News Liquidity Trap: Break on through to the other side

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SixNein

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I'm not sure you and I will ever agree PG - you are too focused on a very narrow aspect of the economy and I prefer to look at the big picture.

First, I think you are confusing Reagans policies with supply side stimulus - there is a difference. Subsidizing road construction or development of a HUD project is a supply side stimulus - but lowering capital gains taxes to make it cheaper to invest new capital is supply side economics ala Reagan. Reagan's focus was on business investment incentives.

Second, the investment potential I'm referring to is the $Trillions parked offshore - that is waiting for a clear and specific tax policy - given the need to raise taxes to pay for the massive deficits. If Reagan was President he would be focused on bringing those funds home to restart our manufacturing base.

Third, the Fed just guaranteed interest rates will remain low - did you miss the speech? Printing money to buy Treasuries from the banks should enable the banks to lend to small businesses who are starving for capital. The banks are still not loaning money to the small business community.

Fourth, energy prices have increased and will continue to increase given the President's domestic energy policies - we need to import less oil. The $4.00/gallon fuel is driving up the cost of everything that needs to be planted, harvested, or transported. The more money families spend on food and fuel - the less they will spend on everything else. Also, regardless of the President's wish list - electric vehicles cost too much to purchase and electric rates are also on the rise.

Fifth, aside from twisting my words we agree on what happened with the bank bailout - the needed cash and some of them were not failing - just slightly below the reserve requirements. Also, don't forget a lot of the bailout funds made their way offshore.

Six, I didn't say the Fed was a liberal organization. I do think the Fed has put downward pressure on interest rates for much too long - and now they're out of tricks.
When you argue politics, its well to remember from time to time that the person you argue with could be right. You should always be willing to learn in argumentation. I myself learned something from a tea party member during an argument over gay marriage. He said that the entire marriage problem was a result of government interfering in a religious topic, and it should get out of the business of marriage all together. His argument was right, and I told him so, and I dropped my argument. And my argument on abortion impressed him, and he told me I was right, and he dropped his argument.

ParticleGrl is right and seems to be more knowledgeable than either of us on the topic.
 

SixNein

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to find out who the fed works for, skip to 7:38
The fed is an independent agency so that it can be shielded from politics. There is nothing revolutionary in the video. All one has to do is read the federal reserve act.
 
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When you argue politics, its well to remember from time to time that the person you argue with could be right. You should always be willing to learn in argumentation. I myself learned something from a tea party member during an argument over gay marriage. He said that the entire marriage problem was a result of government interfering in a religious topic, and it should get out of the business of marriage all together. His argument was right, and I told him so, and I dropped my argument. And my argument on abortion impressed him, and he told me I was right, and he dropped his argument.

ParticleGrl is right and seems to be more knowledgeable than either of us on the topic.
I knew this thread was going to be a mine field when I waded in to respond to Tosh5457 (on the heels of a post made by Tosh5457 in a different thread) calling for de-growth?

My intent was not to debate a liquidity trap (in the strict technical definitions (I know) PG IS correct) instead I wanted to point out the other pressures on the markets. A quick example - take a look at the DJI (down about 400 points this AM) impacted by European bank crisis - and rumors of a potential downgrade of France.

As for the Fed - while the low interest rates might have been needed after 9/11 (Bush complained they didn't drop fast enough) - cheap money and loose credit ultimately led to the housing bubble. Obama clearly inherited this problem. Now we have asset deflation related to housing and a potential for currency de-valuation (from printing) - coupled with increasing consumer prices (specifically energy and food prices).

Again IMO - the Fed's promise to keep rates low for the next few years indicates they don't know what else to do (rather than debate the liquidity trap at this point) - I think the solution (ala Reagan capital gains cuts) is to entice the $Trillions of corporate funds parked offshore back into our manufacturing base - not to print more money. Our printing could lead to inflation in other countries if our currency devalues.

We need private sector jobs created by private investment - the large corporations don't need credit (they have cash) - they just need a clear and favorable tax policy. However, the small businesses do need credit but many don't qualify for loans or the SBA programs already available. Unlike an undeveloped country, we have a skilled workforce (although over time and given a high unemployment rate - skills may be diminished) and manufacturing capacity. We also need to reduce energy imports AND lower our energy costs (both things).
 
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Again IMO - the Fed's promise to keep rates low for the next few years indicates they don't know what else to do (rather than debate the liquidity trap at this point) - I think the solution (ala Reagan capital gains cuts) is to entice the $Trillions of corporate funds parked offshore back into our manufacturing base - not to print more money. Our printing could lead to inflation in other countries if our currency devalues.
Our currency is not devaluing, inflation, by all measures, has been low for years now.

Also, we all seem to agree that companies are sitting on tremendous amounts of cash right now, most of it inside the country. So much that banks are CHARGING for deposits instead of paying interest. Why would letting them bring in more tax free induce any spending? In what circumstance will a large multinational sit on 5 billion but NOT sit on 6 billion?
 

mheslep

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The only http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/BNSTAFF-BNTEAMS-BON-BUD/2011/05/11/id/396033" [Broken] It is not simply a move cash from there to here and pay less proposal. It would have hooks to discourage companies from returning assets and letting them sit as cash. Whether the caveats would be effective is another discussion. In addition to the possibility of more jobs, it would bring in at least some tax revenues almost immediately at ~5%, as opposed to the 0% paid while the assets sit abroad.

The bill includes a penalty for companies that return the money at a lower rate and then reduce their workforce. Companies would have to add $25,000 to their taxable income each time they cut their total workforce below the company’s average.

With a 35 percent tax rate, the provision would increase the company’s tax bill by $8,750 for each job cut.
 
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mheslep

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A bank can make a loan to a small business at 5% real return and instead buys treasuries with a -0.04% return.
The net real rate on a 5yr treasury (~1%) using money borrowed from the Fed (at -.2%) is still positive.
 

mheslep

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Raising the Fed rate, whatever else it might do, will cut off the flow of cheap money to banks and cause them to stop holding treasuries and look elsewhere to make a profit. The US govt won't like this very much, but businesses seeking bank credit will.
 
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Raising the Fed rate, whatever else it might do, will cut off the flow of cheap money to banks and cause them to stop holding treasuries and look elsewhere to make a profit. The US govt won't like this very much, but businesses seeking bank credit will.
So you REALLY think the small business loans that aren't appealing at a real return of 5% will be more appealing at 4%? 3%? Whats the magic number? I defer to your expertise- why would lowering the return to loans make them more appealing? Why not just leave the cash parked? The only explanation for banks not offering small business loans is perceived credit risk- how does this fix the problem?

Isn't an inverted yield between treasuries and fed funds one of the harbingers of a recession? Why wouldn't that slow economic growth by stifling the returns to all loans? I absolutely do not understand your "if they weren't buying treasuries they would fund small business"- why? Treasuries and cash are nearly perfect substitutes at this point- if they don't buy treasuries, why not hold cash?
 
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The only explanation for banks not offering small business loans is perceived credit risk- how does this fix the problem?
The credit requirements for business loans are clearly making it difficult to put money on the street. In addition to unused SBA funds, there are $Billions of unused payroll tax incentives - unfortunately, it's difficult to qualify.
 

Mech_Engineer

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The problem with the economy (especially investments) isn't the lack of liquid capital, it's an uncertain future. No one wants to invest in the economy not because it's "weak," but because they can't make a safe bet that they will get a solid return on their investments. Risks of rising taxes and increased employee overhead (e.g. Obamacare) all have played a role in this.

It seems to me that fixing the economy isn't really as hard as a lot of people want to make it out to be; it's just that no one seems to be willing to take the necessary steps.
  • Our corporate taxes are among the highest in the industrialized world; so, lower business taxes to offset the increased overhead of Obamacare and other gov't regulations.
  • Make the taxes "permanent" for a lengthy amount of time (15+ years), and extend income taxes farther as well. This provides a stable (or at least more predictable) future for business development and hence investments.
  • Tax benefits for companies that employ US-based labor.
  • Tax benefits for companies that export products manufactured in US (similar to Germany).

This I think could get us on the right track.
 
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The problem with the economy (especially investments) isn't the lack of liquid capital, it's an uncertain future. No one wants to invest in the economy not because it's "weak," but because they can't make a safe bet that they will get a solid return on their investments.
This doesn't play out. By all indications, small businesses WANT loans, but can't get them secured at the rate they want. That screams credit risk, not "regime uncertainty."

