How Goldman Can Rehabilitate Itself: Go Private
October 16, 2009
I have to say, I'm underwhelmed by the ideas the company is tossing around so far. Per this morning's Times piece: Goldman said Thursday that it would donate $200 million to its charitable foundation (that figure represents 6 percent of its third-quarter profit, or about six days of earnings). Rumors are swirling on Wall Street that Goldman might donate even more money to charity, perhaps as much as $1 billion, in an effort to defuse public resentment directed at the bank. Mr. Blankfein has even urged his free-spending bankers to be mindful of conspicuous consumption.
The Chamber of Commerce Has It Backwards
October 15, 2009
How the Recession is Accelerating Retirement Plans
October 05, 2009
While the impact of falling stock prices on older workers' retirement decisions has received a lot of attention this downturn, the more important driver of retirement rates appears to be unemployment, according to new research by Courtney Coile and Phillip Levine. (Sorry, pay-version only.) Using 30 years of data on changes in home and stock prices and labor market conditions, they conclude: When the unemployment rate rises, more workers between ages 62 and 69 retire, particularly those with less education.
UPDATED: The Final Five
October 05, 2009
Sometime soon, maybe this week,* the Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on the health care reform bill it spent the last two weeks debating. Inside and outside the committee, people following this process more closely than I am say the bill is likely to pass. But it's not yet a sure thing. The committee roster is thirteen Democrats, ten Republicans. Majority vote rules. Chairman Max Baucus can afford to lose one Democrat, even if all of the committee Republicans vote against it.
Trouble in Beantown
September 29, 2009
A month-old labor dispute in Boston has taken a curious twist. It began when on August 31, a hundred housekeepers at three Hyatt hotels in Boston were fired and replaced by workers from a Georgia company, Hospitality Staffing Solutions. The housekeepers, some of whom had worked for Hyatt for over twenty years, were making between $14 and $16 an hour plus health, dental, and 401(k) benefits. Their replacements were to make $8 an hour with no health benefits.
How Legitimate Is the G20?
September 29, 2009
Strong advocates of our new G20 process are convinced that it will bring legitimacy to international economic policy discussions, rule-making, and crisis interventions. Certainly, it’s better than the G7/G8 pretending to run things--after all, who elected them? But who elected the G20? The answer is: No one. And, in case you were wondering, there is no application form to join the G20 (although you can crash the party if you have the right friends, e.g., Spain). The G20 has appointed themselves as the world’s “economic governing council” (to quote Gordon Brown). Is this a good idea? Not reall
Taxpayers Already Subsidize Abortion Coverage. Maybe Even Yours!
September 29, 2009
For those who haven't followed the intersection between abortion rights and health care reform, today's New York Times sums up the situation: Abortion opponents in both the House and the Senate are seeking to block the millions of middle- and lower-income people who might receive federal insurance subsidies to help them buy health coverage from using the money on plans that cover abortion. And the abortion opponents are getting enough support from moderate Democrats that both sides say the outcome is too close to call.
Was the G20 Summit Actually Dangerous?
September 26, 2009
It is easy to dismiss the G20 communique and all the associated spin as empty waffle. Ask people in a month what was accomplished in Pittsburgh and you’ll get the same blank stare that follows when you now ask: What was achieved at the G8 summit in Italy this year? Perhaps just having emerging markets at the table will bring the world closer to stability and more inclined towards inclusive growth, but that seems unlikely. Should we just move on--back to our respective domestic policy struggles? That’s tempting, but consider for a moment the key way in which the G20 summit has worsened our pre
This Week's Mediscare
September 25, 2009
The Republican grandstanding on Medicare during Finance Committee hearings this week hasn't been surprising, I suppose. But the audacity is still pretty breathtaking. As you may have heard or read by now, the Republicans are angry over proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage, the private insurance alternative to traditional Medicare. The insurers who offer Medicare Advantage plans receive a flat fee for every senior that signs up.
Palin Talks Economics in Hong Kong. Really.
September 23, 2009
Let me start by saying that if you write a blog about finance and economics, then newspaper headlines don't really get much better than, "Palin Addresses Asian Investors," which, as luck would have it, appears on the Wall Street Journal site today. Judging from the piece, Palin's speech was basically a lot of granular investment advice--as you'd expect: "We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place," the former Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate said Wednesday at a conference sponsored by investment firm CLSA Asia Pacific Markets.