Archive for the ‘depression’ Category

Fearless economic forecasts

March 10, 2009

Dominique Strauss-Khan

In a warning delivered by IMF Managing Dir. Dominique Strauss-Khan during a conference of African finance ministers and central bank governors, the International Monetary fund (IMF) speaks of the deepening global financial crisis and the possibility that the world’s economic growth will be zero.

The financial meltdown can cause massive suffering, social displacement, and chaos in vulnerable countries.

The effects of the downturn may not be fast in reaching Africa, but Srausse-Khan said, “continued deleveraging by the world’s financial institutions, combined with a collapse in consumer and business confidence, is depressing domestic demand across the world.”—-Philstar (03/10/09)

Warren Buffet

On the other hand, American billionaire Warren Buffet who has the common sense of living “below his means” believes America will bounce back even though “it has fallen off a cliff.” The “Oracle of Omaha” who predicted the worst case scenario in the last 6 months, watches a nation swept with a housing slump, high unemployment, and inflation. He sees lack of confidence, confusion, and fear are defining consumer behavior at this time.—The Washington Times/ AP (03/09/09, Funk J)

Harry S. Dent

Similar gloomy predictions have been made by American economist Harry S. Dent in his book “The Great Depression Ahead : How to Prosper in the Crash Following the Greatest Boom in History.” The book is a good read. He speaks of this year as a bad season—ushering economic turmoil that none of the current generation has seen.

Nouriel Roubini

Nouriel Roubini, professor of NYU’s Stern School of Busicness believes the US recession could last up to 36 months. With no hope of ending the recession this year, “Dr. Doom” said,, “Growth is going to be close to zero and unemployment rate well above 10 percent into next year.”—-CNBC (03/09/09, Wells, J)

Pres. Barack Obama

But President Barack Obama offers bright economic forecasts with his proposed $3.55 trillion budget. He predicts that the economy will shrink by only 1.2%, and will recover in 2010 with a growth of 3.2%. However, non-partisan analysts believe this is overly-optimistic.—McClatchy Newspapers (02/26/09, Hall, K)

The public is less upbeat than Obama, but people are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Midway in the 100-day honeymoon period after assuming presidency, he gets a 67% approval rating, a very good grade at this time when Americans are fearful and disconsolate over the financial ruin they are dealing.(Photo Credit: Atsibatsi)=0=

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The promise and uncertainty of the $787 billion stimulus package for the US economy

February 15, 2009

The economic stimulus package of the Obama administration has finally passed the scrutiny of the US senate. It only needs the signature of the president on Tuesday, February 17, 2008, to make it into law. Lacking bipartisan support, the Democrats in the senate and congress overwhelmingly voted for the $787 billion package touted to bring back the US economy on track. The Republicans and their conservative supporters disagree.

The astronomical dollar tag on US recovery doesn’t assure that it will succeed. Amidst a crisis of confidence, there are Americans who are alarmed. Critics of the legislation doubt whether the plan will deliver on its promises. Without much basis to back their trust, majority of Americans rest their hope on Pres. Barack Obama to fix the economy. Supporters are optimistic, in fact, overly optimistic.

“The legislation, among the costliest ever considered in Congress, provides billions of dollars to aid victims of the recession through unemployment benefits, food stamps, medical care, job retraining and more. Tens of billions are ticketed for the states to offset cuts they might otherwise have to make in aid to schools and local governments, and there is more than $48 billion for transportation projects such as road and bridge construction, mass transit and high-speed rail.”— Yahoo.News/AP (02/14/09, Espo, D)

There is a growing belief that no one buys its way from a recession. It is scary to pump in such huge money which puts taxpayers’ money on line. More borrowing and spending won’t easily bring back the trust on Wall Street which reneged on its fiduciary duty. There is doubt on those who warn of worse consequences if the public doesn’t rally behind the stimulus plan that nobody fully understands. Many don’t know why the American people are asked to spend for social services of illegal aliens, bail out banks, auto industry, and every ailing business in the country.

Obviously rushed to approve the bill, almost all congressmen (246 vs. 183) and senators (60 vs. 38) didn’t have time to read the legislation which is about a thousand pages long. It is expected the more the public comes to understand the details of the bill, the more people will disapprove. Many are dissatisfied with government officials (the spoiled and extravagant leaders,) from both the Republican and Democratic parties, who negligently brought the people into this economic mess. Those who are hurting wait for the day that the guilty must be held accountable.