...This I think could get us on the right track.
All of your suggestions amount to income tax breaks- we already have specific breaks for employers who do all kinds of things. Its why our "on-paper" tax rates are so high and our effective tax rates are so low. Also, shouldn't the 'regime uncertainty' be priced into US treasuries? Or the AAA corporate bond markets? Why is it ONLY showing up in small business loan rates?

Also, don't you think its suspicious that the obvious measurable variables tell one story (lots of people are unemployed, unemployed people don't buy stuff, companies ARE meeting the reduced demand, bond rate are low, interest rates are low), but somehow SECRETLY its all about Obamacare?

By your logic- shouldn't lowering taxes ALSO create uncertainty- after all lowering taxes today will probably lead to larger taxes in the future to pay down the resulting deficits? Shouldn't taking health care away from people increase consumer uncertainty? What about reducing food stamps/medicaid/COBRA for the people out of work? Why is business uncertainty more important than consumer uncertainty?

Anytime you have an explanation that you would trot out ANYTIME the economy is weak, regardless of money markets, unemployment, etc, you have a worthless explanation. Its not even wrong.
 
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The problem with the economy (especially investments) isn't the lack of liquid capital, it's an uncertain future. No one wants to invest in the economy not because it's "weak," but because they can't make a safe bet that they will get a solid return on their investments. Risks of rising taxes and increased employee overhead (e.g. Obamacare) all have played a role in this.
This is something that is learned through the experience of signing your name - there are no guarantees in business. Until you've risked your house to open or expand a business - it's impossible to fully comprehend the concept of risk.

By comparison, the risk of buying a stock, bond, or a T-Bill is limited - you might lose your entire investment but more than likely you'll be able to limit your exposure.

The uncertainty of future tax policies hangs overhead like a dark cloud right now - and it's only worsened by the talk of the possible elimination of the (homeowners) mortgage interest deduction. Any discussion that involves pulling the rug out from under someone who has made a decision based on current tax law will further erode confidence.

I don't know why anyone would start a capital and labor intensive business in an industry with historically (high volume but) narrow margins at this point in time?

I'm actively engaged in both the insurance and medical information management industries - and I honestly don't know anyone (including accounting firms) that are certain of the full impact of Obamacare on their businesses. I have clients with hundreds (up to thousands) of retirees that don't know what they're going to do about the benefits they've been providing for years. I can assure you of one thing - if they lose the deduction for company paid retiree benefits AND the corporate tax rates increase - ALL of their retirees will find themselves dumped into the Medicare system.
 

mheslep

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So you REALLY think the small business loans that aren't appealing at a real return of 5% will be more appealing at 4%? 3%? Whats the magic number? I defer to your expertise- why would lowering the return to loans make them more appealing? Why not just leave the cash parked? The only explanation for banks not offering small business loans is perceived credit risk- how does this fix the problem?
I'm no expert but I am familiar with the economics and have small business experience with banks. I claim no magic prime rate, which will likely go up not down if the Fed raises its rates.

Banks like any other business want to make a profit. The question is how best to do that? Making that profit with small businesses lending requires, among other things, a lot of work. It is difficult to do the due diligence required: knowing the track record of management, combing through its balance sheets and understanding the business model, and the business climate in that industry. It's hard to do well, requiring expensive VPs and loan officers who actually understand the business of their borrowers, yet banks have done it forever and made money though some of them inevitably fail as a consequence even in good times.

Now however, all of that work and cost can be avoided by churning a lot of cheap money through these low yield treasuries, and, in so do doing not a single bank will fail. We've never had a federal funds rate this low (at least back to the 1950s), and as far as I tell never this much spread between the fed's lending and the short term treasury bills. In addition Bernanke has said the fed rates are going to stay there for a long time, so a bank can use cheap short term money to buy higher yielding longer term treasuries.
And with this deficit there are plenty of treasuries to go around. Finally add to this story the new regulatory burden on banks and spooked bank regulators (who don't get spooked when the bank buys treasuries), making treasuries even more relatively safe (and less expensive) to the bank.

Isn't an inverted yield between treasuries and fed funds one of the harbingers of a recession?
Eh? You mean an inversion in the yield curvehttp://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=yieldYear&year=2007" but I don't follow how that's relevant here.

