04 Jul 2009

A Republic If You Can Keep It

On this Independence Day, let us not just remember those who died that America might have its freedom, but what they died for. The truest respect for sacrifice is not to hold a parade, to speak of gratitude or to say fond words; no, the truest respect is to value that which the dead fought for.

13 Jun 2009

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Barry Ritholtz – Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy

In Bailout Nation, econoblogger and analyst Barry Ritholz asks how exactly America turned into a country where those who don’t manage risk properly are bailed out from the consequences of their own decisions and stupidity. Clocking in at 300 pages, the answer isn’t short, but Ritholz’s combination of wit and clarity makes the book an enjoyable read. I’ve read a number of books on the crisis, and this one is the clearest and easiest to understand, yet it remains accurate. Ritholz keeps it simple, but he doesn’t oversimplify.

I’ve been following this crisis for, well, long before it existed, at least as far back as 2002. I’d say I know a fair bit about it, but Bailout Nation had a number of insights and many facts I wasn’t aware of.

21 May 2009

Does Obama Plan to Give Up a Little Liberty to Get a Little Safety?

People who have committed no crime which can be proved in a court of law, including the crime of conspiracy, will be held indefinitely without a trial. Note that Obama wants to use military commissions to try some detainees, which means that these detainees can’t be found guilty of anything even under military law. This is punishment for a thought crime.

04 May 2009

Iraq’s Papered-Over Problems Flare Up As the Iraqi Endgame Starts

ince the endgame in Iraq was about who would control Iraq after the US left, which was indicated by the fact that Iraqi government forces were under heavier attack than the Americans (who were attacked just enough to keep the cost high), the Sunnis said “sure.” By accepting the money and arms they got to build up to be in a better position when the Americans left—either for negotiation, or for war.

But the Sunni central government is aware of this, and in the past few months they’ve started arresting and assassinating Sunni leaders, in preparation for when the Americans leave.

27 Apr 2009

Evaluating Geithner’s Stress Test

The Stress Test Is Not a test of whether or not, if a given bank holding company were liquidated right now, it would be worth more than 0 dollars. As such, it is not, primarily about mark-to-market accounting. The question is now “are the banks solvent”, the question is “can they keep operating and if not how much money do they need to keep operating?” In household terms, think of it as “can they pay their bills”, not “what is their net worth?”

25 Mar 2009

The Geithner Plan’s Unpleasant Consequences

The Geithner Plan, combined with the other steps taken by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, make fairly clear the Obama administration’s plan. The sardonic summary would be “to continue the work of Hank Paulson,” but the more serious one would be, “we’re going to throw money at this problem until it goes away.” The end result will be riptide inflation, and economy that suffers from the Japanese sickness where the good times just never, ever, seem to return. Here’s why this is the case.

21 Mar 2009

What Geithner’s TALF Plan Teaches Us

Some more details have come out on the administration plan to take toxic assets of the banks hands. There are three parts to the plan, of which we have mostly the details of the first part, in which the FDIC will form “private/public” partnerships to buy up assets. The plan has the FDIC loaning up to 85% of the cost of purchase as a non-recourse loan which is backed

16 Mar 2009

Another Giveaway? The Sad Truth about the Geithner TALF Plan

I confess that I find it difficult to find much difference between the actions of the Treasury under Bush and Paulson, and those under Geithner. In both cases job one seems to be to bail out bankers and give money to private investors, not to fix problems in a sustainable fashion which looks after taxpayers.

01 Mar 2009

The Administration’s Proposed “Pension” Plan: Because What People Want Now is More Ways to Invest in Mutual Funds

I read that Obama’s pension plan is to allow people to have Investment Retirement accounts. Such accounts allow you to invest, tax free, compounding merrily, until retirement.

The budget “lays the groundwork for future establishment of a system of automatic workplace pensions, to operate alongside [ultimately replace?] Social Security, that is expected to dramatically increase” retirement and personal savings, Obama’s Office of Management and Budget said in

26 Feb 2009

Obama’s Healthcare Plan: True Universality?

Obama has said he’s leaving the details to be thrashed out by Congress, having learned from Clinton’s failure. But the details will determine whether it’s a plan which will simply help Medicare and Medicaid recipients and raise costs for everyone else, whether it’s a repeat of the Massachusetts experiment, whether it really contains costs not just for the government but for everyone: or if he is successful in really giving true universal healthcare where everyone gets the health care they need when they need it.