The Roundup for December 31, 2010
OK, my rule is, once New Delhi celebrates New Year’s, I take off. And we’re pretty much there. Have a safe and Happy New Year’s Eve, and we’ll see you in 2011.
• Neil Irwin muses over hopes for economic growth in 2011, and brings up one potential dampening of the mood, the rising price of oil and other commodities, which could cut into disposable income. As commodity prices are tied to global growth and scarcity, this one’s virtually inescapable.
• The strain of a decade of troop deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq are showing.
• The latest on filibuster reform: David Waldman muses about a negotiated settlement, Brian Beutler breaks down the mechanics (and the central role of Joe Biden), and Jonathan Bernstein responds to me. There’s a fourth piece floating around as part of the consensus package, ending post-cloture time on nominations, which would satisfy part of his concern about this being modest, and which would speed things up significantly.
• The Justice Department has refused to cooperate with a probe in Poland over torture at one of the CIA secret prisons. Add this to what we know from Wikileaks about the Administration working to stop a Spanish investigation into torture, and you get a picture of an active cover-up.
• Teddy mentioned that DoJ wants to drop their appeal of the DADT lawsuit after passage of the legislative repeal. The Log Cabin Republicans still want to pursue to stop discharges in the interregnum period.
• Dean Baker takes issue with Ryan Avent’s claim that housing prices will stabilize in the new year. I’m with Baker.
• One of the bigger problems with the labor market right now is that companies can force workers into temporary positions and contract hiring, because they have all the leverage (either you work temp or you don’t work).
• The START treaty was fine, but the more important nuclear nonproliferation step concerns the US helping move Ukrainian uranium to Russia. This is very good news.
• I’m pleased to see at least some recognition of conflict of interest among academic economists. Most of the most egregious ones are mentioned, but why not Jonathan Gruber?
• The Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf posted microscopically small sales this month, but not for lack of demand; their production is still ramping up. The wait list is 50,000 deep.
• One reason why you haven’t seen Republican candidates announce for President is that they can use PACs to avoid federal fundraising limits.
• Will airports ditch the TSA for private companies? I don’t think that’s the solution, it just reduces accountability.
• Good for CNN. The problem in Greece is not a runaway European spending problem, it’s a tax collection problem. Most people in Greece don’t pay their taxes and deliberately under-report their income to facilitate this. It can get to be a problem. By the way, those least likely to hide their income – public workers – get hit the hardest by Greek austerity provisions.
• Voice of America runs an Iran-focused Daily Show out of Washington and beamed to Iranian TV sets. “Parazit” is pretty popular with younger viewers over there.
• It was a very good year, I drank a very good beer: