One Hour
David Harsanyi nails it:Imagine that. The most expensive social experiment in American history — one that will cost taxpayers more than both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined — was allotted less than a single day of debate in Congress.How many speed-reading whiz-kid representatives do you think slogged past their own pork to read the entire 647 (or so) pages of the
 
Are You Stimulated Yet?
So,President Obama’s stimulus bill has now passed the House on a party-line vote (Good!) in which the only people to cross the aisle were 11 Democrats, to vote against it. So, it’s on to the Senate where we can probably expect the wonderfulness of bipartisanship to, again, fail to appear.Pres. Obama wanted strong bipartisan support, they say. If so, then when being counseled about what should be in the bill by Republican House honcho John Bo
 
"Stimulus" or Democratic "Trickle Down"
If you need just one reason to oppose the so-called "stimulus package" being offered by Democrats, the fact that economic geniuses such as Nancy Pelosi are writing it should be enough.For instance, here are Pelosi’s thoughts on what has the most stimulative effect on an economy:Food stamps and unemployment insurance will provide more economic stimu
 
About that CBO stimulus study
As discussed in my post yesterday, there was a bit of a dust-up over a preliminary CBO report on the stimulus, with some questions in particular about how quickly the money would be spent. Bloggers on the Left insisted that the money would be spent quickly, and that the bill had changed a lot since the preliminary report.Well, now we have the new CBO report
 
Avoiding the financial pain may see bank nationalization
We here at QandO have made the point in the past about how, regardless of anyone’s desire, there is going to be pain associated with the financial mess we presently find ourselves in. The question is will an apparent aversion to pain lead government to soften it but extend it at the same time, or do politicians have the fortitude and will to advise us to endure the pain, get it over with and begin the inevitable recovery much more quickly?
 
Is this a stimulus plan?
A New York Times piece about the Republican opposition to the stimulus bill notes that Larry Summers has been dispatched to defend the plan, saying, President Obama has pledged that three-quarters of the fund will be spent out in the first 18 months Here’s a question: why are we passing a bill now that locks in a budget beyond the next 12 months? We could apparently cut hun
 
Still not getting it
And that includes those getting it and those handing it out: Beleaguered Citigroup is upgrading its mile-high club with a brand-new $50 million corporate jet - only this time, it’s the taxpayers who are getting screwed.Even though the bank’s stock is as cheap as a gallon of gas and it’s burning through a $45 bill
 
This sounds familiar
Over at Samizdata, Thaddeus Tremayne: Since the late 1990’s everybody outside of us hardy but microscopic band of ideologues (and I do mean ’everybody’ including his brother, mother, plumber and household pets) has been tub-thumpingly convinced that we have endured "the most right-wing government in history". Oh my Lord, how right-wing it was!
 
There are "sweatshops" and then there are sweatshops
Several days ago Nicholas Kristof started a mini-bruhaha when he wrote a piece in the NY Times entitled "Where Sweatshops Are A Dream".Essentially the gist of the story is don’t knock so-called "sweatshops" until you understand their place in various countries. Or, there are places where working in a "sweatshop" is a huge step
 
Krugman on ideology driven arguments
Paul Krugman is harumping about economists who don’t buy lock, stock and barrel into the spending extravaganza called the "stimulus package" of of which he approves:What’s been disturbing, however, is the parade of first-rate economists making totally non-serious arguments against fiscal expansion. You’ve got John Taylor arguing for permanent tax
 
Beware the cure
Writing for Forbes.com, Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein try to direct a little sunshine on to what’s an otherwise gloomy economic outlook. Their prognosis? The worst of the recession is behind us, and it’s all sunny skies ahead. The authors rely on some current trends for the prediction that the economy is in the midst
 
Bailing on CA?
Mike Riley’s list of grievences seems fairly typical of those I’ve heard from other ex-Californians:Mike Reilly spent his lifetime chasing the California dream. This year he’s going to look for it in Colorado.With a house purchase near Denver in the works, the 38-year-old engineering contractor plans to move his family 1,200 miles
 
You know its bad out there when ...
This gives "too big to fail" an entirely new meaning.Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.
 
Obama Stimulus Package - paving the wrong road?
All sorts of opinion is out there concerning PEBO’s desired stimulus package. I pick Jonathan Cohn’s over at the Plank because it pretty much covers what I want to cover. For instance:The general consensus among left-of-center economists these days is that government spending, rather than tax cuts, represent the most ef
 
The culture of pain avoidance
Peter Schiff hits a homerun with his Wall Street Journal piece today. It is entitled "There’s No Pain-Free Cure for Recession". For whatever reason, maybe it is the culture that has taken root in America, painless events, even decidedly negative ones, seems to have become a priority. And of course, such a priority plays into the hands of big government advocates. Conventional
 
Black Christmas
The initial reports of Christmas retail sales for 2008 are in, and they don’t paint a pretty picture.Price-slashing failed to rescue a bleak holiday season for beleaguered retailers, as sales plunged across most categories on shrinking consumer spending, according to new data released Thursday.Despite a flurry of last-minute shoppers lured by the deep d
 
Obamanomics (when "stimulus" is just more debt)
The Washington Post carries a story today entitled, "Green’ Jobs Compete for Stimulus Aid". The essence of the story:In one of the first internal struggles of the incoming Obama administration, environmentalists and smart-growth advocates are trying to shift the priorities of the economic stimulus plan that will be introduced in Congress
 
Goodbye Free Market
So called Republican, George Bush, has finally trotted out his bailout package for 2 of the 3 domestic auto industry. If you can’t get it done legally through the legislature, then go around it and make crap up as you go:President Bush announced a rescue plan for General Motors and Chrysler LLC Friday morning that will make $13.4 b
 
Minimum Wage
You’re sure to hear about again soon.Latest research says:Based on their comprehensive reading of the evidence, Neumark and Wascher argue that minimum wages do not achieve the main goals set forth by their supporters. They reduce employment opportunities for less-skilled workers and tend to reduce their earnings; they are not an effective
 
The Case For Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize winner in economics, says the best remedy for the US auto industry is Chapter 11:What needs to be done is to help the automakers get a fresh start and allow them to focus on producing good cars rather than trying to juggle their books to meet past obligations.The US car industry will not be shut down, but
 
Geez - Even the Commies Get It
While the President-elect trots out his New New Deal, which smacks more of Soviet style planning than free market recovery, Communist China is taking an alternate course:CHINA may soon cut business tax as part of its efforts to prop up the slowing economy amid the global financial c
 
"Where is it written in scripture and stone that we have to have a Big 3?"
I believe I’ve asked a variation of the question before ("What’s wrong with a Big 2?"): 
Markets
I once read a Reason magazine article in the early ’90s which said that environmentalism is something only rich countries can afford to indulge. When your entire life and salary are focused on getting by, it’s not a very big priority in your life.And of course, one of the reasons that the rich countries can indulge themselves is a market forms which trades on their concerns to make money. The reason it works is a) they can afford it and are
 
Car Industry - welcome to centralized planning
As Dale mentioned yesterday, there couldn’t be a worse idea than a federal "car czar". And all you need to know to validate that point is to understand Nancy Pelosi likes the idea.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she supports the concept of a federal overseer of any rescue plan, saying she lacked confidence the heads of the car companies could solve the problem
 
Sometimes a stiff is just a stiff
Remember all the "help homeowners restructure mortgages and save their houses" pleas we heard at the beginning of this bailout mania? All the "predatory lending" and unscrupulous lenders blame that was being tossed around?Well, guess what? A lot of those who were defaulting on their mortgages then are defaulting on their new mortgages now. There’s a reason
 
You’ve got to be kidding ...
Under the "more balls than brains" department, we have this:Merrill Lynch & Co. chief John Thain has suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million, but the battered securities firm’s compensation committee is resisting his request, according to people familiar with the situation.The committee and full board are scheduled to meet
 
Barack the Handy Man
It appears Mr. Obama’s New New Deal economic recovery plan involves a lot of handyman work. 3 points of his 5 point plan involve, well, fixing things. Private sector? Nada:—ENERGY: “[W]e will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade ou
 
Socializing Profit
So what’s happening in the great bailout scam?I mean, looking at what’s going on, I simply don’t know what else to call it. Does anyone understand the plan (to include those supposedly executing it)? Where is the money going, what are the controls on its disbursement and use, who is really in charge of all of this? I know who cl
 
Obama, climate change, "greenfare" and economics
In a bit of a welcome to president-elect Obama those gathered in Poland at a climate change conference have made it clear that the US must make much more drastic cuts in it’s emissions that it plans:Delegates from China and India told Reuters at the Dec. 1-12 talks that they welcomed Obama’s plan to cut emissions to 1990
 
The Auto Bailout (update)
The UAW is finally stepping up to the table and announcing its willingness to make concessions to help the Big 3 automakers avoid bankruptcy. Of course it is predicated on the government extending them loans.At a news conference in Detroit, the U.A.W.’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, said that his members were willing to sacrifice job security provisi
 
Fred Thompson Explains the Government Plan to Address the Financial Crisis
 
Calculating the cost of bailing out the economy
Now that the NBER has decided to endorse my view that we went into recession last December which I first first claimed last January, I think my points about the efficacy of fiscal stimulus still apply. As for spending already pledged to save us, the figures are growing at a rate that has even astounded someone as bearish and cynical as myself.  
It’s Official: Recession
The National Bureau of Economic Research has weighed in with it expected dismal news.The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met by conference call on Friday, November 28. The committee maintains a chronology of the beginning and ending dates (months and quarters) of U.S. recessions. The committee determined that a peak in economic activity occ
 
