Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hello, again.  I have been busy with some other things and haven't written anything.  However, I have visited some interesting sites and I did watch the Obama 'infomercial' last night.  Frankly, I was impressed.  First thing I noticed was the absence of party affiliations with all of the politicians who provided sound comments.  I know some of them were Republicans but no one was labeled.  Second, nothing was said by anyone about the Republican Party, the Republican Candidate, or the Republican President.  Obama's comments were tightly focused on the problems Obama thinks are critical and his notions of how they should be addressed.  McCain's comments, so repeatedly and thoroughly covered by the news media, appeared to be so many sour grapes.  I don't think the World Series is so important that a serious candidate cannot delay a game to address voters with a paid ad.  Eric Alterman noted yesterday in his Altercation blog that the game itself was not delayed, just the pre-game show and one of the opening games of the football season was moved to accommodate his own acceptance speech at the convention.  Lets get real here: sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  

I am also very unimpressed with McCain's criticism of Obama for not following through with his pledge to accept public financing.  Why should he?  According to several fairly reliable bloggers McCain tried to weasel out of the public financing program when he nearly ran out of money during the primary season.  Unfortunately for McCain, Obama's message of change resonated with so many people that his campaign generated undreamed of contributions.  Perhaps, now that the Republicans are on the short end of this stick, they will have some motivation to change how campaigns are financed.  I do think that it is obscene how much money candidates have to raise and spend to get elected to serve the public.  An old saying tells us 'he who pays the piper calls the tune.'  It is all too obvious who has been paying the piper for all too long.

It is now Nov. 1.  Various things got in the way of continuing this post.  Oh, Well!  Life does happen.

For some time now Mom and I have asked one question over our morning coffee:  when will the credit card debt start collapsing.  It is, of course, the next big sword hanging over our economic heads.  John Mauldin's 'Out of the Box' gives a good idea.  Sorry I can't link to it directly.  I subscribed to it some time ago and get it by e-mail.  Some of the more frightening aspects of the data he puts out concern credit card debt.  Most of the growth of the U.S. economy has been fueled by withdrawals of mortgage equity by home owners who borrowed on the rising value of their homes to fund their lifestyles.  With the crash of home prices, consumers shifted to credit cards. The following two points are crucial: 

 "* Credit Card Loans, 10 months Sep07-thru-Jul-08 ... up + $29.1 billion

   * Credit Card Loans, 10 weeks Aug-08-to-mid-Oct-08 ... up + $32.3 billion"

Mauldin notes that credit card defaults have doubled for American Express and more than doubled for Band of America.  And that the options for either McCain or Obama are really limited.  Both have made expensive promises but the deficits are already exploding (and have been throughout the Bush years).  I am not entirely convinced that small businesses will take as big a hit as Mauldin thinks they would in an Obama administration.  But then I am not so sure that the figures used to gauge the effect of small businesses on job generation are all that accurate.

Mom and I noticed an interesting phenomenon, however.  Over the last month or so we have seen fewer of those annoying Visa ads that show the world stopping when anyone uses cash or checks.  In fact there have been far fewer Visa ads since the Olympics ended.  And most of the American Express ads are targeting potential business customers. 

1 comment:

Elaine said...

I agree with you and your Mother in your credit card crunch analysis and have been following this topic as well. If we think the housing market fiasco is bad hold on to your hats America because it's about to get worse.

RE: the election, I can't even talk anymore about McNasty or the GOP I am so disgusted. However I did buy a GOOD bottle of wine for Tuesday night, hopefully we will drink in celebration and not despair.