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An Empire of Debt Leading to a "Crack-up" in the Global Monetary System w/Bill Bonner!

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Welcome to Capital Account. US President Obama returned to the campaign trail today, holding his first post-Sandy event. As we head into the last few days of the presidential race, we ask Bill Bonner, bestselling author and founder of Agora financial what he thinks the biggest issues on the electoral agenda should be. Considering the problems facing the country took decades to form, can they be easily resolved by the casting of a vote? And what about the debt and the deficit? Both presidential candidates express some concern about the debt, but are either really going to act on those concerns in meaningful ways?

Also, better-than-estimated US economic data, including initial jobless claims and consumer confidence, pushed stocks higher, according to the Financial Times. What exactly do the numbers mean? People look at indicators ranging from payroll numbers to the stock market, to get a sense of the health of the economy; today we talk to Bill Bonner, author of Empire of Debt, about other litmus tests that might give us a better sense of where the US is headed. What does he look at, and how important is an indicator like GDP in telling us how well our economy is doing?

And prices for gasoline, soda, hotel rooms, and batteries have risen sharply in areas affected by Superstorm Sandy. In some areas of New Jersey, residents waited on line for hours to buy gasoline. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have stepped up efforts to crack down on retailers looking to make increased profits on the storm. With inefficiencies created by long lines, Lauren and Demetri discuss if there is a case for price gouging, even during the aftermath of a storm like Hurricane Sandy, in today’s "Loose Change." Demetri thinks that the very term "gouging" is pejorative, and that trying to regulate what price is exorbitant, instead of letting the market determine that, is asking for trouble.

Also President Obama announced plans to create a new cabinet-level position called the Secretary of Business. Obama said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that "We should have one Secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA or helping companies with exports. There should be a one-stop shop." Obama then blamed Congress for this consolidation not happening before because lawmakers have been "very protective about not giving up their jurisdiction over various pieces of government." Lauren and Demetri discuss the usefulness of a "Business Czar," and why president after president feels the need to intervene in the market in order to help the very businesses’ that his policies are hurting.