GOP Debate: Bring Back The CNBC Moderators

GOP Presidential contenders struggled with substantive questions during last week's debate. [Credit: ibtimes.com

GOP Presidential contenders fumbled substantive questions during last week’s debate. [Credit: ibtimes.com]

Donald Trump wants a piece of the Keystone Pipeline.

The issue didn’t come up during last week’s GOP debate, so Trump didn’t have the chance to elaborate on his declaration that he would have approved the project only if the Canadian company forked over 25 percent of its profits.

“I want a piece of the deal,” Trump told Bret Baier of Fox News.  “When I say I want a piece, I’m now representing our country the way I would represent myself.” Continue reading

Can Greece Slip The Austerity Trap?

Greek Prime Minister paid tribute to Greek patriots executed by Nazis during WWII. His message to the Germans was clear: we bailed you out, now it's our turn. [Credit: The Guardian]

Greek Prime Minister paid tribute to Greek patriots executed by Nazis during WWII. His message to the Germans was clear: we bailed you out, now it’s our turn. [Credit: The Guardian]

Shortly after his election last Sunday as Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras chose not lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens’ Syntagma Square.  Instead, he went to a war memorial in the Athens suburb of Kessariani where Nazi soldiers executed hundreds of Greek Resistance fighters during the brutal German occupation.

Tsipras’s message was not lost on Angela Merkel and other European leaders: the world forgave most of Germany’s debt; now it’s Greece’s turn. Continue reading

The Fed On The Road To Nowhere

Economic policymakers may have us, as the Talking Heads put it in their 1985 hit, on the road to nowhere. [Credit: qednet.biz]

Economic policymakers may have us, as the Talking Heads put it in their 1985 hit, on the road to nowhere. [Credit: qednet.biz]

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been called the man who saved the world.  His extraordinary interventions in the fall of 2008 have almost universally been recognized as having prevented a second Great Depression.

But a new study by the Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS) suggests that Bernanke saved the world from a crisis that was at least partly of his own making.  Worse, it argues that the course he set and that his successor Janet Yellen and other central banks are following will produce another and perhaps graver crisis.

Government monetary and fiscal policymakers have lost their way, the BIS argues.  So badly that they don’t just need a new direction.  They need a new compass.

Continue reading

Student Loans: Punishing People Who Play By The Rules

President Obama believes that requiring student loans to be repaid is punishing good behavior.  [Credit: NPR]

President Obama believes that requiring student loans to be repaid is punishing good behavior. [Credit: NPR]

“If somebody plays by the rules, they shouldn’t be punished for it.” — President Obama

The President made this inarguable statement in the course of proclaiming a change in the law governing student loans.  Henceforth, millions of people who borrowed for college will have their monthly payments restructured and, in some cases, be entirely relieved of the obligation to repay their debt.

In the President’s mind, borrowing money is playing by the rules; paying it back is punishment. Continue reading

Elizabeth Warren’s Anti-Progressivism

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) preaches progressivism but is her student loan proposal anti-progressive? [Credit: NPR]

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) preaches progressivism but is her student loan proposal anti-progressive? [Credit: NPR]

“This country should not be run for the biggest corporations and largest financial institutions.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

To judge from Warren’s record so far, she would be prefer that the country be run for the benefit of its biggest universities. Continue reading

The Fed and the Consequences of Bad Predictions

South Africa's government in recent years voted to jail people who make unauthorized and inaccurate forecasts.  Good thing for the Federal Reserve that their bad predictions don't carry consequences.  [Credit: University of MN]

South Africa’s government in recent years voted to jail people for making unauthorized and inaccurate weather forecasts. Good thing for the Federal Reserve that their bad predictions don’t carry consequences. [Credit: University of MN]

The South African government in recent years considered a bill to jail people who published inaccurate and unauthorized forecasts of severe weather.

Holding people accountable for their predictions seems a bit harsh in this season of predictions. But the South Africans do have a point: predictions have consequences. That’s as true of predictions about the economy as about the weather, something that the Federal Reserve might do well to ponder. Continue reading

It’s Hard To Say No In That Fair Land of the Si’

It's been a rough year for Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, who narrowly lost an election and was convicted of a crime that may result in his expulsion from the Senate.  [Credit: Getty images]

It’s been a rough year for Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, whose party narrowly lost an election and who was himself convicted of a crime that may result in his expulsion from the Senate. [Credit: Getty Images]

“Ah, Pisa , you the scandal of the peoples of that fair land where si’ is heard.”

— Dante

Washington’s flirtation with default engendered endless hand-wringing about the parlous state of our political system. But by Italian standards, Congress and the President are doing just fine.

Last month, while GOP “defund Obamacare” vigilantes nearly caused the massive spending and borrowing machine that is our federal government to seize up, Italy’s government served up a sumptuous feast of dysfunction, replete with sex scandals, resignations of cabinet ministers, and an abortive attempt to topple a government incapable of governing. Continue reading

Jon Corzine: Poster Boy for Crony Capitalism?

President Obama unsuccessfully campaigned for Jon Corzine.  Since then, nearly $1 billion in client money disappeared into the ether in a firm Corzine steered into bankruptcy.

President Obama unsuccessfully campaigned for Jon Corzine in 2009. Since then, nearly $1 billion in client money disappeared into the ether from a firm Corzine steered into bankruptcy, but the Obama Administration concluded that Corzine committed no crime.

Jon Corzine is not a crook. No, really.

The Justice Department’s investigation of the former Wall Street titan, New Jersey Governor and U.S. Senator concluded last summer that he’d done nothing wrong. Or at least nothing criminal. Continue reading

How TARP Begat Obamacare

Wall Street titans successfully lobbied Congress for TARP in 2008.  Their success made Obamacare possible.  [Credit: UPI]

Wall Street titans successfully lobbied Congress for TARP in 2008. Their success made Obamacare possible. [Credit: UPI]

Obamacare goes live on October 1, when newly-created government exchanges are to begin selling health insurance and enrolling people in Medicaid. The date carries an eerie significance. October 1 also is the fifth anniversary of the Senate vote that made Obamacare possible: a 74-25 vote to create the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill, more commonly known as TARP. Continue reading