Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jobs, illegal immigrants

PPB Group Bhd chairman Datuk Oh Siew Nam is someone I take notice of when he speaks. A very astute, highly-experienced and respected member of the Kuok corporate group, Datuk Oh is someone whose opinion is always worth considering. He had a Q&A session with the Press recently and this is what NST's Business Times reported:

PPB Group Bhd chairman Datuk Oh Siew Nam was very frank in an interview session with three media organisations.

While he welcomed the government's spending plans, he highlighted consequences of the slowing economy for those working in certain industries.

He also shared his concern over the problems of illegal immigrants and unemployment, two issues that are likely to spur further debate.

Here are excerpts from the interview.

Question: Where do you think the economy is heading and what are your main concerns?

Answer: I think, generally, we all know that the world is not in the best state of affairs and recession has come to many countries, and things are going to get worse. If you read the papers every day, all you have is bad news. People retrenching, banks closing down, companies shutting down. Things are going to get bad in 2009, there's no question about it. I think this will affect us to a certain extent because Malaysia is heavily dependent on exports.

Obviously, there's a certain aspect that is going to affect us, and my worry is, one of the greatest problems that affect us will be, basically, we have so many legal and illegal immigrants in this country.

Even if you look at the legal immigrants, a lot of them have paid their agents a large sum of money to come here, thinking they will earn a lot and be comfortable when they go home. Now, if they were to be retrenched before they make the money, how are they going to go home? They can't pay off their debts, they are not going to go home. They are going to hide somewhere and try to earn a living here.

Illegals, of course, are not going to go home. The fact that we've got 2-3 million immigrants in this country is frightening; that they have taken over the lower part of our Malaysian economy.

If you go to a pasar malam, the market or Petaling Street, you will see a lot foreigners selling products. I really don't understand why Malaysians do not seem to be interested in these jobs. I think we have to address this before it gets too bad.

The second worry is that when the recession comes, there will be a lot of Malaysians working outside the country who are going to return. I know the government is saying that it will help them look for jobs and all sorts of things, but that's easier said than done.

There's no vacancy at the moment. You cannot build new factories or industries to absorb these people because we are in a recession. Who is going to put money to build a new factory when there's no market for these products?

Obviously, the easiest way to give these people a job is to replace the immigrants or foreigners. Unfortunately, the people working outside Malaysia are not likely to be interested to work in this kind of job due to the low pay. Assuming they are willing to take up the jobs, what is going to happen when the economy recovers? These Malaysians will leave the country and look for jobs overseas again.

Q: Do you think that the RM7 billion stimulus package is a good idea?

A: I think it's good that the government has put up a plan to pump-prime the economy so that we won't go into a recession. If you look at on top, the overall, it's only a figure that is not in a recession. But a lot of people are going to be affected, especially if you are in the wrong industry.

Those export-based industries, like furniture, are affected. Housing in the US has collapsed. Who is going to buy the furniture? So, if you are working in a furniture factory, you are likely to be retrenched. Let's hope that this recession doesn't drag on too long because how many years can you pump-prime the economy?

Q: Do you think the RM7 billion is enough to pull the country out of a recession?

A: According to the government's calculation, there is no recession with the RM7 billion. Obviously, they must have made some calculation. My main worry is, how long the recession is going to drag on? Will people in Malaysia be willing to say, 'Yes, times are bad. I'll tighten my belt; I won't complain.' Then you can pull through. But everybody complains, expecting to get the same or to get the best. Then it will be difficult.

Q: What can be done to maximise the positive impact of the stimulus package?

A: It is widely accepted that construction - in the form of buildings, roads, bridges - is very good for the country. Because the cement, stones, steel, all the materials are made in Malaysia. Therefore, by doing construction, you are giving a lot of business to a lot of factories.

However, I think, if they make a study, the overall population can help in terms of buying products and services that have more domestic input. For example, it's going to benefit us more if we have a holiday in Malaysia than going to America. By flying MAS (Malaysia Airlines) than another airline. Because the money comes back here and it goes to more people.

People may think that this is a nitty-gritty problem, but if you think, if every day Malaysians were to spend RM1 on a local product instead of foreign, we will be spending RM30 million here, which will go round and round. Basically, we need to get people to be more patriotic in their thinking.

Although technically we might not go into a recession, but a lot of people are going to be affected, especially if they are in the wrong industry.

Q: So, are there any plans for the government to boost consumption?

A: I don't know. I presume there is.

Q: The stimulus plan was announced in November, but the money will be spent only in the first quarter of next year. Many businessmen are complaining that the money should be pumped in immediately and the public perception is that the government was not fully prepared when they announced the package. What is your view?

