HOW "NO NEW TAXES" RUINED AND IS RUINING THE REPUBLIC
Paul Krugman outlines why you do not really need a degree to be a 'GOP economist'.
Ex post, you can start to make the case that the Bush tax cuts were perhaps the worst policy choice since ... well, maybe that 1957-58 thingy? (Um, maybe not, but even wage-price controls look smiley in comparison).
They spurred and contributed to "over-consumption", precisely at a time when economists were talking about the urgency of national savings.
What's worse, the no-tax-and-spend-policies got amplified by a tax-free war, complete with a standing army in two foreign countries, inducing a widespread culture of irresponsibility. (no CEA economists also familiar with military history?)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
HOW "NO NEW TAXES" RUINED AND IS RUINING THE REPUBLIC
Posted by Amicus at 9:49 AM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
BUSH'S TREASURY CONTINUES TO STUDY THE PROBLEM
For those who keep asking about a market bottom, Paul Kedrosky wonders aloud about whether the worst is past.
The lack of systematic, government-mandated and collected statistics on the structure of the mortgage loan market appears to be a running theme in how the uncertainty keeps going, and going, and going. (There may be some that I just do not know about).
Among the things I haven't seen systematically outlined:
- How many sub-primes have been re-financed into primes, and who were the companies that originated those loans
- How many loans, of all types, have pre-payment penalties, and who were the companies that originated those loans
- How many ARMs, by class/type, are pay-option arms, and who were the companies that originated those loans
- How many loans had mortgage insurance paid for by financing and who were the companies that originated those loans
- How many IO's have terms greater than 30 years, and who were the companies that originated those loans
- For a variety of cross-sections, what are the summary statistics for the "margin" required? How many have a margin so high, on re-set or otherwise, that the "normal economics" of the loan are "gotcha", i.e. as time passes the chances are great that indebtedness (total due) will increase, perhaps even if rates fall?
For those reading comments to PK's post, without knowing the array of mortgage market products (I certainly do not), here are some jargon qualifiers:
5/1 ARM, 7/1 ARM, 10/1 ARM - these refer to mortgages that are fixed at an initial rate, for a period of 5, 7, or 10 years, and then reset every year after that. These are sometimes called "hybrid arms". They are to be compared with ARMs that do not have the initial fixed rate, but just re-set periodically from the outset. [I believe, but i'm not certain at all, that there were also ARM mortgages, at one time, in which there was a low initial rate, either floating or fixed, and then you moved into a fixed rate for the remainder of the term.]
ARM 5/2/5 - refers to the limits on how the interest payment reset is done. "First, subsequent, life" is the memory aid: how much the first re-set is limited to, how much each subsequent re-set is limited to, and how much all cumulative re-sets (up or down) are limited to.
IO - loans can be "fully amortizing" or "interest only" (IO)
CMT - is a U.S. treasury rate (most popular is 1- year maturity for ARMs). "Constant maturity" for those who want technical info.
MTA - is not anything related to a transit authority. It is "monthly treasury average" rate. It's just a month average of the CMT values, not a new maturity/duration. As an average, it smooths out any month-to-month blips and the volatility.
The last/current 1-yr MTA is 2.256% (although most mortgage contracts round to the nearest 1/8th or something at re-set).
The current 1-yr CMT is 0.96% [!!!].
On the other hand, the 1-yr ARMs rates for new mortgages are surveyed at over 5% and 5/1 ARMs higher still. It looks like 1-yrs bottomed out at 4% when Greenspan took policy rates as low as they are today.
Posted by Amicus at 1:41 PM
Friday, November 21, 2008
THERE ARE STILL 60 DAYS FOR REGULAR AMERICANS
The inaction of the GOP in the face of ongoing economic crisis has forced the hand of the Obama team.
News of the likely appointment of Tim Geithner of the NY Fed was worth $350 billion to the equity markets, so bad had the ideological sentiments of George "Little Hoover" Bush become.
Still, there are 60 days left of Bush versus the U.S. Economy.
- In that time, as many as 550,000 Americans will lose their homes, without a broad-ranging foreclosure moratorium (pending a system-wide, far-reaching solution). Perhaps another 550,000 Americans, after that, while any new plans get enacted and promulgated.
- Close to 1 million will lose their jobs, not including the entire automotive industry, if the GOP intransigents have their way.
The GOP - and Washington - will ... go home to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, right?
Posted by Amicus at 4:02 PM
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Megan McArdle has an interesting take on what motivates CEOs (who read CEO Magazine?), in reply to MattY.
The problem could be solved if Boards did reverse auctions for their Executive talent and stopped pretending that the pool of available executives was as nearly as small as they do.
Posted by Amicus at 4:45 PM
UNCERTAINTY TSUNAMI FROM WASHINGTON RISES
They have bought into a meme about "accountability" and "viability".
It's not an investment. It's spending, with a chance to meet some other goals along the way, like maybe national healthcare (via the UAW) or a little bit on fuel saving vehicles, okay?
Maybe some smart way to handle it is by quickly setting up a blue-panel board to deal with the details: If you buy some time for creativity (vote $8billion instead of the full amount), such a panel of experts can work on a pre-packaged plan (either inside bankruptcy court or not), that includes tools to manage the dealer network, restore their financial flexibility for consumer financing, and wipe clean as much debt as possible. Big picture items. The idea that someone from a government panel is going to go in and work on individual UAW contract provisions (as questioned by some Senators), monitor the use of the corporate jet, or decide which product lines need to be consolidated, is bunk, however.
Paul Krugman has just very eloquently spelled out how much the immediate future is about jobs, about spending for jobs.
