This is it for me, at least for this chapter. I am off to join some people who don’t much appreciate voices singing out of key, and while they might be able to get over my public disdain for coaches who punt in opposing territory, it would be rather awkward to continue to point out the incompetence of the administration. So for now, it’s probably best to hang it up.
Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Posted in Corruption, Education, Energy Policy, Health Care, Housing Crisis, Housing Policy, Industrial Policy, Inspirational, Labor Policy, Meltdown, Middle East, Miscellaneous, NAFTA, Obama, War on Terror on December 15, 2009 | 29 Comments »
Still trying to process all of my objections to the current Afghan strategy into something moderately coherent, so I’ll start with a very different story: Fritz Henderson was rather suddenly and unceremoniously dismissed as CEO of GM.
General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson resigned after eight months on the job as directors concluded he hadn’t done enough to fix GM’s finances and culture, people familiar with the matter said…Henderson’s exit caps a tenure that included aborted deals to sell the Saturn, Saab and Opel units, a struggle to replace top managers such as Chief Financial Officer Ray Young, and U.S. market-share losses. (more…)
I am enjoying the goings-on in Dubai tremendously. It’s like the field mouse of an economics drug trial: take every extreme symptom, jam it into one place of absolutely no global consequence, and then try to figure out the cure.
Suppose you had a tiny country that decided it wanted to be important. Playing on confusion with its oil-rich neighbors, it goes out and borrows a lot of money to build buildings. Taking the Paris Hilton strategy that if you insist on your caricature long enough others will eventually believe it, the country makes a big show of people piling into the buildings. Real estate developers, the ultimate momentum players, pile in. The country goes the offshore tax haven route – no income taxes – and throws in absolutely no labor standards to ensure that construction can proceed on whatever blistering pace can be achieved by malnourished Thais and Pakistanis welding in 115F heat. Eventually it hits the wall – for reasons completely beyond its control, at some point people look around and realize they have the world’s largest Potemkin village. There is no market. The locals are preposterously corrupt. Islam is not compatible with the hedge fund lifestyle. What then? (more…)
Now here’s an interesting verdict that doesn’t seem to get much press:
In a ruling that could leave the government open to billions of dollars in claims from Hurricane Katrina victims, a federal judge said late Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had displayed “gross negligence” in failing to maintain a navigation channel — resulting in levee breaches that flooded large swaths of greater New Orleans. (more…)
Short post to follow up on two things that were on Baseline recently.
First of all, take James’ advice and check out this Interfluidity post:
An enduring truth about financial regulation is this: Given the discretion to do so, financial regulators will always do the wrong thing.
I am a huge fan of going for it on fourth down. The odds are typically on your side, and the main reason coaches don’t do it is that failure is so much more evident than success. Well, here goes the second-guessing:
All sorts of things went wrong to get the Pats to this position – the offensive and defensive lines had Super Bowl-level fatigue issues down the stretch – but they were still winning by six points. They had the advantage, and they gave it away trying for the knockout. (more…)
In the category of a stopped clock being right twice a day, the Senate seems to have come up with a compelling piece of bank regulation. I don’t like its chances to get passed, but it would be great for the nation:
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats circulated a plan Tuesday that would impose sweeping curbs on the Federal Reserve, posing the biggest legislative challenge to the central bank in decades and illustrating how divided Capitol Hill remains about the future of financial regulation.
The move is part of a broader 1,136-page proposal by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd aimed at rewriting how financial markets are overseen. It would create a single banking regulator, a powerful council of regulators to monitor systemic risks to the economy and a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to write and enforce rules on products such as mortgages and credit cards.
This bill has a number of good ideas, and one excellent principle: the Fed should be independent, even when it doesn’t want to be. (more…)
James Kwak over at Baseline has an post about the accounting treatment of Bank of America and Fannie Mae; quoting John Hempton:
If Bank of America were to provide at the same rate its quarterly losses would be 50-80 billion and it would be completely bereft of capital – it would be totally cactus. It would be – like Fannie Mae – a zombie government property.
Hempton claims that BAC has the right recognition policy and Fannie is being crushed by regulatory conservatism. I think that’s about as likely as the Easter Bunny, but Hempton deserves credit for thinking outside the box. (more…)
Nick Kristof hits on one of the most bizarre aspects of the health care debate: the inability even to agree that there is a problem in the first place:
We have the greatest health care system in the world. Sure, it has flaws, but it saves lives in ways that other countries can only dream of. Abroad, people sit on waiting lists for months, so why should we squander billions of dollars to mess with a system that is the envy of the world? As Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama puts it, President Obama’s plans amount to “the first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known.”
That self-aggrandizing delusion may be the single greatest myth in the health care debate.
I don’t think the delusion has much to do with health care. I think it has everything to do with how we speak about America. (more…)