A: Honestly, I can't speak for the government. I'm speaking from a common sense point of view. From what we have calculated at the time when we announced the plan, calculation has shown that we are going to have a good GDP (gross domestic product) growth.

If I'm running the show, what is the purpose pumping money at this time (in November)? Figures are showing that I will do well in 2008. What's the purpose of pumping the money there? The bad year is going to be 2009. You need to pump money then.

I'm not speaking on behalf of the Economic Council. I was not given the details, but I'm saying I will do that (pumping money in 2009 instead of 2008).

Q: Of course, another concern of the public is the fear of leakages in the stimulus package. What can be done to address this?

A: Sorry, I can't give you the answer. But if there're leakages, the government should do something about them. In any case, anywhere will always be leakages. It's only a question of how to minimise or reduce the leakages.

14 comments:

Malaysian Tigress said...

De Minimis,

I cut and posted this piece on Dato' Sak's blog yesterday until someone (gwlnet) cut me down/accused me of being a cut and paste "intellectual" wannabe. (never said I was one) and I removed it lah (sensitive also meh)

Wanted to highlight the graveness of the problem to dato. I am not an expert, but I was just reading up on the various ways other nations are handling the unemployment and layoffs.

One thing for sure, many agree that training/retraining/upgrading training cannot be sidelined even in the current conditions. We have to be prepared for any upturn and this is the best time to address/invest in our sorry state of human capital and turn it into a world class one. Part of the stimulus package could be used to address this and prepare us for potential new high growth/new growth/innovative areas and even fund research and development in universities and fix our school syllabus to be produce forward thinking youth.

I do not know what the breakdown of our workforce but because we are export based, many will definitely lose jobs in the manufacturing sector (I could be wrong, again not an expert).

Here is an interesting piece I found at this link. Maybe there are lessons for us here:

http://www.progressivestates.org/content/832/averting-layoffs-and-revitalizing-the-manufacturing-economy-lessons-from-the-great-lakes-states

(tq for bearing with a not so intellectual comment)

wankongyew said...

He seems to be reverting to protectionism as a defensive measure to me. No comments from you, de minimis?

If you want to encourage Malaysians choose to stay and spend money at home, how you can turn around and encourage foreigners to spend their holidays and invest in Malaysia with a straight face?

In a global economy, what goes around comes around. We should all spend our money in such a way that we feel we get the maximum return on it, which will reward hard work and innovation no matter where it is or who it is from.

de minimis said...

MT

I really don't think you shld be to sensitive to adverse comments. We're all looking for answers. To cut-and-paste and, attribute the source in order to push a point is not a problem at all.

By the way, we're all intellectual wannabes and that isn't a bad thing at all. An inquiring mind is always better than a docile and indolent mind.

wangkongyew (& MT)

We shouldn't misunderstand what Oh is saying. Oh wants to put Malaysia first. That's what I've said all along.

M'sia has a sound economy. But no economy is sound enough to be immune to the current economic turmoil. If we wish to invest or spend or consume, let us consider doing all that in M'sia first. By earning and spending in M'sia we are keeping the economic activity going and keeping the volume of money in circulation. Whenever we buy an imported product, whenever we travel overseas, we are helping the country that we visit.

When we invest overseas and obtain profits and repatriate the profits back to M'sia that is good. But if we consider and invest within M'sia during bad times like these, then we benefit Malaysia.

As for foreign workers, they will repatriate their earnings overseas. Malaysian-earned money leaves Malaysia. This is a complex issue, of course, since there are related issues of whether M'sians want to do the work that foreigners are doing currently; whether M'sians will want better working conditions and higher pay, thereby increasing the cost of doing business; etc.

I believe these are the propositions put by Oh and, I am in agreement with it. That is why I saw no need to comment extensively.

Surely, when times are bad we must put ourselves, our family and our country first, where it is possible. That's what, I believe, Oh's point to be.

olivia said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Joyce

www.webtraffictrigger.com

de minimis said...

Hi Joyce

Good of you to drop a note. Feel free to comment. I'm not sure if I'm correct most of the time anyway. So jump in any time :D

walla said...

Since what Oh has said could just as well have been applicable in the earlier downturns, the question really is whether our problem is something more systemic.

In other words, is our dependence on foreign workers because our manufacturers don't have something that will help wean them off manual and pull them into automation? Or is our dependence on export-based widget-type manufacturing because we are not able to fast enough build our brain pool to offer services in-loaded with higher content?

I suspect the answers to these two amongst other questions will show that we have not really been investing in doing all the basic things needed to tackle head-on our current tied-down to low-cost labour and low-value services.

