Saturday, December 4, 2010

Must Read: WikiChina by Thomas Friedman

Original Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/01/opinion/01friedman.html?_r=2&emc=eta1


From WikiChina


While secrets from WikiLeaks were splashed all over the American newspapers, I couldn’t help but wonder: What if China had a WikiLeaker and we could see what its embassy in Washington was reporting about America? I suspect the cable would read like this:

Washington Embassy, People’s Republic of China, to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Beijing, TOP SECRET/Subject: America today.
Things are going well here for China. America remains a deeply politically polarized country, which is certainly helpful for our goal of overtaking the U.S. as the world’s most powerful economy and nation. But we’re particularly optimistic because the Americans are polarized over all the wrong things.
There is a willful self-destructiveness in the air here as if America has all the time and money in the world for petty politics. They fight over things like — we are not making this up — how and where an airport security officer can touch them. They are fighting — we are happy to report — over the latest nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. It seems as if the Republicans are so interested in weakening President Obama that they are going to scuttle a treaty that would have fostered closer U.S.-Russian cooperation on issues like Iran. And since anything that brings Russia and America closer could end up isolating us, we are grateful to Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona for putting our interests ahead of America’s and blocking Senate ratification of the treaty. The ambassador has invited Senator Kyl and his wife for dinner at Mr. Kao’s Chinese restaurant to praise him for his steadfastness in protecting America’s (read: our) interests.
Americans just had what they call an “election.” Best we could tell it involved one congressman trying to raise more money than the other (all from businesses they are supposed to be regulating) so he could tell bigger lies on TV more often about the other guy before the other guy could do it to him. This leaves us relieved. It means America will do nothing serious to fix its structural problems: a ballooning deficit, declining educational performance, crumbling infrastructure and diminished immigration of new talent.
The ambassador recently took what the Americans call a fast train — the Acela — from Washington to New York City. Our bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin would have made the trip in 90 minutes. His took three hours — and it was on time! Along the way the ambassador used his cellphone to call his embassy office, and in one hour he experienced 12 dropped calls — again, we are not making this up. We have a joke in the embassy: “When someone calls you from China today it sounds like they are next door. And when someone calls you from next door in America, it sounds like they are calling from China!” Those of us who worked in China’s embassy in Zambia often note that Africa’s cellphone service was better than America’s.
But the Americans are oblivious. They travel abroad so rarely that they don’t see how far they are falling behind. Which is why we at the embassy find it funny that Americans are now fighting over how “exceptional” they are. Once again, we are not making this up. On the front page of The Washington Post on Monday there was an article noting that Republicans Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are denouncing Obama for denying “American exceptionalism.” The Americans have replaced working to be exceptional with talking about how exceptional they still are. They don’t seem to understand that you can’t declare yourself “exceptional,” only others can bestow that adjective upon you.
In foreign policy, we see no chance of Obama extricating U.S. forces from Afghanistan. He knows the Republicans will call him a wimp if he does, so America will keep hemorrhaging $190 million a day there. Therefore, America will lack the military means to challenge us anywhere else, particularly on North Korea, where our lunatic friends continue to yank America’s chain every six months so that the Americans have to come and beg us to calm things down. By the time the Americans do get out of Afghanistan, the Afghans will surely hate them so much that China’s mining companies already operating there should be able to buy up the rest of Afghanistan’s rare minerals.
Most of the Republicans just elected to Congress do not believe what their scientists tell them about man-made climate change. America’s politicians are mostly lawyers — not engineers or scientists like ours — so they’ll just say crazy things about science and nobody calls them on it. It’s good. It means they will not support any bill to spur clean energy innovation, which is central to our next five-year plan. And this ensures that our efforts to dominate the wind, solar, nuclear and electric car industries will not be challenged by America.
Finally, record numbers of U.S. high school students are now studying Chinese, which should guarantee us a steady supply of cheap labor that speaks our language here, as we use our $2.3 trillion in reserves to quietly buy up U.S. factories. In sum, things are going well for China in America.
Thank goodness the Americans can’t read our diplomatic cables.
Embassy Washington.
Maureen Dowd is off today
.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interesting Post from LifeSpace

I was on a financial goal setting site called LifeSpace and saw an article about Financial Mastery Made Simple

I recommend that everyone check it out.  As of this writing it contains tips on how to get your finances in order and the first 6 steps of the process include setting a budget, getting proper insurance, funding retirement accounts, reducing debt, tightening expenses and finding a better paying job.

LifeSpace provides step-by-step templates to help you manage these financial goals.

Check it out!
http://www.lifespace.com

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reality Receding Across America


This is an Excerpt from Monday's Finance and Career Monday in the LifeSpace Community.  This article is in sync with  my personal concerns for America's Financial System and the size of the reset to our system that needs to take place to get back to a sustainable balance.








Reality Receding Across America
OK.  We are all about positive messages and encouragement, but there are some major things happening in the US right now and some argue there is the highest level of denial happening right now.  This article is a chilling review of the current state of America.  It is relevant to at least consider this point of view when determining how you want to proceed with your wealth building and investment ideas.  An important but somewhat difficult read.
Community: Wealth Building,  Financial Awareness

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LifeSpace

Boomer's Wake founder, Greg Ausley, is developing LifeSpace (http://www.lifespace.com) to help people organize their life, projects and goals. LifeSpace will have a portion of the site devoted entirely to Finance where users can plan their financial matters and stay on course with financial goals.

In addition, Boomer's Wake articles will be made available on the LifeSpace Community site when that comes online at the end of summer, 2009.

Become a fan of LifeSpace on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/lifespace) or follow LifeSpaceLLC on Twitter to learn more about becoming a beta user.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boomers - Winter is Coming

The following is a chilling but important article discussing the potential economic outcome for the next 20 years. Must read for some perspective, whether you think the probability is 90% of 10%.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Class of '09: You're Screwed!

