Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day Gets No Respect

Here's a piece I did for Grist yesterday.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Coming Showdown with the Oligarchs

I am not talking about the Russians or the Mexican drug cartels or the latest band of terrorists, I am referring to the oligarchs, the small number of elites, who control our government.  The showdown will come in three distinct fights.  

1. The Obama Adminstration is going to have to get Goldman Sach's hands out of the US Treasury.  They have taken billions directly and indirectly through AIG, orchestrated their own bailout through their men placed in our government, famously Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and even used its influence over our government to decide which entities should fail and which should be bailed -- competitors fail, entities which owe them money get bailed out.  Yet the economy is still rotten for most people.  It will be near revolutionary if President Obama can extricate these thieves from our government.

2. The climate fight is upon us.  Congressman Henry Waxman has introduced a fairly weak version of his once fine principles to address global warming.  The energy industry is either opposed, like ExxonMobil, or open to dealing with climate change as long as the regs are weak and the taxpayer loot that flows into its coffers is huge, like Duke Energy.  Can we stop global warming AND avoid the blackmail from these corporations?  Again, it will be quite a feat if Congressional Democratic leadership can give us a bill fair for Americans that is also based on the science.

3.  Health care reform.  Large hospitals now employ hundreds of administrators to avoid paying for various medical procedures, on a par with the insurers who take premiums but don't want to pay your medical bills, caught in the middle are the Americans ensnared in the health care system.  The drug companies have damaged a generation of people by pushing drugs they knew to be unsafe and for symptoms they can't help.  Health care reform means health care based on the needs of people and their health care practitioners.   Not HMOs, not lawyers.  

Three big fights.  One weak democracy.  

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trickle Down Economics Works!

Twenty-seven years after the implementation of trickle-down economics a man on the bottom has just received ten bucks as reported in the Onion. At this rate the dough Summers and Geithner are giving to the bankers, auto companies and Wall Streeters should get to us by 2036. Hang in there.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Financial Markets, Our New God

Liberated from the tyranny of King George III, having fought back the Axis Powers, the Evil Empire, America once stood for freedom.  But there is a new god, and a tyrannical one at that.  Paul Krugman writes today "that top officials in the Obama administration are still in the grip of the market mystique.  They still believe in the magic of the financial marketplace and in the prowess of the wizards who perform that magic."

Meanwhile, George Soros said to a standing room only, call the fire department, overcapacity crowd at the New America Foundation's economic growth conference yesterday that we are in the midst of a popping "super bubble" one that has been in the making for a generation, enabled by a false ideology, "market fundamentalism."  This is a teaser for his latest book, just released, "The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means."

Busy?  No time to read the latest books?  My favorite economics blog, Calculated Risk, put up a video link of a snippet of a South Park episode that explains economics better than Krugman does.  Full episode here, for graduate economics students, click on Margaritaville.  Apologies to Jimmy Buffett.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Big Inflation Virtually Inevitable

The Federal Government's hell-bent for leather desire to thaw the credit markets has now put the worry of inflation front and center.  When the cryptic former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker begins to warn of "all these dollars coming tumbling down on us" if we continue the easy money, we should pay attention.  At a recent Wall Street Journal conference Volcker, who successfully tamed the inflationary cycle of the 1960s and 1970s, make this critique of the Federal Reserve: "I get a little nervous when I see the Federal Reserve announcements that they want to have the amount of inflation that's conducive to recovery.  I don't know what 'the amount of inflation that's conducive to recovery' would be appropriate.  I'd much rather they say that they want to maintain stability in the currency, which is conducive to confidence and recovery."

In other words, when the government wants to stimulate the economy, it should do it with its ability to tax, borrow and spend.  The Federal Reserve, in Volcker's world, has but one job, maintain the value of the currency.  Which Volcker seems to think it is not doing, nor does Warren Buffet, who predicts the "onslaught of inflation" in his 2008 letter to his shareholders.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Geithner's Wall Street Bailout

Two trillion dollars in taxpayers subsidies so big investors can get sweet deals, with no downside, on toxic bank assets.  Bad deal for you and me.  See it Huffington Post.