(Washington, D.C., March 6, 2009) -- From January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008, Americans lost $6.9 trillion in wealth in the stock markets.
Just since Barack Obama was elected, Americans have lost some $3 trillion in wealth, reports Investors' Business Daily, as the markets have plummeted some 30%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for example, has collapsed from 9,625.28 on November 4, 2008 to 6,647.49 on March 4, 2009.
Firesale prices are in effect - Citibank stocks are under $1 and General Motors shares are selling for less than $2 - as investors see major American financial and manufacturing behemoths on the brink of bankruptcy.
Zoom out a bit, and we see the situation even more dire. Since the market's highs in October 2007, the DJIA is down some 50%. That means over the last 18 months, we have seen half the nation's wealth vanish into thin air.
In the midst of all this, millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Small businesses are dying. Big businesses are dying. Credit is tight. Confidence is low. And people are anxious.
Obama, Geithner Get Low Grades From Economists
U.S. President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner received failing grades for their efforts to revive the economy from participants in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.
In striking contrast to President Obama's popularity with the public, a new Wall Street Journal survey of economists gives the president and his treasury secretary failing grades. WSJ's Phil Izzo and Kelly Evans discuss.
The economists' assessment stands in stark contrast with Mr. Obama's popularity with the public, with a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll giving him a 60% approval rating. A majority of the 49 economists polled said they were dissatisfied with the administration's economic policies.
On average, they gave the president a grade of 59 out of 100, and although there was a broad range of marks, 42% of respondents rated Mr. Obama below 60. Mr. Geithner received an average grade of 51. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71.
The economists, many of whom have been continually surprised by the depth of the downturn, also pushed back yet again their forecasts for when a recovery would begin. On average, they expect the downturn to end in October. Last month, they said the bottom would arrive in August. They estimate that U.S. gross domestic product will continue to contract in the first half of this year, with slow growth returning in the third quarter.
South Carolinia Governor first to turn down Obama on Stimulus:
SC Governor: USA faces Zimbabwe-style economic collapse if it keeps spending...
S.C. governor evokes Zimbabwe in arguments against stimulus
- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has vowed to refuse some of his state's share
- Sanford casts stimulus as exercise in printing money that doesn't exist to create jobs.
- The governor compares it to Zimbabwe's 11 million percent inflation rate
- State legislatures can override governors and take stimulus money anyway
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) -- The United States faces a Zimbabwe-style economic collapse if it keeps "spending a bunch of money we don't have," South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Wednesday.
Sanford, a Republican, has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's $800 billion stimulus plan. He said he'll turn down about a quarter of his state's $2.8 billion share unless Washington lets him use that money to pay down debt.
"What you're doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don't have and send it to different states, we'll create jobs," he said. "If that's the case, why isn't Zimbabwe a rich place?"
Zimbabwe has been in the throes of an economic meltdown ever since the southern African nation embarked on a chaotic land reform program. Its official inflation rate topped 11 million percent in 2008, with its treasury printing banknotes in the trillion-dollar range to keep up with the plummeting value of its currency.
But with South Carolina's unemployment rate now the second-highest in the country, state lawmakers will attempt to override Sanford and take the $700 million if he turns it down, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said.
"They will use the total economic stimulus to stimulate the economy, jump-start it, so we can get out of the ditch we are in as a state and as a nation," Bauer, a fellow Republican, said in a written statement Wednesday.
Labor Department figures released Wednesday showed South Carolina's January unemployment rate hit 10.4 percent, second only to Michigan's 11.6 percent.
Sanford is one of several Republican governors who have criticized the nearly $800 billion stimulus package, which passed with minimal GOP support in the Senate and none in the House of Representatives. Other governors, such as California Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger or Michigan Democrat Jennifer Granholm, have said they would take any money Republican-led states reject.
But Sanford told reporters that taking the money now would leave the state in the lurch in two years, "when those funds dry up."
"Fundamentally, if you boil down what the stimulus means for South Carolina, it means we would go through the process of spending a bunch of money we don't have," he said.
The stimulus measure allows state legislatures to override governors and take the money -- a provision championed by South Carolina congressman James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House. Clyburn said Sanford is unlikely to get any waiver from the administration, and he called the governor's announcement "100 percent political posturing."
"This recovery package is designed to stabilize communities, to save and create jobs, and help our economy get back in a growth mode," he told reporters. "And you don't do that by paying down debt that's been incurred over a long period of time."
And Bauer said that if South Carolina turns down the money, "South Carolina taxpayers will be taking on the debt for economic stimulus money sent elsewhere."
Sanford has been called a potential GOP presidential contender in 2012, but he told CNN that the next election is "not where I'm focused."
"I don't rule anything in, I don't rule anything out," he said, adding, "If anything came along like that, it would be an incredibly long shot."