Monday, February 16, 2009

"A more cool-headed assessment of the economy's woes might produce better policies."

Bradley R. Schiller, author of The Economy Today has an interesting piece in the WSJ entitled, "Obama's Rhetoric is the Real 'Catastrophe.'" Mr. Schiller compares this recession with the Great Depression and finds that our economic woes don't come close to the 1930s. He states:

Mr. Obama's analogies to the Great Depression are not only historically inaccurate, they're also dangerous. Repeated warnings from the White House about a coming economic apocalypse aren't likely to raise consumer and investor expectations for the future. In fact, they have contributed to the continuing decline in consumer confidence that is restraining a spending pickup. Beyond that, fearmongering can trigger a political stampede to embrace a "recovery" package that delivers a lot less than it promises. A more cool-headed assessment of the economy's woes might produce better policies.

But would better policies pay off the supporters who voted for him?

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Blogger Unknown said...

But better policies don't get us closer to socialism besides the paying off of supporters. I bet Clinton is jealous when he considers his "stimulus" that was attempted in '93.
This bill has nothing to do with stimulus, and a bunch to do with reshaping America into the French republic or other European socialist enclave where all citizens bow to the central power. My dream would be to bring back the 10th amendment. If only that one was followed, what a difference would be made!

6:57 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger uncle ken said...

We currently owe $6 trillion. Raising taxes will make the economy worse. Our creditors (those who buy our bonds) know this, and will base future bond purchases on their estimate of the declining "full faith and credit" of the American federal government.

We can raise interest rates of new bonds issued (causing a price decline and sending bonds down the toilet to join all those stocks in your 401K) or we can print money and buy our own bonds, promoting inflation. Them's our choices.

Hope and change are ephemeral. The laws of gravity and economics are not.

ps. How much is a trillion? If you started spending a million dollars a day on the date of Christ's birth, by now you would be 2/3 of the way to your first trillion in expenditures.

7:25 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Unfortunately, the GOP offerings not in sync with objective govt studies:

8:03 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

Below is an article by James Quinn, titled Boomers: Your Crisis Has Arrived. I highly recommend it, as it warrants serious consideration.

Quinn expands on the framework developed by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book, The Fourth Turning. Basically, the idea is that societies go through four distinct phases over an 80 to 100 year cycle, corresponding to four generations and the specific personalities each phase produces.

The four phases are as follows for the current cycle we are now in:

1946 The High (Spring)
1964 The Awakening (Summer)
1984 The Unraveling (Fall)
2001 The Crisis (Winter)

The personalities born in each generation are:


Each generation will go through the four phases at different times in their lives, depending on which phase they were born. For example, a Prophet/Idealist is born during a High, spends early adulthood in an Awakening, middle age in an unraveling, and old age in a crisis. This would be the Baby Boom generation now entering its golden (or is it iron pyrite?) years as the current crisis is beginning to unfold.

Quinn's thesis is profoundly interesting, because it indicates that there are much larger forces involved in the unfolding events. The problem is that the short sightedness of our current leadership will lead to the next more dangerous phase of this crisis.

As Quinn points out, Boomer leaders are always sure, and often wrong. They are dogmatic and cocky. They will stridently say that borrowing and spending is the only way out of a financial crisis created by borrowing and spending too much, which is precisely what they are saying now.

These are indeed perilous times. It is impossible to know what the world will look like in ten or twenty years after this Crisis ends and a new High begins. Any one of hundreds of external events could trigger a catastrophe, possibly a devastating global war.

I have to believe that America will survive, although in what shape I don't know. However, I do know this. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

We all need to think and act more clearly in these times.

9:34 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

WTF, how quickly "HOPE" was exchanged for "FEAR."

This guy is a scam artist. Just snake oil, just a pig in a poke.


9:42 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

The only thing "recovery" has to do with this bill is to be a catch word to dupe the American public.

9:48 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Elusive Wapiti said...

Personally, I'd rather have a sober analysis about the true conditions of the economy rather than fear mongering, or its evil twin, sunny yet false predictions in order to boost 'confidence'.