Bad Advice, Rewarded
Austan Goolsbee is slated to become Barack Obama’s chief of staff at the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Mr. Goolsbee is a respected economist, but in this particular situation, may not be the best choice, considering his views on the lending practices that got us into this mess.One form of intervention that Goolsbee favored was extending mortgage loans to the the uncredit worthy. In a Mar
 
Recreating a Depression Government?
Amity Shlaes takes on Paul Krugman and his emphasis on the importance of New Deal-style spending to get us out of the financial crisis we find ourselves in.Shlaes looks at the unemployment numbers of the Depression era and finds that favoring government spending over private spending did not provide the jobs and therefore the impetus necessary to lift the country out of the Depression.And she notes that it was a combination of two acts passed
 
Fed Pledges $7.76 Trillion in loans
That’s trillion, with a "T":The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit market
 
Lord Keynes resurgent
It appears Obama is mostly Keynesian when it comes to economic policy. On the one hand he seems to understand that raising taxes on anyone (except, perhaps, businesses) during an economic downturn is simply foolish:President-elect Barack Obama may consider delaying a campaign promise - to roll back tax cuts on high-income Americans - as part of his economic r
 
Here - you figure it out ...
We’re heading into at least a recession, this it the current picture, and we have a promise of an increase by the incoming administration:You’ll notice what all the other entities listed have done in the intervening years. So, tell me again why US companies facing that future would want to stay here (and yes you’re right - the so-called "Republican Congress" could have c
 
It’s not liquidity, it’s uncertainty ...
Why do we continue to see disruption in global markets?Two words: Hank Paulson.As the Heritage Foundation points out:By the end of September, Paulson was asking Congress for $700 billion in funds he claimed would be used to buy mortgage relates assets from U.S. financial institutions. Less than two weeks after Congress g
 
Peter Schiff’s Payback
The insufferable Peter Schiff has a video going around, which frankly, is just brilliant. He may be unpleasant at times, but he nailed this thing, and took mounds of abuse while doing so. More importantly, I KNOW HOW HE FEELS!The resentment, irritation, condescension and, at times, outright hostility to my Cassandra act makes me wish I had a video of my own. Sigh...Oh well, it pays to remember that Cassandra was right. I was never as sure of myself as Peter, but risk mana
 
De-leveraging
Given the topic of tonight’s podcast I thought a little visual data might help. First, the explosion in US debt:
 
"Crony Capitalism" Isn’t Capitalism And Has Nothing To Do With Free Markets
When you hear either party denouncing "crony captialism" as an evil and something that government must not engage in, take it with a grain of salt. You remember this from Nancy Pelosi, parroting Barack Obama, I’m sure:She denounced AIG as “a ripoff situation” and unleashed a scathing attack on Wall Street financiers. “All these sophisticated financial instruments that these
 
What part of "bailout" doesn’t AIG get?
I’ve had it up to my eyebrows with this bunch:American International Group plans to pay out $503 million in deferred compensation to some of its top employees, saying it must tap the funds to keep valuable workers from exiting the troubled insurance giant.News of the payments to top AIG talent comes as the federal govern
 
Drawing the line (update)
Or perhaps a better question is, in terms of bailouts, where do you draw the line?The NY Times is reporting that hopes for an auto bailout are dwindling and Sen. Dodd acknowledges that Republicans have the votes to block such a bailout.But then there’s  
Does anyone care about economic common sense?
More GM bailout news:Momentum is building in Washington for a rescue package for the auto industry to head off a possible bankruptcy filing by General Motors, which is rapidly running low on cash.But not everyone agrees that a Chapter 11 filing by G.M. would be the disaster that many fear. Some experts note that while bankruptcy wou
 
Obama a "one-termer"?
Yeah I know, "nice" - the guy hasn’t even been inaugurated and I’ve already declared him a one-term president.But I’ve had a theory that no matter which candidate won the presidential election, he’d be a one-term president. My thinking is that the economic situation would dictate that, not being particularly better in 2012 than it is now. And right or wrong presidents are given credit or saddled with blame for whatever economic c
 
Didn’t Nero Fiddle While Rome Burned?
Well apparently the economic equivalent is spending freely when the economy is in decline. Even as the economy slides into recession, many state and local governments continue to spend freely and expand their workforces.State and local spending jumped 7.4% in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report
 
No-Fault Bailouts
I continue to shake my head as the bailout fever continues to grow:President-elect Barack Obama yesterday urged President Bush to support immediate aid for struggling automakers and back a new stimulus package, even as congressional Democrats began drafting legislation to give the Detroit automakers quick access to $25 billion by adding them to
 
Gore’s 5 step plan for bankruptcy
He sees an opening and he’s bound and determined to push his agenda. Damn bankruptcy, full speed ahead! That opening, of course, is a Democrat in the Oval Office with a Democratic legislature to rubber stamp Al’s initiative. So Al begins the propaganda campaign with an op-ed in the NYT:The world authority on the climate crisis
 
Reason 5,670 why the bailout was a big mistake
Because it set the precedent for ailing industries to come to the government, hat in hand, and beg money. Only large entities which just simply "can’t be allowed to fail" need apply however:House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Congress is considering bailing out Detroit’s Big Three automakers."We may need to make a sta
 
About "cap and trade"
The Heritage Foundation reminds us that the cap and trade system that Europe instituted has been an abysmal failure:One need only look to Europe to see both why America still needs coal, and how cap-and-trade policies are doomed for failure. The European Union’s cap-and-trade program is in complete collapse as much of Eastern Europe, Italy
 
About that history thing ...
Just a reminder, in case it has slipped your mind:Altogether, Mr. Obama is promising at least $4.3 trillion of increased spending and reduced tax revenue from 2009 to 2018 — roughly an extra $430 billion a year by 2012-2013.And we all are well aware of the economic situation, correct? So how does Mr. Obama plan on securing the funds in order to spend tha
 
A Perfect Economic Advisor for Obama
I wonder if he has room for the "Early Show’s" Maggie Rodriguez:MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: We have some good news this morning in these tough economic times. The average price of a gallon of gas has dropped below three dollars. This morning, AAA says that gas is $2.92 a gallon. That’s the national average, down from a
 
Protectionism - coming to a country near you very soon
Obama has dissed NAFTA and wants to change the arrangement. Nancy Pelosi has said "no" to a Columbian free-trade agreement.Result? Both Canada and Columbia have gone looking for and found new trading partners who’re much more accommodating than the US: Last Friday, Canada and the European Union held the first talks toward an eventual free trade
 
AIG decides not to lobby politicians anymore
This would almost be funny if it wasn’t so, I don’t know, ironically bizarre:American International Group Inc. [AIG] said it will stop lobbying lawmakers and regulators, after coming under congressional pressure and questioning over how it is using more than $120 billion loaned by the government to keep the company afloat.Seeing as "we" own AIG now,
 
Thanking Ivy League Schools
A hedge fund manager who made about 80 million last year betting against the subprime mortgage market has decided to retire at 37, but not before he gave a shout out to those who were responsible for his windfall. In a letter he says:"The low-hanging fruit, ie idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking," he wr
 
Playmates during crisis
Does the object of our desire tend to change during tough times?Yes, according to this paper on men’s preferences when it comes to Playboy’s models:Consistent with Environmental Security Hypothesis predictions, when social and economic conditions were difficult, older, heavier, taller Playboy Playmates of the Year with larger waists, smaller eyes, larger waist-to-hip ratios, sm
 
The View From Here
I wonder if the juxtaposition of that headline and that photo were intentional?Anyway, over at Risk and Return I follow up Dale, McQ and my discussion of the markets and the economy during the last couple of  
Obamanomics
I thought it was John McCain who wasn’t that astute economically. Commenting on McCain’s proposal to cut capital gains taxes, Barack Obama said today:"I haven’t looked at all the details of his capital gains proposal. I will tell you that nobody one really has capital gains right now – so if the idea is the cut capital gains taxes, when I don
 
Are We Making Things Worse (Link fixed for now)
Yves Smith hits a theme I have been harping on (including on tonights podcast) the Federal Reserve, and central banks in general, are making things worse in may ways by destroying the incentive for banks to lend or borrow from one another. She quotes James Bianco of Arbor Research:The Fed’s massive and numerous liquidity facilities are making
 
A measure of payback
Reportedly, former Lehman CEO Richard Fuld got a little physical payback for his expert handling [/sarcasm] of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. “From two very senior sources – one incredibly senior source – that he went to the gym after … Lehman was announced as going under. He was on a treadmill with a heart monitor on. Someone was in the corner, pumping iron a
 
The Problem, in a Nutshell
Australian writer Jane Albrechtsen lays it out, simply and bluntly.America has a long and undistinguished history of populist politicians stacking the cards against lenders and in favor of risky homeownership. Proving that good intentions are no guarantee of good policy, President Jimmy Carter’s 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which required banks to make loans to
 
Dow At 9567: The Bailout Saves Us All
Man, it’s a good thing the politicians passed that bailout bill last week, isn’t it? Bought all that stability to the market. Eased those credit crunch worries.Yeah. That was really helpful.Saw a great commercial for GMAC Bank 12-month CDs this morning. 4.65% for a 12-month deposit.Impressive.On the bright side, crude oil is now below $90 a barrel.
 