GM is jobs. Ready-made jobs. Jobs that will hold together a regional situation that could become a nasty economic and financial sink-hole, without apt attention.
Just do it, before it is too late. Take up some of the burden of selling the plan yourselves. Don't fall prey to the GOP's shortsighted, wandering musings about frugality and duty to taxpayers - not now.
The markets will now test the lows again...
Posted by Amicus at 2:15 PM
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
WHO IS IN CHARGE, AROUND HERE?
Senator Leahy, on the law's delay:
In December 2007, the Committee held a hearing on the Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act of 2008, S.2136. ...
In March and April, this Committee considered and voted to report Senator Durbin's legislation to authorize bankruptcy courts to modify primary home mortgages to the Senate. The bill was reported in July and a Committee report in support was filed in September. Because the crisis persists and we have not been able to enact this measure, we are holding this follow-up hearing. It may serve to refocus on this measure now or in a few weeks when the Obama administration is left to resolve the foreclosure and economic crises.
Senator Durbin, on who really runs the U.S. Government:
Over the past year, I tried three times to pass this proposal - as part of Majority Leader Reid's housing bill in the spring, as part of the Senate Banking Committee's housing bill in the summer, and as part of the financial rescue bill this fall. Each time, the Mortgage Bankers Association and most of the financial services industry opposed my proposal, and nothing got done.
Senator Arlen Specter:
I would think that Specter's untimely objections could be met by providing bankruptcy courts specific guidance on how to modify particular types of loans, which would provide lenders with a sort-of schedule that they could use to estimate recovery rates.
A side note:
If you ever doubted the ability of one individual to change the course of an entire nation, notice that policymakers are relying, apparently, on information collected by a single Georgetown professor for a paper (cf. his blog).
In the face of national crisis, if you thought that the Federal Government of the United States could command the kind of comprehensive information gathering, in short order, that would make even EU bureaucrats blush, you'd be wrong.
Posted by Amicus at 11:19 PM
...going on today in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Stories of renters coming home from work and finding their belongings on the sidewalk in front of their landlord's foreclosed house, at least what hasn't been stolen. A case of a landlord who rented a place to someone, after he had been foreclosed.
Sadly, Senators are looking forward to getting something done early next year (i.e. Obama Administration). That's all they seem verbally committed to.
Why they don't demand a moratorium, while they "wait"? Qien sabe?
Who bears the cost of time on for this long, long wait? The ongoing price of caustic uncertainty in the markets is huge.
In an uncharitable reading, isn't "waiting" the whole purpose of those who don't want anything done, i.e. waiting for the bulk of the loan resets to pass, so that afterward, they can say, "why do something now, it's too late, at best?".
Read the rest ... this is the land of Bush-Paulson.
Other than that, it's plan the lack of foresight in not mandating reporting and government collection of statistics, last year, at the outset. Today, we are still arguing about who has the best or right numbers ...
Posted by Amicus at 4:37 PM
Stem cells, abortion. They want to paint Obama to be a bad-guy from day one.
The Bush Administration pushing a conscience exception for employees - other people's employees - is particularly laughable, after they went through hoops to make sure that no one in "the chain" could opt out of torture, if the President wanted it ...
I believe they even offered up indemnification or paid liability insurance or something.
Posted by Amicus at 10:42 AM
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Little Hoover's Hope Now Alliance looks set to be unmasked as miserable foot dragging, misdirection, and ideological backwater.
No stone shall remain unturned - it's very unlikely all these homes can have been 'speculation':
Quote for the Day:
FECKLESS LEADERSHIP, ARMCHAIR OUTRAGE
I've seen no reports that the lame duck Senate Leadership (Chris Dodd?) are willing to send a bill up to Bush to put a moratorium on foreclosures for at least the same amount of time that Little Hoover's Treasury Secretary continues to "examine" the foreclosure problem (his own words) ...
Who cares if it gets vetoed? Sometimes, you have to take a stand, without delay.
Posted by Amicus at 11:46 PM
...so wants to get the heck out of Cambridge, don't you think?
Ever adaptable to political winds, yesterday, he propounded "speedy, substantial and sustained".
"Targeted, Timely, Temporary" - Why Larry Summers Is Wrong
Posted by Amicus at 10:57 PM
What did we learn from the great TARP rush, a 3-page piece of paper that everyone was told needed approval inside a week or "the markets" wouldn't like it?
That it makes sense to take expert testimony, first?
Well, today, Senate leadership introduced the auto "bridge loan" legislation, S.3688, on the floor, before experts have even weighed in, fully. It's what you might describe as ... a solution that lacks imagination.
High level politicians are not risk-takers. Is that what is going on up there? It's hard to tell. Everyone seems paralyzed.
This Bill, if it passes, is what the Democrats will be saddled with politically. Is this one-pager really the what the best minds in the Democratic party have come up with, for this important step that will be part of the Obama legacy, whether he was President at the time, or not?
Posted by Amicus at 8:02 PM
Deliberately ignoring the will of the people, from Connecticut and otherwise, Senate votes to keep one of their favorite backwashers.
Nothing changes in Washington. If it does, it's glacial.
The Ruling Class never fails to demoralize the base. Well, almost never. It may be different, this time - people may take it as a signal that the earmarking and the backwashing need to come to light, in order to end.
Put another way, this may be one watershed to push Obama to put his good-governance goals a little bit higher on an already crowded agenda. After reflection, you see that there may be a very, very strong case for it.
