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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

The red arrow below shows the Exact Moment When President Donald Trump Saved the United States Economy from Democratic President Barack Obama

Donald Trump claims his economy has no relationship to the economy President Obama saved from the incompetent RepubliCON President George W. Bush. That, of course, is a lie. Both presidents reigned during the longest business expansion in United States history. So who had the better economic statistics between the two presidents? Obama did.

During Trump’s first 36 months in office, the US economy has gained 6.6 million jobs. But during a comparable 36-month period at the end of Obama’s tenure, employers added 8.1 million jobs or 23% more than what has been added since Trump took office. The average monthly gain so far under Trump is 182,000 jobs. During the last 36 months under Obama, employers were adding an average of 224,000 jobs a month.

I should also like to point out that at this point in his first and only term, President Jimmy Carter had enjoyed a gain of 10.1 million jobs. Employers added 8.5 million jobs during the first 36 months of Bill Clinton’s term and 7.8 million jobs during the first 36 months of Lyndon Johnson’s tenure, even though the labor force at that time was less than half the size of what it is today.

Total yearly corporate profits were also higher under Obama. Corporate profits peaked during the third quarter of 2014. That year also witnessed the greatest amount of total corporate profits in U.S. history. Corporate profits were higher in every year of Obama’s second term than in any year since Donald Trump became president.

In the three years under President Trump, Gross Domestic Product (GNP) has grown an average of 2.54 percent per year, while under the last three years of President Obama GNP rose 2.8 percent per year. Obviously, the economy grew faster under Obama.

President Trump pushed for and succeeded in getting tax cuts passed through congress almost exclusively for the rich and their corporations. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017. Most of the changes introduced by the bill went into effect on January 1, 2018.

Since the tax cuts went into effect, GNP has grown 2.4 percent per year, which is lower than during Trump’s first year, and lower than the last three years of Obama’s presidency.  As predicted in this blog, the tax cuts have had a negative impact on the growth of GNP, but they have pushed the United States economy into a far more serious stock market bubble that will have dire repercussions and likely send the United States into the deepest recession since the Great Depression. The official stats show that when Trump says the economy is better because of the tax cuts, he is lying, the numbers do not lie. He will deserve some significant blame for the severity of the coming recession due to his tax cuts.

Under Trump, stocks were up 14 percent per year as of February 14, 2020. That is to be expected given his ruinous tax cuts for the rich, which have pushed the market up higher than it otherwise would have gone. Meanwhile, under Obama, stocks flew higher by 13.8 percent on a yearly basis, and he managed this without the tax cut pushed by Trump.

Overall, it appears with Obama we had an economy on the rise, while with Trump we have an economy on the decline. That is not necessarily the fault of Trump. The business cycle must end, and it just might be on his watch.

Average median home prices have declined since the last quarter of 2017, the yield curve has inverted, U.S. vehicle sales declined last year, the number of individuals and households applying for food stamps has risen since last May, sales of vehicles in China plummeted by 8 percent last year suggesting China may be in recession already and before the coronavirus, total business sales in the United States have declined over the last year, U.S. manufacturing has been tanking since last year, durable goods employment is down, corporate debt is at an all-time high as is corporate share buybacks, and all are signs of a possible looming world recession.

Naturally, whoever is president next January will get the blame. If it is Trump, he will simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time, just like Trump’s economy is riding the tailwinds of Obama’s economic miracle and saw him in the right place at the right time.

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I paid my wealth tax of almost $3000 earlier this month. Doing so left me broke for a couple of weeks. This wealth tax is called a property tax, but the land you own is part of your wealth and my property tax could just as easily be called a wealth tax since it taxes part of my wealth.

