Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid speculation that the Federal Reserve soon might start scaling back its stimulus efforts, the International Monetary Fund cautioned that a pullback before next year could hurt economies worldwide.

Highlighting its concern Friday, the IMF lowered its forecast for U.S. economic growth next year to 2.7% from an earlier projection of 3%.

The IMF also criticized U.S. fiscal policy, calling for the repeal of the automatic federal spending cuts, known as the sequester, and urging lawmakers to act promptly to raise the nation's debt limit.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2013 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europe is a mess — politically, economically, fiscally, economist David Rosenberg said Monday.

“In less than two years, we are now up to a total of seven European leaders or ruling parties that have been forced out of office, courtesy of the spreading government debt crisis — tack on France now to Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Even Germany’s coalition is looking shaky,” the Gluskin Sheff economist wrote in his note Monday.

“This is quite a potent brew — financial insolvency, economic fragility and political instability.”

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009* International News & CommentaryCanadaEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

2 Comments
Posted May 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Francois Hollande, the former leader of France’s Socialist Party, has been elected president of France, defeating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

Despite being one of France's best known politicians, the 57-year-old Hollande has never held a position in the national government.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

2 Comments
Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standard and Poor's has put Germany, France and 13 other eurozone countries on "credit watch" due to fears over the impact of the debt crisis.

S&P's move means that countries with top AAA ratings would have a 50% chance of seeing their rating's downgraded.

The news came as a surprise to investors and saw stocks fall back on early gains as the euro also fell.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

0 Comments
Posted December 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday downgraded its estimate of the benefits of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, saying it may have sustained as few as 700,000 jobs at its peak last year and that over the long run it will actually be a net drag on the economy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)

0 Comments
Posted November 23, 2011 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The lesson of LTCM was that no trading operation is better than its ability to withstand losses. This lesson was proved in spades, in 2008, at highly leveraged banks such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.

A second lesson is that seemingly unlikely events may be more likely than market history suggests. Russia had not defaulted since 1917, but that didn’t stop it from happening in 1998.

And a further lesson of LTCM’s demise was that the widespread belief that liquidity offers safety is, in fact, an illusion, and a terribly dangerous one at that.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuroStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

0 Comments
Posted November 3, 2011 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal Reserve policy makers may start weighing additional steps to prop up the recovery after growth fell below 1 percent in the first half of this year and economists began cutting second-half growth forecasts.

“At a minimum, the FOMC will have a serious debate about the policy options -- what they should do, and what they expect to get from it,” said Roberto Perli, a former associate director in the Fed’s Division of Monetary Affairs, referring to the Federal Open Market Committee. “Growth in the first half was dangerously close to zero,” said Perli, director of policy research at International Strategy & Investment Group.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in General

2 Comments
Posted August 2, 2011 at 7:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...everyone knows that Italy is on the slow train to ruin. Her public finances have been reasonably well run, but the economic fundamentals are skewed against her. Her poor demographic mean fewer workers – and thus taxpayers and savers – to fund the health and social costs of a greying populous. And, like Portugal and Greece, she is fundamentally uncompetitive, unable to match German levels of productivity and exports.

Il miracolo economico of the 1960s – symbolised by millions of little Fiat 500s pouring out of bustling Turin – was possible because a vast reservoir of underemployed agricultural workers could be lured into the cities. That cannot be repeated.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Italy

0 Comments
Posted July 12, 2011 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates of monthly GDP indicate that the only growth in the first quarter of 2011 was from February to March. After a temporary rise in March, the economy began sliding again in April, with declines in real wages, in durable-goods orders and manufacturing production, in existing home sales, and in real per-capita disposable incomes. It is not surprising that the index of leading indicators fell in April, only the second decline since it began to rise in the spring of 2009.

The data for May are beginning to arrive and are even worse than April's. They are marked by a collapse in payroll-employment gains; a higher unemployment rate; manufacturers' reports of slower orders and production; weak chain-store sales; and a sharp drop in consumer confidence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted June 9, 2011 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In California, where foreclosures are more abundant than in any other state, homeowners trying to win a loan modification have always had a tough time.

Now they face yet another obstacle: hiring a lawyer.

Sharon Bell, a retiree who lives in Laguna Niguel, southeast of Los Angeles, needs a modification to keep her home. She says she is scared of her bank and its plentiful resources, so much so that she cannot even open its certified letters inquiring where her mortgage payments may be. Yet the half-dozen lawyers she has called have refused to represent her.

“They said they couldn’t help,” said Ms. Bell, 63. “But I’ve got to find help, because I’m dying every day.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralState Government

5 Comments
Posted December 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeff Horton has a job, two cars and money in the bank. Yet, he stopped paying his mortgage a year ago. With shoddy documentation by mortgage lenders now delaying foreclosures across the US, Jeff thinks he will continue living for free for at least another six months, and probably longer.

The 33-year-old IT specialist is keen to put an end to his disastrous home purchase that will likely leave his bank with a loss of at least $100,000. Until the bank actually makes him leave, he will keep living in the Orlando house, and pocket the $2,200 he used to pay on his monthly mortgage. “I’m not stupid,” he says. “I will live for free until the bank takes over the house.”

Shasta Gaughen, an anthropologist living in California, stopped paying her mortgage in February. She has no idea when her home will actually be taken over. “I have been able to save significantly,” she says. “Every penny that was supposed to go to my mortgage went into savings, around $1,200 a month.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

18 Comments
Posted October 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Stimulus" may be a dirty word in Washington these days, but don't we need another boost to kick-start the economy?

Many economists say yes — even if it may not be politically feasible after the election. Economic historian Niall Ferguson, however, says a second round isn't a good idea at all.

The Harvard historian tells NPR's Guy Raz that while it might have some impact on unemployment figures, another stimulus also carries with it a tremendous risk.

"The risk is that you finally stretch the credulity of financial markets to the breaking point, and investors — not only in the U.S., but abroad — say, 'You know what? U.S. fiscal policy really is out of control,' " Ferguson says.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. Government

4 Comments
Posted October 17, 2010 at 7:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Winston Churchill once moaned about the long, dishonourable tradition in politics that sees commerce as a cow to be milked or a dangerous tiger to be shot. Businesses are the generators of the wealth on which incomes, taxation and all else depends; “the strong horse that pulls the whole cart”, as Churchill put it. No sane leader of a country would want businesspeople to think that he was against them, especially at a time when confidence is essential for the recovery.

From this perspective, Barack Obama already has a lot to answer for. A president who does so little to counter the idea that he dislikes business is, self-evidently, a worryingly negligent chief executive. No matter that other Western politicians have publicly played with populism more dangerously, from France’s “laissez-faire is dead” president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to Britain’s “capitalism kills competition” business secretary, Vince Cable (see article); no matter that talk on the American right about Mr Obama being a socialist is rot; no matter that Wall Street’s woes are largely of its own making. The evidence that American business thinks the president does not understand Main Street is mounting

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2010 at 1:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs within weeks unless Congress extends one of the more effective job-creating programs in the $787 billion stimulus act: a $1 billion New Deal-style program that directly paid the salaries of unemployed people so they could get jobs in government, at nonprofit organizations and at many small businesses.

In rural Perry County, Tenn., the program helped pay for roughly 400 new jobs in the public and private sectors. But in a county of 7,600 people, those jobs had a big impact: they reduced Perry County’s unemployment rate to less than 14 percent this August, from the Depression-like levels of more than 25 percent that it hit last year after its biggest employer, an auto parts factory, moved to Mexico.

If the stimulus program ends on schedule next week, Perry County officials said, an estimated 300 people there will lose their jobs — the equivalent of another factory closing.

“It’s very scary, because there’s just no work,” said Brian Davis, a 36-year-old father of four, who got a stimulus-subsidized job with the City of Lobelville after he lost his job of 17 years at an auto parts plant that shed hundreds of jobs. Now he faces the prospect of unemployment again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

19 Comments
Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pundits are restless, an election looms – so this week, President Barack Obama is proposing yet another round of special favors, aimed at improving the economy. Prominent columnist Paul Krugman wants the plans to be “bold” and to involve huge amounts of money. Here’s a contrasting view: government should stop declaring recovery plans, bold or otherwise.

Maybe the constant announcing of new plans – especially plans backed by borrowing or tax cuts – is, itself, an impediment to economic growth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

3 Comments
Posted September 8, 2010 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve want to fix the United States economy by spending more money. But while that approach might work for Europe, it is risky for the US. The nation would be better off embracing traditional American values like self-reliance and small government.

There's no question about it: The 20th century was America's era. The United States rose rapidly from virtually nothing to become the most politically powerful and economically strongest country in the world. But the financial crisis and subsequent recession have now raised doubts about its future. Are we currently witnessing the beginning of the end of the American era?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeGermany

2 Comments
Posted September 4, 2010 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The economy is going to limp along for the next few months," said Gus Faucher, an economist at Moody's Analytics. There's even a one in three chance it could slip back into recession, he said.

