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Wednesday: Rent and Taxes

You MUST pay the rent!

You MUST pay the rent!

Simon Johnson had a cryptic post at baselinescenario the other day about money managers and shareholders.  Naked Capitalism followed it up yesterday with a post about John C. Bogle, head of the Vanguard Group and his proposals for a new fiduciary relationship between money managers and their customers. One thing I found astonishing was that pension funds are charged something like .08 for a transaction but mutual funds of the type that many of us are forced to put our 401K money into are charged .61 per transaction.

In the past couple of days, I’ve been reading more references to the term “rent”.  In this context, rent is not simply what we pay to our landlord to keep a roof over our heads but, as I’m interpreting it, rent is a fee charged by an entity to make use of a service that they have exclusive control over.  (Dakinikat can correct me on this)  For example, when you use your debit card, you pay a transaction fee and that is a type of rent.  I’ve always assumed the rent in this case goes towards servicing the machines and the bank makes a ginormous profit.  Then there are those transaction fees extracted from us by our 401k managers.  And when I think about it, rents are all over the place and costing us more and more each year.  Think about your cell phone bill.  Ok, *don’t* think about your cellphone bill.  There are ridiculous fees for everything.  You get roped into a monthly charge for 400 minutes but find that unless you purchase unlimited texting, every SMS you send is going to cost a ridiculous amount of money even though those text messages hitch a ride on cell signals at virtually no cost to the phone company.

Then I started to think about all the privatization we went through in the Bush Era.  Remember when the Republicans were ready to privatize the national weather service to something like The Weather Channel?  Think about that for a moment.  We pay taxes already to keep the weather service and its spinoffs like the hurricane watchers in business and Congress was negotiating with a private company, who would have charged us additional fees, to provide that service for us.  But I think it’s even worse than that.  I have heard horror stories about companies such as Accenture bidding on projects like taking over human services databases in Texas and making a shambles of it.  I know from an insider how the IRS has been downsized and portions of its services sent to private contractors for high fees.

Funny how it seems like our taxes never appreciably decreased after Bush and the Republicans made government smaller, especially for those of us who live in states where the cost of living, and consequently salaries, are high.  I supposedly have more money in pockets, money that I can decide to spend better than the government and I spend a lot more of it in rent that every service provider manages to extract from me in little dribs and drabs.  It adds up, substantially.  And today, when I do my taxes (yeah, yeah, procrastination), I will once again be amazed that I fork out so much money and get so little for it.  I *thought* I was paying much less in taxes than my French colleagues until one of the expats told me that taxes here are much higher when one accounts for what she would get for that money in France.  Little things like decent healthcare, generous maternity leave, tuition at a public university that is really just a token.

But in any case, I’m sure it is no accident that rents to the private sector have increased to the benefit of our capitalist masters of government.   It makes me pine for socialism.

67 Responses

  1. My objections to Obama have little to do with taxes, but I am also old enough to remember when dissent was patriotic
    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/cheetos-chase-racism-and-ha-ha-torture/

  2. F^&*^! It’s cloudy and cold again today. I’m shedding my winter/blogging fat and can’t keep warm. This spring is of very low quality.

    • Well said!

    • I had to turn the furnace on again two nights again. Usually, I’m in the pool this time of year.

    • Sorry about that RD!

      We have had the most beautiful weather all through our 5 day Easter vacation … and it continues. Sunny, blue skies, lots of new buds everywhere, ever day. Sooo nice.

      Some places it has been 20 degrees (hm, can’t find that little degree sign on the keyboard) celsius (9/5×20+32=), that is 68 degrees F.

      Some young girls have so much Viking blood in their veines, that they have sunbathed bikiniclad in the parks. I’m not quite there yet, heh!

  3. RE you have made my morning! As a self-employed person with intermittent income, I have been aware of the “hidden charges” for years, and they have been getting higher by the month, it seems. I have never heard the term “rent” applied before, but it’s a great concept. Bush’s “ownership society” means ownership for the few at the top, while most of us fund their excesses with all forms of “rent”. We have in truth been turned into a “renter’s society” during the past decade. Therre is”rent” in your phone bill, your electric bill, your heating delivery system, and we all know about those pesky hidden debit card fees when you get stuck in the wrong airport..of even the wrong side of the street in a downpour.