Until recently, progressive taxation had been part of the fabric of American democracy for over a century. The idea the rich can pay more is quite biblical, just ask Jesus. Somebody who has $100 billion in wealth is going to pay $3 billion or so in tax, and some of them are acting as though the taxman is going to swing an ax into their billion-dollar genitals if the tax legislation is enacted.
These billionaires have rigged the economy in their favor by using their billions to corrupt both major political parties and the federal government in the process. They have used corruption to redistribute trillions of dollars from working folks to themselves in the process. This is why three people (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos) own more wealth than the bottom half of the U.S. population. This is why the 1 percent have gained $21 trillion since 1989 and the bottom half of U.S. citizens have lost $900 billion (See  the-corrupting-billionaires-have-gotten-richer-by-21-trillion-since-1989)

Exporting millions of jobs via trade agreements alone sent trillions of dollars from working people to the billionaires over the last forty years. The difference between the old higher US pay and the new lower third world pay goes straight into the pockets of the billionaires via higher corporate profits, rising dividends, and surging share prices.

Corruption and class warfare against the 99 percent are running wild in all three branches of government, and that tiny progressive tax is a step in the right direction that might help put an end to it and restore U.S. democracy in the process.

I do not agree with everything Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders propose. However, I agree with former President Barack Obama when he said: “Income inequality is the defining challenge of our time.” He said it one time. Then somebody likely took him to the side, told him never to say it again, and he never did. Now he makes $400,000 a speech, which is $150,000 more than Bill and Hillary Clinton make.

We can put an end to this type of revolving-door corruption and other forms of political corruption. The wealth tax is just a tiny step in the right direction.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren cited recent Pew Research Center polling that found only 18% of Americans say they can trust the U.S. government to do the right thing to unveil her Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act on Tuesday.

It is well known that the rich, their corporations, and their lobbyists have bought almost every member of the United States House of Representatives and almost every member of the Senate since 1981, which include such corrupt blowhards as RepubliCons Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell and Democrat Ron Wyden. Since 1981, every United States president has bent to the desires of the well-to-do on all matters having to do with redistributing income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent. Wyden, Hatch, and McConnell have voted to redistribute income and wealth from the 99 percent to the rich and powerful time and time again when they voted to export millions of jobs held by United States citizens via trade agreements.

The difference between the old higher US wages and benefits and the new three dollars a day jobs in foreign nations goes straight into the pockets of the super-rich via higher corporate profits, rising share prices, and surging dividends. The newly unemployed in the U.S. might get unemployment insurance for a few months if they are lucky.

Political corruption is precisely why income inequality has grown from the 1 percent receiving 8 percent of all income produced in the USA in 1980 to 37 percent today, and why three people own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the U.S. population, and why the 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.

Warren’s plan provides a lifetime ban on lobbying by former members of Congress, Presidents, and agency heads and banning foreign lobbying and lobbyists donations to candidates and members of Congress.

Warren’s bill seeks to eliminate both the appearance and the potential for financial conflicts of interest by banning members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, federal judges, and other senior government officials from owning and trading individual stock, including requiring the Supreme Court follow the ethics rules applicable to all other federal judges. One study has found that members of the U.S. Supreme Court rule in favor of companies they invest in.

Warren advocates “locking the government-to-lobbying revolving door” and eliminating the “golden parachutes” that companies pay some executives when they enter public service, citing the instance of Goldman Sachs paying Gary Cohn more than $250 million when he left the firm to lead President Trump’s National Economic Council.

Warren’s legislation also aims to end what she characterizes as the corporate capture of public interest rulemaking by requiring disclosure of funding or editorial conflicts of interest when corporations and special interest groups pay for comments and studies that support rulemaking, as well as requiring elected officials and candidates for federal office to disclose more financial and tax information and making federal contractors – including private prisons and immigration detention centers – comply with federal open records laws.

A lot more can be done to end corruption in the U.S. government. Banning the paid speeches made by former presidents and high officials is a starter. Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama get $250,000 a pop for half-hour paid speeches. Who is to say the lure and promise of future profits do not influence the choices made by people in high office? In addition, the government could limit the amount of funding of political campaigns provided by political action committees, corporations, and individuals. However, the corporate wing of the United States Supreme Court has been so corrupted by the inflow of cash and favors and class warfare mentality in favor of their social and economic class, that they eliminated one hundred years of legal precedent in the Citizens United case of 2010 that limited contributions as outlined in the sentence above. Reversing that, and successfully impeaching the corrupt corporate wing of the Supreme Court would go a long way toward ending the massive wave of political corruption that has swamped the United States governments at all levels like rising tides of overflowing cesspools.