We don't need lies to build a false sense of confidence. We need the truth to fix the underlying government-caused problems in our money system. Then we'll have some confidence.

11:28 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

The figures are available. The problems are real. Now we can do without fear but equally we can not be helped by name calling and casual dismissal of a strong and honest attempt to fix things. Now, if you have a plan, give it instead of simly badmouthing the guy who beat your choice for president.

Specifically, what would you do if you were in charge? and simply stop name calling, the grade-school game.

11:55 AM, February 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's your plan:

1. Reduce the Federal Budget by 10% per annum until it is 10% or less of the GDP.

2. Back on the gold standard.

3. Banks must keep capital reserves of at least 15% of loans outstanding. Banks limited to direct loans, no more trading in securities.

4. FedGovCo to abide by the Constitution.No more propping up failing businesses. Allow bankruptcy to reduce outstanding debt. Stop interfering in the private business sector, no more subsidization.

5. Repeal the 16th. Since 70% of FedGovCo spending is extra-constitutional and only 1/3 of Federal income comes from income tax this should be no problem - it can be phased in.

I realize this is a plan that would only be enacted by someone who had the interests of America at heart, it would be anathema to anyone whose primary interest was retaining their seat in Congress.

12:13 PM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

See Nathan, there is your first alternative plan, less than 20 minutes after you asked for it. It is not a lack of plans that is the problem pal.


Cut feds 10% a year, I like that one. Legalize marijuana and tax it at 50%. Cut AFDC 10% a year. Cut all government handouts, bailouts, subsidies 10% a year until the feds go out of the business of giving handouts.

And nathan, calling the man a scam artist is only negative if it is untrue.


1:58 PM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

...a strong and honest attempt to fix things.

Give me a break. Are you really this big of a sucker or just a shill?

I'll go with TMink's or Ken's plan or just givng $10,000 to each taxpayer, not non-taxpayers. Or, just get all the Democrats to pay the taxes they "overlooked".

2:13 PM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Nathan, remember when Obama said he "will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."

That is a quote he said.

The so called stimulus was pushed through so fast that none of the senators who voted on it read it. The SCHIP bill was not posted either.

That is why I used the term scam artist. He told the American people that he would do this, and he has not.

There is an entire blog just set up to follow the campaign promises. Google it and check it out if you are interested in accountability and think that Obama was not speaking just words, just phrases.


3:07 PM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Larry J said...

It's kind of sad when we have a history of economics that gives us a good idea of what works and what doesn't. It isn't as if this is completely unheard of. One thing is certain, we can't borrow our way to prosperity forever. Excessive debt is one of the big things that got us into this mess and borrowing a few more trillion dollars is unlikely to get us out.

Significant tax rate reductions (income and capital gains) have a proven record of stimulating the economy and generating higher tax revenues. Unfortunately, we also have a history of spending money faster than the increase in revenues.

At the same time, we know from economic history what happens when governments unable to borrow fast enough to meet their debts turn up the speed on the printing presses. That leads to massive inflation.

This so-called stimulus bill is not an honest attempt to meet our economic problems. If it were, it wouldn't be filled with all sorts of unrelated things like increasing government intrusion into health care. This is a massive omnibus bill filled with just about every socialist wet dream piece of legislation passed so swiftly that no one has had a chance to read it. That is fundamentally dishonest and corrupt legislation.

5:20 PM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Notice, as this progresses, how the feds are "taking over" the companies being given tarp money? And I mean dictating what they can and can't pay, etc. This will expand.

Now, consider this as well. Various states are asking for bail out money. Will the same then, apply to them? Will this thing morph into a states rights issue down the road a piece, and civil war II ensue? Oh, wait THAT can't happen here, least I don't think so.

The history books (thanks to the revisionists) claim the civil war was about slavery. To a degree, perhaps. It was equally about states rights. One can even argue the civil war started out as a war between Massachusetts and South Carolina - over cotton.

A real attempt at a stimulus bill, as put out by Bush & Co., was only what, ten pages? It was an arrow aimed at a bull's eye in comparison to this 1,071 page pork monster.

