Posts Tagged ‘economic’

#016 — The MyMoneyMinute Stimulus Plan (Part 2)

February 18th, 2009

The M$M Economic Stimulus Plan

This is Part 2 of 2 in this series.  Click on this sentence to read Part 1, which covers what fundamental principles should be a part of any government stimulus plan.

Yesterday, President Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus into law.  I think it misses the mark and violates in many respects the fundamentals of spending taxpayer money to stimulate the economy.  My alternative proposals are below; all proposals must satisfy Fundamental #1 by being targeted, specific action to seek a particular goal.

1. Incentives

Following the guidelines of Fundamental #3, it must be government economic policy must encourage good personal financial behavior.  Therefore, instead of direct stimulus checks, I propose stimulus matching funds be used on home down payments, pre-paid tuition, and health savings account deductibles (HSAs).

The best type of government stimulant is one that provides it’s citizens incentive to save up and pay for their shelter, education, and health care.

Real Estate. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll propose that for every dollar you save for a down payment up to 10% of purchase price, the government will match your down payment.  This could also be a graduated, tiered incentive (save 10%/match 5%, save 20%/match 10%, etc.).  It can also be capped at a specific dollar amount (match up to $25,000), or the cap can vary by market depending on cost of living.  Other stipulations:

  • No credit cards, cash advances, or 401(k)/403(b) withdrawals will receive matching funds — it MUST be cash earned & saved. You will not be able to rob Peter to pay Paul and expect government to support your behavior.  Do it on your own dime.
  • No 80/20s, ARMs, interest-only, or HELOCs allowed.  If you want the matching funds, it must be a 30-year or less mortgage with a fixed interest rate.

Point is, you stimulate the downtrodden real estate market, and most importantly, the benefits go to those that have been fiscally sound and did not overbuy during this last real estate bubble.

  • They were the victors because they DID pay their bills and WERE responsible with their finances, while most of us were not.
  • Allow the victors in our economic crisis be the ones to bring us out of the recession.
  • Reward their good behavior & provide incentives to the rest of us to copy it so we don’t end up down this path again.

Education. If there’s one area that’s exploded over the last decade, it’s college tuition.  The burden of student loans has grown exponentially since the early 1990s.  The education cartel increases in power with each new academic year.  If anyone knows the burden and risk it is yours truly.  Unfortunately, I have more student loan debt than anyone I know, but I also have a plan to get rid of it faster than anyone I know!

  • I propose matching funds for pre-paid tuition to any accredited institution of higher education.
  • Reward parents with 529s, and reward students that are working while putting themselves through school.
  • Again, no credit cards, cash advancements, or 401(k)/403(b) withdrawals will be matched.

Health Care. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy, and a drain on our economy.  Health Savings Accounts are becoming vastly popular, because it can be obtained outside the employment environment at a decent cost.  I propose matching funds for deductibles on HSAs.

  • Provides incentives to save money for when emergencies happen.
  • Reduces the amount of bankruptcies caused by medical bills.
  • Provides incentives toward the HSA and away from COBRA & the employment-based health care model.

2. Direct Investment

In compliance with Fundamental #2, direct government investment should have long-term benefits.  My answer is to (a) build and improve infrastructure & (b) invest in our children’s future.

Infrastructure. If we’re going to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a stimulus, do it with specifically-targeted projects that will provide long-term benefits, that get people working immediately.

  • Fix bridges, overpasses, and roads.
  • Build & expand light rail systems. I know here in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, our light rail network could be extended into the suburbs to ease traffic congestion.  This would be money well-spent, because it is near-term jobs with long-term benefits.

Children’s Future. Each child that is born in the U.S. receives a one-time $2,500 investment into a personal retirement account at birth.

  • 4 million children are born in the United States annually = $10 billion investment/year.
  • Unlike 401(k)/403(b), no withdrawal allowed for any reason until person reaches retirement age (65).
  • An 8% annual growth rate = $445,000 retirement account for each citizen at age 65.
  • Parents allowed to match initial $2,500 investment + $1,000/year into each individual account until age 25.

This promotes both parents & children to save for retirement, and shifts our paradigm to thinking about the future.

3. Tax Cuts

We also need to provide incentives to our businesses and those with entrepreneurial spirit.  Ideas & small business are the true backbone of the American economy.



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The My Money Minute Stimulus Plan (Part One)

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#015 — The MyMoneyMinute Economic Stimulus Plan (Part 1)

February 17th, 2009

Congress has passed a $787 billion economic stimulus bill, much to the disapproval of many Republican leaders.

In my humble opinion, this stimulus package, due to be signed by President Obama today, misses the mark.  Lots of money is being spent on projects that either (a) provide only temporary jobs or (b) provide no employment whatsoever.

“So what would you do, Jason?”  Well, glad you asked..

Part One:  Fundamentals

Before any specific proposals are given, a stimulus plan should first begin with basic, fundamental philosophies.

Fundamental #1

This is the taxpayer’s money.  Be efficient, not frivolous.

If it’s one thing we can learn from government spending, throwing money at a problem without a clear objective will not solve the problem.  For a Republican “I told you so”, bring up our education bureaucracy.  For a Democratic “I told you so”, point out no-bid contracts in our War on Terror.  Money is needed for both education & defense, but the point remains we are often inefficient with how we spend it.

Fundamental #2

Short-term cash injections must have long-term benefits.

I understand that unemployment is rising and near-term jobs would help significantly.  Even if the jobs do not last forever, the money should be invested in projects that help our nation & economy long-term.

Fundamental #3

Economic stimulus funds must reinforce & encourage good financial behavior.

In other words, no more blanket stimulus checks where we send $600 to every taxpayer.  You know what I did with my stimulus check?  Paid off debt.  So did many others.  Those that did spend their stimulus check only contributed to a temporary fix to a long-term problem.  Now the money’s spent and our economy is still sluggish.  Worst of all, the government reinforced bad financial behavior by giving people money and telling them to spend it instead of taking care of their household first.  Encouraging the citizenry to buy a flatscreen instead of paying down a credit card is not sound financial policy.

Come by tomorrow and see specific proposals in Part 2 of The MyMoneyMinute Economic Stimulus Plan!

Tim Duncan

The Big Fundamental

Are there other fundamentals you would add to a government stimulus plan?

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The My Money Minute Stimulus Plan (Part Two)

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#012 — The Mark Cuban Stimulus Package

February 11th, 2009

While the U.S. House and Senate near a deal on the 2009 Economic Stimulus plan, looks like the private sector is not waiting around for the government to fix all our woes.

Enter Mark Cuban, dot-com billionaire, HD television entrepreneur, and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.  He has proposed to invest his own money into private-sector ideas that need funding to get them over the hump and begin making money.

Open Source Funding

To get the economy moving, there are a few stipulations attached to submitting a proposal for funding.  Primarily, it involves an open source funding environment — you must make available your business plan details for all to see online.  Also, business ideas must break even after 60 days and become profitable in 90 days.

Here is Cuban’s “rules of the game”, if you will.  Violate these, and receive a double-technical and get ejected from the game:

1. It can be an existing business or a start up.
2. It can not be a business that generates any revenue from advertising. Why ? Because I want this to be a business where you sell something and get paid for it. Thats the only way to get and stay profitable in such a short period of time.
3. It MUST BE CASH FLOW BREAK EVEN within 60 days
4. It must be profitable within 90 days.
5. Funding will be on a monthly basis. If you dont make your numbers, the funding stops
6. You must demonstrate as part of your plan that you sell your product or service for more than what it costs you to produce, fully encumbered
7. Everyone must work. The organization is completely flat. There are no employees reporting to managers. There is the founder/owners and everyone else
8.  You must post your business plan here, or you can post it on , or google docs, all completely public for anyone to see and/or download
9. I make no promises that if your business is profitable, that I will invest more money. Once you get the initial funding you are on your own
10. I will make no promises that I will be available to offer help. If I want to , I will. If not, I wont.
11. If you do get money, it goes into a bank that I specify, and I have the ability to watch the funds flow and the opportunity to require that I cosign any outflows.
12. In your business plan , make sure to specify how much equity I will receive or how I will get a return on my money.
13. No mult-level marketing programs.