For the complete story, see Elizabeth Warren Proposes Ways to Fight Political Corruption–MarketWatch.

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Elizabeth Warren plans to put an end to Wall Street control of the Democratic Party if she becomes president. The first place she would begin is with international trade policies, drawing sharp contrasts with Wall Street puppet’s Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton in the process, along with Democratic Party Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden and dozens of other Democrats in political office.

Wyden has long been one of the architects of the growing income and wealth inequality in the United States over the last thirty years. He has continuously championed the exporting of tens of millions of American jobs on behalf of Wall Street investment banks and corporate bigwigs. The difference between the old higher U.S. wages and the new much less third world wages goes straight into the already fat wallets of the billionaires. My ex-wife calls Wyden, accurately as it turns out, a RepubliCon on all economic matters.

As for Warren, her plans include nine issues every nation would have to meet before negotiating a trade deal with the United States. Those standards include upholding and enforcing the labor rights laid out by the International Labour Organization, eliminating all domestic fossil fuel subsidies, fulfilling commitments from the Paris Climate Agreement, not running afoul of the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights, and not being on the Treasury Department’s monitoring list for manipulative currency practices. Warren’s requirements would apply not only to new trade deals but to existing treaties that Warren pledges to renegotiate.

Naturally, RepubliCons and Corporate/Wall Street Democrats, such as Wyden, will be opposed to Warren’s standards. So are the billionaires, Wall Street investors, and the so-called news media they control. Their only standard is to redistribute income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent even if the world burns.

Taken together, Warren’s mandates would fundamentally change American trade policy, potentially excluding many countries that would see the requirements as too onerous for the parasitic elites who control those governments, and who want to continue the maldistribution of income and wealth that existing trade agreements have been negotiated to bring about.

“For decades, big multinational corporations have bought and lobbied their way into dictating America’s trade policy,” Warren wrote, calling the policies across Republican and Democratic administrations a “failed trade agenda.”

“Trade can be a powerful tool to help working families but our failed pro-corporate agenda has used trade to harm American workers and the environment. My plan represents a new approach to trade — one that uses America’s leverage to boost American workers and raise the standard of living across the globe.”

In effect, Warren aims to reverse the income and wealth stolen from 99 percent of Americans and given to the billionaires by Wyden, Clinton, Obama, and the entire RepubliCon Party.

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When Donald Trump became US president, he set about to undo three things former President Obama had succeeded in doing. That is because many billionaire Republican donors were opposed to Trump, most notably Charles and David Koch, who are heavily invested in the energy industry. Trump did not want enemies inside his own party, and he had plenty of them when he was first elected.

Quite naturally, the Paris Climate Agreement had to go since it is an attack on the oil industry, which primarily, though not exclusively, supports Republicans. Ending world oil dependency and thereby reversing course on global warming means terminating the industry or greatly reducing it. as well as ending or significantly reducing corporate oil profits, share prices, and dividends. In effect, the Paris Climate Agreement is an attack on the billionaires of the Republican Party. That is precisely why Trump pulled the US out of the accord, regardless of the false excuses that came out of his mouth.

Trump had to get rid of the Iranian nuclear deal since it allowed Iranian oil back on the world market during Obama’s presidency. This placed downward pressure on the profits, dividends and share prices of the fossil fuel corporations because the increased supply put downward pressure on the prices of all sorts of things we pay for, such as oil and gasoline. The best way for Trump to get oil and gasoline prices moving upward again was simply pulling the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran. Since the USA pulled out, notice the price we pay for gasoline has risen.

By pulling the US out of the nuclear deal using lies and distortions, Trump knowingly and deliberately was redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent via higher oil and gasoline prices. But, the billionaires behind the Republican Party were happier with Trump because of it.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B) bought Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $26.5 billion back in 2010. It was his biggest acquisition ever. The railroad is the largest transporter of crude oil in the United States. If the Keystone pipeline is completed, it will compete directly with Buffett’s railroad. The pipeline will transport oil from the Canadian Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico. The Republican Koch brothers are heavily invested with the Tar Sands.

Koch Industries is a major player in the Canadian oil market. The Washington Post identified the company in April 2014 as the largest foreign leaseholder of acres of Canadian oil sands.

