The Wall Street Journal

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.

For Your Protection
September 22, 2009

Earlier this month, Barack Obama apparently completed an anti-free-market trifecta, adding "protectionist" to a rap sheet that already included "deficit spender" and "serial nationalizer." And not just any protectionist, mind you. In the words of former Bush spokesman Tony Fratto, Obama will hereafter be known as "the president who ‘lost' trade for America." The following day, the Wall Street Journal editorial page elaborated: "America now has its first protectionist President since Herbert Hoover." So what did Obama do to earn this unsavory distinction?

Obama and the Ghost of Louis Brandeis
September 15, 2009

President Obama’s speech yesterday was disappointing. As a diagnosis of the problems that let us into financial crisis, it was his clearest and best effort so far. He didn’t say it was a rare accident for which no one is to blame; rather he placed the blame squarely on the structure, incentives, and actions of Wall Street. But then he said: Our regulatory reforms will fix that. This is hard to believe. And even the president seems to have his doubts, because he added a plea that--in the meantime--the financial sector should behave better. The audience was composed of our financial elite, but

Touching the Third Rail of Housing Policy
September 09, 2009

Ed Glaeser posted in Economix yesterday about the lessons that the housing crash imparts for housing policy--including the seemingly untouchable mortgage interest deduction. Now that home prices seem to be moderating, the piece provides a vivid reminder of how steep the price curve was, before and after the crash.

Let's Talk Financial Crisis
September 09, 2009

For anyone interested in debating where the economy and financial system stand a year after the Lehman collapse, TNR is hosting a conference on the subject this coming Monday, September 14, at the Willard Hotel in Washington. We've got a real murderer's row of speakers and panelists lined up--Rep. Barney Frank, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel, hedge fund manager (and TNR investor) Bill Ackman, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, among them.

The City That Pork Built
September 04, 2009

In today's The Wall Street Journal, Tyler Grimm takes a trip to Johnstown, PA, where he reports despondently on the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, which services roughly 30 people a day and has received over $130 million in federal assistance over the course of 20 years thanks to earmarking efforts of Representative John Murtha. It's easy to condemn Murtha a corrupt pork-barreler. But as Jason Zengerle argues in his recent piece for The New Republic, Johnstown has become dependent on Murtha's earmarks and defense contracts.

New China Ambassador Says Climate And Energy A Top Priority
September 03, 2009

Interesting. The Wall Street Journal was the first media outlet to sit down with the new China ambassador, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. And the interview offered a glimpse of the White House's top priorities: "Before setting out for China, Mr. Huntsman said, Mr. Obama told him to focus on a few big-picture issues: global economy, energy and climate change."

Seasons Change… Unemployment Rates
September 02, 2009

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning, based on new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that unemployment rates continued to climb in July in metropolitan America. It’s probably true, based on BLS estimates that the nation overall shed another 247,000 jobs in July.  But BLS’ metropolitan data don’t exactly show us what’s going on from month to month. That’s because they don’t take account of the natural fluctuations in employment levels that occur everywhere due to seasonal labor market changes. Or, in data-wonk terms, they’re not “seasonally adjusted.”  Why does this matter f

Aliyah and Interest Rates
August 25, 2009

Aliyah is the at once mystical and practical "going up" to Zion. Stanley Fischer is one of the very many men and women who have made that journey and are, thus, olim. It was Bibi Netanyahu who, as minister of finance in Ariel Sharon's government, summoned him to the service of the Jewish state and turned around his whole life.

The Burden Is on the Inflation Hawks
August 24, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has a useful piece up today about the historical analogy that looms large in the minds of administration economic officials: 1937, the year the Fed, FDR, and Congress prematurely tightened economic policy and sent the economy back into a deep recession after several years of recovery. What I always find remarkable about these discussions is that proponents of early tightening essentially (sometimes explicitly) argue that the expected loss from too much inflation (that is, the loss weighted by the probability of it happening) is greater than the expected loss from a doub