Well, someone pointed out to me that I still appear to be somewhat hacked. I think that’s akin to being slightly pregnant. Just ignore the ads that seem to point to Canadian drugs and Viagra. I don’t know for sure but I suspect that the Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi might be behind all of this since it seems to be a health care hacking.
That aside, I have a lot I’d like to write about but little time, so I’ll just kind of skip around here.
The new home sales numbers appeared to be a bit of a splash of cold water on all the happy talk about an improving real estate market. I don’t doubt that it’s getting better but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the return to “normal” that a lot of pundits seem to imply.
There’s lots of talk about the impending expiration of the new homebuyer tax credit contributing to the falloff in new home sales. There’s probably some truth there but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see these numbers flow through to existing home sales. It’s the “cash for clunkers” effect writ large. A lot of the sales surge in both new and existing home sales has just been accelerating future purchases into the present and the steam which was bound to go out of the market is doing just that.
So, of course, the knee jerk reaction from Congress is more of the same. It appears as if the credit is going to be extended and expanded to move-up buyers with some limitations. This despite the fact that the credit has been roundly judged by economists of all persuasions as bad fiscal medicine. It’s obscenely expensive and adds little true stimulus to the economy.
What it has done is line the pockets of the real estate industry which means of course that a lot of money is going to flow back to Barney Frank and his like-minded associates in the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill. That’s truly the bottom line on this one and no amount of propaganda is going to change that reality.
So while our elected representatives debate about how much more money to dole out to their financial backers, the urgent need to attack the true catastrophe of this recession is held hostage to politics. I’m referring specifically to the unemployment disaster that’s spread throughout this country.
No amount of government finagling with the numbers can mask the fact that we have an unemployment situation much worse than the official statistics. The economy is bleeding jobs, the true measure of unemployment is probably somewhere in the range of 15% to 20% and Congress dithers about extending unemployment benefits.
Adding salt to the wound many businesses are cutting back workers hours to the extent that they lose key benefits such as health care. Often sold as a means of avoiding layoffs, the move towards furlough days and reduced work weeks may be an untold story of this recession. Businesses are shedding benefit expenses while retaining their seasoned workers. The workers, frightened of complete unemployment, offer no resistance.
All over the place aren’t I? And on top of that I sound like some sort of wild eyed liberal pleading the case of the working man. I apologize for the lack of focus but I do think that there are some hard questions that need to be addressed with regard to the behavior of business in this recession. I’ll be harping on this again soon so tune back in.