Many temporary factors that boosted the economy earlier this year are fading. Companies built up their inventories after cutting them sharply in the recession to match slower sales. The increase provided a boost to manufacturers, but now many companies' stockpiles are in line with sales and don't need to grow as much. In addition, the impact of the government's $862 billion fiscal stimulus program is lessening. That leaves the private sector to pick up the slack. But businesses are cutting back on their spending on machines, computers and software, according to a government report earlier this week. And the housing sector is slumping again after a popular home buyer's tax credit expired in April.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

6 Comments
Posted August 27, 2010 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We don’t have alternative universe laboratories to run control bailout experiments, but we can imagine the alternative outcomes if different actions were taken.

So let’s do just that. Imagine a nation in the midst of an economic crisis, circa September-December 2008. Only this time, there are key differences: 1) A President who understood Capitalism requires insolvent firms to suffer failure (as opposed to a lame duck running out the clock); 2) A Treasury Secretary who was not a former Goldman Sachs CEO, with a misguided sympathy for Wall Street firms at risk of failure (as opposed to overseeing the greatest wealth transfer in human history); 3) A Federal Reserve Chairman who understood the limits of the Federal Reserve (versus a massive expansion of its power and balance sheet).

In my counter factual, the bailouts did not occur. Instead of the Japanese model, the US government went the Swedish route of banking crises: They stepped in with temporary nationalizations, prepackaged bankruptcies, and financial reorganizations; banks write down all of their bad debt, they sell off the paper. Int he end, the goal is to spin out clean, well financed, toxic-asset-free banks into the public markets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

34 Comments
Posted August 18, 2010 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The administration's second assumption, meanwhile, is a matter of academic theories about the sizes of the relevant economic multipliers. Textbook Keynesian economics tells us that government-purchases multipliers are larger than tax-cut multipliers. And, as we have seen, the Obama administration's economic team consulted these standard models in deciding that spending would be significantly more effective than tax cuts.

But a great deal of recent economic evidence calls that conclusion into question. In an ironic twist, one key piece comes from Christina Romer, who is now chair of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. About six months before she took the job, Romer teamed up with her husband and fellow Berkeley economist David Romer to write a paper ("The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes") that sought to measure the influence of tax policy on GDP. Crucial to the Romers' method was their effort to identify changes in tax policy made during times of relative economic stability, and driven by a desire to influence economic behavior or activity (to encourage growth, say, or reduce a deficit), rather than those changes made in response to a recession or crisis. By studying such "exogenous" tax-policy changes, the Romers could be more confident that they were in fact measuring the effects of taxes and not those of extraneous conditions.

The Romers' conclusion, which is at odds with most traditional Keynesian analysis, was that the tax multiplier was 3 — in other words, that every dollar spent on tax cuts would boost GDP by $3. This would mean that the tax multiplier is roughly three times larger than Obama's advisors assumed it was during their policy simulations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted July 24, 2010 at 1:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“By this estimate, the Recovery Act has met the president’s goal of saving or creating 3.5 million jobs -- two quarters earlier than anticipated,” Romer said with a straight face. (More than 2.5 million non-farm jobs have been lost since ARRA was enacted in February 2009, all of them in the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

How does the CEA arrive at these numbers? It uses two methods, Romer said. The first is a standard macroeconomic forecasting model that estimates the multiplier effect of fiscal policy. (The government’s spending is someone else’s income.) The second method is statistical, using previous relationships between GDP and employment to project future behavior.

These numbers might just as well have been pulled out of a hat. Recall that it was the same model and method the administration used in January 2009 to predict an unemployment rate of 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 with the enactment of the fiscal stimulus and 8.8 percent without. The unemployment rate now stands at 9.5 percent.

Read it all.

Update: Michael Boskin chimes in on the same theme, calling them Obama's Economic Fish Stories.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

2 Comments
Posted July 22, 2010 at 8:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new Time poll reveals just how hard the task is: Two-thirds of respondents say they oppose a second government stimulus package. And 53% say the country would have been better off without the first one.

The result is a White House pulled in three directions at once as it tries to repair the economy — and ensure that Obama and the Democrats can survive a rising tide of public anger. First, the Obama team is improvising ways to pass piecemeal spending items through a Congress where stimulus has become a toxic word. At the same time, the White House is signaling its concern about that budget deficit that has Tea Partyers raging — both through token gestures, like a White House contest that lets the public vote on cost-cutting ideas submitted by federal employees (the winner gets to meet Obama and see his or her idea go in the President's next budget), and through Obama's support for the work of a bipartisan deficit commission. And finally, the White House is trying to explain to angry liberals that it's doing everything possible to keep the economy moving and fight Republican resistance to new spending.

It's a delicate balancing act, on a par with Obama's effort to pass health care reform without appearing to get too involved in the details. And just as it did in the health care battle, the future of Obama's presidency — as well as the fate of the American economy — may hang on the outcome.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaState Government

0 Comments
Posted July 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My best guess is that we’ll have a continued recovery, but it won’t feel terrific,” Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman, said at a dinner at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Monday night. “And the reason it won’t feel terrific is that it’s not going to be fast enough to put back eight million people who lost their jobs within a few years.”

One could almost envision the winces in the White House as Mr. Bernanke observed that the unemployment rate “will stay high for some time.” He went on to note that even if the economy grew at 3 percent, which would be considered a healthy pace, it would do little more than keep pace with the normal rate of growth of the work force.

Virtually every day of late, White House officials have struggled to explain how their strategies to provide economic stimulus to bring down the unemployment rate square with Mr. Obama’s oft-expressed commitment to tackle a record budget deficit. They talk about spending this year — in modest amounts — while waiting for the prescriptions of the president’s commission on debt reduction, which reports, conveniently, a few weeks after the midterm elections.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryEurope

2 Comments
Posted June 10, 2010 at 12:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I'll reiterate that from our perspective, the essential difficulty of the market here is not Greece, it is not the Euro, it is not Hungary, and it is really not even the slow pace of job growth in the latest report. The fundamental problem is that we have not, as a global economy, accepted the word "restructuring" into our dialogue. Instead, we have allowed our policy makers to borrow and print extraordinarily large band-aids to temporarily cover an open wound that will not heal until we close the gap. That gap is the difference between the face value of debt securities and the actual cash flows available to service them. The way to close the gap is to restructure the debt. This will require those who made the bad loans to accept the associated losses. By failing to do that, we have failed to address the essential problem faced by the world, which is that we have created more debt than we are able to service.

A few observations. First, I remain convinced that the other shoe to drop is not Greece or Spain or Hungary, but rather a second wave of major credit strains here in the U.S. related to fresh delinquencies from exotic adjustable rate mortgages.

Second, it is a delusion to interpret economic statistics suggesting an economic turnaround over the past year without factoring out the extent to which that has been driven by unsustainable levels of deficit spending.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National Deficit

1 Comments
Posted June 8, 2010 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are drifting. We take comfort in bits of good news, but we are in dangerous waters; the Great Recession is being starkly revealed as a global crisis with the US, the traditional engine of recovery, sputtering on every cylinder. The US government responded with dramatic financial support by transferring money to the household sector. But outside of these transfers the personal income of Americans is still declining; the residential market remains stagnant at best; consumer growth is nominal. The only real energy in the economy has come from the cessation of inventory liquidation, which is now the main factor in rising industrial output and any modest improvement in the economy.

The mood of US households is despondent. In May only 11.3 per cent believed they would see their income rise in the following six months, while 16.6 per cent thought they would see it decline. This is the first time in over four decades that more people believe they will be worse off than better. Any massive fiscal and monetary stimulus that might reverse the trend is likely to be politically unsustainable given the growing concern over the exploding national deficit.

Wherever you look the scene is bleak. Leading economic indicators fell in April – unusual at such an early stage in the up-cycle. Jobless claims were up by 25,000 to 471,000. And up again above expectations in the first three weeks of May – raising the four-week moving average to a level consistent with 100,000, or more, net job losses. For the past several months, claims have been nowhere near the levels of 400,000 and less that in the past were consistent with sustained job creation. We are not enjoying the normal cycle of economic improvement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

8 Comments
Posted June 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US economy is in a mess – even if growth has resumed, and bankers are once again receiving huge bonuses. More than one out of six Americans who would like a full-time job cannot get one; and 40% of the unemployed have been out of a job for more than six months.

As Europe learned long ago, hardship increases with the length of unemployment, as job skills and prospects deteriorate and savings gets wiped out. The 2.5-3.5 million foreclosures expected this year will exceed those of 2009, and the year began with what is expected to be the first of many large commercial real-estate bankruptcies. Even the Congressional Budget Office is predicting that it will be the middle of the decade before unemployment returns to more normal levels, as America experiences its own version of “Japanese malaise....”

Three things can make a difference: a second stimulus, stemming the tide of housing foreclosures by addressing the roughly 25% of mortgages that are worth more than the value the house, and reshaping our financial system to rein in the banks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Utah was funded by a $150,000 2009 Federal Stimulus Package grant.


You can find more here.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. Government

4 Comments
Posted January 29, 2010 at 5:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A federal spending surge of more than $20 billion for roads and bridges in President Barack Obama's first stimulus has had no effect on local unemployment rates, raising questions about his argument for billions more to address an "urgent need to accelerate job growth."

An Associated Press analysis of stimulus spending found that it didn't matter if a lot of money was spent on highways or none at all: Local unemployment rates rose and fell regardless. And the stimulus spending only barely helped the beleaguered construction industry, the analysis showed.

