Budget Buster: Pentagon Unable to Account for Trillions in Spending

They Don't Even Know How Much US Government Debt "We" Owe

How Much US Government Debt Do We Owe?

The United States military budget accounts for over 40% of the world’s annual military expenditures and, at around $700 billion per year, more than 20% of the federal budget. The Federal government wants to curb that spending as part of deficit reduction.

Last week’s deficit deal calls for up to $350 billion in cuts over the next decade on the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, among others. And, if the debt “super-committee” fails to reach a deal on $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, it will automatically trigger an additional $500 billion in cuts over the next decade.

Cutting in a bureaucracy as large and convoluted as the Pentagon is no easy task, but Stephen Glain author of State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire says there are three issues at the heart of their spending problem.

Growing obligations: Much like other public sector groups, the Pentagon has growing liabilities coming from pension and medical insurance plans. It’s “very much a microcosm” of the problems facing the country, says Glain. The Pentagon’s liability for civilian employees is currently $60 billion and the “rate of growth is enormous,” says Glain. The figure was $15 billion a decade ago.

Accounting Problems: You think Enron’s accounting was troubled? The Pentagon has very little accountability when it comes to its books. Since first submitting financial accounts in 1991, the Pentagon “has been unable to account for trillions of dollars, well over almost $10 trillion by my own account,” says Glain. Conspiracy theorists suggest this is CIA money being laundered through the Pentagon, a claim Glain has some sympathy for.

Ending the Wars: Ending operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will instantly save the defense department $180 billion per year. According to Joseph Stiglitz the wars have cost the government $3 trillion and counting.

Advertisements

We Have A Few Years To Get Our Fiscal House In Order Or We Go Into A Depression

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Americans’ Mistrust of Govt. Is Rational and Warranted, But Also Dangerous”

The United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative,” Winston Churchill once said.The problem is “we’re in the process of exhausting all the alternatives pretty quickly,” says William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.A recent CBS/NY Times poll showed only 19% of respondents say they trust the government “to do what is right all or most of the time,” while 78% believed the government is run by special interests, not for the benefit of the people.”If current levels of trust don’t improve, I don’t see how Americans can be persuaded to make sacrifices now for a better future,” says Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton. “We have a few years to get our fiscal house in order before things really get out of control in ways that will be hard to reel back – the early signs are not encouraging.”With public deficits soaring and stratospheric bailouts for banks and automakers,Galston isn’t saying mistrust of government is irrational or unwarranted, but it is dangerous for society.”Unless it’s corrected we’re going to have a very hard time doing what needs to be done in the next decade or two,” he said. “So I hope we’re on the threshold of doing the right thing, not because we want to but because we have to. “

The U.S. Banking System is Close to Insolvency

ALERT
RGE Monitor
January 22, 2009

The US Banking System is BankruptRGE Monitor Estimates $3.6 Trillion Loan and Securities Losses in the U.S.

Nouriel Roubini and Elisa Parisi-Capone of RGE Monitor release new estimates for expected loan losses and writedowns on U.S. originated securitizations:

* Loan losses on a total of $12.37 trillion unsecuritized loans are expected to reach $1.6 trillion. Of these, U.S. banks and brokers are expected to incur $1.1 trillion.

* Mark-to-market writedowns based on derivatives prices and cash bond indices on a further $10.84 trillion in securities reached about $2 trillion ($1.92 trillion.) About 40% of these securities (and losses) are held abroad according to flow-of-funds data. U.S. banks and broker dealers are assumed to incur a share of 30-35%, or $600-700 billion in securities writedowns.

* Total loan losses and securities writedowns on U.S. originated assets are expected to reach about $3.6 trillion. The U.S. banking sector is exposed to half of this figure, or $1.8 trillion (i.e. $1.1 trillion loan losses + $700bn writedowns.)

* FDIC-insured banks’ capitalization is $1.3 trillion as of Q3 2008; investment banks had $110bn in equity capital as of Q3 2008. Past recapitalization via TARP 1 funds of $230bn and private capital of $200bn still leaves the U.S. banking system borderline insolvent if our loss estimates materialize.

* In order to restore safe lending, additional private and/or public capital in the order of $1 – 1.4 trillion is needed. This magnitude calls for a comprehensive solution along the lines of a ‘bad bank’ as proposed by policy makers or an outright restructuring through a new RTC.

* Back in September, Nouriel Roubini proposed a solution for the banking crisis that also addresses the root causes of the financial turmoil in the housing and the household sectors. The HOME (Home Owners’ Mortgage Enterprise) program combines a RTC to deal with toxic assets, a HOLC to reduce homeowers’ debt, and a RFC to recapitalize viable banks.

