- The largest group in US history, the Baby Boomers, are beginning to retire. No longer will they be producing for the economy but rather withdrawing money from Social Security and pension funds.
- Social Security requires tax payers to support this fund. Fewer tax payers (look at all of the job loss) and less money (wages and income dropping) means less money in the fund.
- Ditto for pensions, many of which are invested in the stock market which has nosedived.
- EVERYONE is asking for a government bailout and seemingly everyone is getting one. Insurance companies then auto companies and now commercial real estate companies are asking for and often getting a bailout. The only problem with this is that the government gets this money from us, the taxpayers, or they just print more money. Neither one is an unlimited source of funding but it seems like the government hasn't figured that part out yet.
- People have stopped shopping and spending with abandon as they did through the 90's and early 2000's. Some because they came to their senses and decided to get their financial house in order and many others because they ran out of both money and credit. No shopping and spending leads to layoffs, business closures, and an economy that quickly comes to a screeching halt.
- You can't prop up an economy with sporadic injections of money. Even Warren Buffet couldn't pull this off. Economies aren't top down sorts of things, they are bottom up entities where the 310 million people in the US need to have confidence in order to shop, spend, open a business, invest in the stock market, etc.
- You can't prop up an economy with injections of money at the top. Of all of the bailout billions given to companies over the past year, how much have you or any of your friends seen? About nothing? I thought so. The money was used to prop up these companies books and did not trickle down in any way that impacted "regular" people.
- You can't reward bad behavior and expect to keep the economy neatly humming along. Integrity and responsibility go a long way towards building confidence in the economy. Now I can keep paying my mortgage because that is the responsibility I took on when I signed the contract but it looks like if a big bailout for homeowners comes along, it would make more sense (for those with less than stellar integrity) to not pay their mortgage until it goes into default so they can get a better deal. Honest, responsible people see these deals and wonder why they are being punished for doing the right thing.
- Accountability has gone out the window. If you ask where the bailout money went--even if you are a congressman or other powerful person--you will get the answer "we don't know". Apparently they forgot to put an accountability clause in the bailout contract. Duh.
- Oversight has gone out the window too. Can you spell MADOFF? And it wasn't like his scheme was a secret, people had been telling the SEC about it for years.
- The little people (the bulk of us 310 million US citizens) are getting hit in all directions: job loss, fewer new businesses being created, reliance on government support which will at some point run out, increasing prices, investments that are losing money at a furious pace, money that is losing value, high debt load, etc.
Where will this end? I have no idea. If a reader has a better grasp feconomics than I do, please enlighten us. It just looks like a steady, downward spiral with no natural stopping point before complete bankruptcy (in this case, from the top down) of the US government, US companies, other companies around the world, and then the little guy. I give it about eight months before all Hell breaks loose.
p.s. I hope I am wrong.