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> Is Uncle Sam Dragging The World Into Economic Meltdown?, The Global Economy Teeters...
Guest_Jox_*
post Jun 13 06, 19:56
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Is Uncle Sam dragging the World into economic melt-down?

Economists are, for the public safety, locked in padded cells between crises. This is only prudent: firstly, why fix something if it isn’t broken? and, secondly, many economists are very scary beings - often bearded, academic-looking and with a penchant for inappropriate sexual excitement when they see a widening trade gap.

But, one-by-one, economists are now being re-released into the community after doing quite a long time in well-deserved clink. You will find one at a tv news station or newspaper near you. So what is happening to merit such a dangerous policy of releases?

Oh, yes, and why are shares falling in value fast?

Quite simply, Uncle Sam is obese. He is gobbling far more than he can produce - and being bank-rolled by Asia, so he can keep buying. His government is no better: it is spending like a gambler trying to chance his way out of debt.

Let’s consider a couple of figures: (Source: BBCi)

(A) The US Trade deficit is a shade under $750 billion. ($750,000,000,000) (7% of the US economy).
(B) The US (Government) budget deficit $400 billion.

So what (with B)? - As the US economy is currently buoyant, this is bad. During good economic times (like the ones we may just be leaving behind) a government usually expects to recover its over-spending from lean times. (Because more taxes flow in and fewer benefits flow out). If the US Government is over spending now, how can it possibly reduce that in worse times? And if it did, it would badly damage a weakened US economy (precisely what led to the Great Depression).

So what? (with A)

Firstly, other countries (the UK included) have trade deficits - but the USA is by far the World’s largest economy, so what happens there affects everyone.

Secondly, though countries can act financially in many ways that an individual cannot, in the end, they still have to pay their way. The US is not doing this. By continually over-spending on trade (importing more than it is exporting in money terms) it is effectively running-up a debt - which must be repaid.

With the flow of funds from the US to the far east (where the US - and Europe - are buying staggering quantities of goods) those far east companies and countries have bought US Government debt (IOUs issued by the US Government). This, effectively, means the far east is not only selling its goods to the USA but is financing their purchase. Good for the US? No, because one day those IOUs may be presented for repayment - and, in the meantime, interest payments from the US are flowing out to the far east - more draining of funds in that direction. Another problem is that, because the US has paid for much of its imports in $US there are a lot of green bills sloshing around the World (though mostly virtual, electronic ones nowadays). What happens when there is a surplus of anything? Its price falls. And such is so with the value of the $US - it is dangerously plummeting (though maybe not quite in free-fall yet).

OK, a falling dollar. Is that good or bad? Well both. (Another reason economists are locked away - to stop self-harm by too much fence-sitting).

The falling $US is good because it is a way in which markets adjust. A falling $US means that Americans cannot afford to buy as many Asian goods for each $1 as before - hence reducing their imports and, therefore, trade deficit. Better still, foreigners (to the US) can obtain more goods for their currency (because US firms expect to be paid in $US and, as the $US fell against far eastern currencies, so far eastern consumers - via their importing firms - can obtain more US goods for each unit of their own currency spent.) This will help the US to import less and export more - plus US consumers will find US products more competitive and will switch some import-purchases to purchases of domestically-produced goods and services.

But! A falling $US is also bad. It will, as we have just seen, cause the price of imports to the US to rise. This will fuel cost-push inflation. In turn, that pushes US firms’ costs up - i.e. because they may need to import goods and because their workers may demand higher pay to off-set their higher-cost imports. Moreover, US consumers will find their consumption choices more limited and their real incomes fall.

Now, remember that the US economy is vast. Despite the massive trade deficit, they do buy huge amounts of imports. If the dollar has fallen, then they cannot buy as many imports (as we just saw). But this will have a knock-on effect both in Asia and Europe. Many exporters - especially in those two continents - will be hit. Also, as the $US is cheaper, the US may export more and undermine various domestic markets. But it is the crash in US demand which economists really fear.

Share prices fall because people feel that companies will face reduced demand in the future.