...I absolutely do not understand your "if they weren't buying treasuries they would fund small business"- why? Treasuries and cash are nearly perfect substitutes at this point- if they don't buy treasuries, why not hold cash?
How do banks make money holding cash? They make money on treasuries, as banks lend out borrowed money, so inflation is a ~wash.
 
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Mech_Engineer

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This doesn't play out. By all indications, small businesses WANT loans, but can't get them secured at the rate they want. That screams credit risk, not "regime uncertainty."
Loans aren't the only way to start a business (or run a business). What we're seeing now was in many ways started by the overleveraging of the entire country culminating in the 2008 collapse...


All of your suggestions amount to income tax breaks- we already have specific breaks for employers who do all kinds of things.
More important than income tax breaks is making the US a lucrative place for business. If we want to see an economy with large growth rates, we need to convince companies to come here (or start here). Instead the gov't threatens to tax the rich (who already pay nearly all the taxes, depending on how you define "rich") and force companies to provide expensive benefits to employees that should be instead earning it through quality of work. Additionally overzealous regulation, while originally born of good intentions, is now more about keeping regulators employed than regulating the companies (and besides, who's regulating the regulators?)

Personally, I'm against the current tax structure because it provides 45+% of the population to pay no federal income tax. Someone who has no vested interest in fiscal responsibility in the federal gov't has no reason to vote for fiscal responsibility.

Its why our "on-paper" tax rates are so high and our effective tax rates are so low.
You're going to have to provide a source for that, I'm not sure I buy it (but could be convinced). AFAIK, the net US corporate tax rate (federal + state) is among the highest in the industrialized world, some states being higher than others:

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/22917.html

For example, California's manufacturing sector has been gutted over the past 2-3 decades due to increasing tax rates, causing companies to move to more employer-friendly states.

... but somehow SECRETLY its all about Obamacare?
Obamacare is an easy and widely visible example of government regulation overreach, but not the sole cause of the crisis.

By your logic- shouldn't lowering taxes ALSO create uncertainty- after all lowering taxes today will probably lead to larger taxes in the future to pay down the resulting deficits?
Changes in taxes create uncertainty (especially if they are said from the start to be a short term thing), but lower taxes would tend to be an incentive for growth.

Shouldn't taking health care away from people increase consumer uncertainty? What about reducing food stamps/medicaid/COBRA for the people out of work? Why is business uncertainty more important than consumer uncertainty?
Mandating it's provision through gov't isn't the solution- increasing competition and innovation is. A short-term safety net is fine, but what has been created isn't the safety net you're claiming it is.

Anytime you have an explanation that you would trot out ANYTIME the economy is weak, regardless of money markets, unemployment, etc, you have a worthless explanation. Its not even wrong.
I'm simply putting in my .02, but you DO claim it isn't wrong after all... Are you arguing increasing taxes and indefinitely extending unemployment benieits is the way to go?
 

SixNein

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I'm no expert but I am familiar with the economics and have small business experience with banks. I claim no magic prime rate, which will likely go up not down if the Fed raises its rates.

Banks like any other business want to make a profit. The question is how best to do that?
From a small business perspective, I don't think the problem is with loans nearly so much as customers. In fact, I'm guessing that sole proprietors are downright fearful of taking out a loan in the state of our economy. Even those with a separation between business debt and individual debt may be afraid to take on additional risk. I think we are mostly dealing with a psychological problem.
 
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I'm no expert but I am familiar with the economics and have small business experience with banks. I claim no magic prime rate, which will likely go up not down if the Fed raises its rates.
My point was that if the fed rate goes up, the bank will make less money on business loans (assuming prime stays roughly the same). Raising the fed rates makes business loans less profitable. Thats why I was talking about real returns.

Now however, all of that work and cost can be avoided by churning a lot of cheap money through these low yield treasuries, and, in so do doing not a single bank will fail. We've never had a federal funds rate this low (at least back to the 1950s),
And treasuries haven't been this low either- the spread has not been abnormally high. In fact, the spread between 10 year treasuries and the fed funds is quite low by historical standards (probably in expectation of poor growth) By your logic, all banks would ever do is buy treasuries. Clearly, thats not right- so I ask you- given that is was MORE PROFITABLE TO BUY TREASURIES OF ANY MATURITY in 2007, why were banks giving more small business loans then?

and as far as I tell never this much spread between the fed's lending and the short term treasury bills.
Right now, everything less than 1 year treasuries are lower or equal to fed funds. The spread is 0 or negative depending on the length. So what short term spread are you talking about?

