Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Economics

Greenspan’s Fear and Trembling

CHICAGO - APRIL 08:  Former Chairman of the Fe...

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Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is worried about many things. In March he worried about the future of the economy. “The important lesson,” he wrote, “is that bank regulators cannot fully or accurately forecast whether, for example, subprime mortgages will turn toxic…A large fraction of such difficult forecasts will invariably be proved wrong…Anticipating the onset of crisis…appears out of our forecasting reach.”

In June he worried about a revival of inflation:

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Translating Bernanke-Speak About the Great Recession

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When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says the country is in trouble, many aren’t listening, partly because the media wasn’t there reporting on it, and partly because those listening can’t understand what he’s saying. Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council on Monday, the best he could do was “There is no way around it—meeting these challenges will require…the public to make some very difficult decisions and to accept some sacrifices.”

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The Real Cost of the Wars

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When the book The $3 Trillion War debuted in 2008, it was roundly criticized by such notables as John Lott, Richard Zerbe and Edgar Browning, who held that estimates of the cost of the war in Iraq were overstated. But in a conference call earlier this week, authors Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize winner) and Linda Bilmes (Harvard University professor), said they underestimated those costs by at least one third.

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Third Trillion-Dollar Bailout: The States

Meredith Whitney, CIBC Sr. Financial Instituti...

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It was appropriate for Meredith Whitney to title her latest 600-page report for her investment clients The Tragedy of the Commons. That title was borrowed from an article written in 1968 by Garrett Hardin and published in Science magazine, illustrating the ultimate failure of people hoping to live off the incomes of others eternally.

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Bank Failures: 127 Down, 800 to Go

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When Zacks Equity Research announced on Monday the failure of two more banks in the current recession, the silence was deafening. The report blamed the usual suspects: “tumbling home prices, soaring loan defaults, and a high unemployment rate continue to take their toll on such institutions.”

But buried in the report was the much more ominous forecast of the “increasing … possibility of more bank failures.” Zacks said that any bank which makes the FDIC’s problem bank list is essentially doomed. “As of now, only 13 percent of banks on [that list] have actually failed.” The number on that list? 829, up from 775 in the last quarter.

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GM Caught in a Lie, Still Owes U.S. Billions

The New GM (Government Motors) Proudly Introdu...

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Daniel Akerson, the new CEO of General Motors, said last week that the rate of payback of U.S. government bailout monies “will be determined by GM’s performance over the next several years. It would be ‘unrealistic’ to pay the government back all at once.”

He added, “We want the government out. Period. We don’t want to be known as Government Motors…It’s a goal of this company to return that (federal money). [However] I don’t think that’s going to be [done] in one fell swoop. I think that’s unrealistic.”

This was a much different message from that delivered by his predecessor, GM CEO Ed Whitacre, back in March when he announced in a series of TV ads:

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Recession is Over?

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With a straight face, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that the Great Recession ended last June. June of 2009, that is. This made the current recession the longest one since the Great Depression.

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Meet Austan Goolsbee, Obama’s New Top Economic Adviser

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Few were surprised when President Obama replaced Christina Romer, chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, with another statist economist, Austan Goolsbee. Goolsbee is the architect of Obama’s failed economic policies and programs, having served as the executive director of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board from the beginning.

A bright student at Yale where he enjoyed membership in the exclusive and elitist Skull and Bones secret society, Goolsbee went on to get his PhD from MIT, and then immediately became a professor at the University of Chicago. With stints at the American Bar Association and the National Bureau of Economic Research, he was named to Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers in March, 2009.

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“NFL” Means No Free Lunch for Taxpayers

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When the 82,566 fans of the New York Giants cheer their team at the home opener of the season this Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium, they will likely enjoy the game more than the taxpayers of New Jersey who still owe $266 million on the old Giants Stadium which was demolished to make way for the new one. Those taxpayers may also be dismayed to learn that the revenue stream from the old stadium has now all but disappeared, putting them on the hook for $35 million in principal and interest payments each year to service the bonds that built the old stadium as part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex back in 1976.

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Finally, a Sensible Solution to Unemployment

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When Kevin Hassett, director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in Bloomberg.com that “the biggest problem with the labor market right now is that wages are too high,” it was the first positive sign of intelligent life in the mainstream media in some time.

Many have written about the damaging effects of minimum wage laws, federal and state unemployment insurance, and other interventions in the labor market that have kept workers out of jobs, including William HoarGary NorthJacob Hornberger, and Walter Williams.

But few have offered free-market solutions to the problem of unemployment in the Great Recession. Until now.

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Will the U.S. Bail Out Kabul Bank?

