6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning. Complex derivatives need to be banned because nobody understands them and few are rational enough to know it. Citizens must be protected from themselves, from bankers selling them “hedging” products, and from gullible regulators who listen to economic theorists.
7. Expand U.N. sanctions to ban the sale of North Korean gold — some of it likely mined in concentration camps — on the international markets. Even if China blocks U.N. sanctions on North Korean gold sales, most of this gold is sold in the capitals of U.S. allies Thailand and the United Kingdom. Thus, bilateral diplomacy would be an effective alternative to the U.N.
ITEM: Obama is losing, or at least annoying, John Dickerson over at Slate. The reason: Obama’s propensity to use exaggeration and overstatement (and, let’s face it, though Dickerson is too polite to put it in these terms, outright lies) in characterizing his critics and watchdogs (emphasis mine):
He’s also a nuance-free exaggerator. In Turkey, he told students, “Some of my reporter friends from the States were asking, ‘How come you didn’t solve everything on this trip?’ ”
A politician is always on safe ground charging that the press has gone overboard. But no one was asking that question.
Nor was anyone saying what Obama said some people were saying in his press conference last month: “We did a video, sending a message to the Iranian people and the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And some people said, ‘Well, they did not immediately say that we’re eliminating nuclear weapons and stop funding terrorism.’ ” No one said that. But it helped Obama make his pitch for patience.
For me, that’s a sign of intellectual dishonesty (or, at least, laziness) and indicates that Obama may think that his arguments and actions can’t stand on their own merits. Note that other people were pointing out this same tendency in Obama’s comments well before the election last fall.
The federal government will soon send more than $300 million in stimulus funds to 61 housing agencies that have been repeatedly faulted by auditors for mishandling government aid, a USA TODAY review has found.
“Accordingly, we recommend that all advisers to hedge funds (and other private pools of capital, including private equity funds and venture capital funds) with assets under management over a certain threshold be required to register with the SEC. All such funds advised by an SEC-registered investment adviser should be subject to investor and counterparty disclosure requirements and regulatory reporting requirements. The regulatory reporting requirements for such funds should require reporting, on a confidential basis, information necessary to assess whether the fund or fund family is so large or highly leveraged that it poses a threat to financial stability.”
Yeah, regulating venture capital funds is going to help stimulate the economy. Talk about a flight from investment, and right when we need it the most.
ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism alert (part 2): Steve Malanga has a well-written piece on the “reawakening of corporatism” thanks to the Obama Administration:
But a version of corporatism also emerged in the 1920s in Fascist Italy, where Mussolini conceived of syndicates in numerous industries composed of labor leaders and businessmen helping direct the Italian economy in the service of Fascism. Hitler’s solution was more thorough, to eliminate those organizations and associations within Germany that opposed him and to smother individualism by instituting a corporatist regime of forcible coordination among trade unions and business groups.
As chilling as these authoritarian versions of corporatism sound today, in the 1930s they found admirers in the U.S., where the ravages of the Great Depression provoked public longing for a safer, more thoroughly planned economy without as much resistance and debate from recalcitrant business leaders or opposition party members who opposed the New Deal. Even today one occasionally hears a longing for a benign version of this elaborately planned economic world in phrases like “getting the trains running on time,” or in a recent column in the New York Times which suggested that Hitler’s wartime buildup amounted to a successful government stimulus in Depression-era Germany.
ITEM: Glad to see that someone continues to raise questions about Larry Summers and his income from Wall Street. And it’s the Washington Post doing it. I’m telling you — the WaPo is making the New York Times look like the Obama lapdog that it is. On the other hand, Woman On Fire Megan McArdle puts together a reasonable defense of Summers, though that may just be to tweak Glenn Greenwald (who had two New York Times Bestseller books!*).
*OK, in all fairness to Glenn, if any of my books had made the NYT Bestseller lists, you can be sure it would be mentioned prominently on this blog.
Despite blunders in the appointments process, Obama has shown a wisdom, intellectual clarity and moral humility that Jimmy Carter lacked, and that augurs well for dealing with the tremendous threats to US and Western security.
But he fails to provide any convincing evidence to that end, beyond his own admiration for Obama and his own wishful thinking. Stephen Morris is an Australian who, as far as I can tell, didn’t actually live here in the US during the Carter Administration. I’m an American who did (and was in the workforce with a wife and children to support). Beyond that, I have yet to see “wisdom, intellectual clarity, and moral humility” on the part of President Obama since his inauguration; quite the opposite, I’d say.
ITEM: Camille Paglia keeps making excuses for Obama himself, though she excoriates his staff. I sense, however, that she will not always remain so forgiving of the One. And, God bless her, she remains intellectually honest:
Yes, something very ugly has surfaced in contemporary American liberalism, as evidenced by the irrational and sometimes infantile abuse directed toward anyone who strays from a strict party line. Liberalism, like second-wave feminism, seems to have become a new religion for those who profess contempt for religion. It has been reduced to an elitist set of rhetorical formulas, which posit the working class as passive, mindless victims in desperate need of salvation by the state. Individual rights and free expression, which used to be liberal values, are being gradually subsumed to worship of government power.
You’ve had 20 years since the start of the web, 15 years since the creation of the commercial browser and craigslist, a decade since the birth of blogs and Google to understand the changes in the media economy and the new behaviors of the next generation of – as you call them, Mr. Murdoch – net natives. You’ve had all that time to reinvent your products, services, and organizations for this new world, to take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies, to retrain not only your staff but your readers and advertisers, to use the power of your megaphones while you still had it to build what would come next. But you didn’t.
You blew it.
That’s just the warm-up. Definitely worth reading.