The Roundup for January 7, 2011
I wanted to fire off a story on this report from Darrell Issa on HAMP, but I think I’ll digest it a bit more first. So look for it on the weekend. Until then…
• Numerian lays out the implications of the Ibanez ruling in Massachusetts today. It’s important to note that, while this ruling won’t be applied globally, there are similar ones happening all over the country, and the sloppiness with which the banks approached mortgage assignment appears to be endemic. If you don’t think so, ask the US trustee.
…another reminder on this: Massachusetts is a decent-sized state, population-wise, and this ruling throws practically their entire housing market into turmoil, especially because the decision is retroactive.
• Ben Bernanke spoke in front of the Senate Budget Committee today and ran his mouth about the deficit and fiscal policy, surely while telling lawmakers about the need to preserve the independence of monetary policy and the Fed. He also said “It could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully,” which would last the entire rest of his current term at the Fed, a shocking admission of future failure in his mission to maximize employment.
• Some of Gene Sperling’s ideas. He’s the new head of the National Economic Council, replacing Larry Summers. I don’t find these personnel changes all that interesting; Obama gets what Obama wants, is my view. The two main people are replacing, um, Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers. So it’s not like there’s a downgrade.
• Republican governors want to cut Medicaid enrollment, a major feature of the Affordable Care Act. Incidentally, the feds pay for practically all of the expansion of the Medicaid rolls in the ACA; the GOP governors basically want to cut it from its current position. It’s time to federalize this sucker.
• The price tag on the wars next year? $120 billion. The scariest part of the article is when it says the money will go to military operations “chiefly in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Chiefly?
• Everything’s “job-killing” to the GOP. I can’t wait until they label the Democrats “the job-killing party” or whatever.
• One of the major cost reductions for the Pentagon’s budget in the next several years is increasing health premiums for TRICARE, which has veterans worried. But you know, we couldn’t reduce the military footprint around the world, because China might have a stealth bomber! Urk!
• Regulators are trying to define the scope of the Volcker rule and how to crack down on proprietary trading. It could include surprise spot checks by regulators to trading desks.
• The conservative crack-up over a gay group’s participation in CPAC continues.
• Yes, Virginia, public employees really do earn less than their private sector counterparts.
• In Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo expelled the ambassadors from Britain and Canada, only for them to reply that they didn’t recognize him as the leader of the country. Meanwhile, ECOWAS may be getting cold feet about military intervention.
• More death panels in Arizona. It’s funny that conservatives make up this elaborate story about doctors influenced by the government to persuade patients to end their lives at some undefined point in the future, and call that a death panel, when you have the much simpler example of Arizona just denying treatment and people dying as a result.
• Kent Conrad must be nervous about re-election if he’s already going up on the air.
• A spike in food prices has led to riots in Africa.
• Pakistan’s government won’t collapse, after the opposition party rejoins the coalition.
• The Illinois House voted to end the death penalty. If successful they would be the 16th state to abolish capital punishment.
• The horrible story of US citizen and torture victim Gulet Mohamed, who the government will not allow back in this country.
• Here’s hoping the Sudanese referendum goes off without a hitch, though I’m nervous it won’t.
• White flight from Obama. It certainly speaks to the electoral strategies of both parties in 2012.
• Steve King was apparently a winger too crazy to chair an immigration subcommittee in the House.
• Beef fat spill in the Houston Ship Channel. Get out your barley and start making soup in Houston.
• If Four Loko, which until now was something you drink, can be so easily converted into ethanol fuel, doesn’t that suggest that the supporters of banning the substance were kind of right?
• Headline of the day: “Nazi fury at Hitler-imitating dog”. The guy taught his dog to Sieg Heil. The Nazis were furious.