Because of the other dependence on oil and natural gas which are both dwindling in supply, this particular downturn will make our situation even more critical.

Maybe it's the pace of solutioning. If we have learnt anything all these years, it is precisely when the economy is humming along that one must trigger in the background some programs to preempt future layoffs by reinforcing alternative efforts that will help maintain manpower deployment whichever industry they may happen to be in so that their income levels are not depressed to great extents while they are scrambling to re-engineer themselves. Doing this is important because when the crunch comes, you can't ask the carpenter with twenty years under his belt to suddenly switch to driving trucks or planting vegetables.

The back office preparation may need to question all assumptions on how a nation should work. New industry models and how resources are to be organized may need to be designed. We may even need a completely new unit that integrates global trends tracking with rapid response programs with some form of national policy re-engineering.

It seems that right now you get consultative councils being formed after the problem has become too near and big to do fast and wide responses. Many a occasion the inputs into these councils are based on data from another time or situation, or generally from the same group of participants. Perhaps we should visit the need to get real-time data streams and couple them to real-time wide-angled participation facilitated by modern communication technologies.

Oh's concern about foreign workers remaining around untethered to any overseeing entity is quite realistic. If the situation will be worse in their own countries, they may do their best to stay on here on the belief that if the situation improves, this place will improve first. The question remains how adequate will be our enforcement arm to provide 24x7 protection. Since there can't be man-to-man tracking, another critical thing is knowing how rationally effective our blues are being deployed to where and what matter.

On pump-priming, the flip side is how many more buildings do we need? Perhaps one should be thinking what to do with those buildings and vacant plants around. Then more money can be pumped into buying really useful machinery and equipment to make things as possible import-substitutes.

Anonymous said...

Morons. Sometimes, I wonder why I bother fighting so hard for the little guy. Whats the point if they are too stupid to listen? Say that reminds me.

Amazing. The worst economic and cultural crisis of all time will go down in history horribly misunderstood. What a pathetic bunch of ignorant fools we have become. Consumer junkie credit card morons. Perfect little victims.

Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold ALMOST 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, offshore accounts, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST ONE PERCENT HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars which have been transfered FROM US TO THEM. All over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They just keep getting richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any ‘humanitarian’ progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. So don’t fall for any of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. SEND A "THANK YOU" NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE OBSCENE, UNREASONABLE, AND UNJUST DISTRIBUTION OF UNITED STATES WEALTH, THERE NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN SUCH A MARKET FOR SUB-PRIME AND THERE NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN A COLLAPSE IN THE HOUSING MARKET. Sub-prime did not cause the problem. It only accelerated the outcome. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. In fact, they specifically endorsed Countrywide by name. The same Countrywide widely responsible for predatory adjustable rate sub-prime lending and the accelerated collapse of the housing market. ENDORSED BY OPRAH WINFREY, ELLEN DEGENERES, AND DR PHIL. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. It also drives up the cost for nearly every product and service on the market. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. No offense fellow citizens. But we have been mislead by nearly every public figure. We still are. Even now, they claim to be ‘hurting’ right along with the rest of us. As if gas prices actually effect the lifestyle of a millionaire. ITS A LIE. IN 2007, THE RICHEST 1% INCREASED THEIR AVERAGE BOTTOM LINE WEALTH AGAIN. On average, they are now worth over $4,000,000 each. Thats an all time high. As a group, they are now worth well over $17,000,000,000,000. THATS WELL OVER SEVENTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS. Another all time high. Which by the way, is much more than the entire middle and lower classes combined. Also more than enough to pay off our national debt, fund the Iraq war for a decade, repair our infrastructure, and bail out the US housing market. Still think that our biggest problem is China? Think again. Its the 1% club. That means every big name celebrity, athlete, executive, entrepreneur, developer, banker, and lottery winner. Along with many attorneys, doctors, and politicians. If they are rich, then they are part of the problem. Their incredible wealth was not ‘created’, ‘generated’, grown in their back yard, or printed up on their command. It was transfered FROM US TO THEM. Directly and indirectly. Its become near impossible to spend a dollar without making some greedy pig even richer. Don’t be fooled by the occasional loss of a millionaire’s fortune. Overall, they just keep getting richer. They absolutely will not stop. Still, they have the nerve to pretend as if they care about ordinary people. ITS A LIE. NOTHING BUT CALCULATED PR CRAP. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. High energy prices. Their idea. Oil ‘futures’. Their idea. Obscene health care charges. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. The multi-million dollar endorsement deal. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea. Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. Excessive medical testing. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, medical testing, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above drive up the cost of living, shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, create a dominoe effect of socio-economic problems, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP. In many cases, the ‘charitable’ contribution is almost entirely offset. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and ‘good will’ all at once. Which is usually done just before or after the release of their latest commercial project. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to ‘federal tax revenue’. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. But our leaders refuse to acknowledge this. Instead they come up with one trick after another to milk the system and screw the majority. These decisions are heavily influensed by the 1% club. Every year, billions of federal tax dollars are diverted behind the scenes back to the rich and their respective industries. Loans from China have been necessary to compensate in part, for the red ink and multi-trillion dollar transfer of wealth to the rich. At the same time, the feds have been pushing more financial burden onto the states who push them lower onto the cities. Again, the hardship is felt more by the majority and less by the 1% club. The rich prefer to live in exclusive areas or upper class communities. They get the best of everything. Reliable city services, new schools, freshly paved roads, upscale parks, ect. The middle and lower class communities get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Which, they usually can’t afford. So the red ink flows followed by service cuts and lay-offs. All because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. Anyway, when you account for all federal, state, and local taxes, the middle class actually pay about the same rate as the rich. The devil is in the details. So when people forgive the rich for their incredible greed and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. I can not accept any theory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, bankers, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Strong middle class, free and clear assets, lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, credit crunch, weak US dollar, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. The cost of living is higher than ever before. Most people can’t even afford basic health care. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don’t blame the 2nd -5th percentiles in general. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can’t be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. ALBERT EINSTEIN TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. UNBRIDLED CAPITALISM ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK. TOP HEAVY ECONOMIES ALWAYS COLLAPSE. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The American dream will be shattered. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH MAKES WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, they will jump to small minded conclusions about ‘jealousy’, ‘envy’, or ’socialism’. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