Posted by Amicus at 1:47 PM
NO CONFIDENCE BUILDER, HERE - PUALSON GUT PUNCHES THE MARKETS
Treasury Secretary Paulson kicks the can down the road, as if there were all the time in the world:
In summary, I am very proud of the decisive actions by Treasury, the Fed and the FDIC to stabilize our financial system. We have done what was necessary as facts and conditions in the market and economy have changed, adjusting our strategy to most effectively address the urgent crisis and preserving the flexibility of the President-elect and the new Secretary of the Treasury to address the challenges in the economy and capital markets they will face in the coming months.
Maybe 8,000 to 9,000 people will be foreclosed on today, for whatever reason and with whatever consequences ...
Time will tell, but whatever his stumbling that can be reasonably forgiven, I suspect that history will judge him harshly...perhaps as it becomes clear(er) that 'Hope Now Alliance' was so poorly and ideologically conceived.
Even worse than that, because his abject refusal to take action to address those now glaring inadequacies will be interpreted as intent that the program was designed as a ... limp handshake, at best.
Update: He's making up history now (i.e. we came up to the Hill with the objective of putting capital into the banks). You can't spin the markets that way with your credibility and get away with it. It's sad. We really need leadership, today, not as far down the road as January 20th.
Update2: Paulson's Treasury seems unable to put together two-in-a-row or something. After his comments, Citibank hits 52-week low today at $8 and change. Agency spreads wider.
Update3: Citibank now at a new low...
Update4: The bottom opens up. Equity markets are setting new lows going into final hour of trade, a fine accomplishment for "Little Hoover's" Treasury Secretary, today. What do you expect when you come up to the Hill to declare that economic stabilization is beyond the scope, in your opinion, of the economic stabilization bill? Let's hope for the final hour, otherwise this is a serious technical breakdown, most likely.
Update5: The equity market recovers, for now, luckily for him. You can see why Hank became head of Goldman. He's so smooth the legislators don't even know they are being "handled" (e.g. I feel your pain, etc.).
Posted by Amicus at 10:00 AM
it may indeed be time to call the era of National Review as a repository for intellectual debate over.
Agreed. Time of death, 17 Nov 2008, 2:12 p.m.
I've removed all links and hope that they change their name to "Super-HotAir Patriots Almighty", in order to compete.
Posted by Amicus at 12:30 AM
Monday, November 17, 2008
He's got a strong case.
So, why not take him at his word, maybe as an inspiration for a netroots campaign to Free the Shareholders!
How many people own stocks, but don't get to vote, because someone is voting for them?
It's probably a lot. Many people are forced to own mutual funds in their 401(k) or other series in the variable annuities. Someone else votes for them.
Believe it or not, a directive has already been moved and adopted (I think) in the EU, with the surprising acquiesce of the ICI. I'm not aware that this directive has resulted in any changes in law within the EU, however (could be mistaken). (The motives behind shareholder rights "reform" in Europe are ... multifaceted.)
Posted by Amicus at 11:54 PM
Tomorrow, the Senate faces a choice between what is obvious and what is political. We'll see what happens.
As we know, the Senate can be a horrible set of backwashers, passing out favors to each other, rather than 'voting their conscience' or 'voting their constituencies', no matter how much those interests pretend to collide.
If you ever doubted why Joe Lieberman has so much "popularity" in the Senate, look no further than the way that the Homeland Security appropriations formula was changed, under his Leadership.
As I recall, Senator Obama spoke against his proposal. Lieberman's was the backwashing proposal (done with Susan Collins, as memory serves). Obama's was the one that best served the public interest...
Posted by Amicus at 11:33 PM
I think the unbearable verbal bling of Art Laffer even overwhelms the smugness of the FOX channel, what do you think? (I say that being among those who greatly underestimated the impact of "subprime" and who didn't follow the press on the risky expansion of piggyback-loans and everything else, myself; but I cannot imagine ever being so dismissive as this):
Watch only through about 5:42 or so. The rest is repetitive but still worth seeing:
footnote to Paul Krugman - pay attention to how you make opinion forecasts, because the rightwing media will have their knives out to collect the same from liberal commentators. To be honest, there were elements of it even in Charlie Rose's post Nobel interview, as best I remember it, sadly (and Charlie is seriously one of the more even handed, even if he knows how to do a 'killer' interview, when he wants to, right?).
(h/t Alea blog)
Posted by Amicus at 10:05 AM
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Paul Krugman finds himself in close proxmity to the nexus of the G.O.P.'s spin machine, that is either testament to how easy it is for the GOP to get its memes repeated, without question, or how easy it is to get something started, simply by repeating it enough times.
You have to wonder why the GOP are so shrill, so defensive on the issue.
People most familiar with Freddie and Fannie have pointed to the lack of participation in the industry's "affordability products", as a way of explaining why the two lost market share during the go-go days.
But the picture is more complicated.
I'm trying to understand the scope of OFHEO's authority a little more, in order to understand how to qualify some of the numbers I've cooked up: it looks like OFHEO under Bush, put its foot on the gas, at least in one way, when the GOP had all the branches of government. It was NOT the Clinton-era OFHEO...
The director of OFHEO is a Bush appointee.
Even though it's been a difficult task to come to a reasonably firm conclusion, so far, it's worth the effort because the analytics are recyclable: both of the GSEs are up for a questioning and reconsideration of their structure, for obvious reasons.
Posted by Amicus at 7:05 PM
What is the locus of today's progressive idea machine? Is it in the Senate? Is it some room that contains the Obama transition team? Is it unformed?
I've seen T. Boone Pickens, stalwart Texas businessman and philanthropist, get almost endless free press, without anyone to offer an alternative view. Has any progressive "think tank" reviewed his "plan"?
Anyway, it came to the fore because of today's oddball juxtaposition on Meet The Press of Boone talking down about "a plan" for GM as unbounded, while boosting "a plan" for ... well, it didn't sound like he was talking about "free markets" and, if he were a 'pinhead liberal', so named by the indecent Right, he'd have had to answer at least three or four questions about "big government" and "taxes", right?