Economists like stability - a small and steady growth in living standards and no shocks to the system. What they fear is a US in economic free-fall - the $US plummeting and US consumers not being able to buy globally-produced goods. The knock-on effect of that would be to hit Asia and European economies - which, in turn, would reduce global demand still further and hit the USA’s output. Potentially a spiral could be unleashed - such as the Great depression of the 20thC. Then again, such a severe global cock-up only happened once and we have learnt much.

But, if history teaches us anything, it is that people often do not learn from history.

Copyright TC 14/06/06.









 
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Guest_Nina_*
post Jun 13 06, 23:10
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Hi J

>J>and, secondly, many economists are very scary beings - often bearded, academic-looking and with a penchant for inappropriate sexual excitement when they see a widening trade gap.

LOL, love the description. Now, do you see yourself as an armchair economist?

>J>But, if history teaches us anything, it is that people often do not learn from history.


Yes,that is so true. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if we headed towards another depression. We (and especially the Americans) don't learn from past mistakes and we have become a "must have Society and who cares if we don't have the money to pay for it" We think about today without looking to the consequences for tomorrow. We are greedy and wasteful.

Also, if energies and finances weren't poured into pointless wars we might not be speeding quite so fast down this slippery slide to meltdown.

Nina
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Jun 14 06, 02:47
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Hi Nina,

Thanks again for venturing into my obscure corner of MM!

>J> and, secondly, many economists are very scary beings - often bearded, academic-looking and with a penchant for inappropriate sexual excitement when they see a widening trade gap.
>N> LOL, love the description. Now, do you see yourself as an armchair economist?

Thank you!

John Maynard Keynes - for me the greatest Economist (Adam Smith and Karl Marx being close runners-up) once wrote:

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist."

Rather than "an armchair economist," I flatter myself as being a defunct one - not by death (at least last time I pinched myself) thank goodness, but by departing for the wackier shores of writing, design and household mis-management. (Yes, some daze, I feel Beeton-up!).

>J> But, if history teaches us anything, it is that people often do not learn from history.
>N> Yes, that is so true. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if we headed towards another depression. We (and especially the Americans) don't learn from past mistakes and we have become a "must have Society and who cares if we don't have the money to pay for it" We think about today without looking to the consequences for tomorrow. We are greedy and wasteful.

Such can drive an economy - though is bad economics. Credit, though, is a vital factor in modern economies.

>N> Also, if energies and finances weren't poured into pointless wars we might not be speeding quite so fast down this slippery slide to meltdown.

emm... yes and that is certainly part of the reason why the US is running such a staggering budget (not trade) deficit. BUT Adolph Hitler brilliantly revived the inter-war German economy by a programme of public works and re-armament. Pity the only corollary of the latter is inevitable war. So investing in the military - from an economic perspective and with no knock-on consequences - is usually a good thing. e.g. Supposing a government ordered three more aircraft carriers tomorrow - it would need workers directly and in a myriad of supplier firms to build them. The public investment would do much to re-generate local, regional - even national economies. If one carrier was sunk in a war that would mean more investment and employment in replacing it - plus more sailors needed. (Economics is amoral).

An economy cannot go into meltdown by over-production per se (assuming the production is sold) - only over-consumption. (Which may be the concomitant of the former).

Thanks very much, Nina!

J.
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Jun 14 06, 10:33
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Hi James

Is Uncle Sam dragging the World into economic melt-down?

Economists ... they can't do anything by halves, can they? The world can't have a slight inflation worry, can it? It will have to be "melt down"

Actually, seriously, I think this is an excellent analysis of the dangers facing us if we do not curb our apparently insatiable greed. "Keeping up with the Jones's" has gotten way out of hand.

You use humour to bring the ideas to life to excellent effect.

many economists are very scary beings - often bearded, academic-looking and with a penchant for inappropriate sexual excitement when they see a widening trade gap.

LOL.gif So true (when I was an academic I had to wear a false beard)

Firstly, other countries (the UK included) have trade deficits - but the USA is by far the World’s largest economy, so what happens there affects everyone.

Secondly, though countries can act financially in many ways that an individual cannot, in the end, they still have to pay their way. The US is not doing this. By continually over-spending on trade (importing more than it is exporting in money terms) it is effectively running-up a debt - which must be repaid.

