As I see it -- The Economic Debacle made easier--Things you should TRY to know:I am a person who is thirsty for knowledge and in my own numbers-challenged way I try to read those who do understand to explain our economic debacle. I try to read those who can explain our Great Recession and how it happened it in a way so I can understand to fairly grasp the HUMONGOUSNESS of what has been done (and still is) by our government and Wall Street.
I am reading Matt Taibbi's book "Griftopia". He tells it easily, makes it fun and is riveting. I have read other things of course.This is how I see it made as simple as possible and written off the top based on ad infitum reading TRYING to get it:
The problem with the whole thing is that our government and economic system is broken in so many places and worse by both Democrats AND Republicans who basically were doing the same thing with OUR money. The only difference is that the Democrats spout a different philosophy BUT they did not really act on it that much; some did but not enough. Money involved in politics corrupts SO badly it is indescribable and the decision of the Sup. Ct of Citizen's United opened up the flood gates of money in politics.
I have divided the issues into seven categories (generally) which, I think, made the near economic collapse and our still Great Recession happen so that I and others can more easily understand.
The first problem: what the government did over thirty years since Reagan with the peoples' Social Security money the middle class person depends upon. They raised the Social Security tax BUT did not keep it away from everything else i.e. separate. They SPENT it on a bazillion OTHER things and gave it to BIG corporate everything which in turn greased the hand that fed them i.e. campaign money Congress persons need to get elected into office and/or stay there by being reelected. Our Social Security money was and is NOT safe BUT it should have been. Al Gore in 2000 talked about a LOCKED BOX for Social Security but Congress over decades did no such thing. Beginning with Reagan 30 years ago, continuing, through Reagan (with Alan Greenspan's Ayn Randian help), to Bush I, Clinton and WORSE under Bush II by giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires but still making the middle pay taxes on through to Obama who extended the Bush tax cuts under duress. Congress initially raided Social Security by raising the Social Security tax to us and kept it to spend on many things ESPECIALLY war and the military but other things too and SPENDING wildly.
When Perry said Soc. Sec. was a Ponzi scheme he was not so off the mark BUT he did not or COULD not OR WOULD NOT say HOW it was a Ponzi Scheme. It was because it took your money, stole it from what should have been a locked box for you for your retirement years and replaced it with government backed IOU’s at lower interest rates. They STOLE our money from under our nose and then spent it on the military, eternal wars and what IS an American empire all over the globe as well as spending it on earmarks for pet projects within a bill or say Medicare Part D which was a giveaway to big pharma.
It was a scheme because it depended on new members, new workers, new generations to keep the coffers afloat and ALAN GREENSPAN that swine figured out a way they could do that and have the people not understand it and raid that money. Then later administrations tell us Soc. Sec. is bankrupt. Greenspan became Federal Reserve Chairman even though he was a rotten predictor of economic trends. Congress voted him in and he fixed this racket so they took the money by raising the Social Sec. Tax, filled it instead with that money they took from the people giving the Soc. Sec. money IOU tickets instead by buying T-bills at low interest but interest nonetheless and then USED that money for their cronies. Reagan especially but all since used it WILDLY hence increasing the DEBT and deficit to Everest heights. I quote someone (I forget whom) explaining it away. He said: "There's just so much damn money!" Sure because the people paid in SO much money and they even raised the amount of money they put in but Congress TOOK it, left paper IOU’s with government backed T bills and spent it!
The second problem is the DEREGULATED Wall Street thievery creating rotten stocks sold by the banks, Goldman Sachs, City Bank, Merrill Lynch, Lehman, etc. and AIG (which insured the whole damn thing with credit default swaps). When the economy bubble in 2008 collapsed they needed to be bailed out with OUR money supposedly because they were "too big to fail." Even AIG had to be bailed out as they could not pay on their CDS (credit default swaps which is stock insurance the investment banks took out.) The Fed a quasi private institution (which people do not know) just prints money to bail them out at a bargain basement lower interest rate window than any of us ever get at banks. Great gig if you can get it!