JP Morgan, Lehman and Nightmares
I am often asked about individual bank stocks, especially JP Morgan. Generally my answer is that Bank of America, JP Morgan and a few others look to be likely survivors, but how profitable they will be I am really unsure.JP Morgan is a special discussion, because I point out a rather astonishing fact, they have a notional exposure to around 90 trillion in derivative contracts, or did last Mar
 
Bailout? Er, No Thanks ...
In a purely ironic way, this is just funny, and, perhaps, "much ado about nothing":Fears are mounting that many Wall Street banks and financial firms will refuse to participate in the US government’s $700bn bail-out package, leaving global markets and world economies in a perilous state for months to come.’There is a growing feeling that b
 
Bend over and grab your ankles (update)
The House has passed the travesty, er, bailout, er "Financial Rescue Plan" (263-171).UPDATE: It sure impressed the stock market, didn’t it?Opening at 10,483.96, by 1pm it had advanced to 10,796.26 and upon news of the passage of the bill, it
 
A Fateful Day
The New York Times treats us to a multimedia look at the day that the S.E.C. decided to allow the five largest US investment banks to substitute advanced mathematical risk models for traditional capital requirements that I have discussed before.From there leverage and risk exploded:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/09/28/business/20080928-SEC-multimedia/i
 
The road to financial ruin finds its roots in government policy
I’ve been beating the drum about examining one the root causes of this financial mess and laying it at the proper doorstep. Russell Roberts does a very good job of that in today’s WSJ. First he lays out the conventional wisdom:Many believe that wild greed and market failure led us into this sorry mess. According to that narrative, investors in search of higher
 
Another Reason To Not Like The Plan
I have argued in the past that the Federal Reserve’s policies may be helping in some ways, but hurting in others. Way too much borrowing and lending is running through the Fed which is drying up lending between banks. It also reduces the need for banks to find reasons to communicate and trust each other, keeping the atmosphere of mistrust alive.On a similar note one of Yves Smiths commenters  
In Summary
Tyler Cowen states his basic views on the crisis. My response in italics:
 
"Capitalism without loss is like religion without hell"
The CATO crew lays it out:Just say "no".
 
Adrift in a sea of lunacy
OK, here’s the obligatory bailout post. Instead of me talking, I’ll let former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill say it:``If they pass this thing, it’s awful what the consequences are going to be in terms of an ongoing federal relationship that doesn’t need to exist with the institutions,’’ O’Neill said. ``A
 
When are we being Chicken Littles?
Let us look at one of the ways that we are being panicked unnecessarily, and why incidentally we can help many of these financial institutions in the fashion I discussed in my last post. In my next post we will discuss ways in which we are not being misled, and why we in my mind should do something about this.
 
Vlad the Dissembler
When in trouble, blame your woes on an outside "enemy":Russian leaders blamed the US financial system’s irresponsibility for the world economic crisis and said it should top the next American president’s agenda, as Washington struggled to calm markets Wednesday."Whoever is elected president, the number one goal will be to shed light on the s
 
My favorite proposal for helping financial institutions-Updated
I do believe we should be doing something as a nation, through our government, to avoid the not insignificant chance of a total financial meltdown. I have seen several things proposed that I find interesting, and I will get into them and other longer term issues in coming days. I had hoped to address this all comprehensively, but time just isn’t allowing that, so let us do so piecemeal. Today I would like to endorse one proposal that aligns exactly with my thoughts on this, whi
 
Hooray for Good Mental Health
If you support the Paulson bailout plan that is. The New York Times has coverage.The Senate proposal would cost more than $100 billion and extend and expand many individual and business tax breaks, including tax credits for the production and use of renewable energy sources, like solar energy and wind power.The bill would also extend the business tax credit for research and d
 
The Monetary Base Finally Moves
The Federal Reserve has for a long time eschewed increasing the money supply directly, and instead has manipulated credit to affect the economy and control inflation. This has led to three important things which are in my opinion at the root of this crisis. Asset price inflation (at least initially) as opposed to broader price inflation. A massive increase in leverage (debt to magnify returns) throughout the financial system and our economy. A ma
 
Miron on how the financial market meltdown happened and should be remedied
I couldn’t have said it better myself.Here, in a few paragraphs, Jeff Miron lays out why we’re in the mess we’re in and why more government isn’t the answer:The current mess would never have occurred in the absence of ill-conceived federal policies. The federal government chartered Fannie Mae in 1938 and Freddie Mac in 1970
 
Credit Default Swaps
Here’s a pretty good explanation of some of the problems facing the financial markets today and some insight into why the proposed bailout’s structure isn’t likely to do much good. Starting back in 1995, the masters of the bond and credit market universe got too cute by half and structured a new and exciting financial instrument, the credit
 
The SEC doesn’t get the short end of the stick
If they did, then they wouldn’t have banned short selling. People may have noticed that the ban hasn’t helped, and today we see one of the real costs. See, when markets collapse like today, short sellers dive into the market to cover their short positions, in these times they are often the only ones buying. They aren’t there today, and the market has lost one of its stabilizers.Frankly, this whole affair has been drenched in idiocy.
 
Explaining Buffet’s support for the bailout (update)
If you ever wanted proof of Dale’s words yesteday, here it is:Legendary investor Warren Buffett warned Congressional leaders Saturday night of "the biggest financial meltdown in American history" if they did not act to secure the financial system.Buffett, by telephone, was consulted by lawmakers who were in marathon talks on Capitol Hill to
 
...and I want a pony!
Larry Summers and Mark Thoma argue that if done right the bailout will mean we can solve this crisis and still have everything we want, tax cuts, health care spending and all kinds of other goodies. Larry argues:Just as a family that goes on a $500,000 vacation is $500,000 poorer b
 
Learning from history?
Mary Anastasia O’Grady wonders why we haven’t learned how to approach our problem from Chile’s 1983 financial crisis.Of course one of the reasons is Paulson panicked Congress by claiming the sky was falling if they didn’t hand over $700 billion. It apparently had the desired effect:This produced a predictable result
 
Why I Oppose the Bailout
There are a number of reasons to oppose the bailout. Here are my top ones.It isn’t necessary.As University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan points out, if there is no bailout, it’s Wall Street, not Main Street that will take the brunt of the punishment. This isn’t 1929, folks, and the non-financial sector of
 
Somebody shoot me - please
That’s a figure of speech so don’t start loading the ammo.But really, I wanted to punch the television when I heard this:House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, evidently with a straight face: "This is not about a bailout of Wall Street. It’s a buy-in so we can turn our economy around" and protect the assets of ordinary American
 
How bad are the current proposed bailout plans?
Reason asked a number of economists that precise question. Before I get to their answer, Arnold Kling restates the key issue concerning the proposed bailout that seem to be getting only peripheral attention:"The core task of this bailout is going to be valuing these mortgage securities and that is an impossible task. The bailout is bound to fail for that reason."
 
You just cannot make this stuff up ...
Yeah, these guys know exactly what they’re doing:In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy."It’s not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. "We just wante
 
Are you howling yet?
Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog makes two short, superb points for all of us to keep in mind. So as not to quote his entire post, I’ll quote the second one and direct you to his blog to read the other one:Four years ago, privatization of Social Security was scuttled in large part because Congress thought it unfair to toss the average taxpayer into the volatile mar
 
Why the bailout is a bad idea (update)
The bailout deals with failing financial institutions. But what is it the bailout will be buying? Mortgages backed securities. Bad mortgage backed securities (MBS).So what are they worth?Who the heck knows? Has the housing market bottomed out yet so we can get some idea of their worth?No.If that’s the case, how do they know what the MBS they’re going to buy are worth?They
 
How should the financial crisis be handled? (update)
More blog interactivity fun:How do you think the financial crisis should be addressed?Governement: Vote for the Paulson bailout<
 
The handwriting on the wall (street) - UPDATE
This is a phenomenal article from the NY Times circa 1999. It lays out, in all of its rotten splendor, the reason we’re having the financial fun we’re having today.The lede:In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation
 
Don’t even try to blame this problem on "free markets"
Of the bailout now being considered, the Heritage Foundation says the following:As a general principle, conservatives believe government should not intervene to protect those who have made poor business decisions — even if those decisions have been influenced by excessive government regulation. But there can be rare situations where the cumulative effect of
 
Glass-Steagall : RIP
(cross posted at A Second Hand Conjecture)Continuing the discussion on tonight’s podcast, one of the recurring themes of much of the commentary on our current financial crisis is that the cause is too much deregulation. Possibly there is some truth to this, though the evidence is rather vague. The most disturbing figure in all this is Barney Frank
 
Tennessee’s problem with price gouging
Yesterday, as I was in my third and final day driving across the country, I drove through most of Tennessee. It’s an absolute delight of a drive, except for one thing: I had foolishly neglected to fill up in Jackson, so as I drove into the Nashville area, I was running fairly low.To determine the best stopping point, I was using a website on which locals update gas prices. There were two low-priced stations just outside Nashville, so I got off the free
 
Short of Wisdom, Common Sense and a Grasp of Reality
The hedge fund industry is feeling gloomy, and so is Mayfair.Meanwhile our government is considering following London’s lead and making their lives even more difficult, by  
This is just amazing-updated
A quick post for a fast developing market situation. Today the Fed went to the Treasury and asked for a line of credit. You know, the lender of last resort has had to turn to our Treasury to protect their balance sheet. Want to see something weird. Go here and look at the treasury market. In the bond world, a 1% move is huge. So check out what has happened in the US Treasury market. Especially the 13 week Treasury
 
