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  • One Chart That Explains the Entire Financial Crisis [View article]
    "government embarked, at the urging of “social justice” activists, on a policy campaign to degrade the prudential standards that prevailed in the housing lending market. The government effectively demanded and enforced irresponsible lending, and they got it."

    Absent any facts whatsoever, this is just rhetorical rubbish. Who were these "social justice activists?" How did they pursue their "policy campaign." How did they and the government demand and enforce irresponsible lending?

    Why not just let the lenders say "the devil made me do it?"
    Jul 31 08:36 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Socialized Medicine Is Coming [View article]
    Why not study how Continental Europe provides superior healthcare (based on outcomes) for as little as half the US cost? Automated fixed price payment eliminates most of the MD overhead of secretarial staff employed to deal with HMO demands. GPs providing treatment as directed by specialists. Pills are by the box so one does not pay a highly educated expensive pharmacist to count pills all day, and so on. There are many other savings in the Continental system. Worth a look.

    There are no government bureaucrats telling MDs what and how they can treat as HMOs do in the US. The US medical treatment is a captive of special interests many of which make money at the expense of quality care.

    As to tort reform. It's simple. Let juries determine liability and judges award damages. Judges are very fiscally conservative. End of speculative litigation. End of ridiculous awards. That observation is based on 30+ years of Federal trial experience (not torts).
    Jun 15 01:57 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • U.S. Fiscal Policy: This Will Not End Well [View article]
    Simply reducing expenditures unilaterally is not the only way. For example Medicare & Medicaid are too expensive. But why? The US pays roughly twice as much as European countries with superior medical care. So cut down medical costs. That's hard to do in a country run by special interests. Corporate campaign contributions rule when the US Supreme Court has elevated corporations above a people's democracy.

    Still, there are ways, most of which are ignored by a system without incentives to reduce medical costs. Prescriptions and specialists are a place to start.
    Feb 21 11:38 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Rescuing the Pension Plans: Just Don't Call It a 'Bailout' [View article]
    Criticizing this as socialistic is way off base. Socialism is defined as government owning businesses. But this is corporations owning government or as Mussolini called it "corporatism" which he claimed is what fascism was all about.

    Corporations own the US government. That's what this bailout is all about. It's also what allowed BP to endanger our environment.
    May 29 11:39 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sense And Nonsense About Fiscal Stimulus [View article]

    “So-called Liberals pretend we can spend our way out of our economic problems.”

    “Fact is, ending the debt addiction will require spending cuts and tax increases.”

    There doesn't seem to be a liberal conservative split along the lines you're describing. For example Paul Krugman is a liberal and his position is stimulus is necessary when the economy is in deep trouble and debt reduction is beneficial when the economy is strong. Bruce Bartlet, who is a conservative, takes a similar position. Both then agree with your two propositions which you seem to believe are diametrically opposed.

    In Europe pretty much all conservative and liberal politicians reject your first proposition and embrace your second with their austerity driven spending cuts and tax increases for an economy in serious trouble. It is BTW not only not working but is making matters worse.

    As the authors of this excellent article point out, facts and reason support stimulus for a failing economy. It doesn't really depend on one's political orientation.
    Aug 21 12:37 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Greece Is Broken, And Can't Be Fixed [View article]
    Actually Greeks work more hours than Germans as well as most of the EZ. From what I've read this is due mostly to lack of productivity in Greece.

    The bailouts are not a subsidy of Greece but a bailout of mostly French and German banks as well as the ECB. Those banks own Greek bonds that Greece would likely default on without the "bailout." They're not really "handouts" at least to the Greek people.

    Greek rioting is against the austerity forced on it by Merkozy, etc. That austerity is crippling the Greek economy.
    Feb 16 11:18 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Bailing Out the Homebuilders [View article]
    I believe you're (unintentionally) giving socialism a bad name. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. Corporatism is where the corporations run the government.

    Best way to begin to balance the federal budget is by having taxpayers directly fund elections. The current system has corporations directly fund the elections while taxpayers indirectly fund at many times the actual cost through Congressional paybacks to the donors.

    In the example you've outlined above 20 million in contributions since 1999 in one (of undoubtably many) paybacks netted 1.5 billion. Nice rate of return.
    Mar 19 10:03 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Best Investment for Corporate America: Lobbying [View article]
    If members of Congress wants to be re-elected, they must raise a lot of money for the next campaign. The most likely source of that money is corporations. It's not that members of Congress are corrupt, it's the system that is corrupt.

    The best way to reduce deficit spending (not to mention reform health care to levels comparable with the rest of the world) is for taxpayers to fund elections directly. Right now taxpayers pay, as Mark pointed out, many times the cost of the contributions in governmental corporate gift giving.
    Dec 29 08:40 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Helicopter Money, The Logical Conclusion Of Demand Management? [View article]
    People who believed expenditures on education, infrastructure, etc produced little value spoke in generalities. Here are some specifics.

    To the claim that fixing infrastructure doesn't increase productivity, consider the reverse. A failing infrastructure hurts productivity. Unsafe roads & bridges, airports, rail systems and unreliable electric grids definitely diminish productivity and competitiveness. Spending money on them helps productivity.

    Our higher educational system is broken. It costs way too much and is no longer a good investment for those who must borrow to take advantage of it. Many who must borrow face a lifetime of indentured servitude to the lenders. The loan system is probably beyond repair as the US government is held captive by special interests. But building an alternative through Internet education is doable. I use podcasts to educate myself through my broker and they work. Building a successful Internet higher education system would eliminate excess expenses and open up educational opportunities to the many talented people who are denied because of today's costs. Those unfilled engineering positions, among others, could be filled.