Absolutely vital. They need to reduce the deficit while times are good.

OK, a falling dollar. Is that good or bad? Well both. (Another reason economists are locked away - to stop self-harm by too much fence-sitting).

Ouch rofl.gif

Share prices fall because people feel that companies will face reduced demand in the future

Since the whole thing is so cyclical and the feedback is so slow to take effect we see-saw dangerously. Negative (controlling) feedback may even become positive (making things worse) feedback, as you say.

But, if history teaches us anything, it is that people often do not learn from history.

"History is bunk" is one of the most arrogant statements ever made. Without studying history, how can we possibly avoid making the same mistakes over and over? History shows us the worst - and best - we are capable of as a species. So we ignore it at our peril.

Fran
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Jun 14 06, 11:13
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Hi Fran,

Thanks for popping in (as Badger said to Weasle)

>F> Economists ... they can't do anything by halves, can they? The world can't have a slight inflation worry, can it? It will have to be "melt down"

LOL actually that was more journalism than Economics. A proper academic economic phrase might be "Are economic indicators about to experience a negative progression?"

>F> Actually, seriously, I think this is an excellent analysis of the dangers facing us if we do not curb our apparently insatiable greed. "Keeping up with the Jones's" has gotten way out of hand.

Thank you. And I'm always suspicious of those Jonses! (House of ill-repute if you ask me).

>F> You use humour to bring the ideas to life to excellent effect.

Merci muchly!

>F> (when I was an academic I had to wear a false beard)

You weren't in "The Life of Brian" (stoning scene) were you, perchance? Actually, I tried wearing a false beard - until someone in the showers pointed-ot I should wear it on my face. Well, that would have been daft as I had a real one there, so I scrapped the false one. I find walking far easier now.

"Firstly, other countries (the UK included) have trade deficits - but the USA is by far the World’s largest economy, so what happens there affects everyone. Secondly, though countries can act financially in many ways that an individual cannot, in the end, they still have to pay their way. The US is not doing this. By continually over-spending on trade (importing more than it is exporting in money terms) it is effectively running-up a debt - which must be repaid.

>F> Absolutely vital. They need to reduce the deficit while times are good.

emm... well when times are good countries tend to over-spend on imports (trade deficit). But they certainly need to reduce the (Government) budget deficit then.

"OK, a falling dollar. Is that good or bad? Well both. (Another reason economists are locked away - to stop self-harm by too much fence-sitting)."
>F> Ouch

:)

>F> Since the whole thing is so cyclical and the feedback is so slow to take effect we see-saw dangerously. Negative (controlling) feedback may even become positive (making things worse) feedback, as you say.

A brilliant point. Economists call these "time lags." Now, in the 1940s-70s we had a rough concensus around Keynesianism - though one doubts that John Maynard Keynes would have labelled it such because it degenerated into "fine-tuning" (demand management). Governments were persuaded that all they had to do to maintain full employment was to almost continuously tweak demand and Utopia would be theirs for the asking. But snags crept in - e.g. greedy workers and those pesky time-lags. The result of the latter was that a government might be boosting demand precisely when it was rising anyway, but unbeknown to them because the statistics were not immediate. So effectivly, economies over-heted. Hello inflation!

"But, if history teaches us anything, it is that people often do not learn from history."
>F> "History is bunk"

(Henry Ford). Yes. he lived for the "now" - but his "now" is now history. (Discuss!)

>F> is one of the most arrogant statements ever made. Without studying history, how can we possibly avoid making the same mistakes over and over? History shows us the worst - and best - we are capable of as a species. So we ignore it at our peril.

Lord Wilson of Rievaulx (Harold Wilson - UK Prime Minister 1964-70; 1974-76) argued that a nation cannot possibly understand its present - nor plot its future - without an understanding of its past. I'll vote for that analysis - and yours.

Thanks, Fran. J.
 
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Guest_Nina_*
post Jun 14 06, 12:37
Post #6





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Hi J

>J>Thanks again for venturing into my obscure corner of MM!

I like to haunt your obscure corners of MM, spooking my way through cobwebs and dust in the quiet hours of the night.

