vendredi, septembre 26, 2008

Can Main Street Trust Wall Street?

Kenneth Lewis's editorial in the WSJ today (link) starts with the bold claim that the dispute over Henry Paulson's 700 billion dollar rescue plan shouldn't be about whether we are "bailing out" Wall Street.

The CEO of Bank of America (one of the dwindling number of titans who hasn't declared bankruptcy or been sold) says that buying up the assets (some call these 'bad debt') of the institutions currently holding them would be good for Main Street.

Here's a couple of paragraphs:

"The most critical point for the public to understand is that the money being proposed -- $700 billion -- is not going away. It will be used by the government to purchase assets at a negotiated price -- presumably a price based on the fundamental value of the underlying collateral (taking into account the underlying risks). When the markets recover, the government will then resell these assets -- perhaps at a loss, but not necessarily. The American taxpayer could break even on this transaction, or even post a financial gain.

In the meantime, consumers will see value as money starts to flow, home prices stabilize, and the economy avoids what could otherwise be a deep -- and preventable -- recession."

Lewis does call for accountability-and he does argue that the plan may benefit his weaker competitors even more than BOA.

And he may be correct.

But the picture is so much more complicated. The stability of major banks is critical to the US markeplace-which makes the games some of them were playing all the more repulsive. But there are many other elements-when employers feel confident enough to hire, where the housing market finds its level, what happens to many of the smaller banks and company that help grease the wheels of capitalism.

Yes, helping out the Dobermans may trickle down to the miniature poodles. But the economy doesn't always work that way. In fact, most of the time it doesn't work that way. That's why we need some help for the guys on Main Street, too. We're going to end up with a plan that doesn't give Wall Street or Main Street everything they want-but hopefully will provide enough of what we need so that we are a few helpful steps away from the cliff.

Bailout or jungle rescue-the right conversation, Mr. Lewis, is about what happens next, not just on Wall Street, but on Main Street.

mercredi, septembre 24, 2008


I heard on the news today (NPR, so I suppose some will wish to check with the WSJ to make sure they aren't lying) that 26 mortgage and investment titans, including Fannie, Freddie and Lehman, are under investigation by the FBI.

Well, maybe the FBI has it wrong. They've been wrong before.

Surely in a totally free market system, these banks and agencies would be able to police themselves. And who cares what happens to homeowners dumb enough to have gotten themselves in this mess? It's a predatory world.

But those bad Republicans, like Senator Jim Bunning and a bunch of Congressmen, are going to insist that there be some terms on our 700 billion and counting bailout.

Not to mention the Democrats-but we knew they'd roll over.

Does nobody have the guts to stand up for unfettered capitalism?

mardi, septembre 23, 2008

Have fun with this

Everyday is a winding road..... (see link)

"You think you want some evolution??? Well...

Last week the Church of England apologized to the late Charles Darwin for having “misunderstood” his theory of evolution.

Posted on the Church of England’s website, the apology by the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Brown has given journalists like Daily Mail reporter Jonathan Petre (Church makes ‘ludicrous’ apology to Charles Darwin - 126 years after his death Mail Online) an occasion for barely disguised incredulity, not to mention mirth.

Here’s the lede:
"The Church of England will tomorrow officially apologise to Charles Darwin for misunderstanding his theory of evolution.
In a bizarre step, the Church will address its contrition directly to the Victorian scientist himself, even though he died 126 years ago."
Challenging as it might be, it would have been nice if Petre had been able to resist the temptation to treat the whole contretemps as satire. Almost every person he quotes (with the exception of the kicker quote at the end), from one of Darwin’s great-great grandsons to the British President of the National Secular Association, has something mocking to say about the statement.
If there must are theologians and clergy defending the denomination’s attempt to make reparations, they don’t appear in Petre’s article.
That being said, there is a deliciously guilty pleasure in reading quotes like this:
Former Conservative Minister Ann Widdecombe, who left the Church of England to become a Roman Catholic, said: ‘It’s absolutely ludicrous. Why don’t we have the Italians apologising for Pontius Pilate? ‘We’ve already apologised for slavery and for the Crusades. When is it all going to stop? It’s insane and makes the Church of England look ridiculous.’
Kudos to the Times Online for its more balanced approach (Catholic Church to hold debate on God and evolution -Times Online) to the news that the Catholic Church is going to hold a conference about evolution in March 2009,. 150 years after Darwin’s Origin of Species appeared. Reporter Sara Delaney takes a straightforward approach to the story, offering both context and explanation for the Catholic Church’s historical and contemporary position on this controversial topic.
Not until the fifth paragraph that she quotes a Catholic Church official, who distinguishes the Vatican’s position from that of the Church of England with delicate but deadly diplomacy.
Mgr Ravasi termed the Anglican apology for having condemned Darwin both “curious and significant”. He said that it showed “a mentality different than ours". An open dialogue between faith and science especially in the light of new developments should be encouraged, “without forcing an accord that doesn’t exist,” Mgr Ravasi added. Other organisers cited Pope Pius XII who said in 1950 that the Church did not prohibit the study of evolution, and Pope John Paul II who said in 1995 that Darwinism was no longer considered “a mere hypothesis."
On the topic of the church’s response to evolution, Delaney plays it straight, while Petre goes for the obvious potshots. Shedding light instead of heat, her article is much more illuminating.

dimanche, septembre 21, 2008


So you aren't voting for Barack Obama because you disagree with him on health care, or aren't nuts about his stance on abortion?

You don't think he's had as much experience as McCain?

Perhaps you aren't voting for him because you are still mad that Hillary isn't the Democratic candidate?

Or maybe you are a Republican who would rather eat fried ants than cast a vote for a Democrat?

While some or all of these reasons are worth a heated conversation, one isn't-that Obama is a Muslim.

As Nicholas Kristof comments, (see link), perhaps a third of the public believe that Obama is a Muslim, or that they've heard different things about his faith.

Let's leave out how offensive this is to people who really are Muslim. It really says awful things about the American public.

You really can't blame the press for this, unless you blame them for discussing the emails. They aren't the ones spreading the rumors (except on the far right).

You can't really blame most Republicans. They weren't going to vote for Obama anyway.

Take a look at the recent poll from the AP in which one third of Democratic respondents said that they felt negatively towards black people.


Think there's no link between those results, elicited by this more sensitive poll, and the rumor that he's a Muslim?

Those who chose negative adjectives to describe black people were, amazingly, less likely to vote for Obama.

Examining the political scene this year, some commentators have been scrambling to figure out why, in a year when the "issues' seem to favor the Democrats, the Presidential race (as opposed Congressional, where we might have a blowout) is so close.

We're getting closer to making, hmmm... an uneducated guess.