Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Warning Label on Economic Advice

I believe many people are confused by the role of economists in our society. They are very similar to the fortune teller at the circus. These charlatans sell their measurement of the future to the unsuspecting public. They are unconcerned with how their guess affects the outcome of their victim but laser focused on getting their paycheck from the owner of the circus.

Our government is the circus.

Our nation under the direction of our political economists has spent the last 25 years using debt to increase our nations total standard of living above the sustainable trendline. Soon our total debt to GDP will be triple what it was in 1985.

Most of this debt has been used to increase the size of the unproductive financial sector and the government. These areas are the major employers of economists. This public sector growth has occurred while our job producing private sector has stagnated. The private sector hires very few economists.

Our nation’s unsustainable growth trend of borrowing is a big worry for anyone with an ounce of common sense. But is of little concern for political economists. Their focus is on growing the source of their paycheck. Upton Sinclair said it correctly 80 years ago about our crony capitalistic system: “it is impossible to get a man to understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it”.

Our unsustainable borrowing is so unimportant to political economists that they have created very flawed models so that taxpayer debt can be overstated. These models have eliminated “total debt” as a variable. The models only include the “debt payment”. This flaw allows an unlimited amount of money to be borrowed if interest rates can be manipulated down to zero. To make matters worse the models don’t use any form of amortization, so in economic theory our nation’s debt never needs to be paid back. Borrowing $1 trillion or $20 trillion is the same to an economist because neither amount will ever be repaid.

As an accountant I feel that it is important for the taxpayer to understand the understated accounting and the conflict of interest inherent in the field of economics. There should be a disclosure notice similar to the warning on a pack of cigarettes attached to anything that is published by an economist.

Warning label to taxpayers:

Economists can only be relied upon to predict small insignificant changes in the economy. On average they have a moderate degree of success in predicting year over year economic growth of 3.5%. But as a group they have never, ever correctly predicted a major shift in our economy. Therefore the predictions of an economist of the future should never be relied upon in business. In a free market society the successful business owner is the only entity that has the ability to predict the future.

Economists are not accountants. They are not regulated by any authority and are never held accountable for anything that they say. If a private sector accountant overstates the numbers they will go to jail. If a political economist overstates the numbers they are hired by Wall Street, the goverment or by a universtiy to train other economists. So if you require accurate numbers always seek the advice of an accountant.

Taxpayers should understand that as more tax dollars flow into government, then the government will give large amounts of this money to Wall Street. Wall Street in turn uses this largess to train more economists which they send back to the government. Be aware that every time your taxes are increased, it indirectly allows the government to hire an economist that has a vested interest in increasing your taxes even more.

It is important that you understand as a taxpayer that any money the government borrows must be paid back by you. If you are a middle class family of four and the government borrows $1 trillion then that is an immediate debt to you of $26,667 plus interest.

It is important that you understand that the debasement of a nation’s currency has a cost. If you are of the middle class you are very likely to be negatively effected by the indirect effect of currency debasement. This is called “inflation”. Historically inflation has been used by tyrants to reward political favorites. Presently, our government has chosen to funnel most of the gains from inflation to the financial sector, speculators and the upper classes.

So, as a taxpayer, if the attached economic report deviates from common sense and suggests “unsustainable debt”, “a larger government”, “a larger financial sector”, “manipulating markets” or “debasing our money supply” then it is in your best interest to disregard the information.

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