    “Rent” is why we serfs are poor now. Our corporate -raided 401Ks are no match for the constant upward climb of daily costs in the “hidden fee” society.

    Great post!

    • Ain’t it the truth. Let me add that it does little to lower federal taxes when state and local taxes just go up to cover the difference. Actually it’s always more than the difference, but who’s counting?

  4. This makes me so angry, I am paralyzed. What to do? My Credit Union advised me not to use my debit card but rather my credit card. This must be the reason.

    A motel I frequent always tries to get me to use my debit card. I have to hit cancel and select credit to complete the transaction.

    • Actually, most of the time you are better off when purchasing items to use your credit card. The reason is that credit card companies guarantee the integrity of the purchase. If you call your credit card company and tell them that you purchased something faulty from a merchant and now the merchant will not give you a replacement, the credit card company will reverse payment on the purchase and go to bat for you until the issue is resolved. That’s why, even if you have a debit card that is also a credit card, it’s better to tell the store that it’s a credit card purchase rather than a debit card purchase.

    • When you use the debit feature the bank pays a fee(which they usually pass on to you). When you use the credit function the merchant (rather than the bank)pays a fee to Visa or Mastercard to process the fee)probably also passed onto you in the form of higher prices). One of the reasons Walmart sought to become a bank is the processing fees for credit transactions run around $1.25 per transaction(regardless of whether you spent $1 or $100).

      • I do try to only use my credit card for amounts larger than $25.00 for that reason.

  5. rd,

    In 2000, Americans paid 50% more in taxes for their healthcare system, than Canadians paid for their healthcare system. You are well aware of how much more you pay, on top of your taxes, to your private insurers.

    When does rent equate to a parasitic relationship?

    S

  6. My cable company is now charging me $3 to pay my bill on a computer(Some moron actually tried to tell me that the fee was to pay someone to count the money) I have started going down to office to avoid the fee. I have to pay $1 additional if I pay with cash at Verizon. We dropped on insurance after they added a fee(on top of the installment fee of $5 mothly)that basically charged us $5 a month for not allowing them to automatically deduct it from our bank(By the way thanks progressive for the greed, we actually get a MUCH better rate from farm bureau)

    So many Fees so little time.

    By the way I actually ranted a bit at Uppity yesterday because they had some guy named Uncle Jay calling this “socialism” and basically calling out Democrats for the path we are on. what we have is fascism or capitalism run amok. It’s when everything can be bought and sold ifor the right price(re election to six figure job)ncluding our representation.

    • I think people are so ignorant of politics these days that some people think socialism just means “bad.” Along with the other problems in our education system, we no longer teach civics. I suppose that is because young people might find out about the bill of rights and start wondering why they don’t have free speech and the press is now controlled by corporations?

      • From what I’ve read a lot of people that don’t understand politics very well equate Socialism with Communism and that’s why they get all stirred up. Many do not understand the difference.

        I don’t even have a credit card and don’t want one. I use my debit card for everything since I was mugged a few years back and my newly cashed paycheck was stolen.

        I keep receipts for everything I buy and thus far have had no problem with merchants or companies when I have a problem with a purchase.

        I just don’t believe in charging if it can be avoided.

        • I remember how Ted Kennedy once, being interviewed by the Danish National Broadcast, made sure not to be aligned with our Social Democrat Party.

          It is my take that many of the commenters here share the views of that Party, but TK obviously didn’t want to risk being labeled a Socialist!

    • I looked at the fine print on a phone and internet offer from Comcast:
      A monthly charge for the adaptor!!

      Hardware Price: $3.00 Monthly.
      Comcast lease fee for eMTA (combined cable modem/telephone adaptor)

      • They are the company I am talking about. Unfortunately Cox and Comcast have an agreement that they each will not poach on respective areas. Comcast gets NRV and Cox gets Roanoke.Consumers don’t really have a choice other than to go without(Dish was an option we looked at but we’d still need Comcast for cable internet). it sucks that they have folks by their short and curlies.

        • Comcast’s monopoly in my area is a pet peeve of mine! So much for free trade and competition. So much for the general welfare – though truth be told, I may be better off without cable. : )

          • I always laugh that people call liberals communist. I consider myself a liberal and am quite fond of capitalism(provided that it be regulated). I like having companies compete for our family’s money. I like having choices.

