Economic Recovery Plan (ERP)

February 3, 2009

It is obvious from the headlines and news editorials across the nation that the economy is in deep recession.

San Jose Mercury News January 31, 2009 – Thank you.

GDP plunges at 3.8%, worst slide in quarter century

Autos – Valley car sales hit 15-year low – and 2009 looks worse

Wall Street – Worst January ever as Dow drops 8.8% this month

Washington – bruising battle over stimulus, Obama acts to bolster labor

Mortgage crisis spreading to affluent areas.

Meanwhile – Exxon Mobil sets U.S. record; $45.2 billion annual profit.

World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland concludes that the world is dealing with financial crisis with no solutions.

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Optimistic View

Despite such gloom and doom, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A thorough review and analysis of the problems that primarily contributed to the current economic crisis is essential in understanding the fundamental cause of the present economic recession.

Then addressing each issue on priority basis including the failure of various stimulus packages by the previous administration must be an integral part of the remedial measures for the economic recovery.

It is common knowledge that the origin of the current recession stems from various sources,

1. Subprime mortgage crisis contributed to housing market decline.

2. The major components attributing to the decline in housing prices are foreclosures due to default homeowners and delinquencies in mortgage payments.

3. Financial institutions holding high-risk mortgage backed securities sought bailout of their insolvency with taxpayers’ generosity.

4. Banks and other financial institutions decided to stranglehold the credit market leading to liquidity freeze with an adverse effect on consumer based industry represented by small businesses, retail outlets, medium corporations and homeowners alike.

5. Small businesses, Retail industry and medium corporations as the foundations of the economic infrastructure could not survive or sustain growth in the absence of credit facilities blocked by the financial institutions.

6. As stated earlier on numerous occasions, the collapse of small businesses, retail industry and medium corporations have a domino effect on wholesale manufacturers ultimately owned by major corporations in any industry.

7. Hence, the layoffs triggered from the bottom of the economic pyramid spread across the aisle and all the way to the top affecting emerging and viable corporations in many sectors.

8. As a result, the unemployment rate went soaring up to 7.8% with most states reporting double digit in this respect.

9. The credit crunch combined with housing market crisis significantly hurt investor confidence and led to the selling frenzy of stocks and investments by short term and new investors in the stock market. In addition, the current static in the credit market and the general economy has forced average consumers to live off their investments and savings.

10. Despite, capital infusion through bailouts and consistent productivity by all industries, the dismal stock market performance is related to poor earnings from the sluggish consumer spending in the competitive market and globalized economy.

Therefore, Consumer spending is the catalyst for revival of the job sector and corporate growth with desired earnings eventually reflecting in the stock market performance.

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Primary Cause and Effect

Housing market crisis – Decline in housing prices due to Foreclosures, Delinquency in Mortgage Payments with no refinancing opportunities.

Liquidity freeze or Credit Crunch – Small businesses, Retail industry and Medium Corporations deprived of cash flow by banks and financial institutions declared bankruptcy and subsequently the manufacturing sectors as well as the large Corporations producing mass layoffs.

Inadequate Consumer spending – Because of rising unemployment and scarce financial resources with no access to home equity other than dwindling investments in savings and stock holdings.

Lack of Accountability and Transparency from previous bailouts – Wall Street bailout of $700 billion have not been followed through with Corporate executives rewarding themselves to a tune of $20 billion in extravagant bonuses and perks.

Inaction and dormant role by the Congressional Oversight Committee set up for overseeing the purpose of bailout i.e. activate lending to the deserving and qualified business sectors and homeowners has further exacerbated the credit crunch.

Alarming Deficit – Multi-trillion dollar deficit accumulated by the previous administration from excessive borrowings predominantly from China, Saudi Arabia and Japan precipitously diminished the dollar value in the international market.

GDP plunges because of trade imbalances and culmination of all of the above factors in the domestic front of the frail economy.

Financial Commitments – Funding two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan exhausted the national treasury and reserves besides overshadowing the onset of economic recession at home.

Wasteful Spending – Some legislators’ penchant for pet projects aka pork barrel spending or earmarks to oblige excessive lobbying from campaign donors led to misappropriation of budget replacing funding for essential services benefiting children, disabled and mentally ill patients, senior citizens, veterans, youth population, retirees and all those at the bottom of the socio economic strata.

Ironically, budget is vigorously debated over matters that are counter-productive while ignoring the myopic view of issues…

Universal health care

Energy efficient programs

Overhauling of educational system particularly public schools, state and community colleges through adequate funding.

Effective environmental policies.

Investments in science and technology to advance research and development in the areas of stem cells, regenerative medicine and Genomics.

Creative Arts and learning with a broad perspective of cultural exchanges between nations.

Space exploration in search of knowledge and facts for humanitarian cause.

Channeling appropriation of funds towards Peace Corps to promote peace and diplomacy for national security as opposed to defense spending and proliferation of nuclear technology.

Veteran Affairs involving care and rehabilitation of combat forces during and post war period as well as extending housing, education and health care for their dependents.

Expansion of Sports and recreational activities for public schools and communities through federal funding to States as a measure to keep health care costs down.

An elaborate version will be presented on what federal and state governments can do for the citizens who are taxpayers, consumers and most importantly electorate in a democracy.

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Time for Action – Effective Strategies

Since the cause of the economic crises have been identified, it is time to address the problems with effective solutions i.e. strategies.

The nation desperately needs relief from the burgeoning crises:

Housing market crisis – Immediate measures required with a moratorium on foreclosures for two years supplemented with refinancing for default and delinquent mortgagees at the existing market rate or lower to adjust the deficiency in home value.

Liquidity Crisis or Credit Crunch – It is incumbent on the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke along with Congress and the Congressional Oversight Committee to hold Wall Street accountable for the $700 billion taxpayers’ funds and demand they facilitate liquidity and honor the commitment to the taxpayers.

Failure to comply with the requirement should have implications such as sale of all those beneficiaries’ assets and financial instruments withheld as collateral during borrowing assuming the previous administration adhered to the regular lending practices particularly a bailout of this magnitude.

Corporations and legislators alike must be held accountable for their actions and inactions to demonstrate that no one is held above the law in the land of republic.

Consumer Spending President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package for $819 billion passed by Congress and now the proposed package worth $867 billion for Senate approval deserves attention and action.

As discussed above, consumer spending is vital and instrumental to stimulate economy.

Again, consumers as victims of mass layoffs, debilitating job market, volatile stock market, and declining housing market have nothing to rely upon for income normally used in purchase of goods and services.

The cash strapped economy has evolved into a stagnant quagmire with disastrous consequences. It is imperative to relieve the economy with necessary tools that are contained in President Obama’s stimulus package.

President Barack Obama has unveiled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to revive the economy by easing the burden on consumers with debts, failing small businesses as well as Corporations in requirement of capital investment.

President Barack Obama during his weekly radio address acknowledged the urgency to get credit flowing again to families and businesses. The President further promised to help lower mortgage costs and extend loans to small businesses so they can create jobs.

The administration, the president said, would ensure that chief executives “are not draining funds that should be advancing our recovery,” and the assistance to the financial system would be accompanied by “unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight and clear accountability, so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results.”

The President was empathetic towards homeowners, students and small businesses in need of loans but left to fend on their own while Banks have been extended a hand with a bailout.

There is obviously a stark contrast in the objectives between the stimulus package of last year and the current one by President Barack Obama.

According to an article by New York Times on this issue – “The previous administration’s The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was supposed to be used up to buy the banks’ troubled mortgage-related assets. But, the Bush administration’s Treasury Department shifted gears, using the program instead to shore up the banks by injecting them with capital.

But instead of being inspired to lend more, too many banks hoarded their new capital, critics of the financial industry say.”

President Obama is seriously committed towards alleviating the suffering of ordinary citizens with necessary tax breaks of $500 for individuals and $1000 per family and tax incentives to small businesses including corporations with limited resources.

The Obama administration’s economic stimulus package has specific targets to bolster the economy and welcome sharing of public concerns on issues related to jobs, business, mortgage situation…

Since the commencement of his Presidency, the President has pledged support for the victims of the worst economic crisis. It is apparent from the actions taken within short period of the President assuming office.

The new millennium has brought series of disasters on our nation with the economy hitting rock bottom. There are undeniable challenges ahead and it requires the entire nation to come together in resolving every crisis.

Even though, a new President was elected on the message of hope and change , it is the responsibility of every citizen and particularly the legislators as representatives of their constituents to act immediately in the approval of the proposed stimulus package.

Any procrastination will only lead to further deterioration of the worsening economy. It is not the time for partisan politics as the stakes are high with too many unfortunate events unfolding as time goes by.

The victims are none other than the electorate entrusting power to their legislators for action on normalization of job, stock and housing market.

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Summary of Economic Recovery Plan

President Barack Obama’s stimulus package is essential to revive consumer spending, housing market, job market and corporate growth directly influencing stock market performance.

It is important to ensure that pork barrel spending does not find its way in this stimulus package during deliberation by reluctant policymakers.

Economic recovery is inevitable with discipline, determination and drive –

To eliminate or minimize costs proven liabilities.

Strategic planning and monitoring through rigorous oversight.

Implementation of effective policies with guaranteed results.

Targeting problems with efficient programs.

Restoration and preservation of jobs through investments benefiting the workforce.

Reviewing tax structures to create incentives for business sectors dealing with liquidity crisis.

At the same time closing any gaps or loopholes for tax evasions by corporations and legislators.

Relieving homeowners with appropriate measures as suggested above.

Reform of institutions lacking in ethics and moral conduct.

Enforcement of law and order with consequences for non-compliance regardless of hierarchy.

Conscientious effort to reduce deficit by restraining overseas borrowing and commitment towards domestic economic growth within a specified timeframe.

Pursuit of common goals and objectives via collective action is important reflecting every individual’s desire to succeed in all endeavors.

Our nation provided opportunities, prosperity and happiness during economic boom and now it is the moment for all citizens to collaborate and help our newly elected President Barack Obama execute the tasks required for speedy economic recovery.

The fate of our nation is hanging in balance from the monumental crises and legislators in the Senate have an awesome responsibility to move forward and approve the economic stimulus package proposed by President Barack Obama to avert more calamities.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant