Posted by: Timothy Ellis (The Tim)

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

133 responses to “Housing Bubbles: US vs. Japan Twelve Years In”

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  1. One Eyed Man

    RE: Hugh Dominic @ 97

    We’re in year 2.5 of the Fed’s 5 yr plan to manipulate the financial system so the banks can earn their way out of the financial/housing bubble losses. It’s not extend and pretend. It’s extend and work out based on the spread.

    Our esteemed leaders can’t acknowledge that the financial system might be bankrupt and have the FDIC nationalize the entire financial system to comply with banking regulations when the bank runs start. That would be an acknowledgment that deregulated financial capitalism bet the farm and lost. The politicians can’t and won’t do that. But they can rig the system to spread recognition of the losses over 5 years and build in a fool-proof revenue stream (even a banker can’t screw it up) so the banks can work them off over that period of time.

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  2. Pegasus

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 101 – Excellent interpretation! Guess who is on the losing end of this under the table bank bailout?

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  3. Hugh Dominic

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 1 – Agreed.

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  4. David Losh

    I’m surprised no one pointed out that the United States of 2011 is much different than Japan of the 1980s. We had a technology revolution since then.

    From 1993 to 2003 the internet, and software development changed all of the financial markets. It’s not just the amount of excess profits, cash, and reserves that were created, it’s also that complex financial engineering is also creating more profits.

    What One Eye Man has pointed out is something that is now possible, globally, from a set of computers, and probably a hundred jobs to make billions of dollars.

    I was surprised today when researching an article about Solyndra that it only took a thousand people to run that company. It’s a half a billion dollar company run by a thousand people. Tell me that was at all possible a decade ago.

    No one has challenged me, or disputed, that there is more than enough maney, cash, and cash reserves in the gloabl economy. It’s just a matter of distributing goods, and services. All of that is also possible with the use of computers, but it would take some cooperation.

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  5. Pegasus

    By David Losh @ 104:

    I’m surprised no one pointed out that the United States of 2011 is much different than Japan of the 1980s. We had a technology revolution since then.

    From 1993 to 2003 the internet, and software development changed all of the financial markets. It’s not just the amount of excess profits, cash, and reserves that were created, it’s also that complex financial engineering is also creating more profits.

    What One Eye Man has pointed out is something that is now possible, globally, from a set of computers, and probably a hundred jobs to make billions of dollars.

    I was surprised today when researching an article about Solyndra that it only took a thousand people to run that company. It’s a half a billion dollar company run by a thousand people. Tell me that was at all possible a decade ago.

    No one has challenged me, or disputed, that there is more than enough maney, cash, and cash reserves in the gloabl economy. It’s just a matter of distributing goods, and services. All of that is also possible with the use of computers, but it would take some cooperation.

    Your kidding, right David? Solyndra? An Obama half billion fiasco. Yes it only took 1000 employees in five years to destroy a billion dollars. Next idea? Thats a million bucks per employee and many of the 1000 workers were there for only two years!

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  6. Dirty Renter

    RE: Hugh Dominic @ 97
    So, are the commercial banks borrowing from the discount window or from fed funds?
    Do you think they are borrowing from the 2 aforementioned variable rate sources to buy fixed rate 30, 10 or which treasuries, given the fungibility of money? What is guaranteed about borrowing from a variable rate source to purchase a fixed rate asset? Which banks, who now mostly have a low loan/deposit ratio, are borrowing from the 2 windows to fund these so called guaranteed Treasury purchases? Possibly the investment banks who do not have a cheap deposit base? I would warn people that the recently published astronomical loan amounts from the Fed are calculated on a daily basis, for example what appears as $30B in loans, could actually be a $1B loan for 30 days.
    The Fed. Res. is a secretive private corporation and I certainly don’t understand all their workings.
    Most commercial banks buy Treasuries because they can’t find good loans to invest in, and they fund it with deposits, not borrowings from the Fed.

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  7. David Losh

    RE: Pegasus @ 105

    The point is ten year ago it would take 20,000 people to blow through $500 million.

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  8. David Losh

    Let’s try this again.

