527 Watch: American Future Fund
October 22, 2008

Here's a transparently shameless approach to skirting campaign-finance law. This slick spot by the American Future Fund is simply an attack ad that slams Colorado's Mark Udall on education--until right at the end, when it tells voters that Udall should support an arcane Senate bill that has stalled in committee. (Most of the bill's provisions were rendered moot by the bailout package.) Since 501(c)4 groups are only allowed to act as issue advocates, the final second serves as a highly implausible fig leaf.

From The Business Pages: October 21, 2008
October 21, 2008

An OECD report out this morning shows that the United States isn't the only country experiencing a widened rich-poor gap--on average, inequality is increasing across the developed world.

Wall Street's Lemmings
October 11, 2008

st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } Some of the most interesting work in modern economic theory explores a pervasive social phenomenon: the informational cascade. The concept, first elaborated in a brilliant 1992 paper by Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, and Ivo Welch, illuminates countless social and economic surprises. It is impossible to understand the real estate bubble, or the current financial crisis, without exploring the dynamics of informational cascades.

Narrow Minded
July 09, 2008

In 2006, at the end of his first term on the Supreme Court, John Roberts told me and other journalists that his goal as chief justice would be to promote unanimity and collegiality by encouraging his fellow justices to converge around narrow decisions with few dissents. During his first term, Roberts succeeded impressively: More than half of the Court's opinions were unanimous, and only 13 percent were decided by a 5-4 vote. The polarized Supreme Court term that ended last June, however, looked very different.

Is There Really A Rise In American Incompetence?
March 17, 2008

Throughout the week, Clay Risen, the managing editor of Democracy, will be covering economic developments for us on The Plank. Here's his first post:   I have a lot of respect for Dan Gross over at Slate, and I enjoyed his new book Pop immensely. That said, I have some significant reservations about his article currently headlining the site, "The Rise of American Incompetence." Dan posits that America's failure to get its financial house in order is causing foreign investors in our currency to look elsewhere. So far so good.

February 27, 2008

The financial markets are in a state of bewilderment, taken by surprise almost daily. We are, in short, in the midst of a crisis without precedent--a crisis of credit so fundamental to the working of the economy that it may take years to unwind.  Consider the almost unbelievable story of the 31-year-old junior trader at Societe Generale, one of France's largest banks. He bet nearly $75 billion of the bank's money, on an unhedged basis, that European and German stock indexes would rise.

Robert Rubin, Traitor To His Class
June 21, 2007

A few months ago, my old boss Robert Kuttner wrote a harsh article in the American Prospect about former Clinton era Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Part of the article was a familiar criticism of the notion that Clinton's economic program contributed to the 1990s prosperity. But other parts of the article were more personally unflattering.

Fund Fun
June 14, 2007

Bloomberg has a good story on Robert Rubin's speech at a Washington conference, where he called on Congress to "double tax rates for many hedge fund managers and private equity partners who classify their pay as capital gains." As TNR noted in a recent editorial, fund managers are now frequently able to classify earnings as capital gains because of a tax loophole. In addition to Rubin, Larry Summers also spoke out on the subject recently. Let's see if this becomes an issue in the presidential campaign as we move towards the first primaries. --Isaac Chotiner

The last GOP moderate.; Omega Man
November 20, 2006

Norwalk, Connecticut There's no greater softball question in all of politics than the one reporters lob at candidates right before they go into their local polling places to vote for themselves: How do you feel? All politicians, even the ones destined for certain defeat, invariably respond with something upbeat, like Great! or Confident! But, on Tuesday morning, as the embattled Connecticut Representative Chris Shays headed into an elementary school in his Bridgeport neighborhood to pull the lever for himself, he couldn't muster anything quite that optimistic.

Unhostile Takeover
June 26, 2000

Ross Perot's reform party is about to do something no third party has done in a century: transcend its founder. And it will be thanks to Pat Buchanan. Although Buchanan won't give either major candidate a scare in this year's presidential election, he'll probably line up enough disenchanted social conservatives, blue-collar workers threatened by imports, and disillusioned independents to win 7,000,000 votes.