Worst. Regulatory. Proposal. Ever.
September 21, 2009

It sounds like various Blue Dogs on the House Financial Services Committee aren't keen on the proposed consumers financial products agency. Their preferred alternative? A "council" of regulators to oversee consumer financial protection. Politico's Victoria McGrane has the details: Blue Dogs and other conservative Democrats — uneasy with a key element of President Barack Obama’s plan to regulate Wall Street — are rallying around an alternative proposal that scraps the consumer financial protection agency the president has been pushing. Rep.

U.S. Strategy for the G20: You Cannot Be Serious.
September 21, 2009

According to the WSJ this morning (top of p.A1), the U.S. is pushing hard for the G20 to adopt and implement a “Framework for Sustainable and Balanced Growth,” which would amount to the U.S.

Obama Embraces Aniston, Again
September 21, 2009

That would be the Jennifer Aniston theory of Obamaism, of course. A bit of back-story: After Frank Foer and I wrote a piece earlier this year laying out our theory of Obamaism, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson helpfully reimagined it as the Jennifer Aniston theory. As Thompson explained it in this post:  This is, in a nutshell, the theory that Obama prefers to tweak incentives for private actors rather than have the government take over.

The Sorry State of Financial Literacy
September 21, 2009

From a new NBER paper by Annamaria Lusardi, Olivia Mitchell, and Vilsa Curto (free version): We found that most young adults are not well equipped to make financial decisions: only 27% of young people in our sample possessed knowledge of basic financial concepts including inflation and risk diversification and could do simple interest rate calculations.

What Will Bernanke Do With His Second Term?
September 20, 2009

Ben Bernanke has a great opportunity to lead the reform of our financial system. His standing in Washington and on Wall Street is at an all-time high, as a result of his bailout/rescue efforts. He is about to be reappointed with acclaim for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. And he has a lot to answer for. Look, for example, at his speech of May 17, 2007, which discusses some of the problems in the subprime market and contains the memorable line: “Importantly, we see no serious broader spillover to banks or thift institutions from problems in the subprime ma

Worth Reading
September 18, 2009

Should the FDIC tap banks or taxpayers for needed funds? WaPo: the FHA's reserves will soon drop below required levels. Megan McArdle puts chances of healthcare bill passing at 75%. Could criminal charges be filed in probe of BofA-Merrill deal? NYT banking reporter Eric Dash's view on problems with Wall St. pay. Reviews of business and economics news apps for the iPhone.

How Much Will Wall Street Shrink?
September 18, 2009

Today's Journal story on the declining allure of a finance career has some interesting numbers: Although the biggest banks are showing a revived appetite for risk taking and certain exotic instruments such as credit derivatives, many of the vanished jobs aren't expected to be back soon. The White House Council of Economic Advisers expects finance and insurance jobs to decline to 4.1% of the work force in 2016 from 4.8% at the end of last year, a point at which many were already gone. ... Harvard's 2009 graduating class shows the shift in career directions.

Evan Bayh is Hyperventilating
September 18, 2009

I understand Evan Bayh's concern about the deficit--it is large, and eventually the bond markets (particularly our foreign creditors) might have something to say about it. But, for the moment, I think he needs to take a couple deep breaths. The big problem with his op-ed in today's Journal is that it doesn't deal directly with the biggest source of the recent spike in the 10-year deficit--namely, the worst recession since the 1930s.

Citigroup's Pandit: Making $100 Million Ain't Right
September 18, 2009

The Citigroup CEO apparently made the comment in response to a question at a 92nd Street Y event last night. The question was about his star commodities trader, Andrew Hall. Interestingly, the Journal piece adds this detail: "The response elicited murmurs from the audience, which included Citigroup employees." One wonders if those were murmurs of agreement or disagreement...

China's More Exotic Demands
September 18, 2009

As Noam explains in his piece about the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED), Beijing has been rooting for major alterations to the U.S. health care system—especially ones that reduce long-term pressure on the federal budget.