It's amazing how much Conservative bias there is in the press, especially the financial press, right?
Posted by Amicus at 6:45 PM
Friday, November 14, 2008
Remember when this became our litmus test for who had spent the time hitting the books, or whatever, to get informed, at least a little bit, before ... leaping?
I propose that we set a new standard: Do you know what a synthetic CDO is?
If you can't really describe this in simple terms, which is no easy task, admittedly, and you are a policy maker, you need to go to school / get a briefing.
Policy makers and regulators who have thrown their hands up at the 'complexity' and prefer to just "stand by" to address problems with a big bucket of capital cannot be proactive.
I suppose others can come up with their litmus test. But right now, that one is high on my list of things to get a grip on.
Posted by Amicus at 10:20 AM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Boosting the notion of a GM bankruptcy as an appropriate non-reward, AS writes:
Rewarding failure is the central characteristic of the Bush administration. Obama pledged to be the un-Bush. Don't do it!
Even though there is an exclamation point at the end, I'll resist the temptation to skewer this, and just ask the following.
You were able to finally realize that right-wing "ideology" applied to the Iraq war was ... bunk. Can you do the same for this, just on a shortened timeframe?
Consider that this sentiment, above, is more or less what some said at the time of the Lehman failure - "we need to assert 'moral hazard'".
We now know that failure led to ... a meltdown.
Posted by Amicus at 5:23 PM
Remember when I kidded that we ought not get complacent, that King George "The Decider" still had 100 days left and compared that, using a well-known visual, to Napoleon's march from Russia?
Today, Enron George went to the steps of Federal Hall to deliver a quasi free-markets speech, during a time when the only thing standing between us and the bread lines is ... well, our massive Government action.
Truly, it's unbelievable.
If the GOP won't pass a "clean bill" to help GM, we'll see how the market responds to the kinds of deal-killers that the Republicans in Congress have in mind to continue "saving us" from Government.
Posted by Amicus at 3:20 PM
Andrew got this right, but maybe the wrong photo to caption:
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country," - Abraham Lincoln, Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862.
Posted by Amicus at 9:44 AM
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I see Meagan buying into the sad misperception that unions are the bain and great evil facing auto company management. In fact, the large auto makers have good relations, through almost all recent history, with their unions.
She also seems to buy into the false notion that Detriot cannot make a profitable car, even with unions.
Here is some separate background, for those interested (see below). Libertarians (and their sidekick Conservatives) appear to be set to get comeuppance for their lack of economic vision regarding employer-provided healthcare.
An outright failure and windup of GM, in the current economic environment, might be exactly the kind of Hooverish thing that would assure the ascendancy of Liberalism for two generations.
Also, "Obama, Inslee Introduce Bill to Help U.S. Automakers Produce Hybrids, Lower Health Care Costs, Wednesday, April 18, 2007"
Update: More on autos. Fair Game?
Posted by Amicus at 12:02 PM
SITUATION ANALYSIS - "ECONOMICS IN AMERICA" IS FAILING, INSTITUTIONALLY
Economics is one, of course, because economic outcomes have national security implications.
Look, instead, to how differently we view and handle 'national crisis' that is military in nature versus what is economic in nature.
Can we say that "economics in America" has provided anything remotely similar, timely, and comprehensive? Are we supposed to divine a decent situation analysis from a long series of finger-pointing and back-and-forth along ideological lines? Editorials in the NYT, the WaPo, and the WSJ?
Wall Street itself appears increasingly to have its knives out for the Federal Reserve, if you read the tea leaves.
The TARP, the ultimate everything bagel, reflects technical differences and information deficits, not just policy disagreements. On the whole, as originally conceived, it might be the equivalent of launching an air war, when boots on the ground were needed...
In short, our National Council of Economic Advisers seems institutionally insufficient to the job, no parallel to the National Security Council. We've had an economic 9/11, arguably. Are they handling it better than the CIA?
Even critical decision-quality data on systemwide mortgage defaults and mortgage loan structures seems elusive, out of the public's hands. Recall that it wasn't until after the 1930s that people decided it might be a good idea to have public, formalized, comprehensive data on the basics of the economy, including labor statistics and everything else. History is repeating itself?
Indeed, if one got deeply uncharitable, you could say that the entire, massive multi-decade effort of the NBER to provide the data and understanding sufficient, even in exigent circumstances, to avoiding precisely the kind of mess we are in today has failed us, and that shortcoming looks set to get worse, alongside the pain in the real economy, before it gets better.
Posted by Amicus at 10:29 AM
Already mentioned below, but some details I didn't know:
The Detroit Three in 2007 set up a mechanism to unload their union retiree health obligations by 2010 to trusts controlled by the United Auto Workers. But those trusts aren't up and running yet, and aren't fully funded. Government subsidies could be used to plug that funding gap, and allow the Detroit Three to put their cash into better cars. This is a proposal the UAW supports.-WSJ
I think the VEBAs might be more funded than this lets on, if the question is just the very small annual contributions left as a tail with the manufacturers. I'm not sure though. I'll look around for details.
Posted by Amicus at 9:56 AM
It's interesting that this kind of "big government" almost always fails to get identified as such by its "natural constituents". Why is that? It's your tax dollars ...
The FBI's 15-Year Campaign To Ferret Out Norman Mailer
Apparently, stormin' Norman was ... a "subversive".
Fifteen years - years.
Posted by Amicus at 8:34 AM
From the Times, today:
“There is no silver bullet to address the housing downturn,” said Neel Kashkari, the assistant Treasury secretary who oversees the bailout program. “We are experiencing a necessary correction and the sooner we work through it, the sooner housing can again contribute to our economic growth.”
Just as we all suspected from the first, but now in black and white.
A decision was taken early on, perhaps long before the TARP even came to the Hill, that a swift douche, no matter how painful or how unjust, was what the market for housing needed and to shore up lenders with taxpayer dollars, rather than try to blunt the ferociousness of millions of defaults, address the potential for a spiral, the concerns about a housing price overshoot, or buy the banks time to amortize the problem against strong earnings.
Bernanke is on board with this view, too, I very strongly suspect, despite his phraseology to the contrary. :-(
Posted by Amicus at 2:07 AM
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
MEASUREMENT WITHOUT DATA
Afraid of a robust solution, the Bush Administration comes up today with a plan to do what should have been done this time last year, modify ridiculous mortgage loans. (It does not seem to address the problem of negative equity ... so far as one can tell from headlines).
All the same, it's very hard to assess the impact of the plan. apart from observing that the Bush Administration may have let up to 2/3rds of "the problem", at least among sub-prime loans, go by, before getting serious about it.
I keep seeing the data needed to analyze the problem in the hands of private groups.
The Congress seems to not have voted / mandated data collection on the "mortgage default problem", just as we've done since the National Bureau was created oh so many decades ago, right?
Update: more evidence comes rolling in
"Still, government officials had no [official] estimate of how many homeowners would be able to qualify."
Posted by Amicus at 2:12 PM
Paul Krugman thinks so.
My advice to the Obama people is to figure out how much help they think the economy needs, then add 50 percent. ...
I'm not sure we've got the academics to put their finger directly on what the problem is, unless "general economic weakness" is sufficient.
For instance, "the problem" during the 1930s was a broken banking system and a restrictive monetary policy, as much as anything.
Today, we have what imbalances, exactly, that need to be worked through?
So, my completely presumptuous advice to the academics is also simple, but twofold:
For the sake of robust solution prescription, imagine that you are wrong. Perhaps 'the problem', which you have not specified, goes on a LOT longer than you expect at the outset. Imagine also that the markets, at their harshest, come to believe all your efforts are limited and temporary.It'd be more than some re-paved roads, re-built bridges, and some relief programs, yes? It's have to be a lot more than "rebuild the military", right?
Then figure out what legacy you would like to have left, for having tried, in that instance, from your early actions and follow-on actions.
It would have to be some "true improvements", measured one way or another, right? I'll leave that open-ended, because I've already voiced some ideas and don't want to end the list there.
For the second part:
Consider afterward that you are "wrong" in the other direction, that the 'imbalances' move more quickly than expect to resolution and the market consensus is that your efforts are sufficient andPut another way, the government need not go-it-alone. Risk sharing helps. Timing is everything. There may be other ideas about how to scale back or scale-into projects or work on a list of projects, some of which may be canceled.
Then, figure out how to tailor your approach (perhaps involving public-private partnership?), so that you are not over-extended, from the outset, or so that you share the outcome(s) with other stakeholders.
Whatever the case, simply throwing money at the problem could be - could be - a recipe to become, as Japan did, the Italy of the East.
Posted by Amicus at 11:55 AM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
A BIG SHOUT OUT
The press reports make it look like the Dem leadership has 'bought' the package that GM's management has told them it needs.
Even admitting that 'help' is a good idea, I wonder if anyone is going to do an independent analysis. You know, it is possible to accept an assessment, without swallowing the prescribed "solution" wholesale, right?
I still like the health-care angle, a whole lot more than the "re-tooling" angle.
Posted by Amicus at 5:02 PM
Saturday, November 8, 2008
While Bush is meeting with his European counterparts to shoot down their cross-border regulatory goals, Obama's economic council could meet alongside the council of state Governors.
To my mind, there are a number of regional efforts that could find financial and ideological support with a breath of fresh air coming to Washington, soon.
Posted by Amicus at 9:00 PM
Before they get all mavricky, the Senators from Connecticut ought to at least look at the exit polls from their state, not just their collegial-strategery in the Senate:
|Independent or something else||57||39||31|
If they are, I'm missing it (obviously).
Posted by Amicus at 8:46 PM
Friday, November 7, 2008
Luckily, "small business" seems to be some kinda target for how we run our economy these days, so niche away!
A 100% free social networking & online dating site specifically for singles with a mullet...and for those with the taste and style to appreciate these unique trendsetters.
Welcome to the first, most effective and largest site for singles interested in motorcycles in the world!
Posted by Amicus at 7:58 PM
It's a little alarming the number of commentators down on investing in infrastructure.
Wasn't it just in the past Administration that the entire East Coast of the United States went dark?
In the aftermath of that, we learned that we had an electric grid that hasn't been upgraded since it was built in the post-war period (as best I recall, that is). (That and how vulnerable we are to terrorist attack, including our one or two pipelines that come up from the Gulf).
Today, we really, really could use a 'smart grid'. The efficiency gains to the economy are enormous.
Even small improvements in congestion and reductions in commuter time have material implications for productivity and quality of life.
People have been talking for years about building roads that last twice as long as those that are constantly re-done now. Material scientists have come up with was to sequester carbon, by changing the materials that we build with, something that could be jump-started, could reach critical mass, by widespread projects that require new methods. This aligns "government intervention" with moving rapidly along the technological change curve - that's change to believe in, not just more of the same.
Posted by Amicus at 2:35 PM
Obama's visible list of economic advisers has some breadth and gravitas and wet blankets (Summers?), who collectively have a staggering amount of real-world experience.
