Archive for July 8th, 2009

Rove deposed in U.S. attorney probe — Politico

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was deposed Tuesday by attorneys for theHouseJudiciary Committee, according to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the panel’s chairman.

Rove’s deposition began at 10 a.m. and ended around 6:30 p.m, with several breaks, Conyers said.

Conyers would not comment on what Rove told congressional investigators, what the next step in the long-running Judiciary Committee investigation would be or whether Rove would face additional questioning.

“He was deposed today,” Conyers said in an interview. “That’s all I can tell you

Politico: Democrats have to negotiate Michael Jackson minefield

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


At about 3 p.m. Tuesday, civil rights hero John Lewis (D-Ga.) rose in a nearly empty House chamber to express his support for a resolution recognizing the slaves who toiled and died while building the Capitol.

At almost the same moment, Rep.Sheila Jackson-Lee(D-Texas) took the stage at the sold-out Staples Center in Los Angeles, where she vowed to bestow a similar honor on the King of Pop.

Jackson-Lee’s 1,500-word resolution honoringMichael Jacksonas a “global humanitarian” may be symbolic and heartfelt, but it’s causing some nonsymbolic heartburn for the Democratic House leadershi

Swift Boat’s Pickens will stay out of 2010 politics

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Politico:Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens says he has no plans to finance third-party groups planning to target Democrats in the 2010 election cycle.

Instead, he’s back on Capitol Hill pitching his bipartisan energyplan, just as he did last year.

Pickens, who helped finance the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign that played a key role in sinking Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, says he’ll have no part in trying to beat Democrats next year.

“No, I won’t play a role,” Pickens told POLITICO. “I’m not going to attack anybody.”

GOP hopes ‘Hastert’ resonates — Politico

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Over the past two election cycles, Democrats have had great success running against the GOP Houseleadershipand the Bush administration. Nevertheless, Republicans are excited about the prospects of a House candidate with close connections to both: Ethan Hastert, the son of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The 31-year-old Hastert is looking to unseat first-termDemocratic Rep. Bill Foster in the Illinois district held by his father for more than 20 years. The younger Hastert filedpapersto run early last month and is already in the process of fundraising and assembling a campaign team.

Morgan Stanley Economist declares ‘train wreck’ — Politico

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Politico:If you thought last week’s job numbers were bad, take a look at the latest from Morgan Stanley’s chief economist, Richard Berner.

In a research note that’s been making the rounds of economics blogs this week, Berner declares that “America’s long-awaited fiscal train wreck is now under way.”

By “train wreck,” he means out-of-control federal budget deficits that he’s sure will finally drag the economy under – as if we weren’t already feeling badly enough about its shaky state.

Congress ponders football’s BCS system: Politico

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


“There is no shortage of opinion and ideas on how the BCS system should be changed,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, opening the Senate’s Antitrust Subcommittee Tuesday hearing on college football’s Bowl Championship Series.

In a packed hearing room, four individuals testified about the controversial and largely unpopular system by whichcollegefootballselects its national champion. (A 2007 Gallup poll put the systems popularity at 15 percent of fans, making it one of the few things that are less popular than Congress itself.)

Poll: GOP state candidates lead in Va. — Politico

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Republican candidates hold leads in all three of Virginia’s 2009 statewide races, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

Former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell leads State Sen. Creigh Deeds 49 percent to 43 percent in the state’s gubernatorial race, according to an automated poll released by Public Policy Polling. Eight percent were undecided.

In the contests for lieutenant governor and attorney general, GOP nominees also led their Democratic opponents by margins outside the poll’s 4-percentage-point margin of error. The poll, conducted June 30 to July 2, surveyed 617 likely general election voters.

Michael Gerson: Don’t Add to Debt with Health Reform

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


WASHINGTON — Around midnight on April 15, 1912, there were a few minutes when Capt. Edward Smith of the Titanic realized his ship was going down — six watertight compartments breached, less than two hours to float — yet his passengers slept in happy ignorance. A historical fate hardened while most of the participants dreamed on.

The jobs report last week opened a long gash beneath the waterline of President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda. Few yet realize it, but a scramble for lifeboats is about to begin.

Rich nations must act on free trade: Financial Times

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


We are now at a dangerous juncture in securing global economic recovery. The choice is between making a determined effort fully to implement the pledges made in the last two summits of the Group of 20, or to pursue the beggar-thy-neighbour path so disastrously taken in the 1930s. Unemployment is rising and, despite stimulus packages from Washington to Beijing, it will stay at very high levels for some time. In response, many politicians will push for trade and investment protectionism – indeed, they are already doing so.

I have been a banker for more than 50 years, mostly in international finance, and for the most part it has been an incredible journey, as constantly expanding trade and investment lifted nations from the wreckage of wars and recessions, contributed to extraordinary rises in incomes and strengthened discourse among peoples. But never in this period have we seen an economic and financial crisis as formidable as the current one. We need to recall that it was the Smoot-Hawley provisions of the 1930s that amplified and extended the Great Depression and that it was protectionist retaliation by key powers that contributed to the disastrous security tensions that emerged in that period.

Steven Pearlstein at Washington Post: One of the most enduring lies in American politics is the myth of small-business job creation

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


You probably know it by heart: Small businesses create 60, 70, even 80 percent of all the new jobs in the United States.

Back in the 1980s, I was a senior editor at Inc. magazine, where I worked on some of the articles in which some of the seeds of this myth were planted. Up to that point, there was a widespread tendency to conflate the success of the economy with the fortunes of big business, so it was rather useful to have some data highlighting the importance of small firms.

