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

Roubini v. Rockwell on the Gold Standard

Nouriel Roubini, Turkish economist, professor ...

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New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini made a name for himself back in 2005 by predicting the Great Recession long before others did. Fortune magazine wrote “In 2005 Roubini said home prices were riding a speculative wave that would soon sink the economy.” The New York Times said he predicted “homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt.” In September, 2006 Roubini warned that “the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence, and, ultimately, a deep recession.”

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Deficit Commission Report: Deficit Reduction Lite

The Deficit Reduction Whopper

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The co-chairs of President Obama’s Deficit Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, announced many of the possible recommendations that could appear in the report of the Commission due December 1. They included just enough to arouse the ire of partisans on both sides, without making any serious inroads into real deficit reduction. Calling it a “politically provocative and economically ambitious package,” the New York Times said the initial proposals are “igniting a debate that is likely to grip the country for years.”

The co-chairs aren’t expecting much to happen but they claimed they wanted to “start the conversation” now.

Some of the proposals on the reduced spending side include:

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Bi-Partisan Effort to Cut Spending: A First Step Only

F-35 in flight

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When the conservative National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and the liberal U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) announced their report “Toward Common Ground: Bridging the Political Divide to Reduce Spending,” the authors acknowledged that “while these proposals won’t get us all the way [to significantly reduced government spending], it is a start that could establish some common ground and make government more accountable in the process.”

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Chevy Volt Misses the Mark

Chevrolet Volt plug-in

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Now that the Chevy Volt, General Motors’ electric car, is about to arrive in selected dealers’ showrooms around the country, it has been getting a lot of press. Some are puff pieces, one of which appeared in USA Today, while others are much more critical.

According to James Healey of USA Today, the Volt “represents a staggering amount of engineering…which combines an electric motor…and a small gasoline engine to create a drive train that uses no gasoline for 25 to 50 miles, [and] then sips it.”

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World Bank’s Trial Balloon Pops

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick

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Before the Internet, Robert Zoellick’s brief outline of suggested topics for the G20 meeting this week in Seoul, Korea, might have been considered just an interoffice memo. It appeared in London’s Financial Times, contained obscure references to arcane subjects that would be of interest only to international bankers determined to push their agenda for a world currency, and was written by a certified member of the internationalist “insider” cabal. But when Zoellick wrote that the “cooperative monetary system…should also consider employing gold as an international reference point…,” Internet bloggers picked up on it immediately, and the cover was blown.

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Behind the Numbers: October Employment Report

Spiekermann House Numbers

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Even though 151,000 new real jobs were added in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate stayed at 9.6 percent. This announcement not only successfully masked the fact that fewer people were looking for work, which made the rate look better, but also that more people are staying unemployed longer.

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Social Security: No COLA for You

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...

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When the Social Security Administration announced that there would be no cost-of-living-adjustment for 2011, Betty Dizik, Claire E., John Walker, Nancy Pelosi, and the AARP all agreed it would be difficult for the 58 million beneficiaries currently receiving checks. Betty’s only source of income is her $1,200 monthly payment from Social Security. At age 83, she exclaimed, “I’m like a lot of other people in my predicament who live on Social Security. It’s hard. We cannot make ends meet.”

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Study: VAT Will Cost More Jobs, Reduce Living Standards

The VAT cometh

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Time is running out on the Obama administration to pass a value-added tax: The mid-term elections are two weeks away with Democrats anticipating heavy losses, the lame-duck session is due to start on November 15, President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform publishes its report on December 1, and Congress already faces a long list of “must-pass” legislation. A just-released study about the negative impacts of a VAT isn’t going to help.

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Fed Plans to Increase the Money Supply—Again

Federal Reserve Bank of New York Building

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The notes of the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve, released on Tuesday, clearly show the Fed’s next step in trying to solve the problem it has created: Quantitative Easing II, or QE2 (qualitative easing is Fed-speak for increasing the money supply). The meeting lasted more than five hours and consisted of a debate about when to start the process: now, or later.

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A Primer in Protectionism

Tariff - Anti-Tariff

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Despite opaque and dissembling arguments that what the world needs now is a world currency to replace the weakening dollar, there are significant obstacles confronting that elitist dream. After the IMF (International Monetary Fund) annual meeting in Washington ended, leaders could only conclude that the IMF needed to keep “a close watch on currencies,” using “candor” and an “evenhanded” approach to such observations.

While departing amidst platitudes, the “leaders'” real issue is rising protectionism being waged by its members through currency manipulation. Simply put,

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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

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 07:  Federal Reserve Ban...

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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

military cemetary

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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

FDIC placard from when the deposit insurance l...

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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?

A man with empty trouser pockets

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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

Official portrait of CEA member Austan Goolsbee.

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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

View from an aircraft on approach to Newark-Li...

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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

Coat of Arms of American Samoa

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