            That being said I dislike the derision I see towards socialism and the concept of sharing. Particularly when many of these folk had absolutely no problem with the concept of oil companies drilling on public land at no cost to the oil companies or any other number of “socialistic” policies that benefitted the GOP.

            Sometimes I wonder if critical thinking will ever make a comeback.

          • I agree with you, cwaltz!

    • Pure corporate fascism. But I think that’s what most Americans think of as socialism and is why they are so afraid of the word.

  7. State and municipal greed abound too. Last week I was in the Harvard Square subway station, a major terminal, and every ticket dispensing machine had a sign on it that said “no cash, no debit cards”!!!!! BB, have you seen this? We are now required to use a credit card for our subway fare cards? Frotunately, I had enough on my fare card to get home, but what about people who didn’t. So I am back to carrying extra quarters for the bus, because most of the card dispensing machines don’t work anyway. Have these people got a clue? You need a credit card to ride the subway?

    • That’s insane. I have to wonder if it is legal to spurn actual money that is legal tender. Do you have a legal poverty center up there? They might be interested in this since public transport is something the indigent rely on(and they rarely have or qualify for credit).

    • My best friend lives across the street from a really nice, reasonably priced garage. Since his building only has three guest parking spaces, having the garage handy is often a necessity. However, a year ago the garage stopped having attendants and went to credit card only payment. Since I only use my credit card for online purchases, I was furious. Now, I’ll do whatever I can to avoid parking there. It’s all about trying to save money by not employing real people.

    • Amazing. I haven’t been on the T for years, and I hope to keep it that way. I’ll ask my brother about it next time he see him. He uses the T.

  8. My diabetes continues to be a problem – the fatigue and muscular pains are the worst, but I do visit here and read the posts.

    I have one off topic question:

    what are everyones thoughts on the new bill being passed through Congress: S_773 Cybersecurity Act of 2009:

    “One proposed provision gives the President unfettered authority to shut down Internet traffic in an emergency and disconnect critical infrastructure systems on national security grounds goes too far. Certainly there are times when a network owner must block harmful traffic, but the bill gives no guidance on when or how the President could responsibly pull the kill switch on privately-owned and operated networks.
    Furthermore, the bill contains a particularly dangerous provision that could cripple privacy and security in one fell swoop:
    The Secretary of Commerce— shall have access to all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access…
    In other words, the bill would give the Commerce Department absolute, non-emergency access to “all relevant data” without any privacy safeguards like standards or judicial review. The broad scope of this provision could eviscerate statutory protections for private information, such as the Electronic
    Communications Privacy Act, the Privacy Protection Act, or financial privacy regulations. Even worse, it isn’t clear whether this provision would require systems to be designed to enable access, essentially a back door for the Secretary of Commerce that would also establish a primrose path for any bad guy
    to merrily skip down as well. If the drafters meant to create a clearinghouse for system vulnerability information along the lines of a US/CERT mailing list, that could be useful, but that’s not what the bill’s current language does.”

  9. My bank told me that when you have a choice (as you generally do with your checking or debit card), ALWAYS request credit rather than debit. It still comes out of your account the same way but, they told me, it’s harder for identity thieves to swipe your numbers AND the fees are almost always lower. So use credit even with your debit/checking card.

    By the way, just spotted this David Corn article about the Obama team thinking it’s just a hiiiii-larious big joke that the Spanish government wants to prosecute them for condoning torture. Hardy-har-har, what a knee-slapper! Keep in mind that Corn was a Kool-Aid wallower too:

    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/04/white-house-joking-about-torture-investigation

    • I just heard about a newly published book “Arven efter Bush” (The Inheritance from Bush) wherein a ph.d. and jurist(/lawyer) at the Danish Institute for Military Studies, Anders Henriksen claims, that Bush made sure, that his successor would inherit a much more powerful office, than he himself did, which makes it even easier for Obama, than it was for Bush himself, to use heavy-handed interrogation methods and secret rendition programs towards terror suspects, if he so chooses.

      Anders Henriksen calls Bush The Emperor – likens him to a Roman Emperor.

  10. Sorry, I see edgeofforever got there before me with the ha-ha torture thing! I liked your post at your blog, too, eof.

  11. riverdaughter:
    All through your post, I thought you may be coming of age and would see the light. Your last line wounded me. It will hurt you too.

    • meh

      Pure socialism isn’t awful. It’s the banana republics that pass themselves off as socialist that have hurt the concept. The idea of sharing is something we learn growing up as good and responsible. Somewhere between preschool and adulthood, greed and the “I got mine” mentality seems to replace what our parents teach us about sharing and playing nice with others.

      • If only Obama were pushing socialism, I’d feel a lot better. Unfortunately, it’s fascism he’s trying to institute. Socialism doesn’t involve a government/corporate partnership.

    • Never heard of European Social Democracy?

      Try looking it up on Wikipedia or something-don’t worry it isn’t catching!

  12. A recent poll, I think from Gallup, reported that American support for “capitalism” has dropped to just barely over the 50% level. Republicans may just beginning to get a glimpse of the harm they have done to themselves and the country through their 8 years of Bushism run amok. The numbers were written large on every wall—the average American had stagnant wages, little change in taxes and sprialing health costs. The upper 10% had spiraling pay and lower taxes. We are drowning in CA; state and local governments used the largesse of the Bush years to expand programs that they can no longer pay for. Public employees, because of defined benefit programs, are actually making something like 40% more than a person in the private sector doing the same job. I serve on a school board; top teacher pay and benefits are over 100k per year and the Superintendent pay and benefits are around a quarter of a million. How did we get here?

    • Extremism and corruption in both parties have brought us here. Unfortunately we have a bunch of cowards and opportunists running the show. No one wants to tell Joe America that roads, defense, safe food, schooling and all that he takes for granted costs money. So…….instead they outsource these things so someone else can tell Joe. Meanwhile because it is private, it becomes “market based” and everyone knows the market must remain “free”(you knoe free to bilk the taxpayer on the front and back like the banking community is doing by raising rates while taking tax dollars).

    • Unfortunately, we’re not getting out. All them edia has to do now that the word “capitalism” is a bad brand is to revamp privatizing health insurance as “socialist,” and nothing will change. Sort of like how “feminism” seems to have become branded as pole-dancing and blow-job lessons. Everyone calls themselves feminist and nothing changes.

      In ten years, we’ll all be calling ourselves socialist, and we’ll still be getting shafted on private health insurance. Prediction made.

  13. Dictators has used the excuse of national security as a rationalization for shutting down free speech and open govenment for centuries.

  14. This was a great post, but I got my hopes up when I saw the word Rent. My husband and I rent (can’t begin to afford to save up for a downpayment when we’re living hand-to-mouth like this), and it kind of bugs me how little attention people have given to how the housing crisis is affecting renters. Probably because it hasn’t hit critical mass yet, although that might just be here in Seattle where the bubble seems to be deflating slower. While I recognize that middle-class folks are in a hugely vulnerable position in the housing crisis, we also have to recognize that there’s a huge portion of the population that is massively screwed by being stuck as permanent renters. This is especially heartbreaking, given that the whole of American culture leads you to believe that the life cycle is Get Born, Grow Up, Get Married, Buy House, Retire, Die. There’s something to be said for home-ownership. A house is really yours, and when you move, you’re likely to get some portion of what you put in back out, whereas rent is basically just pissing your money away. Ah well, Home, sweet, rental cave with ugly beige carpet that I can’t replace.

    • There was an article calling this a renters market. I guess in some places they are competing since the cost of housing has gone down significantly.

      That being said I wish they’d just darn revamp the poverty level to figure in for the fact that housing now takes up such a large portion of peoples income.

      On the upside. renting means you don’t have the headaches of paying for things when stuff goes awry. If your heating goes kaplooey you can call a landlord. Pipe bursts, its on your landlord to fix it. Have you asked the landlord if he’d let you put in something other than the ugly beige carpet?(It may be worth it to forgo your deposit, if you really want to personalize the place and will be there for awhile). I’ve heard of renters painting and such. They just ended up losing the deposit so they landlord could make the apartment neutral after the fact).

      • In my experience, most apartments don’t even expect you to pay for the repainting since they expect to have to do it every time a tenant leaves anyway. And I probably could replace the carpet if I agreed to pay for it and forgo my security deposit. Probably. The maintenance stuff is nice depending on your landlord. Some are really good about responding to maintenance requests quickly, some aren’t.

        I agree about revamping the poverty level, but I think you’d see a sudden upsurge in people meeting the criteria. I’ve read that you shouldn’t spend more than 35% of your income on rent, utilities, and other housing related costs. Most renters I know spend closer to 50% or live in the ass end of nowhere. Urban sprawl drives up in-city rents.