LA Times business: Pope urges ‘world authority’ to govern economy, finance

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Pope Benedict XVI is offering a solution for what ails the global economy: a “true world political authority” to manage it all.

In a so-called encyclical published today — just as leaders of the world’s biggest economies gather in central Italy for a summit — Benedict mostly focuses on his ideas for achieving “justice and the common good” in the modern economy.

His basic themes are well-traveled, including fairness to workers, the evils of “excessive” wealth disparities and regard for the environment.

But then he ventures onto controversial turf, suggesting that the authority to fix all of this be vested in global governing bodies, including the United Nations.

Megan McArdle: Medicare’s Mythical Administrative Cost Savings

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


The title of this post is going to make some of my readers very angry.  Medicare has lots of administrative cost savings, they will say.  This may be so.  But I mean mythical in another sense:  there’s ultimately no way to prove or disprove these amazing savings.  The problem is indeterminate.

Jon Cohn, who I respect greatly, spends a lot of time on the money and time that insurance companies put into denying claims.  This is undoubtedly true.  But I have two caveats.  First, some of that effort is a good thing:  without it, there would be fraud.   No, not the automatic denials so many insurers are fond of, and I’m not defending.  But Medicare should probably spend a lot more effort rooting out excessive billing. And I don’t know what percentage of claims denial consists of refusing to line the pockets of doctors and labs.

James Pethokoukis: Will Obama go for a second stimulus?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


OK, so Laura Tyson thinks a second stimulus might be a good idea. Will the White House go for it The economic logic of such a package might seem compelling. The original $787 billion spending measure was deemed appropriate by the White House for an economy where the unemployment rate was predicted to approach 9 percent in early 2010 if no new fiscal actions were taken.

Of course, the U.S. jobless rate is already at 9.5 percent and President Obama himself predicts a 10 percent rate by year end. Admitting the obvious, Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News that the administration “misread how bad the economy was.”

No shame there, really. Most of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve also underestimated the depth of the recession. But if the disease is worse than first thought, then shouldn’t the treatment be more aggressive?

How Facebook is killing MySpace — MSN Money

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

MSN Money:

For the past year, News Corp.’s (NWSnewsmsgs) flagship Internet property has watched its fortunes steadily fade. Not long ago, MySpace was the dominant player in the online social-media space, but rivals have been stealing away users. Just two months ago the site lost its title as the world’s largest social-networking Web site to rival Facebook.

MySpace also experienced a painful loss of revenue in the most recent quarter, and analysts expect more bad news. At this rate, the “place for friends” could soon find itself virtually friendless and barren.

“They are in a really deep hole right now,” said Debra Aho Williamson, a senior analyst at eMarketer, an online advertising research firm. “It wasn’t a good quarter for MySpace, and what you have seen since then is a snowball effect.”

National health care may never happen — Fortune magazine

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Americans favor by more than 3 to 1 “the government offering everyone a government-administered health insurance plan that would compete with private health insurance plans” and other large-scale federal initiatives. At least that’s what they thought as of mid-June in a New York Times-CBS News poll. But the respondents in that poll were opining about an idea, not hard facts.

Obama has his best chance to regulate the banks: New Republic

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Congress’s attempts to deal with the housing crisis this spring created surprising rifts within the financial industry, particularly between big banks and investors (at hedge funds and elsewhere). The two groups had started off united in their opposition–before the banks sold out their erstwhile allies and bargained for a better deal.

Forbes: This Roller-Coaster Recession

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Many Americans enjoy roller coaster rides in the summer, getting that extra thrill in their day as they ride quickly over bumps with the wind flowing through their hair. But the financial roller coaster that we have been taken on this year seems more like a runaway train with lots of money at stake. So now that we’ve been taken on this ride, we want to know when we can get off.

The shape of the recession has been debated for months with the range of answers sounding more like the A, B, C song than sound economic advice. With the market’s climb up since March’s low point, now it seems like we’re riding along somewhere on a bumpy W coaster.

Business Week on the Stimulus: Where’s the $787 Billion?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Business Week:

Call it the $787 billion question: Where is all that government stimulus money, and why hasn’t it stemmed the heart-stopping slide in U.S. employment?

The stimulus plan was all about jobs, after all. Key Obama Administration officials pledged to save or create between 3 million and 4 million jobs with the measure. But the federal government’s employment figures on July 2 clocked in worse that expected, with job losses lurching to 467,000 in June and the unemployment rate reaching its worst showing since 1983, at 9.5%; many expect it to rise further still. Public confidence in the stimulus plan is slipping and over the weekend, Vice-President Joe Biden suggested another stimulus plan is possible, something of a shift from Obama’s position just two weeks ago that more spending isn’t yet called for.

Waiting for the stimulus ‘oomph’ — LA Times opinion

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


Should President Obama seek a “second stimulus”?

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says yes. “It looks like we’re going to need more medicine, not less,” he said last month. “The recovery really hasn’t got going.”

Obama’s top economic advisor, Lawrence Summers, says no. “The [stimulus] policies appear to be working,” he told the Council on Foreign Relations.

The debate over whether the 5-month-old stimulus plan is working is still a little premature, but that hasn’t stopped economists and politicians from jumping into the fray. The most urgent reason for the debate: jobs.

Smart Money: Trading Strategies for an Uncertain Market

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

LAST WEEK, HSBC Chairman Stephen Green offered these thoughts to a British banking conference: “We are almost two years into a financial and economic crisis which is still far from over. We cannot even say that we are past the worst or that the way out of the woods is clear.”