There is a cautionary voice out there saying the economic downturn is unlikely to be reversed by this ambitious government rescue plan. Neither will prosperity come by giving away dole-outs to the poor, jacking-up government spending, giving perks to illegal aliens, distributing wealth, and raising the tax burden of workers and entrepreneurs. This seems to be affirmed by Pres. Obama who welcomes the bill’s passage but cautions the whole world that it’s just the start of an economic remedy whose success isn’t assured. There is a big chance that if this money splurge doesn’t work, additional funding will be asked for more massive spending.

Instead of the bloated stimulus spending with a budgeted cost of $787 billion to revitalize the US economy, conservatives have proposed a leaner spending. Unlike the democrats who dominate the Capitol Hill, Republicans assert that the recovery rests on tax cuts, smaller government, less interference with private money, and a return to traditional entrepreneurship and business ethics.

Though it’s early to tell what will be the outcome of the changes promised by Obama, there those who are silently angry and fearful. There are tell-tale signs that one can see with trepidation. Americans are used to live in gilded cocoons on productive fields that they can control. Now they are forced to face uncertainty. The big depression that they haven’t experienced with the rest of the world looms real in the horizon. (Photo Credit: Londa Elle; almostnomad; worsebrain)=0=

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The promise and uncertainty of the $787 billion stimulus package for the US economy

February 15, 2009

The economic stimulus package of the Obama administration has finally passed the scrutiny of the US senate. It only needs the signature of the president on Tuesday, February 17, 2008, to make it into law. Lacking bipartisan support, the Democrats in the senate and congress overwhelmingly voted for the $787 billion package touted to bring back the US economy on track. The Republicans and their conservative supporters disagree.

The astronomical dollar tag on US recovery doesn’t assure that it will succeed. Amidst a crisis of confidence, there are Americans who are alarmed. Critics of the legislation doubt whether the plan will deliver on its promises. Without much basis to back their trust, majority of Americans rest their hope on Pres. Barack Obama to fix the economy. Supporters are optimistic, in fact, overly optimistic.

“The legislation, among the costliest ever considered in Congress, provides billions of dollars to aid victims of the recession through unemployment benefits, food stamps, medical care, job retraining and more. Tens of billions are ticketed for the states to offset cuts they might otherwise have to make in aid to schools and local governments, and there is more than $48 billion for transportation projects such as road and bridge construction, mass transit and high-speed rail.”— Yahoo.News/AP (02/14/09, Espo, D)

There is a growing belief that no one buys its way from a recession. It is scary to pump in such huge money which puts taxpayers’ money on line. More borrowing and spending won’t easily bring back the trust on Wall Street which reneged on its fiduciary duty. There is doubt on those who warn of worse consequences if the public doesn’t rally behind the stimulus plan that nobody fully understands. Many don’t know why the American people are asked to spend for social services of illegal aliens, bail out banks, auto industry, and every ailing business in the country.

Obviously rushed to approve the bill, almost all congressmen (246 vs. 183) and senators (60 vs. 38) didn’t have time to read the legislation which is about a thousand pages long. It is expected the more the public comes to understand the details of the bill, the more people will disapprove. Many are dissatisfied with government officials (the spoiled and extravagant leaders,) from both the Republican and Democratic parties, who negligently brought the people into this economic mess. Those who are hurting wait for the day that the guilty must be held accountable.

There is a cautionary voice out there saying the economic downturn is unlikely to be reversed by this ambitious government rescue plan. Neither will prosperity come by giving away dole-outs to the poor, jacking-up government spending, giving perks to illegal aliens, distributing wealth, and raising the tax burden of workers and entrepreneurs. This seems to be affirmed by Pres. Obama who welcomes the bill’s passage but cautions the whole world that it’s just the start of an economic remedy whose success isn’t assured. There is a big chance that if this money splurge doesn’t work, additional funding will be asked for more massive spending.

Instead of the bloated stimulus spending with a budgeted cost of $787 billion to revitalize the US economy, conservatives have proposed a leaner spending. Unlike the democrats who dominate the Capitol Hill, Republicans assert that the recovery rests on tax cuts, smaller government, less interference with private money, and a return to traditional entrepreneurship and business ethics.

