Let Us Talk

July 20, 2008

Next President Faces Major Burdens: Housing Recession, Bank Failures, Sinking Dollar, $4 Gas, Job Loss, 2 Wars…

 When George W. Bush became president in 2001, his main goals included restoring ‘honor and dignity to the White House’ after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, raising school-test scores and figuring out how to spend a record budget surplus – which he has decimated!

The next White House occupant will inherit the deepest housing recession in a generation, growing fears of bank failures, a sinking dollar, $4 gasoline and an economy bleeding jobs. He’ll confront wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mounting tensions with Iran and the U.S.’s flagging international reputation.

Historians say the economic and foreign policy crises in Bush’s wake will present either Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain with the biggest challenges to a new president since Herbert Hoover left office during the Great Depression.

‘What a burden the next president is going to confront,’ says Robert Dallek, a presidential historian and biographer of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. ‘It’ll be like Franklin Roosevelt coming in, in 1933.’

The list of problems facing the nation means that campaign promises — Obama’s universal health care, middle-class tax cut and immigration overhaul, or McCain’s corporate and individual tax reductions and energy-independence plan — will likely be put on hold while the president focuses on more immediate concerns, especially the economy.

Waking Up Quickly

The next president is ‘going to wake up very quickly to the fact that the economy so overwhelms everything else,’ says Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

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June 18, 2008

Economy: When America Gets An Economic Cold, The Rest Of The World Gets Pneumonia

  In the States, food prices have reached a18-year high.  Bad weather, bad harvests and the demand for biofuels all add up to increased produce prices, shopping pressures and the result is more consumers are heading for discount supermarkets.

American families already feeling the pinch caused by soaring energy costs are taking another big hit to their household budgets as food prices increase swiftly.  Milk, cheese, eggs and cooking oil have all increased in price by 20% since last May.  Meat and bread were up by 9%; fish and vegetables were up by 7% and fruits increased by a more modest 2.4%.  The cost of living is now the highest since 1990 with half of the increase accounted for by food prices.

Escalating food costs could present a greater problem than soaring oil prices for the national economy because the average household spends three times as much for food as for gasoline.  Food accounts for about 13 percent of household spending compared with about 4 percent for gas.

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June 11, 2008

Economy: America’s For Sale!

Because of George W. Bush and his economic non-strategies, America is for sale – again. 

I distinctly remember in the late 1980s when the Japanese started to purchase significant amounts of American real estate in Hawaii.  The yen had improved and the US economy was struggling and Hawaii saw a substantial increase of Japanese tourists and subsequently Japanese investors.  It got to the point where local home buyers and investors in Hawaii were competing for the limited supply of real estate with investors from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Canada.  Once the Japanese investors bought up Honolulu and The Big Island, they set their eyes on the “The Big Kahuna”.  They came to Manhattan and purchased Rockefeller Center.  New Yorkers were up in arms!  Shocked!  Livid!

It was a matter of pride with New Yorkers and most Americans. The very idea that the center of journalistic and architectural modernity, Rockefeller Center, should belong to another country was beyond comprehension.  Things were THAT bad in America.

Rockefeller Center was named after John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who leased the space from Columbia University in 1928 and developed it from 1930.  It was the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times. Construction of the 14 buildings in the Art Deco style began on May 17, 1930 and was completed on November 1, 1939 when he drove in the final (silver) rivet into 10 Rockefeller Plaza. Rockefeller Center is a magnificent complicated beauty.  Radio City Music Hall is a part of it. It’s the home of NBC and it’s where Saturday Night Live broadcasts from.  It is the home of the iconic Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink which we see in the background of so many movies.  It is where thousands gather each December to watch the lighting of “The Christmas Tree”.

In the late 80s, sadly, the Japanese purchased a major slice of America’s apple pie.

Here we are in 2008, 20 years later and the Chrysler Building is for sale; the world’s tallest brick building is now owned by the United Arab Emirates.   Another beautiful Art Deco building being purchased by a foreign country, this time the super-rich Abu Dhabi Investment Council is negotiating an $800 million deal for a 75 percent stake in the Art Deco treasure that has defined the Midtown skyline since 1930. (more…)

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