Obama's outgoing Treasury Secretary assesses populism, Paul Ryan, and his work during the financial crisis.
Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement By Brad R. Roth (Oxford University Press, 320 pp., $70) Sovereignty is back. Our debates about the global economic crisis keep returning to the problem of sovereign debt and the need for sovereign guarantees to reassure the markets. We keep hoping that somewhere, sometime, in the downward spiral of de-leveraging and disillusion there will be an authority—a sovereign—to take charge and put an end to our anxiety. This longing for an authority, after years of market follies, runs very deep. We want to know that someone is in control.
This article is a contribution to 'Is There Anything That Can Be Done? A TNR Symposium On The Economy.' Click here to read other contributions to the series. Most adults know that there is no Santa Claus. They should also know that there was no stock market crash associated with Standard and Poor’s downgrade of U.S. government debt. However, because powerful interests want to spread misinformation about the downgrade, people are likely to be much better informed about Santa Claus.
Mitch McConnell repeats the claim that George W. Bush left the budget in kinds-decent shape before President Obama ruined it: The last year of the Bush administration, the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product was 3.2 percent, well within the range of what most economists think is manageable. A year and a half later, it’s almost 10 percent. Paul Krugman replies: First, they’re hoping that you won’t know that standard budget data is presented for fiscal years, which start on October 1 of the previous calendar year.
The financial crisis in America isn't over. It's ongoing, it remains unresolved, and it stands in the way of full economic recovery. The cause, at the deepest level, was a breakdown in the rule of law. And it follows that the first step toward prosperity is to restore the rule of law in the financial sector. First, there was a stand-down of the financial police. The legal framework for this was laid with the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000.
A sign that the unemployment rate has peaked. Geithner: 85% of the $205 billion in bank bailout money to be repaid by end of 2010. Should the Fed buy an additional $2 trillion in Treasuries? Lehman's risk officer asked to leave room during meetings about......risk. Kevin Drum agrees with me on overblown worries about plutocrats.
Just when momentum was starting to build for increased capital requirements as the core element of an approach that will reign in reckless risk-taking, Morgan Stanley effectively demolishes the idea. In “Banking – Large & Midcap Banks: Bid for Growth Caps Capital Ask,” (no public link available) Betsy Graseck, Ken Zorbo, Justin Kwon, and John Dunn of Morgan Stanley Research North America dissect the coming demands for more bank capital. “In short, we think the demand for growth and access to credit will trump desire for unprofitable capital levels… For the large cap and midcap banks, we
In my post yesterday about derivatives, I mentioned the importance of "clearing," which would help sever the interconnections between firms on either side of a derivatives trade. (The interconnections are what can put the whole financial system at risk when one firm, like Lehman, runs into trouble.) But one of the problems with clearing is that it requires clearinghouses, which are privately-owned entities that end up with a lot of power to influence the way derivatives get regulated.
Something strange and a little disorienting is happening in the fight to reform Wall Street: It looks like the reformers are actually starting to win. This is not something you could have said as recently as six weeks ago. Back then, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank had just released a proposal to regulate derivatives, essentially bets on the movements of other assets (like stocks, bonds, commodities) or interest rates. Derivatives are in some respects the key battle in the broader regulatory campaign.