    Does any one remember the first fully robotics auto making plant in Japan? Wasn’t that replacing hundreds of workers with just one? We also have the egineers, and software development, a whole new set of industries were born, but the net loss in jobs was in the thousands.

    Our economy is far past manufacturing because we can make more money by just playing with numbers. We can borrow at .05%, and lend at .25% all day long. It takes very few workers to do that.

    So this idea of comparing economies of the 1980s to today is ridiculous.

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  9. pfft

    By Scotsman @ 83:

    RE: pfft @ 81 Are you really that consistently two dimensional in your thinking? Would asking for a 3 variable analysis be too much?

    remember when your “variables” predicting that economic collapse we were supposed to have nearly a year ago? I do. you’re been disastrously wrong so be humble my friend.

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  10. pfft

    By Pegasus @ 5:

    By David Losh @ 104:
    I’m surprised no one pointed out that the United States of 2011 is much different than Japan of the 1980s. We had a technology revolution since then.

    From 1993 to 2003 the internet, and software development changed all of the financial markets. It’s not just the amount of excess profits, cash, and reserves that were created, it’s also that complex financial engineering is also creating more profits.

    What One Eye Man has pointed out is something that is now possible, globally, from a set of computers, and probably a hundred jobs to make billions of dollars.

    I was surprised today when researching an article about Solyndra that it only took a thousand people to run that company. It’s a half a billion dollar company run by a thousand people. Tell me that was at all possible a decade ago.

    No one has challenged me, or disputed, that there is more than enough maney, cash, and cash reserves in the gloabl economy. It’s just a matter of distributing goods, and services. All of that is also possible with the use of computers, but it would take some cooperation.

    Your kidding, right David? Solyndra? An Obama half billion fiasco. Yes it only took 1000 employees in five years to destroy a billion dollars. Next idea? Thats a million bucks per employee and many of the 1000 workers were there for only two years!

    newsflash, companies will go bankrupt. it does happen. you can’t get away from risk. it’s only 2% of the loans made.

    can we also stop the stupid practice of dividing the amount of money by the number of emoployees?

    1. it’s a dumb way of calculating since their are buildings, equipment, research, skilled employees and etc.

    2. it’s probably not very different than the private sector

    3. solyndra raised $1 billion from the private sector

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  11. pfft

    By Jonness @ 86:

    By pfft @ 80:

    you fell into the classic trap. the government is not a household. period.

    And that’s why we are $14 trillion in debt, and nobody on earth has been able to propose a realistic plan of how we are going to get out of debt. If we were a household, we could simply default and get food stamps in order to feed our children. But as a government, nobody will give us free food after we go bankrupt.

    1. we aren’t going to keep spending. we are spending with a specific purpose. we are caught in a liquidity trap. our goal is to spend our way out of it. the current output gap is $900 billion so the president’s plan is actually conservative.

    We just spent $4 trillion+ (debt was less than $10 trillion when this mess began), and we are right back where we started and screaming for more. When does it end?

    2. we can easily pay back the money. interest rates are at DECADES LOWS! Interest payments as a percentage of GDP is at levels not seen in 3 decades.

    So what happens when the bond vigilantes show up like they have in Greece, and the 2 year yield goes up to 50% (I.E. 400 times the current yield of 0.125)?

    3. a couple hundred feet into the future is the perspective we need right now. we need jobs now. not in a year or after the election. we need jobs now.

    Unfortunately, that’s all the further Krugman is capable of seeing. This is the same perspective that got us into this mess in the first place because the politicians got wind of it and implemented it with fervor. It’s called “kick the can down the road,” and we all know the unfortunate outcome.

    why hasn’t already happened then? it’s because we’re in a liquidity trap. the normal rules don’t apply. if you read krugman you’d know that. it’s basic economics.

    anything you propose will make the situation worse. how is austerity working in spain, greece, portugal and Britain? not very good. here it saved millions of jobs.

    the deficit is about $1.3 trillion this year. do you think we’d be in a better position if we cut that much next year? of course not.

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  12. pfft

    By Jonness @ 88:

    RE: Jonness @ – BTW, we don’t need jobs now. We needed them back when Obama was spending 99% of his time trying to ram through an expensive health care bill that is currently stifling hiring by small businesses do to the uncertainty it has created. We just spent $4 trillion dollars we don’t have to spend and witnessed endless pumping by the Fed. I hate to burst your and Krugman’s bubbles, but the key to fixing the economy is seeing further than 200 feet down the road.

    uh, the health bill will save money. it won’t cost money.