>J>Rather than "an armchair economist," I flatter myself as being a defunct one - not by death (at least last time I pinched myself) thank goodness, but by departing for the wackier shores of writing, design and household mis-management. (Yes, some daze, I feel Beeton-up!).

ROFL! If you stop wacking yourself on the head you wouldn't make yourself quite so flat.

>J>emm... yes and that is certainly part of the reason why the US is running such a staggering budget (not trade) deficit. BUT Adolph Hitler brilliantly revived the inter-war German economy by a programme of public works and re-armament. Pity the only corollary of the latter is inevitable war. So investing in the military - from an economic perspective and with no knock-on consequences - is usually a good thing. e.g. Supposing a government ordered three more aircraft carriers tomorrow - it would need workers directly and in a myriad of supplier firms to build them. The public investment would do much to re-generate local, regional - even national economies. If one carrier was sunk in a war that would mean more investment and employment in replacing it - plus more sailors needed. (Economics is amoral).

I'm struggling here to get my head around this logic. The regeneration would only occur if the military machinery were built at home and didn't need to be important. What about the cost of sending thousands of soldiers to Iraq, supplying them with food, clothing etc while they are there and they have been over there for quite some time now. Does that boost the economy or drain it? The money has to come from somewhere and war isn't cheap.

>J>An economy cannot go into meltdown by over-production per se (assuming the production is sold) - only over-consumption. (Which may be the concomitant of the former).

There is definitely over-consumption, all paid for by our flexible friends and we want the latest, fastest gadget, car. We live in a materialistic throw-away society.

The rate we consume oil is terrifying. The car is a thirsty machine. How long will the supply last? Prices are rising all the time.

Nina
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Jun 14 06, 16:08
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Hi Nina,

Thanks so much for your re-visit. :)

>J> Thanks again for venturing into my obscure corner of MM!
>N> I like to haunt your obscure corners of MM, spooking my way through cobwebs and dust in the quiet hours of the night.

:) :) Actually, one of my late dogs was "Cobweb" :)

>J> Rather than "an armchair economist," I flatter myself as being a defunct one - not by death (at least last time I pinched myself) thank goodness, but by departing for the wackier shores of writing, design and household mis-management. (Yes, some daze, I feel Beeton-up!).
>N> ROFL! If you stop wacking yourself on the head you wouldn't make yourself quite so flat.

Brilliant!! :)

>J> emm... yes and that is certainly part of the reason why the US is running such a staggering budget (not trade) deficit. BUT Adolph Hitler brilliantly revived the inter-war German economy by a programme of public works and re-armament. Pity the only corollary of the latter is inevitable war. So investing in the military - from an economic perspective and with no knock-on consequences - is usually a good thing. e.g. Supposing a government ordered three more aircraft carriers tomorrow - it would need workers directly and in a myriad of supplier firms to build them. The public investment would do much to re-generate local, regional - even national economies. If one carrier was sunk in a war that would mean more investment and employment in replacing it - plus more sailors needed. (Economics is amoral).

>N> I'm struggling here to get my head around this logic. The regeneration would only occur if the military machinery were built at home and didn't need to be important. What about the cost of sending thousands of soldiers to Iraq, supplying them with food, clothing etc while they are there and they have been over there for quite some time now. Does that boost the economy or drain it? The money has to come from somewhere and war isn't cheap.

Important = Imported? (Typo assumed)

Yes, imports mean a loss of wealth from the circular flow of income. So, for example, if the soldiers' food were purchased in Iraq that represents a leak (especially if the Welsh Guards!). However, if the food is sourced in the UK and flown-out then that injects money from HMG into the economy.

Essentially, people save more than governments. So if the government taxes us and spends the money on defence, that is 100% of £1 spent (especially if spent all on UK-sourced goods / services) - whereas, if the government had left that £1 with the consumers, some would have been saved and some spent on imports. So, from the economy's point-of-view, it is better if we are taxed and the Government spends all the money within the country.

The worst thing for an economy is usually if spending dries-up. that may cause deflation (negative inflation in modern parlance) - economies need people to spend to push them along. no spending means firms / shops etc close and people are made unemployed. Then they can afford less, promoting the circle further.