If you don't already subscribe to Daily Reckoning, you should give it a try...

Class of '09: You're Screwed! by Bill Bonner London, England Last weekend, we journeyed to Boston to attend a college graduation. Thousands of callow scholars were on display. Each was handed his papers...and then marched out of the hockey stadium. To the tune of 'Pomp & Circumstance,' wearing a long, red robe, he entered the outside world solemnly...like a patsy joining a poker game.

So far, not a single major university has asked us to make the commencement address. Nor a minor college. Not even a school of cosmetology or taxidermy. But here at the Daily Reckoning headquarters in London, protected by a broad ocean and a narrow reading of the First Amendment, we will give them - and UK graduates too - advice no one asked for.
"Plastics," was the advice given to college graduates in Mike Nichols' '67 film. But that was when there was still hope for America's manufacturing sector. Even then, it was too late. The percentage of GDP from the manufacturing sector fell for the next four decades, from over 20% in the last '60s to barely 12% last year. Better advice would have been 'derivatives.' They stank just as bad, but they were much more profitable. While only 8% of GDP, finance accounted for 40% of corporate profits in 2007. And derivatives grew from nothing to a face value of 16 times the GDP of the entire planet.
But your elders are always giving you bum advice.
"You cannot decline the burdens of empire and still expect to share its honors," said Pericles to the class of 430BC. He lived during a time not unlike your parents' era in the USA - when Athens was on top of the world. But vanity got the better of him. He launched an attack on Sparta that backfired badly. He soon died of plague and Athens was not only ruined, but enslaved. Athens' 'golden age' turned to lead. Young Athenians should have shrugged off the burden rather than accept it. You should do the same.
"...as much as $77 trillion of post-’09 earnings must be stolen from the future in order to pay for the liquor your parents drank..."
When you were born 20-some years ago, the nation's total debt per person was less than $90,000 - adjusted to '09 dollars, of course. While that was a lot of money, it was nothing compared to what was coming. Now it's $186,717 per person - more than twice as much, in real terms. Fortunately, private debt is not inheritable. But it comes to you as a lien against property. Instead of paying off their mortgages and leaving you a house, free and clear, the baby boomer generation spent the 'equity' in their houses even faster than they got it. House prices rose. But mortgage debt rose faster. While your grandparents owned 80% of their houses, by 2007, the typical homeowner only really owned 4 rooms of an 8-room house. And then, when house prices fell, so did his remaining equity...to the point where one out of six homeowners in America is now underwater. You could still eventually inherit a house, but you may have to scrape the barnacles off the front porch.
But that's not even the half of it. While your parents had control of the US government they allowed themselves a little larceny. Add the unfunded retirement and healthcare benefits they voted for themselves to the official national debt, and together they are scheduled to cost your generation 4 times the total annual output of the US. This is over and above the private debt they accumulated.
Some of this debt can be carried. Some will have to paid down. But as it stands, as much as $77 trillion of post-'09 earnings must be stolen from the future in order to pay for the liquor your parents drank...the bombs they dropped on god-forsaken foreigners...and the interest on their debts. So, forget about saving for a European vacation or a house of your own. Even if every penny of your savings - and every other American's savings - are put to the task you will still be paying for your parents' expenses all your life.
But wait, there's more! The burden is getting heavier. Federal budget projections show an additional $7 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years. Described as the cost of fighting recession, the present generation buries its own mistakes under cash that the next generation hasn't even earned yet. Today's bankers, businessmen and speculators are being bankrolled by you - tomorrow's bankers, businessmen and speculators. Today's homeowners get a helping hand...from whom? Tomorrow's homeowners - you. Today's employees get a boost too. Same story. Where do you think the money came from to pay Wall Street bonuses this year? How do you think GM stays in business...and Fannie Mae...and AIG... Who pays those salaries? Who pays to keep troops all over the world and keep old people supplied with new drugs? Who pays for hundreds of billions' worth of 'shovel ready' boondoggles? You will. At least, that's the plan.
The luck of one generation is the curse of the next. Like Pericles, your parents inherited a dollar; they leave you a peso. They took over the strongest, richest, most competitive nation in the world. And like Pericles they minded everyone's business but their own. Now, not only does the US owe money all over town, its government puts out trillions more in IOUs every year - each one with your name on it. You're not even out in the real world yet, and you're getting the bill for 50 cents of every dollar the feds spend - almost none of it earmarked for you. But that is the thing about the real world your teachers probably forgot to tell you about. It is more unreal and fantastical than anything you studied.
Here's what's real: You've been dealt a bad hand. From the bottom of the deck...your parents have slipped you some nasty cards. Our advice? Fold 'em. Get up from the table before they clean you out.
Enjoy your weekend, Bill Bonner The Daily Reckoning

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Boomer's Wake Alert - Social Security/Medicare Demise Closer Than Expected

The credit crunch has hastened the predicted demise of Social Security and Medicare. The Obama administration admitted yesterday that they now expect Medicare to run out of money in 2017, two years sooner than the Bush administration predicted in 2008. Social Security’s imminent insolvency was bumped up four years, to 2037. That’s all under the assumption, naturally, that the economy will recover by the end of 2009.

Even those already sucking the government teat got a dose of bad news. Social Security trustees now predict, for the first time in over 30 years, that recipients will not receive any cost of living increase next year, or in 2011.

In just seven years (2016), the Social Security trust will enter deficit. Eight years at the current pace and Medicare will be totally wiped out. When do you think we’ll start worrying about it… 2015? What a mess.

Copied from: http://www.agorafinancial.com/5min/the-housing-bottom-doomed-entitlements-retail-sales-suffer-sell-coal-and-more/