Monday, January 12, 2009

The Bailout: Borrowing Without a Plan

Politicians and economists call it "pumping money into the economy". I call it borrowing without a plan to repay. If I have a failing business, $175,000 in debt, and I ask you for money to save my business, wouldn't the logical question be, 'How am I going to pay that money back?'

Today, I watched an economic discussion about the bailout on MSNBC. Only one person ever brought up the question, "How are we going to pay this money back to the countries that are buying our debt?" The Chinese and the other countries--that are buying our debt--are asking this question for the first time. It is time that we give them an answer, or they may walk away.

The U.S. currently has a $53 Trillion debt. That means that every person alive today and every child born today inherit over a $175,000 mortgage. How are we going to pay that mortgage back? The truth is, we haven't put down our credit cards long enough to answer that question. One thing is for sure, we WILL pay it back when our creditors demand. There is no such thing as Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the real world.

Synopsis by MSNBC of the Bailout:

Stimulus package from February 2008---------------- $168 Billion
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac------------------------------- $200 Billion
AIG-------------------------------------------------------- $122.8 Billion
Financial Bailout (TARP)
(Auto Bailout Component= $17.4 Billion)------------- $700 Billion
Obama Plan---------------------------------------------- $775 Billion
Total------------------------------------------------------ $1.9 Trillion

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How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.