The Obama Great Depression

16 01 2016

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1][2]

Soon after the presidency of Barack Obama began—on April 8, 2009—the  McClatchy-Tribune News Service published an article of mine entitled, “Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”[3]  In it, I wrote:

Barack Obama is euphorically optimistic, but neither he nor the leaders of other countries can hold back an economic tsunami, just as mankind is helpless to stop the wrath of natural tsunamis in the oceans.

. . .

According to the Rasmussen Reports, most Americans—53 percent, in fact—believe the United States is at least somewhat likely to enter a 1930s-like Depression within the next few years. If so, the repercussions are unfathomable.

. . .

Years from now, economic historians may look back at this era and conclude that the world’s central bankers were overwhelmed and Depression-era “safety nets” did not work; and global market forces ultimately determined the depth and duration of the economic meltdown, not the politicians in Washington or anywhere else.

The tsunami that was released when the housing bubble finally burst may not run its course until about 2017-2019; and its effects will be devastating worldwide. There are no legislative solutions or quick fixes to the problems. The carnage between now and 2019 will approximate the Great Depression. . . .

. . .

America and other nations are in uncharted waters; and their politicians may face backlashes from disillusioned and angry constituents that are unprecedented in modern times. Also, the limits of godless secularism and paying homage to the false gods of materialism may become self-evident.

It is interesting to reflect on these comments and others contained in the article, as well as those in an companion article that I wrote for the American Banker—the daily newspaper of the U.S. banking industry—and in an interview that I gave on these subjects.[4]  Today, it is as though the economies of individual countries are “careening,” creating a “cascading” effect.

This is not 2008 all over again. It may be much worse, even eclipsing the Great Depression of the last century.  A “perfect storm” has been gathering for a long time now; and when it hits with its full force and fury, 2008 may seem like a “blip” by comparison.  America’s Fed and the other central banks of the world will be overwhelmed; Depression-era “safety nets” will not make any difference; and panics may ensue.

The biggest worry in Washington for many years has been that there would be runs on the big funds, which are uninsured, and that a “liquidity crisis” of unfathomable proportions would occur—which would be unstoppable.  Americans and people of other countries have lost trust in their governments, which will only compound the problems.

Hold on tight. Things will get very scary between now and the end of this decade.[5]  Whatever happens will be attributable principally to Barack Obama’s failed presidency.  Indeed, there are so many tragedies he has spawned that it is impossible to do justice to each of them in a short article like this one.

For example, he has set back race relations in the United States by years if not decades. He has been a divider, not a healer.[6]  With respect to his so-called major policy “accomplishments”—such as Obamacare, limited gun control, and the Paris man-made “global warming” accords—they can and probably will be undone by executive orders on Day One when the next American president takes office less than a year from now.  Americans are clamoring for this to happen.[7]

Obama may go down as the worst president in American history, even eclipsing Jimmy Carter, which is a remarkable feat unto itself.  History may record that Obama became a “transformative” or revolutionary president, which is not what the majority of Americans wanted. Perhaps because he was not raised on the U.S. mainland, his perspective is not that of most Americans . . . even blacks.[8]

With the global economy imploding, and Obama being an impediment to the U.S. growth that has occurred, his place in American economic history may rank next to or below that of Herbert Hoover.

Today, Barack Obama is like a minstrel wandering the land, with respect to whom no one will listen.

© 2016, Timothy D. Naegele

Obama-gone

_______________________________________________

[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search: Timothy D. Naegele

[2] Note: This article is an expansion of earlier articles and comments at this blog.  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/ (“The Economic Tsunami Continues Its Relentless And Unforgiving Advance Globally”) (see all of the comments beneath it) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/#comment-8016 (“Barack Obama: A Failed American Presidency”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-8011 (“Helter Skelter Is Arriving With A Thud, Sell Everything”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-7614 (“Doomsday Clock For Global Market Crash Strikes One Minute To Midnight As Central Banks Lose Control“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/poverty-in-america/#comment-7646 (“The Surging Ranks Of America’s Ultrapoor”) and  https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-8006 (“The EU’s Collapse In 2016?“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/global-chaos-and-helter-skelter/ (“Global Chaos And Helter Skelter”)

[3]  This article has been republished by RealClearPolitics, and can be found at the links that follow.