According to EcoWatch in 2018, “A leaked memorandum published by The Intercept and Documented Investigations shows that a Koch Industries’ donors network, known as the Seminar Network, has taken credit for Donald Trump approving the permits for both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines during the first months of his presidency.” (Click here for the original story.)

Needless to say, Warren Buffett is a big supporter of the Democratic Party and the Koch’s basically control the Republican Party. Buffett’s loss is the Democratic Party’s loss while it is the Koch brothers and Republican Party’s gain.

These political games are being played pitting billionaires against the 99 percent (as well as other billionaires), and the US corporate news media wants to keep you ignorant of these facts.

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On June 11, 2018 PresidentTrump tweeted, “Stock Market up almost 40% since the Election, with 7 Trillion Dollars of U.S. value built throughout the economy. Lowest unemployment rate in many decades, with Black & Hispanic unemployment lowest in History, and Female unemployment lowest in 21 years. Highest confidence ever!”

Besides the obvious grammatical errors, what is wrong with the above tweet?

For starters, while the stock market has gone up since Trump became president, it has also gone down. The Dow reached a peak of $26,616 in January 2018 and dropped a couple thousand dollars into the $23,000 to $25,000 range since then. Most of the major sundry stock market indexes have dropped since January, such as the Standard and Poor 500. The exception to this has been the NASDAQ, which peaked on June 12th and has been falling for the past month.

The Trump tax cuts, in effect, haven’t done squat to bolster the stock market bubbles, though they may have delayed the current stock market bubble from completely imploding. As you can see from the graph above, investors and institutions, such as corporations, are borrowing in greater and greater amounts in order to buy shares, thereby keeping share prices higher than they would otherwise be.

In addition, the Republican/Trump tax cuts haven’t done anything to stimulate the US economy. CNBC reports the vast majority of tax cuts the rich and their corporations have received are going toward stock buybacks, dividends, mergers, and acquisitions. Typically, mergers and acquisitions result in job losses. CNBC expects corporations to spend $2.5 trillion this year on these things, and most of that money is coming from the tax cuts and retained earnings.

All of this is being done to enhance share prices, which also jacks up CEO compensation. This means the corporate tax cuts are being used to avert a massive popping of the current stock market bubble, which means we’re nearing bear market and recession territory.

All of which suggests the big money boys are throwing good money after bad, like tossing more money into a failing Ponzi scheme, which is kind of what the US stock markets are.

In effect, the Trump/Republicon tax cuts have not stimulated the economy at all, and, as usual, they are destroying jobs. This also means the economy is puttering along based on the actions of former President Barack Obama that saved the nation from the last horrendous Republicon president and his immense and devastating failures. This means the actions of President Trump have nothing to do with the current recovery since his signature legislative achievement is the tax cuts.

The tax cuts have increased the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion. As Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist sarcastically wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times, “Good thing we didn’t invest that $1.5 trillion of deficit spending on providing universal daycare, ending all homelessness in the United States, lifting millions of American children out of poverty, and/or making medication-assisted opioid-addiction treatment easily accessible and affordable for all who need it. Clearly, the private sector has allocated that capital much more efficiently.”

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In the video above, was comedian George Carlin right about the US being a cesspool of political corruption? You better bet he was. Your vote is meaningless, and an academic study shows how true this is.

It is pretty obvious, isn’t it? We didn’t need an academic study to tell us the rich are using the government to financially bleed the rest of us dry. They’ve used the government to redistribute trillions upon trillions of dollars from the 99 to themselves over the last forty years.

Our democracy has been hijacked. Both major political parties have been hijacked. The United States Supreme Court has been hijacked, bought off really. Click here for more on this issue.

This is a no-brainer. The United States has one of the most corrupt governments in the world, aided and abetted by one of the most corrupt corporate news systems in the world if you can call it news. (Click here for how the media lies to us.) The billionaires use their corporate news media to manufacture public opinion in favor of whatever they want, regardless of how it might hurt average citizens (See Trans-Pacific Partnership below). If they can’t manufacture consent, most of the time they still get what they want, with rare exceptions.

