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

Tag Archives: Economy

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

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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

Robert Reich

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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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Congressional Ethics an Oxymoron?

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USA Today seems surprised at the number of ethics cases making headlines recently, referring to the trials being faced by Representatives Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), noting that the number of such cases “has jumped dramatically in the past year.” In the first six months of 2010, “an independent congressional watchdog began 44 ethics investigations,” while the Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended that the House ethics committee “take action against 13 lawmakers.”

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Stossel, Greenspan, and Ayn Rand

Cover of "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal"

Cover of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

When John Stossel of Fox Business Network wrote his recent “Memo to Alan Greenspan” column, he recounted many of Greenspan’s failings while Chairman of the Federal Reserve, including especially Greenspan’s relentless expansion of the money supply and lowering of interest rates that set in motion the housing bubble that burst in 2007.

But Stossel got one part of his memo wrong.

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Fed Confirms Recovery Stalled

People pushing a stalled car out of the street

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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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Behind Friday’s Jobs Report: The Real Numbers

Confusing numbers

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Buried in Friday’s employment report from the Department of Labor Statistics were two key numbers that reflected the slowdown in the economy so long denied by the administration: “private sector employment edged up over the month (+71,000). Thus far this year, [such] employment has increased by 630,000, with about two-thirds of the gain occurring in March and April.” (Emphasis added.) The other appeared in the final paragraph of that report: “The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for May was revised from +433,000 to +432,000, and the change for June was revised [downward] from -125,000 to -221,000.” (Emphasis added.)

Taken together, these two numbers reflect the slowing of the economy that has occurred ever since Vice President Joe Biden predicted back in April that “some time in the next couple of months we’re going to be creating between 250,000 and 500,000 jobs a month.”

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Geithner: Welcome to Reality

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Claims that “we are on a path back to growth” by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Welcome to Recovery” appeared to be based on facts, proof, and hard evidence.

“A review of recent data on the American economy…show that large parts of the private sector continue to strengthen,” he said. “Business investment and consumption…are getting stronger, better than last year and better than last quarter.” According to Geithner, evidence of growth can be seen because

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Ryan’s Roadmap II

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15:  Chairman Paul R...

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The first time Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) offered his “Roadmap for America’s Future” to the House of Representatives, it failed by 137-293, with 38 Republicans voting against, including Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). With his own district safe in the fall elections, Ryan has been spending his time generating support for Roadmap II with presentations to conservative think tanks and coffee klatches.

And he seems to be gaining some traction along with a lot of fresh attention.

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Temporary Unemployment Benefits—Permanent Welfare?

Horse And Handler Statue,  Department Of Labor

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The White House on July 21 extolled the extension of unemployment insurance by the Senate, claiming it was “not only the decent thing to do but one of the most effective ways to boost our economy.” President Obama signed the extension into law immediately, saying that this was “desperately needed assistance to two and a half million Americans who lost their jobs in the recession…Americans who…will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times.”

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TARP Criticism Misses the Point

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When TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky criticized the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) as being ineffective, he blamed the Treasury Department for not setting clearer goals for that part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Only 390,000 homeowners “have seen their mortgage terms permanently modified since the $50 billion program was announced in March 2009. That is a small fraction of the three to four million borrowers who were supposed to receive assistance under the program.”

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Maine Eyes Social Security for Pension Bailout

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Instead of asking for a federal bailout, Maine is considering shifting part of its underfunded pension plan liabilities to Social Security. Without the proposed fix, the pension liability the state currently faces is “going to rip the guts out of our budget,” according to Peter Mills, the state Senator who initially suggested the plan.

Most states provide their workers with a state pension plan as well as support their participation in Social Security. But several states such as Maine opted out of Social Security based on projections that monies invested in the state-run plan would provide more generous benefits to its beneficiaries. As the economy turned down and revenues declined, states like Maine are finding it increasingly difficult to make the contributions necessary to keep their pension plans solvent.

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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.