So what can we do about it? Well, not much. Unfortunately, we are stuck on a runaway train. The problem has gone unchecked for too many years. The US/global depression is comming thanks to the 1% club. It would take a massive effort by the vast majority to prevent it. Along with a voluntary sacrifice by the rich. THATS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. But if you believe in miracles, then spend your money as wisely as possible. Especially in middle and lower class communities. Check the Fortune 500 list and limit your support of high profit/low labor industries (Hollywood, pro sports, energy, credit, pharmaceutical, cable, satelite, internet advertising, cell phone, high fashion, jewelry, ect.). Cancel all but one credit card for emergencies only. If you need a cell phone, then do your homework and find the best deal on a local pre-pay. If you want home internet access, then use the least expensive provider, and share accounts whenever possible. If you need to search, then use the less popular search engines. They usually produce the same results anyway. Don’t click on any internet ad. If you need the product or service, then look up the phone number or address and contact that business directly. Don’t pay to see any blockbuster movie. Instead, wait a few months and rent the DVD from a local store or buy it USED. If you want to see a big name game or event, then watch it in a local bar, club, or at home on network TV. Don’t buy any high end official merchendise and don’t support the high end sponsors. If its endorsed by a big name celebrity, then don’t buy it. If you can afford a new car, then make an exception for GM, Ford, and Dodge. If they don’t increase their market share soon, then a lot more people are going to get screwed out of their pensions and/or benefits. Of course, you must know by now to avoid those big trucks and SUVs unless you truly need one for its intended purpose. Don’t be ashamed to buy a foreign car if you prefer it. Afterall, those with the most fuel efficient vehicles consume a lot less foreign oil. Which accounts for a pretty big chunk of our trade deficit. Anyway, the global economy is worth supporting to some extent. Its the obscene profit margins, trade deficits, and BS from OPEC that get us into trouble. Otherwise, the global economy would be a good thing for everyone. Just keep in mind that the big 3 are struggling and they do produce a few smaller reliable cars. Don’t frequent any high end department store or any business in a newly developed upper class community. By doing so, you make developers richer and draw support away from industrial areas and away from the middle class communities. Instead, support the local retailer and the less popular shopping centers. Especially in lower or middle class communities. If you can afford to buy a home, then do so. But go smaller and less expensive. Don’t get yourself in too deep and don’t buy into the newly developed condos or gated communities. Instead, find a modest home in a building or neighborhood at least 20 years old. If you live in one of the poorer states, then try to support its economy first and foremost. Be on the lookout for commercial brainwash plots on TV. They are written into nearly every scene of nearly every show. Most cater to network sponsors and parent companies. Especially commercial health care. Big business is fine on occasion depending on the profit margins and profit sharing. Do your homework. If you want to support any legitimate charity, then do so directly. Never support any celebrity foundation. They spend most of their funding on PR campaigns, travel, and high end accomodations for themselves. Instead, go to Charitywatch.org and look up a top rated charity to support your favorite cause. In general, support the little guy as much as possible and the big guy as little as possible. Do your part to reverse the transfer of wealth away from the rich and back to the middle and lower classes. Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer. Jobs will be lost either way. Innocent children will starve and die either way. But we need to support the largest group of workers with the most reasonable profit margins. We also need to support LEGITIMATE charities (Check that list at Charitywatch.org). This is our only chance to limit the severity and/or duration of the comming US/global depression. In the meantime, don’t listen to Bernanke, Paulson, Bartiromo, Orman, Dobbs, Kramer, OReiley, or any other public figure with regard to the economy. They are all plenty smart but I swear to you that they will lie right through their rotten teeth. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These people work for big business. The ‘experts’ they cite also work for big business. They are all motivated by their desire to accumulate more wealth. THEY WILL LIE RIGHT THROUGH THEIR ROTTEN TEETH. So don’t fall for their tricks. Instead, look at the big picture. The economic problems we face have been mounting for well over 20 years. All of them caused or aggrivated by a constant transfer of wealth from poorer to richer. Soon, it will cause the first ever GLOBAL DEPRESION. Its not brain surgery. Its simple math. Like I said, you are welcome to run this by any professor of economics or socio-economics. If thats not good enough, then look up what Einstein had to say about greed, extreme wealth, and its horrible concequences. I speak the truth. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