John Maynard Keynes referred to "The Paradox Of Thrift" - that is people used to think it virtuous to save lots - whereas, in fact, saving too much shrinks the economy, the savers may be made unemployed and then won't be able to save!

No war is not cheap - but, like a building project, may help an economy.

>J> An economy cannot go into meltdown by over-production per se (assuming the production is sold) - only over-consumption. (Which may be the concomitant of the former).

>N> There is definitely over-consumption, all paid for by our flexible friends and we want the latest, fastest gadget, car. We live in a materialistic throw-away society.

We do.

>N> The rate we consume oil is terrifying. The car is a thirsty machine. How long will the supply last? Prices are rising all the time.

How long? impossible to say because new consumers (PRC and India especially) are increasing demand fast - but new sources of oil are being found and existing sources exploited better. Moreover, renewables are being developed, too.

Energy prices have risen for several reasons - mostly India and PRC, though.

Hope this makes some sense? If not please ask further.

Thanks, J.
 
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Guest_Nina_*
post Jun 14 06, 17:28
Post #8





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Hi J

Thanks for reminding me why I steer clear of economics.

I understand how spending is important for growth of the economy, however there has to be money to hand to pay for it all. If individuals don't have money to pay for their goods/life style, they build up a debt that they won't be able to pay off. They can wriggle out of the debt by declaring themselves bankrupt.

What about Governments. If the national debt gets too big, what happens? Can the country be declard bankrupt, what does it mean for the country?

Brain spinning now.

Nina
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Jun 14 06, 18:32
Post #9





Guest






Hi Nina,

Thanks for returning! :)

>N> Thanks for reminding me why I steer clear of economics.

:) A fascinating subject!

>N> I understand how spending is important for growth of the economy, however there has to be money to hand to pay for it all. If individuals don't have money to pay for their goods/life style, they build up a debt that they won't be able to pay off. They can wriggle out of the debt by declaring themselves bankrupt.

I don't think declating bankrupt is wriggling out of debt - it is still a serious step with lots of unpleasant consequences.

>N> What about Governments. If the national debt gets too big, what happens? Can the country be declard bankrupt, what does it mean for the country?

We have to be a tad careful with the jargon here. "National Debt" has a specific meaning. It is the amount of money that a government owes to its population. In many respects, its size does not matter. The only problem can be interest payments from the state - this takes funds which would otherwise have been available for other public spending. Traditionally, if this became a problem, governments just borrowed more to cover the it. However, Monetarist Ecomomists would argue that this squeezes-out private investment (as governments borrow the money) which is disadvantagous. The US budget deficit, which I mentioned in the article will increase the overall US National debt.

Domestic courts declare people bankrupt. There is no comparable organisation for countries. So, no, no one can declare a country bankrupt, as such. However, de facto bankrupsy can exist in that a country is too poor to be able to afford to buy essential imports. The Palestinians are probably close to this situation now. (As the US and EU have pulled the subsidy plugs). That explains why public sector workers there have not been paid since February and why people are in danger of starving.

Countries which owe external loans but cannot afford to pay them off usually try to keep their creditors "on side" by trying to negotiate new loans or extensions to existing ones or discounts etc. But in the last resort, they may simply default. There is not very much creditors can do about it - impose sanctions etc but the country is usually on its knees anyway, so little point.

Essentially, if a country over-reaches itself then its ability to buy imports will collaspe and that will help to redress the balance - eventually. Another consequence is that foreigners (firms and individuals) may buy whole chunks of the domestic market (firms and property) as it is cheap. This has happened to many things in the US anyway .(e.g. their film/entertaoinments industry).

So the penalty for allowing the trade balance to become too heavily negative is domestic poverty. Of course, if welath-creation can be increased and extra goods / services exported to pay for it then the situation can be recovered.

Theoretically a country could exist without trade but at a very low level of economic acrtivity - impractical in this globalised world.

Does that help?

>N> Brain spinning now.

Nowt like a mental spider!

Toodle Pip, J.
 