My only question is, "Where are the idealists?" Who, in this crowd, is going to stand up to a man with the physical stature of Volker and the intellectual stature of Summers and say, "You guys aren't reaching far enough, you aren't taking enough risk(s), and here's why"? Rubin? Does he grasp the possibilities on the table right now? I don't know...
Afterall, in recent times, it's a lot easier to be a conservative leaning political-economist. All you have to do is buy into the idea that cutting taxes is the solution to just about everything and you can join the club, with chevrons for how well and loudly you can sing the tune, right?
Members of the board include:
* David Bonior (Member House of Representatives 1977-2003
* Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway)-will participate via speakerphone
* Roel Campos (former SEC Commissioner
* William Daley (Chairman of the Midwest, JP Morgan Chase; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Commerce, 1997-2000)
* William Donaldson (Former Chairman of the SEC 2003-2005
* Roger Ferguson (President and CEO, TIAA-CREF and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
* Jennifer Granholm (Governor, State of Michigan
* Anne Mulcahy (Chairman and CEO, Xerox)
* Richard Parsons (Chairman of the Board, Time Warner)
* Penny Pritzker (CEO, Classic Residence by Hyatt
* Robert Reich (University of California, Berkeley; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Labor, 1993-1997)
* Robert Rubin (Chairman and Director of the Executive Committee, Citigroup; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1995-1999)
* Eric Schmidt (Chairman and CEO, Google)
* Lawrence Summers (Harvard University; Managing Director, D.E. Shaw; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1999-2001)
* Laura Tyson (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; Former Chairman, National Economic Council, 1995-1996; Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 1993-1995)
* Antonio Villaraigosa (Mayor, City of Los Angeles)
* Paul Volcker (Former Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve 1979-1987
No other personnel announcements are planned for the day.
Posted by Amicus at 2:05 PM
HOW CONSERVATIVE TALKING POINTS DOMINATE THE NEWS CYCLE
Look, now, how FOX has "breaking news" about Governor Palin, repeated widely, quickly, fed by anonymous sources "inside the McCain campaign", mostly hearsay evidence - probably uncorroborated - about things Palin may or may not have said.
The whole lot of hypocrites deserve each other. It's sickening how they coarsen the culture, isn't it? Nevermind Hollywood, when you have FOX, et. al.
A cherry on top? Buzz is that the no-press-conferences-please Palin might replace the convicted wealth-distributor, Senator Stevens.
So, I ask, where is the revolt of the Conservative netroots, to all of this?
Over at HotAir, just to pick one hayride, the Excuses-R-Us runs like this:
Update: Newsweek is full on into it, too. source: "an angry aide". Wow.
Posted by Amicus at 7:15 AM
100 DAYS THAT RESHAPED THE AMERICAN HEALTHCARE COOPERATIVE
- 1. GM's health and pension liabilities are coming your way, bankruptcy now or bankruptcy later. Maybe Ford's and Chrysler's too.
- 2. It would be foolish to let the entire auto industry evaporate during an otherwise normal economic slowdown, spurred by a financial panic.
Along with the State of Michigan, it's time to build a new, forward-looking health care cooperative with American business.
GM and Ford, believe it or not, are a perfect place to start. I suspect their managements are willing patients, even in good times, having taken up healthcare publicly many times already. In the UAW, the industry also comes with a natural, in-house ally for comprehensive reform.
Think about it, seriously. The case to seize the day on this is overwhelmingly compelling. I can list at least a dozen "pros", just off the top of my head...
GM Executive: Next 100 Days Critical For GM, US Auto Industry
Posted by Amicus at 4:24 AM
Thursday, November 6, 2008
NO PARTNERS FOR CHANGE, HERE
WSJ appears to be deeply upset ... that Clinton is no longer available as THE national disgrace.
Paul Krugman gets all mavericky. :-)
Posted by Amicus at 1:15 PM
AS rounds up reacts from the Right to the election.
MAMLUKS AMONG US?
First, one has to look oddly on the moral schism that allows some people to cheer or excuse the kind of tactics that occurred, then suddenly gush with glowing, laudatory conciliation. Isn't there a certain amount of honor in the fight, not just the concession?
Apparently "reform-conservatism" will outlast the McCain-Palin dash.
There are no partners for change here. They have simply taken out a new scorecard. Check Malkin and someone named Hinderaker:
THE 'MONEY FIRST, NOT COUNTRY FIRST' CABAL
Apparently indifferent to how "strong" they left America, there seems to be a small crowd detectably grinning that massive GOP debt-spending has put a cap, perceived or real, on ... "socialism" and "spending programs".
Posted by Amicus at 6:08 AM
IF YOU WERE A CONSERVATIVE, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?
In the big picture, what is perhaps most amazing about Tuesday's election is that almost fifty percent, one in two, voted for a political party that has delivered almost an abject failure on every political metric (except maybe stacking the courts). From the do-nothing Congress to the Terry Shiavo spectacular; from torture to torture cover-up; from manipulation of Justice to refusing the sub-peona of The People's house; from massive debt for an unpaid-for nation-building exercise to a "socialist" drug program, the list is long, very long.
So, what would you have done if your political party had delivered such a disaster?
Would you have fallen in line, like a good soldier?
Even if they aren't "your party", just the 'political companions' of roughly similar ideological views, would you have voted "aye" for them?
I suspect I would have stayed home, on election day.
So, for me, the largest mystery of the election, is how we have a political belief system structured so that political parties are ... too big to fail, quite demonstrably.
Update: The figures are crunched.
It happened, but not nearly as much as one might have suspected:
Posted by Amicus at 5:43 AM
Transformative politics seeks to exit the permavictim-of-the-courts posture, to a new, broader recognition. It doesn't try to side-step around that posture, to triangulate. It tries to change the posture itself.