Its already underway. A massive campaign to divert our attention. Trump, Buffet, OReiley, Dobbs, Pickens, Norris, and several other well known filthy rich public figures have been running their mouths about the economy. Finally admitting a hint of severity after almost 2 years of denial. They even have the nerve to acknowledge the possibility of a US/global depression. Still, they refuse to acknowledge the single greatest underlying cause. Instead, they focus on policies, procedures, and circumstances that were born FROM the underlying cause. Dancing their way around the big picture. DON'T FALL FOR IT. Remember: Our national debt was way up BEFORE sub-prime. Consumer debt was way up BEFORE sub-prime. The cost of living was up BEFORE sub-prime. Wall Street profits were obscene BEFORE sub-prime. The middle class were loosing free and clear assets BEFORE sub-prime. Our infrastructure was in bad shape BEFORE sub-prime. Loans from China were taken out BEFORE sub-prime. The dollar was loosing value BEFORE sub-prime. So don’t let these cowardly filthy rich public figures divert your attention or limit your range of thought. THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS WAS NOT CAUSED BY A SINGLE POLICY OR PROCEDURE. IT WAS CAUSED PRIMARILY BY A MASSIVE TRANSFER OF WEALTH FROM POOR TO RICH. THIS ALSO REPRESENTS A MASSIVE CONCENTRATION OF CAPITAL WORLDWIDE. OTHERWISE, THERE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN SUCH A MARKET FOR SUB-PRIME AND THERE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A GLOBAL CREDIT CRUNCH. MONEY DOES NOT GROW ON TREES AND IT DOES NOT JUST FLOAT AWAY. IT ONLY TRANSFERS FROM ONE PARTY TO ANOTHER. ALBERT EINSTEIN TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

A word for those who respond with the usual ‘I know more than you. Look how smart, knowledgable, and articulate I am’ crap. Let me say this in advance. I don’t claim to be an expert in this field. But I did go on record with these predictions long before any public figure uttered the word ‘recession’. If you search long enough, you will find my early postings from ‘05' and ‘06'. Including the first draft of this rant. Since then, I’ve gone on record against people like Greenspan, Bernanke, and Paulson. So far, my predictions have been accurate. Like I said. This is not brain surgery. For the mostpart, its simple math. When you concentrate the world’s wealth, you also concentrate its capital and shrink the middle class along with the potential market for every major industry. Homes go unsold. Bills go unpaid. Banks fail. More products go unsold. Jobs are lost. More banks fail. and so on. and so on. It happened 80 years ago. It will happen again. This time on a global scale. Throughout the cycle, the rich will tighten their grip. Concentrating the world’s wealth and resources even further and ensuring the collapse of every major economy worldwide. Think it can’t happen? Think again. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

Another thing. I don’t want credit for any of this. Otherwise, I would have given my full name a long time ago. As far as I’m concerned, you can put this rant in your own words and take credit for all of it. I don’t care. Just spread the word. Otherwise, the greatest injustice of all time will go down in history unchecked.