6:19 PM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Uncle Ken says we owe $6 trillion.

Nope. Not close. The current debt, according to the Treasury, is more than $10 trillion.

This figure understates the real number. For instance, it doesn't say anything about the cost of replacing military equipment or paying future medical bills for veterans.

The next lurking problem, assuming we get by with an awful recession and not a depression, is a massive wave of inflation.

Peter G. Miller

7:04 PM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Dane said...


1) You have presented what is called a "False Dilemma."

2) Well, since The Libertarians lost again, yeah, you beat "my guy," but, you were referring to the McCain voters, no?

In a nutshell - Not. Their. Job.

They weren't elected. So it is your job.

Your problem.

And since it will be your success if it works, it is your failure if it doesn't.

Totally and completely. You own it.

It's their job to be the opposition. It's how a two party system works.

So stop snivelling. Crybaby. Jeez, win an election and the libs still won't stop whining.

10:00 PM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Pete
I am hardly whining, as you say in your child-like way.The opposition is not simply there to oppose what the nation might want and need. If that were so why do just about all the GOP governors side with the stimulus plan?
Yes: the Dems will own it. And yes, they will get the credit if it works. And yes: the conservatives will then later come up some bs about cyhcles etc, just as they did under FDR.
Either the Dems are right; or the nation goes under. So just sit back and make sneering comments but note while you are at it the unemployment, the lost homes, the states going under, the taxes owned to people not being paid in a few states now and on and on..In a sentence, what does the loyal opposition offer? nada

8:16 AM, February 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ad hominem attacks aside, you are looking at this problem incorrectly. In an emotional way.

The troubles we face were not concocted by one party or the other, they are systemic. They stem from the notion that it is the business of government to interfere in a free economy, to pick winners and losers.

We decry the other side, then rush to suck the DC titty. Well it won't work, as they found out in the USSR circa 1989, New Zealand 1985 and on and on.

"We have met the enemy and he is us"
-Pogo Possum

10:15 AM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

this may com,e as a bit of a surprise but we do not have a free economy.When there are zillions of bucks going into price supports, then you have the govt involved. When you have so many govt restraints taken away then what we got was Made Off Ponzi for the entire economy...the notion that a free economy avoids the mess we have would be fine except qwe have the mess. Had we not removed so much oversight under Reagan, Carter, Clinton, Bush, Greespan, Reuben et al, we would not have anywhere near this mess. Given the thieves that are management and the thieves that are unions, I prefer the govt to watch: I can at least vote up or down for these people.

12:06 PM, February 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh there will still be messes to pick up in a free economy. But the mess will be limited to those who created it: the corporation, board and shareholders who were dumb enough to mess up in the first place.

I don't want to pick up your mess, or GM's. In a free economy we are each responsible (key word there) for our own mess. If you wish to abrogate your responsibility to distant bureaucrats in hopes they will act in your best interests rather than their own, well amigo, then you are going to get screwed, and you deserve it.

12:26 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Mister Wolf said...


You may not be whining in a child-like way...but even a child has a better understanding of economics.

While you are correct, we have not had a free economy for a very long time(since the days of Calvin Coolidge I would argue). Furthermore, it's not that we lack regulations, we have plenty. We have bad and incorrect regulation, not a lack of it. Furthermore, as evidenced by the Madoff scandal, it was not the lack of regulations that allowed him to get away, it was the lack of will on the regulators(The Security and Exchange Commission to be exact) part. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Madoff was operating a ponzi scheme. In fact, there were a few whistle blowers but they were ignored by the SEC.

1:49 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Nathan, following are link to three alternate stimulus proposals. It took me 5 seconds to google them, and 35 seconds to cut and paste them.

So are you ignorant of google or just a troll?


2:04 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Alex said...

Elusive Wapiti said...

Personally, I'd rather have a sober analysis about the true conditions of the economy rather than fear mongering, or its evil twin, sunny yet false predictions in order to boost 'confidence'.

We don't need lies to build a false sense of confidence. We need the truth to fix the underlying government-caused problems in our money system. Then we'll have some confidence.

