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.

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Could A Wealth Tax Solve the Problem of Government Debt?

A recent IMF report suggests that this man's enormous wealth might help resolve the government's debt problem. [Credit: NY Post]

A recent IMF report suggests that this man’s enormous wealth might help resolve the government’s debt problem. [Credit: NY Post]

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently reported that European governments could reduce their debt back to pre-Great Recession levels by confiscating 10 percent of the wealth held by their richest citizens. IMF isn’t recommending that, of course.

They’re just sayin’. 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

How’s That Cyprus “Bail-In” Working Out?

The Cyprus "bail-in" is no more popular today than when it was hatched last spring. [Credit: CNNMoney.com]

The Cyprus “bail-in” is no more popular today than when it was hatched last spring. [Credit: CNNMoney.com]

You may remember Cyprus, the Mediterranean island that grabbed international headlines last March when its government was compelled by European authorities to seize money that individuals and businesses had deposited in the country’s two largest banks.

The “bail-in” of Cypriot banks, so called because it requires people who have deposited their money in failing banks to help save those banks by forfeiting some of their deposits, is a portent of bank rescues to come.  Continue reading

The Fed, the ECB and La Dolce Vita

Fellini celebrated "La Dolce Vita" in his film classic.  Today, Italians may feel as though they're living in a Fellini flick. [Credit: theworld.org]

Fellini celebrated “La Dolce Vita” in his film classic.  But a struggling economy, wobbly banks and fractious politics threaten to take the “dolce” out of their vita. [Credit: theworld.org]

Strangozzi is the characteristic pasta of Umbria, Tuscany’s hot sister.

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