By the way. The bailout won’t work. IT WON’T WORK. The plan fails to address the fundamental problem. The middle class don’t need more credit. They need a reasonable share of the economic pie. They also need a lower cost of living and a chance to catch their breath. They need a break from all of the psychological marketing tricks and mass market BS. Most of all, they need to wake up and see the truth. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

To my surprise, two public figures have found the courage to acknowledge this problem to some degree. On 11.07.07 former presidential candidate Ron Paul mentioned the massive transfer of wealth from poor to rich. He also hinted at the possibility of economic collapse. He did so on 'Face the Nation'. He was blacklisted almost immediately for doing so. On 9.28.08 former secretary of labor Robert Reich refered to the obscene levels of income inequality as part of a "recipe for disaster". He mentioned the richest one percent in particular. He did so on 'Late Night With Conan OBrien'. As far as I know, Albert Einstein was the first to explain the link between extreme wealth and economic instability. He did so in 1949. He explained how the first Great Depression was actually caused by a massive transfer of wealth from poor to rich. He predicted that it would happen again. He was right. Amazing. The prosperity of an entire world is about to be compromised. Almost entirely because of greed. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

Another word about the Great Depression. It really was a perfect storm. First, there was unprecidented economic growth. There was a massive building spree. There was a growing sense of optimism. There was a growing obsession for celebrities. The average American became a pathetic, brainwshed, consumer junkie, moron. All of this represented a MASSIVE transfer of wealth to the rich. Executives, entrepreneurs, celebrities, and share holders. When the middle class ran low on money to spend UP, DOWN, and ACROSS, the rich did what they felt necessary to maintain their disgusting profit margins and ill-gotten obscene levels of wealth as long as possible. They cut jobs. The small business owners did what they felt necessary to survive. They cut jobs. The losses were felt primarily by the little guy. This created a domino effect. The middle class shrunk and the lower class expanded. With less wealth in active circulation, banks failed by the hundreds. More jobs were lost. Unemployment reached 25% in 1933. The worst year of the Great Depression. The recovery involved a World War and higher taxes on the rich. With so many men in the service, so many women on the production line, and those higher taxes to help pay for it, the lions share of United States wealth was gradually transfered back to the middle class. This redistribution of wealth continued until the late seventies. At the time, the richest 1% reaped about 10% of all private income and held about 20% of all United States wealth. Far less than previous levels. The middle class had home equity, free and clear assets, and money in the bank. The tide began to change. Jimmy Carter was blamed for a mild recession that was caused by a number of global circumstances including greed. Then a short sighted pig by the name of Arthor Laffer came along. He convinced Ronald Reagan to grant massive tax breaks to the rich and their respective industries. His half-baked theory was that by doing so, unprecidented levels of economic growth could be achieved. He was right. Unfortunately, he failed to see or acknowledge the big picture. That 'economic growth' and 'actual prosperity' are two different things. Jobs don't 'create' wealth. They only transfer it from one party to another. The devil is in the details. Reaganomics, gave the rich and their respective industries the incentive to 'expand' and 'create jobs'. Resulting in higher profit margins for those at the top. The transfer of wealth from poor to rich was kicked back into high gear. Here we are 27 years later. Another perfect storm. The big one. Not only have we become a nation of consumer junkies all over again. But we have also become fat, stupid, and programmed to live by drug and doctor. We spend most of our spare time on the couch getting brainwashed by public figures. Even worse, those public figures have re-defined our standard of 'good will'. Mother Teresa is dead. America's favorite 'humanitarian' is now a filthy rich multi-media pig who reaped a billion dollar fortune from the middle class by making damn sure they stay on that couch long enough to watch her show and read her magazine. Transforming them into love-sick fools who turn around and buy any product or service endorsed by their idol. In fact, the entire industry has followed suit. Cashing in on bogus promises to make the world a better place. Amazing. EVERY big business, EVERY big celebrity, EVERY billionaire, and damn near every multi-millionaire on the planet have all taken up 'phylanthropy', or 'good will'. Those with the most money, power, and influense literally rule our world. Still, every major problem of modern society gets worse by the day. The world's wealth is more concentrated than ever before. Her life sustaining resources are in high demand, more expensive than ever, and squandered by the rich on extravogant living. Meanwhile, families loose their homes, retirees loose their pensions, heroes loose their lives, and red ink flows in nearly every community. The global economy is in a state of crisis. The prosperity of an entire world is about to be compromised. Still, those with the most power, money, and influense promise to make it all better. If only we continue to buy any product or service with their name on it. ITS A SHAM. GOOD WILL HAS BECOME BIG BUSINESS.