        Honestly, I have no idea how the rental market in Seattle is being affected. We have a glut of new apartment buildings and condos downtown that have gone up in the last couple of years (and are STILL going up). We have people who used to live alone getting roommates, and people moving into cheaper apartments to deal with the economic scariness. And potentially you’ve got people losing their homes moving back into renting. You’ve definitely got people who were planning to buy deciding to hold off for a bit. And the big companies in town that aren’t dead are on hiring freezes, so far fewer new folks entering the market. It could go either way. Most of the placed downtown were built as luxury accommodations, so unless they really nosedive, we still can’t afford them.

        My husband and I have just signed a lease for a much nicer place downtown for about the same as we’re paying now. But I choke when I consider that back home (Calgary) it used to be about $1/sq. ft, and now we’re paying $1300 for 600 sq. ft.

    • Sandra S, I think that renters are the smart people. Sure, I’m happy about the tax deduction, but over the past twenty years, we’ve sunk about 400K into this nice, middle class house and we still don’t own it.
      What is our monthly mortgage payment if not rent?

      • There are pros and cons to both scenarios. Alot of people don’t go into home ownership realizing all the downsides to it. They don’t figure in the costs it takes to maintain a residence.

      • I think people have been somewhat misled about the advantages of home ownership. Even now I have a friend who wants to buy a house and expects to sell it in five years for more than she’s paying for it now. Houses aren’t investments, they’re a slightly nicer form of keeping a roof over your head- they’re an expense. But right now, my husband and I are paying over $1200/month for a 700 sq. ft. craphole across the street from a methadone clinic. And having a roof over our head is great and everything, but if we rent for the rest of our lives (call it 45 years, so 540 months), we’re out $648,000 not counting rent increases or utilities, and we can’t sell a rental unit (or renovate or have a yard, etc). If we sank that money into a house, and it depreciated like mad, say the house fell down and the land itself was the only thing worth anything- well then we’d still get $50,000 out of it when it was time to sell and move into assisted living. As opposed to the maybe $500 of security deposit we’d get back with a rental. Not an investment, just slightly less of a money-sucking hole. We don’t have to pay property tax, or pay to maintain the property, or get the tax break, but we also don’t get any actual property out of it. Renting blows.

        • I think whether or not they are an investment is in the eye of the beholder. My household invested in a home 8 years ago. we paid a bit more than we would have to strictly rent. In return we knew that once our 10 year mortgage was paid off we would be paying less than others renting. It was an investment ina sense that we knew that paying a little more now would pay off in the long term by decreasing the cost of future housing. That being said there are folks out there expecting ridiculous returns on their “investment” particularly when the economy is a cycle that rises and falls.

          • Thank you. That’s kind of what I meant. It’s also why I think so little of renting. Sure you have bigger costs up front on home ownership, and you do have additional costs (property tax, maintenance costs, etc.), but you do get something out of it.

            Although honestly, mostly I just want a yard big enough for a large dog.

  15. I still have a land line, which I intend to keep because it is still more reliable, with no bells & whistles involved and no long distance. Among other things I now pay $5.31 for a Federal Subscriber Line Charge. That is pure rent. Then I also pay a 911 service fee. IMO, 911 service should be funded solely by other means and not slapping a rental fee on people who have telephones. Then there is a Federal Universal Service Fee, a State Universal Service Fee, and a Municipal Charge. Monthly total: $7.43. My basic local service is only $10.35 a month.

  16. Thanks for the post, RD. I was reminded of this great quote from Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations:

    The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [business leaders] ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

  17. “massively screwed by being stuck as permanent renters”

    Totally disagree. As a renter with no intentions to buy, I am utterly relieved that I don’t have the problems home “owners” got into with this housing bubble. As a renter I have mobility, flexibility, and–for the past 10 years–much lower housing costs than the average home”owner.”

    As a renter, I feel I dodged a bullet. I closed my ears to the nattering about “Buy now or be priced out forever!” (meanwhile prices will keep dropping until people who want to buy actually can afford to, and that’s a good thing)…or the constant haranguing that “Only poor people rent!” (total bullshit, here and elsewhere plenty of rich people prefer to rent)…not to mention the worn-out trope that “Owning housing is the key to financial security.” How is that working out for all the foreclosed people out there, or the ones who can’t sell their homes for what they paid for them, or the people struggling to make housing payments because they overpaid during the housing boom?

