There’s always something to howl about

Archive for December, 2012

Doom and Gloom Redux

In 2008 – four years ago! – I penned a doom and gloom email that Greg posted to this here blog (with my permission). Soon thereafter, he invited me to join as a regular writer.

To sum it up, I thought (and still do believe) there is no way the government can automagically print currency in an effort to create real wealth. Paper is not wealth.

I expected inflation to hit much harder and more dramatically than it has. It’s been far more restrained. I suspect this is because that paper has been disproportionately sent to particular areas of the economy – large banks, for instance – that continue to hoard it.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how easy it was to get credit in 2005 (when I bought my first home) compared to 2012 where the bank made me jump through all sorts of hoops to refinance a home I’ve got even though I’m in a much more financially sound position today than I was in 2012.

Still, my prediction that this recession would last years and years has borne out. I believe we are still in the first half of this financial crisis. That it simply feels like a crappy “normal” existence is a consequence of its duration.

But you aren’t getting the worst of it, unless you’re a recent graduate from a college or, wait for it, law school and now finding yourself saddled with six-figure debt earning a low five-figure salary.

Educational debt – non-dischargeable in bankruptcy – is like mortgage debt which is not cram-downable. That effectively keeps a whole class of citizens in debt-poverty. You can say, as you can say about indebted homeowners, that they made that choice of their own free will (I don’t agree with this view…), but the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of people in their mid-twenties and thirties are saddled with enormous debts punishing them for choices they made when they were 18 and 19.

This is not good for the economy, or society.

The consequence is an economy that limps along until this debt is cleared out, which means for the next 10 to 15 years.

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