Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The 'Debbie Downer' 'Slow Growth Economy' of President Obama vs. Jimmy Carter's 'Malaise'

The Obama Economy: 'Wah-Wah!'
Ardent supporters of the President will point to the new stock market highs, the falling unemployment rate and a few other economic reports and say: 'See? His policies worked! All we needed to do was more of the same and think about how great things would be today!'

If that is true, how come so many people feel so despondent about the future of America today?

Even a newspaper that has been literally in the tank for President Obama since before his election in 2008, The (Venerable) New York Times, says things are not going so great in this recent article:

U.S. Economic Growth Looks Distant As Growth Stalls

Here's just a few choice quotes from this article:
  • 'If you’re 40 now,' Mr. Cowen said, 'I don’t see why you ever see (faster economic growth), or enjoy it as a worker.'
  • 'The share of adults with jobs fell sharply during the recession and has rebounded only slightly because many people have simply stopped looking for work'
  • 'The Federal Reserve, persistently optimistic in its previous forecasts, said in March that it no longer expected a full recovery in the foreseeable future.'
Talk about a 'Debbie Downer' for our future American economic prospects! (click through title link if you can't see video)

We have been struck not only by this recent NY Times article but also by the somewhat amazing general downbeat feeling in economic activity and general spirits in the US economy since 2008.

Granted, President Obama did not cause the economic meltdown. Wall Street seemed pretty capable of doing that by themselves not unlike many other times in our history, roughly about every 20 years or so once you dig into it more deeply.

However, since Presidents generally get the lion's share of the credit when things go well in the economy (Reagan, Clinton), they also, unfairly or not, get the lion's share of the blame when things do not go well in the economy (Hoover, Bush 41).

We think the current economic cycle under President Obama strangely resembles the desultory years under President Jimmy Carter who didn't know what to do to get us out of a really bad downward economic spiral from 1977-1981.

Many of you are too young to remember those halcyon days. When we graduated from college, we graduated into an economic pullback of huge proportions caused by the triple threats of high inflation (12%/year); high interest rates (21%) and gasoline shortages and sky-rocketing (at the time) prices at the pump.

A period of loose monetary policy coupled with an international crisis, the taking of American hostages in the embassy in Tehran, combined to produce one of the worst recessions the United States had experienced since the Great Depression.

We don't know for sure but that recession which lasted until 1982 sure seemed like one of the historically worst ones, even compared to the most recent Great Recession we all experienced.

President Jimmy Carter somewhat clumsily took to the airwaves in 1979 to deliver what was supposed to be a 'comforting' speech on our economic prospects. 'We are in this together. We will face any burden together and come out of it on the other side stronger and more united and prosperous than ever'. That sort of pep talk speech.

It could not have come out any worse. President Carter's 'Crisis of Confidence' speech turned out to be known as his 'malaise' speech although he never used that word.

In short, it became a laundry list of all of the reasons why the American people had come to lose confidence, not in their ability to live prosperous lives but in his ability to lead the nation.

Carter went on to lose in a landslide in 1980 to an optimistic Ronald Reagan who told us that 'our brightest days are ahead of us, not behind us'.

It was the largest landslide ever over an incumbent sitting president in US history. The American people had had enough under President Carter and his defeatist approach to America's future.

Based on the comments noted in the New York Times article above by President Obama's advisors, it appears that we have another President who seems to think America has settled into a 'new normal' of below historical economic growth rates and job creation. The desultory sluggish economy, and the fact that the Middle East seems to have fallen apart during Obama's reign reminds many old-timers of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and, unfortunately, of Jimmy Carter's ineptitude as President of the United States of America in the late 1970's.

We have repeatedly said that we think America's best days are ahead of us.

We have met and worked with any number of very exceptionally talented undergrads who see the new technologies budding before their very eyes and can't wait to set out to use them to develop new products and services for the world to see, buy and use. Younger doctors we know are confident they will see the end to the scourge of most cancers.

We believe they will achieve it. We believe the policies of this President have thrown a wet blanket on the otherwise dynamic American free enterprise system and so stifled it that it can't grow and produce new jobs as we have seen after virtually every serious recession in America. We should be in the midst of a 4-5% economic boom to our GDP today given the depths of where this past recession took us. Not ~2% per annum.

We recently re-financed 2 mortgages into one. The process that normally should have taken 30-45 days took 4 months and over 500 different emails, phone calls and submissions of faxes and other documents to their website.

That is no way to fuel the fires of economic growth and expansion. The banking industry is now so saddled with rules and regulations from Washington that they seem to be afraid to make a loan and make a profit which is the core of their business.

Even Debbie Downer sounds like Pollyanna the Eternal Optimist compared to these Obama advisors and President Obama himself most days. Maybe she should run in 2016.

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