    I cannot tell you how often I was harangued and harassed and called a loser for refusing to buy when my area went into a humongous bubble — it was so awful I had to stop attending parties where the only topic of conversation was how much money people were going to make flipping their overpriced crapboxes and what poor idiot losers we renters were.

    Who is laughing now?

    When people I know express anguish about their housing payments and/or their “home values,” I give them a big grin and say, “Not me — I didn’t buy — I really dodged a bullet, eh?”

    The only problem renters are having in the housing downturn is one not of their making — that is, renters being evicted because their landlords went into foreclosure. That is outrageously unfair, and it’s a reminder that if you rent, better make sure the property owner is not underwater on their mortgage.

    • I own. Bought this little townhouse 8 years ago. So glad I did. It was and is expensive to own property but my townhouse is still priced $100K more than I paid for it even in this market. it was a good investment. Yeah, it was probably a big mistake to buy during the past 4 years but it’s not always a mistake. You know instinctively when property is overpriced. That’s the time to avoid the market like the plague. Buy when the time is right and you too could be writing off your interest on your taxes and paying less than a renter.

  18. Just wanted to add, if you WANT to buy, or even if you rent, the housing bubble bust should be great news — it should also be great news to liberals who believe, as I do, that everyone should be able to afford decent housing.

    “I wish they’d just darn revamp the poverty level to figure in for the fact that housing now takes up such a large portion of peoples income.”

    Yup, another reason to cheer lower house prices. The bubble was overinflated and HAD to burst.

    • Just to be clear, I am ALL in favor of the collapse of the housing bubble, for all of the reasons you mentioned. I just wish something were being done to help the home owners who are now losing their homes or paying more than they can afford for an overvalued home.

  19. Americans have paid through the nose for all the services that the government is supposed to provide. What the gov’t (Fed, State, local) don’t tell you and people don’t bother to find out, is exactly where your tax dollars are going.

    If gov’t restricted itself to paying for services and infrastructure we would be ok. What we have is massive waste and the largest employer in the country. You are being ripped off and you don’t even know it.

    • If we actually had been paying through the nose we wouldn’t be running a huge deficit. No, we put most of our services and goods on the ol’ credit card(underwritten by Saudi and China and all those swell places)

      No, in reality we do much more griping about paying then we do actual paying.

  20. It’s a renter world out there. And it’s everywhere. For example you don’t own media you purchase. The music and movies you think you’re buying, you’re just renting. If the media it’s on wears out, you have to buy another copy. You’re not supposed to copy what you have to preserve it. We used to have fair use rights, but now magically it’s illegal for you copy copy your own DVD. And you’re supposed to be able to copy your music from CD’s, but pressure has been relentless to make that illegal as well. The organizations for music and movies, RIAA and MPAA have been working hard to sue their consumers and treat them like criminals first and foremost.

    And the final pathetic part of this, the majority of department of justice people Obama has been appointing are coming straight from RIAA lawyers.

    We’re getting closer to “the manner born” than we’d like to think.

  21. This article is under this heading at RealClearPolitics: Data Clash with Obama’s Optimism (in other words: more Orwellian double-speak)

    The president and the Federal Reserve chairman voiced cautious optimism yesterday that the economy could be beginning to stabilize. But the economy wasn’t cooperating.

    Their words reflect a new phase of the government response to the financial crisis and recession. Unlike a few months ago, the major policies meant to prop up the economy– increased government spending, special lending programs and extensive efforts by the Fed to pump money into the economy — are now largely in place. Thus, senior officials are trying to encourage Americans to be confident about the future, so that those who still have their jobs will feel more comfortable buying a house, a car or other large items.

    [That explains all the rosy talk…]

    Their comments are consistent with an emerging consensus among those who track the economy. The pace of economic decline appears to be slowing — but the economy is still declining.

    “A few months ago, the economy was in its deepest, darkest hours,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist of Mesirow Financial, a financial services firm. “It’s not dawn, yet, but it’s better than it was. That’s what Bernanke and Obama are responding to.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/14/AR2009041400893.html?hpid=topnews

  22. I don’t buy it. I think it’s all happy talk to boost our “confidence.” Confidence game is more like it. When jobs start being created in large numbers and wages start going up, I’ll believe things have turned around.

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