The point about our government printing up more money was that it can't be done "on a whim" and that there are serious concequences for doing so (weak dollar, higher gas prices, inflation). I never said that it can't be or hasn't been done at all. Afterall, those loans from china weren't infused in the form of Chinese currency. They were infused in the form of our own. Not given to the middle class but instead to the banks in the form of credit. Its done nothing but perpetuate the problem. It never has been and never will be the answer. Sorry if I wasn't explicit enough the first time. The original draft was written 2 years ago and intended to fit within 300 characters. Anyway, I'm no English major. So if any of you want to re-word this post, feel free to do so. Whatever it takes to make people understand.
11/05/08
A new president will be taking office soon. Backed up by a heavily democratic congress who have all campaigned on a promise to raise taxes on the rich. Unfortunately, this will be too little too late. Nowhere near enough to compensate for the incredible corruption of both major parties. Nowhere near enough to pay for the bailout. Nowhere near enough to stop that runaway train. There will be no change for the better. Obama's financial advisers are pigs. Warren Buffet is a pig. Oprah Winfrey is a pig. Obama himself is a multi-millionaire politician married to a multi-millionaire attorney. All of the above will use smoke and mirrors to divert our attention, and get richer in the process. Obama has already run the most expensive political campaign in history. Whatever moral character he may have left, will be lost or heavily compromised while in office. Like the others, his administration will succumb to the greatest epidemic ever faced by modern man. By far, the most intoxicating element of modern society. Greed. Simply the desire to get as rich as posible. It has the potential to blacken any heart. Break the will of any human being. Corrupt any society. Those who succumb to it are lost forever. You can not get through to these people. You can not make them understand. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

12/16/08

The feds have reduced their interest rate to an all time low. IT WON'T WORK. It absolutely positively will not work. I would bet my life on it a hundred times over. Again, our own leaders fail to acknowledge the single greatest underlying cause. They fail to acknowledge the downside of greed. That idiot pig Arthor Laffer fails to acknowledge it. Greenspan, Bernanke, and Paulson fail to acknowledge it. Lars Larson, Tammy Bruce, Mike Gallagher, Bill O'Reiley, and Jim Bohanan fail to acknowledge it. This is not brain surgery. For the mostpart, its simple math. WE ARE IN THIS MESS BECAUSE OF GREED. The world's richest one percent are now so incredibly rich that there simply isn't enough wealth circulating beneath them to sustain the global economy. Its on the brink of collapse. IT WILL COLLAPSE. We are now enetering what will go down in history as the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. Caused almost entirely by a particular form of evil. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

1% CLUB PIGS: I've said it many times and I will say it many more. Greed is not the desire to break the law or intentionally oppress another human being. Greed is simply the desire to take more than your reasonable share of wealth or any limited resource. By doing so, you reduce the value of currency and raise the cost of living worldwide. You literally cause others to suffer and die. It does not matter how much you 'give back'. It matters how much you KEEP. You disgusting hypocrite pigs. I can not stop you but I will expose you. DEAL WITH IT.

de minimis said...

anon 11:37

Good grief! What a long comment. Excellent rant though :D

You have really dug deep into the core on this. The financial turmoil became and economic turmoil which, in turn, has turned the entire world topsy-turvy and, we are not sure when it's all going to settle down.

Batten down the hatches. Big, bad headwind. Hard to move forwards. Sideways is also treacherous. Backwards is not an option.

I'm looking all over for as much silver lining as possible.

mekyam said...

hi ct,

hope you don't mind me leaving a quick msg here for walla?

***

hi walla,

i heard from a certain sweet datin about your being indisposed. hope you're better.

i know you're doing your bit to stop foreigners from repatriating their earnings out of malaysia, but i think you need to lay off that mop for a bit. ;D

over here we just use that wonderful p&g product [i think clorox also have something similar] -- a wet swiffer for mopping bathroom and kitchen floors and walls and dry swiffer for wood and parquet floors. lightweight, adjustable handles, no need for rubber gloves to do wets and no dust flying when doing dry.

in any case, just wanted to wish you well!

***

thanks a bunch, ct!

wankongyew said...

I'm sorry but I disagree with your comments. If it is justifiable for Malaysians to impose what amounts to protectionist measures, would it not be equally justifiable for other countries to do the same?

Consider what would happen if that were to come to pass. The volume of global trade would plummet and each national economy would become isolated from one another. Surely I don't need to write why it is that trade is a source of economic growth? Far from benefiting themselves, each country would end up beggaring each other.

Protectionist sentiments are always quick to rise during economic downturns but as any economist can tell you, it is precisely during downturns that we need the benefits of trade more than ever.

In many ways this type of behavior parallels the way banks are behaving in the economy. They are starved for liquidity and are terrified that their balance sheets will look bad if they lend out their money. By hoarding they hope to reassure creditors and investors that their balance sheets look better than their peers. But when every bank tries to outdo each other in the same way, no one lends out money at all, and every bank suffers when the economy crashes.

