18 Nov 2012

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Sheila Bair, Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street From Wall Street and Wall Street From Itself

Bull by the Horns is the story of financial calamity seen from the perspective of this public servant, rendered from detailed notes. We learn with whom she met, what was said, what decisions taken, and how things turned out. She begins with the battles over deregulation of the banks (Basel II), with the gathering sub-prime storm, and proceeds through the disaster: WaMu, Wachovia, Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG, Citigroup again. And then the battles of the aftermath, over among other things Dodd-Frank, Basel III and the robosigning frauds. This is a book for aficionados of infuriating detail.

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29 Jan 2012

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Bruce Bartlett, The Benefit and The Burden: Tax Reform-Why We Need It and What It Will Take

The Benefit and the Burden begins with a short history of American taxation and a description of the core issues in the definition of income. It follows with some discussion of the principal economic arguments that have flowed around the relationship between taxes, growth and fairness, and then proceeds to examine the issues surrounding preferences in our tax code – for housing, for charitable contributions, for capital gains, and the problem of taxing corporate profits. It ends with a discussion of reform proposals, and Bruce makes his case for a VAT to close the revenue gap and fund the government that we will need, among other things, to support an increasingly elderly population.

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29 Jan 2012

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Bruce Bartlett, The Benefit and The Burden: Tax Reform-Why We Need It and What It Will Take

I’m delighted to welcome Bruce Bartlett to FireDogLake Book Salon.

Bruce’s new book, The Benefit and the Burden is an extended essay on taxes and tax reform. It provides a breezy survey of the central issues of tax policy, with excursions into history and international comparison, and a keen eye on the political angles and how they’ve been played by both parties in recent years.

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24 Oct 2009

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Robert D. Auerbach, Deception and Abuse at the Fed: Henry B. Gonzalez Battles Alan Greenspan’s Bank

Robert D. Auerbach began his career as a cab driver. A chance ride with Abram Lincoln Harris, a leading professor in the economics department at the University of Chicago — and its only African-American member — catapulted him into graduate school. (When he went in to register, he still had his changer on his belt.) There he became a student of Milton Friedman, completing a dissertation in 1969. Then it was on to the staff of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank – the beginning of a lifelong no-love-lost affair with the central bank.

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17 Oct 2009

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Bruce Bartlett, The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward

In January 1981, Bruce Bartlett and I took over direction of the staff of the Joint Economic Committee – he on the Republican and I on the Democratic side. Our situation was unique: a bicameral committee, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, no majority either way. This, at the start of the Reagan revolution, which he favored and I opposed.

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11 Jun 2009

Funding the IMF: White House Should Honor Left’s Critique, Allow for Conditionality Review

So, here we are again. The WaPo editorial is right: until just recently, the IMF was effectively without a mission. Most countries in the world ceased doing business with it after the fiasco of the Asian crisis — it was out of Latin America altogether, and most of Asia. Now it is coming back to life in Eastern Europe, somewhat reformed, somewhat better led, but still with much the same wholesale approach to conditionality. The East European governments are taking the deals, because, shockingly, they are somewhat less stringent than the alternative on offer from the European Union. A sad situation, but one in which it may be better to have the IMF than not to have it.

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11 Jun 2009

Funding the IMF: White House Should Honor Left’s Critique, Allow for Conditionality Review

So, here we are again. Emanuel is right: until just recently, the IMF was effectively without a mission. Most countries in the world ceased doing business with it after the fiasco of the Asian crisis — it was out of Latin America altogether, and most of Asia. Now it is coming back to life in Eastern Europe, somewhat reformed, somewhat better led, but still with much the same wholesale approach to conditionality. The East European governments are taking the deals, because, shockingly, they are somewhat less stringent than the alternative on offer from the European Union. A sad situation, but one in which it may be better to have the IMF than not to have it.

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21 Mar 2009

James K. Galbraith Reponds to Geithner’s Toxic Asset Plan

I’ve just been reading the NYT report.

The central Treasury assumption, at least for public consumption, seems to be that the underlying mortgage loans will largely pay off, so that if the PPIP buys and holds, at an above-present-market price governed by auction, the government’s loan to finance the purchase will not go bad.

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16 Feb 2009

What is to be Done? Next Steps for Economic Recovery

It is difficult to know what the so-called moderate Senators were thinking. Do they have special insight into this crisis? Do they have their own forecasters, with deep understanding and good track records in these matters? Do they have their own models? Do they have, in other words, any ground for believing that less than $800 billion, spread over two years, will be enough to bring the economy back? If so, they weren’t saying so, so far as I could tell.

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14 Feb 2009

Due Diligence, Damn It!

Does the Treasury team really understand, in a way that clearly separates the public interest from that of the bankers, the situation we are in?

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