Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Real World Graduation: Question 26

RealWorldGraduation_Question_26  <– PDF

Some political operatives stated during 2008 that there was a $5 trillion surplus at the end of the Clinton administration (20 Jan 2001).  The total national debt as of 30 Sep 2008 is $10.024 trillion, per the official U. S. treasury records [1].  The table below shows the budget deficits for each year of the G. W. Bush administration.  Keep in mind that a trillion is 1000 billion.  The total of all the deficits during the G. W. Bush administration is 4.35 trillion as shown at the bottom of the table.  A surplus of $5 trillion when Bush came into office, and a total debt of $ 10.024 as of 30 Sep 08 represents an increase in the debt of 15.024 trillion.  Where did all the money go?

a) George W. Bush, Richard V. Cheney, and all their crooked friends on Wall Street stole it.

b) It was spent on the war in Iraq.

c) It was spent on the war in Afghanistan

d) The rich people got tax cuts

e) Some combination of b), c), and d); and the jury is out on the possibility of answer a).

Year Ending       Deficit ($ Trillion)

30 Sep 2001          0.133

30 Sep 2002         0.421

30 Sep 2003         0.555

30 Sep 2004         0.596

30 Sep 2005         0.553

30 Sep 2006         0.574

30 Sep 2007         0.501

30 Sep 2008        1.017

Total deficits during G. W. Bush’s time in office = $4.45 Trillion

[1]        www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDlogin?application=np

(The answer is shown on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation: Question 23

RealWorldGraduation_Question_23   <– PDF

A certain person holds the following opinion on the work ethic: “Everyone should get off their butt, find a job, and do for themselves unless they can afford not to work, or they are too old, or too sick to hold a job.”   What is the fallacy in their reasoning?

a) He or she is ignoring the fact that people should not have to work for less than they are worth.

b) He or she is ignoring the fact that some people do not want to work and they shouldn’t be forced; everyone has a right to basic necessities.

c) He or she is ignoring the fact that the world is interconnected now, and it is no longer necessary to “do for one’s self”.

d) He or she is ignoring the fact that “doing for one’s self” is actually a form of selfish indulgence and smug self-satisfaction, which leads to the type of effete snobbery so harmful to community harmony.

e) This person is an extremist ideologue and his statement contains no evidence of logic or reason, so the question is irrelevant.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation: Question 11

RealWorldGraduation_Question_11   <– PDF

Some in Congress in 2006 proposed an income-tax modification bill that would have provided a 5% across-the board reduction in federal income tax rates. The bill mandated that the highest marginal income tax rate would have been reduced from 38% to 33%; the next rate from 25% to 20%, and the lowest from 10% to 5%.  Capital gains rates would remain unchanged.  Critics have claimed that only the very rich would benefit from this measure. They were joined by Mr. Ralph Thompson, estimated to be the nations fourth-richest person, who came out in opposition to the tax cut, saying, “Neither I nor any other wealthy people need an income tax cut.”  But people who favor the tax cut claim that the working people will benefit because they will have more money in their pocket.  For example, the single person working a full-time job (40 hours per week) at $6.50 per hour (just over minimum wage of $5.75 per hour) would have their marginal rate reduced to 5%, so they would have received a tax cut of approximately $4.57 per week after the combined standard deduction of $8,750.  Does this income tax proposal unfairly benefit the wealthy or unfairly penalize the working poor with regard to income tax rates?

a) It unfairly benefits the rich because they will pay less in income taxes.

b) It unfairly benefits the rich because they don’t need the extra money, as Mr. Thompson said.

c) It unfairly penalizes the poor because it left the minimum wage unchanged.

d) It unfairly penalizes the poor because the proponents of the tax cut are lying: the extra $4.57 won’t buy much and isn’t necessary.

e) All of the above are true to some extent.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation: Question 10

RealWorldGraduation_Question_10   <– PDF

A Savings-and-Loan bank crisis in the 1980’s and 1990’s required a government bailout. Major automobile companies (Chrysler and General Motors) have sometimes required government bailouts.  In the most recent bailout (2007-2009), many banks (Washington Mutual, Indy Mac), mortgage companies (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac), and financial institutions (Bear Stearns, American International Group) required government bailouts.

“Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac” are nicknames for two government-sponsored entities (GSE) that buy residential mortgages; the goal being to stimulate home-buying. In the latest bailout, the losses to the taxpayers for bailing out these two organizations will range between $221 billion and $363 billion [1].

Bear Stearns, a long-standing investment bank specializing in mortgage securitization, was sold to JP Morgan Chase in an emergency sale to avoid a formal bankruptcy that would negatively affect the rest of the economy. The New York Federal Reserve bought $30 billion of Baer Stearns’ “assets” to get them off the balance sheet, then lent $29 billion to JP Morgan to finance the purchase of Stearns [2].

American International Group, an insurer of mortgage contracts, borrowed $182 billion in bailouts from the Federal Reserve, with the taxpayers liable if they fail to pay it back [3].

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs converted to bank holding companies in order to obtain access to emergency funding from the Federal Reserve to stay afloat and avoid collapse [4]. Goldman Sachs required loans totaling $67 billion, while Morgan Stanley required loans of $96 billion.

How can one predict in advance which segment of the economy will require a bailout?

a) The ones with the highest CEO pay will require the bailout, because the CEO takes all the money out of the company.

b) All companies who operate in accordance with for-profit capitalism.

c) Only foreign companies require bailouts, because they borrow too much American money and fail to pay it back on time.

d) They are not really bailouts because the government pays for it.

e) All of the above.

(See answer on p. 2 of PDF.)

[1] Phil Angelides, Chairman, The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, New York: Public Affairs, 2001, p. 322

[2] ibid., pp. 290, 291

[3] ibid., p. 350

[4] ibid., p. 362, 363

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