Any County Can Do It, Even Escambia

Now that the election is over, there still remains a solution that, whether implemented on the state level or the county level, can turn red ink into black. And it doesn’t come from taxing more or going further into debt. It is done by decreasing cost, with little effort and no sacrifice required. A novel idea for sure. And something that no one except economist Farid Khavari has thought of. Well, except for North Dakota, one of only two states with a surplus. They’ve been doing it for about 100 years and they only have a population of 672,591 people. His explanation below ought to be a challenge to our new state, county and city leaders to really think ‘outside the box’ and move our economy in the right direction.

Florida candidate for governor Farid Khavari shows you how in the article below. You can substitute Miami-Dade County for any county you want. It will work to our advantage. And by ‘our’ I mean, the government entity as well as the taxpayers. The progression goes like this; as the revenue increases, the taxes can be reduced. It’s just that simple. Download and read Zero-Cost Economy to find out how. The solution to our macro economic problem involves more than just our bank. But the public bank solution will go a long way in reducing our costs all by itself.

AN ECONOMIC SOLUTION FOR MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

by Farid A. Khavari, Ph.D., economist

Whether or not efforts to recall Miami-Dade County’s mayor and three commissioners succeed, MDC’s government must confront escalating unemployment, rampant foreclosures, declining property values and shrinking economic activity. Obviously, we cannot expect Washington or Tallahassee to save us. What we need are leaders and a coherent Economic Plan for Miami-Dade County’s future.

Miami-Dade County’s government faces the same insurmountable problem as a typical family today: costs are rising faster than income. When a family must pay higher costs for interest, taxes, insurance, energy, medical care, food and clothing, first they can cut back and reduce their quality of life. Eventually, the family will end up in debt and destitute. A county government can also cut back on services and employees. Of course, a county government can raise taxes to increase its income.

However, raising tax rates on declining property values and shrinking economic activity is a temporary fix at best. In the long term, it can only lead to more unemployment and further erosion of the tax base. This creates more need for county services as revenues dry up, clearly an unsustainable situation.

Simply put, anywhere you look, there is just not enough money.

Fortunately, there is a permanent solution to Miami-Dade County’s economic problems which will also benefit every county resident and make Miami-Dade County recession-proof forever. The solution includes reducing reliance on tax revenues, while lowering and finally eliminating property taxes by 2015. MDC’s government can earn more revenue than ever before, by providing services which lower the costs of living for its residents.

The results of this solution will be massive job creation without subsidies, a stable and affordable housing market, and unprecedented prosperity as everyone’s costs of living are reduced. MDC will have a permanent budget surplus without cutting jobs or salaries.

The cornerstone of this solution is to create the Bank of Miami-Dade County, owned by the county and operated for the benefit of the people of MDC. This bank can be established at no cost to the taxpayers, and earn billions of dollars per year for MDC’s treasury, while saving MDC residents even more billions per year in interest costs.

A publicly-owned bank is not unprecedented. The State of North Dakota has owned a bank since 1918. North Dakota has the lowest unemployment in the U.S. (less than 4% compared to MDC’s 13+%), and a budget surplus of over $1 billion, because they do not rely on Wall Street for money. MDC can do even better.

Under the same Fractional Reserve regulations that govern all banks, the Bank of Miami-Dade County can create $900 of new money through loans, for every $100 of new deposits. Since the BMDC will not be encumbered by massive derivatives liabilities and bad loans, and will operate for the benefit of the people of MDC rather than Wall Street—the BMDC can make substantial profits by paying higher rates for deposits than it charges for loans. Thus we can have:

4% Certificates of Deposit, 6% for long-term IRA’s

2% fixed rate, 15-year mortgages (new and refinance) for MDC residents and businesses

6% credit cards

3% car loans

3% business and construction financing

2% student loans (new and refinance)

2% alternative energy loans

2% financing/refinancing for MDC government and school projects

and more.

Note that in the extreme case of paying 6% for deposits, and charging only 2% for loans, the bank can earn $12 per year for every $100 of deposits ($900 x 2%= $18, less $6 for the deposit).

If we consider just the County’s own receipts as deposits for the bank, over $70 BILLION in new money can be created and earn at least $2 BILLION per year for MDC’s treasury. At the same time, MDC’s people and businesses would save at least $4 billion per year in interest expenses, which is $4 billion more that will stay in MDC to drive the economy. This is $4 billion PER YEAR added directly to the net worth of MDC citizens.

This additional $4 billion per year can create $36 billion per year in new money, earning another $1.5 billion for MDC’s treasury.

Most deposits cost a bank nothing. But to build up real wealth for MDC’s people and the treasury, the bank can pay above-market rates for savings. By attracting only 10% of the deposits already in banks in MDC, the BMDC can create another $90 billion in new money, ENOUGH TO PROVIDE A $100,000 2%/15-YEAR MORTGAGE LOAN FOR EVERY HOUSING UNIT IN DADE COUNTY. This would earn MDC’s treasury another $1 billion per year. At the same time, the homeowners would save over $2.5 billion per year in interest. That money contributes directly to the net worth of MDC citizens and stays in MDC to drive the economy.

Earnings from the bank can replace property tax revenues for MDC. Starting with pro-rata property tax rebates in the first year, then lower tax rates combined with rebates, BY 2015 MDC’S PROPERTY TAXES CAN BE ELIMINATED.

The result of the foregoing will be 150,000 new jobs in MDC within three years. This eliminates unemployment in MDC. These jobs will be created by the private sector, without subsidies. Within six years, those new jobs will have created 100,000 more.

It seems obvious that 2% mortgages would save everyone money, create employment and boost the housing market. However, in light of recent history, it is natural to assume that 2% mortgages would cause another housing bubble. In fact, 2% fixed rate/15 year mortgages would do exactly the opposite, creating stability and affordability in housing. Prices will stabilize at levels which are affordable to buyers and profitable for builders.

The reason is simple. While a 2%/15 year mortgage will save over 75% of the interest compared to a 5%/30 year loan, the monthly payment is slightly higher on the 2% loan due to the shorter term. This limits the price of a home for which a buyer’s income qualifies. At the same time, low construction interest rates mean the builder can earn more money offering a better house for a lower price. Further, since the average interest cost on a 2%/15 year loan (due to the rapid principle reduction) is only 1% per year, home prices will remain stable long-term for future generations of home buyers.

There are much more important long-term economic benefits from 2%/15-year mortgages. To begin with, a family will save about $150,000 in interest per $100,000 of mortgage amount, and own their home 15 years sooner. This means that after 15 years, the monthly amount that would have been paid for the next 15 years for a 30-year mortgage is available for spending or investment. This can result in $250,000 in extra retirement savings.

Further, with a 2%/15-year loan, 11% of the principle balance is paid in the first two years. This effectively creates enough reserves to make another mortgage loan of the same size. This makes the 2%/15 mortgage plan self-sustaining.

Creating the Bank of Miami-Dade County will cost taxpayers NOTHING. Using the bank’s earnings to replace property-tax revenue returns $billions per year to the people and economy of MDC. Operating the bank for the benefit of the people saves more $billions per year for the people and economy of MDC.

MDC will never face a deficit again. MDC will be recession-proof forever. Unemployment in MDC will be the lowest in the world. MDC’s people will enjoy prosperity and financial security unparalleled in the United States. Miami-Dade County will be a model for the entire United States.

Farid A. Khavari, Ph.D., is a noted economist and author of nine books, including the classic Environomics and his latest, Toward a Zero-Cost Economy. He was a candidate for Florida governor on the 2010 ballot. His proposal to create a state-owned bank in Florida was adopted by gubernatorial candidates (including Democrats and Republicans) in seven states. Dr. Khavari has lived in Miami since 1977. For more information, see www.zerocosteconomy.com.

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