chance for a very long time to make any money by traditionally investing in stocks. From 2013 to 2025 the big-spending 45 to 54 year-olds that control the trend of the economy will only be there in relentlessly declining numbers. Just how big is this catastrophic depression going to be financially? In the US stock market crash from 1929 to 1932, the value of stocks dropped approximately $90 billion. When expressed in year 2000 dollars and adjusted to match the size of the population now versus then (284M vs 123M), this is a drop of about 2.6 TRILLION dollars. It directly affected the less than five percent of the US population who owned stocks at the time. The population at large was affected by job loss and the ensuing poverty. When the 2013 to 2025 decline of the DJIA is converted with simple arithmetic to the loss in the value of all stocks in the same year 2000 dollars, it is a staggering 18 TRILLION dollars. This is seven times as bad as 1929 to 1932. This is all awful enough, but there is a terrible difference this time. This time the loss directly affects the more than fifty percent of the US that now own stocks either directly, or indirectly in mutual funds, pension plans, IRA or 401K type plans. It will be a financial holocaust. This however will be just the beginning.

In the depths of the depression of the 1930s US unemployment reached 25%. With a depression that is financially about seven times as deep as the 1930s, what will unemployment reach this time? As in the 1930s, home values will also plummet destroying much of homeowners’ equity, or all of it for those who buy homes in the years leading up to 2012-13. It is rightly said that when America sneezes the world catches a cold. If in a few short years America contracts pneumonia, what on earth will the world contract? Will what is happening in China change things? In a word, no! Our economy is driven overwhelmingly by consumer spending, no matter what we spend it on, including gasoline. Boomers will continue to unavoidably spend until their big-spending age limit is reached. When that happens the depression begins, regardless of China. China will however feel the impact in terms of the plummet in our imports that will then take place.

This catastrophic depression will happen. Our immutable demographics make it absolutely inevitable. It’s nobody’s fault. It cannot be fixed or wished away. The federal and state governments cannot prevent it anymore than they could prevent 2000-03. It’s just as unstoppable as a tidal wave. We have to accept the reality that it is coming, and plan for it as best we can. Imagine it is 1925 and you know with certainty that the crash of 1929-32 and the depression of the 1930s are coming. What will you do? The precious few years that are left before this coming 2013-2025 depression, that will dwarf the 1930s, must be used to their fullest starting immediately. It still won’t be enough time for many, but at least forewarned is forearmed.