January 1, 2009

Get Ready to Make Money (I'm not talking to you)

EconAmerica: Why the American Economy Is Alive and Well ... And What that Means to Your Wallet by Jeff Thredgold (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007, ISBN: 978-0-470-09698-7)

This book was written by: Jeff Thredgold, economic futurist and president of Thredgold Economic Associates. Mr. Thredgold is also humble, noting that “economists are wrong more often than we are right, for which we receive considerable and well-deserved abuse”(p.ix). This takes the some of the sting out of statements like his declarations that “Powerful gains in most home values, combined with stronger performance of the stock market in recent years, have given consumers a peace of mind that building ‘wealth’ for their future retirement or for the kids' college educations is working”(p.152) and that “Most forecasters expect overall [home] prices to move essentially sideways in 2007, with a return to rising home values in 2008 and 2009”(p.155).

What is in this book: Mr. Thredgold lists and discusses his four “silver bullets” that give him an optimistic view of the economy and his beliefs that “solid growth in 401(k) balances, more lucrative matching incentives by enlightened employers seeking to retrain skilled employees in an extremely tight labor market, and new programs enacted by the Congress to boost savings are in sight”(p.131).
The first bullet is the tight American labor market, because “an extremely tight American labor market in the coming years will boost real wages across the income spectrum”(p.29) and “Anemic growth in the American labor force over the next two decades in what is already a near-full employment economy will continue to enhance the real income gains of a majority of workers”(p.93).
The second bullet is that “politicians will be forced by the pressure of powerful financial markets and by constant media attention to set aside political rancor and work together to solve the entitlement funding and benefit issue”(p.58), which we can observe in the way that congress acted so swiftly—and so far in advance of widespread economic disaster—to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, noted for its almost immediate positive effects on the economy.
The third bullet is that confidence “will allow long-term interest rates to remain at low levels, benefiting both home buyers and others who seek funding in the credit markets”(p.79), and we know it “will continue as the nation’s bond market—the Fed’s overseer—will simply not allow any return of irresponsible Federal Reserve monetary policy”(p.79).
Finally, “the stock market should continue to do well in the coming years”(p.148).

What is not in this book: Partisan bickering. Mr. Thredgold takes the high road and avoids trying to place the blame for economic woes. “It is no secret that the majority of the national media has a strong liberal bias. As a result, Republican policy initiatives are typically cast in a negative light, while any good news relative to the economy is relegated to the back pages”(p.51).

Would you recommend this book to Mel Gibson? No. Mel Gibson has Air America, which had explosions, better drugs, and Robert Downey, Jr.

Would you recommend this book to a werewolf? Yes. It may help him (or her) find silver bullets to be much less terrifying.

What was interesting about this book? Mr. Thredgold’s list of guaranteed American growth industries, which are financial planning, leisure and entertainment, and healthcare. However, Mr. Thredgold warns that our healthcare industry needs tort reform, control of rising prescription drug prices, the ability for insurance providers to compete across state lines, and incentive-offering wellness programs. “We are moving unavoidably in the direction of a government-sponsored, nationalized health care system,” which Mr. Thredgold finds “scary” because “Placing government in direct control of another one-sixth of the American economy does not lend itself to rising consumer comfort levels. One has only to look at a struggling Canadian universal health care system to draw such a conclusion”(p.137) That’s right, Canada, he calls your healthcare system “extremely expensive, largely broken, and in need of resuscitation”(p.186). Oh, snap!

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments:

Read more reviews...