Despite the obvious, academic research was conducted on this issue by political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern. The study has received lots of attention because the authors conclude that the US is a corrupt oligarchy where ordinary voters barely matter. Or as they put it, “economic elites and organized interest groups play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.”

The authors discovered that politicians, such as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, will be happy to fight in the halls of the US Congress for legislation that is desired by citizens of average means, but they “only get what they want if economic elites or interest groups also want it.”

You can see in the graph below that as the percent of average citizen’s who want something from government rises from 0 to 100 percent the odds of them getting it remains tiny.

On the other hand, the graph below shows that as the economic elites and organized interest groups that control both major political parties form ranks behind legislation they want, politicians happily respond to them.  Nobody knows this better than Wall Street’s Senators Wyden, Mitch McConnell, the entire Republican Party, and the majority of the Democratic Party politicians.

Sometimes, to avoid raising the political awareness of the masses, the oligarchs who control the US and many state and local governments will decide not to do something the rich want, such as when then President Obama decided he did not have the votes in the US house and senate to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade treaty that would have redistributed trillions of dollars a year from the 99 to the 1 percent. Public resistance was too significant, but that was a rare defeat for the economic elite.

Why is income and wealth inequality so unequal? Political corruption is the answer. Why is this so? It is the golden rule in action: He who has the gold makes the rules. The US is not democracy except in illusion only. Instead, it is an oligarchy of the rich.

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The idea that public school teachers need to go on strike in order to get livable wages and benefits is spreading, much to the dread of the billionaires who control both major political parties.

Early in March 2018, striking West Virginia teachers declared victory with a 5 percent raise and returned to their classrooms. Their organizing and their 13-day strike not only forced the legislature to raise their rock-bottom pay; it backed off corporate-linked education “reformers” on a host of other issues: charter schools, an anti-seniority bill, and preventing payroll deduction of union dues, and the rich who control the corporations that would benefit from these things are not happy state money went to impoverished public school teachers.

Emboldened by the success of the teachers of West Virginia, teachers in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky are now striking, sicking out, rallying, and Facebooking to push officials to raise their salaries and defend their benefits.

Teachers in Oklahoma are set to strike on April 2 if the legislature doesn’t grant a $10,000 raise for teachers and a $5,000 raise for school support staff. It’s been a decade since Oklahoma teachers got their last raise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pay for educators there ranks last in the country, with high school teachers averaging $42,460.

Like the case in West Virginia, Oklahoma teachers are emboldened by a shortage of qualified educators. “Teachers are fleeing the state,” said Molly Jaynes, a third-grade teacher in Oklahoma City. “You can go to Arkansas and make $15,000 more; you can go to Texas and make $20,000 more”—as did Oklahoma’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. The state issues hundreds of emergency certifications every year to anyone with a bachelor’s degree. (It should be pointed out there is a teacher shortage throughout the United States)

Arizona teachers signed up in droves for a new Facebook group, “Arizona Educators United.” Thirty thousand joined in its first 10 days. Teachers there are building a grassroots “Red for Ed” movement, spreading photos of themselves wearing red T-shirts to school every Wednesday and assembling en masse at legislative hearings at the Capitol.

The latest state to join the strike talk is Kentucky, where the fight is about pensions and funding cuts to schools. Having systematically underfunded pensions for over a decade, the legislature is now pushing to cut cost-of-living adjustments for teachers and other employees. Like teachers in 14 other states, Kentucky teachers do not collect Social Security, so they rely entirely on the state pension system.

These four states; Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and West Virginia are dominated by the Republican Party, which is controlled by billionaires. Strong labor unions can often help defeat the billionaires in state and local elections. Keeping the memberships in poverty and financially starving public education has been a political strategy, effectively waging war against children, the poor and the middle class.

On the other hands, the billionaires of the Democratic and Republican parties have to a large degree gutted the tax base of the United States by voting to export tens of millions of US jobs over the last twenty-five years in order to redistribute the massive difference between the old higher wages and benefits of tens of millions of US workers and the new poverty third world wages of the exported jobs.

Democrat politicians such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ron Wyden and Earl Blumenauer have joined hands with Republicans such as George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and John Boehner to export those jobs, and creating the highest income and wealth inequality in US history.

