Friday, September 28, 2012

The last thing a business man wants to do is create a job. For the past twenty years the direction of business is to run a bigger entity with fewer employees. This is the tech revolution. This process is the cruel calculus of capitalism. If you don't keep up, you will be left behind. The private sector is doing what it always does in terms of reinventing itself to stay relevant and in business.

The public sector is a different story. The first thing a politician wants to do is create a job. The politician's own job depends on it. The current  recession has slowed this process as states and cities face the fact that they cannot afford to keep paying the salaries and benefits promised to the public workers. One would hope that during our national campaigns there would emerge a meaningful debate about what we, as a society want from our government. The present cost of government is not sustainable yet everyone wants services to remain the same. It doesn't work like that, there has to be a trade-off between costs and services and we need to prioritize. We cannot have it all.

Random thoughts at the end of the third quarter 2012

We have absolutely no idea what is going on in China and how their economy is really doing (not well I think).

Nothing has been settled or changed or solved in re Greece, Spain, etc.

The social unrest in Europe augers for a difficult year ahead for policy makers world wide

Based on the recent European elections it seems that the wealthy euro countries are still committed to working the situation out.

Whatever tenuous grasp Moody's Investor Service had on reality was severed last week with it's announcement about the rating of US Bank corp. Moody'd said it is worried not about US Bank but that the other banks in the area are recovering and they might present more competition. Moody's is apparently worried about  " U.S. Bancorp's long-term ability to sustain its consistent, superior performance in light of increasing competition" to use Moody's own words. If only Moody's had conducted it's business as well as US Bank we might have avoided the financial meltdown of 2008.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Economic policy has social implications. I don't want to be too negative, but the social unrest in the world is increasing. In Madrid there was a demonstration against the austerity measures which numbered 65,000 people (the estimate was from the government not the organizers). There was also a huge demonstration in Lisbon the same day. The dilemma facing policy makers in every country including the US is what measures to take to rein in runaway spending and debt in a way that is politically viable. Economies do not exist in a vacuum. The mark of an effective government is its ability to steer large complex societies without causing counter productive social disruptions. The current fiscal policy debate in this country consists of one side who regard any compromise on any economic issue as treason and the other side who doesn't have a thought in their collective heads. This doesn't bode well for the Republic.

I know it is the silly season of politics but at some point shouldn't the person running for office be out of second chances? How many times can a candidate or an office holder say," that's not really what I meant to say" or" I misspoke"? If you want to hold high office shouldn't you be able to express yourself correctly the first time? How hard is this?

Finally, I believe the economy is still in some sort of OK going into the election. It feels like it is pausing which I view as temporary until the November elections after which I expect a pick up based on the resolution of uncertainty rather than an endorsement of the victorious party.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

As a small business owner (R.Seelaus & Co., Inc. employs 55 people) I am discouraged by the senseless chatter of the politicians and TV commentators about small business.

First: Nobody starts out to create a “small business”; we all want to create the next Microsoft
Second: We are not motivated by taxes, we are motivated by revenue and profits. If we have to pay taxes it means we are successful. We would rather pay fewer taxes, of course.

Third: We live in the reality based community. We are driven by opportunities.  We don’t hire people because we have “confidence” that Congress will address the deficit; we hire people because we see the chance to expand our profits.

Fourth: We are dependent on infrastructure. We need an environment that allows us to conduct our business efficiently. R. Seelaus & Co., Inc. is located in Summit, NJ. The town is accessible by two interstate highways, two NJ toll roads and a rail line. This is important for our employees and clients.  If politicians want to help they should engage in a meaningful discussion of the infrastructure needs of the country both cyber and physical.

Random Thoughts:

  • Pressure on the euro will come from the wealthy nations thinking of leaving the currency 
  • The Federal Reserve has done everything it can to stimulate the economy. QE3 will not make any difference to the economy. The Fed wishes the public to think it is still capable of helping the economy but the reality is we are dependent on Fiscal policy at the state and national level.
  •  Leadership in regulatory matters concerning Wall Street has moved to NY State and NYC while the SEC and FINRA continue to be ineffective.