See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html (“Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”) and http://www.naegele.com/documents/Commentary-EuphoriaortheObamaDepression.pdf (“Commentary: Euphoria or the Obama Depression?

[4]  See http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html and http://www.naegele.com/documents/GreenspansFingerprints.pdf (“Viewpoint: Greenspan’s Fingerprints All Over Enduring Mess”); see also http://marketshadows.com/2012/05/21/greenspans-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ and http://seekingalpha.com/instablog/2951-market-shadows/31177-interview-with-timothy-d-naegele and http://www.naegele.com/documents/InterviewwithTimothyD.Naegele-ilene–SeekingAlpha.pdf (“Greenspan’s legacy: more suffering to come”)

[5]  Not factored into these comments explicitly are the effects of (1) the terrorist strikes on Paris and elsewhere in the world; (2) the immigration issue that is tearing Europe and the Middle East apart; (3) the military implosion that is taking place in the Middle East, with much worse yet to come; and (4) the effects of our adversaries (e.g., China, Russia, North Korea, Iran) on peace, and on the American and global economies.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/we-are-all-parisians/ (“We Are All Parisians”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/ (“EMP Attack: Only 30 Million Americans Survive”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/china-is-americas-enemy-make-no-mistake-about-that/ (“China Is America’s Enemy: Make No Mistake About That”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/the-next-major-war-korea-again/ (“The Next Major War: Korea Again?”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/human-trafficking/ (“Human Trafficking”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/islamophobia-is-un-american/ (“Islamophobia Is Un-American”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/is-israel-doomed/ (“Is Israel Doomed?”)

[6]  See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/#comment-8016 (“Barack Obama: A Failed American Presidency”)  and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/ (“Is Barack Obama A Racist?”)

[7]  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/a-34-trillion-swindle-the-shame-of-global-warming/ (“A $34 Trillion Swindle: The Shame Of Global Warming”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/abortions-and-autos-kill-more-in-america-than-guns/ (“Abortions And Autos Kill More In America Than Guns”)

[8]  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/edward-w-brooke-is-dead/#comment-7434 (“Disappointment In Obama Leads Some Blacks To Ask Whether Voting Is Worth It”)





Is Financial Reform Simply Washington’s Latest Boondoggle?

23 04 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

When I arrived in Washington, D.C. after graduating from law school in California, I spent two years at the Pentagon working as an Army officer in intelligence and budgets.  It was a great experience, and I have the utmost respect for our military, which is the best of our government.  One lesson I learned was that if Congress was breathing down the Pentagon’s neck, the easiest way to deal with the issue was to “reorganize,” which would throw them off the track—and the “bloodhounds” would lose the scent.

Then I worked on Capitol Hill as a young attorney with the Senate Banking Committee, and realized that when there was a national policy issue that was “too hot to handle,” a presidential commission would be formed, not unlike reorganizations at the Pentagon.  Months and sometimes years would pass while people studied the issues ad nauseam; and in the interim, the monkey was off the politicians’ backs.  One of my first tasks on the Hill was to staff such a presidential commission.

Fast-forward to today, and no regulatory “overhaul” is going to make a tinker’s damn in preventing future economic crises or solving the present one.  By and large, the financial regulatory agencies (e.g., the Fed, the FDIC) do a fine job, often under very difficult circumstances.  There are career professionals who will keep doing their jobs, regardless of what Barack Obama or Congress propose or enact—which is high political theater and demagoguery, and not a whole lot more.

Recent reorganizations, such as in the intelligence community, have not produced better intelligence.  Similarly, changes to the financial regulatory structure will not prevent the economic meltdown that riveted the nation in 2008, and continues to this day.  It is a tsunami, and Man’s ability to stop or affect it is marginal at best.  Reorganizing the deck chairs on the Titanic, or closing the barn door after the horse is out, will never address future problems.  The flim-flam boys of Wall Street and other financial capitals will make sure of that.