Financial crisis: Dems try to rewrite history - again (update)
As I pointed out below, Nancy Pelosi is clueless. Apparently history, at least for her, started after at least 2005. As Ed Morrissey points out, 2005 would be the year John McCain made this speech:Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few
 
Private Profit - Public Risk
I don’t think I have to explain my opinion on the bailout of AIG. Again we see irresponsible business behavior rewarded by a bailout. The politicians who give lip-service to "personal responsibility" reject it when it comes to Wall Street and finance companies.AIG was eyeball deep in very risky investments, and while the time
 
Another financial crisis
The US isn’t the only country suffering a financial crisis. Russia too has seen a very down market:Russian shares suffered their steepest one-day fall in more than a decade on Tuesday, losing up to 20 per cent, as a sharp slide in oil prices and difficult money market conditions triggered a rush to sell.The heads of the Russian central bank, t
 
It’s going to be a crummy day on Wall Street (UPDATES)
And that’s just the beginning. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest investment bank, has sent stock futures on the big board into negative 300 territory.That’s not the only reason. Over the weekend - the weekend! - Merrill Lynch, also in deep financial trouble, managed to cobble together a deal to sell itself to Bank o
 
Government takeovers
By now you’ve heard the news. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been taken over by the government:There is no guarantee that the takeover will work, and it comes at a potentially massive cost to taxpayers. The government has pledged to inject money in the companies in any quarter in which they would otherwise be insolvent — up to $100
 
All Wet
I just saw the trailer for a documentary on water use. It’s called “Flow,” and based simply on the trailer, it should be completely ignored. But it’s loaded with common nonsense (hat tip to commenter “capt joe” for that term), and when someone on the internet is wrong... well.Here are the two pillars on which the rest of the film rest:“This noti
 
Fail Early or Don’t Fail at All
On tonights podcast at QandO, I called in at McQ’s request to discuss the economy. One of the things we discussed was the likelihood of our government continuing to bail out our financial institutions. For a number of reasons that will be problematic.Of interest is how many institutions
 
How Supermarkets Can End Poverty
I saw a study on productivity growth in the retail sector at the beginning of this decade. It ended up attributing 25% of total US productivity growth in the 1990’s to WalMart alone. Thus, this post on the huge impact of supermarkets in the developing world does not surprise me:The difference between the benefits of traditional and supermarket retail fo
 
Dude, I have found your recession: Updated
I understand that many find the media’s treatment of the economy under Bush biased. I agree with that. No argument from me. So I understand where Instapundit and others, including many denizens of this site, are coming from.That being said, that does not mean the media is being too pessimistic now just because if Clinton, Gore or Obama were in office they would tend to be a bit more positive, and would have been much more positive when the economy was doing well. They are in fa
 
Can you say moral hazard?
Of course you can.
 
Funny how this works ...
Supply and demand?Crude oil futures fell more than $4 a barrel in New York after a surprise increase in U.S. inventories [supply] and as a slowing U.S. economy sapped demand for energy.And then?
 
The Good Ship "Economy"
One of the most important issues of the upcoming election is the state of the economy. In fact, it’s always that way when the economy is chugging along at less than optimum speed during an election year. But how much does it really matter? And would it be healthier, economically speaking, if we didn’t worry so much about "doing something" when the
 
Signs of a Real Estate Bubble
There’s a new business here in California. They only operate here now, but they plan on expanding nationwide. They provide a special service for homeowners who can’t afford their mortgage any more. Their business name is You Walk Away. As you can guess, they help you skip out on your mortgage. For $895, they give you a session with a lawyer to outline your foreclosure options, provi
 
A point to remember
Michael Gerson, in an article about why we should never expect to see cheap oil prices again, makes a point that is often overlooked in an orgy of gloom and doom:Rising energy prices are mainly the result of unprecedented global prosperity — a rising billion in China and India determined to own automobiles and ai
 
Why globalization ameliorates income inequality
Christian Broda addresses the conventional wisdom which says globalization has increased US income inequality and declares the thesis to be dead wrong.In fact, he declares in his title that China and Wal-Mart are actually champions of equality and that, in fact globalization helps ameliorate income inequality instead of exacerbating it. How rich you are depends on two things
 
Car sales plummet - sign of a weakening economy
This comes as no particular surprise, and, it is effecting all car manufacturers:Sales of new cars and trucks plunged to their lowest level in more than a decade in June, as high gas prices and a weak economy kept American consumers away from dealer showrooms.With the drop
 
Lefty Rhetoric
Now that he’s the presidential nominee, his Lefty credentials are now coming to the fore, and his moderation is diminishing. In talking about oil prices today, he said:There is the further problem of speculation on the oil futures market, which in many cases has nothing to do with the actual sale, purchase, or delivery of oil. [...][W]e all know that some people on Wall Street are not above gaming the system. When you have enough specul
 
Say what?
Who are these guys and why would I want them anywhere near my economy:McCain’s top economic adviser, Doug Holtz-Eakin, blithely supposes that cuts in defense spending could make up for reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% and the subsequent shrinkage in federal revenues. Get that? The national security candidate wants to cut
 
GOP to roll out economic plan today
And, per Roll Call, it will concentrate in these areas:The plan focuses on four areas: lowering gas prices, stopping wasteful spending, cutting taxes and ensuring long-term economic growth.The first, lowering gas prices, is a populist plank designed to attract votes. The ability to lower gas prices without a stronger dollar and less deman
 
Econ - "doom and gloom", or, maybe not
Read this NYT lede very carefully:The economy grew at a faster pace than originally estimated in the first quarter, the government said on Thursday, but the nation remained mired in its most stagnant period of growth in five years.Then look at this graph and tell me the significance of the statement and why A) growth is "stagnant" and B) w
 
The Minimum Wage and Moral Hazards
I agree with Megan McArdle’s point about the minimum wage; it is bad policy, because it is very inefficient, poorly targeted, and places the burden for social welfare in the labor market on the people most likely to hire low-skill workers. On the other hand, any "unemployment effect [due to] US-sized changes in the minimum wage is too small to be detected amidst statistical noise." [Mor
 
Inflation, the dollar and the future
According to the IMF, inflation is raising its ugly head and is a threat to world-wide economic stability:``This inflation speed-up must be taken seriously as it creates potentially significant challenges to economic stability,’’ John Lipsky, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, said ... A return to 1970s- style high inflation and rising price expectations ``cannot be discarded out of hand,’’ he said.The pro
 
Policy Madness
The editors of the Wall Street Journal get it exactly right.This tiff over gas and oil taxes only highlights the intellectual policy confusion – or perhaps we should say cynicism – of our politicians. They want lower prices but don’t want more production to increase supply. They want oil "independence" but they’ve declared
 
Fiscal reality
Arnold Kling provides it:Message to Republicans: if you cut spending on "worthy causes" to zero, you still would not balance the budget. You will have to raise personal income taxes.Message to Democrats: if you increased personal income tax receipts by 25 percent (a ginormous tax increase), you still would not balance the budget. You will have to cut bac
 
It ain’t much, but it ain’t a recession either
Or at least not according to the technical definition of a recession, i.e. at least two quarters of negative economic growth.The bruised economy limped through the first quarter, growing at just a 0.6 percent pace as housing and credit problems forced people and businesses alike to hunker down.The country’s economic growth during January through March was the same as
 
Economics 101 for an Economist
Economists are supposed to be smarter than this“What Milton Friedman said was that government should not interfere,” said Allen Sinai, chief global economist for Decision Economics Inc., a consulting group. “It didn’t work. We now are looking at one of the greatest real estate busts of all time. The free market is not geared to take care of the casualties, because there’s no profit motive
 
Obama’s Poverty Program: Hope!
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review picks up on a very implausible campaign promise from Barack Obama....Asked by Sojourners President Jim Wallace whether he’d commit to cutting poverty in half in 10 years, Obama stalled for all of one sentence before answering."And I absolutely will make that commitment,"
 
Democrats - war causing recession
This is precisely why the Democrats shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the levers of power:The growing cost to the United States of fighting the war in Iraq "is not only linked to our economic skid, but is a leading cause of it," a Democratic congressman said Saturday.Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky linked the costl
 
And you wonder why there’s a subprime mess?
This is certainly one of the major contributors:Young people’s financial know-how has gone from bad to worse.High school seniors, on average, answered correctly only 48.3 percent of questions about personal finance and economics, according to a nationwide survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. That was even lower than the 52.4 perce
 
Recession? Well not yet, but check out housing starts!
A little more "fun with charts". I borrowed a couple from Captain Capitalism (I don’t believe he’s related to Captain Sarcastic) and they’re rather interesting in what they reveal.First, are we in a recession? Not yet, at least not officially:But, as you can see, we
 
Paul Krugman Gets a Word in Edgewise
Paul Krugman, on his New York Times Conscience of a Liberal blog, complains that "only the guys who were wrong [about, e.g., Iraq and the mortgage situation] get invited to opine on Charlie Rose" and are otherwise provided with a public platform to voice their criticisms...Today, our public discourse is dominated by people who have been wrong about everything — but are still
 
Kill the Corporate Income Tax
Quin Hilyer has a good idea: "Eliminate the federal corporate income tax."The problem with the economy right now is not a lack of liquidity — the whole world is awash in dollars — but a lack, instead, of anything good to do with those dollars rather than hoard them. The problem, in short, is that nobody has any incentive to invest those dollars, or to lend them for investment, here in the Uni
 
$50 dollar pizzas anyone?
There was a story today in the AJC about Delta airlines and increasing fuel cost:Delta President Ed Bastian emphasized that the airline will do what is needed to offset jet fuel costs now expected to be about $900 million higher than was projected earlier this year."We’re reducing capacity. We’re going to get the costs out of the syst
 
More from Libby Spencer’s Place
Well, I’m short a tooth, now. But, most of the pain is gone. On the other hand, I’m still on vicodin tonight, so we’ll see how the pain is tomorrow, when I have to switch to Aleve and aspirin.In any event, the comments section over at Libby’s place is still going strong, so here’s the latest abstract.