    “we don’t need jobs now”

    yes we do.

    “that is currently stifling hiring by small businesses do to the uncertainty it has created.”

    did eric cantor tell you that? that’s a republican talking about. business aren’t hiring because THEY DON”T HAVE ANY BUSINESS. surveys even say that. if that was the case existing workers would see added working hours and they aren’t. if you read your krugman you would know that unemployment recovers slowly after financial crisises because of deleveraging.

    “We just spent $4 trillion dollars we don’t have to spend and witnessed endless pumping by the Fed.”

    we didn’t spend $4 trillion dollars.

    “I hate to burst your and Krugman’s bubbles, but the key to fixing the economy is seeing further than 200 feet down the road.”

    really? we have really high unemployment right now and it will be that way for awhile but we should wait? it’s like someone is in the hospital with a broken arm and the doctor won’t fix it because the person is out of shape and fixing the arm is just a short-term solution. I guess they should just wait until the person is in shape until the arm is fixed?

    my god.

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  13. pfft

    By Jonness @ 90:

    By pfft @ 81:
    note. if the market is driving greece interest rates sky-high and that is taken as a signal that greece is doing something wrong record low interest rates in the US must be signaling MORE deficit spending. right

    Wrong! The bond market is pricing in a Japan-like outcome for the U.S. or worse. It’s also pricing in a potential worldwide financial crisis resulting from way to much leverage and debt in the private, banking, and public sectors.

    So all of this debt is the reason why we are having the crisis, and supposedly increasing the rate of borrowing is going to get us out? Genius, I tell you. Pure genius. But with that mentality, I’d hate to see how much equity you pulled out of your house during the bubble runup. It must be quite painful these days. Wouldn’t it have made a whole lot more sense just to have paid it off while you had the chance?

    the US is not experiencing a problem. europe is. europe is not suffering a debt problem. it’s suffering a problem specific to the euro. the euro means massive deflation in some countries that mean we spin into an austerity spiral.

    “I’d hate to see how much equity you pulled out of your house during the bubble runup.”

    again a household and a government are two different things.

    “So all of this debt is the reason why we are having the crisis, and supposedly increasing the rate of borrowing is going to get us out? Genius, I tell you. Pure genius.”

    no. a lot of europe didn’t have a lot of debt. Ireland and Greece were running budget surpluses. it’s the deflation demand because of the euro that is causing the crisis.

    increasing the rate of borrowing in a liquidity trap actually lowers the amount of debt you take on. this is basic economics.

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  14. pfft

    By Hugh Dominic @ 94:

    By 2kt @ 91:
    RE: Jonness @ 88

    Small business hiring or lack thereof has nothing to do with uncertainty caused by healthcare bill. Small business hires when it sees demand for its services rising.

    Honestly it is really hard to tell real demand from government distortion right now. I can’t make smart bets in this environment.

    ah right now the government as a whole is subtracting from GDP. it’s not interferring. government is slashing jobs and the stimulus money ended a year or so ago.

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  15. Pegasus

    RE: pfft @ 110 – The administration knew they would run out of money by now when they made the loan two years ago. That does not sound like a smart investment, it sounds like a boondoggle to pay back supporters. Now the supporter is back in front of the taxpayers in getting any assets in liquidation. Its just another crooked deal for the elite. You are just too stupid to understand.

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  16. pfft

    By Hugh Dominic @ 96:

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 92:
    RE: Jonness @ 90
    I don’t think increasing government spending right now would be such a huge mistake. The huger mistake was the way government spending got out of control while things were good economically. Maybe I think backwards, but it occurs to me that a lot more prudence could have been used by both parties when unemployment was low, when home prices were high. That’s when they should have been reducing spending, because they didn’t need to spend. They spent so much because times were good and politicians and voters never look around the corner. They think the good times are here to stay and they never are. Had they acted prudently over the last 20 years and squirreled money away, increasing spending now wouldn’t even be an issue. During Republican administrations, spending increased dramatically, and very few were calling for restraint. Now, when what we really ought to be doing is rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, Obama is bending over backwards to show that he’s not a liberal, he’s stressing how important it is to reduce the budget, as if he’s just found religion. It’s the full of crap versus the gutless.

    A good but entirely moot point. Republicans are horrible. Both parties want restraint when they are not in power and spending when they are. Result: always spending. It’s sickening. Vote Libertarian, or for anything but coke & pepsi.

    both clinton and carter saw debt as a percentage of GDP go down. it’s the republicans that spend like crazy and cut taxes at the same time. 3/4 of our current debt is due to republicans presidents.

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  17. pfft

    By One Eyed Man @ 1:

    RE: Hugh Dominic @ 97

    We’re in year 2.5 of the Fed’s 5 yr plan to manipulate the financial system so the banks can earn their way out of the financial/housing bubble losses.

    ah also the economy sucks. I’m sure they are only doing it for the banks though. I mean if all the banks went bust the economy probably wouldn’t even notice! like during the great depression!

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  18. pfft

    By Pegasus @ 15:

    RE: pfft @ 110 – The administration knew they would run out of money by now when they made the loan two years ago. That does not sound like a smart investment, it sounds like a boondoggle to pay back supporters. Now the supporter is back in front of the taxpayers in getting any assets in liquidation. Its just another crooked deal for the elite. You are just too stupid to understand.

    so how much did the elite make if you know so much? look, the price of silicon collapsed and they bet on the price of it staying high. bankruptcy is the result.

    how many tens of billions did bush waste in Iraq on contractors and money that just disappeared?

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  19. Pegasus

    RE: pfft @ 118 – So you are blaming Bush for Obama’s fiasco? Small wonder.

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  20. David Losh

    RE: Pegasus @ 115

    I agree, and that was the point of my article. Solyndra, and it’s customers, could have easily floated this enterprise from beginning to end. They didn’t want to. They wanted some one else to pay for the technology.

    The fact is though that the technology now exists, and can be viewed as main stream. I’ll call it a boon doggle only because it was a gift given to huge corporate interests at the tax payers expense.

    In my opinion, if we are going to move forward from here, the tax payers should be making loans to smaller companies so that they can compete.

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  21. pfft

    By David Losh @ 108:

    Our economy is far past manufacturing because we can make more money by just playing with numbers.

    we are the largest manufacturer in the world. our exports are back to record highs.

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  22. pfft

    By Pegasus @ 19:

    RE: pfft @ 118 – So you are blaming Bush for Obama’s fiasco? Small wonder.

    it’s not a fiasco and the bush admin was just about to make the solyndra loan when it was put through review again. the bush admin would have made the same mistake.

    this isn’t going to be the last solar bankruptcy. the price of panels is lowering and the business is booming. 98% of the loans are good.

    a lot of this is just political. bush wasted a lot more money in Iraq. those stories got one maybe two days in the press. usually it was one of those 15 second “updates” masquerading as news.

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  23. pfft

    By David Losh @ 20:

    RE: Pegasus @ 115

    I agree, and that was the point of my article. Solyndra, and it’s customers, could have easily floated this enterprise from beginning to end. They didn’t want to. They wanted some one else to pay for the technology

    huh? the company bet that it could manufacture panels more cheaply. it’s business model failed when the price of silicon fell.

    The second fatal error Solyndra made, according to Cinnamon, was that Solyndra could make up for the cost of producing more expensive solar panels by achieving savings in installation. Solyndra touted its flat panels as being easier to install and rotate.

    Solyndra Bankruptcy Wasn’t China’s Fault, Rival Solar CEO Says
    http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/09/solyndra-bankruptcy-wasnt-chinas-fault-rival-solar-ceo-says.php

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  24. Macro Investor

    By David Losh @ 120:

    RE: Pegasus @ 115
    In my opinion, if we are going to move forward from here, the tax payers should be making loans to smaller companies so that they can compete.

    You are describing socialism. I would argue society should provide a living for the truly disabled. But in a free society, why should anyone be forced to give handouts to able-bodied adults? If a small business has a good enough idea, investment money will literally pour in by folks who want a piece of the action. The fact that they need a gov handout is a laugh — it means they either are mismanaged or don’t have a decent product.

