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Dominoes or house of cards?

 

Last updated 8/28/2007 at Noon



If you’ve been watching the financial markets lately, you may have noticed that the Federal Government has been giving out more corporate welfare dollars. $10 billion here, $10 billion there; pretty soon it adds up to real money – over $60 billion in the last two weeks were pumped into the market to support collapsing hedge funds and mortgage-backed bonds held by investment companies. (Wish the government would help me out with healthcare costs.)

God forbid that the government should help the poor or middle class, but if corporate giants are shaken, Uncle Sam is right there with the checkbook to soothe their worries.

So let me get this straight: Bush gives tax breaks to the rich, and when their investments go bad, the government buys up mortgage-backed securities with our tax dollars, a higher portion of which is now paid by the lower- and middle class. Wow, what a deal! Talk about redistribution of wealth – but from the poor and middle class to the ultra rich.

It all started back in the post-9/11 environment when President Bush thought the best way for Americans to show their support for the country was to “go shopping.” Easy credit, low interest rates and unprecedented government spending (mostly on military budgets) fueled what appeared to be an economic boom. More and more people were buying houses, SUVs and flat-screen TVs.

It seemed like it could go on forever. “No credit, no problem,” zero-percent interest rates, no down payment, no payment for two years, spend, spend, spend. The Republican-controlled Congress and White House also went on a six-year spending spree that seemed to have no downside.

But the bill is just now starting to come due. As those adjustable interest rates start to rise, property prices drop, housing sales slow down and credit tightens; suddenly, people realize that it isn’t a free ride. As big investors get nervous about the “financial sector,” the market drops and the Fed pumps our tax dollars in to shore up their investments. But, all is well as long as the Dow finishes on the upside.

Jon Monday

 

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