What Super PAC Would Bruce Wayne Fund? And Other Fictional Millionaires
July 23, 2012

The release of The Dark Knight Rises, and the return to the screen of Bruce Wayne, has reminded us that fictional rich men love playing politics just as much as real ones. Wayne and his moneyed pals, after all, helped fill the reelection coffers of hope-and-change district attorney Harvey Dent like it was a party at George Clooney’s house.

A Cinematic Revival of Britain’s Most Popular Mid-Century Playwright
April 03, 2012

What does “deep blue” mean in this film, or in the Terence Rattigan play that has prompted a movie from Terrence Davies sixty years later? Deep blue is no small matter; it’s not just Miles Davis doing “Kind of Blue,” William Gass’s book On Being Blue, a nickname for IBM, or Lucian Freud’s painting, “Man in a Blue Scarf.” Four out of ten people name blue as their favorite color. So I have always wanted more from The Deep Blue Sea than it ever delivers. Rattigan was the leading English playwright during the war and into the early 1950s, before the disruptions of John Osborne and Harold Pinter.

Did The Federal Government Cause The Subprime Meltdown?
March 16, 2012

Though the recovery seems to be speeding up, the U.S. economy remains weak, and the country has a long way to go before returning to full employment. One of the major forces holding back economic growth is the persistently-weak housing market, which continues to be the subject of intense debate. According to a GOP narrative that just won’t die, the economic crisis was brought on largely by the government—specifically, by laws that fueled the subprime boom by encouraging home ownership among low-income populations.

Romney Won the Debate...In a Way That Inspired No Confidence
January 27, 2012

This wasn’t the most exciting debate of the campaign. But it was the debate that best illustrated the underlying dynamic: Romney’s going to win, but he’ll be one of the most flawed candidates either party has nominated in recent memory.  To see this, look no further than last night’s installment of the recurring Freddie Mac dustup. Gingrich opened by lazily accusing Romney of investing in Freddie; Romney effortlessly parried the charge, explaining that he’d only invested in a mutual fund that bought shares in the company.

Who Will Dissent From The Dissenters?
December 20, 2010

Joe Nocera takes apart the Republican narrative of the financial crisis: The F.C.I.C. commissioner who has complained loudest about Fannie and Freddie is Peter Wallison, a former Reagan-era Treasury official who for the last two decades or so has been a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Long before it was popular to criticize Fannie and Freddie, they were Mr. Wallison’s bugaboo.

The Conservative Case Against Privatizing Fannie
November 09, 2010

Right-of-center economics professor Ed Glaeser argues against privatizing Fannie and Freddie: Fannie and Freddie are the rare exceptions where the taxpayer is safer with them in government hands rather than private hands. Fannie Mae has been a private entity since 1968. Since then, the federal government has proven itself unable to allow let it or Freddie Mac default.

Metro Home Price Recovery: Strong, Weak, Non-existent?
December 30, 2009

Yesterday’s release of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index has economists—and probably the Obama administration—on edge. The reason: an apparent softening of demand in October, which translated into weak home price growth across the 20 markets that the index tracks. That followed stronger, more widespread price growth in the summer months. The news has stoked fears of a “double dip” in house prices and the resulting havoc it might wreak in the mortgage market. Like the economy itself, though, what you make of U.S.

The Fed's Exit Strategy Could Be Graceful
December 18, 2009

There's been much hullabaloo over the Fed's ability to quickly remove the hundreds of billions of dollars it has pumped into the financial system after the economy recovers, but before the increased money supply sparks inflation. I and others have argued against panic, pointing to the Fed's new ability to pay interest on reserves as way to divorce money from monetary policy. And now a new study from New York Fed economists Morten Bech and Elizabeth Klee gives some quantitative support for this view: ...the results in this paper suggest that a graceful exit is indeed possible.

Worth Reading
October 19, 2009

Plenty more insider-trading charges could be coming. Dubner's response to Superfreakonomics criticism. Bernanke: China should spend more on healthcare. Fannie and Freddie are worth zilch. Charles Calomiris and Allan Meltzer on what to do about bank size. The booming underground sperm donation market.

Worth Reading
October 08, 2009

The Fed's inflation-fighting credibility is rock-solid. But you can't say the same for America's strong-dollar policy. Is FHA headed the way of Fannie and Freddie? High frequency trading and the revival of technical analysis. The real value of Twitter.