Yes, we can. We can have both a world in which the 'sanctity of marriage' is affirmed and gays get married (and raise children). We can also do it, in part, by re-affirming respect for the courts and rejecting the assault on them from the American Mullahcracy.
Posted by Amicus at 4:38 AM
If you have a screen larger than 15", you ought to consider trying out the FireFox browser (by Mozilla) as an alternative to Internet Explorer, especially if you do a lot of blog reading.
Many blogs run in a strip down the middle of the screen. The "Zoom" feature allows you to fit that strip to the size of your screen, making it a LOT easier to read.
Posted by Amicus at 3:28 AM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
After complaining about Hedge Funds dumping assets, it wouldn't be fair not also to complain about large company managements who "throw up" on the business outlook.
Look, everyone knows the possibility of a sharp downturn is out there. But, companies and individuals do not *know* that we are going to have a 'Great Depression'.
I propose that company managements refrain from .... dramatizing their negative earnings results, in the worst way. It's sufficient to say that the operating environment has been among the worst observed and the upcoming periods are highly uncertain, right?
Posted by Amicus at 6:05 PM
If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close.-AS
I know this old quote has gotten some press.
I took exception to it at the time and I will again.
Obama's face is no counterfactual within the scope al-qa'ida's ideology.
Posted by Amicus at 5:44 PM
QUIET HERO OF THE ELECTION
He had such amazing discipline about saying nothing during the campaign, Obama should have been thanking him for the election last night (at least privately). It really was a virtuoso performance of silence. Enormous self-control under enormous strain.
Today, he loses that discipline, sadly, with David Remnick at the helm of this 'defeat', this capitulation to "say something".
(He doesn't understand that there is nothing he can say, at this point. Nothing personal, that is. By that, I mean, he cannot be "exonerated" in the hearts of those who "convicted" him. The O'Reilly-Hannity inspired threats on his life are newsworthy, nonetheless.)
Posted by Amicus at 10:19 AM
The NY State Congress is in Democratic hands for the first time ... in an age.
In Texas, there is hope of a tie in the House, based on a recount.
In Minnesota, Franken is behind by circa 1,000 votes with just eight more precincts to report (and four counties to count).
Update: 9:32 a.m.
Missouri looks like it will go to McCain, by 5,800 votes only.
Franken behind by 600 votes ...
Update: 9:39 a.m.
Saxby Chambliss will not get the easy road. With 4% more to report, he's below 50% and the write-in candidates can only make his overall percentage lower.
Update: 9:44 a.m.
Al Franken loses by 726 votes to Coleman. Arrrrg! Factoids: Almost 24,000 "pulled a lever" for a Presidential candidate, in Minnesota, but didn't bother to vote for Senator. 360,000 more Minnesotans voted for Obama-Biden than for Franken. Undiciplined lot, those 'sotans.
Update: 9:54 a.m.
Alaska votes to return first ever "convicted" Senator to office (that I know). After campaigning on "reform", Palin refused to say whether she had voted for him or not.
Just ... ponder that for a moment. Some write about the "core decency" of Conservatives/conservatism. Yet, when the rubber hits the road, it's the devil you know?
Honestly, it's hard to explain, even allowing for the Machiavellian "vote the seat". This headline sort-of says it all about the entire Bush "leadership" era, which Stevens backed: "Senator Ted Stevens accused of making false statements"
Update: 10:15 a.m.
As gay Californians wake up to their recently polluted constitution, the Secretary of State website crashes (one assumes that it is additional drain).
Posted by Amicus at 9:09 AM
Listening to conservative commentators this morning, I think they have no idea, yet.
You have to admire for its audacity the sidestep in which, when Liberals take the reins, they are expected to ... cooperate. When the Conservatives take the reins, they announce, as Newt did, 'we have the rules committee, we have the House ...', implying that discussion was "nice", but not necessary.
Then there is Joe Scarborough, appealing for epistemological humility (for himself?).
THE AGE OF NON-TRIANGULATION
With some luck, the new generation, the net-roots, do not look set to be innately ashamed of being in charge and more likely than not to have their own ideas, not just responsive opinions to a Conservative-fed agenda (and certainly - certainly - more than the old-world, machine politics).
As for the rest, if American Conservatism wants a "comeback", one can come up with the formula in just four words: give integrity a chance.
The whole approach of spinning frequently bogus narratives that can be sold to fifth-grade-average educated voters ... could well be at the end of its rope, if the Democrats do the right things to consolidate their recent gains.
Posted by Amicus at 7:52 AM
FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA - TEXAS POLYGAMISTS IN, GAYS OUT
Florida, the land of Anita Bryant, will reach a super-majority who refuse relationship recognition to gays. What do you expect of ... Florida?
Arkansas, captive to holy rollers, will ban adoption for gay and lesbian families, but will surely collect taxes from them so that other people's children can have their schooling paid for.
Arizona, on the other hand, had been one of the few 'enlightened' states, but now looks set to jettison that. A sort-of legal-beacon on the issue, Arizona had once rejected polluting their constitution with arcane social discrimination(s) by adhering, instead, to a
thoroughgoing minimalist constitutional interpretation that kept 'activist judges' at bay. But that wasn't enough for America's Mullahs. They want "veto", just like their Muslim counterparts, over the constitution itself.
Out-of-state money, much of it Mormon, appears likely to keep ALL deliberative legislative and judicial bodies, including the current Executive from the "Conservative Party", from permitting civil marriage for gays and lesbians, in California. Los Angeles county didn't come through for their gay and lesbian fellow citizens. Neither did San Diego county.
America falls further and further behind the rest of the world. Meanwhile, gay kids get fed a constant notion that they do not have a full place at the table.
Posted by Amicus at 7:28 AM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I'm going to call it, so I can watch un-interrupted, until the California decision on Prop 8 makes the night sweet or bitter-sweet.
NOVEMBER, 2006: CONTRACT ON AMERICA - CANCELED
NOVEMBER, 2008: REAGAN DEVOLUTION - SWEPT ASIDE
Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina!!!
Update: FOX calls Ohio for Obama, and, thereby, the election. Reagan Devolution over: 9:18 p.m. EST.
Update1: Bitter night for Bill Clinton, who tried his darndest to return the favor, to Mitch McConnell, that the GOP paid to Tom Daschle.
Update2: Barack Obama: the only man to get a new house in America with no money down -- David Allen Grier
Posted by Amicus at 8:21 PM
MSNBC calls Pennsylvania for Obama.
John Sidney has but a thread left, two chances (within the realm of which states are likely disputed):
9 states: 27-FL,20-OH,15-NC,13-VA,11-IN,11-MO,9-CO,5-NM,3-ND
9 states: 27-FL,20-OH,15-NC,13-VA,11-IN,11-MO,9-CO,5-NV,3-ND
Posted by Amicus at 8:06 PM
via Kos, Westerners must hit the trail to the voting booths:
Update: Oliver W Holmes the 3rd, in the comments, makes a really good point for all you westerners. VOTE!!!! ... In 2006, Darcy Burner lost by just 5 votes per precinct. Gary Trauner by just one vote per precinct. VOTE!!!
Posted by Amicus at 4:56 PM
I'd explain, but I think everyone feels what I mean. Savor every moment, especially the early ones.
A special joy attends the end of our 2.5 billion dollar national footdance, an Orwellian-packed food-fight that we charitably call an "election". Never have so many spent so much to generate ... so few promises and so little real information.
Cynical of me? Have a look at Yglesias's list of questions, from the primaries, that the candidates never answered. Did the pressure of the general force ... clarity?
That frustration is probably as much at the heart of the "boomer wars", as any, on both sides of the isle.
Anyway, if McCain pulls off an upset, then we'll be old again ... and the Nation will age fast.
Posted by Amicus at 7:33 AM
With all the good analysts and all the people looking for jobs, the NY Fed goes for ... "that one":
I guess if you donate heavily to the industry lobby group, it helps your employment possibilities?
This is one of the dumbest Wall Street moves, yet...
Posted by Amicus at 7:32 AM
It's true. Dixville Notch goes for Obama for President-44.
Our market overlaps with Pennsylvania.
The "Republican Trust", http://nationalrepublicantrust.com/, have been running Rev. Wright ads for three days now, including this a.m.
KNOW YOUR BALLOT MEASURES - THE GOP IS OFTEN IN THE DETAILS!
We have two ballot measures (national ballot measures list), this year, one allowing the legislature to get more involved in judge selection procedure and one about bond issuance. Good luck trying to find out how each party stands on the two issues ...
Posted by Amicus at 6:23 AM
Monday, November 3, 2008
IF YOU PLAY THE ODDS, EVEN THOUGH ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN
Tomorrow, the Dish will be relentless in bringing you every morsel of anecdotage, every sliver of exit polls, and every telling photograph from the field.
As some readers may recall, this blog made a foray into combinatorics, a while back, when Nate Silver asked how many ways there were to 'win by thaaat much' (one state over, but no more).
FLORIDA IS THE KEYSTONE FOR DEMOCRATS
Then, as now, I hoped that Obama/Hillary could bring home Florida, despite GOP pandering.
With Michigan now considered 'out of play', there is likely no McCain Presidency, absent Florida.
He would have to win all ten of these states to make his tally. This is based on the MSNBC map, with all red leaning states going to McCain and all leaning Obama states in the toss-up category.
This will help in your early watching guide. A call for Virginia and a call for Florida means the night is over, hopefully, for the Presidency. Of course, all attention will be on the Congressional races and all the anti-gay ballot initiatives.
Not to slight Pennsylvania, but if it goes Blue, then the GOP have two chances, both involving nine states, as follows:
I say this, because it would be so nice, going forward, if the people of the USA were not captive to ... downstate Ohio, frankly.
As a side note, you can assume that the McCain people have this list, explaining tonight's stops in Roswell, NM, and Henderson, NV.
IF YOU LIKE TO BITE YOUR NAILS
...or pray for the land of oranges to come through, here is McCain's full opportunity set (based on 113 needed to complement 157 red or red-leaning):
|Battleground||Blue States||Red States|
|2008 Election||Florida, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Mexico||Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, Wisconsin, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington||Arkansas, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming|
Posted by Amicus at 9:32 PM
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Paul Krugman notes, once again, that consumers are over-due for a tight spell.
What is weird, today, is that we are having a discussion about whether we ought to do stimulus, instead of how. This is old politics. Post election, we may have a once in a generation opportunity to actually 'think outside the box', to really reach for New Frontiers.
We were more creative in the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion, for pity's sake, with a flood of ideas coming about how the Iraqis ought to structure their oil wealth. Our current lack of creativity is, no doubt, attributed to a lot of politicians unable to think in terms of transformative politics.
We ought not to forget that any Obama tax-cuts will be stimulative, but will not help those who are not on the tax rolls, anyway.
Here is a radical idea on how to 'stimulate' the economy: find a way to cut everyone's cable bill by $40/month. Believe it or not, $40/month is a lot in a budget that needs to pay down credit-card "over borrowing".
Posted by Amicus at 2:21 PM