    Forget solyndra. It probably never made sense to even start that. Most alt energy technology only makes sense when oil is expensive, and stays expensive long term.

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  25. pfft

    By Macro Investor @ 124:

    By David Losh @ 120:
    RE: Pegasus @ 115
    In my opinion, if we are going to move forward from here, the tax payers should be making loans to smaller companies so that they can compete.

    You are describing socialism. I would argue society should provide a living for the truly disabled. But in a free society, why should anyone be forced to give handouts to able-bodied adults? If a small business has a good enough idea, investment money will literally pour in by folks who want a piece of the action. The fact that they need a gov handout is a laugh — it means they either are mismanaged or don’t have a decent product.

    Forget solyndra. It probably never made sense to even start that. Most alt energy technology only makes sense when oil is expensive, and stays expensive long term.

    please show your work for all your claims. like this:

    ” It probably never made sense to even start that. Most alt energy technology only makes sense when oil is expensive, and stays expensive long term.”

    keep in mind that solar is competing with heavily subsidized industries like nuclear and oil. they also get to pollute and in general pass on externalities that make their bottom line look a lot better.

    There are many reasons for the federal government to play a role in this part of the market, ways in which the market historically fails to adequately invest in potential technological advances. They come under the rubric of negative externalities—barriers that block market forces from delivering what we need, including barriers to entry, expansion, coordination, and innovation that no single, private firm can solve on its own.

    http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/solyndra-risk-and-risk-aversion/

    companies are going to fail. we used to have dozens of car companies and most of them went broke or were bought up. the private sector invest $1 billion in Solyndra. They had a good model as long as polysilicon prices stayed high. they didn’t. we’d just be talking about
    another company that need low polysilicon prices to stay afloat that went bankrupt.

    the future is difficult to predict. business go under especially in relatively new and fast-growing industries like solar.

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  26. David Losh

    RE: pfft @ 121

    40% of our economy is in financial services.

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  27. David Losh

    RE: pfft @ 23

    it was the drop in the price of oil that lowered any and all profit projections. the company would still be running deficits that would continue to be funded by loans.

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  28. David Losh

    RE: pfft @ 25RE: Macro Investor @ 24

    It’s not socialism when we have already subsidized huge segments of the economy by corporate welfare.

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  29. Jonness

    By 2kt @ 91:

    RE: Jonness @ 88

    Small business hiring or lack thereof has nothing to do with uncertainty caused by healthcare bill. Small business hires when it sees demand for its services rising.

    BS. The current lack of small business hiring is multi-factorial. Yes, it has a lot to do with lack of demand, but it’s also due to the current climate of political uncertainty present in Washington. The health care bill is an extension of this uncertainty. Businesses need to know what their costs are going to be prior to making a decision to hire. When you add the immense economic uncertainty that faces this economy to the uncertainty that Washington has created with it’s current fiscal wars to the uncertainty of future health care costs, you get a drag on hiring.

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  30. Jonness

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 92:

    RE: Jonness @ 90
    Maybe I think backwards, but it occurs to me that a lot more prudence could have been used by both parties when unemployment was low, when home prices were high. That’s when they should have been reducing spending, because they didn’t need to spend. They spent so much because times were good and politicians and voters never look around the corner. They think the good times are here to stay and they never are. Had they acted prudently over the last 20 years and squirreled money away, increasing spending now wouldn’t even be an issue.

    That is extraordinarily backwards thinking compared to the way 99% of everybody else thinks these days. However, I agree with it 100%.

    These days, we have all of these newly indoctrinated Keynesians who simply parrot the latest political propaganda of “spend, spend, spend.” They never stop to wonder how it all fits together. Yet, Keyne’s emphasized a counter-cyclical approach to the business cycle. He believed you should cut back spending and raise taxes during the good times and borrow money and lower taxes during the bad.

    Now-a-days, we have all of these fake Keynesians who advocated borrowing, spending like crazy, and lowering taxes during the good times. And now, they have simply seized on an opportunity to keep borrowing and frivolously spending like crazy without so much as a worry about where it is leading us. They are like heroin junkies fixated on getting their next fix, and they know they need money to get it and don’t care whose life they wipe out to get it.

