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DIRE HOUSING REPORT SPARKS FEARS JOB MARKET WON'T RECOVER UTNIL 2015
MIKE OZANIAN: It's a terrible sign for the job market David. The housing market is serving as an excellent barometer of the overall economy right now. Housing not only impacts construction, but the companies that supply home products. It's also one of the things employers are looking at when they're thinking about hiring people. It's putting a lot of fear in employers for jobs; this is going to continue to hurt jobs for quite some time.
VICTORIA BARRET: Well I agree with Mike that this is a confidence game and housing is a huge part of it, but for business managers, entrepreneurs, it's just a part of it and you can see kind of a continual lag in the housing market, while hopefully we can see a boost in the jobs market. Steve Forbes did an excellent interview in our current Forbes 400 issue with a money manager, Ron Baron and he talks about how all of his businesses; everyone feels fairly confident when they look at their numbers, they're pretty good. These companies are hotels, sporting goods, but then they're looking ahead and they're just scared. We have to get out of that Dennis Kneale line here, scaredy-cat mindset and have a little confidence, but housing is only a part of it.
BILL BALDWIN: Yes we need it and no we're not getting it. There's a grand social engineering experiment going on at the Federal Reserve. Here's the scheme; they deny interest to senior citizens who live off of their CDs. The interest rate you get on your bank accounts is zero and this is supposed to help young people buy houses. It's not working; house prices are still flat; it's backfiring. Construction employment is dead; the economy is dead as a result and you know what, the old people are going to go back to cat food.
MARK TATGE: Well that's right David, but I think we need to create jobs before housing's going to recover. I mean look, we could have housing recover and if people don't have jobs, we're going to go right back into the problem we had before, and we need good paying jobs. Not jobs where people are going to have to live off of their home equity loans or off of credit cards. I think Congress has to pass this Obama jobs bill. I think that's the way to go. I think the government needs to get involved and stimulate the economy. We need to do that and we need to do that now.
DENNIS KNEALE: I think government needs to do as little as possible. That jobs bill is a disaster and worse, let's remember the reason why housing prices haven't fallen to their natural, true bottom yet, is because of all that government, well-intended intervention trying to ease the pain, and instead prolongs the pain. We can have a turn around without housing. It's not a matter of the price of housing to me; it's a matter of home sales. Hey guys, if you've had a home on the market for two years and it ain't selling, cut your price. Then it will sell and the new couple that moves in will buy some furniture and that will help the economy. So we need housing sales; don't worry about the price.
KYM MCNICHOLAS: Well I don't agree with that. Dennis is actually saying that simply buying furniture is going to improve the job market. Absolutely not. We truly need to see the housing market turn around in order for the job market to turn around. Housing is one of the biggest industries in the United States and it's one of the largest segments out of work right now. I mean, if you consider lenders, brokers, real estate agents, general contractors, carpenters, electricians. The Association of General Contractors reports that unemployment in that industry is as high as 21.8 percent over the past year. That's more than double the all-industry rate.
OBAMA HEALTH CARE LAW CREDITED WITH SPIKE IN YOUNG ADULT COVERAGE
VICTORIA BARRET: Well these kids are on their parents' plans because they don't have jobs or their jobs aren't giving them healthcare. That is not a good thing. You know, more kids are staying home into their mid and late 20s. Yay, everyone gets to live at home with their parents! No - that's a bad sign. Youth unemployment is a problem in this country. If you look at Europe it's a really ugly trend. Let's not mimic our friends overseas.
MARK TATGE: This is a sign of how bad the job market is. It's not a matter of people wanting to sit at home and eat bonbons. And when they do get jobs, employers aren't offering health insurance or they are cutting back on health insurance. So I think this is a very good thing that the Affordable Care Act offers.
MIKE OZANIAN: ObamaCare is one of the reasons that unemployment is near 10 percent. So according to President Obama, if we give people health insurance until they're 30, and unemployment goes up to 12 percent, things are even better!
KYM MCNICHOLAS: A healthy worker is a more productive worker. And most of these young adults under the age of 26 are still in school, getting degrees, or they're starting entry level positions. The last thing you want them to worry about is accepting a job based on health care benefits. You want them to get the experience they need to be more productive citizens.
DENNIS KNEALE: Letting a kid stay home with mom and dad until age 26 and stay on their health care plan, and forcing insurers to do that, is kind of paternalistic and its infantilizing, and it's a bad sign for parents. They earned the right to not have their kid come back home. And they latest poverty statistic shows that when adult kids move back in with their parents, it can put parents back beneath the poverty line. It makes them poorer, and I think policies that encourage kids to go back home instead of go out and get a job are harmful.
BILL BALDWIN: Only sick people bother to pay for insurance, and now it's worse because only the sick and unemployed get on insurance policies through their parents. That's not a good sign and nothing for the White House to be proud of.
CRITICS: GM TAKING TAXPAYER-FUNDED "GREEN" TECHNOLOGY TO CHINA
KYM MCNICHOLAS: GM is going to have to give China our secrets if they want a fair shot at China's market. China has said they are not going to give fair access to U.S. companies that don't give them their trade secrets. It's like giving your lunch money to the school bully. We have to do it but we shouldn't be doing it. Plus its federal subsidies that our tax dollars are supporting and we need to keep them right here. Plus, President Obama has used job creation here in America to justify those subsidies.
DENNIS KNEALE: China has the largest car market in the world. Why wouldn't we sell them our technology? China is starting to respect patents a little bit more. There's a legal way to control this. We shouldn't stop ourselves from selling to the biggest market in the world.
BILL BALDWIN: Green technology always loses money. Look at Solyndra. If China's going to steal our manufacturing jobs, let them steal our whole subsidy business. They can pay for the next Solyndra instead of me!
MARK TATGE: Batteries and green technology are the future. Fossil fuel is dead. I don't think we can write off the Chinese market.
MIKE OZANIAN: I can see where GM is coming from on this. China is their biggest market. They sell more cars and trucks in China than they do in the U.S. Also GM wants to start importing Chinese cars to the U.S. It could be a good thing.
FORBES "RICH LIST" STOCKS
Victoria Barret: Oracle (ORCL)
Bill Baldwin: Chesapeake Energy (CHK)
Kym McNicholas: Apple (AAPL)