11:28 AM, February 16, 2009

Remember this, most people do not want to hear the real truth. In fact politicians who speak the real truth end up being term-limited out of office in the next election!

2:07 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Alex said...


The "plan" is to get the government the f*** out of the economy and go back to having a true free market!

2:09 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ok. I know nothing. I will say no more. You can tell us now how to fix things. First, get govt out. Then tell the banks and the motor industry and all that depend on them to close down. all I can say in my dumb know nothing way is thank the good lord that the conservatives did not privatize my social security and so I can still have something to live on.

2:11 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger uncle ken said...

"First, get govt out." - an excellent start Operate FedGovCo as mandated by our Constituion.

"Then tell the banks and the motor industry and all that depend on them to close down." - Nope. Don't tell them anything. Leave them to succeed or fail on their own. Bankruptcies are as necessary to a healthy economy as fires are to a healthy forest.

"Thank the good Lord that the conservatives did not privatize my social security and so I can still have something to live on." - your SS account is unfunded. They already spent your money. Soon your entire monthly check will buy just a gallon of milk and two loaves of bread. I'm afraid we are all going to be working until we drop. Except Congress of course - their pensions are indexed for cost of living and start at age 50.

2:31 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Uncle ken wrote: "your SS account is unfunded. They already spent your money."

I mentioned this to Nathan a couple of weeks ago. I even sent him a link to read it for himself.

Horse, water, yadda yadda.


3:34 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Uncle ken, don't forget about congress' sweet heart health insurance deal, too. And the fact that all they have to do to vote themselves a pay raise is not vote at all. It's automatic then.

Looks like the stimulus package needs some viagra. The Dow is looking pretty scary.

5:16 PM, February 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to be miffed about Obama's new plan (maybe unveiled in full tomorrow) to prevent foreclosures.

As I understand it, the government and bank will determine what the mortgage-taker can handle as a monthly payment, and then the bank will lower payments and the government may STEP IN AND PAY PART OF THE LOAD to get the payment down.

If anything close to that is enacted, it will be a massive slap in the face to responsible people.

You buy a small house that you can afford, you get no money.

You buy a house much larger than you can afford, your run into problems making payments, the government steps in and bails you out. Wheeeee! Next time, I'm going to be irresponsible if this same cast of characters is in charge of the country.

5:24 PM, February 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kind of bizarre: The very people who should NOT be rewarded - managers who have mismanaged their company until it is on the verge of bankruptcy, irresponsible people who bought more house than they could afford because they are irresponsible and materialistic etc.

Those people should fail and make way for managers who can effectively run companies and homeowners who have responsibility.

5:27 PM, February 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let GM fail.

Someone will fill the vacuum, and that someone will be more competent than the crusty management at GM.

5:28 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

JG says he's miffed.

Me too. But we would not have the need for an Obama plan if the Federal Reserve had actually regulated banks during the Bush years. Note that we did not have option ARMs prior to Bush, and interest-only and stated-income loans were rare before he came into office.

5:31 PM, February 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard lots of reasons for the mess we're in, Peter G. Miller.

Another reason I heard is that Clinton, community activists (kind of like the group Obama was in in Chicago) and the usual case of left-wing characters forced banks over the years to make ever-more questionable loans to ever-more questionable segments of society that couldn't normally afford a house. The banks cooperated, because otherwise they might get a "visit" from Jesse Jackson and the corresponding pressure of being called racist.

That supposedly caused the real estate bubble, and the collapse of that bubble led to the subsequent difficulties in other areas.


But in the final analysis, I have no idea what really happened here - it may have been a conspiracy involving the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderburgs & Rothschilds and the Illuminati. Oh, and I forgot the Jews.

But even more important, Peter G. Miller, you don't really know what the true deal is either.

5:37 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

JG --

As you say, you "have no idea what really happened here," a conclusion which hardly seems surprising.

5:40 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger uncle ken said...

br549 says"The Dow is looking pretty scary."

- today the Russian MICEX and RTS exchanges have been closed - lock limit down. Last night there was a lot of funny business going on in Asia. See here

Peter G Miller says "we would not have the need for an Obama plan if the Federal Reserve had actually regulated banks during the Bush years."

- don't forget the CRA started in the Carter era and expanded under Clinton. Bush2 was certainly no help - but I think it is counterproductive to wage a war between donkeys and elephants when we are all about to be trampled by Godzilla.

This is not a party policy problem, it is our problem. All of us.

One of two things is going to happen
- if the banks are bailed out by interest rates high enough to sell a gazillion long term treasuries and suck up all the toxic assets, we will have to live through a painful prolonged depression.
- if we allow the banks to fail, we get rid of the debt, but a lot of peoples pensions are going to be toast along with a whole host of other things.

There are no other choices. Time for DC to man up and quit diddling.

5:55 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

I hate to say this, but it will blow over, we will all accept it to some degree, and that's that. That's what the democrats who shoved this through are betting on.
We all hear a lot of anger, hear a lot of talk, yet no action has been taken to stop it. Those who may have had the nads, lost them somewhere. All I'm allowed to do is vote. That was real effective.
I don't see any 2.1 billion going to conservative get out the vote pacs. But I'm paying for ACORN. So is my grandson who is only 16 months old. So are his kids, after they grow up, after they're born.

What's the alternative? It's too late.

See you in the soup lines, comrades.

6:52 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Uncle Ken says "don't forget the CRA started in the Carter era and expanded under Clinton. "

The CRA is a political football. The reality is that the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994 allowed the Fed -- an independent agency -- to prohibit mortgages and mortgage practices which are unfair or deceptive. Had the Fed done so in 2002, 2003, 2004 there would be no option ARMs, and few interest-only loans. Thus there would have not been an abnormal number of loans to melt down.

As the Fed itself says: "Section 129(1) of the 1994 HOEPA amendments to T I L A grants the Board power to "prohibit acts or practices in connection with mortgage loans that the Board finds to be unfair, deceptive or designed to evade the provisions of this section." The same holds true for refinances of mortgage loans "that the board finds to be associated with abusive lending practices, or that are otherwise not in the interest of the borrower."

8:01 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger uncle ken said...

I repeat; pointing fingers at who did what 15- 20 years ago may be a useful exercise at some future juncture. But when you are up to your ass in alligators it serves no purpose fighting over who drained the swamp.

I turned on TV news tonight. The big story is A-Rod used steroids. We are so screwed.

8:26 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Peter, I was going to ask you to be more specific concerning your points, but then you beat me to it. Thanks!

That level of detail was really helpful for people like me who are interested in the process, but a bit baffled by the complexity of the system.

But don't rag on JG! He's OK.


10:28 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

The President sends 17,000 of our finest into Afghanistan, a Senator is being accused of lying under oath, 400 banks in 47 states have asked the fed for aid, and the top story is A-Rod?

We are screwed indeed uncle ken.


10:31 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Peter G. Miller --

JG --

As you say, you "have no idea what really happened here," a conclusion which hardly seems surprising.

Now it's your turn to admit it. I'm with JG, not only I, but nary another actually knows the whole thing and those who claim they do are snowing on the others.

10:44 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

I am Spartac . ., I mean, I am JG.


10:49 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger wolfboy69 said...

I know it sounds a little paranoid, but the wife and I have been buying silver and gold coins for several years. Oh, and ammunition. If this turns into a full blown depression, the crime wave that will follow will make the L.A. Riots in 92 seem tame.

The clues were there for a number of years that the S**t was going to hit the fan. It wasn't a matter of if, but when.

The government needs to do two things. Defend our borders, and deliver the mail on time. Other than that, they need to stay the hell out of our lives as much as possible. I don't br549 was wrong in his 6.19 post about the civil war II. If it happens, it will break along racial and socio-economic lines, and it isn't going to be pretty. I'll take me and mine and head for the wilds of montana, and ride it out.

12:14 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger wolfboy69 said...

sorry...that should read:

I don't think br549 was wrong in his 6.19 post.

12:15 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Wolfboy69 says "the government needs to do two things. Defend our borders, and deliver the mail on time. Other than that, they need to stay the hell out of our lives as much as possible."