Though it’s early to tell what will be the outcome of the changes promised by Obama, there those who are silently angry and fearful. There are tell-tale signs that one can see with trepidation. Americans are used to live in gilded cocoons on productive fields that they can control. Now they are forced to face uncertainty. The big depression that they haven’t experienced with the rest of the world looms real in the horizon. (Photo Credit: Londa Elle; almostnomad; worsebrain)=0=

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Octuplet mom mulls on what lies ahead for her babies

February 6, 2009

Nadya Suleman, the unmarried woman who had 6 children born through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) prior to having a set of premature octuplets, also by IVF, had been getting extra attention. People couldn’t help but be curious of what was going on for the 33-year old mother who had been the most talked about parturient on earth.

With no means to support 14 children, Nadya had a fertility doctor sustain her “obsession” of having 8 babies in one pregnancy—far more than what had been considered permissible in the practice of assisted pregnancy and multiple births. According to Nadya, her desire to have many children arose from her “loneliness” of being an only child. She admitted having to battle bouts of depression.

Nadya shares a modest three-bedroom home in California owned by her mother and father who are experiencing financial difficulty. Last year, the parents applied for bankruptcy. Nadya was on disability when she gave birth to her first 6 children. Having suffered back injuries while working in a psychiatric facility, she was awarded benefits for a handicap—- $165,000 between 2002 and 2008 as she complained of headaches and vertebral pain.

Now, she is trying to market her story for an undetermined sum—perhaps a book deal, TV appearance, interview, and display of her children. Her supporters and critics are stunned.

Businesses which traditionally give assistance to mothers with unusual multiple births aren’t offering freebies. Many are dismayed by this woman whose psychological health and competency to be a responsible mother is uncertain. Confined in the hospital with her 8 babies, her astounding medical bills are growing.

With her premature octuplets (6 girls and 2 boys,) Nadya and the people around her mull on what lies ahead for her 14 children who are likely to be social charges. They live in California, a state that is in real danger of being bankrupt at this time when the economy isn’t good. (Photo Credit: Aconnel173170)=0=

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Layaway comes back

October 25, 2008

As a sign of difficult times brought about by the financial crisis, stores in America like K Mart, Marshalls, T J Maxx etc. are going back to the payment practice of layaway, a departure from the convenient credit card that modern-day Americans are used to. Lending institutions are tightening their borrower’s rules and store customers may use layaway to buy their favorite gifts for this coming Christmas.

Layaway plans aren’t free — most stores charge a fee for setting aside the merchandise, and ask for a down payment. Kmart requires customers to pay a $5 service fee and a $10 cancellation fee upfront, or put down 10% of the item’s cost, whichever is greater. Customers must make biweekly payments over eight weeks to pay the balance. In case of default, the item goes back into stock and the customer receives a refund, minus the $15.” Wall Street; Yahoo Finance (10/22/08, Bustillo, M.)

Layaway was popular in the Great Depression when credit crunch drove Americans to pay installments for merchandise to buy. It is again an option now that affordability and money have suddenly become scarce. Certainly, USA isn’t as different as different as Philippines when economic bad times strike. (Photo Credits: Crocidillicus.com; USCredit)=0=

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Increased suicide risk for white middle-aged Americans & the pessimism in time of recession

October 22, 2008

A research study covering the period of 1999 to 2005, shows a striking change in the demographics of suicide risk. From the records of the National Center for Health Statistics it is revealed that there is a sharp increase in the number of white middle-aged women who commit suicide compared to men.

To appear in the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the report of Guoing Hu, PhD of Central South University in Changsha, China and Susan Baker, MPH of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has the following salient findings:

1. The suicide rate for white women 40-64 years old went up 3.9% per year during the study period.
2. The suicide rate among white men in the same age group increased 2.7% per year.
3. Overall suicide rates went up for whites — 1.1% per year. Suicide rates went down significantly for African-Americans — 1.1% per year.
4. Suicide rates remained stable for Asian and Native Americans.” —WebMed Health News (10/21/08, Colihan K, Chang, L. M.D.)

Because the exact reason for the increase in suicide in this period is unclear, Baker urges a review of the social changes that could drive more middle-aged persons to end their life. She says the new findings may help in the reorientation of mental health programs which focus on teenagers, young adult, and white middle-aged men, traditionally thought to belong to the high risk groups.

To guard against suicide, the authors suggest the following: learn new coping or problem-solving skills, adhere to cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide; develop strong support from the family and community members, and seek high quality treatment for mental or physical disorders or addictions.

Culled from data before the recent economic downturn, the report comes at a time when negativities and pessimism among Americans are high and on the rise. AFP (10/21/08.) Greater vigilance therefore against depression and suicide must be done as financial problems cause uncertainty, anger, and anxiety. (Photo Credit: by Coolcolonia4711; Laserbread)=0=