Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ron Paul on the Bailouts and the Iraq War

September 23, 2008

Commentary: Bailouts will lead to rough economic ride

By Ron Paul
Special to CNN
Rep. Ron Paul says the government's solution to the crisis is the same as the cause of it -- too much government.

Rep. Ron Paul says the government's solution to the crisis is the same as the cause of it -- too much government.

(CNN) -- Many Americans today are asking themselves how the economy got to be in such a bad spot.

For years they thought the economy was booming, growth was up, job numbers and productivity were increasing. Yet now we find ourselves in what is shaping up to be one of the most severe economic downturns since the Great Depression.

Unfortunately, the government's preferred solution to the crisis is the very thing that got us into this mess in the first place: government intervention.

Ever since the 1930s, the federal government has involved itself deeply in housing policy and developed numerous programs to encourage homebuilding and homeownership.

Government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were able to obtain a monopoly position in the mortgage market, especially the mortgage-backed securities market, because of the advantages bestowed upon them by the federal government.

Laws passed by Congress such as the Community Reinvestment Act required banks to make loans to previously underserved segments of their communities, thus forcing banks to lend to people who normally would be rejected as bad credit risks.

These governmental measures, combined with the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy, led to an unsustainable housing boom. The key measure by which the Fed caused this boom was through the manipulation of interest rates, and the open market operations that accompany this lowering.

When interest rates are lowered to below what the market rate would normally be, as the Federal Reserve has done numerous times throughout this decade, it becomes much cheaper to borrow money. Longer-term and more capital-intensive projects, projects that would be unprofitable at a high interest rate, suddenly become profitable.

Because the boom comes about from an increase in the supply of money and not from demand from consumers, the result is malinvestment, a misallocation of resources into sectors in which there is insufficient demand.

In this case, this manifested itself in overbuilding in real estate. When builders realize they have overbuilt and have too many houses to sell, too many apartments to rent, or too much commercial real estate to lease, they seek to recoup as much of their money as possible, even if it means lowering prices drastically.

This lowering of prices brings the economy back into balance, equalizing supply and demand. This economic adjustment means, however that there are some winners -- in this case, those who can again find affordable housing without the need for creative mortgage products, and some losers -- builders and other sectors connected to real estate that suffer setbacks.

The government doesn't like this, however, and undertakes measures to keep prices artificially inflated. This was why the Great Depression was as long and drawn out in this country as it was.

I am afraid that policymakers today have not learned the lesson that prices must adjust to economic reality. The bailout of Fannie and Freddie, the purchase of AIG, and the latest multi-hundred billion dollar Treasury scheme all have one thing in common: They seek to prevent the liquidation of bad debt and worthless assets at market prices, and instead try to prop up those markets and keep those assets trading at prices far in excess of what any buyer would be willing to pay.

Additionally, the government's actions encourage moral hazard of the worst sort. Now that the precedent has been set, the likelihood of financial institutions to engage in riskier investment schemes is increased, because they now know that an investment position so overextended as to threaten the stability of the financial system will result in a government bailout and purchase of worthless, illiquid assets.

Using trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to purchase illusory short-term security, the government is actually ensuring even greater instability in the financial system in the long term.

The solution to the problem is to end government meddling in the market. Government intervention leads to distortions in the market, and government reacts to each distortion by enacting new laws and regulations, which create their own distortions, and so on ad infinitum.

It is time this process is put to an end. But the government cannot just sit back idly and let the bust occur. It must actively roll back stifling laws and regulations that allowed the boom to form in the first place.

The government must divorce itself of the albatross of Fannie and Freddie, balance and drastically decrease the size of the federal budget, and reduce onerous regulations on banks and credit unions that lead to structural rigidity in the financial sector.

Until the big-government apologists realize the error of their ways, and until vocal free-market advocates act in a manner which buttresses their rhetoric, I am afraid we are headed for a rough ride.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.
Source: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/23/paul.bailout/index.html


Texas Straight Talk

A weekly column by Ron Paul

Predictions vs. Reality in Iraq

On September 10, 2002 I asked 35 questions regarding war with Iraq. The war resolution passed on October 16, 2002. Now today, as some of my colleagues try to reestablish credentials regarding spending restraint, I want to call attention to my 18th question from six years ago:

“Are we willing to bear the economic burden of a 100 billion dollar war against Iraq, with oil prices expected to skyrocket and further rattle an already shaky American economy? How about an estimated 30 year occupation of Iraq that some have deemed necessary to "build democracy" there?”

Many scoffed at my “radical” predictions at the time, regarding them as hyperbole. Six years later, I am forced to admit that I was wrong. My “radical” predictions were in fact, not “radical” enough.

I warned of a draining 30-year occupation. Now, politicians glibly talk about a 100-year occupation as if it is no big deal. On cost, according to estimates from the Congressional Research Service, we have already burned through around $550 billion in Iraq, at a rate of about $2 billion per week. Economist Joseph Stiglitz’s estimates are even higher, at $12 billion a month. It is a total price tag quickly heading into the trillions, if we don’t stop bombing and rebuilding bridges in Iraq that lead us nowhere but bankruptcy! Bridges in this country are crumbling along with our economy, while some howl about earmarks. Earmarks are a drop in the bucket compared to war and occupation.

Yes, I was wrong about Iraq. I knew it would be bad. I didn’t know it would be this bad.

The American people deserve better. Being asked to endorse such a farce is beyond insulting. Clearly, the rosy predictions of the neo-Conservatives from before the war are not coming true. Far from it! With a straight face, one official estimated the TOTAL cost of reconstruction in Iraq would be just $1.7 billion. Turns out that we spend more than that in ONE WEEK. Our friends are not pitching in to cover the cost. Expenses are not being covered by oil from a grateful and liberated Iraqi people. Rather, big corporate interests are benefitting, the price of oil has more than quadrupled, and the American economy is on its knees and sinking fast.

No one predicted the exact course of this war before it started. But to continue to listen to the foreign policy advice of those that were the MOST offbase will only lead to more foreign policy disasters. We need to keep this in mind as we think about Russia, Iran, Cuba and other countries. Keep in mind - the doomsday predictions on the Iraq War from six years ago, sound like a cakewalk today. While what leaders in the administration had predicted, reads like a fairytale. Ask yourself, when listening to the same foreign policy “experts” explaining situations around the world and suggesting policy positions: In light of the facts of today, and the predictions of yesterday, how expert have they shown themselves to be?

Passing HR 2605 to sunset authorization for the use of force in Iraq is the first step to stopping this bloody war, and the consequent bleeding of our treasuries. Serious fiscal conservatives will support it, as will those who have been paying attention to foreign policy predictions and reality.

Posted by Ron Paul (09-22-2008, 02:12 PM)

Source: Ron Paul

Both articles by way of: http://mparent7777-1.livejournal.com/

Dr. Paul only goes so far in these two posts.
He has said it before, bring all the troops home including those in Afghanistan.
Stop the free money to Israel, Pakistan, Egypt, etc.
He should also lead the call for indictment of the financial criminals as well as the criminals in the administration and Congress.
This is no time to hold back.
We should encourage Ron to go further than ever before.



  • Sep. 23rd, 2008 at 11:57 AM
A demonstrator holds up a sign behind U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (L) and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke (R) during a hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee September 23, 2008 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Bush administration officials were testifying about a proposed $700 billion bailout that they hope will stabilize the faltering U.S. financial system. (Getty | Chip Somodevilla)

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