On the state and local levels, the rich control contracting corporations that feed on useless public projects and services. Giving the teachers raises and higher benefits means that some public money will need to be diverted from those tax guzzling projects to the teachers, which may negatively impact the share prices of corporations.

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The red line in the graph below represents borrowing to buy corporate shares. The blue line represents the growing value of the S&P 500 stock index. Notice the growth in the financial markets is being fueled by record amounts of debt. The growth of both clearly mirrors each other.

Eight months ago, I wrote, “The latest in a long line of stock market bubbles is being fueled by record amounts of debt according to the New York Stock Exchange. This debt is called “buying on margin” (BOM). Notice the acronym of BOM, which is pretty close to bomb, and this current bubble is going to explode. Total BOM hit a record high of $528.2 billion in February 2017.”

By November 2017 (the latest data that is available), total BOM hit nearly $581 billion. Stock prices, in other words, have been bid up with borrowed money, like at an auction.

Once the lunatic Trump tax cuts were passed, the already dangerously obese stock market bubble began expanding even more in anticipation of more after-tax cash going to the rich and corporations, to whom the vast majority of those tax cuts were targeted. This has given corporations and the rich the leverage to borrow on margin even more in anticipation of future increased after-tax earnings.

That is not necessarily always a big problem early in a business expansion when the market is going up, but it’s now late in the ball game. Our economic expansion is 103 months old (as of January 2018), making it the third longest in US history. In terms of numerous indices, such as job, GNP, and wage growth, this is one of the weakest expansions in US history. The vast majority of new income and wealth have gone to the top 1 percent, and not to the 99 percent.

All of this suggests the coming crash is long overdue. When we hit this soon to arrive recession, it should be a train wreck worse than the so-called Great Recession of 2007-09.

November’s total BOM was nearly $80 billion more than twelve months before. This increase is a sign of optimism or foolishness. People and institutions like hedge funds want to get in on the action while the stock markets are rising. What is going to happen when the bubble pops?

Suppose you have $10,000 to invest, so you purchase 100 shares of Home Depot at $100 per share. The market crashes and the share price drops to $40. Now your investment is worth $4,000. That is not a good result, but your investment is still worth something, and can potentially recover if you hang on to it in the long run.

Let’s say you borrow an additional $20,000 from your broker to buy another 200 Home Depot shares at $100 each for a total of 300 shares and at a total cost of $30,000. The market crashes and the share price quickly drops to $40. Now all 300 shares are only worth $12,000 — but you owe your broker $20,000 (plus interest) for borrowing money to buy the stock. The broker calls in his loan. You are forced to sell your shares to get the funds to pay your broker but at the lower share price. You lose $18,000 of your $30,000 investment. But your broker wants the rest of his $20,000 plus interest. You only have $12,000 remaining of your original $30,000 investment, so you owe more than $8,000 to your broker.

So your original $10,000 is wiped out, your loan of $20,000 is annihilated, and you need to come up with $8,000 plus interest to pay back your broker.

During most recessions, it is much more difficult to get credit to pay your broker back, so you may both be out of luck, although you’ll likely be in court defending against him, her or it.

On a massive scale, say trillions of dollars of investments, that’s a recipe for absolute disaster for the whole economy. Corporations of all types (which often borrow to purchase their own shares in order to jack up their share prices), as well as hedge funds, governments, investment banks, commercial banks, small businesses, other wealth management firms, etc…, will likely need to lay off employees in order to pay back the money they owe.

Side Notes

***Let’s also get something straight which the corporate media doesn’t want us to know; tax cuts for corporations are the same as tax cuts for the rich since corporations in great measure pass on their tax cuts to the wealthy via higher after-tax corporate profits, rising share prices and surging dividends.

***As an aside, your government has allowed a conspiracy in restraint of trade in the housing market to be the primary fuel that ignited this current stock market bubble. See The Big Banks Are Manipulating the Housing Market–JohnHIvely.wordpress.com.