The banks do this out of self-interest because they believe that this is rational behavior that will help them survive the downturn. Paradoxically, when all banks behave the same way, what is a rational move by one bank becomes an irrational move.

The same goes for countries. All countries think it is rational to hoard its money within its own borders but if there is no money flowing across borders then there is no international trade, and all countries lose the economic gains that come from trade.

de minimis said...

wankongyew

Protectionist measures isn't such a bad thing for a developing country. Have you forgotten what happened in 1997-1998? The foreign investors applied their "hot money" to move into countries like Malaysia. The influx of foreign money caused the appreciation of the Ringgit. That was good.

The "hot money" came and stayed in M'sia between 1992 to 1997. M'sia thought it was well and truly rich because of the wealth effect of the stock exchange share price increase.

Then Thailand went bust. The "hot money" which was quietly sitting within the stock market suddenly came alive in 2 ways. First, there was a massive sell-down of M'sian shares. There were many instances of illegal short-selling. The stock market plummeted.

Second, the "hot money" being liquified after the stock market sell-down, was used to speculate on the Ringgit creating tremendous volatility. At the end, there was a major capital flight causing the Ringgit to collapse against the USD from RM2.50 to RM4.00+. That was bad.

In the real economy, globalisation can be sinister in that if M'sia is too open, then FDIs will come in by the droves looking for cheap labour (not that we're that cheap anymore compared to China and Vietnam). The only problem is that the FDIs are not that permanent. I've seen Mattel set up a factory in Port Klang for about 10 years. Then, within less than a year, they could uproot and relocate to Indonesia.

So, if globalisation is inevitable, then I would want the M'sian govt to be more careful and selective with FDIs. But (here is where I've blogged about this extensively) M'sia needs to improve the quality of our workforce. This is why I'm also opinionated about the issue of education and vocational institutes and SMEs. The issue is complex bec there are many inter-related factors at play in the socio-political-economy of M'sia.

But, the bottom-line is we have to put Malaysia first by ensuring that wages keep rising, with rising skills, increasing productivity etc etc. Without these ingredients in place, globalisation becomes a new form of colonisation in the sense that M'sia will become a nation of employees where the best and brightest are employed by MNCs and a select few local corporations and SMEs may survive but everyone else may be displaced.

You are entitled to believe that protectionist measures are negative. But, I would say that M'sia needs to be selectively protectionist until we get our house in order. But we need to improve education and skills training, weed our corruption and rent-seeking mentality. Otherwise there's nothing worth protecting.

walla said...

thank you, mekyam! you're such a dear! one arm aches bad.

take care..wherever you are.

(and thks, d.m)

wankongyew said...

Too much stuff in your reply to comment on effectively. I guess I'll try to write something more coherent on my own blog, but some brief points:

1. I argued in favor of trade, but you conflated that with the issue of FDI and speculative investments. They are not the same things. More trade, i.e. exchanging goods and services with each other, is never bad.

FDI, as physical investments in new industries, is mostly good, but can be bad if it is badly managed (e.g. pollution, overstrained infrastructure, massive shifts in population that the host country isn't prepared to accept etc.)

Speculative investments are, in my mind, mostly bad because they don't spur "real" growth, i.e. an increased capacity to produce goods and services, but instead create asset bubbles which will, always, eventually, be pricked. The problem is that governments can never resist them because it's so easy for everyone to make Monopoly-money in such an environment.

2. You repeat the fallacy that currency appreciation automatically equals "good" while currency depreciation equals "bad". This makes no sense. If this were true, why would China be so eager to keep its yuan as low for as long as possible? Hot money flowing the economy makes Malaysians feel rich, but unless it is balanced by currency outflows, weakens the country's terms of trade.

3. Your final point about raising pay, productivity etc. amounts to arguing that Malaysia needs to raise domestic demand and not continue to just being an export oriented economy. I agree with that, but that part about globalization being colonization is just leftish claptrap. It's showy but doesn't say anything. As you note, the obstacle here isn't foreigners. No amount of protectionism will help you build up domestic demand and pull Malaysian employees up the value chain. It's due to socio-political factors, e.g. cronyism and corruption, lack of real competition, a government that's too eager to pick winners and losers in the market.

The Intellectual Redneck said...

E-Verify Program for employment is threatened

The department of Homeland Security has a great new program that allows employers to almost instantly determine employment eligibility. About 99.6 percent of all work-authorized employees verified through E-Verify are verified without having to take any type of corrective action. This is a program that works well. If every business in America used this system, all illegal immigrants would become unemployable and have to return to their homelands.