Decade of The Great Depression

A Short Summary:

It is August 1939 and Americans are still recovering from the Great Depression–the worse nightmare that has ever happened to the United States. For the last ten years, since 1929, this country has experienced total economic collapse. Who could have imagined that this would happen in our modern industrial world?

The Wall Street stock-market crash of 1929 signalled the beginning of this Great Depression, even if it did not actually cause it. Ten years have passed and this economic depression has had devastating effects on most people in this country. Production fell sharply. Unemployment went through the roof. No one had much money, so purchasing declined. Thousands of businesses and hundreds of banks have closed.
We are a country of small farmers, but farmers everywhere have gone into bankruptcy. People lost their jobs, homes, and savings, and now many depend on charity to survive. In 1933, more than 15 million Americans–one-quarter of the nation’s workforce–were unemployed.

the-great-depression-homeless-man

We’re On The Eve Of Financial Destruction

Eve of Destruction: How the Financial Crisis Was Built Into the System

by Robert Kiyosaki Posted on Monday, November 24, 2008

How did we get into the current financial mess? Great question.

Turmoil in the Making

In 1910, seven men held a secret meeting on Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia. It’s estimated that those seven men represented one-sixth of the world’s wealth. Six were Americans representing J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and the U.S. government. One was a European representing the Rothschilds and Warburgs.

In 1913, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank was created as a direct result of that secret meeting. Interestingly, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank isn’t federal, there are no reserves, and it’s not a bank. Those seven men, some American and some European, created this new entity, commonly referred to as the Fed, to take control of the banking system and the money supply of the United States. Continue reading

Financial Crisis is Becoming Severe

RGE Monitor

RGE Monitor

On Nouriel Roubini’s Global EconoMonitor, Nouriel explains why the Treasury rescue plan is very poorly conceived and does not contain many of the key elements of a sound, efficient and fair rescue plan – like a HOLC-style program and the need to recapitalize the financial institutions that are badly undercapitalized. Check out: RGE Conference Call on the Economic and Financial Outlook and why the Treasury TARP bailout is flawed.

The claim by the Fed and Treasury that spending $700 billion of public money is the best way to recapitalize banks has absolutely no factual basis or justification. This way of recapitalizing financial institutions is a total rip-off that will mostly benefit – at the huge expense of the U.S. taxpayer – the common and preferred shareholders and even unsecured creditors of the banks. Check out Nouriel’s Is Purchasing $700 billion of Toxic Assets the Best Way to Recapitalize the Financial System‌ No! It is Rather a Disgrace and Rip-Off Benefitting only the Shareholders and Unsecured Creditors of Banks.

In The US and global financial crisis is becoming much more severe in spite of the Treasury rescue plan. The risk of a total systemic meltdown is now as high as ever, Nouriel explains why the risk of a total systemic meltdown is now as high as ever as the severe strains in financial markets (money markets, credit markets, stock markets, CDS and derivative markets) are becoming more severe rather than less severe in spite of the nuclear option of a $700 billion package.

The next step of this panic could become the mother of all bank runs: a run on the 1 trillion dollar plus of the cross border short-term interbank liabilities of the U.S. banking and financial system as foreign banks start to worry about the safety of their liquid exposures to U.S. financial institutions. Such a silent cross border bank run has already started as foreign banks are worried about the solvency of U.S. banks and are starting to reduce their exposure. Check out: Roubini Sees ‘Silent’ Run on Banks, Urges `Triage’: Bloomberg Radio Interview and BBC Hardtalk Interview with Roubini: “US Bail-Out Special”.

Financial Doom – Current Best Sellers

MSN Money

Go ahead and read those apocalyptic books on the economy if you like a good scare. But be sure you recognize fiction when you see it.

By Jim Jubak

If fairy tales express our deepest fears, then investors must be on the verge of a psychotic breakdown.

The current crop of financial gloom-and-doom books carry titles such as “America’s Financial Apocalypse,” “Financial Armageddon” and the comparatively prosaic “The Coming Economic Collapse.”

Any way you go, it means the end of the world (the end of the financial world, anyway). And that’s scary. Really, really scary.

But we need to remember that while fairy tales may reflect real fears, they aren’t reliable guides to how the world works. That’s true whether the main character is named Snow White or Ben Bernanke.

Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Bruno Bettelheim all theorized that we read fairy tales about evil stepmothers, parental abandonment in dark woods and child-eating witches to help us express and then cope with our darkest fears.

The psychological value of these tales, in this theory, lies in the formulaic, repeated return to archetypical fears in what the reader knows — even a reader as young as my 6-year-old daughter — is a fiction. It also helps that, unlike real-life horrors, these tales usually have happy endings.

This current crop of financial-disaster books should be read the same way — as financial fairy tales that represent our darkest financial fears and then allow us to cope with those fears by offering up happy endings in the form of investment strategies that can fend off disaster.

So what are investors’ deepest fears right now? Continue reading