 

More on Bear Stearns
Libby Spencer is blaming the Bush Administration for the current liquidity crisis.In between my alternate bouts of vicodin-inspired sleep and horrific mouth pain—like the one I’m in now—I’ve been playing around in the comments section there.You may want to stop over and participate as well.In any ca
 
Paul Krugman and Alan Greenspan
I’m not sure I understand this passage from Paul Krugman’s blog about Alan Greenspan’s Financial Times article...the man who failed to see the housing bubble and refused to do anything about subprime — and has yet to admit to making any mistakes — ends by reaffirming his lai
 
I Am the Bearer of Bad Tidings
The market took a hit today. It was a body blow. And, whether you know it or not—although, if you’re reading this, you’ll know now—the economy took a body blow, too. The only thing we don’t know is how much damage was caused. But there was damage, and it will become apparent before too much longer.It’s all about liquidity, you see. For the last several days, there’s been concern about whether Bear Stearns, one
 
Democrats on Trade: not if it costs me votes
Democrats like to insist that Republicans ignore scientists while Democrats follow the scientific evidence, so it’s frustrating to see them put on their know-nothing, pandering hats when it comes to the subject of free trade. While the dismal science of economics has reached an overwhelming consensus that free trade is a net positive for a country, Democrats are willing to trade science for votes.
 
Yes, free trade and open markets really work
If you are interested in any of the following subjects:- Effects of globalization- Income distribution (rich vs. poor)- Global health issues- Progress of the "third world" during the last forty years- Impact of free trade on a poor country- How to present complex data in an intuitive waythen you need to spend 20 minutes this weekend watching this video. Trust me, it&rsqu
 
Peddling Poverty
This recent line from a Paul Krugman column....Mainly, however, excuses for poverty involve the assertion that the United States is a land of opportunity, a place where people can start out poor, work hard and become rich.But the fact of the matter is that Horatio Alger stories are rare, and stories of people trapped by their parents’ poverty are all too common.
 
Democrats and the Bridge to the 20th Century
Via Glenn Reynolds, Greg Mankiw points out the sorry state of the Democratic candidates on basic economics and freedom...Both candidates in the Democratic primary have turned their backs on one
 
Reich and Income inequality - Those rich are at it again
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich has a piece out in the NY Times in which he analyzes the economic situation, and, as expected, finds doom on the horizon unless we take his advice.That’s not to say he doesn’t make some fair points within the piece. For instance, the
 
In case anyone needed a reminder...
"Comparable worth" is still a bad idea, supported by both of the Democratic front-runners for president.
 
Economic Concepts
Max Borders created these very, very good explanations of free market economic concepts. I particularly like the illustrations of the differences between hierarchal and network systems. Part 1  
It’s going to be a bumpy ride
Well, despite dropping 440 points at the opening bell this morning, the Dow managed to "rally" today, closing down "only" 128 points.As of right now, action overnight in foreign markets has been mixed.Signs of slowing growth in Europe and Asia — even in China — have been enough to set off panic selling in those s
 
Black Tuesday?
If you have a lot of money tied up in stocks, you may want to start taking your extra anti-depressants tonight. Tomorrow’s not looking good for the markets.Stocks tumbled across Asia on Tuesday, and U.S. stock index futures sank, as panic gripped markets that a U.S. recession could derail global economic growth, sending investors fleeing to safe-haven
 
Paul Krugman on Fiscal Stimulus [UPDATE]
I intend to write a post examining the merits, problems and complexities of fiscal stimulus soon. Among other things, I seriously question (a) whether it can be effective when we are potentially entering a housing bubble bust driven recession< (b) what effect fiscal stimulus would have while we are still at full employment - to the extent that it increased consumption, wouldn’t it simply be inflationary - and in general, (c) whether fiscal policy, practically speaking, is a sufficiently
 
Fiscal Stimulus
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2008/01/pointless_stimulation.cfm http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18159629 Fiscal stimulus while we’re at full employment? Paul Krugman, December 2000Cheney’s remarks were those of a vulgar Keynesian — a believer in the now- discredited doctrine that taxes and spending should be routinely twiddled in an attem
 
Tax rates and economic growth
At his blog, Paul Krugman presents some employment-population, labor force participation and wage charts and writesThe point of these charts is not to say that Clinton deserves credit for all good things and Bush deserves blame for everything bad. The point is, instead, to show how crazy it is when Republicans claim that a return to Clinton-era levels of taxes will destroy the economy.
 
Megan McArdle on Paul Krugman
Megan McArdle:Paul Krugman is voting for doom. It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that Paul Krugman has predicted eight of the last none recessions under the Bush administration.Like Megan, I think "a recession seems likely-ish", but "Krugman predict
 
This is a plan for stimulating the economy?
If you buy into the notion that the government is responsible for ’stimulating the economy’ in supposed down times, would this be how you approached it?Democrats controlling Congress are looking at tax rebates, extended unemployment benefits and more food stamps to stimulate the sagging economy.More food stamps? Extended unemployment benef
 
Recession talk
Goldman Sachs says it will happen soon:Goldman Sachs on Wednesday said it expects the U.S. economy to drop into recession this year, prompting the Federal Reserve to slash benchmark lending rates to 2.5 percent by the third quarter.In a note to clients, Goldman said real gross domestic product would contract by 1 percent on an annualized basis in both the sec
 
US Headed toward 3rd world status
I’m absolutely sure that’s how this bit of news will be spun by some of our politicians (if John Edwards isn’t the first to use it, I’ll be completely disappointed):The average UK person will this year have a greater income than their US counterpart for the first time since the 19th Century, figures suggest.Analyst Oxford Economics said the UK&rs
 
Dissecting the housing "crisis"
First of all, I’m not an expert in real estate, housing prices or the housing market. So I’m sort of at the mercy of the MSM to tell me what is or isn’t happening in this present ’crisis’.We’ve been hearing for years that the "housing bubble" was about to break. But there were two sides to that argument. One was that all housing was overpriced and that when the bubble burst, all housing was going to take a price hit.
 
The Ghost of Christmas Spending
I notice (via Instapundit) that retail sales had only a modest increase of 3.6% this Christmas season. The increase lagged behind 2005 and 2006. The NYT predictably
 
In Defense of the CEO Salary
Megan McArdle makes a far more compelling argument about CEO pay than do the "Corporate Greed!" busybodies. I’ll highlight the points I find particularly compelling...This Eugene Fama interview is a must-read if you think you’ve got the goods on EMH. ... I’ll zero in on his comments on
 
Left VS Right: the economic perspective
Greg Mankiw offers an interesting list of the different economic perspectives of the Left and the Right: The right sees large deadweight losses associated with taxation and, therefore, is worried about the growth of government as a share in the economy. The left sees smaller elasticities of supply and demand and, therefore, is less
 
China’s economy smaller than thought?
This would seem to have quite significant implications for foreign policy, international economic intelligence, and a variety of other fields. China’s economy is 40 percent smaller than most recent estimates, a US economist said Wednesday, citing data from the Asian Development Bank and g
 
The Receding Recession
Megan McArdle frets....I have been expecting a recession for several quarters now. So far, I have been consistently wrong.Fret not, Megan. Paul Krugman has been predicting a recession every year since 2002. He doesn’t need to explain why he’s been so consistently wrong though, because h
 
Darn that recession - where is it?
As pundits and politicians try to talk us into a recession, the economy seems unwilling to go along:The economy picked up speed in the summer, growing at a brisk 3.9 percent pace, the fastest in 1½ years and an impressive performance even as a credit crunch plunged the housing market deeper into turmoil.The latest snapshot of the country’s economic health, released by the Commerc
 
The Laffer Curve: Myths and Realities
Looking over the comments in Jon’s post below, there seems to be some misinterpretation of the Laffer Curve on the part of some. Although I learned long ago that econ posts tend not to draw any great interest, and though I’ve written on this several times before (and am too lazy to look up the specific links at the moment), I’ll give it another shot.The curve itself is pretty simple, and there’s hardly an economist in the
 
Have you ever tried to put 9 trillion dollars in perspective?
The Heritage Foundation does it for you.Essentially it would be the equivalent of giving each and every American, all 300+ million of us, $29,700.00.Unfortunately, instead of giving it to us, that’s what each of us is on the hook for in terms of the debt, at the moment.And Congress, true to form, just increased the debt limit by
 
What’s Greenspan’s Gripe?
James Pethokoukis of US News & World Report asks that very question.Greenspan:With George Bush came the tax cuts, unmatched by decreased spending, and, in the wake of September 11, still more open-handed spending. . . . Deficits don’t matter, to my chagrin, became part of the Republicans’ rhetori
 
Greenspan: Bush an unprincipled spendthrift
Alan Greenspan was none too impressed with President Bush’s fiscal policy, or perhaps lack of one is a better description:Mr. Bush, he writes, was never willing to contain spending or veto bills that drove the country into deeper and deeper deficits, as Congress abandoned rules that required that the
 
