The end of “America’s World” - from The Daily Reckoning.

The end of the world as we know it....As you may have guessed, this was the title of contrarian genius and Agora founder Bill Bonner’s farewell address to the 2008 Agora Financial Investment Symposium . Building on his opening day themes of the massive and rapid American nationalization of banking, lending, and key industries — and the fact that he can finally say “I told you so” after predicting a fiscal reckoning day for more than a decade now — Bill finished up his presentation with what basically amounts to a thinly veiled eulogy of the American economy, if not our entire nation ... Borrowing from James Howard Kunstler’s presentation earlier in the week, Bill railed against America’s current “cartoon capitalism” in a wide-ranging and sobering discourse. Among his main points: Iraq and a Hard Place Though many analysts and economists point to January of 2000 as the modern “peak” of the American nation, Bill argues that this point was actually in 2003 — shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq. His reasoning: The Iraq quagmire/boondoggle/crime showed the world America’s limits. It has proven how ineffectual the United States is at achieving its goals (democratization, cheap oil, whatever) and protecting its interests. It has proven that, like ancient Rome and England of the 18th/19th centuries, the cost of projecting our force has become greater than our import-dependent, produce-nothing-anymore economy and smoke-and-mirrors currency can sustain... Houses of Cards Bonner quite succinctly (and rightly — I used to be in the mortgage business) sums up the entirety of the housing boom as nothing but as a collection of related industries, all built on lies: Borrowers LIE about their income and assets to qualify for loans they can’t pay on houses they can’t afford. Appraisers LIE about what a home is worth to facilitate the writing of loans by mortgage brokers that look better to the lenders backing them than they actually are. These lenders then LIE to the marketplace when they bundle these bogus loans up and sell them as solid, asset-backed investments... Wages of Spin Despite what the pundits say, real wages in the U.S. have remained flat for 40 years, adjusted for all factors, Bonner claims. Contrast this to India, China, Russia, and other places — where they’re growing by as much as 10% per year in real terms. Speculating about whether nationalization of banks and other industries might not be a good thing, Bonner contrasts the vital stats of waged workers in the less-regulated, lower-tax U.S. with aggressively nationalized France. Average salaries: $38K/year (U.S.) vs. the equivalent of $41K/year (France). Average work week: 35 hrs. (France) vs. approximately 46 hrs. (U.S.). Vacation: 6+ weeks (France) vs. 2 weeks +/ (U.S.)...


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