    The US health care is ranked between 19th & 32nd in the world, depending on which outcome ranking is used. Still it's #1 in cost. It's a drain on demand eating up profits and income that could create demand. Reform is difficult because of the control of special interests like the HMOs who are a major factor in creating excessive costs.

    But there are still ways to reduce expenses. For example: As long as MDs are graduating with 6 figure education debts, they are going to expect very high earnings. Change the education system. Start medical school upon high school graduation. Engineers and architects do it. Why not MDs? That's what is done in France which has the world's #1 ranked health care. Have the government pay for the education in return for setting fees for those whose education is paid for by the government. Prohibit universities from making a profit on medical education as they do now.

    Not every MD must, as is generally the case in the US, must be a specialist. The Europeans with better and cheaper health care use GPs. Less education. Less cost. And because they co-ordinate most treatment prescribed by specialists, they see the whole patient. Specialists operate, for the most part, as consultants. It's a better less expensive system.

    Spending government money in the areas described above would help stimulate the economy while investing in future productivity and competitiveness. That's a win win.
    Oct 27 01:16 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • France's Slow Transition To The Eurozone Periphery [View article]
    Nice article although I'm not so sure about a French housing bubble. French home are, as I understand it, sold before building. Most new homes are, and have been for some time, starter homes. So no overbuilding glut as in Spain, US, Ireland. And nothing like Spain for overbuilding apartment complexes.

    France needs to become startup friendly. The government makes impossible assumptions and taxation demands on new businesses. Very difficult to begin a business here and last for more than 2 years. The result is there are as many French in the UK as there are Brits in France. Problem is the French in the UK are there are employment opportunities. They tend to be educated, bi-lingual, upwardly mobile and wanting opportunities denied them in France. The Brits in France are looking for cheap (relatively) housing and to make enough to get by. Few speak French.

    When I first moved to France I was very impressed by the large numbers of husbands and wives working together in small businesses. That was until someone explained employees are so expensive for taxes and so much employees for life, husbands and wives working together eliminate the need for an employee.

    Taxes on startups, excessive taxes on employees for life are penny wise pound foolish. They certainly prevent growth and raise unemployment.
    Sep 14 01:25 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Sensible Public Sector [View article]
    Finished your excellent article and turned on the news to hear Spain congratulated by the EZ "leaders" for its latest commitment to austerity i.e. severe cutbacks in education and health.

    And that's on top of previous severe education cutbacks. Friends in Madrid have a nephew in school age 17. His class size has always been under twenty. Last year it reached forty.

    Looks like a country cutting education is like a farmer eating his seed corn.
    Apr 11 05:52 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Inflation, Easy Money And The Austrian School Of Economics [View article]
    Thanks again for the education. For years I had subscribed to an investing site following the gold standard, anti-Fed, runaway inflation and interest rates are just around the corner nonsense. Thanks to folks like you, Paul Krugman and some good historical books , I eventually realized there was no substance or factual basis to their arguments.

    Some of the fanciful comments here are more of the same. I made what is for me a good bit of money on the housing bubble. I had the good fortune to read Infectious Greed by Frank Partnoy. In it he described how Wall Street in the 90s bilked investors like corporations and municipalities (remember Orange County) by bundling bonds in such a way as to make valuation impossible. I realized they were doing the same thing with housing bubble mortgages and invested accordingly.

    The failure to not only regulate to stop this from happening again (not to mention deregulation) made it possible. It's ignorance today to ignore the historical basis for housing related crisis and to blame through generalizations regulation, government agencies, and GSEs for the intentional Wall Street fraud we've just witnessed.

    Feb 7 11:47 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The government has to do more than it's doing to support job growth, Bill Gross says, noting that it's "fiction" that all the jobless can go to Silicon Valley and make the next Facebook. "We need to go back to the manufacturing roots of this country as opposed to the financial roots," he says, echoing his latest Investment Outlook.  [View news story]
    Is that the Bill Gross who had the loudest voice asking for and eventually getting the AIG bondholder's government handout? That was for PIMCO with the Cayman Islands tax evading addresses. (Try a Google search to verify). I'd rather lectured by someone paying US taxes who doesn't beg and get taxpayer freebies.
    Jun 21 12:50 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Washington Gridlock and the Possibility of a New Debt Crisis [View article]
    The US political system in its current form is designed for corruption. It doesn't make any difference if the politicians are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. The only way to get elected is by corporate campaign contributions. The corporations own the candidates and thus the government.

    A way out and one that would go a long way toward balancing the budget is for tax payer funded elections. That would eliminate the need for donor paybacks with taxpayer money at rates than can exceed 1000 to 1.

    Another way is to pass a law that forbids organizations that contract with the US government from expending money to influence governmental decision making. No lobbying.
    Feb 20 12:39 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Euro Depression [View article]
    What I find confusing is the failure of mainstream politicians, left or right, to come out against austerity. (Except maybe Berlusconi who was not exactly mainstream at the time). I always thought the primary objective of all pols was to get elected. Embracing austerity is a surefire way of not getting elected. Syriza may be mainstream now but only because he opposed austerity. Now we have Berlusconi back from the dead and Grillo out of nowhere. Seems a no brainer for an aspiring pol to hop on an anti-austerity bandwagon. Meanwhile the mainstream pols stand around and watch their poll results drop.
    Mar 5 12:53 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment