I had planned to take a leave from my "Trading is Combat" series today to address the train wreck of a jobs report. The jobs report today bookended an interesting week that kicked off with an interesting take on the economy by Secretary Geithner that personally invited us to the recovery. This was followed the next day by the secretary telling us that unemployment would get worse before it gets better.
This week I discovered an interesting parallel between a uniquely comedic figure from OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) known as "Baghdad Bob" and his kindred spirit in the Obama administration, secretary Geithner.
Mr. Geithner's apparent mentor, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf provided the world with a look at how a person can really believe what they're saying, even though the entire world knows the exact opposite is true. Either that or the person is simply delusional. Out of respect for the secretary I'll go with the former.
When shown pictures during a press conference of U.S. forces standing under the giant crossed swords on Saddam's parade ground a few blocks away, Baghdad Bob said, "There...you can see. There's nothing going on."
When shown clips of U.S. Marines showering in one of Saddam's palaces down the street he said, "We have killed most of the
coalition infidels, and I think we will finish off the rest soon." Apparently he wanted them freshly shaven and clean before killing them.
On Monday Mr. Geithner wrote an op-ed piece in the
New York Times
that could've been taken from Baghdad Bob's operating manual.
As a business owner on the frontlines of this battle, I'd like to address some of his bullet points:
"Private job growth has returned -- not as fast as we would like..." To quote from a wonderful event in our nation's storied history, I guess that depends on what the definition of "growth" is. I'd also like to know what his definition of "fast" is. Anyone remember the breathless plea to pass the pork-laden stimulus package or suffer the wrath of unemployment above 8%? I do. Unemployment apparently didn't get the memo as it remains at 9.5%.
"Businesses have repaired their balance sheets and are now in a strong financial position to reinvest and grow." Ummm...can you tell me which ones because I'd like to borrow some money from them to repair my balance sheet and grow. That's not what I'm seeing on the frontlines. Fellow business owners are gun shy to hire in this environment or take on inventory because they're waiting for the next shoe to drop. No one knows if their industry or business will be on the receiving end of the next flaming arrow from Washington and are keeping their powder dry.
"The auto industry is coming back..." I'm not sure why I care about this other than the fact that this industry is "coming back" for the 50th time in the history of automobiles and they did it with our money. Maybe we'll all get an employee discount or something. But it sounds like the secretary is certain that this time the auto industry is back for good.
"The government's investment in banks has already earned more than $20 billion in profits for taxpayers..." Woo hoo! Do you need my address so you can send my check? Does this mean that you plan on keeping the Bush tax cuts in place? Obviously neither of those things is going to happen. Nothing like the government making $20 billion in profit on our money, only to never see a penny of it.
Today the president channeled a buddy of mine I flew Hornets with in the fleet whose call sign was "MOTO," short for "Master of the Obvious." The president said the "recovery needs to come faster" as if saying that he "felt the pain" (see Clinton, Bill) of those Americans who haven't seen any lift in their lives as promised by The One. Thanks for the insightful observation; what are you going to do about it?
With unemployment hovering at high altitudes and consumer prices falling we run the risk of wandering around for a decade like Japan in the 90's. Housing will take another leg down, count on it. Welcome to Malaiseville. Population: us.
Printing money at an unsustainable clip and piling monstrous debt on our children is not going to help. Businesses are the job creation engines in America but they're getting the wrong fuel from this administration. We'll continue to see compressor stalls until banks open the spigots of credit to small businesses so they can hire and grow in addition to this administration becoming more pro-business by incentivizing businesses to expand. Keeping the Bush tax cuts, ditching the healthcare nightmare, and keeping the flaming regulatory arrows in the Beltway quiver would be a great start.
Firing Line: Baghdad Bob is to be commended for one thing: he stayed on message to the end and supported his boss in the face of ridicule and overwhelming facts. On second thought, I guess that isn't to be commended.
Matthew "Whiz" Buckley is the chief strategy officer of
, a provider of options education for options traders of all levels. . He is also the founder of Strike Fighter Financial, a business-consulting firm specializing in leadership development, risk management and strategic planning for Fortune 500 companies and related organizations. Buckley flew the F-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy. He's a graduate of TOPGUN, has close to 400 carrier landings and flew 44 combat sorties over Iraq. After leaving active duty, he worked as managing director of strategy at a Wall Street firm and CEO of a financial media company. He is an internationally recognized speaker and combined his experiences in the military and corporate America in his book "From Sea Level to C Level."