Do you really think that? For instance, let's say that dentists were not required to clean their drills. Would that be okay with you? How about some lead-covered toys or infected peanuts? Should anyone be allowed to be a therapist? Remove kidneys?

2:25 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger uncle ken said...

I would argue the monopoly enjoyed by the Post Office hasn't turned out so good. Defending our borders is an attractive concept, anytime FedGovCo wants to start is fine with me.

Surgeons sterilize their instruments because it is good medical practice, in the best interests of the patient. I have seen an emergency tracheotomy done with a ball-point pen. Was it sterile - no. Did the patient live - yes. Were any regulations broken - completely irrelevant.

3:01 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Hell,it's even blowing over in here.
We're divided. And you know what that means.

6:27 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Uncle Ken says "Surgeons sterilize their instruments because it is good medical practice, in the best interests of the patient."

Most surgeons surely act in the best interests of their patients. But if we are to get rid of all regulatory oversight then some will cut costs by not cleaning their instruments. If that's your doctor, good luck.

Absolutist statements about ending government regulation are unworkable because we all want something. Since we are all relativists when it comes to regulation, the only question is how much. Obviously, the lack of mortgage and securities oversight was a huge mistake.

6:34 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger uncle ken said...

Peter I have been a surgeon for 38 years, still at it. If there is a Federal Regulation concerning sterilization of surgical instruments I am unaware of it. That kind of thing is inculcated into OR procedure manuals. If someone was in gross violation it would be handled in a peer review manner - State Medical Board etc. Or torts.

More generally I don't believe you can micromanage society from the top down. Walter Williams says it better here:

6:43 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Uncle Ken --

As a surgeon for 38 years you know that some fellow practitioners lost their licenses because they did not adhere to your standards and thus endangered their clients.

Beyond that, if we have no regulations (licensure) then maybe I'll start removing kidneys....

7:25 AM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually - I'm not sure how it specifically works with medical doctors - a lot of professional licensing groups are private or quasi-private. For instance, bar associations are quasi-private; the only role the "government" plays is to say that someone who practices law without being allowed to by the private organization is guilty of a crime. Professional organizations are usually not only private, but also supported by dues from their members.

In the case of medicine, whether the licensing board is state-run or privately run is pretty much immaterial to the philosophical argument (and I don't care what the real status is); licensing boards COULD easily be run in a private way amongst physicians.

8:32 AM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter: I think we have drifted off-topic.

Yeah, MDs have license suspensions all the time. But it is a state thing, not federal. Most are for alcohol or drug abuse (you need a certain amount of character to practice medicine with the tremendous stress and easy access to narcotics, etc.) Peer review committees pick out the incompetent ones, privileges can be revoked, etc.

It's a lot cleaner than our corrupt and venal Congress. Asking tax cheaters, liars and betrayers of the public trust to regulate doctors would be like putting the fox in charge of chicken supervision.

8:39 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

"Defending our borders is an attractive concept, anytime FedGovCo wants to start is fine with me."

Uncle Ken, you sir, are on a roll. I will have a case of whatever coffee you are drinking.


11:02 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Is it possible to say something here without using insults? or is that a part of who one is?
McCain has a plan but it is stimulus money that is needed and in fact there are those economists (Krugman, for example) who believe that insufficient money going into the Obama plan...
Even so conservative a free market guy as Greenspan now confronts what conservatives would say is unthinkable

the scar nonsense of Socialism is absurd. The govt has never said this and the lobbyists would not allow it.
Health care, for example, is not something that Obama wants to be run by the govt. It is an insurance program. So too is bank insurance, which, if you oppose govt involvement, don't use banks with this insurance.

11:27 AM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So too is bank insurance, which, if you oppose govt involvement, don't use banks with this insurance."


Well, I decided to take your advice (that's how I got ahead in life, by taking random advice from anonymous posters on the Internet) and looked for a bank without this insurance.

I couldn't find any.

Is there a reason for that?