Why is this a news story?
ATM fees are going up for non-customers of Bank of America:Bank of America Corp. is raising the surcharge for non-customers at most of its ATMs nationwide to $3 from $2.The Charlotte-based bank, which has more than 17,000 ATMs, made the change in most markets in July and August, spokeswoman Betty Riess said.OK, and:Because Bank of America has the largest ATM network in the United States, the higher fees could affect mi
 
Laffer Curve
Jon’s Post below mentions the Laffer Curve, and states we’re on the left side of the curve. One commenter takes strong exception to this, stating bluntly, "We’re indisputably operating on the RIGHT side of the Laffer Curve. Not on the left."Oh, really. Well, let’s take a look at that, shall we? First, for review, let’s look at the Laffer Curve itself.The simple explan
 
Strong Economy keeps housing woes to a minimum
Or so says the Labor Department’s latest report (to be released next week):Employers in the U.S. hired enough workers in August to keep the unemployment rate near a six-year low, helping the nation weather turmoil in housing and credit markets, economists project a report this week will show.Employers added 109,000 workers to payrolls l
 
Choices, choices, choices ...
Gotta love stories like this:Some outraged motorists have scrawled warning messages and curse words on gas pumps after paying up to $4.50 for a gallon for gasoline at a station near Orlando International Airport.Residents and tourists said they were shocked to see the gas prices at the Landing Strip gas station located on Semoran B
 
I’m with Howie on this one
Let’s not all fall for the "home owner is a victim" schtick on the subprime mortgage kerfuffle:Memo to the media: Everyone who is defaulting on a home mortgage is not necessarily a victim.I feel sorry for anyone in that situation. Losing a home is an awful thing. Some were undoubtedly pressured into buying by unscrupulous lenders.
 
Funny stuff
The NY Sun reports the following numbers for the US deficit:2004: $413 billion2005: $318 billion2006: $248 billion2007: $158 billionThat last number, per the CBO, is revised down from 207 billion. Good news? Well relatively speaking. It has nothing to do with the debt of course. But it is less and less of the total GDP:
 
Bernanke Jumps
In case you hadn’t heard, the Fed delivered a moderately surprising—and well received by the markets—announcement today. The Discount Rate was lowered by 50 basis points (0.5%) to 5.75%. No action was taken on moving the Fed Funds rate, but the fed did shell out $6 billion in 3-day repurchase agreements, to inject some short-term liquidity into the system.This was an inter-meeting rate cut, which was why it was a bit of surprise. I th
 
Kudlow Backtracks
Well, isn’t this interesting. A few days ago, I criticized a Larry Kudlow column that explained to us that this whole credit crunch deal was just a tempest ina teapot. Today, Mr. Kudlow is doing a little backpedaling.Last Wednesday, August 8, T-bills traded at 4.49 percent. On Monday they d
 
More on the Economic Outlook
Lance, from A Second Hand Conjecture, comments on my last econ post:I’ll throw in another factor. The mortgage equity withdrawal issue. In addition to the people who have actually suffered, a a large number of people have borrowed to spend. They are not upside down, they will not default, or any of that. However, they will not have large increases in equity available to tap for spend
 
Redefining "free markets" (update)
Says Ezra Klein:SOMEONE CALL DEAN BAKER! Over at DailyKos, Hunter catches CNBC anchor Erin Burnett saying, "you know, if China were to revalue its currency, or China is to start making, say, toys that don’t have lead in them, or food that isn’t poisonous, their costs of production are going to go up. And that means prices
 
Rose Colored Glasses?
Perennial supply-side optimist Larry Kudlow isn’t woried about housing prices. In fact, he’s predicting that Main Street will bail out the nervous nellies on Wall Street.While Wall Street was busy conjuring up high-yielding bond packages that were heavily invested in unsustainable sub-prime mortgages — and distributing these collate
 
President’s reaction to China’s currency threat
Jon wrote about the Telegraph article and China’s threat to liquidate its vast holdings of US treasuries if the US imposes trade sanctions. Here is the only reaction I can find from the administration and it took place in an interview with Neil Cavuto when he brought u
 
Weird Economics (update)
That’s what James Pethokoukis of US News & World Report found among many of the statements made by Democratic presidential candidates in the latest debate.For instance, Hillary Clinton said, "You know, six and a half years ago, we had a balanced budget and a surplus; now we are in deep debt with a rising def
 
China’s Currency Threat
The Telegraph reports that China is floating a threat...The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation.Either China needs better economists, or China’s economists are suicidal
 
Minimum Wage increase takes effect today
The sign says:Instead of fair pay, however, he’ll be glad to accept a government mandated wage.Yeah, that’s fair.
 
Moving toward economic populism
Fair warning:On Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail, Democrats are increasingly moving toward a full-throated populist critique of the current economy.Clearly influenced by some of their most successful candidates in last year’s Congressional elections, Democrats are talk
 
One more time for the economically slow ...
Corporations don’t pay taxes. In the Senate today:The tax proposal that stalled today would have slapped oil and gas companies with $29 billion in new taxes to pay for alternative energy and cleaner coal projects.Actually it would have slapped you, Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer with another hidden tax which would have shown up at the gas pump in the guise of
 
How wealthy is the US?
Take a look at this map. The states have been renamed to reflect the country in the world which best matches each state’s GDP.(HT: Keith_Indy)
 
Anatomy of a bad idea
How many times have you heard the statistic that women are paid some percentage of what men make? These days, the most commonly cited statistic is that women working full-time make 81 percent of what their male counterparts do. This statistic (or slight variations, depending on whence the data) is usually accompanied by claims that, even when accounting for other factors, a disparity still exists, and of course, that discrimination is responsible for the gap. This
 
Speaking of illegal immigration
An interesting point:A conundrum in construction lies at the heart of a US jobs market puzzle that continues to baffle economists – including officials at the Federal Reserve.After a year of sub-par growth unemployment is a mere 4.5 per cent. With jobs growth strong but output growth weak, productivity looks very poor.Most economists think
 
Vaclav Klaus has some thoughts on the EU
On May 18th Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, gave a speech about his country after its transition from communism and integration into the European Union. It is well worth the read. He talks about how it wasn’t easy or ’free’, but, in fact cost quite a bit to make the transition from communism to a free society.One point should be made str
 
Damn that rising tide ...
And I’m not talking about global warming, but instead a new study by the CBO that points out that despite John Edwards claims to the contrary, the poor have actually been doing better over the years ... much better. The WSJ provides a synopsis of the findings (via Cato@Li
 
In Venezuela, the inevitable begins
Under the category of "well this comes as no surprise", we visit dear Hugo Chavez and Venezuela:Venezuela’s revenues from crude exports by the state oil company fell 10 percent in the first three months of this year amid lower prices, OPEC-mandated production cuts and reports of falling production at the South American country.
 
Capitalism is not consumerism or a zero-sum game
Sometimes you come across an article in which the author tries to present as a serious discussion what is, in reality, a caricature developed to push a point. Consider this:Capitalism’s core virtue is that it marries altruism and self-interest. In producing goods and services that answer real consumer needs, it secures a profit for producers. Doing good for others turns out to entail doing well for yourself.Such was my reaction, after
 
Economic Stability
Over at SHC, Lance offers his take on the effects on investors of economic stability.One of the real points of contention amongst those concerned with economic policy is the increased stability of economic growth and why it has occurred. It is also an area of real concern for investors, for economic stability has some interesting affects. My interpretation:1. Increased stability leads t
 
Why Republicans have lost their way
At least fiscally. And it is all said succinctly in a single chart:What you’ll notice is, this isn’t a recent phenomenon although in the case of Bush 43, it is worse than other Republican administrations. And look at the Democratic administrations. Surprised?
 
Good Morning!
Well, let’s see...what’s happening in, oh, I dunno...Asia this morning? Japanese share prices tumbled 3.56 percent in morning trade Wednesday, tracking a rout on global markets on fears of a US economic slowdown and concern over China’s possible stock bubble... The TOPIX index of all first-section companies dived 70.36 points or
 
Greenspan: Recession coming
Of course this is like predicting sunrise in many cases. Alan Greenspan, who apparently isn’t retired (or doesn’t sound like it anyway) is in Hong Kong telling us the US economy is possibly headed for recession by year’s end:Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned Monday that the American economy might slip into recession by yea
 
A Primer on Price
Thomas Sowell breaks it down, economically, so even those with an aversion to economics can understand the function of price in any economy. Sadly, as he notes, it isn’t just the common man who has no real conception of the economically important function served by the price mechanism, neither do politicians. Many, if not most, of the economic policies advocated by poli
 
Serious about climate change?
Climate change has become a hot topic lately, but since I’ve been swamped with work lately, I haven’t had much time to weigh in. I also haven’t been able to read for leisure besides a few blog posts per day, and when I don’t have time to read around about a particular subject, I usually leave it to others. This is especially true of climate change, actually, since there’s a great deal to learn about the science behind the is
 
Minimum wage increase causes layoffs? Who knew?
Wow, I never thought something like this could happen! [/sarcasm]Oh, for the days when Arizona’s high school students could roll pizza dough, sweep up sticky floors in theaters or scoop ice cream without worrying about ballot initiatives affecting their earning power.That’s certainly not the case under the state’s new minimum-wage law
 
There’s inequality and then there’s inequality
Greg Mankiw has a short post about inequality that distills nicely how the concept is viewed differently by right and left:Ben Bernanke gives a talk on inequality, concluding that the challenge for policy is not to eliminate inequality per
 
Democratonomics
Via email:Question: how many poor people had to go without a home because John Edwards bought a 28,000 sq ft mansion for himself?Presumptive Democratic answer: some/manyCorrect answer: 0What does each answer tell us about John Edwards’ economic ideas, in practice and theory?Heh.
 
