AFTER ALL THE CHURN, WE’RE BACK TO WHERE WE STARTED
BEFORE THE PREDATORY LENDERS STUCK IT TO US

 According to Bloomberg.com, the American homeownership rate has fallen from its high of 69.2% in the boom year (my term) of predatory option arms, 2004, back to 65.9%, the level it was in 1998.  That was about the time, oddly enough, when a bunch of scoundrels started making big bucks ripping off lower-income and minority households.  So, we’re back to where we started.  Lots of working-class folks got ripped off, while Wall Street, the mortgage brokers who got away without being prosecuted (not all of them did) and a bunch of real estate agents made off with the victims’ money.  Irony – don’t you just love it?

 And it brought down the international economy.  That’s all.  

SO I HAD THIS CONVERSATION WITH A BANKER, AND I THINK YOU
SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT

 We have all heard reports of American companies stockpiling mountains of cash, too afraid to reinvest in their companies, new job growth or their country.  I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t more to the reason than fear or anxiety.

 I recently had a conversation with the top commercial lender in the area for one of the regional banks.  I had heard from a former subordinate of this banker that he (the subordinate) left the bank because he couldn’t get any of his (the subordinate’s) loans approved, because the exec was so bearish on the economy. 

 In my conversation with the aforementioned executive, I expressed frustration with the stubbornness of the recession and the previously mentioned accumulation of cash.  His response:  “And there won’t be any investment until 2013.”  I suspected what he meant but couldn’t resist pursuing this.  He went on:  “Until the Marxist cabal in the White House is removed, companies are holding back,” continuing from there on his irrational rant.  I pointed out that the president is a moderate and his policies closer to Richard Nixon’s than Lenin’s (the Bolshevik, not the Beatle). 

 If this guy is killing deals to make some kind of political point, it sounds like he’s not alone.  Folks, these are bizarre times.

WHINING ABOUT TAXES

 According to the Globe and Mail (a Toronto-based newspaper), the total tax burden on Americans for 2009, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, was 24%.  Apparently, that is such a sacrifice that radicals in the Congress believe we should stop supporting urban redevelopment, feeding kids in school so they perform better on tests, and stop taking so much money from those with an ability to pay.

So, how does that tax burden compare with other modern, industrial democracies?  Here it is:

                        Canadians                         31%
                        Britons                             34%
                        Germans                           37%
                        French                              42%

Seems other modern democracies get that we’re all in this together.