Disaster

Japan Heeds Enviro Criticism. And Russia? Not So Much.
June 30, 2009

Global climate talks tend to involve all sorts of peer pressure. Europe urges the United States to do more. The United States presses China to do more. Developing countries ask wealthy countries to do more. But does all this nagging ever work? Sometimes yes, sometimes not at all. Consider Japan and Russia. Earlier this month, the Japanese government divulged its plans to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, an announcement that was greeted with… near-universal derision. After all, those goals are even weaker than U.S.

Carbon Trading: What Europe Can Actually Teach Us
June 29, 2009

Of all the questions about climate policy, one of the biggest is whether a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases will even work. Will it actually and tangibly reduce emissions? The only real-world example we have is the EU's Emissions Trading System, set up in 2005. Conservatives take it as a given that the ETS has failed—see Martin Livermore's Wall Street Journal column last week.

Are We Too Hard On Greenspan? (hint: Probably Not.)
June 27, 2009

In a thoughtful post about the former Fed chairman, Brad DeLong writes: There is, however, active debate over whether there was a fourth mistake: whether Alan Greenspan's decision in 2001-2004 to push and keep nominal interest rates on Treasury securities very very low in order to try to keep the economy near full employment was a fourth mistake. Should Alan Greenspan have kept interest rates higher and triggered a much bigger recession with much higher unemployment back then in order to head off the growth of a housing bubble?

The Moral Hazard Case Against Too Big To Fail
June 24, 2009

Martin Wolf makes it--effectively--in his latest column: In a highly leveraged limited liability business, shareholders will rationally take excessive risks, since they enjoy all the upside but their downside is capped: they cannot lose more than their equity stake, however much the bank loses. In contemporary banks, leverage of 30 to one is normal. Higher leverage is not rare.

Bitter Memories Of The Shah
June 22, 2009

Though written before the Iranian election, my latest TNR print story helps to explain the psychology of the Khameini clerical regime, particularly when it comes to the legacy of the last Shah, who today lies entombed in, of all places, Cairo. (That's his burial site, which I visited last month, pictured above). My lede: Before Barack Obama spoke to the Muslim world from Cairo in June, the president did some sightseeing.

The Cbo Gives A Big Boost To Climate Policy
June 21, 2009

The Congressional Budget Office has been causing heartburn for health care reformers in recent weeks, as my colleague Jon Cohn has been documenting. But on climate policy, it's a different story. The CBO just put out a new assessment of the Waxman-Markey climate bill in the House, and the results should give supporters of the legislation plenty of reason to smile. A few weeks ago, Republican Dave Camp asked the CBO to calculate the economic impacts of the bill's cap on carbon emissions. For some time, the GOP has been insisting that the cap would cost upward of $3,000 per family per year.

Breaking: House To Fill In Donut Hole
June 19, 2009

The three House committees will be releasing their version of health care legislation. And according to people familiar with its contents, people like me are going to like it a lot better than what we've been getting out of either of the two Senate committees this week. So far, I know just one detail--something that hasn't gotten much discussion in the reform debate so far, but perhaps offers a hint of the kind of legislation we'll see.

Power Struggle
June 17, 2009

Do we need a technological breakthrough to avert the climate crisis?

What We Can Do In Iran
June 16, 2009

Massive cheating or not? A new kind of coup d’etat or not? How do we interpret this strange election whose results were announced by the press affiliated with the secret services and militia--even before the polls were closed? Considering the absence of international observers, considering that the election officials demanded by Ahmadinejad’s rivals were chased from polling places with billy clubs, and considering the climate of terror in which the whole process was steeped, it is hard to come down on one side or the other with much certainty. Nevertheless, three things are quite clear. The fi

Depression Hits The Colleges And Universities
June 11, 2009

If Harvard loses to Yale in next year's rowing regatta we'll know why. It will be because, said one rower to the Crimson, Yale will still have hot breakfasts, which Harvard won't. The depression has hit the big time educational institutions as well as everyone else. The saddest story about the financial catastrophe I've read recently was an article by Jonathan D. Glater in the June 10 New York Times. It was about Reed College, an elite institution intellectually and not quite a pauper financially.

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