A Failure of Capitalism?

By: John Browne | Fri, Sep 4, 2009
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Politicians often find scapegoats for America's economic woes. It is rare - if ever - that they point the finger at themselves. Yet, the basic cause of the current severe economic problem lies in the machinations of government.

It is clear to even a casual observer that Congress has abused its power to tax and spend. It has taxed success to subsidize failure. It has purchased votes by enacting an unending stream of entitlement programs, financed by taxation, foreign debt and a progressive degradation of the U.S. paper dollar.

This cynical boosting of consumption at the expense of production has resulted in the American consumer now accounting for some 70 percent of United States GDP. By consuming three times what it produces, America has become the largest debtor in history. The Administration now forecasts annual deficits of trillions of dollars for the next decade. This is all the direct responsibility of Congress.

The executive branch is also to blame. Under President Bush II, the United States entered a Global War on Terror, with a mission so ambiguous it was almost sure to bankrupt its executor. To this day, and despite campaign pledges to the contrary, President Obama continues to waste massive amounts of blood and treasure on two fatally flawed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and on maintaining over 1,000 military installations in 135 countries abroad. No one should forget that the assumption of an international military role depleted the wealth of Rome, Great Britain and the former Soviet Union.

But at least the Republican president slashed domestic spending to compensate, right? Actually, Bush II passed cherry-picked tax cuts for special interests and spearheaded a new prescription drug program for Medicare recipients, at a cost of some $40 billion per year. This was a capstone of sorts to a century-long experiment in entitlement and intervention.

This federal spending went from a drag on the economy to a true albatross by the 1970s. After former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker and Ronald Reagan courageously bought our currency a new lease on life, Alan Greenspan was given the helm at the central bank. Colluding with Presidents Clinton and Bush II to simulate economic growth for political gain, Greenspan, and his chosen successor Ben Bernanke, unleashed a torrent of new dollars into the banking system, where they were leveraged to finance the largest asset boom in history.

We are now in the process of deleveraging from this boom. It is painful, but it represents an opportunity. A government genuinely interested in economic restructuring could be focusing on cutting spending, lowering taxes, and reducing corruption, instead of playing 'pin the blame on the capitalists.'

Today, we are likely heading into the second wave of massive recession. There is a concerted effort by the government to blame the fallout from their schemes on the free market. You, the educated observer, should recall that the most rabid capitalists - Peter Schiff, Doug Casey, Jim Rogers, Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul - were the only opponents of the bubble economy while it was occurring. Meanwhile, those that seek to pass judgment on capitalism - Bernanke, Greenspan, Tim Geithner, Jim Cramer - celebrated the artificial boom and were shocked at the resulting bust. Why does anyone even listen to these fellows anymore?

No, this crisis is not a failure of capitalism, but the result of a sustained attack upon our capitalist system. If we allow it to be used as a pretext for more government control, we will endure a 'lost decade' like the 1990s in Japan.

To avoid this fate, taxes must be lowered, especially corporate rates. Instead, we are increasing taxes on businesses and individuals. The government must cease its corporate bailouts which subsidize failure at the expense of success. Instead, we are now giving away money not just to failing giants, but to reward those with less efficient vehicles - when they didn't even ask for it.

Most importantly, the Fed must be controlled. Presently, in addition to its 'open market operations' that subsidize government and industry, the central bank is paying interest on the bank reserves it holds. This encourages banks, borrowing at nil percent, to lend at zero perceived risk to the Fed rather than accept the higher risk of lending to small and medium sized businesses - thus snuffing out any remaining embers of economic vitality. Meanwhile, the massive Fed-enabled borrowing by the U.S. Treasury is crowding out healthy American companies from debt markets.

It takes years to dissect the myriad ways in which the federal government cripples the economy. After all, politicians spend most of their time obscuring their true intent. Do your own research if you have the time and interest, but at the very least, do not uncritically accept the party line. Capitalism is to blame for the government's financial crisis like a house is to blame for an arsonist setting it aflame. Congress, the Executive, and especially the Fed, have meddled in the market with impunity for thirty years. Now that the consequences - about which they were fairly warned - have brought our economy to its knees, don't let them shift the blame.

For a more in-depth analysis of our financial problems and the inherent dangers they pose for the U.S. economy and U.S. dollar, read Peter Schiff's 2007 bestseller "Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse" and his newest release "The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets." Click here to learn more.

More importantly, don't let the great deals pass you by. Get an inside view of Peter's playbook with his new Special Report, "Peter Schiff's Five Favorite Investment Choices for the Next Five Years." Click here to dowload the report for free. You can find more free services for global investors, and learn about the Euro Pacific advantage, at www.europac.net.

 


 

John Browne

Author: John Browne

John Browne, Senior Market Strategist
Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.

John Browne

John Browne is the Senior Economic Consultant for Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. Mr. Brown is a distinguished former member of Britain's Parliament who served on the Treasury Select Committee, as Chairman of the Conservative Small Business Committee, and as a close associate of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Among his many notable assignments, John served as a principal advisor to Mrs. Thatcher's government on issues related to the Soviet Union, and was the first to convince Thatcher of the growing stature of then Agriculture Minister Mikhail Gorbachev. As a partial result of Brown's advocacy, Thatcher famously pronounced that Gorbachev was a man the West "could do business with." A graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Britain's version of West Point and retired British army major, John served as a pilot, parachutist, and communications specialist in the elite Grenadiers of the Royal Guard.

In addition to careers in British politics and the military, John has a significant background, spanning some 37 years, in finance and business. After graduating from the Harvard Business School, John joined the New York firm of Morgan Stanley & Co as an investment banker. He has also worked with such firms as Barclays Bank and Citigroup. During his career he has served on the boards of numerous banks and international corporations, with a special interest in venture capital. He is a frequent guest on CNBC's Kudlow & Co. and the former editor of NewsMax Media's Financial Intelligence Report and Moneynews.com. He holds FINRA series 7 & 63 licenses.

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