11:45 AM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:47 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

My sister used to be the head attorney for the state licensing board for health care professionals, doctors, nurses, etc. The board also had a hearing board or "court" of some sort. All I know is that if she thought you acted outside the bounds of good judgement, professional ethics and/or regulations, you could kiss your license goodbye for at least a while.

11:48 AM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the scar [sic] nonsense of Socialism is absurd. The govt has never said this and the lobbyists would not allow it"

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.

11:50 AM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger Scout said...

If Mr. Obama (cannot bring myself to call him pres) does not keep up the hype how will he get the 50 billion he needs for the auto industry (code for UAW) and the 75 billion to keep people in their homes (code for people irresponsible enough to vote for him)? That's what I've been hearing on the radio today. We've just passed the stimulus (code for everything lefties ever wanted) and now we already need more.
The really scary part is that most people just don't care, and they do not want me injecting a little reality into their day- like talking about all the bailouts.

1:37 PM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

I rest my case.

5:32 PM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger SBW said...

Nathan, Ken, and Peter Miller,

Interesting and varied views. Thanks for the comments.


More scrutiny would help you. To say no one really understands the causes of this crisis is asinine. The real estate bubble was global -- real estate in the United States didn't even increase as fast as parts of the EU (UK, Spain) or places like Dubai -- those foreign prices somehow fiendishly warped by the CRA...

The cause of this bubble was cheap credit, securitization, and incredibly piss-poor leadership in private financial companies. Add a dash of the wonderfully self correcting free market, and success!

It is truly interesting that Republicans are now suddenly now concerned about debt again.

I happen to think Obama's plan is garbage, not because it helps irresponsible homeowners, but because it still helps irresponsible lenders. That is a step up from Paulson's plan -- just buy up toxic crap from the lenders, and the lenders would still be free to do anything they want to the homeowner.

7:36 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SBW sez:

"To say no one really understands the causes of this crisis is asinine."


It frequently happens that two different economists - both winners of the Nobel prize and both professors - have diametrically opposed explanations of events and diametrically opposed solutions. This is not just Keynes versus Friedman (for instance) but much more extreme. Some explanations and solutions work well in one environment, but not in another. An analogy is momentum investing versus value investing (i.e. Graham and Dodd) in the financial markets. It shifts as to what works.

But I'm always happy to find such certainty of knowledge in a difficult area such as economics. I truly sit at the foot of the master and await your insight.

8:18 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to also be absolutely convinced that lower interest rates mean lower unemployment but a higher risk of inflation. Vice versa for higher interest rates. So the Fed just has to juggle the two, and presto, you get low unemployment and low interest rates (with the "stagflation" of the late 1970s an anomaly that was cured by hard moves in both directions).

But Japan has been "pushing on a string" for a long time now with interest rates of almost zero. Lots of other real-world events have made me start to realize that macroeconomic theory just doesn't fit the real world.

Everyone is assuming that Obama's big stimulus package is going to heat up the economy. It may not.

8:32 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, instead of "low unemployment and low interest rates", I meant "low unemployment and low inflation".

8:32 PM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Inflation is a serious problem given the dollars we are printing, our hideous balance-of-payments problem and the vast national debt. See:

Why Worry About Recession When Inflation Looms Ahead?

8:37 PM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger SBW said...


I'll be quite happy to instruct you -- you obviously need it, and I have some time:

Lesson #1:
There is a rather big difference between difficulty and obsfucation. Economics is after all a social science -- with all that entails, mainly political bias seeping into work.

Lesson #2:
There is a rather big difference between disagreement on how to solve a problem, that being predictive, and the cause of a problem -- that being descriptive.

Lesson #3:
This isn't the (first) Great Depression. Quotes about past disagreements add little value.

I have yet to see any modern economist -- from any angle -- not name cheap credit and securitization (and other aspects of financial engineering) as major, if not the core, causes of this crisis.

And you would hard pressed also.

9:20 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And you would hard pressed also."


Well, I know how these arguments go. I name two off the top of my head, and then you attack their credentials. "Your" economist is a "real" one, because ... blah blah. "My" economists are not real ones because ... blah blah.

Sorry, I'm just not up for all that work.

