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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘Great Depression’

In Recovery Again: U.S. Taxpayers Face Trouble?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2011

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This topic discusses the Recovery Act spending and its effects on the national economy.  It provides wealth managers with indicators and information to help clients better understand the use of government (taxpayer) funds and their allocation as a result of the financial crisis and ensuing financial recovery.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, enacted February 2009,[1] was designed to put Americans back to work and combat the largest downturn in the economy since the Great Depression.  Through the Recovery Act, Congress allocated funds in three ways.  The single largest part of the Act —more than one-third of it, or $288 billion— was tax cuts.  Ninety-five percent of taxpayers have seen taxes go down as a result of the Act. [2]

The second-largest part or $244 billion — just under a third — was direct relief to state governments and individuals. This funding helped state governments avoid laying off teachers, firefighters and police officers and prevented states’ budget gaps from growing wider. On an individual level, the Act ensured those hardest hit by the recession received extended unemployment insurance, health coverage, and food assistance.

The remaining third or $275 billion of the Recovery Act financed the largest investment in roads since the creation of the Interstate Highway system; construction projects at military bases, ports, bridges and tunnels; overdue Superfund cleanups; clean energy projects; improvements in outdated rural water systems; upgrades to overburdened mass transit and rail systems; and much more.

The $787 billion (in total) economic Recovery plan included provisions, in sum, designed to (1) create and save jobs, (2) spur economic activity and invest in long-term economic growth, and (3) foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending.

The Recovery Act was intended to provide a short-term jump start to the economy, but many of the projects funded by Recovery money, especially infrastructure improvements, are expected to benefit economic growth for many years. Thus, the Recovery Act’s longer-term economic investment goals include:

  • Initiating a process to computerize health records to reduce medical errors and save on health-care costs
  • Investing in the domestic renewable energy industry
  • Weatherizing 75 percent of federal buildings and more than one million homes
  • Increasing college affordability for seven million students by funding a shortfall in Pell Grants, raising the maximum grant level by $500, and providing a higher education tax cut to nearly four million students
  • Cutting taxes for 129 million working households by providing an $800 “Making Work Pay” tax credit
  • Expanding the Child Tax Credit [3]

Has the Recovery Act worked? Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI


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Economy and Budget: Long-Term Outlook

Posted by William Byrnes on March 27, 2011

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?   A wealth manager should be able to present Advanced Market Intelligence on the long-term economic impact of government spending and its ability to raise revenues with clients.

The United States faces daunting economic and budgetary challenges. The economy has struggled to recover from the recent recession, which was triggered by a large decline in house prices and a financial crisis—events unlike anything this country has seen since the Great Depression.

For the federal government, the sharply lower revenues and elevated spending deriving from the financial turmoil and severe drop in economic activity—combined with the costs of various policies implemented in response to those conditions and an imbalance between revenues and spending that predated the recession—have caused budget deficits to surge in the past two years. The deficits of $1.4 trillion in 2009 and $1.3 trillion in 2010 are, when measured as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the largest since 1945—representing 10.0 percent and  8.9 percent of the nation’s output, respectively. [1]

Also, the recovery in employment has been slowed not only by the moderate growth in output in the past year and a half but also by structural changes in the labor market, such as a mismatch between the requirements of available jobs and the skills of job seekers, that have hindered the employment of workers who have lost their job. Payroll employment, which declined by 7.3 million during the recent recession, gained a mere 70,000 jobs (or 0.06 percent), on net, between June 2009 and December 2010. [2]

However, under current law, CBO projects, budget deficits will drop markedly over the next few years—to $1.1 trillion in 2012, $704 billion in 2013, and $533 billion in 2014. Relative to the size of the economy, those deficits represent 7.0 percent of GDP in 2012, 4.3 percent in 2013, and 3.1 percent in 2014. From 2015 through 2021, the deficits in the baseline projections range from 2.9 percent to 3.4 percent of GDP. [3]

Nevertheless, the deficits that will accumulate under current law will push federal debt held by the public to significantly higher levels. Just two years ago, debt held by the public was less than $6 trillion, or about 40 percent of GDP; at the end of fiscal year 2010, such debt was roughly $9 trillion, or 62 percent of GDP, and by the end of 2021, it is projected to climb to $18 trillion, or 77 percent of GDP. [4] Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI


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