June 17, 2002
It's probably fair to say that most of the people attending the New York State Conservative Party's fortieth-anniversary dinner last month came for one reason only: Vice President Dick Cheney. But if, like most of the journalists and half of the guests, they filed out of the midtown Sheraton ballroom shortly after Cheney's speech, they missed the most entertaining part of the evening. Around 8:30 p.m., after dessert had been served and all the VIPs had been introduced (from Al D'Amato down to Dinner Finance Chairman Sal Catucci), conservative patriarch William F.
May 20, 2002
For a period in March, you couldn't open a newspaper without encountering new evidence that the economy was on the mend. The long-suffering manufacturing sector was suddenly expanding; housing purchases had increased sharply; consumer spending was surging. And the economy was adding jobs for the first time in months. "GREENSPANDECLARES AN EXPANSION; IN A WEEK OF POSITIVE NEWS," read a headline in the March 8 Washington Post.
May 06, 2002
In mid-February the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) put out one of the several documents it generates each year. Under the headline "PRESIDENT BUSH'S 2001 TAX RELIEF SOFTENS THE RECESSION," the two-page report argued that without last year's tax cut, the economy would have shrunk much faster than it actually did. The study went on to make a few pro forma comments about "[increasing] the incentives for saving," and "reducing an important impediment to ... the overall accumulation of wealth," before noting that the tax cut would continue to work its magic in the coming months.
February 25, 2002
With ten congressional committees holding hearings on Enron, it's almost impossible for any one member of Congress to distinguish himself on the issue. But that hasn't stopped Senator Jon Corzine from trying. These days the freshman New Jersey Democrat sounds more like Ralph Nader than the former investment-banking pooh-bah he is.
The Old Way
February 11, 2002
Tried arguing against tax cuts lately? Tom Daschle has. And the results weren't pretty. The day after Daschle's January 4 speech explaining how as yet unenacted tax cuts might worsen a recession, he was promptly ridiculed for suggesting that "tax relief" had caused America's economic woes and for advocating a tax increase. As the president so eloquently put it, "There's going to be people who say we can't have the tax cut go through anymore. That's a tax raise."Daschle, of course, is right.
February 04, 2002
\t\t\t To date, the administration's line on what Enron means for campaign finance reform can be roughly summarized as follows: We don't need reform, in part because the perception of impropriety prevented officials from acting improperly.
January 28, 2002
Given the by now well-publicized lapses of its most notorious client, it came as something of a surprise this month when Enron's auditor, Arthur Andersen, passed its triennial peer review "without qualification." A release on the company's website does note three mysterious "issues" raised by the reviewing firm, fellow accounting giant Deloitte %amp% Touche, but adds that they were "not deemed significant enough to affect the opinion." The implication, as a Washington Post article on the matter concluded, is that "the investing public can have confidence in audits performed by [Andersen]."A mo
December 31, 2001
If you've been following domestic news in recent weeks, you've probably heard about the "lipstick effect." As described in such outlets as NBC, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, the idea is that, during a recession, women substitute small, feel-good items like lipstick for more expensive items like clothing and jewelry. And indeed, between August and October, lipstick sales were up 11 percent over the same period last year.What you probably haven't heard is that, for a recession, this year's lipstick sales may be somewhat disappointing.
December 03, 2001
After one of the best ten-year runs in economic history, the torrent of bad news flooding Alan Greenspan's office this January had to be jarring. The country had just seen its worst quarter of economic growth since 1995, and manufacturing activity had fallen to its lowest level since 1991. Spending by businesses on new plants and equipment had dropped for the first time in a decade. And the stock markets' decline, already nine months old, showed no signs of abating. So Greenspan lowered interest rates, over and over again.
October 08, 2001
Earlier this year, while federal antitrust authorities were reviewing his company's proposed merger with United, US Airways CEO Rakesh Gangwal acknowledged that "there [was] no plan B" should the deal fail. The claim was surprising given that corporate executives usually pretend to be optimistic even in the worst of times. But Gangwal could no longer pretend. Though US Airways had improved since the 1980s, when it was beset by chronic delays and lost baggage, it still faced a daunting problem. With its generous pilot salaries and posh airplanes, US Airways had the cost structure of a lucrative