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Guest_Nina_*
post Jun 15 06, 01:18
Post #10





Guest






Hi J

Thanks for the explanation. Clear as mud As I understand (or don't understand it). Economics seems like a child's see-saw. It tilts in one direction and then weights on the other side balance it out again. It keeps going up and down and settles in the middle.

>J>Nowt like a mental spider!

Mine has spun too many cobwebs, clogging up my brain.

I didn't mean to imply that bankrupcy is an easy option. I know it has unpleasant consequences but better than getting buried under the stress of debts that can't be paid, not that it is a position I'd ever want to be in.

Nina
 
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Arnfinn
post Jun 22 06, 03:40
Post #11


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Joined: 9-August 03
From: Australia
Member No.: 17
Real Name: John
Writer of: Poetry



How are ya James,

Interesting financial implodition ya have here mate. Especialy, when we have a Prime Minister who is a, George Bush and big business, worshiper. A Prime Minister who has privatised every thing he can lay his hands on, abolished the Indusrial Arbitration Court in exchange for Government cotrolled Work Place Agreements that favour the employer over the employee. Laws that define a poverty minimum salery/wage in contrast to some companies CEO's $10-$20 million p/a. Laws where there's no recourse for unfair dismissal, where an employer can trade off annual leave, leave loading, sick leave, penalty rates, maternity leave and long service leave for an increased hourly rate or on the other hand dismiss an employee and then re-emploly them on company terms.

The Australian Government, who I thoroughly detest, have through policy, and pandering to private enterprise placing young Australians,and Australian families in a precarious position in the event of a world wide recession.

The average repayments on home mortgage repayments is 31.9 per cent of median weekly family income.

Australians have an ansatiable appetite for debt that makes them vulnerable to economic shock. In January's ABS records, consumers held a record 12.6 million credit cards- with an average debt of $2656 a card. More than half of 18- to 24-year olds have debts of more than $14,000, with a quarter having debts of more than $20,000

In the past decade (since this government has been in power) household debt has shot up from 60 per cent to 150 per cent.

A recent report by statisticians reveal that three-quarters of the population are spending more than they earn.

Not for me of course James, but If what you say is true, ther''ll be a big affect on the average Australian.

gandalfw.gif

The simple solution- drink more beer gandalfw.gif


John.


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Arnfinn

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more details, click here!

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Arnfinn
post Jun 22 06, 03:45
Post #12


Creative Chieftain
Group Icon

Group: Centurion
Posts: 2,587
Joined: 9-August 03
From: Australia
Member No.: 17
Real Name: John
Writer of: Poetry



How are ya James,

Interesting financial implodition ya have here mate. Especialy, when we have a Prime Minister who is a, George Bush and big business, worshiper. A Prime Minister who has privatised every thing he can lay his hands on, abolished the Indusrial Arbitration Court in exchange for Government cotrolled Work Place Agreements that favour the employer over the employee. Laws that define a poverty minimum salery/wage in contrast to some companies CEO's $10-$20 million p/a. Laws where there's no recourse for unfair dismissal, where an employer can trade off annual leave, leave loading, sick leave, penalty rates, maternity leave and long service leave for an increased hourly rate or on the other hand dismiss an employee and then re-emploly them on company terms.

The Australian Government, who I thoroughly detest, have through policy and pandering to private enterprise placed young Australians,and Australian families in a precarious position in the event of a world wide recession.

The average repayments on home mortgage repayments is 31.9 per cent of median weekly family income.

Australians have an ansatiable appetite for debt that makes them vulnerable to economic shock. In January's ABS records, consumers held a record 12.6 million credit cards- with an average debt of $2656 a card. More than half of 18- to 24-year olds have debts of more than $14,000, with a quarter having debts of more than $20,000

In the past decade (since this government has been in power) household debt has shot up from 60 per cent to 150 per cent.

A recent report by statisticians reveal that three-quarters of the population are spending more than they earn.

Not for me of course James, but If what you say is true, ther''ll be a big affect on the average Australian.

gandalfw.gif

The simple solution- drink more beer gandalfw.gif


John.


·······IPB·······

Arnfinn

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more details, click here!

MM Award Winner
 
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