With the nation's unemployment rate at 10 percent and expected to rise, Obama wants a second stimulus bill from Congress including billions of additional dollars for roads and bridges — projects the president says are "at the heart of our effort to accelerate job growth."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

2 Comments
Posted January 12, 2010 at 5:43 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The effect of free money is remarkable. A year ago investors were panicking and there was talk of another Depression. Now the MSCI world index of global share prices is more than 70% higher than its low in March 2009. That’s largely thanks to interest rates of 1% or less in America, Japan, Britain and the euro zone, which have persuaded investors to take their money out of cash and to buy risky assets.

For all the panic last year, asset values never quite reached the lows that marked other bear-market bottoms, and now the rally has made several markets look pricey again. In the American housing market, where the crisis started, homes are priced at around fair value on the basis of rental yields, but they are overvalued by almost 30% in Britain and by 50% in Australia, Hong Kong and Spain.

Stockmarkets are still shy of their record peaks in most countries. The American market is around 25% below the level it reached in 2007. But it is still nearly 50% overvalued on the best long-term measure, which adjusts profits to allow for the economic cycle, and is on a par with two of the four great valuation peaks in the 20th century, in 1901 and 1966.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyStock MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in General

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2010 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The second important lesson involves understanding why markets often do not work the way they are meant to. There are many reasons for market failures. In this case, too-big-to-fail financial institutions had perverse incentives: if they gambled and succeeded, they walked off with the profits; if they lost, the taxpayer would pay. Moreover, when information is imperfect, markets often do not work well - and information imperfections are central in finance. Externalities are pervasive: the failure of one bank imposed costs on others, and failures in the financial system imposed costs on taxpayers and workers all over the world.

The third lesson is that Keynesian policies do work. Countries, like Australia, that implemented large, well-designed stimulus programs early emerged from the crisis faster. Other countries succumbed to the old orthodoxy pushed by the financial wizards who got us into this mess in the first place.

Whenever an economy goes into recession, deficits appear, as tax revenues fall faster than expenditures. The old orthodoxy held that one had to cut the deficit - raise taxes or cut expenditures - to "restore confidence." But those policies almost always reduced aggregate demand, pushed the economy into a deeper slump, and further undermined confidence - most recently when the International Monetary Fund insisted on them in East Asia in the 1990's.

The fourth lesson is that there is more to monetary policy than just fighting inflation....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe National Deficit

0 Comments
Posted January 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The last two quarters were even more extreme: Productivity in the nonfarm business sector grew at a shocking 8.1% annual rate. There are two possible explanations. One: The last two quarters were among the most technologically innovative and entrepreneurial in the history of the United States. Two: Fearful businesses pared payrolls to the bone. If the second is closer to the truth, payrolls are extraordinarily lean right now. Which means that firms will need to hire more workers as their sales and production grow. Which means that employment may start growing sooner than the pessimists think.

I have been pointing this out for months, but until the last employment report, it was a hypothesis supported by no evidence. Not anymore. While payrolls continued to decline in November, it was by only a scant 11,000 jobs; and the job counts for September and October were revised upward. The data now show a clear trend that suggests that net job creation may be only a month or two away. We'll see.

There is more to the case for optimism. For one thing, less than 30% of February's $787 billion fiscal stimulus has been spent to date; over 70% is still in the pipeline. Pessimists dote on the fact that the rate of increase of stimulus spending has probably peaked and will be lower in 2010. True. But the level of GDP will continue to get support from fiscal policy, and a second job-creation package ("Please don't call it a stimulus!") looks to be in the works.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

1 Comments
Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

MR. GREGORY: Governor Romney, why is it that companies are not investing, that they're not hiring?

FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA): Well, companies are going to hire if there's additional purchases that require them to, to staff up and to beef up and to start their production lines. People have to be buying things. And unfortunately, what the president created with this $780-plus billion stimulus plan was something which grew government but did not grow the private economy. In fact, in some respects, the, the work that's been done by The Washington Post recently points that out. It shows that there's, there's 10 times as much spending per person in the Washington, D.C., area as there is in the nation at large. This is not going to be a jobless recovery. The economy will come back, the private sector will grow again. But it has been a jobless stimulus. And, and that's unfortunate, because the president had an opportunity to focus on the economy, to create jobs; but instead, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid created something that, that stimulated government.

MR. GREGORY: You know, it's interesting. I mean, some people would, would hear that and say that's a partisan view, Jim Cramer. But the reality is that there are people who say, "Well, what if you got this stimulus to take effect sooner, you got more than 20 percent of the money actually paid out?" The president this week said that Republicans seem to be rooting for failure; and yet, it was Republicans who, at the outset of the stimulus debate, said, "What about a payroll tax holiday? Let's do something to prime the economy faster."

MR. JIM CRAMER: I don't think that--when I talk to CEOs, and I talk to dozens of them for my show, no one has seen it. I keep asking, "Where's the money? Have you seen any money coming from Washington?" Even companies that are involved with road building, the most elementary aspect of any sort of stimulus, are saying, "No, this is the first quarter that we may have seen a trickle." So I agree with you, David, this--the stimulus is not helping create jobs. And that's not Republican or Democrat. I just don't see anything beyond municipal and state worker compensation.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

2 Comments
Posted December 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The White House is lukewarm about proposals by congressional Democrats to introduce broad legislation to create jobs, instead favoring targeted measures that would be less likely to inflate the deficit, administration officials said.

There is as yet no agreement within the White House or in Congress on how to try to curb the U.S. jobless rate. But the differences in opinion suggest that rifts could emerge among Democrats as they wrestle with how to beat back the highest unemployment rate in a generation.

The jobless rate, which hit 10.2% in October, has continued to climb despite the implementation of a $787 billion stimulus package in February.

The subheader for the article is: White House Is Unenthusiastic on Legislation That Would Raise Government Debt. To which I respond--good for them. Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted November 23, 2009 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While Massachusetts recipients of federal stimulus money collectively report 12,374 jobs saved or created, a Globe review shows that number is wildly exaggerated. Organizations that received stimulus money miscounted jobs, filed erroneous figures, or claimed jobs for work that has not yet started.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaState Government

0 Comments
Posted November 12, 2009 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The President and his economic team have claimed that the plan is working as intended, that they’re on track to save the original goal of 3.6 million jobs, but somehow, despite practically drowning in success, we’re going to have to live with high unemployment for years to come. Oh, and that everything is still Bush’s fault.

These claims have been debunked by a variety of sources, including the AP (and here), the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and blogs such as Political Math (H/T d3ft punk).

But forget the quantitative treatment for a moment and consider what the Obama team’s graph said on a qualitative level. The graph says that within a couple of quarters, the stimulus package will stop the increase in unemployment and reverse the employment trend. That was the real mission of the stimulus. Stop job loss. Get the private sector hiring again.

So no matter how convoluted and fanciful the “jobs created or saved” numbers get, we just have to remember what the point used to be, and realize how far short we’ve fallen. And whose fault that really is.

Read it all and look carefully at those graphs.



Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

12 Comments
Posted November 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yet the urgent problem now isn't TBTF [too big to fail], or even banker bonuses. These are distractions. The urgent problem is the giant riverboat gamble that Washington can save the economy by doing what comes naturally—spending money carelessly, creating massive new entitlements without funding them, dishing out cheap credit to politically favored sectors, telling business people where and how to invest.

Mr. Feinberg is an apt symbol indeed, for this gamble is built on the conceit that Washington can hector the recipients, whether auto companies, banks or homeowners, into behaving in ways that are "responsible." So far, however, human nature is proving a disappointment: Take the outbreak of tax fraud related to the government's emergency home-buyer's credit.

Nor is the larger gamble looking so good either. Banks continue to fail at an alarming rate, the dollar is under assault, and Washington is looking at a future of trillion-dollar deficits. One might have guessed it would take a decade of Obamanomics to produce European welfare state levels of youth unemployment, but at 18.5% we're there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Treasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

3 Comments
Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The inherent contradiction in the term "jobless recovery" continues to cast a shadow on overdue good economic news. The Dow Jones Industrial average closed above 10,000 Wednesday for the first time in more than a year. But the national unemployment rate of 9.8 percent in September was the highest in more than a quarter century.

As The Associated Press reported Thursday, though the economic recovery apparently has begun, it "is widely expected to be weak, particularly when it comes to employment."

And as The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, about 30,000 jobs "have been directly created or saved by contractors who received money" from the $787 billion federal stimulus package that President Barack Obama signed into law eight months ago. That's far fewer than the 1 million jobs promised by the White House -- and not nearly enough to make a dent in those ominous unemployment figures.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

1 Comments
Posted October 16, 2009 at 6:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With unemployment expected to rise well into next year even as the economy slowly recovers, the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are discussing extending several safety net programs as well as proposing new tax incentives for businesses to renew hiring.

President Obama’s economic team discussed a wide range of ideas at a meeting on Monday, following his Saturday radio address in which he said it would “explore additional options to promote job creation.” But officials emphasized that a decision was still far off and that in any event the effort would not add up to a second economic stimulus package, only an extension of the first.

“We’re thinking through all additional potential strategies for accelerating job creation,” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

2 Comments
Posted October 6, 2009 at 6:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

IN THE political dictionary he first published in 1968, William Safire, who died on September 27th, devoted an entry to the word “normalcy”. The term was made popular by Warren Harding, campaigning for America’s presidency in the wake of the first world war. It was inescapable after the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. Normalcy is what people call normality when they no longer take it for granted. No surprise, then, that the word reappeared in the communiqué released by the leaders of the G20 group of big economies after their Pittsburgh summit on September 24th-25th. After the wrenching economic crisis of the past year, people crave stability and predictability—in short, normalcy. But how far off is it? And what will a “normal” world economy look like after the biggest financial bust since the Depression?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. Government

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2009 at 3:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Employers cut another 263,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high of 9.8%, raising worries that the persistently weak labor market could undermine a nascent economic recovery from the worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression.

The economy, by most accounts, has begun to grow again. But Friday's Labor Department report underscored the risk that without jobs, consumers won't have income to spend and that will restrain growth and give employers little reason to resume hiring after 21 consecutive months of job losses.

The bleak report comes amid continuing talks between the White House and Congress on extending of some parts of the stimulus package enacted in February, such as unemployment benefits and health-insurance subsidies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

1 Comments
Posted October 3, 2009 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American economy shed another 263,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, reinforcing a broad assumption that many more months of lean times lie ahead for working people.

The latest snapshot of the nation’s job market released by the Labor Department on Friday amplified the notion that the recession has probably ended, as a technical matter. Though the job market continued to worsen, the pace of deterioration remained markedly slower than earlier in the year, when roughly 700,000 jobs a month were disappearing.

Yet the report added to the sentiment that the economic expansion, which is probably under way, will be weak and tentative, with scarce paychecks and anxiety remaining prominent features of American life well into next year.

“This is a weak report,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “The rate of job loss has tapered off, but we still haven’t reached the point where businesses are willing to hire.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

5 Comments
Posted October 2, 2009 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Barack Obama is committing the same mistakes made by policymakers during the Great Depression, according to a new study endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan.

His policies even have the potential to consign the US to a similar fate as Argentina, which suffered a painful and humiliating slide from first to Third World status last century, the paper says.

There are "troubling similarities" between the US President's actions since taking office and those which in the 1930s sent the US and much of the world spiralling into the worst economic collapse in recorded history, says the new pamphlet, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs.

In particular, the authors, economists Charles Rowley of George Mason University and Nathanael Smith of the Locke Institute, claim that the White House's plans to pour hundreds of billions of dollars of cash into the economy will undermine it in the long run. They say that by employing deficit spending and increased state intervention President Obama will ultimately hamper the long-term growth potential of the US economy and may risk delaying full economic recovery by several years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

8 Comments
Posted September 7, 2009 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A sleepy Montana checkpoint along the Canadian border that sees about three travelers a day will get $15 million under President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan. A government priority list ranked the project as marginal, but two powerful Democratic senators persuaded the administration to make it happen.

Despite Obama's promises that the stimulus plan would be transparent and free of politics, the government is handing out $720 million for border upgrades under a process that is both secretive and susceptible to political influence. This allowed low-priority projects such as the checkpoint in Whitetail, Mont., to skip ahead of more pressing concerns, according to documents revealed to The Associated Press.

A House oversight committee has added the checkpoint projects to its investigation into how the stimulus money is being spent. The top Republican on that committee, California's Rep. Darrell Issa, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Wednesday, questioning why some projects leapfrogged others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2009 at 1:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States economy is now out of the emergency room and appears to be on a slow path to recovery. But enormous dosages of monetary medicine continue to be administered and, before long, we will need to deal with their side effects. For now, most of those effects are invisible and could indeed remain latent for a long time. Still, their threat may be as ominous as that posed by the financial crisis itself.

To understand this threat, we need to look at where we stand historically. If we leave aside the war-impacted years of 1942 to 1946, the largest annual deficit the United States has incurred since 1920 was 6 percent of gross domestic product. This fiscal year, though, the deficit will rise to about 13 percent of G.D.P., more than twice the non-wartime record. In dollars, that equates to a staggering $1.8 trillion. Fiscally, we are in uncharted territory.

Because of this gigantic deficit, our country’s “net debt” (that is, the amount held publicly) is mushrooming. During this fiscal year, it will increase more than one percentage point per month, climbing to about 56 percent of G.D.P. from 41 percent. Admittedly, other countries, like Japan and Italy, have far higher ratios and no one can know the precise level of net debt to G.D.P. at which the United States will lose its reputation for financial integrity. But a few more years like this one and we will find out.

An increase in federal debt can be financed in three ways: borrowing from foreigners, borrowing from our own citizens or, through a roundabout process, printing money....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Treasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

6 Comments
Posted August 19, 2009 at 9:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Six months after President Obama launched a $787 billion plan to right the nation's economy, a majority of Americans think the avalanche of new federal aid has cost too much and done too little to end the recession.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found 57% of adults say the stimulus package is having no impact on the economy or making it worse. Even more —60% — doubt that the stimulus plan will help the economy in the years ahead, and only 18% say it has done anything to help improve their personal situation.

That skepticism underscores the challenge Obama faces in trying to convince the public that the stimulus has helped turn the economy around. It also could complicate the administration's plans to overhaul the nation's health care system.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

7 Comments
Posted August 17, 2009 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Looking back, a key domestic moment in this presidency occurred only eight days after his inauguration, when Mr. Obama won House passage of his stimulus bill. It was a bad bill—off point, porky and philosophically incoherent. He won 244-188, a rousing victory for a new president. But he won without a single Republican vote. That was the moment the new division took hold. The Democrats of the House pushed it through, and not one Republican, even those from swing districts, even those eager to work with the administration, could support it.

This, of course, was politics as usual. But in 2008 people voted against politics as usual.

It was a real lost opportunity. It marked the moment congressional Republicans felt free to be in full opposition. It gave congressional Democrats the impression that they were in full control, that no one could stop their train. And it was the moment the president, looking at the lay of the land, seemed to reveal he would not govern in a vaguely center-left way, as a unifying figure even if a beset one being beaten 'round the head by the left, but in a left way, without the modifying "center." Or at least as one who happily cedes to the left in Congress each day.

Things got all too vividly divided. It was a harbinger of the health-care debate.

I always now think of a good president as sitting at the big desk and reaching out with his long arms and holding on to the left, and holding on to the right, and trying mightily to hold it together, letting neither spin out of control, holding on for dear life. I wish we were seeing that. I don't think we are.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

3 Comments
Posted August 15, 2009 at 1:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like the United States, Canada adopted a stimulus plan. But while the U.S. plan amounted to 5 percent of GDP over three years, Canada's plan gave a jolt of 2.5 percent, in only a little more than one year. So Canada got more bang for less buck. If both country's projections prove accurate, Canadians in 2015 will shoulder only about one-third as much debt per person as Americans.

More and more, the $800 billion stimulus plan is looking like a great mistake -- too much long-term debt for too little immediate benefit, all of it too closely tied to the Democratic party's political imperatives in the 2010 election cycle.

The result: an unemployment rate in the United States fully one point higher than in Canada. To paraphrase a television commercial familiar to Canadians of a certain age, "Only in Canada? What a pity."

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada

5 Comments
Posted August 6, 2009 at 6:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama said his $787 billion stimulus bill “has worked as intended” as he pushed back against Republican criticism that his recovery program has failed to rescue the economy.

“It has already extended unemployment insurance and health insurance to those who have lost their jobs in this recession,” Obama, who is traveling today in Ghana, said in his weekly Saturday radio and Web address. “It has delivered $43 billion in tax relief to American working families and business.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

6 Comments
Posted July 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“America is six months behind; it has wasted a lot of time,” said Patrick Devedjian, the minister in charge of the French relance, or stimulus. By the time Washington gets around to doling out most of its money, Mr. Devedjian sniffed, “the crisis could be over.”

Gallic pride aside, Mr. Devedjian has a point. While he plans to spend 75 percent of France’s stimulus money this year, the White House is giving itself until fall 2010 to lay out that big a share of the American expenditure. And many experts predict that Washington will fall short of that goal.

As it turns out, France’s more centralized, state-directed economy — so often criticized in good times for smothering entrepreneurship and holding back growth — is proving remarkably effective at deploying funds quickly and efficiently in bad times.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted July 7, 2009 at 6:54 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In concrete terms, the difference between the situation that the Obama advisers predicted and the one that has come to pass is about 2.5 million jobs. It’s as if every worker in the city of Los Angeles received an unexpected layoff notice.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

21 Comments
Posted July 2, 2009 at 8:52 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why hasn’t President Obama insisted on public hearings over what happened during this financial crisis?

Not a single top executive of a Wall Street securities firm responsible for causing the financial crisis has had the courage or the decency to step forward in front of the cameras and explain to the American people in his own words exactly how and why he allowed his firm to cause the crisis. Both Mr. Fuld and Alan Schwartz, the chief executive of Bear Stearns at the end, in their Congressional testimony blamed the proverbial once-in-a-century financial tsunami. Do they or any of their peers really think this is true?

There may be a way to find out. There is much talk nowadays coming from top bankers — Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Jamie Dimon of JPMorganChase, John Mack of Morgan Stanley and even Ken Lewis of Bank of America — about seeing how quickly they can repay to the Treasury the TARP money Mr. Paulson forced on them. One precondition of their being allowed to repay the funds should be a requirement that each gives a public deposition and explains, under oath, what truly happened and why.