But, having said that, I do think that easy money is being bandied about quite a bit as a reason for all of this recent bad stuff, so I agree that it's a least a reason (along with packing debt into complicated securities - far beyond CMOs - and passing them along) that is frequently given.

9:35 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does my economist have to have a Ph.D. in Economics?


9:36 PM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger SBW said...


No -- I would actually be curious to read position papers arguing alternate origins, from any source. It does not matter if the economist works for private industry, or in academia, or a think tank, or some hybrid like the Federal Reserve.

Well, I do draw the line at NAR economists.

9:55 PM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger uncle ken said...

"Yesterday we saw a horrifying selloff, undamped by President Obama's signature ceremony. But most of it was over in the first 10 minutes of the day, and nearly none of it had anything to do with the United States per-se.

Rather it was a translation problem from over in Europe, which in turn originated over in, it appears, South Korea when one of their big banks decided not to pay down a callable bond.

None of this, you'd think, would do all that much.

You'd be dead wrong.

We have made a terrible policy mistake in that we have intentionally tied ourselves at the hip to Europe and SE Asia via Ben Bernanke's "currency swaps." As such we are not only tied up through trade, but also through formal links in the monetary marketplace. If they go down, we go down."

- KarlDenninger

"The idea that even the brightest person or group of bright people, much less the U.S. Congress, can wisely manage an economy has to be the height of arrogance and conceit. Why? It is impossible for anyone to possess the knowledge that would be necessary for such an undertaking. "

- Walter Williams
Head of Economics
George Mason Univ.

5:42 AM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Uncle Ken makes the argument, essentially, for the private regulation or self-regulation of professionals.

The argument is not that state or federal regulation is perfect, rather that it is better than what private groups have to offer.

Given that you've been in practice for 38 years, you surely remember that professional groups used to set fees, ban advertising and require absurd standards to enter a field -- all in an effort to hold down competition, not to better the public good.

I understand your preference but do not see that it's inherently better than government regulation.

7:28 AM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

SBW --

Here's one for your collection:

"The function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable." John Kenneth Galbraith

7:30 AM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

"I'll be quite happy to instruct you -- you obviously need it, and I have some time:"

That wins my award for empty pomposity.


8:20 AM, February 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I understand your preference but do not see that it's inherently better than government regulation."

That you cannot see facts does not negate them.

I invite you to peruse the Heritage Society's Index of Economic Freedom. (online) If you arrange all the countries by degree of freedom economically, as they have done, you will discover that freedom from government regulation has a strange propensity to ally itself with prosperity.

North Korea, to cite one example, has a stellar record of regulating damn near everything, but I wouldn't want to party down there.

There is a reason that 75% of all medical innovation and new treatments during these past ten years has come from America v. everywhere else. This will, of course, stop under Obamacare.

9:07 AM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Ken --

Gee, citing the mother source of Bush economics, how impressive. Just look at the economy today.

If a free market is so great for medicine, how come Mr. Bush restricted stem cell research?

9:45 AM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Dave Cornutt said...

Peter G, you are propagating a Leftist lie. Bush did not ban stem cell research. He didn't even pass any laws restricting the use of fetal stem cells. (How could he? The President can't pass laws all by himself). All he did was get a funding provision that restricted federal funding for fetal stem cell research. It was still totally legal to do this research, and in fact several univisities continued to do so; you just couldn't get a federal grant for it.

Fetal stem cell research is making little progress, compared to adult stem cell research. I'm guessing that the Obama administration will de facto continue the Bush policy, not because of moral qualms, but because there's not point in throwing tax money at research that isn't effective.

11:23 AM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter G. Miller said...

Dave --

I am not propagating anything.

According to CNN, "A group of six moderate House Republicans have written to President Obama urging him to lift President Bush's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research."

Imagine that, there is a ban to lift.

11:49 AM, February 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave: It's useless to continue to talk to him. We are witnessing Bush Derangement Syndrome, a subset of the phenomenon widely known as Confirmation Bias:

Confirmation Bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and to avoid information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.

Popularly referred to as trolling.

Well, I'm off to have a life...

12:01 PM, February 19, 2009  
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