Saturday, September 20, 2008

What I Do Know About the Economy

I know very little about economics even though for several years I worked as a cost control engineer for a major construction management firm on projects ranging to two billion dollars. But I figured this experience would help me to understand what is currently going on. One thing is clear at this point: Money and economics seem to have little to do with each other. Economics and debt do have a close relationship unfortunately.

Other things are also clear to me. ONE - The first President Bush presided over the savings and loan debacle and bail out. And now GW, son of Bush, is presiding over the investment bank debacle and bail out. Coincidence? I think not. Both of them were against regulation of corporations (including credit cards companies, mortgage lenders, investment banks, and savings and loans) and both said the economy was substantially sound until we were all treading water in debt.

TWO: Continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results is a really good definition of insanity - AND unstable economic policy.

THREE: You cannot plan for just two years. I found this out with cash flowing a three year construction project. And it had a beginning, middle and end. The economy of the world does not. It goes on. And decisions made today effect the future 10, 20 or 30 years down the road. Economic policies don't fare well in quick change mode. It makes investors uneasy and that makes them do stupid things as we have seen in the last week.

FOUR: Presidents are elected for four years and begin running for re-election in two if we are lucky so we could say that 50% of their job is running for office. Senators are elected for six and Representatives (the US House of Representatives is where all money bills originate) are elected for only two. Ergo they are always running for office ant it can be said that is their job.

FIVE: Only economists understand the economy and get four of them in a room and you will get at least eight opinions. They spend lifetimes understanding this stuff so what chance does any of the above in number four have of getting a handle on it when it is at most 50% of their job.

SIX: You cannot fire the SEC head Senator McCain. He does not serve at the pleasure of the president. If you are running for the office you might at least learn that much about it. The Presidency does have control of the Secretary of Treasury but maybe it shouldn't. Maybe that ought to be independent too so we can go for the long view needed in economics and not the short view needed in politics.

SEVEN: It is tax and spend. Not spend and tax. That, like credit cards for us lowly citizens in these perilous times, is doomed to failure.

EIGHT: No problem, be it economics or citizen unrest or an infection in your foot, goes away by ignoring it. In fact, continuing to say,"the underpinnings of the economy are strong," just makes people nervous. (see number three).

NINE: We are in a global economy and so what is bad for the United States is bad for everyone around the world. Supposedly the G8 meet and discuss some of these things yearly (or more) but there is not an economist among them. They make decisions for the world based on their view and interests.

And last but not least, TEN: WE ARE IN THE DEEP SHIT. And all in the same boat, up a creek without a paddle. With only a hoped for quick fix and no long range plan. (see two and three).