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The federal government initiated the student loan program in 1958 in response to the launch of Sputnik the year before by the Soviet Union. “High school students who showed promise in mathematics, science, engineering, and foreign language, or those who wanted to be teachers, were offered grants, scholarships, and loans.” In 1965, the government passed The Higher Education Act, which provided more college grants to students, especially lower-income students. The Pell Grant was established for students in 1972 (Citlen).

Then somebody on Wall Street came up with the idea of securitizing student loans, which meant pooling student loans, selling them to investment companies, which would then issue bonds to investors backed by the loans. Student loan payments would primarily go to the investors, with a little to spare to pay for the service providers.

From a Wall Street point-of-view, billions of dollars a year could be made in fees every step of the way with every securitized student loan. Subsequently, Wall Street investors successfully pushed government legislators to reduce grants and to issue more student loans. That is how the US government, as well as politicians of both political parties, has used the student loan program to redistribute billions of dollars of income yearly from the 99 to the 1 percent via the conduit of student loan-backed bonds.

This forced students to borrow more money to help finance their higher education than would otherwise be the case, making loan defaults more likely, especially during economic downturns. The Great Recession hit in December 2007 and lasted until June 2009, but the negative effects of this disaster have continued. The government, of course, is working hard to disguise how bad the situation really is.

Five years ago, fearing an increase of student loan defaults, and a massive devaluing of the student loan backed bonds they owned, investors began selling off their bonds, which resulted in declining values. They couldn’t stand this. Something had to be done to restore investor confidence, and so the federal government doubled student loan interest rates on all new loans from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2013 (Sheehy).

This increased the return on investment while doubling the burden on the 99 percent who take out new loans to finance their college education. The public outcry was so heavily against this increase politicians felt compelled to reduce student loan interest rates within a year. The burden for students and their families had been too great. The US government dropped the rate to 4.9 percent in 2014, which was still a nearly 50 percent increase over 3.4 percent (Lobosco). Doing so, however, stabilized the market for student loan-backed bonds.

Dictionary.com defines “crisis” as “a dramatic, emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life.” Student loans are a perfect example of such a crisis in the personal lives of borrowers. In 2016, total outstanding student loans represented roughly 7.5 percent of the United States gross domestic product (GDP), up from 3.5 percent only ten years earlier (ACE). Nearly 43 million Americans were chained like slaves to rich bondholders via student loan debt, each with an average balance of $30,000 in 2016 (Friedman).

The cost of university education has grown faster than the value of Federal Pell grants (in current dollars) since 1976. The average Pell grant in 1976 paid 72 percent of the maximum cost of going to a public four-year college or university. This figure grew to 79 percent in 1979. Nowadays, the average Pell grant is less than half of that, hovering inside the 32 to 34 percent range (ACE). Therefore, students have had to increase their borrowing to fund their higher education and Wall Street investment banks and investors of the 1 percent all benefit from this higher student loan debt.

As the negative economic consequences of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 slowly gave ground to better times, student loan defaults fell, from nearly 15 percent in 2013 to 11.8 in 2015 to 11.3 percent in 2016. Defaults occur when former students go 360 days without making a payment. About 593,000 former college students out of 5.2 million total borrowers were in default on their federal debt as of Sept. 30, 2015, the US Department of Education reported. Default rates at public and for-profit colleges dipped, while private, nonprofit schools experienced a slight increase (Nasiripour).

Perhaps the biggest reason the default rate declined was that student loan borrowers deferred their payments at increasing rates, and for longer periods. The default rate, therefore, doesn’t accurately represent the degree to which former students have problems making their loan payments. An Obama White House report said in 2015, “The cohort default rate published by the Education Department is “‘susceptible to artificial manipulation.’”

The share of student borrowers paying down their loans more accurately reflects what is occurring than default rates alone (EPI). The report noted that a rising number of students are unable to make payments on their loans, but manage to avoid defaulting. Because of this, the report stated the actual default rate at four-year institutions is about 12.5 percent, and 25 percent for community colleges. For-profit colleges and universities have a 30 percent default rate. 41.5 million Americans owed more than $1.4 trillion federal student loans by the end of 2016. About one in every four borrowers is either delinquent or in default the report stated. Furthermore, “total indebtedness has doubled since 2009” (Nasiripour).