This piece was given an astonishing full page on yesterday's New York Times op-ed page. Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

2 Comments
Posted June 8, 2009 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many of Mr. Obama's supporters surely thought this young, dynamic generation of public leaders would elevate the hip, cutting edge of the U.S. economy -- nanotechnology, genomics, robotics, even health and medicine technology. Instead, we've gotten the Old Economy on dialysis. General Motors has been commanded to restart aging UAW factories to output product on behalf of the administration's hybrid-car obsession. Where's the New Economy in any of this?

Or ObamaCare. How will a build-out of Medicare (b. 1965) to cover everyone and costing $1.2 trillion over 10 years not kill innovation in medical and health technology by siphoning away growth capital and its potential financial rewards?

All of this seems so out of sync with the persona and promise Barack Obama conveyed in the campaign. A lot of his Web-based supporters probably thought Mr. Obama was going to be about promoting young guns with new ideas seeking risk capital for the next big thing. Instead, it looks as if the Obama years will be about managing soft landings for mature industries and old unions in the American autumn.

Congress is talking about a "bad behavior" tax on beer and soda pop to reduce obesity and fund mega-Medicare. How about a bad-behavior tax on government? Slim as the president looks, Uncle Sam is looking like quite the fat boy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

3 Comments
Posted June 5, 2009 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Such government micromanagement of the economy is everywhere. The Post recently reported that Richard Wagoner, the former CEO of General Motors who was removed by the government, remains on GM's payroll "because senior Treasury officials have yet to decide whether he should get the $20 million severance package that the company had promised him." His 2009 compensation -- $1 -- is payable Dec. 31. The $20 million promised to him includes contractual awards, deferred compensation and pension benefits accrued over 32 years with the company. Promise-keeping, including honoring contracts, is the default position of a lawful society. But suddenly, many citizens' legal claims are merely starting points for negotiations with an overbearing government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

10 Comments
Posted June 2, 2009 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They're back. We refer to the global investors once known as the bond vigilantes, who demanded higher Treasury bond yields from the late 1970s through the 1990s whenever inflation fears popped up, and as a result disciplined U.S. policy makers. The vigilantes vanished earlier this decade amid the credit mania, but they appear to be returning with a vengeance now that Congress and the Federal Reserve have flooded the world with dollars to beat the recession.

Treasury yields leapt again yesterday at the long end, with the 10-year note climbing above 3.7%, its highest close since November. Treasury yields had stayed low, and the dollar had remained strong, as long as investors were looking for the safest financial port amid the post-September panic. But as risk aversion subsides, and investors return to corporate bonds and other assets, investors are now calculating the risks of renewed dollar inflation.

They have cause to be worried, given Washington's astonishing bet on fiscal and monetary reflation. The Obama Administration's epic spending spree means the Treasury will have to float trillions of dollars in new debt in the next two or three years alone....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Treasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2009 at 12:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[BARRY] RITHOLTZ: Most of Wall Street is furious at what happened. Most of Wall Street aren't involved in mortgage securitization or derivatives or any of the other bad assets that have been blowing up. The average guy -- you know Wall Street is a meritocracy, eat what you kill, as much as you can earn in profits you get to take as a bonus -- and I know a lot of guys, everywhere from Merrill Lynch to Bear Stearns to Lehman, that actually were really profitable. But because this one division was run by rogue pirate traders and reckless derivatives salesmen, they wiped up the entire bonus pool for the entire firm, and then some, all the while engaging in really reckless behavior.

[Kai] Ryssdal: Do you figure we're stuck now as a bailout nation? We're going to be subsidizing banks and car companies and insurance companies for some time to come.

RITHOLTZ: You know we've already seen the trucking industry make hints they want stuff. And we've seen the homebuilders who are key players in this, who just overbuilt everything. They've been asking for a bailout. That's the slippery slope. Once you reward people for their worst behavior, for speculative, irresponsible investing and punish the prudent and the people who are careful with that money. Everybody seems to think it's a free for all. Hey, you've got yours. How do I get mine?

Ryssdal: What's the alternative to these bailouts? I mean should we have just done nothing?

RITHOLTZ: What you do is what the FDIC does when a bank is found to be insolvent. Look what happened with Washington Mutual....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Treasury auction of long-term bonds on Thursday was “terrible”, in the words of one Wall Street economist, with the rate on the 30 year bond jumping from 4.1 to 4.3 percent. This is just the first sign that the debt-based Obama economic stimulus plan is about to become a major drag on the recovery, just as expected.

The economic news is not all bad. We are seeing signs the rate of contraction is abating quickly, promising a bottom to the recession sometime this summer as many forecasters have expected. But therein lies another piece of the interest rate puzzle, and the trouble ahead.

There are two critical consequences to the economy stabilizing. The first is that the massive liquidity injected into credit markets by the Federal Reserve and central banks around the world transforms from economic medicine to inflationary heroin. Central banks are going to face a difficult task of extracting the excess liquidity before inflation soars and without causing another recession. Doubt about the fight against soaring inflation means higher inflation premiums in interest rates.

The second dangerous consequence is that President Obama is on course to double the national debt in just four years....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

7 Comments
Posted May 10, 2009 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Still, the tea parties are not based on the cold wonkery of budget data. They are based on an "ethical populism." The protesters are homeowners who didn't walk away from their mortgages, small business owners who don't want corporate welfare and bankers who kept their heads during the frenzy and don't need bailouts. They were the people who were doing the important things right -- and who are now watching elected politicians reward those who did the important things wrong.

Voices in the media, academia, and the government will dismiss this ethical populism as a fringe movement -- maybe even dangerous extremism. In truth, free markets, limited government, and entrepreneurship are still a majoritarian taste. In March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked people if we are better off "in a free market economy even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time." Fully 70% agreed, versus 20% who disagreed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

6 Comments
Posted May 1, 2009 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

. Asked about the tea parties, President Barack Obama responded that he was not aware of them. As Marie Antoinette said, "Let them drink Lapsang Souchong." His Imperial Majesty at Barackingham Palace having declined to acknowledge the tea parties, his courtiers at the Globe and elsewhere fell into line. Talk-show host Michael Graham spoke to one attendee at the 2009 Boston Tea Party who remarked of the press embargo: "If Obama had been the king of England, the Globe wouldn't have covered the American Revolution."

The American media, having run their own business into the ground, are certainly qualified to run everybody else's into the same abyss. Which is why they've decided that hundreds of thousands of citizens protesting taxes and out-of-control spending and government vaporization of Americans' wealth and their children's future is no story. Nothing to see here. As Nancy Pelosi says, it's AstroTurf – fake grass-roots, not the real thing.

Besides, what are these whiners so uptight about? CNN's Susan Roesgen interviewed a guy in the crowd and asked why he was here:

"Because," said the Tea Partier, "I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln's primary thing was he believed that people had the right to liberty, and had the right …"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

5 Comments
Posted April 19, 2009 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Obama is betting that the totality of economic policies his team and the Federal Reserve have put in place will act, like radiation therapy, to halt the spread and reduce the size of the cancerous tumors eating away at our financial system — and stimulate enough new growth and optimism so that Phase II will be small enough to get past Congress and the public.

As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told ABC News, “If we get to that point” — where more funds are needed — “we’ll go to the Congress and make the strongest case possible and help them understand why this will be cheaper over the long run to move aggressively.”

Have no doubt, Phase II is coming. At best, it will require hundreds of billions of dollars more, at worst more than a trillion, to deal with more bad loans and toxic assets weakening the economy — problems that Phase I can’t fully absorb. Because unemployment is still rising — ensuring that the initial spate of mortgage defaults, which came from loans to people who could never repay, will be followed by another spate of defaults from those who could repay but now can’t because the deteriorating economy has stripped them of their jobs, their businesses or their credit lines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

3 Comments
Posted April 6, 2009 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rather than continue to play political games with $700 million in federal stimulus funding for schools, Gov. Mark Sanford should have simply agreed to use the money as intended. The drama grows wearisome, and public schools and colleges need the assistance.

On Friday, the governor's office insisted that it had met the deadline for stimulus funding by filing paperwork with the White House. Maybe so, but Mr. Sanford continues to maintain that the money won't go to schools, as Congress intended. State Education Superintendent Jim Rex rightly questions whether the governor's latest gambit will pass White House review.

"The White House has made it clear, on two separate occasions, that federal stabilization funds can't be used to retire state debt," Dr. Rex said. "These funds are aimed at creating jobs and saving jobs. For the governor to get his way, the General Assembly would be forced to create some sort of bookkeeping sleight-of-hand that, believe me, the federal government isn't going to permit because the law approved by Congress doesn't permit it."

Nevertheless, Gov. Sanford continues to insist that restoring school budgets with stimulus funds would be a dangerous precedent for the state. In a column on our Commentary page, he essentially declares that the budget problem doesn't exist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

6 Comments
Posted April 6, 2009 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After experiencing a few emerging-market crises, I get the sense of watching the same movie over and over. All too often, a tragic part of that movie is the failure of the countries' policymakers to hear the loud cries of canaries in the coal mine. Before running up further outsized budget deficits, should we not heed the markets that now see a 10 percent probability that the U.S. government will default on its sovereign debt in the next five years? And should we not be paying close attention to the Chinese central bank governor's musings that he does not feel comfortable with the $1 trillion of U.S. government debt that the Chinese central bank already owns, let alone adding to those holdings?

