Congressional inaction has left the federal government running on extensions (“Continuing Resolutions”) of a budget that was passed when Bill Gates was still CEO of Microsoft, NASA landed the first spacecraft on Mars, and Google was working out of a garage. The last federal budget is from the time before iPods and iPads, before SPAM e-mail exceeded legitimate email, before Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – and before the global financial crisis that sent the world into recession and US federal spending into the stratosphere.
I have studied financial innovation for years and worked with some of the best minds in that business. In 2003, I wrote in Beyond Junk Bonds that financial innovation is the “engine driving the financial system toward improved performance in the real economy”. Innovative debt securities, like collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs), I had hoped, would add value to the economy by reallocating risk, increasing liquidity, and reducing agency costs. Like the broken promises of communism, it turned out to be a utopia that was not achieved.
In this edition of TruMpISSION: Impossible we examine the numbers behind building a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border. There are five main reasons why this mission is impossible.
1. It will be hideously expensive.
2. More than 1,000 of the open border is under water.
3. To avoid the extra expense of building under water, building just one half mile from the rivers means the United States could relinquish at least 657 square miles to Mexico.
4. The border land that is not under water or already fenced is mostly in private hands.
5. There may not be enough brick and mortar to build a wall along the US/Mexico border, especially if Trump keeps talking it up.
A stimulus package of $819 billion should give $6,306 to every household. It won’t, of course. But it should. So what’s my conclusion? This bailout plan has little to do with addressing the root problems of the housing crisis, or helping hard-pressed Americans. It’s about bailing out the big banks and financial institutions from the consequences of their own miscalculations.