UAW finally a "reality based" organization?
The UAW has finally recognized that zero times a million is still zero. Given that realization, it has entered into negotiations with the "Big Three" auto makers with the attitude that sacrifices on its part will have to be a part of the mix as well:"We have made a conscious choice to put aside the adversarial approach," UAW Vice President Bob King said las
 
Tuna by any other name is still fishy
By now everyone and their brother should have heard of fishy deal Del Monte of San Francisco was enjoying in American Samoa as the only place in the US and its territories exempted from the new minimum wage passed by the Democratic House. Political smell aside, here are the real implications of raising the minimum wage in a economy which has, to this point, survived without it:A quick look at
 
Free trade and the Democrats
Stephen Chapman is afraid, no, in fact he’s sure that Democrats are going to engage in a war of choice of their own - one aimed at restricting free trade: "Free," when modifying "trade," is a four-letter word on the left. Bill Clinton favored breaking down barriers to international commerce, but the idea has lost favor in the Democratic p
 
The Minimum Wage
I recently objected to a Washington Post claim that about "450,000 Virginians are paid the minimum wage". They have since added a correction to the story, noting that "about 60,000 Virginia residents are paid the minimum wage." They did not mention that the source of their 450,000 figure was the liberal,  
Income Inequality
Thomas Sowell has a few choice words about income inequality.The media and academia are continuously obsessed with “gaps” and “disparities” in income. As one talk-show host put it, “It makes no sense” that a corporate executive makes over $50 million a year.Ninety-nine percent of all the things that happen in this world “make no sense”
 
Feel-good liberalism
John Edwards, Defender of the downtrodden... (via Kip)During [John Edwards’] career of allegedly championing the helpless, he took no pro bono cases. Ironically, despite Edwards’ alleged concern for the ’poor’, he opposes many free trade agreements that
 
Economic Trouble Spots (Updated)
Robert Samuelson notes that, while employment is still strong, and many parts of the economy are humming along nicely, there are some warning signs cropping up. His article mirrors some of the concerns I’ve expressed recently, such as frothiness in IPOs and  
Washington Post Propaganda on Mimimum wage
The Washington Post’s campaign to discredit the Post’s once-good reputation continues today in a piece on proposed changes to the Virginia Minimum Wage:About 450,000 Virginians are paid the minimum wage, which works out to about $10,700 a year for those who work 40 hours a week. The entire Virginia labor force is a bit  
Poverty, taxation, government and the economy
The Goldwater Institute just did a very interesting study (pdf) concerning poverty, taxes and government spending. It’s conclusions seem to validate classical liberal economic theory concerning the best way to address poverty. It measured overall poverty and childhood poverty in all 50 states and any reduction or gains within those two categories when compare
 
Median Household Wages
A New York Sun column by economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth has enormous implications on the current debate over inequality. But the truth is that median wages haven’t been stagnating for decades. They’ve been rising. Not only is the median American family — the one right in the middle of the income distribution — doing better than ever, but poor families are doing better al
 
The M3 Question
Sigh. Still sick. I’ve got this horrific coughing/laryngitis thing that I picked up at the end of last week. I’m starting to feel better, but the coughing has been keeping me up to the point where I haven’t gotten more than 30 minutes of sleep at a single stretch for the last four nights. There’s no chest congestion, or runny nose, or anything like that, just the constant irritation in my throat and this dry cough, that, at this point, has
 
Defending Krugman
I’m still not fully bounced back from the flu, but I wanted to briefly throw in a defense of Paul Krugman.Now, I yield to no man in my contempt for Krugman as a opinion writer, and for what often seems to be perversions of economics to buttress his less than convincing political points. In this current prediction about a recession, however, he may be right.This time.As it happens, a few days ago, the Institute for Supply Man
 
Paul Krugman predicts trouble...again
In a recent New York Times column (text here), Paul Krugman predicted a recession in the near future. Right now, statistical models based on the historical correlation between interest rates and recessions
 
This brings back memories...
Allen Sloan is concerned that there are signs of frothiness creeping back into the stock market. A couple of recent IPOs have prompted this concern.We’ll do Nymex first, because it’s simpler. On Friday, its first day of trading as a public company, the stock closed at $132.99, more than double its initial public offering price of $59. It had traded as high as $
 
Prediction Markets
Just prior to the election a few weeks ago, the Tradesports futures market was predicting a Democratic House, and a Republican Senate. Clearly, that turned out to be wrong, prompting unseemly glee from people like Kos and Atrios, who promtply declared that the idea that reliable predict
 
Corporate Shenaninigans
The extraordinarily high rates of CEO pay cause a lot of grumbling, especially on the Left. They think it’s intrinsically "unfair" for corporate execs to make so many multiples of what regular workers make. Conservatives, on the other hand, when confronted with figures like the multiple of executive salaries has jumped from 55 times the average worker’s salary to well into the hundreds merely shrug it off as the market at work. Some of the numbers are
 
Milton Friedman
I’m deeply saddened to learn that Milton Friedman has died today. The New York Times has an obituary here, while the Financial Times has an excellent retrospective here. As the Financial Times notes, he may have generally been considered a "right
 
Populism = Marxism
Winner of the 2006 ElectionsSince the elections, some have claimed that the victories of a few ’moderate’ Democrats represents movement of the Democratic Party towards the center. I’m not convinced. Certainly, some of the newly elected Democrats have been somewhat more conservative on social issues, but it’s very hard to see how that
 
Third Quarter numbers: Slowing down?
Andrew Samwick at Vox Baby points to the latest Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) growth numbers for the third quarter:The BEA’s advance estimate of third quarter GDP growth came in at a 1.6 percent rate. Blessedly not the start of a recession but not a good omen, consider
 
Singing the OPEC blues
Yes friends, that cut of one million barrels a day that OPEC wants to impose to keep the price of oil high? Well, it’s having a rough time:Analysts doubt that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut output by as much as it said it would this week at a Qatar meeting.OPEC, which supplies a
 
Two versions of capitalism and economic justice
Last week, due to my travel schedule, I was unable to comment on an article found in the WSJ by Edmund S. Phelps, a professor of economics at Columbia and this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics. With a little more time this week, I thought I’d throw it out there.What interested me in Phelps WSJ piece was his topic - "Dyn
 
Paul Krugman on Inequality
The Von Mises Institute makes an amusing observation about an August Paul Krugman column on inequality:Although the typical American consumer today has more affordable goods from which to choose than any time in this nation’s history, that has not stopped some prominent voices from declaring that "unfettered" capitalism is undermi
 
National Debt: Myth and Reality
The Skeptical Optimist puts lie to a fairly presistant myth.Now my point here is not to endorse debt. It is simply to make known the facts when someone, anyone, begins attempting the argument that our security is threatened by certain countries who control so much of our debt. The typical argument:Rep.  
Big Business loves government
John Stossel reminds us of a mostly ignored truth:I keep reading that big business wants government off its back. But that’s a myth. Here’s the truth:"[B]ig business and big government prosper from the perception that they are rivals instead of partners (in plunder). The history of big business is one of cooperation with
 
The Evil Oil Execs
Lance, over at Second hand Conjecture, has solved the mystery of why gas prices rise and fall on a cyclical basis. These fluctuations are caused by the machinations of oil executives.They know where their bread is buttered and that is with the Bush/Haliburton team, and they are pulling out the stops to get the Republithugs back in office. Once the dirty deed is done we can expect heati
 
Funny how that works indeed
From Thomas P M Barnett’s blog:More profit equals more oil found. Funny how that works! ENERGY: “Devon Energy Dives Into Deeper Waters: Gulf of Mexico Discovery May Help Company Join the Ranks of Major Oil Producers,” by Angel Gonzalez and Russell Gold, Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2006, p. A14. I know, I know. Please send me all those emails on  
Free Trade’s Slow, Painful Death
Clay Risen, writing in The New Republic, points out that a good portion of the blame for the collapse of the Doha Round of trade talks can be placed at the feet of the Bush Administration. President Bush always talked a good game on Free trade, But the administration never seemed to believe its own rhetoric. Despite its success in winning fast-track powers (in wh
 
Fair Trade or die
Don Boudreaux is usually not this foolish...here’s my dream platform on trade:I steadfastly and unconditionally oppose any efforts to treat commerce transacted across political boundaries as different from commerce transacted within political boundaries. They’re tryi
 
Those Heathen Foreigners and Our Jobs
Robert Samuelson writes that Americans seem to getting caught up in another bout of economic fear of the heathen foreigners.We are experiencing another competitiveness panic. These occur every 15 or 20 years. There’s an outpouring of worried reports and articles. After Sputnik in 1957 — the first artificial earth satellite — w
 
Note to Ben Bernanke: That’s Enough, Thanks
The Labor Department reported yesterday that job growth slipped to 113,000 last month from 124,000 in June, with the unemployment rate rising to 4.8% from 4.6%. June’s labor numbers were already a bit weak, and the July numbers show even further weakness.Over the past two years, the Fed has
 
The Real Deficit...and the problems it presents
USA Today reports the stark, difficult truth about the federal budget...The federal government keeps two sets of books. The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005.The set the government doesn’t talk about is the audited financial st
 