In the twilight of my career, when I am hopefully wiser than before, I have come to regret how the IMF and the U.S. Treasury all too often lectured leaders in emerging markets on how to "get their house in order" -- without the slightest thought that the United States might fare no better when facing a major economic crisis. Now, I fear time is running out for our own policymakers to mend their ways and offer real leadership to extricate the United States from its worst economic calamity since the 1930s. If we insist on improvising and not facing our real problems, we might soon lose our status as a country to be emulated and join the ranks of those nations we have patronized for so long.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

5 Comments
Posted March 29, 2009 at 8:33 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month Frank Koppe gathered together all 50 of his employees at Koppe-Apparatebau for coffee, cake and the kind of bad news that has lately become all too familiar. He told them the small company's business, designing and manufacturing custom equipment for industrial plants, had been sliced nearly in half.

But rather than resorting to layoffs, Mr. Koppe asked half his employees to come in every other week. The government would make up roughly two-thirds of their lost wages out of a fund filled in good times through payroll deductions and company contributions.

The program — known as "Kurzarbeit," which translates as "short work" — and others like it lie at the heart of a heated debate that has erupted on the eve of next week's Group of 20 meeting of industrialized and developing nations and the European Union, creating a rift between the Obama administration and European governments. The United States is pressing for a coordinated package of stimulus plans by member countries to encourage economic growth, something that Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek of the Czech Republic, which holds the European Union presidency, has called "a way to hell."

But virtually all European governments, led by budget-conscious Germany, are resisting the American pitch, saying the focus should be on stricter regulation of financial markets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009* International News & CommentaryEurope

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2009 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But asked twice whether he would accept a budget that did not include provisions for additional tax cuts for the middle class, or that did not launch a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Obama demurred. Instead, he called for "a serious energy policy that frees ourselves from dependence on foreign oil and makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy" -- implicitly suggesting that cap-and-trade, though he supports it, might have to wait. As for the middle-class tax cut that Mr. Obama would pay for with revenue from a cap-and-trade program, the president said, "we already had that" in the stimulus package. "We know that that's going to be in place for at least the next two years. We had identified a specific way to pay for it. If Congress has better ideas in terms of how to pay for it, then we're happy to listen."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaState Government

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2009 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama's proposal to limit the tax deductibility of charitable contributions would effectively transfer more than $7 billion a year from the nation's charitable institutions to the federal government. But the high-income taxpayers affected by the rule change are likely to cut their charitable giving by as much as the increase in their tax bills, which would, ironically, leave their remaining income and personal consumption unchanged.

In effect, the change would be a tax on the charities, reducing their receipts by a dollar for every dollar of extra revenue the government collects. It is hard to imagine a rationale for taxing schools, hospitals, medical research budgets and arts organizations in this way. I suspect that the administration officials who drafted this proposal did not understand that it would have this perverse effect.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit Organizations* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

9 Comments
Posted March 25, 2009 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama sought to reassure Americans last night that his administration has made progress in reviving the economy and said his $3.6 trillion budget is "inseparable from this recovery."

After sprinting through his first months in office, Obama is now facing heightened criticism from Republicans, who have called his blueprint irresponsible, and from skeptical Democrats who have already set about trimming back his top budget priorities.

Obama came into office amid lofty expectations and the worst economic crisis in generations, and he succeeded in pushing through a $787 billion stimulus and launching expensive plans to revive the banking system.

Last night, against a backdrop of a broad national anxiety that the economy may still be failing, he attempted to recalibrate the high hopes to more closely fit the challenges he said lie ahead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMedia* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2009 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The good news from our historical study of eight centuries of international financial crises is that, so far, they have all ended. And we confidently predict this one will end, too. We are just not quite so sure it will be nearly as soon as the chirpy forecasts coming from policymakers around the globe. The U.S. administration, for example, is now predicting that growth will renew in the latter part of this year and continue at a brisk pace of 4 percent for several years thereafter. Is this a fact-based forecast or wishful thinking?

A careful look at the international evidence on severe banking crises suggests a far more cautious assessment. The recessions that follow in the wake of big financial crises tend to last far longer than normal downturns, and to cause considerably more damage. If the United States follows the norm of recent crises, as it has until now, output may take four years to return to its pre-crisis level. Unemployment will continue to rise for three more years, reaching 11–12 percent in 2011.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2009 at 12:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An infographic that flowcharts the nearly $12 Trillion allocated in government progams affecting the financial services industry.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

4 Comments
Posted March 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America's states are laboratories of democracy. They are both affected by, and relevant to, the larger national debate. What we've found in our own corner of the country is that carrying a substantial debt load limits our options when it comes to running government.

A recent report by the American Legislative Exchange Council ranked us 47th worst in the nation for annual debt service as a percentage of tax revenue. Our state dedicates nearly 11% of its annual tax revenue to paying debt. On top of that, South Carolina has another $20 billion in unfunded, long-term political promises for pensions and other liabilities. The state budget has already been cut four times in recent months as the national economic downturn has impacted South Carolina and driven down tax revenue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaState Government* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2009 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now it's up to South Carolina's legislators to decide how to spend federal stimulus money.

Gov. Mark Sanford decided he won't take it Friday after failing to persuade President Obama to let him use $700 million of the state's share to pay down debt.

Key legislators were quick to respond with assurances that they plan to spend it. Congress told states to either use the money or lose it, but either way, taxpayers here are on the hook to pay it back.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

10 Comments
Posted March 21, 2009 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President-elect Barack Obama picked Timothy F. Geithner to be his Treasury secretary four months ago, numerous analysts praised the choice because of Geithner's expertise in the financial industry. He was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the time, and had helped craft the response to the troubles roiling global credit markets. But as the debacle over the American International Group bonuses has made clear, Geithner's knowledge about Wall Street is matched by his ignorance about the political culture of Washington. And the blunders committed by Geithner (and others, including the Federal Reserve and previous Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson) could undermine key elements of President Obama's economic recovery plan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

1 Comments
Posted March 21, 2009 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What has happened - not only in America but also in Britain - to this promise of a calm, pragmatic response to the world's economic problems? This week Mr Obama expressed outrage at the $165 million bonuses paid by AIG, the stricken insurance group, to executives in its financial products division who are responsible for most of its tens of billions of dollars in losses.

In Britain the row over Sir Fred Goodwin's pension continues to grow. And in both countries, hatred of bankers is making it difficult for governments to take further action to stabilise the banks and support economic growth.

The behaviour of the bankers who first blew up the world financial system and then proceeded to loot it, is genuinely outrageous and deserves political retribution. But that should take the form of recovering the booty by the normal processes of law.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope

1 Comments
Posted March 19, 2009 at 5:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama’s approval rating has slipped, as a growing number of Americans see him listening more to his party’s liberals than to its moderates and many voice opposition to some of his key economic proposals. Obama’s job approval rating has slipped from 64% in February to 59% currently, while disapproval has jumped from 17% to 26% over this period.

Although most people think the new president is doing as much as he can to fix the economy and relatively few say Obama’s policies have made the economy worse, the public expresses mixed views of his many major proposals to fix the economy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2009 at 12:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For a ballroom full of downhearted conservatives desperate for some good news, Mark Sanford had an odd message.

The South Carolina governor urged 1,000 activists, gathered in late February at the Ronald Reagan Banquet in a fancy Washington hotel, to be prepared to lose, and to feel happy about it — to “be happy warriors,” as he put it.

“Would you be willing to support a cause or a candidate that is likely to lose?” Sanford asked conventioneers at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual gathering.

Too much focus on winning, Sanford said, leads to compromise and the abandonment of conservative principles.

As the diners leapt to their feet and applauded, Sanford declared:

“The name of the game is staying true to the principles that got you into politics in the first place — and letting the chips fall where they may.”

Over the past three months, Sanford’s criticism of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic-stimulus plan has transformed him from a conservative Republican governor little-known outside South Carolina to a political powerhouse with a growing profile among party stalwarts nationwide.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaState Government* South Carolina

4 Comments
Posted March 11, 2009 at 5:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The misguided policy response from Washington has focused almost exclusively on squandering public money and burdening our children with indebtedness in order to defend the bondholders of mismanaged financial institutions (blame Paulson and Geithner – I've got a lot of respect for our President, but he's been sold a load of garbage by banking insiders). Meanwhile, I suspect that the little tapes in Bernanke's head playing “we let the banks fail in the Great Depression” and “we let Lehman fail and look what happened” are so loud that he is making no distinction about the form of those failures. Simply letting an institution unravel is quite different from taking receivership, protecting the customers, keeping the institution intact, replacing management, properly taking the losses out of stockholder and bondholder capital, and issuing it back into private ownership at a later date. This is what it would mean for these banks to “fail.” Nobody is advocating an uncontrolled unraveling of major financial institutions or permanent nationalization as if we've suddenly become Venezuela.