However, it turns out the White House report understated the numbers by quite a lot. Leaked documents showed only 46 percent of students out of school three years or more are paying down their student loan debt (Obama’s Student Loan Fiasco). This means 54 percent are not paying down their loans. Something else is terribly amiss as well. To be among the 46 percent, you cannot be in default, and you must have paid down the principal of your loan by at least one dollar. So if somebody who has owed $30,000 in student loans since they graduated from college ten years ago paid a dollar on the principal of their loan eight years ago, they have officially paid down their loan and are among the 46 percent. In other words, the bar for those who have not defaulted and are paying down their loans are about as low as one can get.

The government is paying the interest on student loans to bondholders for people who cannot pay down their loans. In other words, the rich are getting richer at the expense of the government and those who are paying down their student loans.

Clearly, tens of millions of people are in a state of personal crisis when it comes to student loans they cannot pay off. In addition, the next economic downturn may bring about a crisis in the financial markets centered on student loans, just as it occurred last time, only it will likely be worse. That economic crisis is looming.

People who have left higher education institutions saddled with an average of $30,000 in debt and limited job prospects are facing a crisis, which will only bring about another crisis in the student loan-backed bonds markets. Student loan debtors have other debts and bills to pay that turn their student loans into tens of millions of individual financial catastrophes, forcing them to spend years postponing payments so they can make their monthly mortgage payments, rent payments, put food on the table, pay their monthly bills, and raise their children.

People go to universities to increase their earning power so as to enjoy greater fruits of their labor. However, the growth of wages and salaries for most people have been flat or in decline for the last thirty-seven years when the official inflation rate is factored in. However, there is significant evidence this official rate is heavily understated, which means people are coming out of college and earning less in real terms than their parents thirty-seven years ago. This is why many people remain mired in student loan debt. Prices are going up faster than their earnings. They simply cannot pay it off and are forced to postpone payments for years and decades.

The remedy to this situation is to increase Pell Grants or simply make college free. According to the nonpartisan Office of Budget Management, the US government is giving the 1 percent and corporations $1.5 trillion dollars over ten years with the new Republican tax cut. Surely the US government can afford to provide such a sum to the middle class via a similar amount, thereby rendering college free. Studies clearly show this would be good for the US economy while there is not one scrap of evidence the tax cuts will do anything positive for the economy.

Student loans are an example of the golden rule of massive US government corruption; he or she who has the gold makes the rules that redistributes income and wealth their way from the less financially well endowed. Nobody knows this better than Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden.

Works Cited
Friedman, Dan. Americans Owe $1.2 Trillion Dollars In Student Loans. New York Daily News, May 17, 2014. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/americans-owe-1-2-trillion-student-loans-article-1.1796606

American Council on Education, (ACE) http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/FactSheet-Pell-Grant-Funding-History-1976-2010.pdf

Investment Memo. Merganser Capital Management, 2016 http://www.merganser.com/PDF/Memo/2015-Q3.pdf
http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/28/pf/college/student-loan-defaults/

Carrillo, Raul. How Wall Street Profits From Student Debt, Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone Magazine, April 14, 2016).

Sheehy, Kelsey. What the Stafford Loan Rate Hike Means for Students. US News and World Report, March 7, 2013 http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2013/07/03/what-the-stafford-loan-interest-rate-hike-means-for-students

Obama’s Student Loan Fiasco. Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Jan. 22, 2017

Allan, Nicole, Thompson, Derek. The Myth of the Student Loan Crisis. Atlantic Monthly, March 2017

Citlen, Jeff. A Look into the History of Student Loans. http://www.Lendedu.com, August 15, 2016

Lobosco, Katie. Student Loan Interest Rates Are Going Down. CNN Money, June 30, 2016 http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/30/pf/college/student-loan-interest-rates/

Nasiripour, Shahien. Student Loan Defaults Drop, but the Numbers Are Rigged. Bloomberg News, Sept. 28, 2016
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-28/student-loan-defaults-fall-but-the-numbers-are-rigged

Kroeger, Teresa; Cooke Tanyell; Gould, Elise. The Class of 2016. Economic Policy Institute. 21/04/2016. http://www.epi.org/publication/class-of-2016/

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