Can We Fix Too Big to Fail Without Shrinkage?
October 28, 2009

David Wessel has a column in today’s Wall Street Journal laying out three approaches to solving our Too Big Too Fail (TBTF) problem. The first two amount to different ways of “busting them up,” as Wessel puts it.

Peter Orszag Brings The Pain, Nerd-Style
October 26, 2009

Washington Post opinion page editor Fred Hiatt frets that health care reform will likely be counterproductive. Hiatt argues that Congress is afraid to do the two most potentially effective reforms, changing the tax treatment of health care and creating an independent panel to control Medicare spending: From the start, the Obama administration has said that health-care reform has to make health care both more accessible and less costly .

The Colbert Report
October 07, 2009

The Information Master: Jean-Baptiste Colbert's Secret State Intelligence System By Jacob Soll (University of Michigan Press, 277 pp., $65)   That resonant piece of verbal shorthand, TMI--or Too Much Information--would make a fine epigraph for our age. Anyone with an Internet connection today has access to exponentially greater quantities of writing, images, sound, and video than anyone on earth could have imagined just twenty years ago.

Obama and the Ghost of Louis Brandeis
September 15, 2009

President Obama’s speech yesterday was disappointing. As a diagnosis of the problems that let us into financial crisis, it was his clearest and best effort so far. He didn’t say it was a rare accident for which no one is to blame; rather he placed the blame squarely on the structure, incentives, and actions of Wall Street. But then he said: Our regulatory reforms will fix that. This is hard to believe. And even the president seems to have his doubts, because he added a plea that--in the meantime--the financial sector should behave better. The audience was composed of our financial elite, but

Yes, Those Uninsured Numbers Are Legit
September 14, 2009

Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access Weblog and is a regular contributor to the Treatment. The new Census numbers are out and they show a grim increase in the number of uninsured in 2008 to 46.5 million--figures that are bound to be worse now 12 months into our current recession. But this number has been under attack for the past year, as conservative columnists, blogs, and other voices repeat the argument that the Census figures are inflated.

Did Tight Monetary Policy Cause the Crisis?
September 11, 2009

In his NYT mag piece, Paul Krugman blames macroeconomists for believing the world behaved as well as the math behind their models. His solution? To re-embrace Keynes. But in a provocative counterpoint on VoxEU, Scott Sumner says looking back to Keynes won't solve the problem.

With friends like these...
September 08, 2009

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. Have you ever been in an alley fight with three muggers while your sanctimonious non-helping cousin berates your poor fighting skills from a nearby window? Me neither. I feel like I have, though, listening to the shadenfreude coming from some single-payer advocates on the sidelines of the current health reform debate. This morning’s New York Times provides a prime example, in a short interview with Dr.

Did Cit Just Get A Predatory Debt Workout?
July 20, 2009

Reading today's Journal story on the $3 billion workout CIT negotiated with its bondholders, I couldn't help thinking of today's excellent Times story on predatory mortgage-modification outfits. First, the Times: Despite making promises of relief to homeowners desperate to keep their homes, FedMod and other profit making loan modification firms often fail to deliver ... “Our job was to get the money in and then we’re done,” said Paul Pejman, a former sales agent who worked out of FedMod’s two-story headquarters in Irvine, Calif. ...

Tnrtv: Will Geithner Burn Small Businesses?
July 15, 2009

Simon Johnson, professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of, argues that the government's handling of CIT, one of the country's biggest lenders to small companies, will speak volumes about which financial institutions have the ear of the Treasury. --Ben Eisler Check out the latest on TNRtv: Chait/Foer: Why Republicans Are More Corrupt Than Democrats Darby: Palin Isn't Going Away Anytime Soon Johnson: Why We Should Consider Bankruptcy For Big Banks

Sheila Bair--not Doing It After All...
June 29, 2009

A few weeks ago I wondered how FDIC chairman Sheila Bair managed to retain/grab so much authority for her agency amid Obama's regulatory overhaul despite the fact that so many of her fellow regulators and senior members of Obama's economic team seemed to dislike her: The item was based on early reports about the administration's then-unreleased proposal--particularly the part about "resolution authority," which it looked like the FDIC was largely going to get. The Wall Street Journal ran a typical account here: The goal is to avoid repeating a situation akin to the collapse of Lehman Brothers