Make no mistake. Buying up “troubled assets” will not materially ease this crisis, nor will it even improve the capital position of financial institutions (see You Can't Rescue the Financial System if You Can't Read a Balance Sheet). Homeowners will continue to default because their payment obligations have not been restructured to any meaningful extent. We are simply protecting the bondholders of mismanaged financial institutions, even though that bondholder capital is more than sufficient to cover the losses without harm to customers. Institutions that cannot survive without continual provision of public funds should be taken into receivership, their assets should be restructured to better ensure repayment, their stockholders should be wiped out, bondholders should take a major haircut, customer assets should (and will) be fully protected, and these institutions should be re-issued to the markets when the economy stabilizes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingStock MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

1 Comments
Posted March 10, 2009 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[From the current administration] we end up with an agenda that is unexceptional in its parts but that, when taken as a whole, represents a social-engineering experiment that is entirely new.

The U.S. has never been a society riven by class resentment. Yet the Obama budget is predicated on a class divide. The president issued a read-my-lips pledge that no new burdens will fall on 95 percent of the American people. All the costs will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed downward.

The U.S. has always been a decentralized nation, skeptical of top-down planning. Yet, the current administration concentrates enormous power in Washington, while plan after plan emanates from a small group of understaffed experts.

The U.S. has always had vibrant neighborhood associations. But in its very first budget, the Obama administration raises the cost of charitable giving. It punishes civic activism and expands state intervention.

The U.S. has traditionally had a relatively limited central government. But federal spending as a share of G.D.P. is zooming from its modern norm of 20 percent to an unacknowledged level somewhere far beyond.

Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-Watch* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

33 Comments
Posted March 4, 2009 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama's policies have become part of the economy's problem.

Americans have welcomed the Obama era in the same spirit of hope the President campaigned on. But after five weeks in office, it's become clear that Mr. Obama's policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence -- and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth.

Read it all.

Update: Investor's Business Daily is not happy either:

Capital, bluntly put, has gone on strike. Those who own wealth are pushing it to the sidelines, as a young and inexperienced president tries to jam through the most sweeping economic changes in over 70 years.

The prospect of these changes becoming law has already radically altered our nation's economy. Entrepreneurs and CEOs who once created new products, new services, jobs and trillions in wealth for America's workers and retirees now find themselves vilified and punished for their success.

ABC News reported this week that many upper-income taxpayers already are planning to cut back on work and investments to stay under $250,000 in income — the point where Obama's punitive taxes kick in. No one wins from this, yet Obama seems oblivious.

This isn't the only warning sign. A new study asserts that some 100,000 highly educated, well-trained Indians now living in the U.S. will return home in the next few years. Ditto China.

Immigrant entrepreneurs are highly sensitive bellwethers of economic and social conditions. They know where the opportunities are — and where they aren't. They're voting with their feet.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

38 Comments
Posted March 3, 2009 at 8:13 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The agenda is likely to reshape American capitalism, if that’s what you want. But let me rain on this parade as it passes — before The Music Man runs off with River City’s most beautiful women. While he promises to deliver Americans from recession, financial crisis and the Wall St. Pool Hall, Mr. Obama’s agenda actually threatens to plunge America into new crises, while extending the current crises.

Profoundly anti-market and anti-capitalist themes and tones run through Mr. Obama’s speech. Nowhere in the world has a country risen to prosperity by blowing up markets (in energy, for example) and turning to massive state intervention (banking) to solve problems, especially problems that do not even exist (oil dependence).

Mr. Obama’s speech, burdened with never-ending calls for state action, contains the seeds of at least four crises....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted March 3, 2009 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stimulus—that is, fiscal intervention with the express purpose of speeding up the normal regenerative process that Grant describes—is unnecessary and almost certainly harmful, a policy based on hubris and anxiety, rather than on history and good sense. Under such circumstances, the proper way to analyze discrete proposals today for spending or taxing is on their own merits, not on their supposed ability to stimulate something else. There may, in fact, be a good reason for government to spend billions of dollars today on building highways, and it has nothing to do with stimulus. It is that long-term interest rates are at historic lows and that the right highways can boost the economy in the long term. There also may be a good reason, again far apart from stimulus, for revising the tax code and reforming Social Security and Medicare. It is that Americans now understand that the economic future is not so assured as they believed a couple of years ago, and it is time for decisions to be made—in a manner careful, sensible, and unstimulated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

2 Comments
Posted March 2, 2009 at 6:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are also no green shoots yet to suggest a turning point. There is, for example, very little sign of a recovery in the US housing market – in fact none at all. Inasmuch as you can generalise about such a vast country, US homes are pretty much back to fair value in terms of their affordability. But the uncertainty is such, and the overhang of unsold homes so huge, that prices are still falling. Confidence is lower than it was during the recessions of the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, as you can see from the other graph.

The question that arises then is whether the new US budget will change things. The boost is huge. The budget deficit is projected to rise to 12.5 per cent of GDP. That is higher than at any time since the Second World War. It is double the size, relative to GDP, of Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s. It is larger than the fiscal deficits run by Japan during the 1990s, which is not an encouraging precedent since they pretty much failed – though arguably Japan's so-called "lost decade" would have been even more lost without them. Finally, it is even larger than the proposed deficit that our present Government plans to run here.

So what should we make of it? I suppose I fear this administration is making the same mistake with fiscal policy that the previous one made with monetary policy. Remember how the Federal Reserve cut US interest rates way below the rate of inflation to pump up the economy after the collapse of the internet bubble? It succeeded in boosting demand. People borrowed like crazy, savings plunged, the housing boom took off, and the economy recovered. But the growth was artificial and could not be sustained.

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted March 2, 2009 at 5:33 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama forecast the biggest U.S. deficit since World War Two in a budget on Thursday that urges a costly overhaul of the healthcare system and would spend billions to arrest the economy's freefall.

An eye-popping $1.75 trillion deficit for the 2009 fiscal year is projected in Obama's first budget. That is equal to 12.3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product -- the largest share since 1945 when the country ran a shortfall of 21.5 percent of GDP.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

23 Comments
Posted February 26, 2009 at 12:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama has concentrated enormous power on a few aides in the West Wing of the White House. These aides are unrolling a rapid string of plans: to create 3 million jobs, to redesign the health care system, to save the auto industry, to revive the housing industry, to reinvent the energy sector, to revitalize the banks, to reform the schools - and to do it all while cutting the deficits in half.

If ever this kind of domestic revolution were possible, this is the time and these are the people to do it. Yet they set off my Burkean alarm bells.

I fear that in trying to do everything at once, they will do nothing well. I fear that we have a group of people who haven't even learned to use their new phone system trying to redesign half the U.S. economy.

I fear they are going to try to undertake the biggest administrative challenge in American history while refusing to hire the people who can help the most: agency veterans who are registered lobbyists.

I worry that we're operating far beyond our economic knowledge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

11 Comments
Posted February 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These are difficult times for economic policy makers, especially given what the new Administration inherited. But after five weeks of watching the repeated muffs of the Obama financial team, we're inclined to recall Casey Stengel's famous crack about the 1962 New York Mets: "Can't anyone here play this game?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted February 24, 2009 at 8:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He explains that in addition to the United Church doing its part, he’s also calling on Canadians, in all sectors of society, to risk truly taking up leadership at this important moment in history.

“We cannot wait for government, industry, or financial institutions alone to resolve these issues. Every one of us needs to consider the part we will play, to consider what we can contribute to transformation, possibility, and hope,” writes [the Right Rev. David] Giuliano.

In a separate pastoral letter to United Church congregations, Giuliano challenges them to respond imaginatively and compassionately to Canadians hurt by the economic crisis.

“The current economic challenge is calling us to be church in riskier ways than we are used to. I want to encourage you to trust your faith and to take those risks,” writes Giuliano.

He says this is a time for prophetic and creative leadership. “I am praying that we will respond with creativity, radical hospitality, and expansive generosity.”

Read it all and follow the links please to both letters at the bottom.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

1 Comments
Posted February 24, 2009 at 7:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Well worth the time--just under 40 minutes.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

3 Comments
Posted February 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An examination of how the economic stimulus plan will affect Americans--read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

2 Comments
Posted February 18, 2009 at 12:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama signed his $787 billion recovery package into law on Tuesday with a statement that it would "set our economy on a firmer foundation." His press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said Obama has not ruled out a second stimulus package.

The president said he would not pretend "that today marks the end of our economic problems."

"Nor does it constitute all of what we have to do to turn our economy around," Obama said at the signing ceremony in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. "But today does mark the beginning of the end, the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the way of playoffs."

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

10 Comments
Posted February 17, 2009 at 7:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It seems like politicians for months have been throwing around numbers in the billions and saying that unless the government acts right now everything will get worse. What is going on?

The economic system was hit was a flurry of crises at roughly the same time, and there isn't a single solution to all of the problems, even though they are connected.

What is the housing crisis?

Both political parties have supported the idea that individuals should own their own homes. But in pursuing that goal, some financial institutions lent money to people who could not afford the long-term commitment, which often included rising interest rates after an initial period of low payments. Critics complain that a variety of financing vehicles snared people into impossible situations, especially as prices of homes fell and the monthly mortgage payment rose.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted February 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The criminal part of this boondoggle is divided into two parts. The first is the Democrats promised to post the bill a full 48 hours before the vote was taken to allow members of the public to see what they were getting for their money. Both parties voted unanimously to do this ... and they lied.

It didn't happen. Why am I not surprised? Congress lying to the American people has become part of their job description. They can't be trusted on anything anymore.