Alan Greenspan unleashed the tsunami; and the words of Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance, are true and cogent to this day:

Greenspan was considered a master.  Now we must ask ourselves whether he is not, after [Osama] bin Laden, the man who hurt America the most.[2]

No financial regulatory overhaul will prevent a Fed chairman like Greenspan, or some other government official from making mistakes that produce massive suffering domestically and globally.  Perhaps if Paul Volcker had been in charge of the Fed instead of Greenspan, the economic meltdown would have been avoided.  After all, Greenspan admitted in testimony before the House that he never saw the housing crisis coming.

Like the emperor with no clothes in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable, no one was willing to call Greenspan a buffoon who was over his head—until he had unleashed economic pain, the likes of which has not been seen since the Great Depression.  It will continue to the end of this decade, in all likelihood; and there is nothing that government can do to stem it.[3]

With respect to the existing financial regulatory agencies, it must be remembered that they and their affiliated agencies (e.g., the FSLIC, RTC) dealt effectively with the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.  In the process, almost 800 S&Ls failed, an enormous financial crisis was averted, and the ultimate cost to the taxpayers was less than expected.

Nonetheless, in 1999, Congress repealed the Glass–Steagall Act, which had controlled financial speculation since its enactment in 1933.[4] Under Glass–Steagall, there had been a separation between commercial banking and “investment banking”—or gambling by Wall Street.  Coupled with Greenspan’s mistakes and financial deregulation, which had been championed by him, a laissez faire attitude in Washington resulted in the massive problems of today.

Can greed on Wall Street and in other financial markets be stopped?  Never.  Can the SEC do a better job?  Can the existing financial regulatory agencies tighten up here and there, and do their jobs better with enhanced powers?  Sure, but the system is not perfect just as human beings are not perfect.  Utopia is not possible; and history repeats itself over and over again.  More government regulation will not prevent economic tsunamis and meltdowns from happening.  Anyone who says so might try to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn next—or ObamaCare.[5][6]

Yet, capitulation to political demogoguery and public anger is likely.[7] With the repeal of Glass–Steagall and financial deregulation, a blurring of the lines between commercial banking and investment banking took place; and now the chickens are coming home to roost.  The baby is in the process of being thrown out with the bath water; and the demogogues in Washington are strutting in full bloom.[8] A Wall Street Journal editorial states:

While the details matter a great deal, the essence of the exercise is to transfer more control over credit allocation and the financial industry to the federal government. The industry was heavily regulated before—not that it stopped the mania and panic—but if anything close to the current bills pass, the biggest banks will become the equivalent of utilities.

The irony is that this may, or may not, reduce the risk of future financial meltdowns and taxpayer bailouts.

. . .

As in health care, Democrats are intent on ramming this reform through Congress, and Republicans ought to summon the will to resist. Absent that, the only certain result is that Washington will be the new master of the financial universe.

Amen, and then some![9]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html

[3] See, e.g., http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html and http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/; see also http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

[4] See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass–Steagall_Act

[5] Harvard professor Niall Ferguson and Wall Street investor Ted Forstmann state in a Wall Street Journal article:

By all means let us regulate the derivatives market—beginning with a reform that makes it a real market. And let’s clamp down on excessive bank leverage. But let us not believe we can abolish both bailouts and depressions, other than by creating another layer of government regulation.

See http://www.naegele.com/documents/BacktoBasicsonFinancialReform.pdf

I agree with their conclusion.

[6] See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-great-depression-ii/

[7] See, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/documents/AScoldingforWallStreetHonchos.pdf; see also http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704830404575200580858688618.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLEThirdNews

[8] Real problems with the legislation may be considerable.  See, e.g.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703876404575199582764862248.html

[9] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/TheNewMasterofWallStreet.pdf