The Roundup for February 7, 2011
Feeling a little adrift today, let’s just link it out and move on…
• After reading about AOL’s big plan for their content distribution, maybe I’m not as gung-ho on this Huffington Post deal as before. But Arianna will run the content arm, not whoever made this PowerPoint.
• The housing bubble, Robert Shiller argues, was enormous and ahistorical. Yet all the serious daddy economists missed it.
• Three judges were confirmed by the Senate today after a breakthrough in the impasse. The more contentious ones will probably never get a vote, however, despite majority support.
• The Chamber of Commerce pushes back on an earlier report about their opposition to sanctions Iranian, even while acknowledging that they sent a letter to Larry Summers 13 months ago opposing sanctions. Their beef is they sent the letter to the White House and not Iran, and the whole thing is old news. They’re not really saying that they now support the sanctions ultimately laid down, or that they would instruct member businesses to stop working in Iran.
• This is actually the right way for a coal-state Senator to act: tell the industry that their days are numbered without getting ahead of the curve and reducing their emissions. Unfortunately, Rockefeller’s the same guy trying to delay EPA actions on greenhouse gas emissions for two years, so this is more talk than action.
• I don’t buy this focus on immigration for a second, but to the extent that Republicans are worried that they’ve lost the Latino vote for a generation, that’s pretty accurate. But they’d have to fight their own base to get it back and that won’t happen.
• I think this is particular to Massachusetts, where the Ibanez ruling has changed the landscape. But yes, foreclosures are taking longer and its the banks’ own fault for having no sense of whether they own the loans or not.
• Dexter Filkins on the failure of Kabul Bank.
• Paul Krugman looks at the data on the global food crisis, pinpoints wheat harvest failures in Russia resulting from the massive heat wave last year as the culprit.
• People still buzzing about that Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” ad from the Super Bowl. As someone who spent formative years in the Detroit area, it hit home with me. Others are right to point out that Chrysler is an incredibly imperfect messenger, given their foreign ownership and damage done to Detroit and its citizens over the years. And then there’s the matter of the choice of the Diego Rivera mural, which was in part a commentary on the auto industry’s abuse of the local worker. By the way that mural takes up a whole room at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and it’s incredible.
• JP Morgan Chase – the “good” bank – stopped deferring student loans for active duty military personnel and only reversed course because NBC News caught them. Oh, and the Madoff scam, too.
• Very big deal: Omar al-Bashir of Sudan will accept the secession vote of the south, paving the way for a bloodless transition. Elizabeth Dickinson attributes the success to positive reinforcement from US diplomats. Sudan will gain measurably from allowing the south to secede.
• People were using the rules on early retirement as an interest-free loan from the government, because you could return the money and cancel your early retirement at a later date. The Social Security Administration changed the rules, but didn’t grandfather in current recipients, to the chagrin of people who planned to pay the money back.
• Obama wimps out on gun regulations right after the Giffords shooting.
• Looks like
Boss Hogg Haley Barbour really will run for President.
• The “Texas miracle” – not such a miracle.
• Good for McClatchy to offer the facts on Fannie and Freddie.
• The other show has not yet dropped on commercial real estate.
• Outside the watchful eye of most US media, the Gulf oil spill keeps causing health problems.
• Florida Governor Rick Scott unveiled his budget at a Tea Party gathering. Welcome to America 2011.
• Why are we talking about a new Hudson River rail tunnel when the Governor of New Jersey killed the funding for the first one?
• The latest in my Silvio Berlusconi obsession. Is he the next Mubarak?