I'm sure part of the reason there was no time for the public to read the bill was the 11th-hour internecine warfare between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted February 17, 2009 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reality check: The "stimulus" that President Obama will sign Monday is a band-aid. If Irving Fisher, who by some accounts was our finest American economist, was right, such a stimulus is useful in that it helps those who are unemployed and replaces some lost consumer spending; but the real work that must be done is to get the credit system flowing again. I don't have the space to go into that economic debate tonight, but it is at the core of the problem. It is Keynes vs. Fisher, von Mises vs. Friedman. It is, as Lacy Hunt says, "The Grand Experiment." After 70 years, we are going to see who is right. My money is on Fisher. It is not an experiment that is going to be fun to live through; but when we have the next debt deflation in 70 years or so, our grandchildren may know what to do.

We will see another stimulus package, probably by the end of the year. This time it will hopefully provide real stimulus. Much of the current version is simply an increase in federal spending that will be hard to rein in. And please, I am not being partisan. That is the analysis of many of Obama's advisors. And it goes back to the debate I mentioned. Keynes would argue that it is in fact stimulus. The other three economists would have differing views. And like I said, in a few years we are going to know who was right.

But the heavy lifting is going to be done by the Fed. Watch their balance sheet expand. And watch Treasury and the FDIC come back and ask for massive amounts of money to take over very large insolvent banks. Stay tuned.

Take the time to read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

5 Comments
Posted February 16, 2009 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a chance that this week would mark a turning-point in an ever-deepening global slump, as Barack Obama produced the two main parts of his rescue plan. The first, and most argued-over, was a big fiscal boost. After a lot of bickering in Congress a final compromise stimulus bill, worth $789 billion, seemed to have been agreed on February 11th; it should be only days away from becoming law. The second, and more important, part of the rescue was team Obama’s scheme for fixing the financial mess, laid out in a speech on February 10th by Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary.

America cannot rescue the world economy alone. But this double offensive by its biggest economy could potentially have broken the spiral of uncertainty and gloom that is gripping investors, producers and consumers across the globe.

Alas, that opportunity was squandered. Mr Obama ceded control of the stimulus to the fractious congressional Democrats, allowing a plan that should have had broad support from both parties to become a divisive partisan battle. More serious still was Mr Geithner’s financial-rescue blueprint which, though touted as a bold departure from the incrementalism and uncertainty that had plagued the Bush administration’s Wall Street fixes, in fact looked depressingly like his predecessors’ efforts: timid, incomplete and short on detail. Despite talk of trillion-dollar sums, stockmarkets tumbled. Far from boosting confidence, Mr Obama seems at sea.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

3 Comments
Posted February 15, 2009 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, I don’t believe it will work.

Historically, simply throwing government money at a struggling economy hasn’t created growth. It certainly didn’t in Japan during the 1990s, when the Japanese government initiated no fewer than 10 stimulus packages over eight years. Instead of fortifying the economy, government intervention led to what is often referred to as “the lost decade,” a time when Japan’s unemployment rate more than doubled.

Supporters of the current plan like to point to the New Deal as a model, declaring that FDR’s massive government expenditures dragged this country out of the Great Depression. But the data points just don’t back that up. The Depression kicked off with the stock market crash of 1929. Ten years and billions of taxpayer dollars later, unemployment was stuck at 20 percent.

You don’t have to believe me. Believe Henry Morganthau, President Roosevelt’s own treasury secretary, who said the following: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started.... And an enormous debt to boot!”

This brings us to a second point: the debilitating cost of this package.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

11 Comments
Posted February 15, 2009 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was the biggest bill of the year, a giant expansion of government spending.

Top members of Congress were incensed that they were cut out of final negotiations between the House and Senate. They complained that the legislation was the product of just one party with only a few select members of the opposition invited to play a role.

But the Medicare drug plan passed anyway in 2003 when Republicans controlled the White House and Congress. So it was hardly novel this week when Republicans protested vigorously that their legislative rights had been violated as the Democratic-led Congress pushed through the $787 billion economic stimulus bill with just three Republican votes in the Senate. Only the party labels had changed.

In truth, regular order — as following the Congressional rule book is known on Capitol Hill — has not been occurring very regularly in the House and Senate for years. And both parties are to blame.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

5 Comments
Posted February 14, 2009 at 11:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US President Barack Obama has welcomed Congress's approval of his $787bn (£548bn) economic stimulus package.

He described it as a "historic step" and "major milestone on our road to recovery", and is expected to sign the bill into law early next week.

The Senate approved the measure with just three Republican votes, hours after the House of Representatives backed it without Republican support.

Mr Obama has said the plan will "save or create more than 3.5 million jobs".

Republicans argue the tax cuts are insufficient, and that the economy will be saddled with debt for years to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

10 Comments
Posted February 14, 2009 at 8:53 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is really helpful--read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

18 Comments
Posted February 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration is committing huge sums of money to rescuing banks, but the veterans of Japan’s banking crisis have three words for the Americans: more money, faster.

The Japanese have been here before. They endured a “lost decade” of economic stagnation in the 1990s as their banks labored under crippling debt, and successive governments wasted trillions of yen on half-measures.

Only in 2003 did the government finally take the actions that helped lead to a recovery: forcing major banks to submit to merciless audits and declare bad debts; spending two trillion yen to effectively nationalize a major bank, wiping out its shareholders; and allowing weaker banks to fail.

By then, Tokyo’s main Nikkei stock index had lost almost three-quarters of its value. The country’s public debt had grown to exceed its gross domestic product, and deflation stalked the land. In the end, real estate prices fell for 15 consecutive years.


More alarming? Some students of the Japanese debacle say they see a similar train wreck heading for the United States.

“I thought America had studied Japan’s failures,” said Hirofumi Gomi, a top official at Japan’s Financial Services Agency during the crisis. “Why is it making the same mistakes?”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackagePolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaJapan

2 Comments
Posted February 13, 2009 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yet even if President Obama gets the stimulus spending just right, the economy could still be sandbagged by a collapsed banking system. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's plan is far too complex, and too much of a gift to Wall Street. Judging by the initial verdict of Tuesday's financial markets, the plan might well fall of its own weight.

Geithner's plan basically tries to paper over the fact that several of America's biggest banks are insolvent in the absence of taxpayer bailouts. It attempts to restart the same system of excessive loan securitization that caused the crash — this time with guarantees or loans by the Treasury or Federal Reserve. Many details have not been released, because the Treasury has not figured out how this can work.

The taxpayers have already effectively bought much of the banking system. It would be far cleaner and more efficient for government to acknowledge that, take over the large banks, clean out their balance sheets, and then sell healthy banks back to private industry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

1 Comments
Posted February 12, 2009 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The White House unveiled a sweeping proposal Tuesday to spend as much as $2 trillion in public and private funds to prop up the nation's financial system as the Senate narrowly approved an $838 billion stimulus intended to jump-start the failing economy.

Even as President Obama and Congress worked to wrestle their way out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, stock prices plunged on Wall Street. Major indexes skidded by more than 4%, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 382 points.

"It's gotten worse," Obama said in Fort Myers, Fla., the latest stop on a tour around the nation the president hopes will build support for the stimulus. "The situation we face could not be more serious."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

2 Comments
Posted February 12, 2009 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.

“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”

While his tongue was slightly in cheek, Gupta and many other Indian business people I spoke to this week were trying to make a point that sometimes non-Americans can make best: “Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn’t through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat.”

While I think President Obama has been doing his best to keep the worst protectionist impulses in Congress out of his stimulus plan, the U.S. Senate unfortunately voted on Feb. 6 to restrict banks and other financial institutions that receive taxpayer bailout money from hiring high-skilled immigrants on temporary work permits known as H-1B visas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

14 Comments
Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Worth the time.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto IndustryThe U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:03 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Senate voted on Tuesday to approve an $838 billion economic stimulus plan that stands to become the most expansive anti-recession effort by the United States government since World War II.

Congressional leaders said they would immediately begin to work out the differences between the Senate measure and an $820 billion version passed by the House, with President Obama also likely to have a strong voice in the talks.

The timetable for the House-Senate negotiations remained indefinite, however. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “think we can get a lot of work done in the first 24 hours.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

12 Comments
Posted February 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gravity of the financial crisis confronting the Obama administration will come into stark focus today when officials unveil a three-pronged rescue program that may commit up to $1.5 trillion in public and private funds, and possibly more, lawmakers and other officials said.

In announcing the plan, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will not ask Congress for more funds than the roughly $350 billion that remain in the Treasury Department's original rescue package for the financial system, though congressional sources said such a request could come later if the new programs are unsuccessful. The rest of the money would come from other government agencies, such as the Federal Reserve, as well as private-sector contributions.

A senior administration official warned last night that the ultimate cost to taxpayers has not been determined. Several of the programs have not been finalized, and most are designed to ultimately return money to taxpayers.

Geithner plans to announce a public-private partnership that would seek to finance the purchasing of toxic bank assets that are at the heart of the credit crisis, officials and congressional sources said. These sources briefed by Treasury officials said the program may initially raise $250 billion to $500 billion in public and private funds to offer low-cost financing to encourage investors to buy the toxic assets. An administration official said the proposal is still subject to a public review and may not take final shape for several weeks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout PlanThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

14 Comments
Posted February 10, 2009 at 9:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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