    In the few short years since this mess began, we increased our national debt by 40%. And people are screaming for more money. But Keynes never advocated spending money in the manner it was spent. According to him, it is best spent in a manner where it will continue to turn over in the economy and aid the growth of long-term potential output. Yet, in the recent round of brainwashing and debt binging, we just pissed $4 trillion away in the wind. And it all came in the name of Keynes.

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  31. Jonness

    By pfft @ 111:

    why hasn’t already happened then? it’s because we’re in a liquidity trap. the normal rules don’t apply. if you read krugman you’d know that. it’s basic economics.

    If you want to know about liquidity traps, go back a few years when you were raving about the stock market shooting up and ranting on about how the stimulus had saved us. Go back a few months to your calls for a bottom in the housing market and how Krugman, Obama, and Bernanke had saved us. Then remember how so many of us called you out on that BS and warned you about the U.S. being in a liquidity trap and how it would all come crashing down when the sugar ran out. How could we have possibly known? Japan had already told us this story.

    Now you ask, “why hasn’t it happened yet?” Once again, look to Japan. They tried everything you are claiming is going to save us, and after 20 years, it hasn’t worked, unless you consider working being a massive national debt.

    anything you propose will make the situation worse. how is austerity working in spain, greece, portugal and Britain? not very good. here it saved millions of jobs.

    You really don’t get it do you. There is nothing that will work. Your short-term sugar high has not worked. It’s simply put a country that was $10 trillion in debt $14 trillion in debt and counting.

    Even if you and I were to figure out the perfect plan, Washington would screw it up. So the best thing you and I can do is sit back, observe the madness, and learn how to profit from the political mistakes being made along the way. Really, do you have a more realistic plan in mind?

    the deficit is about $1.3 trillion this year. do you think we’d be in a better position if we cut that much next year? of course not.

    Once again, you take the position of the heroin addict coming off a binge. “I ate my cake yesterday, and now I want to eat it again and again and again. Just let me eat cake forever.”

    Just what in the heck do you consider to be “better off?” Becoming a country of infinite slow growth so that our children can grow up and have nothing but a mountain of debt and pain? You are like the little kid who has been asked to go cut a switch and come back and get his spanking. You are so afraid of pain, that you put off the spanking hour after endless hour. As you are still searching for a switch, you hear your brothers and sisters bellowing in pain as they take their just deserve. When you finally walk into the house with a flimsy looking little stick that will break in two and not allow a real spanking, your parents have become so angry with you that they beat you 4x as hard as the other kids, who by then are feeling wonderful and simply point their fingers at you and laugh at your misfortune?

    So, do you think I believe the economy would increase in GDP if we didn’t borrow 40% of everything we spend? Of course not. That’s the whole point. Man up and take your spanking. Learn from it, and don’t repeat the same mistakes. If you want to be a Keynesian, great! But practice his entire philosophy, not just the part that allows you to endlessly eat cake until the country blows up and faces a Greece-like default.

    Now if you want to know if I believe the country would be better off if we started living within our means, the answer is yes. It would cause a horrible economic reset, but this generation of economic idiots would learn a lesson, and we could eventually get on to being the greatest economy in the world.

    Guys like you have become like spoiled rotten little kids that want everything but don’t want to be disciplined when they make a mistake. “Give us more sugar mommy!” As you become endlessly distracted eating your sugar and searching for ever more, we get our economic rear ends handed to us, and Rome burns to the ground.

    Instead of whining for more sugar, go out and talk to the old people who lived through the Great Depression and learned ever after to live within their means. Go learn something about the real world we live in instead of just endlessly citing how Krugman wants to give you more cake to eat, and you want to eat it really bad because it’s German chocolate.

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  32. US versus Japan housing values | Wood on Fire – Topics of Lumber Industry

    [...] Source:  Seattle Bubble        [...]

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  33. Japan posts record trade deficit while real estate values go deep into the 1980s. US has decade long collapse in real estate values in spite of record low mortgage rates. The path of two lost decades in US real estate values is looking very similar to Jap

    [...] Source:  Seattle Bubble        [...]

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