Geithner's Top Financial-Markets Adviser to Leave
March 04, 2010

The Wall street Journal reports today that Lee Sachs, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, will be leaving the administration in April. Since the early days of the transition in 2008, Sachs has generally been the senior Treasury aide in charge of overseeing the administration’s response to the financial crisis.

Labor and Delivery
March 03, 2010

In a few weeks, Barack Obama will have a chance to do something he hasn’t done particularly well during his first year in office: successfully defy his opponents and, at the same time, reassure his most loyal supporters. At issue is the fate of Craig Becker, one of Obama’s nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Last month, Becker was denied a vote on his nomination when Senate Democrats failed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Now, the Senate’s coming Easter break will give Obama an opportunity to put Becker on the NLRB via recess appointment.

The Identities Of Wall Streeters Can Be Changed By Their Patterns Of Pay
March 01, 2010

An interesting op-ed, “It is time to treat Wall Street like Main Street,” appeared in Thursday’s Financial Times. Written by George Akerlof, a professor of economics at Berkeley and a Nobelist in 2001, and Rachel Kranton, a professor of economics at Duke, this little (but challenging) piece follows from their recent book Identity Economics, which I have not read and probably could not understand. The book itself follows from an essay, “Economics and Identity,” published by the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2000. I think I understand it. In any case, A. and K. are literate and funny.

Before Sunset
February 03, 2010

One way to judge the health of our political system is to divide the president’s agenda into three categories. First are the items that seem like they’d be hard to accomplish and actually are hard—health care reform and cap-and-trade come to mind. Then come the items that sound easy to the uninitiated but turn out to be pretty hard—like eliminating wasteful farm subsidies or obsolete weapons systems. Lots of presidents have taken on these programs only to find that they have powerful, well-organized defenders.

Is Obama Really Breaking up the Banks?
January 27, 2010

Noam Scheiber: Obama's tough new approach to Wall Street is ... a lot like the old one.

A Clue From OMB on Health Care?
January 26, 2010

Interesting aside from OMB Deputy Director Rob Nabors just now in a call with reporters about the spending freeze, in response to a question about the negative reaction from congressional appropriators*: I remember the president said something to me that always stuck. When we sat down to ask if both houses [of Congress] could pass health care bills, a lot of people reacted negatively [because it had never been done before]. But the president said, don’t bet against me.

More Obama-Freeze Backstory
January 26, 2010

As I mentioned this morning and in my recent piece, not everyone in the administration was enthusiastic about the freeze idea from the get-go. Some were concerned about shifting to deficit-reduction mode too quickly, while job-growth was still a big problem. (The National Economic Council, for one, was initially pretty skeptical.) At the same time, some in the administration who worried about the deficit didn't see the freeze as a huge help in that regard.

Obama's Spending Freeze
January 26, 2010

The big news today is that Obama plans to propose a freeze on domestic discretionary spending in Wednesday's State of the Union address. For what it's worth, I talked to some administration officials about the thinking behind this in December, not long after the idea was first floated. Here's the gist of what I found: Within the administration, White House budget director Peter Orszag appears to have settled on another solution.

Worried About Bonus Blowback? Go to Davos!
January 25, 2010

The Wall Street Journal reports that a lot of the bank executives who shunned last year's World Economic Forum in Davos are quietly returning this year. Which could get a little awkward, since the execs will rubbing elbows with the global glitterati right around the time the average American is fulminating against their outrageously high bonuses. How's a banker to deal with the potential PR problem? According to the Journal, the answer is ...

Dismember Goldman Sachs
January 22, 2010

The White House background briefing is that their proposals would freeze biggest bank size “as is”--this makes no sense at all. Twenty years of reckless expansion, a massive crisis, and the most generous bailout in human history are not a recipe for “right” sized banks. There is a lot of work the administration hasn’t done on the details--this is a classic policy scramble, in which ducks have not been lined up.