The Democratic War on the Dismal Science
Everybody has a blind spot where science conflicts with ideological aims. To generalize, Republicans seem to believe we’re always on the Right side of the Laffer Curve, while Democrats seem to believe increasing the minimum wage has no negative effect on employment. Media Matters argues...ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper and Washington Post staff wr
 
The problem with Empirical Economic Research
Donald Boudreaux writes at TCS Daily that, while the theoretical case that the minimum wage produces unemployment is solid, empirical evidence about the effect of the minimum wage is difficult... The evidence is indeed imprecise. Some empirical studies — most famously one published in 1994 in the prestigious American Economic Review by David Card and Alan Krueger — find that on at least some
 
The Deficit Picture
The budget deficit is declining...The Bush administration is planning to trumpet today a midyear revision of its budget estimates projecting that a recent surge in tax revenue will help to shrink this year’s federal deficit below $300 billion, according to sources familiar with the estimates. Naturally, the Bush administration
 
Raise the Minimum Wage?
Ezra Klein, bless him, seems to have decided that raising the minimum wage would not have adverse effect on the employment rate for lower-skilled workers.The lowest unemployment rate in the country is Hawaii’s 2.8 percent, which somehow survives with their $6.75 minimum wage. Second lowest? Florida, with a luxurious $6.40 per hour. Vermont, resting comfortably at
 
Jonathan Chait: convenient fact finders
Jonathan Chait — last observed here discussing the William Niskanen counterintuitive thought piece on the problem with the ’starve the beast’ hypothesis — is upset with Conservatives ...A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about a paper that decimated the conser
 
The Unemployment Rate Myth
Yesterday, for about the umpteenth time, I came across a common misconception about how the Unemployment Rate [UR] is calculated, so let’s put this to rest. The misconception is that the unemployment rate is calculated using unemployment benefits, and when unemployment benefits expire — usually after 6 months — the person, though still unemployed, is no longer counted as part of the unemployment rate. This is, of course, wrong. Amusingly, when I contr
 
The Minimum Wage: a Democratic dilemma
One common argument for single payer, universal health care has been that employer-provided health care is inefficient — wrote Kevin Drum, a "car company should be a car company, not a healthcare supplier." — and disadvantageous, since offloading the burden for health care onto employers puts US employers at a competive disadvantage against employers in countries which subsidize univers
 
Those Bloodsucking Oil Merchants
Quite a lot of political energy has been generated by politicians railing against the oil companies, their greed, their excessive profits, yadda, yadda, yadda. Oil companies are a popular whipping boy, of course, but just how hard are they squeezing us? How far are they willing to go to throttle us, and our economy?As an interesting intellectual exercise, I thought I would do a little investigating. Why are gas prices so high? With all the politicians
 
Output inequality
Edward P. Lazear, Chairman of the CEA, has an important article in today’s Wall Street Journal — essentially taken from a recent Hudson Institute speech — on the US economy, wages an inequali
 
Family budgets, not Congress, will lead to gas conservation
Why is it people like Massimo Calabresi think it is up to politicians to tell us the obvious before we’ll consider it or do it? Members of Congress have been scrambling lately to tell Americans that there are no quick and easy fixes to high gas prices. "There is not a panacea of short-term solutions to the [gasoline] price situation today because it’s a d
 
Why oil prices are high, and will stay there
For those that think the oil prices we’re now experiencing are a temporary blip, Robert Samuelson is here to disabuse you of that idea:Oil was cheap in the 1990s. From 1993 to 1999, crude prices averaged about $17 a barrel. Low prices discouraged exploration; they encouraged consumption. China emerged as a big user. In 1995, global demand was about 70 million barre
 
The oil conundrum
In a thread about oil pricing I gave the following reaction to a couple of comments:Here, people are seeing oil companies that are making incredibly large profits, paying a +$300 million dollar retirement to an executive and wondering what is going on?It’s all relative, isn’t it? The man was responsible for earning 38 billion for Exxon during his tenure. Let m
 
Oil: the fly in the economic custard
Oil prices are climbing and it is my guess that this is only the beginning of a steady increase in oil pricing:Oil prices hit a new intraday high of $70.88 a barrel Tuesday amid international tension over Iran’s nuclear program and worries about supply disruptions in Nigeria.
 
Minding the Gap: Folk Marxism and income inequality
Folk Marxism looks at political economy as a struggle pitting the oppressors against the oppressed. … Under folk Marxism, the oppressed class has inherent moral superiority to the oppressor class... – Arnold Kling, in TCS DailyIn a previous TCSDaily series, Arnold Kling suggested t
 
Those Darn French
Ah, the International Herald Tribune. It can always be counted upon to spew the standard Lefty line about the faults of capitalism. And today’s op/ed by William Pfaff, occasioned by the French labor protests, is certainly no exception.Since the 1970s, two fundamental changes have been made in the leading (American) model of capitalism. The first
 
Demographics and government health care
A couple of articles from Europe which, in my opinion, presage developments in the US if we’re not careful.First this about health care for the elderly in the UK:The report’s authors stated that "deep-rooted cultural attitudes to ageing" had led to thousands of elderly patients receiving inferior treatment to the young. The survey comes at
 
GM: Each union worker costs $130,000
Yeow. And you wonder why Detroit is having such fun trying to compete with non-unionized auto makers?GM’s unionized workers earn an average $27 an hour, $56,000 a year without overtime. Benefits increase the hourly average to $73.I hate to belabor a point, but I will. See t
 
It’s all about choices
Yesterday I mentioned Robert Samuelson’s article where he says our current immigration policy (or lack thereof if you prefer) essentially imports poverty. He also made the point that the wages for which illegals will work has an adverse effect on the low-end labor market. I don’t see that as a particularly controversial point.USA Today concludes  
More on the CPI
I just want to interject a brief note here about Jon’s observations on the CPI problem. The problem with the CPI that the Boskin Commission identified affects not only the future, but an unreliable CPI also should make us think twice about much of the debate over economic policy in other areas, too. The CPI is, in many ways, the 800-pound gorilla of economic statistics. It’s how, f
 
How to Balance the Budget (eventually)
Andrew Sullivan was engaged in a very interesting back and forth on the question of "how [he would] balance budgets while keeping Bush’s tax cuts". His "back-of-the-envelope wish-list", inter alia, included "means-test social security benefits, index them to prices rather than wages, extend the retirement age to 72 (and have it regularly extended as life-spans lengthen)", which would seem to more than sol
 
The inevitable fiscal train wreck
The San-Diego Union-Tribune has a warning in an editorial today. It’s not a new warning. Heck, we, among a multitude of others, have been saying it for years. It is the elephant in the room to which no one will admit. [T]he vast cost of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the 77 million baby boomers who will begin retiring in 21 mo
 
Economic Statistics for Partisan Fun and Games!
Interesting observation on comparative Unemployment Rates from Jayson at Polipundit:February 19983.9 - Whites9.7 - Blacks6.8 - LatinosOn the other hand:February 20064.1 - Whites9.3 - Blacks5.5 - Lat
 
Older, healthier and less costly?
Well this is good news. Older people are getting healthier. (Since I’m getting older I read more stories like this ... go figure). But will we really be less costly in terms of health care because of it?The next few decades will see an explosion in the percentage of Americans over the age of 65, but the economic and social impact of this Baby Boomer sunset may be gentler than had been feared because of a significant drop in the percentage of olde
 
I want to Govern Your Company
The pay for corporate board members has mushroomed. At a time when many Americans are facing steep pay cuts as their jobs get outsourced, life has never been sweeter around the polished mahogany tables in corporate board rooms.Corporate directors at S&P 500 companies got hefty 20% pay hikes last year, according to Equilar, a consulting firm that tracks executive compensation. The median pay for th
 
A Weak Economy?
Following on the same theme I touched upon in my TCSDaily article last month, I see Barry Ritholtz is pushing a if you dig into the numbers far enough, the economy is weaker than you think! message. Specifically, I’ll address this...A closer look at how various economic components are calcula
 
An economic warning
A couple of economics professors from Maryland, Steve Hanke (Johns Hopkins) and Stephen J.K. Walters (Loyola) did a little computing in an attempt to quantify the impact that Maryland’s recent "Wal-Mart" bill will have on the state’s economy.As you recall, the Maryland legislature passed a bill over the governor’s veto which required all companies in Maryland with
 
The Yield Curve
Is another recession in the offing? Those who watch the yield curve carefully are getting concerned. As of right now, the yield curve is inverted. Pretty scary, no?Now, of course, many of you are scratching your heads at this point and asking, "What the hell is a yield curve?" and "Why do I care if it’s inverted?"Aha! Time for an economics lesson!First, let’s talk about yield. The government sells a variety
 
Real Wage Slaves
I have a column up at TCSDaily on wages and the political rhetoric surrounding the issue. Briefly: we’re not doing as badly as Paul Krugman and the Democratic Party would have us believe.It’s a testament to the immutable characteristics of economists and politicians that, good times or bad, the capacity to find data that supports their conclusions remains undiminished. In good times, they just have to d
 
Where are we on the Laffer Curve?
It’s a major question with important policy implications and it comes up every time politicians talk tax cuts. Yet nobody actually knows the answer; to be fair, the precise answer may be unknowable. Are we on the left or right side of the Laffer Curve? And where, exactly, is the inflection point?Dale has touched on this subject before in various  
Inflation? Not so much
Two months ago, with the Consumer Price Index increasing by 1.2% in September—an annualized rate close to 15%—there was quite a lot of public concern about inflation. I addressed that at the time, noting that the dramatic increase in the Consumer Price Index may not be inflation at all.