Third problem--the rating agencies like S&P: The investment houses sold stocks that were rated triple AAA because they were employed by the banks themselves. These instruments were JUNK utter junk. They sold it off to people and entities who did not know such as those who managed pension funds and their own 401K's etc. It would be like someone buying my home on the advice of the agent I pay to rate my home. My agent would give it a 100% AAA rating of course or I would fire him and get another who would. When it went bust the whole house of cards collapsed.
The fourth problem was the housing market. This was one of the biggest CONS and kicked off the whole collapse giving sub-prime loans by the billions duping especially poor people who bought into the American Dream scam and simply did not understand what they were getting into. They could not pay their mortgages and worse lost their jobs when the market collapsed that they did not think they would lose AND as an aside lost their health insurance too. It was NOT only the poor.
Fifth Problem: The DEREGULATED banks chopped up these mortgages and bundled them and sold them as stocks ALL over the world as rotten worthless stock. So when your mortgage went bust you could NOT even FIND the bank that had it because you could not trace it and they sold BILLIONS of these impossible to figure out phony investments ALL over the world and many are still living in their cars, in motels or on the street because of it. It's A GLOBAL problem and why Europe is SO over leveraged and going bust. It's tied to us.
The Sixth problem is Trade Agreements like NAFTA: These put the US at a decided disadvantage to the middle class jobs but the big corporate titans LOVE it because it's CHEAP no health or ANY benefits to pay for dirt cheap overworked labor overseas who do not complain and labor they could not get here because who would put up with work days of seven days nearly round the clock and TERRIBLE working conditions. The trade agreements like NAFTA and GATT are NASTY and are stacked against this country because goods coming in are cheap and are taxed little as are the industries going in to countries like China or Sri Lanka or even Vietnam but few of our goods go out because they are heavily taxed. It is why there is NOTHING made in America any more. Since we do not have jobs and our health insurance runs out because of it, unemployment insurance runs out too we are in a BIGGER in my opinion mess than the Great Depression and it WILL be a Depression soon.
The seventh problem is the fusing of investment banks with Commercial savings and loan banks. It USED to be separate after the Great Depression. They repealed the 1933 Glass Steagall Act which KEPT them separate finally in 1999. Quoting Cyrus Sinanti of the NYT in 2009 “Commercial banks played a crucial role as buyers and sellers of mortgage-backed securities, credit-default swaps and other explosive financial derivatives,” Demos, a nonpartisan public policy and research organization, wrote in a report discussing the problems it said were caused by the repeal of Glass-Steagall.”
One final problem: Obama put the financial foxes in charge of the chicken coop i.e. Geithner, Summers etc. who helped create the mess and knew ALL the financial wizards who were involved in making it and probably some who should receive a nice room in a Federal penitentiary. They would not even act on the reforms he wanted. Ron Suskind in his book "Confidence Men" allegedly illuminates that! The lack of leadership is BONE CHILLING!
How on God's earth do you fix all of this during my lifetime or even people's children's lifetimes I have NOT a clue. The fact that it is so COMPLEX is GOOD for the banks and the investment houses and big business because FEW of the little guys the middle class like me i.e. the voters will take the time to UNDERSTAND something which has literally life and death consequences and vote wisely. I was in that category until I HAD to figure this out, am thirsty for knowledge anyway and our lives literally are at stake. I forced my tired brain into learning at least SOMETHING about it. I doubt myself a lot BUT I will give myself SOME credit as one who hates economics at least TRYING to read other economic experts who explain it to TRY to understand that which could in effect really kill us and I don't think I am being too histrionic saying that.
The top 1% will get all of us jerk's money who are in the middle. The top 1% will and have run away with it. That is the essence of a Ponzi scheme or a CASINO where the house NEVER loses but the poor jerks like me who gamble in the market because we thought it was a good thing to do at the time DO lose and plenty. The market may go bust but the House keeps our money, gets government bailouts and says too bad. The banksters go off, get bonuses yet, buy yachts with our money and we are left with nothing. Madoff was not the only one who did what he did. Wall Street in its way did also. Madoff just got caught but the banksters go free. It shows you WHY I am crazy with worry as this is not only a US problem but a GLOBAL problem. It has tentacles. Not only do I have to worry about this country going bust but I have to worry about Europe going bust too. We are ALL tied together in this horrible rigged for the rich global marketplace.
If you have more to add or better explanation I would love to see it.