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The bank run at Afghanistan’s largest bank, Kabul Bankwas precipitated by the takeover of the bank by Da Afghanistan Bank, the country’s central bank, last week. By Friday nearly all of its currency reserves and most of its capital had been withdrawn by nervous customers, with no end in sight.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai blamed the run on the bad press the bank had been getting in the United States ever since a major article about corruption at the bank appeared in the Washington Post in February. Last Thursday, the second day of the run on the bank, Karzai said, “The Western press is…printing out our decision [to take over the bank] in a negative way and in a provocative way. It’s sad to hear that. It’s unfortunate.”

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Why Reich is Wrong

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When former Labor Secretary Robert Reich offered his solutions for ending the Great Recession in the New York Times, he repeated the same errors expressed in a CNBC debate the week before.

Reich appears to have all the credentials for knowing what he is talking about: degrees from Dartmouth College, Yale Law School, and a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. Having served as a law clerk to the chief judge of the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals and then assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, followed by an appointment by President Jimmy Carter as Director of Policy Planning at the FTC, most would accept his opinions and suggestions for ending the recession as useful and relevant.

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Obama Needs Your 401(k) to Balance His Budget

Jim McDermott

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The Obama administration is “taking the first steps to confiscate retirement dollars,” according to Dr. Jerome Corsi who predicts that the end result will be retirees with 401(k) plans holding near-worthless government debt “that will be paid off in a devalued currency worth…pennies on the dollar.”

The move to confiscate those retirement dollars for government purposes was best illustrated by Christina Kirchner, President of Argentina, in 2008 when she announced plans to seize her citizens’ private pension funds.

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How Relevant Is Ayn Rand Today?

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It was news to many when Scott Powell announced that an obscure novel published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged, “may be second to the Bible as the most influential book read in America.” His statement that BB&T, the 12th largest bank in America, which resisted taking TARP bailout funds, requires reading of that same book as part of its management training program astonished many more.

American Conservative Magazine noted that “a week before the President’s inauguration, more people were buying it than Obama’s Audacity of Hope.

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Mortgage Summit: No New Ideas

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When Kevin Hall, writing for McClatchy Newspapers, said “the Obama administration got what it was looking for at its summit on the future of housing finance,” he was very close to the truth: No matter who spoke at the summit or what “new” ideas might be proposed, nothing would change—the government would remain fully in charge of mortgage financing for the country.

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Fed’s Bernanke Running Out of Options

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When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks on Friday at the Fed’s annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Fed-watchers from around the world will be hanging on his every word, phrase, and nuance for clues. They’ll be listening to hear that the chairman knows what’s happening in the economy, and that if things get worse, he has a plan.

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Fiscal Challenges: A Way Out

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(This article is a follow-up to Conjuring Magic To Cover States’ Debts.)

Economist Niall Ferguson of Harvard wrote an article entitled “Complexity and Collapse” for the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ferguson uses the visual image of a series of paintings by Thomas ColeThe Course of Empire, which currently hangs at the New York Historical Society, to illustrate his point that every society goes through five stages. He says that Cole “beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day.”

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Conjuring Magic To Cover States’ Debts

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The first warning about the possible bankruptcy of the town of Vallejo, California, was reported by the Associated Press on February 28, 2008, when Councilwoman Stephanie Gomes said, “Our financial situation is getting worse every single day. No city or private person wants to declare bankruptcy, but if you’re facing insolvency, you have no choice but to seek protection.”

Marci Fritz, vice president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, blamed the action on promises made earlier by the council to the city’s employees concerning salaries and retirement benefits that the city no longer can afford. According to Fritz, these were promises made during economically flush times, and were due to the city council’s unrealistic expectations that those times would continue indefinitely.

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Fed Confirms Recovery Stalled

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When the Federal Open Market Committee announced yesterday that “the pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated,” stocks in Europe lost three percent of their value, interest rates on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note dropped startlingly as investors ran to safety, and the dollar hit the lowest level against the Japanese Yen since 1995.

A Japanese bond dealer said, “Investors were unnerved by the Fed’s statement. It just confirmed that the U.S. economic recovery is slowing.”

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The Fed is Caught in its Own Trap

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The much-anticipated, long-awaited pronouncement from the Fed yesterday confirmed what nearly everyone else expected: Things are not going swimmingly, but they’re ready to help further if the patient continues to drown.

The Federal Open Market Committee said that “the pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated … [but] to help support the economic recovery in the context of price stability, the Committee will keep constant the Federal Reserve’s holdings of securities at their current level.”

Translation: Nothing we have done yet has worked, so we’re developing some more plans just in case they are needed.

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.