The Beauty of it all?

The beauty of it all is the private sector trying to come up with the solutions to economic problems.  Fundamentally, it just makes sense to allow the private sector to flourish before the government invests or spends taxpayer money.  Also, this is open to anyone who has an idea and a plan.

On Mark Cuban

Cuban is a very polarizing figure.  As full disclosure, I am a huge San Antonio Spurs fan.  My favorite basketball franchise has been the bane of Cuban’s existence for a decade now.  I do love his passion for the Mavs, HDNet, — he puts his heart & soul into his projects.

Love him or hate him, I can appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit.

Cuban Economic Stimulus?

So can your business plan impress Mark Cuban enough to receive investment seed money??  Let me know about it in the comments!

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#007 — How Would You Invest the Economic Stimulus Portfolio?

January 29th, 2009

U.S. House Passes One-Sided Economic Stimulus Bill

Yesterday, the House Democrats passed an $819 billion Economic Stimulus Bill.  Despite lobbying by President Obama for bi-partisanship & House Democrat leaders insistence on following party line, no Republicans joined in support of the bill, while 11 Democrats voiced opposition to their party’s wishes.  The final vote on H.R. 1 was 244-188.  A parallel bill is now in the Senate, which is expected to increase the size of the stimulus bill, which will already be the biggest federal expenditure in history upon passage.  In the 10-year plan, nearly two-thirds of the stimulus money will be injected within the first 18 months.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • $90 billion for construction projects (roads & infrastructure)
  • $142 billion to rebuild public schools (no money given to private schools)
  • $54 billion for renewable energy
  • Boost Medicaid & state law enforcement — $91 billion
  • Extend unemployment benefits, and increase COBRA, WIC, and school lunch programs — $102 billion
  • Tax cuts of $500/$1,000 per year for individuals/couples (capped at incomes exceeding $75k single/$150k couple); total cost $145 billion
  • Increase to $250k the amount a small business can write off; estimated up to $17 billion savings

Okay, I’ve got to admit — I’m a political junkie.  It runs in my veins, and even when I’m not politically active, my political brain is always running on the back-burner.  First off, I have had a tough time digesting the rate at which our congress has spent money.  Increased revenues & the War on Terror notwithstanding, we have spent way to much over the last decade.


How Would YOU Diversify This Portfolio?

Currently, here’s how the House’s Stimulus Bill portfolio is diversified.  Click on each respective picture to enlarge:

Economic Stimulus Portfolio (in $ billions)

(in $ billions)

Economic Stimulus Portfolio (by percentage)

(by percentage)









Balancing Act

If a stimulus package is needed, government should use our money to create an environment where dependency is not further created on the government for more public jobs.  Rather, more of the stimulus money should be invested in private businesses, which can regenerate the money and use the free market to grow and expand upon ideas and serving their clientele.  Government construction projects seem like a one-time fix; yet another patch job on a huge problem.

While it is good to invest in public works and extend support to those currently feeling the economy’s effects, perhaps this stimulus bill needs to properly diversified between direct spending (safety net programs), public investment (federal & state spending), and private investment (individual & business tax policy).

Nearly 60% is projected to be invested on federal & state public works (not long-term jobs), 14.6% on safety net programs, and 26% spent on private-sector investments.  Just as if I were analyzing an investment portfolio, I would say too many eggs are in one basket, and that this stimulus bill needs to be re-balanced a bit.

How about you?  Would you “re-balance” the Economic Stimulus Bill?

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