Eh? You mean an inversion in the yield curve
No, I mean the spread between 10 year treasuries and the fed funds rate. When it goes negative, it is said to be inverted, as I thought i had made clear. Its usually a sign something weird is happening, and has often predicted recession. It is, of course, related to the inversion you would then expect in any yield curve, as fed funds are short term and 10 year treasuries longer.

How do banks make money holding cash? They make money on treasuries, as banks lend out borrowed money, so inflation is a ~wash.
The fed pays a small amount of interest on cash left with the fed. Since the rates on treasuries are so close to 0, they aren't any better than cash really. Most banks have excess reserves right now, cash on hand that they aren't loaning. All sane models predict that if the fed funds rate went above treasuries, all those treasuries would just be converted to cash, not loaned to business. Keep in mind that banks have so much cash on hand that at least one has started charging corporate clients for deposits instead of paying interest.

Lending long should always have a higher interest rate then lending short- so when would you ever expect the fed funds rate to be higher than 5 or 10 year treasuries? Spreads between 5 and 10 year treasuries and fed funds are NOT abnormally high, as you seem to be suggesting, which destroys your whole thesis.
 

mheslep

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From a small business perspective, I don't think the problem is with loans nearly so much as customers. In fact, I'm guessing that sole proprietors are downright fearful of taking out a loan in the state of our economy. Even those with a separation between business debt and individual debt may be afraid to take on additional risk. I think we are mostly dealing with a psychological problem.
I know in my local area that is not the limiting factor: there are many businesses with track records that want bank credit but can't get it. There is a US entrepreneurial mindset in my limited experience that is irrepressible and always believes they can find a new angle, a new twist on a market that even in down times will pay off if they can only get financing. For its worth as anecdote, the President of the 10 year old private launch company http://www.spacex.com/" [Broken] came into my shop to talk the other day and mentioned specifically that she wanted to raise money through debt but could not get it since the onset of the financial crisis, and has had to fall back on equity sales to investors instead which is (always) more expensive.
 
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SixNein

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Loans aren't the only way to start a business (or run a business). What we're seeing now was in many ways started by the overleveraging of the entire country culminating in the 2008 collapse...
Perhaps in Europe. I think America's problems are mostly psychological, structural, and most definitely political.

More important than income tax breaks is making the US a lucrative place for business. If we want to see an economy with large growth rates, we need to convince companies to come here (or start here). Instead the gov't threatens to tax the rich (who already pay nearly all the taxes, depending on how you define "rich") and force companies to provide expensive benefits to employees that should be instead earning it through quality of work. Additionally overzealous regulation, while originally born of good intentions, is now more about keeping regulators employed than regulating the companies (and besides, who's regulating the regulators?)
The income tax rates you are speaking of make up around 45% federal revenue while payroll taxes make up around 36%. Payroll taxes are capped, and the population of rich is small; therefore, everyone else is making up most of that 36% of federal revenue. In addition, when one measures tax burden as a total percentage of taxes vs income, lower classes have a higher tax burden. I don't understand how you think your argument on taxes is remotely valid.

As I have said before, regulation is a tricky business. We can have too much or to little regulation, and both can be very damaging. If you want to talk about regulation, you will need to be specific. I don't think that regulation should be dismantled as a rule because of some ill conceived ideology; instead, I think it should be measured for effectiveness and efficiency, and action should be taken according to the results of those measurements.

Personally, I'm against the current tax structure because it provides 45+% of the population to pay no federal income tax. Someone who has no vested interest in fiscal responsibility in the federal gov't has no reason to vote for fiscal responsibility.
We could disband the payroll tax and just do everything through income taxes. Obviously, having a payroll tax and an income tax is too complicated for people to follow.

You're going to have to provide a source for that, I'm not sure I buy it (but could be convinced). AFAIK, the net US corporate tax rate (federal + state) is among the highest in the industrialized world, some states being higher than others:

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/22917.html

For example, California's manufacturing sector has been gutted over the past 2-3 decades due to increasing tax rates, causing companies to move to more employer-friendly states.
The largest problem with our tax system is the corporate tax rates are high; however, there are zillions of credits and loopholes built into the system. They should lower the tax rate and cut out all of the loop holes and credits. The only catch is we can't allow congress to begin adding those loop holes and credits after the rates are lowered. We need a uniform system for taxes on businesses. I believe this would help small and medium businesses grow leaps and bounds.

Obamacare is an easy and widely visible example of government regulation overreach, but not the sole cause of the crisis.
I wish it was a single payer system. IMO it should have been argued as a matter of national security as well as human decency.

Changes in taxes create uncertainty (especially if they are said from the start to be a short term thing), but lower taxes would tend to be an incentive for growth.
I don't believe this policy makes sense now days because we don't have a production economy.

Mandating it's provision through gov't isn't the solution- increasing competition and innovation is. A short-term safety net is fine, but what has been created isn't the safety net you're claiming it is.
If we were talking about America 200 years ago, I might agree because people could still work their land for support; however, we gave up that world for an industrialized society. The industrialized society that we all can't live without comes with downsides. In my opinion, these safety nets are a government obligation.

I'm simply putting in my .02, but you DO claim it isn't wrong after all... Are you arguing increasing taxes and indefinitely extending unemployment benieits is the way to go?
I don't think myself or ParticleGrl has made such a proposition. I think we are both in agreement that we should be investing in infrastructure while rates are so cheap.
 

mheslep

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Lets first be sure we're talking about the same numbers:
...
And treasuries haven't been this low either- the spread has not been abnormally high. In fact, the spread between 10 year treasuries and the fed funds is quite low by historical standards (probably in expectation of poor growth) By your logic, all banks would ever do is buy treasuries. Clearly, thats not right- so I ask you- given that is was MORE PROFITABLE TO BUY TREASURIES OF ANY MATURITY in 2007, why were banks giving more small business loans then?
Looking at 2007, I have the Fed Funds Target at http://www.newyorkfed.org/markets/statistics/dlyrates/fedrate.html" [Broken]. In Jan 2007 the Fed Rate was still 5.25%, and the 2 yr T Note was ~4.9%. I have the 10 yr T Note at 3.9% in Dec 2007.

Right now, everything less than 1 year treasuries are lower or equal to fed funds.
The spread is 0 or negative depending on the length. So what short term spread are you talking about?
Perhaps we're seeing different numbers. The nominal treasury rates from T bills are http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=yield". Fed funds rate target was set by the Fed in Dec 2008 at 0.0% to 0.25% and remains there, now with word that it will continue for some years. With the long term promise of low short term fed money, a bank can buy a ~1% treasury with as much 0.01% money as it can possibly acquire and can just keep rolling it over.
 
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I know in my local area that is not the limiting factor: there are many businesses with track records that want bank credit but can't get it. There is a US entrepreneurial mindset in my limited experience that is irrepressible and always believes they can find a new angle, a new twist on a market that even in down times will pay off if they can only get financing.
I know quite a few small business owners that have personally guaranteed high limit credit cards for business purposes - (4 cards) @ $25,000 = $100,000 if 2 partners = $200,000, and add spouses $300,000 to $400,000 total. Most of them found no annual fee deals and introductory interest offers. It's a horrible way to do business - but sometimes you have to be creative.
 

Mech_Engineer

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Perhaps in Europe. I think America's problems are mostly psychological, structural, and most definitely political.
I think you're right about that. People these days seem to think along the lines of "how much debt can I leverage with my income" rather than "what can I buy with my income."

The income tax rates you are speaking of make up around 45% federal revenue while payroll taxes make up around 36%. Payroll taxes are capped, and the population of rich is small; therefore, everyone else is making up most of that 36% of federal revenue. In addition, when one measures tax burden as a total percentage of taxes vs income, lower classes have a higher tax burden. I don't understand how you think your argument on taxes is remotely valid.
The Democrat party has been arguring since last year that the "rich need to pay their fair share," when in fact they are already paying their fair share and more.

I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again to try and drive the point home:

People who receive their "income" from the federal gov't (welfare, unemployment) will tend to want to maximize their payouts and will vote for the politicians promising that (with apparent disregard for the country's overall financial solvency). Someone who earns an income through a job and pays income taxes will tend to want to minimize their taxes. These two ideals are at odds.

As I have said before, regulation is a tricky business. We can have too much or to little regulation, and both can be very damaging.
I'd rather not talk about regulation in this specific thread just because it's somewhat off topic from the OP. Suffice to say I feel the regulation has started to lean towards the "too much" side. BUT, I do feel that there is a strong need for regulation, in some industries more than others.

We could disband the payroll tax and just do everything through income taxes. Obviously, having a payroll tax and an income tax is too complicated for people to follow.
I GET the distinction between the income tax and payroll tax. If anything both should be cut, one for incentive for consumers, the other for incentivising business growth.

The largest problem with our tax system is the corporate tax rates are high; however, there are zillions of credits and loopholes built into the system. They should lower the tax rate and cut out all of the loop holes and credits. The only catch is we can't allow congress to begin adding those loop holes and credits after the rates are lowered. We need a uniform system for taxes on businesses. I believe this would help small and medium businesses grow leaps and bounds.
You're absolutely right, the tax code is such a nightmare we basically need to throw the whole thing out and start from scratch. It seems like flat tax rates would be an easy way to start over, but the political minefield is such that it's hard to see how anything could ever be accomplished. Proposed change by either party is picked apart so violently that passing by the slimmest of margins is a huge victory...

I wish it was a single payer system. IMO it should have been argued as a matter of national security as well as human decency.
I personally think we need to achieve financial solvency before anything like this can be accomplished. The budget deficit of the federal gov't has reached a real breaking point; balance the budget and put into place a workable plan to pay the debt down to zero; then we can decide where the money we have is best spent.

I don't believe this policy makes sense now days because we don't have a production economy.
If we want to grow the economy we need to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector somehow. I'm not sure we could be competitive in manufacturing little plastic trinkets like China, but there's no reason we couldn't be competitive in high-quality complex products like automobiles, airplanes, computers, etc. We need to export technological innovation and implementation!

A prime example of something that could have provided a ton of jobs, but the hostile political environment prevented, was the new manufacturing plant Ford decided to make in Brazil because the UAW say it as a threat...

If we were talking about America 200 years ago, I might agree because people could still work their land for support; however, we gave up that world for an industrialized society. The industrialized society that we all can't live without comes with downsides. In my opinion, these safety nets are a government obligation.
People can work their jobs for support... If it's provided by government that means they took the money from the companies/individuals and then give it back after they act as the middle-man. It adds red-tape, overhead, and makes it a political issue which can be lobbied and politisized.

Look what's happened to Social Security- originally meant as a mandatory retirement savings account (good intentions), now is a giant IOU piggy bank for the federal government and people put money in their 401k's anyway!

I don't think myself or ParticleGrl has made such a proposition. I think we are both in agreement that we should be investing in infrastructure while rates are so cheap.
It isn't the federal government's job to provide infrastructure, except maybe highways (although even that could be provided at the state level), and possibly some high-level regulation...
 
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I don't think myself or ParticleGrl has made such a proposition. I think we are both in agreement that we should be investing in infrastructure while rates are so cheap.
When $.43 of every $1.00 spent (and increasing) is borrowed - there is nothing "cheap" about additional spending.
 

DoggerDan

So with the national agenda focused like a laser on austerity measures, how do we get out of the liquidity trap that is killing our economy? Many people are hoarding cash instead of investing in the market because they are afraid to invest in a weak economy; however, the economy is weak because they do not invest. I'm afraid the most immediate problem in our economy is being swept aside with the focus on the debt debate. Nobody is offering suggestions on how to get out of this vicious cycle. Even if we do something for our debt, its not going to matter if our economy sinks.
Cash hoarding works for Apple, Inc., and a bunch of other Fortune 500 companies. That's a bad thing?

Then again, that's just Apple investing in itself to make more money, rather than investing in other companies. Most individuals don't have Apple's talent for translating $ into $$$, so they must invest elsewhere.

What I don't understand is why most people don't invest when the market is down. "Buy low, sell high," anyone? They wait until it's risen significantly, nearing a peak, before they invest in a "sure thing." Yet the only thing that's sure is they waited way too long.

It's little wonder most individuals lose more money in the stock market than they make.
 
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What I don't understand is why most people don't invest when the market is down. "Buy low, sell high," anyone? They wait until it's risen significantly, nearing a peak, before they invest in a "sure thing." Yet the only thing that's sure is they waited way too long.

It's little wonder most individuals lose more money in the stock market than they make.
Lambs to the slaughter.
 

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